University to recognize employees’ dedication throughout brutal winter

CWRU students biking and walking to class in winter
Though temperatures were low and snow covered the ground, CWRU students were able to make it to classes much easier, thanks to the hard work of the grounds crew—among many others.

We all experienced Cleveland’s brutal winter.

But for those whose labor is largely outdoors, it felt even worse. While many on campus shivered going from one indoor space to another, these individuals endured the elements for hours at a stretch. They arrived early, stayed late, and were here even when the university sent others home.

Tomorrow, Case Western Reserve offers an extra expression of appreciation to university employees who played such powerful, positive roles in helping the rest of campus continue to function. Grounds crews, maintenance, security, police and more will be recognized from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 30, in Room 9 of the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence in Crawford Hall. The entire campus community is invited to stop by the reception.

“Every year this staff does remarkable work on behalf of the entire community,” Senior Vice President for Administration John Wheeler said, “but this year’s weather demanded a whole new level of dedication. Their efforts were extraordinary, and we wanted to make sure they know how grateful we are.”

To appreciate just how unusual this winter proved to be, consider these figures from the “official” winter season, Dec. 21-March 20:

  • 10 below-zero days, nearly triple Cleveland’s usual average of 3.5
  • 26 single digit or lower days—nearly 30 percent of the winter season
  • 60-plus inches of snow, the seventh-highest snowfall in the last 50 years.

No matter how cold, blustery or slippery, these staff members are charged to plow sidewalks, patrol streets, provide transportation and more. In addition, certain employees in laboratories and other spaces also must remain on campus even when the university is closed to ensure the safety and continuity of research. Food services staff also must be in dining halls to prepare and serve food to students.

Randy Divis, who provides transportation for students, faculty and staff with disabilities, said this year is “by far the worst I can remember, from the temperatures to the duration.”

The frequent snowstorms led to dangerous road conditions for Divis, and low temperatures made his riders stay inside—which made it difficult to predict wait time and respond promptly.

But, Divis noted, “I had to operate in this weather to ensure that each member of our community in need of assistance made it around our icy campus safely.”