Leaders outline winter partial closing

Iowa State leaders have shared the parameters of a partial campus closing during the semester break this winter. During the week of Dec. 23-27, the university will reduce its services when many external organizations and businesses also operate at reduced levels. On the heels of Dec. 20-21 graduation events, it's also the first of three weeks that separate fall and spring semesters.

Including two weekends (Dec. 21-22 and Dec. 28-29) and two university holidays (Dec. 24-25), employees who choose to use three days of paid leave (Dec. 23, 26 and 27) can assemble a nine-day break.

The partial closing is not mandatory and isn't intended to limit any unit's operations, said interim senior vice president of operations and finance Pam Cain and interim vice president for university human resources Kristi Darr in a memo this week to administrative officers. But they encouraged campus leaders to review work priorities, scheduled events, research needs and other considerations and approve operating schedules "that will enable staff to take liberal leave and reduce energy costs."

Critical services, including maintenance and some research projects, must continue, they noted. For others, it's all right to reduce service levels to that of a holiday or weekend.

Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 30-31, are regular work days and Jan. 1 is a university holiday. Cain said supervisors should use discretion in approving employee requests for leave this week since it will be business as usual.

What to do now

Cain and Darr wrote that units should work out a plan now for the week of Dec. 23 and share it with their dean, vice president or senior vice president. If offices will close, staff should set procedures for managing incoming messages or an emergency. Units should post planned office closings on their websites by mid-November so visitors, students and others are aware.

Helpful resources

While public safety and facilities planning and management (FPM) will have staff on duty during the partial shutdown, they won't be able to monitor the whole campus all the time. If outside temperatures fall below zero, unit staff should plan to check their buildings periodically. Trouble calls should go to 294-5100 (FPM) or 294-4428 (public safety).

Several background documents in ISU's online policy library can provide answers to supervisor and employee questions as they make plans:

Iowa State's practice of a winter partial closing began in 2009, prompted in part by a desire to help employees use furlough days, one strategy that year for meeting a $24 million midyear state funding cut. Energy savings in closed buildings was another goal. Partial closings of various lengths have occurred every year since.