Gannon bites the bullet, cancels classes

Gannon bites the bullet, cancels classes

Gannon University shocked its students by canceling classes Thursday and Friday due to severe cold temperatures.

Temperatures for Thursday and Friday were record-setting days for Erie. Thursday had temperatures reaching as low as minus 17 degrees Fahrenheit with wind gusts up to 32 mph and Friday was colder by one degree reaching  minus 18 degrees Fahrenheit with wind gusts of 28 mph.

Students, faculty and staff were surprised by the university’s decision to cancel its classes for Thursday and even more shocked by the cancellation of Friday classes. Veteran faculty and staff members had difficulty remembering the last time classes were canceled due to weather because it is such a rare occurrence at Gannon.

Provost Carolynn Masters, Ph.D., said she has been a part of the Gannon community for 16 years and she can only recall the cancelation of classes happening two times. She said the cancellations were not full days and she couldn’t remember the exact dates, but she said it is not something that happens often.

Masters said the decision to cancel classes Thursday and Friday was not made lightly. The process of deciding to cancel or keep classes open is made through presidential staff members who give their recommendations to university President Keith Taylor, Ph.D., who then makes the final decision.

“The primary reason for the cancellation of the classes was because of the advisories that were being sent out by the National Weather Service,” Masters said.

“Temperatures were said to be possibly dipping to as low as minus 25 to minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit for Thursday and Friday. We had to consider the overall health and safety of the students who would be potentially out in these cold temperatures.

“With the majority of our population walking to and from classes, we felt it was safer for the students to remain inside if possible.”

There have, however, been no reports of students being injured due to the cold temperatures, Masters said.

A major concern for many homeowners and building owners in the cold winter season is the potential for pipes to freeze and burst. Masters said at Gannon there have been no such problems thus far.

“Knock on wood, we have had no issues with our buildings,” Masters said. “Our maintenance staff is doing an amazing job of keeping our buildings maintained, walkways and roads cleared and salted. In this cold weather they are the ones keeping us safe and making sure nothing gets frozen to avoid damage.”

Heather Vouros, a senior physician assistant major, said she enjoyed her two days off relaxing.

“My major is very strenuous, especially during lacrosse season and it was nice to have the days off to get caught up and just take a minute to breathe,” Vouros said. “It did put me behind in my classes, which I had to make up this week, but overall having to not bundle up to walk down the street to classes was a nice change of pace.”

Morgan Walters, a junior communication art major, said classes being canceled came as a shock to her.

“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” Walters said. “It was really nice to have a couple days off though, especially before midterms, so the timing was convenient and useful.”

Masters said she can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be smart during these cold days, canceled classes or not.

“Students, faculty and staff should be aware of the situation and dress warmly/accordingly,” Masters said. “Being smart, dressing appropriately and not staying outside too long is critical during these cold days.

“Many people don’t know that hypothermia can occur very quickly and our students, faculty and staff should always be aware of their health and safety when traveling outside.”

BECKY HILKER

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