Chancellor introduces interim campus closure policy

Snowy scene with Cathedral and Heinz Chapel


The chancellor’s office has implemented a new interim policy to clarify the Pitt community's roles during a campus-wide closure and class cancellation.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher told Senate Council on Nov. 13 that this interim University-wide Closure and Class Cancellation Policy went into effect on Nov. 11. This policy doesn’t make changes to Pitt’s previous Severe Weather Policy, but instead offers short-term clarification on University procedure. 

Gallagher originally tasked a committee in February to review the policies after a polar vortex brought negative temperatures to the region. In response, Gallagher closed the campus down, but not before some Pitt faculty, staff and students had arrived.

The decision to close the campus was met with mixed feelings from the Pitt community, who sought further clarification on who has the authority to close the campus and what conditions need to be met to close it. It spells out when notifications for foreseen events, like weather, will be made: "In instances of closure or class cancellation that are foreseeable (e.g., extreme weather), the University will strive to make its determination to close the University by 6:00 A.M. for a full-day closure or a morning partial-day closure; or by 12:00 P.M. for an afternoon/evening partial-day closure."

The interim policy also explains how Pitt faculty, staff and students should handle times when they can’t make it to the campus while the University is open. 

If faculty can’t make it to campus for their scheduled classes, they have to tell their school or department that the class must be canceled. The deans of the schools will provide further guidance. If students can’t make it to scheduled classes because of inclement weather, they are to speak to the instructors of the classes. Schools and departments have to come up with specific communication plans. Staff should contact their supervisors if they can’t make it to campus. 

If the University closes, the Pitt community will find out via the University emergency notification service, through Pitt’s main web page, social media and Pitt’s emergency website,, according to the policy.

Gallagher said after the meeting that he expects the policy to change into a full policy in 2020 in time for serious winter weather.

“(The interim policy is) not a major shift from before,” he said. “It’s mostly clarification adding what we thought was missing information to try to put us in a better position for the coming year than last year and then, hopefully when the full policy comes out with more input, it will be even better.”

Senate Council also approved a proposal for “non-tenure stream” positions to be renamed as “appointment-stream” faculty and a policy that outlines Pennsylvania residency requirements. 

Donovan Harrell is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-383-9905.


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