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The List - One year, hundreds of stories. 2014-15 Progress Report.

Campus News

UB steps up during November snowstorms

Crossroads Culinary Center proved to be a popular gathering place for students during the November snowstorms.

By SUE WUETCHER

Published December 4, 2014

With 7 feet of snow in his East Aurora driveway, there was no way Jeff Brady was going to make it in to the North Campus during the November snowstorms.

But the executive director of Campus Dining and Shops (CDS) was responsible for feeding faculty, staff and students on UB’s three campuses.

So Brady set up a command center in his home and conducted conference calls four times daily — other key CDS administrators also were snowed in — to ensure that UB’s dining operations ran as smoothly as possible.

CDS’ situation was not unusual. UB employees stepped in to do whatever needed to be done during the recent storms — both on campus and off.

That included pulling shifts for snowbound colleagues and responding to requests for assistance from state and county agencies.

John P. Hayes, assistant director for buildings and grounds in University Facilities, reported that half of Facilities’ staff was unable to get to work due to the storm. 

“Staff that did make it to work kept the campus going without a hitch,” Hayes says. “Everyone pitched in wherever necessary to assure continuity of all services.”

Andrea Costantino, director of Campus Living, reported a similar situation, with Northtowns staff covering for those stuck in the Southtowns.

Student workers proved to be a “lifesaver” for CDS when union staff couldn’t make it in, Brady notes. Many students live on or near the South Campus, and CDS shuttled them to and from shifts on the North Campus.

Brady says CDS buys food in large quantities and stores it in coolers and freezers across the campuses. So it’s “highly impossible” for CDS to run out of food, he says, debunking one rumor that circulated during the storms.

But there were shortages of bread and milk because CDS vendors U.S. Foods and Costanzo’s Bakery are located in the Southtowns.

So CDS staff purchased dairy products and bread at Wegmans, Tops, Sam’s Club and BJ’s locations in the Northtowns.

“We were never in danger of running out (of food), Brady says. “From the guest perspective, you wouldn’t have noticed a difference.”

The campuses’ dining facilities, particularly Crossroads Culinary Center (C3) on the North Campus, became gathering places for students during the storms, he says. Students who typically spend no more than 45 minutes eating were spending several hours in the dining centers, drinking hot chocolate and sitting around the fireplace at C3, he adds.

And when not tending to operations on the UB campuses, UB staff responded to storm-related requests from state and county emergency management offices.

One such appeal asked UB to provide a driver and 4x4 truck to transport group home workers from their residences in the Southtowns to various state facilities for developmentally disabled persons. Hayes notes that grounds worker Barbara Stanton and others accepted the assignment. Hayes says Stanton spent about 14 hours on Friday, Nov. 21, transporting more than 20 workers.

Among other requests fielded by UB:

  • University Police officers escorted structural engineers to various locations in Erie County to inspect buildings where roofs were compromised due to snow loads.
  • UB staffers Adam Ridler and Mike Baer spent 10 hours on Nov. 25 transporting sandbags from Erie Community College North, where they were being filled, to various flood-prone locations. 
  • UB also was prepared to provide shelter for victims of post-storm flooding, Hayes says.