The Art and Science of Cancelling Classes

2/23/03


The Art and Science of Canceling Classes By Dr. Kenneth Ender, President

Some of you may vaguely recall my carping at the end of last July about the “dog days of summer.” I take it back, all of it. Bring on the dogs! The hawk of winter is wearing me out!

Enough already. Last Saturday (February 15th) I dutifully went out and shoveled the couple inches of snow from the evening snowfall. Of course, I had been up since 4:30 a.m. as we needed to make a decision about Saturday classes, which we cancelled. OK, so I missed the Saturday sleep-in and the morning run due to the snow, but I would get a long run in on Sunday—hope springs eternal!

The rest is history. On Sunday the 16th I shoveled and shoveled and shoveled. Only trusty Sammy was foolish enough to join me in the valiant yet misguided attempt to stay in front of the blizzard. Four times the shovel called on Sunday and then again twice on Monday. Sammy at his observation post, me behind the shovel. The only good news I can report from the last episode is that the snow stopped and the shovel broke. If we get a spring blizzard, the Ender household will be snowbound until the thaw, or until the plow arrives.

Thankfully, the college was already scheduled to be closed on Monday for President’s Day. And the college was closed on Tuesday, due to continued inclement weather and hazardous roads. So, the faculty and students only missed one scheduled day on this week.

Many folks ask me how we make the decision to close the college. Well, it’s not an exact science. In fact, it’s as much art as science, and I have come to trust Vice President Paul Abrams and Sammy’s lead in this matter.

Paul handles the science. He advises me regarding snow depth, college readiness, State Police advisories and weather alerts.

Sammy is the artist. He really doesn’t like severe weather. So if Sammy is tough to get out the door to attend to his business, I ask Paul to take a second or third look at the scientific aspects of canceling college.

Last Tuesday, I had to drag Sammy out the door. So we closed the college. On Wednesday, Sammy was wagging his tail against the door at 5:30 a.m., and we were open. Paul concurred on both decisions. That is one smart dog, and he’s the least expensive consultant I know.

Spring is on the way, and then the dog days. We look forward to both. In the meantime, go easy friends.