Partial closing approved during semester break

Iowa State administrators have approved the details of a partial university shutdown this winter during the semester break. The partial closing will run 11.5 days from noon on Wednesday, Dec. 24, through Sunday, Jan. 4, and includes:

  • Two weekends (Dec. 27-28 and Jan. 3-4)
  • Three university holidays (Dec. 25, 26 and Jan. 1)
  • Four and one-half regular work days (Dec. 24 afternoon, Dec. 29-31 and Jan. 2)

The closing is not mandatory on days that are not a weekend or holiday. Employees who opt to participate will be required to take paid or unpaid leave for the 4.5 workdays.

"No classes are in session, a number of external organizations will either be closed or operating at reduced levels and many staff members anticipate being on leave," noted senior vice president for business and finance Warren Madden in a memo to administrative officers. The goals, he said, are to accommodate lighter staffing levels, conserve energy and realize budget savings.

All departments, Madden said, should review their plans with the appropriate dean, vice president or senior vice president.

Iowa State's first partial shutdown occurred over the 2009 winter break as a money-saving strategy during a state funding reversion. Repeated every winter since, the partial shutdowns have been both popular with employees and economical. Last winter's 10-day closing resulted in nearly $63,000 in energy savings.

Looks like a holiday

Madden said the intent is that many Iowa State facilities will be closed and locked during the 11.5 days just like they are on university holidays. Thus, many services will be either unavailable or available for a limited time. Critical services, campus maintenance and research programs that need to operate during this period may do so. Partial staffing may occur to carry out a unit's scheduled activities, research programs or other priorities, he said.

Madden encourages units to develop and share their semester break closing plans as soon as possible so that students, staff members and customers can plan ahead as needed.

Units that close for the 11.5 days will need to leave emergency contact numbers on websites and voicemail, turn down thermostats, turn off equipment and, if outdoor temperatures drop to sub-zero, designate someone to periodically check work spaces for plumbing, heating or cooling malfunctions. Staff should regularly check voicemail on key phone numbers and respond to callers.

Flexible hours guidelines

Supervisors considering reduced hours of operation during Thanksgiving week, spring break and semester break days not included in the partial closing period can find useful information in the flexible hours program guidelines (PDF).

Editor's note added Oct. 23: Administrators extended what originally was an 11-day partial shutdown period (Dec. 25-Jan.4) by a half day, to begin at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 24 -- a work day on the ISU calendar.