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University of Minnisota  Administrative Policy

Campus and Building Closing

Responsible University Officer(s):
  • Vice President for University Services
Policy Owner(s):
  • Assistant Vice President for University Health and Safety
Policy contact(s):
  • Paige Rohman
Date Revised:
Nov 14, 2019
Effective Date:
Dec 1, 1994

Policy Statement

In accordance with the University's official Emergency Operations Plan, a campus, portion(s) of a campus, or building(s) will be closed or remain open with reduced operations in the event that a situation poses a serious risk to the health, safety, or security of the University community, research animals, or other mission critical assets.

Determination to Close, Reduce Operations, or Cancel Classes

The responsible individual on each campus will determine when a situation warrants a closure, reduced operations, or cancellation of classes (e.g., adverse weather conditions, hazardous material release, terrorism, or other threat). Consultation with academic leadership and other appropriate executives will occur prior to making the decision to close or cancel classes, time permitting, depending on the nature of the situation or the protocol as defined in the Emergency Operations Plan.  The responsible individuals for each campus are:

  • Crookston, Morris, Rochester: Chancellor or Emergency Lead - Designated Authority
  • Twin Cities, Duluth: Officer of the Day


Faculty, staff, and students will be notified as quickly as practical through internal and external communications systems, including, as appropriate, the University's e-mail, SAFE-U, tone alert radios, and home page, as well as broader external media resources (television, radio), once a decision is made to execute a closure, reduce operations, or cancel classes.  Additional communications with specific information regarding the hospitals and clinics will follow.

Affected Individuals

In the event of reduced operations:

  • classes will be canceled or moved to online delivery;
  • affected employees, excluding work-study students, who are not identified as essential employees will continue to be paid as usual during the period of reduced operations;
  • affected employees who are identified by their supervisors as essential employees must continue to remain on campus as directed by their supervisors (see also Appendix: Pay Provisions);
  • affected non-essential, work study students may not be paid with work-study funds for their regularly scheduled hours affected by the closure;
  • high-risk research, clinical operations, and approved events will operate as usual; essential employees who support these functions will report to work

In the event of a closure:

  • all operations will be suspended, including clinical operations and events;
  • only individuals essential to secure the campus or avert catastrophic failure will be required to report or permitted on campus

Special Situations

Certain major public events are not automatically canceled when  reduced operations are in effect (see campus-specific appendices for examples). The Officer of the Day or Chancellor will determine whether the public event may be held. Consultation with appropriate executives will occur prior to making the decision to close or reduce operations, time permitting, depending on the nature of the situation or the protocol as defined in the Emergency Operations Plan.

Individual Decisions

The University acknowledges that it is a community of individuals with different abilities and circumstances.  Even in situations where a campus remains open for business as usual, individuals are reminded to use their own best judgment about their safety in deciding whether to report to work or attend classes.  In these circumstances, an employee is not relieved of their responsibility for their work, and may be required to make alternative arrangements with their supervisor, or utilize paid leave as provided in the work rules for their classification.  Students who determine they need to miss class should promptly notify their instructor and review the class syllabus regarding attendance and other class requirements.

Reason for Policy

The University recognizes the need to prepare for unexpected situations or respond to weather that may require the closure of all or part of a campus or reduce operations; to identify the decision-making hierarchy for such closures; to ensure timely notification to students, staff, faculty, and visitors; and to confirm affected individual responsibilities in the event of a closure or reduced operations.




Frequently Asked Questions


Subject Contact Phone Email
Primary Contact(s) Crookston: Chris Winjum 218-281-8343
Duluth: Duluth: Stephen Keto 218-726-7101
Morris: Bryan Herrmann 320-589-6113
Rochester: Virginia Wright-Peterson 507-258-8009
Twin Cities: Paige Rohman 612-624-7266
Emergency Operations Plan Director of Emergency Management - Lisa Dressler 612-625-9446
Personnel/compensation issues during potential/actual closing Contact your unit or campus HR administrator
Emergency Operations Plan Director of Emergency Management - Lisa Dressler 612-625-9446


