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AU Tackles Historic, Record Breaking Winter Head On   

By University Communications

American University's main quad covered in snow.

American University's main quad covered in snow. (photo by Jeff Watts)

Snow in Washington, D.C. is typical. This much snow is not.

While the city and the surrounding areas have essentially been shut down since the first storm began, at American University, life on campus continued.

More than 175 essential employees in public safety, facilities, the library, residence halls, dining services, and the fitness center, among others, worked around the clock to ensure that students were fed, sidewalks and roads were cleared, and the critical needs of the university were met – since the university was closed from noon on February 5 through February 11.

Even before the first snowfall, the staff in the Office of Finance and Treasurer began preparations, salting sidewalks, and checking building heating systems. In December they had already removed close to three cubic tons of snow.

In the residence halls, housing staff worked with a team of students including 70 resident assistants and desk assistants to provide countless hours of coverage so that the rest of the student population could work, study, eat, and sleep during this historic experience with as little disruption as possible. Read more about how students on campus weathered the storm.

In the School of Communication, professors used this real world experience to their advantage, producing a snow edition of American Observer, and continuing class assignments by communicating with students via email and Blackboard technology. Read more about how SOC dealt with the storm.

Reluctant to postpone a lecture, Professor Daniel Esser in the School of International Service, used WIMBA technology to set up a virtual classroom where students viewed the entire lecture online and communicated with each other through instant messaging and online audio. In the School of Public Affairs, Professor Saul Newman created audio lectures from home, which he disseminated as MP3s on Blackboard. Read more about how SPA and SIS faculty used technology conduct classes.

For their Peace through Commerce class, a group of Kogod School of Business students continued their class despite the snow. Using Skype video conferencing, they talked to a doctor in Iraq into the wee hours of the morning so that they could see and learn more about how the medical lab they are preparing a business plan for is going to be built. Read more about how Kogod handled the storm.

Adventurous students explored the snow covered city. Snow glistening off the Capital dome and the White House lawn created memories for students for years to come. The picturesque city turned into a wintery mix as another storm blew in, causing some minor damage on campus. Part of an awning covering over a walkway collapsed and a few trees from the university’s arboretum will need some extra care this spring.

Throughout the storms, reporters at The Eagle, AU’s student-run newspaper, chronicled what was happening on campus. 

Provost Scott Bass announced no changes in the Spring academic schedule for the upcoming break, exams, or end of term and encouraged faculty to continue with planned assignments and course expectations. Read the February 10 Provost memo.

President Neil Kerwin extended his appreciation of the resilience, dedication, and ingenuity of faculty, staff and students to keep the university operational and safe through the snow storms. Read the February 11 President's memo.

University Communications provided faculty, staff and students with updates through RAVE text alerts, the home page, the portal, and campus wide emails.

The spirit and resolve of the American University community was on display throughout Snowmageddon.

*Updated 2/12/10