Partial shutdown scheduled for semester break

Iowa State will be partially closed for an 11-day stretch during semester break again this winter. The Dec. 22-Jan. 1 period includes three university holidays (Dec. 24, 25 and Jan. 1), four weekend days and four workdays (Dec. 26-28, 31). Employees who don't work on the four workdays would be required to take paid or unpaid leave for those days.

Senior vice president for business and finance Warren Madden noted that this is not a mandatory closing. And it is not intended to limit units' decisions to operate.

"Units involved in critical services, maintenance and research programs will remain in operation," he said. "There may be partial staffing in some units. Supervisors should set their operating schedules in consultation with their deans or vice presidents."

However, because classes aren't in session, university activities slow down and many employees plan to be gone for the holidays, Madden said he and other university officials are encouraging units and employees to take advantage of the partial closing. He said he anticipates most Iowa State facilities will be closed and locked during the 11-day period, just as they are on holidays or weekends.

The partial shutdown also helps with utility savings. Reduced demands for electricity and steam (heat) have saved the university close to $5,000 per day in previous years. Savings last year were smaller due to unusually mild temperatures.

Leave contact info, check voicemail

Units that shut down over the extended break will need to leave emergency contact numbers on websites and voicemail, turn down thermostats, turn off equipment and designate someone to periodically check work spaces for plumbing, heating or cooling problems. Voicemail messages that may come in to administrative offices' main numbers need to be checked on a regular basis and responses made to customers and service requests.

"We encourage units to work out partial closing plans for the semester break, communicate them to staff and post them on their websites as soon as possible so that students, customers and staff members can make their personal plans," Madden said.

This winter marks the fourth year for a partial shutdown during the semester break. The strategy was first implemented in December 2009 as part of a much larger plan to meet a $24.5 million midyear state budget reversion.