Answering the Call: OU Staff Step Up During Winter Storm
The job of keeping OU’s campuses running smoothly is often taken for granted, but the recent winter storm made it obvious just how essential these efforts are.
During the Arctic blast that hit the state with ice, snow and frigid temperatures, hundreds of OU staff – from Facilities Management, Housing Operations, Residence Life, Food Services, Campus Safety, OUPD, I.T. and others – worked around the clock to keep the university safe and to mitigate the impact on campus facilities.
“At OU, our campus facilities are susceptible to many of the same issues as any home during cold weather,” said Eric Conrad, vice president for university operations and chief operating officer. “When it’s this cold for this long in Oklahoma, pipes can freeze, furnaces can break and sometimes power is lost. Our teams addressed around 400 service calls across the Norman campus in just a few days. This is behind-the-scenes work, and most people probably never saw their dedication as they kept campus going.”
On OU’s Norman campus, the top priority was ensuring the safety of students living in OU Housing and minimizing any disruptions to students’ living arrangements. This meant making sure students were fed, that the residence halls were adequately powered and heated, and that maintenance requests were addressed quickly.
Preparing in advance of winter weather events is key. When the forecast predicted the impending arrival of the recent winter storm, teams from numerous departments on all three campuses began preparing and planning – making sure supplies were on hand and staffing assignments were determined.
Clearing walkways and roads of snow and ice is also a safety priority during winter weather. Facilities Management first addresses emergency routes and high-traffic streets, parking lots and sidewalks in areas such as housing, cafeterias, Goddard Health Center, Oklahoma Memorial Union, athletic venues and office buildings. Depending on the weather’s arrival, crews start plowing or sanding around 5 a.m., continuing to work those spaces until clear, and then addressing other areas of campus.
When power usage was temporarily reduced on the Norman campus, crews worked to ensure that power was maintained in the residence halls, dining areas and in buildings with research operations.
Conrad noted that despite last week’s campus closure, the on-campus work for many crews never ceased.
“Staff worked around the clock in extremely harsh conditions – some even staying overnight on campus – to keep our students safe,” he said. “We all owe them a tremendous thanks for their long hours and their continued work restoring campus.”
In a Feb. 19 letter to the university, OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. expressed his gratitude to the OU community during the winter storm:
“As with all we have endured this past year, our community has stood strong. Your perpetual resilience and outpouring of care are undeniably what makes our university family so special.”
A more complete picture of the work of OU staff during the recent winter storm is detailed in the chart below.
If you have a maintenance request for your area of campus, contact:
- Norman Campus
- Submit a Maintenance Request Online
- For an emergency maintenance request: (405) 325-3060
- Housing and Food areas of campus: (405) 325-4421
- Health Sciences Center
- Submit a Maintenance Request Online
- For an emergency maintenance request: (405) 271-2121
- Employees that worked during the closure: 211
- Total hours logged by employees: 3,953
- Approximate miles of roads cleared: 20
- Sand or salt applied to roads and sidewalks: 326 tons
- Number of maintenance requests: 110 (primarily leaks)
- Employees that worked during the closure: 116
- Number of service requests: 50+
- COVID-19 response team delivered 227 meals, 17 cases of water and 25 snack bags to Traditions East and West
- Employees that worked during the closure: 63
- Total hours logged by employees: 1,928
- Number of maintenance requests: 286
- Employees that worked during the closure: 400+
- Total hours logged by employees: 4,500+
- Number of meals served: 25,000 transactions total – 11,350 of which were meals from campus dining halls (Couch Restaurants, Residential Colleges Dining, Wagner Dining)
Health Sciences Center
- Employees that worked during the closure: 156
- Total hours logged by employees: 3,809
- Sand or salt applied to roads and sidewalks: 25.8 tons
- Number of maintenance requests: 76
- Employees that worked during the closure: 24
- Total hours logged by employees: 500
- Sand or salt applied to roads and sidewalks: 5.5 tons
Article Published: Wednesday, February 24, 2021