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Gates at the entrance of California University of PennsylvaniaGates at the entrance of California University of Pennsylvania


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Posted on February 6, 2014

Portrait of Interim University President Geraldine Jones. To: All students, faculty and staff
From: Interim President Geraldine M. Jones

Severe cold and snow-covered roads have caused the University to cancel classes several times this semester. And if we can believe the Punxsutawney groundhog, there may be more wintry weather ahead.

Every member of our campus community is affected by these unanticipated changes in our University schedule. Students, especially, may not be aware of the decision-making process that leads to weather-related delays or cancellations. So today I’d like to outline some of the considerations involved.

When severe weather is forecast, we turn first to reports from the National Weather Service, PennDOT and our own Cal U meteorology professor, Dr. Mario Majcen. Robert Thorn, vice president for administration and finance, begins collecting weather forecasts, road condition reports and other pertinent information as soon as possible, so we can assess the situation and formulate a plan.

Our first inclination is always to keep campus open and hold classes on schedule. However, we understand that many students commute to campus. We keep these students in mind, along with our faculty and staff, as we consider whether to hold classes, delay opening or close campus altogether.

Often, it’s not an easy call. Weather forecasts aren’t always accurate, and conditions may be quite different in areas just a few miles apart. We must assess conditions in our immediate travel vicinity and rely on PennDOT and neighboring communities to keep roadways passable. Many variables come into play, and conditions sometimes change rapidly. The decision that’s right for other universities, even those just down the road, may not be right for Cal U.

Once we decide to change the University’s schedule, we make every effort to notify the campus community quickly, using as many methods as possible. Often we activate the Emergency Text Alert system to announce an unexpected delay or campus closure. (To sign up to receive alerts, visit the Cal U website, www.calu.edu, and check Quick Links for registration details.)

More information is posted on the Cal U website, where it can be updated as needed throughout the day. E-mail, Twitter and Facebook may also be used to spread the news, along with the Cal U telephone hotline (724-938-4507) and local TV and radio stations.

Even when campus is closed, we make every effort to see that our employees and students are kept safe and have access to basic services. Our Facilities Management staff, campus police, Environmental Health and Safety Department, Health Center nurses and Student Affairs staff are on hand to ensure that students have the resources they need, that sidewalks and parking areas are cleared, and that plant operations are functioning properly. I cannot thank these individuals enough for all their hard work, especially in inclement weather. 

Here in western Pennsylvania, cold temperatures, snow and sleet are to be expected at this time of year. We should all be prepared for winter weather. Although our leadership team makes thoughtful decisions with the best interests of our entire campus community in mind, each of us must decide whether it is safe to travel on any given day.

I urge you all to stay safe, keep warm and “think spring”!

With best wishes,

Interim President Jones' signature.

Meet Interim President Geraldine M. Jones