I remember surviving my first Michigan blizzard.
It was just a few months after I began serving as CMU’s 15th president. I was in my car heading to a Shared Governance meeting when I got a call from Board of Trustees chair Tricia Keith. I told her how nervous I was to be out in the developing blizzard.
“But Bob,” she said, “it’s barely snowing. You’re expected to get, what? About 2 inches?”
So, it wasn’t a blizzard. From a Michigander’s perspective, it was a lovely dusting of powder. But you have to remember, I had just come from Kentucky, where temperatures in the 40s made us shiver.
I was mostly prepared for Michigan. I’d survived six years in Buffalo, New York, after all. And winter can be a wonderful time of year for all kinds of activities: snowshoeing, skiing, sledding, ice skating, ice fishing, snowmobiling and more. And is there anything better than curling up with a good book on a cold night?
It’s time to make peace with winter — it’s likely to stick around for a while.
Every time the words ice or snow appear in the weather forecast, my social media channels explode with questions about whether CMU will close. It’s a complicated call to make: The safety of our students, faculty and staff is of utmost importance to me and so is our academic mission. I work closely with campus leaders to assess the weather, consider safety and make decisions that are in the best interests of our community.
When I can, I am going to keep CMU open.
I want you to have the opportunity to go to class, to keep learning and to engage with one another. It’s why you’re here. And when we are open and there’s winter weather, we will do our best to keep roads, parking lots and sidewalks as clear and as safe for use as possible.
Understand that things won’t always be smooth and dry. Even the very best ice melt doesn’t work below certain temperatures, and snow may continue to fall throughout the day. Keeping winter at bay is a round-the-clock job, and our facilities team does an incredible job. Please be sure to say thank you the next time you see someone shoveling a path for you.
In the winter months, Take Care of yourself and others. Give yourself more time to get around. Drive a little more slowly, and remember it takes longer to stop on a slippery road. Walk carefully and know that you may need to use different paths than usual. Watch your step. Dress for the weather: Big boots make walking through the snow easier than sleek sneakers.
You came to CMU to learn, and we will do our best to ensure you can do so as often as possible, even in winter weather. On the days we DO cancel classes, I expect to see pictures of your snowmen on my Twitter feed.
Our state is one of the most beautiful places in the world. We have gloriously green summers and equally gloriously white winters. Get outside and make the most of the snow. Embrace the chill – after all, I know you’re FIRED UP inside!
P.S. – if you haven’t done so already, familiarize yourself with CMU’s Weather Delays and Closures information.