Reduced Operations
Classes held on campus and routine day-to-day academic and administrative operations are suspended. In these areas, only essential employees are required to report. Most buildings are locked. High risk research, clinical operations, and approved events continue to operate as usual. Campuses may elect to deliver classes online to allow for continuity of instruction.
Campus Closure
All functions and operations are suspended due to imminent threat or danger to life or safety of individuals. Essential employees should check with their supervisor, as only those essential employees necessary to secure the campus or avert catastrophic failures are required to report. All buildings are locked. 
Adverse Conditions
Adverse conditions include severe inclement weather conditions (such as significant accumulation of snow or ice, high winds, tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, extreme temperatures, etc.) that pose serious risk to the health or safety of University personnel and/or students, impede the ability of individuals to travel, create significant logistical challenges, or cause loss of utilities or other critical infrastructure.
Emergency/Disaster Conditions
Emergency/Disaster conditions may exist as a result of a natural or human-caused disaster, a civil disorder that poses an imminent threat of serious injury to persons or property, or other seriously disruptive events where extraordinary measures are required immediately to avert, alleviate, or repair damage to University property or to maintain the orderly operation of the campus.
Essential Employee
An employee who has been designated as vital to the operations of the University, whose presence is required regardless of the existence of an emergency condition, and whose absence from duty could endanger the safety and well-being of the campus population, research, and/or physical plant. Employees may be designated as essential on a situational basis, e.g., in the event of an emergency. Those employees deemed "essential employees" must be notified of such designation by their supervisor. Essential employees are required to report to work in the event of reduced operations or a closing unless specifically informed by their supervisor that they are not to report.
Officer of the Day (OOD)
Duluth and Twin Cities campus: the individual designated by the President or Chancellor with full authority to act on their behalf in handling emergencies affecting the campus. The OOD must always be available for a rapid response to campus issues and arrange for an alternate when not available. On the Twin Cities campus, the primary OOD (Vice President for University Services) communicates the OOD schedule to the Chief of Police, the Department of Emergency Management (DEM), and others on campus. On the Duluth campus, the Chancellor communicates the OOD schedule to the University system President, the campus vice chancellors and their staffs, the Chief of Police, and others on campus.
Emergency Lead – Designated Authority (ELDA)
Crookston, Morris, and Rochester campuses: the individual designated by the Chancellor with authority to act on their behalf in handling emergencies affecting their campus.
University Email
University email is the official system of communication with students (see Administrative Policy:Using Email as Official Student Communication).
SAFE-U is the University of Minnesota's emergency notification text messaging system. Students, faculty, and staff can stay informed about critical campus class, safety, and closing / reduced operations information by registering to receive SAFE-U messages. University employees and students may modify their SAFE-U preferences in the MyU Portal.


All Employees and Students
Listen to media announcements and monitor their campus home page for specific closing or reduced operations information. Maintain current information for SAFE-U, the University's emergency text message notification.
Building Evacuations
In the event of building closings, everyone in the building must follow the instructions communicated by authorized individuals (e.g., University Police, University Health and Safety, local fire and law enforcement or other emergency responders (ie. EMS)).
Officer of the Day - Twin Cities and Duluth Campuses
Assess emergency/disaster situations and make decisions on whether to close all or portion(s) the campus or reduce operations in the event of an emergency/disaster. Act as the Chief Executive in the event of campus emergencies /disasters and in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Make appropriate contact with academic leadership, other senior University officials, government, community, and private sector entities. Brief the President as required. Make staffing and funding decisions to support the emergency response. Approve internal and external communications relating to the emergency. Ensure overall system coordination/response including system campuses.
Chancellor and Emergency Lead – Designated Authority (ELDA) - Crookston, Morris, or Rochester Campuses
When an emergency situation occurs on the campus, these administrators identify an incident response team to coordinate campus emergency response. Specific team members will vary to meet the needs of the situation at hand. The Chancellor’s designated Emergency Lead - Designated Authority (ELDA) will be responsible and have the authority to implement the campus Emergency Operations Plan, including coordinating warning and notification. They will assess emergency/disaster situations and make decisions on whether to close all or portion(s) of the campus or reduce operations in the event of an emergency/disaster. Brief the President as required. 
University Relations or University Marketing and Public Relations
Communicates in a timely and accurate manner with people both internal and external to the University on closures, reduced operations, or class cancellations for the campus. Manage public communication regarding status of hospitals and clinics where applicable.
Unit Administrators
Develop a specific set of procedures for their own units within the guidelines of overall University policies and procedures. Notify essential employees as to their designation and responsibilities in the event of an emergency closing or reduced operations as early as possible, or include in job posting if feasible. Develop, maintain, and execute a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) if applicable.

Related Information


November 2019 - Comprehensive Review. Alignment of policy for systemwide application; addition of Appendices for each system campus.
September 2015 - Structured policy and delegation of authority for the decision to continue or suspend operations of the University (Twin Cities campus specifically) is necessary to ensure timely decision making and provide clarity for students, faculty, and staff about the impacts of those decisions. Added language about class cancellation to clarify that is included under this policy, as there have been instances in recent years when the University did not close, but did cancel classes. Other minor updates to reflect current information.
December 2010 - Major Revision, comprehensive review. 1. Expands the policy to cover closing of individual or multiple buildings, in addition to a full campus closing. 2. Specifies the Officer of the Day as the individual responsible for determining when to close a building or campus, in consultation with the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, and other appropriate executives as the situation permits. 3. Improves readability of the policy by reorganizing and consolidating information in associated Appendices (e.g., employee compensation during a closing). 4. Title updated from "Emergency Closing Policy" to "Campus and Building Closings: Twin Cities." 5. Responsible Officer and Ownership has moved from Senior Vice President Academic Affairs and Provost to Vice President for University Services.
December 2003
December 1999
December 1998
December 1994
December 1994

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