Marshall prepares for cold conditions


As weather gets colder, Marshall University’s administration prepares for the inevitable problems the cold will bring.

According to President Jerry Gilbert, the university has a committee that makes the decision on whether or not to cancel classes. The committee includes the vice president of operations, the president, senior vice president for communications and marketing, MUPD chief, the university provost, the operations director at the South Charleston campus and the dean of the Marshall Medical School.

“We have a process and a committee that meets typically 5:30 a.m. of a morning where there is a weather event to decide if there was evidence the day before to see if there’s reason to close,” Gilbert said. “Then there’s discussion about what the conditions are like then a decision is made from that group.”

Gilbert said safety is the main concern when deciding whether or not to cancel classes. Marshall Police Chief Jim Terry said it is the students, faculty or staff’s decision on whether or not to come in to campus.

“If they don’t feel safe, that’s their call; they have to make that determination,” Terry said. “We are looking at road conditions, we call in, we are looking at the weather, we meet at 5:30, but we’re probably all up at 4 calling around seeing what’s going on, and then we make that decision.”

Another consideration is whether or not the sidewalks and parking lots are safe for students. While the sidewalks are cleared by the Marshall Physical Plant, the parking lots are cleared by a contracted company.

According to Terry, the policy for clearing campus parking lots is if the snow is less than three inches it will not be pushed unless there is going to be a continuation.

Senior Vice President for Communications and Marketing Ginny Painter said the committee tries to take every factor into consideration.

“We have students who pay a lot of money for tuition,” Painter said. “So, we need to get them in class as much as absolutely possible, so you’re always having to balance the safety versus not cancelling class.”

Gilbert said he tries to ensure that the best decision is made when it comes to cancelling class and closing campus.

“I think you have to make the best judgement,” Gilbert said. “It won’t always be the right decision, but your hope is that you will most of the time make the right decision when not to cancel and when to cancel.”

Kyra Biscarner can be contacted at [email protected].