Winter weather cancels classes, but gears up campus services


Jan. 23, 10 a.m. – View full update on campus dining availability and other services >

Jan. 22, 5 p.m. – University libraries closed at 5 p.m. They are expected to resume normal hours on Saturday, Jan. 23.

Jan. 22, 5 p.m. – VUPD and the Office of the Dean of Students advises that Vandy Vans will not run Friday evening (Jan. 22) or Saturday morning (Jan. 23). For service updates, check the Announcements section of the Vandy Vans website.


Kirkland Hall amidst the snowfall on Jan. 22. (Daniel Dubois/Vanderbilt)

When Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan Wente emailed students early Friday morning to inform them that classes had been cancelled for the day, many of them no doubt took it as a signal to sleep in or to begin their weekends early.

But for a team of dedicated staff and administrators, the work of dealing with the winter weather had just begun.

“Essential staff members in the Police Department, Plant Operations, Dining Services and Housing are in position and will be available throughout the day and evening to ensure that our students are safe and well cared for and our campus buildings are secured,” Wente said in her message.

The safety of faculty and students—both undergraduates on Vanderbilt’s largely residential campus and graduate and professional students, many of whom commute—was paramount in making the decision to cancel classes. With a thin layer of ice caused by early sleet, then several inches of snow blanketing sidewalks and roadways, traveling to and on campus could prove treacherous.

“I encourage students who live on campus to take extreme caution when venturing outside. Some walkways have iced over, some roads on campus are snow-covered and icy, and winter weather will likely continue through tomorrow,” Wente said.

The statue of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. (Daniel Dubois/Vanderbilt)

As much as eight inches of snow was expected to fall on campus throughout the day Friday, according to Vanderbilt’s Emergency Operations Center. It was Nashville’s most significant snow event since January 2003.

As the precipitation fell, Plant Operations workers began the arduous task of clearing campus walkways.

“Plant Operations has been plowing and de-icing campus roads, sidewalks and parking lots since early morning,” said Mark Petty, assistant vice chancellor for plant operations. “Due to the duration of the event, most campus sidewalks remain covered in snow, but Plant Operations management has informed us they will be working through the night to clear paths as soon as possible. Given the snow and several fallen trees, caution is urged in any trips across campus.”

Petty said the campus should be in considerably better shape by noon on Saturday. (See the snow removal maps for primary and secondary removal routes.)

At Vanderbilt University Medical Center, an orange alert for inclement weather was activated before 5:30 a.m. on Friday. The orange alert triggered the activation of VUMC’s emergency operations plan and the opening of the Emergency Operations Center, according to John Howser, assistant vice chancellor for Medical Center News and Communications.

“Faculty and staff who were working at the time were asked to stay over until others were on site to take their places to provide continuity of patient care. The Medical Center also activated its staff accommodations sub plan, which creates temporary sleeping quarters for essential faculty and staff who must remain on site to care for patients,” Howser said. “Other than the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and additional exceptions, the inclement weather necessitated the closure of a number of outpatient clinics.”

In addition, some VUMC shuttle routes, the R127 purple route, and shuttles between the VUMC campus and Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks were suspended. Shuttle service for the “N” parking lot will be suspended at 11 p.m. Friday. Medical Center employees whose shifts end later than 11 p.m. should consider moving their vehicles to one of the VUMC garages. From now through Monday morning, Parking Services personnel will not be checking access stickers.

Ahead of the winter weather forecast, university employees were advised to treat Friday as an “inclement weather” day.

“Employees whose roles are ‘essential’ should make plans, in collaboration with their managers, to be available to ensure the delivery of core services,” wrote Barbara Carroll, the university’s chief human resources officer, in a message to the university community. “With vice chancellor approval, staff who are not otherwise designated as essential/core may use PTO rather than reporting to work if weather conditions warrant. Such absences will not be considered unauthorized or subject to performance action.”

For essential employees who made the trip in to work, all five of the Vanderbilt Child and Family Center’s child care facilities were open Friday with enough staff on hand to care for the approximately 30 children in attendance.

“Our lunch provider could not deliver our lunches, so Campus Dining provided snacks and we bought Subway sandwiches for the children,” reported Rhonda Laird, director of the Vanderbilt Child and Family Center. “We are hopeful that once the children get picked up, our staff will be able to get home safely or find alternate housing arrangements close by.”

Students on the Peabody College campus took advantage of the snowfall and their day off from classes. (Daniel Dubois/Vanderbilt)

A number of campus services were open on Friday, with some operating on modified schedules.

The Student Health Center was open for regular operations until noon. If a student has an appointment after noon on Friday, they should call 615-322-2427 at their earliest convenience to reschedule the appointment. The Student Health Center will be closed on Saturday, Jan. 22; however, students with urgent medical concerns can reach the on-call provider by calling 615-322-2427.

The Psychological and Counseling Center was open until noon on Friday for urgent care, with routine appointments being rescheduled. Those who have a routine appointment should call 615-322-2571 to reschedule. After noon on Friday, students should go to the Vanderbilt Emergency Department for any urgent needs. The PCC will have a provider available on call at 615-322-2571.

The campus library system will continue normal hours, with the exception of the Law Library, which is closed, and the Blair Music Library, which closed at noon Friday.

Campus Dining will be operational Friday. Please visit the Campus Dining website for the latest information. The status of specific venues/services is as follows:

    • Hot chocolate is being served at Rand and the Commons Center;
    • Breakfast will be served at Rand, the Commons Center, Kissam Center, Hendrix and McTyeire;
    • Lunch will be served at Rand, the Commons and Morgan Rocket Subs;
    • Dinner will be served at Rand and the Commons Center;
    • Markets open today include Towers, Morgan, Common Grounds, Kissam Center and Branscomb; and
    • Cafés open today include Susie’s in Featheringill and Food for Thought café in the General Library Building.
    • Closed today are Grins, Chef James Bistro, Pi/Leaf, Last Drop Coffee Shop and the Campus Store.

Vanderbilt Card Services is open during normal operating hours on Friday.

The Station B and Peabody post offices close at 10 a.m. Friday, but parcel lockers in Station B were filled prior to closing.

Vandy Vans are not running on Friday night.

Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt is closed Friday, with a delayed opening on Saturday (exact time TBD).

The university will continue to monitor weather conditions and will update all students about any decisions related to classes, including the resumption of classes.

For continued updates and more information, stay tuned to the Vanderbilt University homepage.