The decision of canceling evening classes last Monday due to the surprise snowstorm was made by two people: vice president, William T. Bergman, and executive vice president for administration Dr. Richard M. Englert.
Englert and Bergman are the authority on campus who decide on the cancellations. They weigh the factors and take into account all possibilities when making their decision.
Two major factors are taken into consideration when deciding a cancellation: how practical and how safe it will be for students.
“What we do is educate people,” Bergman said, who oversees Facilities Management and Operations. “The only time we can close is either two things: the safety issue or it’s so impractical, you can’t get here.”
Temple University subscribes to Accu-Weather – a weather monitoring service also used by meteorologists at local news stations. Therefore, when it appears that a storm may be headed this way, Englert and Bergman confer on what actions should take place. They call each other early in the day and also talk with deans of schools and heads of departments to discuss the practicality of the situation.
Other Temple campuses are also contacted, to determine weather conditions there, as sometimes campuses have varying weather conditions. For instance, Ambler was affected more during last week’s storm, than the Main Campus.
They also contact SEPTA-a mode of transportation many students use-to see if they will be running and keeping their proper schedule, to understand how practical it will be for students to get to Temple.
Once Englert and Bergman decide that classes should be cancelled, they notify local news media, asking them to publicize their information. The Temple information hotline (215-204-1975), the Temple web site and the public radio station WRTI are also updated with this information. President Adamany and the provost are also notified of the decision, as are the heads of schools and necessary departments.
Facilities Management staff start clearing snow and salting down walkways. Contractors are called in to clear car parks. Maintenance staff who generally clean lounges and offices then work outside clearing snow from stairways and building entrances.
“We have to make it so that people can get here,” Bergman said.
Temple has a good supply of resources to deal with the snow. Last year, Facilities Management used 53 tons of calcium chloride (an effective product in melting snow), using 50-pound bags and 100 pound drums. This winter, about 24.5 tons of calcium chloride has been used. The price per ton is $460.
Although classes are cancelled, Temple employees are required to come to work. “When people are on campus, they need to be served,” Englert said.
Englert and Bergman take into account how people sometimes come a long way to visit the campus. “If they made it, the place better be open,” Bergman said.
Only if weather conditions prove to be too hazardous will offices close. The dining hall however will never close and Marriott will continue to provide food to students. Temple police are also required to report for work at all times. In effect, Temple University will never fully shut down.
Safety is an important factor that is a concern when people leave the campus too. Temple police sometimes stand at intersections, urging people to slow down and drive carefully. “You’ve got to take your time,” Bergman said. People start to panic about driving in the snow, so it’s better for drivers to remain calm and relax, allowing them to be comfortable maneuvering their way in the snow, he said.
Temple classes have only been cancelled when there is inclement weather. Englert cannot recall any other time that classes were cancelled. If there is a power outage, Temple will switch on its own generator, allowing classes to continue.
Being a tenured professor himself, Englert understands the need for class time. He gave an example of how once he taught an evening class, and his class was cancelled three times consecutively, making it difficult to replace. Englert said, “There is too much to learn to give up that time.” He explained that evening classes are tough, as since the class only meets once a week, a fourteenth of the class will be lost.
Bergman and Englert understand that many students at Temple lead very busy lives: they may be working full time or looking after their family. Tuition costs are high and students want to get their money’s worth. Therefore they try to ensure that classes will be cancelled if it is the best option available.
“We recognize that students want to attend classes, they want to be there,” Englert said.
And by remaining open, Temple will fulfil its role as an educational institution. As Bergman said, “What we do is educate people; the place has to be open.”