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Feb. 10, 2011 Volume 32, No. 19

In storm’s wake, campus looks to make up lost class time

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SNOW MOTION Mike Van Beek of MU Landscape Services gets stuck in the snow while clearing walkways near Townsend Hall following last week’s blizzard. Sanborn Field reported 14.5 inches of snow on campus, which was shut down from 4 p.m Jan. 31 through Feb. 3. Faculty and adminstrators expect to finalize a plan to make up the lost class time by next week. Nicholas Benner photo


Storm shut down campus for three days

Administrators and faculty are finalizing a plan to make up three days of classes that were cancelled in the wake of last week’s blizzard.

The storm, which dumped more than 17 inches of snow on Columbia, shut down the MU campus starting at 4 p.m. Jan. 31 through Feb. 3. By mid-afternoon, Feb. 4, MU Faculty Council chair Leona Rubin had met with campus administrators, including Provost Brian Foster, and presented council members with three potential scenarios to restore the lost time to the academic calendar.

On Tuesday, Rubin said the option with the most support — moving the final day of classes from Thursday, May 5 to Saturday, May 7 — would not make up all of the lost time. It would also shorten finals week by half a day. But faculty preferred it to the other options — eliminating finals week or scheduling make-up classes on Saturdays.

“Faculty did not want to eliminate finals week although there was considerable discussion on that issue,” Rubin said. “And we felt using Saturdays had too many negatives considering religious issues, students with jobs and faculty with families.”

Rubin is seeking input from student groups, but expected the faculty council to vote to change the spring 2011 calendar at its Feb. 17 meeting.

Sanborn Field, MU’s Agriculture Experiment Station, reported 14.5 inches of snowfall on campus. Before the snow began to fall, about 175 workers with Campus Facilities were on the job, spreading calcium and sand on roads and walkways. On Tuesday, as the storm gathered strength, workers were shoveling building entrances, steps and ramps and plowing sidewalks and streets. That work continued Wednesday and Thursday.

“With the amount of snow, a lot of factors come into play,” said Karlan Seville, Campus Facilities Communications Manager. “Most of it had to be moved to another location — off of Mick Deaver Drive or east of Trowbridge.”

According to the MU News Bureau, the last time snow forced the cancellation of classes was in 2006. Classes were also cancelled in 1978 and 1995 due to snow.

Kristopher Anstine, information specialist with MU Libraries, said a search of the archives turned up several other instances of snow-related cancellations and postponements at MU. In 1925, heavy snow stopped work temporarily on the Memorial Tower. In 1931, a weekend snowstorm blocked roads into Columbia, preventing students from returning for classes. And in January 1949, MU President Frederick A. Middlebush postponed the start of the semester because of heavy snow.

Spencer Ernst, a senior journalism student from St. Louis who lives in Respect Hall, said students took the cancellation of classes in stride, at least at first.

“We watched a lot of Lost in the dorms, and people played board games,” he said. “But by Wednesday, when the Thursday cancellation was announced, there was a huge mood shift. We were tired of it.”