While classes were canceled for a day and a half due to an unusual storm that dumped about 10 inches of snow at the University of Oregon, campus never completely shuts down.
Behind the scenes, dozens of employees were hard at work to ensure students were safe and fed, sidewalks were cleared of ice and fallen trees and research laboratories remained operational.
Update: Wednesday morning, campus received several more inches of snow and classes were canceled again.
The UO is home to more than 4,000 students who live in the residence halls. Zoe Stanley and Kelton Foreman, both first-year students studying business, are from Arizona and were surprised to see the snow that piled up out outside their residence hall on Monday.
“That was a new experience. I have never seen snowfall like that,” Foreman said. “It was fun, but also kind of scary when the lights were flickering.”
They each enjoyed a big bowl of oatmeal at the DUX Bistro after a day playing in the snow. They marveled that the dining halls were open through the storm.
“I was really nice to see this was open,” Stanley said. ”This is my main source of food, so I’m really happy.”
Roger Thompson, vice president for student services and enrollment management, said he was impressed by the dedication and teamwork of campus employees. Safety and Risk Services, Campus Planning and Facilities Management, Housing and Dining Services, and the UO Police Department all worked to ensure residence halls kept operating. UOPD provided shuttles to essential employees who needed to get to work safely.
“I am so proud of the folks who have kept our students safe, housed and fed,” Thompson said. “This group brought campus back up and operational quickly after a major, unusually significant snow. We have all benefited from the superheroes who work on our campus every day.”
He said student employees in campus dining centers came to the rescue of their fellow students, keeping the coffee, hot chocolate and warm food available.
Facilities crews worked to clear downed trees, shovel snow from sidewalks and clear roads. They also worked to restore water service, in partnership with the Eugene Water and Electric Board, after a water main break Monday at Spencer View apartments overnight.
Dan Lavelle, a grounds worker from campus operations, shoveled snow on the sidewalk behind Johnson Hall in preparation for campus to reopen Tuesday. He said in his 19 years working for the university, this was a first.
“This is the thickest snow I’ve ever seen,” Lavelle said.
He said the grounds crews prioritized main walkways and will continue to work to clear other paths and roadways.
Campus resumed normal operations at noon Tuesday, Feb. 26, after being closed for a day and a half. Campus operations officials said main paths are safe to travel but people should use caution around doorways, steps and ramps. Officials want people to use caution and decide whether they can safely travel to campus.
There are several resources about campus operations during winter conditions. Refer to campus snow routes when planning travel on campus: https://map.uoregon.edu/winter-storm-conditions Inclement weather details for employees is available online at https://hr.uoregon.edu/about-hr/campus-notifications/inclement-weather Check alerts.uoregon.edu for more information and resources.
—By Jennifer Winters, University Communications