Russell C. Carey, Executive Vice President of Planning and Policy, doesn’t cancel school for a bit of snow, even if it comes with an 800-signature petition. This winter, though, a pair of blizzards have forced Carey to call two snow days, catapulting him into the spotlight and making him one of the most popular administrators on campus. I sat down with Carey to talk snow days and the possibility of a 2016 Presidential campaign.
BlogDH: What exactly is the job of the Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy?
Carey: I have responsibility for campus safety and chair the Core Crisis Tea. For example, public safety reports to me. I oversee the team that really manages and responds to major crises, including winter weather. And certainly the blizzard at the beginning of January was in that category.
BlogDH: How do you decide when to call a snow day?
Carey: We gather a lot of information. We subscribe to a weather service that gives us very accurate weather information. Even several days out from a storm people are watching those forecasts. A key priority is: Is it safe? The January blizzard was clearly a life-threatening situation, but it can vary a lot depending on timing and accumulation. There’s just basic set of considerations. Is it possible to operate? Is the weather such that people that have to commute to campus can do so? Is there a parking ban? What’s the ability of the staff to clear the campus before classes begin? It’s very weather and day specific.
BlogDH: Would say that student petitions, for example, have negligible impact on your decision to call a snow day?
Carey: [Laughs] Negligible. Less than negligible.
BlogDH: So Joey Botros’ petition was not at all a consideration in calling last Monday’s snow day?
Carey: That was not at all a consideration.
BlogDH: I think your popularity among students was boosted when you emailed Joey Botros before the second snow day.
Carey: Yeah, that was more about having a sense of humor than anything else.
BlogDH: Even so, I think that students really appreciated seeing that sense of humor coming out of University Hall.
Carey: I think that’s right. I don’t know Joey personally, but I thought the petition was great, and the Facebook page was great. It’s fun. Obviously it didn’t detract from my other responsibilities, but I think both myself and others found some enjoyment in that humor. I understand that impression of University Hall, but you know it’s also human beings making decisions and involved in a community that they want to be a part of. I was an undergraduate here, and I’ve been here pretty much ever since–since 1991, so it’s a place that I both know pretty well and care deeply about. So I appreciated both the humor and the passion behind the petition.
BlogDH: Do you remember any snow days from when you were an undergrad?
Carey: No, none. It has changed a lot. I think there’s much more of an expectation that institutions will close more readily than they used to. I think there’s less tolerance for the challenges of winter weather.
BlogDH: Do you like to play in the snow?
Carey: Well I grew up skiing, which I do much less of now. I enjoy it. I’m a New Englander, I grew up in Massachusetts. I love the seasons. But when you have a house and kids and have to shovel it out multiple times it gets more tiresome.
BlogDH: Do your kids help you shovel?
Carey: No, no. Maybe a little bit. But not so much.
BlogDH: How would you respond to nominations for you to run for president?
Carey: I’m undecided. I think there’s an outside chance. Remote.
BlogDH: I think you would get a lot of support if you chose to run. At least think about running for governor.
Carey: [Laughs] Ok.
Image via Blog Creative Team.