Students walk across campus through the snow on Wednesday, Feb. 20, in front of Linderman Library. The Bethlehem area received up to nine inches on March 3, resulting in a delayed opening at Lehigh. (Miles Kwiatek/ B&W Staff)

Extreme weather conditions calls for administrative action


Large amounts of snow and ice can cause roads to freeze, knock out power and inconvenience both pedestrians and drivers. To deal with these dangers that have hit the Lehigh Valley recently, Lehigh’s administration has procedures in place to ensure that students are safe and can get from place to place.

The decision to close Lehigh for a snow emergency is made by Provost Pat Farrell, but he also consults facilities services. Brent Stringfellow, associate vice president for Facilities Services, described his role as an “advisory capacity.”

“The goal is to work as hard as we can to keep the university open, while being mindful of everybody’s safety,” Stringfellow said.

Transportation Services, which manages Lehigh’s bus routes and car rentals, formulates a specific plan of action before each storm, usually 24-48 hours before the first snowflakes fall.

Robert Bruneio, the manager of Transportation Services, said in an email that “no two storms are alike.”

He said during a snow emergency, Transportation Services operates on a “snow schedule,” which slows their vehicles for safety purposes. If the university closes early, Transportation Services continues to operate services for up to two hours. If conditions don’t improve, then Lehigh snowplows will drive in front of the buses to ensure that roads are clear for use.

Meanwhile, Dining Services prepares for the task of feeding thousands of students in inclement weather.

“We have to feed, and you have to eat,” said Bruce Christine, the general manager of Dining Services.

Christine oversees 19 location managers across the three campuses, with over 300 employees total. Every week during the winter, he makes sure that his managers have enough food supplies for the week ahead.

During any winter storm, Dining Services’ priority is keeping the Rathbone and Lower Cort dining halls, along with the Upper food court, open. Sometimes, sites like the Hawk’s Nest can also stay open.

Administration services works to ensure employee safety through various means. Transportation Services maintains constant contact with the drivers during winter storms, and Dining Services has occasionally hired out hotel rooms for their employees so they don’t have to brave dangerous road conditions while “essential staff” are required to come to work.

Christine said overall, he believes students are satisfied with how the administration operates to ensure that the campus runs well.

For some faculty, though, snow emergencies are more than just a cancelled class.

Eric Cosnoski, the marketing manager in Lehigh’s Center for Supply Chain Research, lives in New Jersey, and his usual commute is more than an hour long.

But he, too, said he largely approves of the administration’s handling of snow emergencies. Because snow emergencies are usually announced in advance, Cosnoski said he has adequate time to plan for the following day.

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