Dear University Community:
There has been much talk recently in The Snapper and elsewhere about hazardous winter weather and its impact on campus. The safety of Millersville’s students, faculty and staff is of utmost importance to me. I do not take this responsibility lightly.
We have received emails and calls regarding winter weather delays and cancellations. I am listening to these messages and join you in your frustration of what a difficult winter it has been so far and, unfortunately, what it promises to be over the next few weeks.
Let me share with you how the campus mobilizes to address weather situations. I believe we have wonderful staff, who work tirelessly to get things done on campus. Any decision to delay or cancel classes is made in consultation with the provost and vice president of academic affairs; the vice president for administration and finance, who oversees the physical plant; and with forecasters in the Weather Information Center before a storm hits. In addition, consultation occurs with our physical plant personnel on the status of accessibility to walking paths and parking lots. Additional input might be needed from University, area and State Police about county and borough road conditions.
Since a large percentage of our students reside in the residence halls or live close to campus, we make every effort to keep the campus open for classes and services. The provost has emphasized with the faculty that commuting students who are unable to attend class due to inclement weather and severe driving conditions will not be penalized. Foremost, students, faculty and staff should exercise discretion when making the final determination as to whether they feel it is safe to commute in these circumstances.
The timing and intensity of the storms this winter have been very hard to predict. We make decisions based on the most up-to-date information we can obtain. For example, the morning storm on January 26 caught everyone by surprise. The weather forecast called for a light dusting of snow in the morning with heavier accumulations coming later in the day. Based on this information, local K-12 school districts opened on time that day. We, too, made the decision to open on time but monitor the situation throughout the day. Unfortunately, road conditions in the morning were far worse than anticipated, but this did not happen until school buses and commuters were already en route. With heavy snowfall forecast for that night, we decided to close early to give everyone the chance to make it home safely before the afternoon storm started.
The University is responsible for maintaining all of its sidewalks and roadways. Our grounds crews start their work at and around buildings and classrooms where individuals with disabilities live, work or have class. These are done first. Crews then spread out across campus to the rest of the sidewalks and lots. The facilities staff deserve recognition for the work they do in these situations. They are truly essential personnel who are up early and stay late to get the job done for us all.
Please understand, we are committed to the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. We have taken your recommendations and suggestions into consideration. We appreciate your understanding the challenges we are all facing. And, please, be careful in this winter weather.
Francine G. McNairy