Indiana University, close?

Last updated March 16, 2020!

Note that not all of the dates below are actual full campus closures Рsome may just be class cancellations or changes in instruction (as with the spring 2020 COVID-19 response).

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We oftentimes hear that the IUB campus “never” closes. It’s true that it is not very common, but below are a list of closings we know about in the last hundred years or so. We know that IU closed in 1833 due to a cholera outbreak – look for a post about that at a later date! We also know that there were likely short-term closures due to water shortages in the 19th and early 20th century but we don’t have a handy list of those dates at this time. Again, something to dig into!

  • February 3, 1908: No heat in the buildings.
  • February 5, 1908: Classes dismissed early due to heavy snow fall and rain.
  • Most of October 1918: Closed by order of the Indiana Board of Health due to the “Spanish Flu”; classes resumed November 4.
  • November 25, 1963: Classes cancelled and offices closed due to Kennedy assassination.
  • January 26-27, 1978: Due to the Blizzard of ’78.
  • March 4-27, 1978: Due to coal shortage.
  • January 18-19, 1994: Due to record low temperatures (-34F).
  • March 20, 1996: Due to 10+ inches of wet, heavy snow.
  • February 14, 2007: Closed til noon due to heavy snow.
  • January 28, 2009: Closed due to snow.
  • December 26, 2012: Closed due to severe winter weather.
  • January 5-7, 2014: Closed beginning 9 PM January 5 through 5 PM January 7 due to a Polar Vortex. Classes were not yet in session and while harsh winter weather throughout the next month had folks hoping for additional closures, that did not occur.
  • January 30, 2019: Classes cancelled due to severe cold, with wind chills predicted to drop as low as -33. Campus remains open.
  • March 10, 2020: University announces all “face-to-face classroom teaching temporarily suspended” following spring break, from March 23-April 5, due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The IU community is asked to stay tuned for further announcements due to the rapidly evolving situation. Campus remains open but staff who can are encouraged to work from home.
  • March 15, 2020: University extends virtual instruction through the end of the semester and notifies students instructions regarding dorm move-out will be forthcoming. Campus remains open but staff who can are encouraged to work from home.

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During the 1978 Blizzard, hearty IUB staff members who made their way in could be nominated for an “Icicle Award.”

1978 Icicle Award
1978 Icicle Award

Twenty two employees received this award, including 60 year old Willkie cafeteria employee¬†Minnie Carmichael, who walked 20 blocks with a strained ankle so that “her students would be greeted with her smiling face.”

Author- Dina Kellams

Director, Indiana University Archives. For more great IU history, follow us on Twitter @iubarchives or Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IUBArchives/

6 thoughts on “Indiana University, close?”

  1. Minnie Carmichael! Oh my gosh, I remember her. When I lived in Collins (then MRC) from 1979-1982, she worked in our cafeteria. Every day during dinner at some point she would come out into the dining room and call out, “Is everybody HAPPY?!” Everyone would cheer and Minnie would beam and scuttle back into the kitchen. She was a tiny little lady, but she certainly did have a smiling (and apparently memorable!) face.

    1. Yes, I remember Minnie as well. Usually around the middle of the lunch service, cleaning towel in hand, she would emerge from the kitchen or cleaning duties and ask that same question (sometimes waving the towel). Often, she would climb on a chair to get a better view of the students. You really couldn’t help but be happy for a least a few minutes after hearing her voice and the subsequent applause and cheers. She was a perfect example of the dedication of the hundreds of local service employees that made the campus a special place.

  2. During the coal strike of 1978, there were some things open. There were no classes and students were sent home. The Main Library (now Wells) was open half days, at least on weekdays.. During the rest of the day, library staff were working, but the lights were off. I was in the old library school library and worked sitting by the large windows (north side of Ground Floor). The folks in the stacks had hard hats with lights on them to retrieve books. I don’t think any of those hats are still around.

  3. The thing I remember most about the 1978 coal strike was that, after coming back from a 3-week spring break, we had to make up all that missed class time. Everyone was going to class on Saturdays, and our finals were also moved back almost a week. Schedules for the residence halls, however, were unchanged…I took my last final and moved out of McNutt on the SAME DAY.

    So it was not a big party, and in fact was quite grueling for students and faculty alike.

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