January 15, 2014
Topic: Campus News
A university committee soon will be appointed to evaluate the policy, practice and communication process related to closing the Ann Arbor campus during a weather emergency.
The decision to review weather-related closures follows the Jan. 5-6 storm that dumped a foot of snow on Ann Arbor. Temperatures plunged to 15 degrees below zero. The Ann Arbor campus remained open, and Winter Semester classes began Jan. 8 as planned.
Laurita Thomas, associate vice president for human resources, will chair the committee, which will broadly represent the Ann Arbor campus. The panel will include faculty and staff from Central Campus and the U-M Health System.
Executive Vice Presidents Ora H. Pescovitz, Martha E. Pollack and Timothy P. Slottow say they will ask the committee to recommend clear and flexible guidelines for decision-making that respect the complexity of U-M operations, including the academic, research and patient-care missions of the university.
The executive sponsors say it is important that the university undertake the review of current policies and procedures specific to severe weather to ensure they are in alignment with the university’s principles and values of stewardship and safety.
Speaking to the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs on Monday, Pollack said closing the university is very complex. U-M has not closed for severe weather since the winter of 1978.
“It really is like closing a small city,” she said. “I still think the university can only close in very rare circumstances.”