University employees got an early holiday gift when the University recently announced a two-day extension to the holiday period over winter break.
In an e-mail sent to all University employees, Donald Reaves, vicepresident for the administration and chief financial officer, announced that President Don Randel had approved a measure to close the school on December 26, 2003 and January 2, 2004.
"This is a one-time extension of the Christmas and New Year's Day holidays in order to provide two consecutive four-day weekends," Reaves said in the e-mail. "These Fridays off are not considered regular University Holidays, however; they will not count against staff members' vacation or personal holiday accruals."
Certain offices, including UCPD, Facilities Services, and NSIT personnel, will remain on staff during those two days to ensure the security and maintenance of the University. These employees, while not getting paid special compensation for working these two days, will have the benefit of an additional day off at another time.
Judy Friedberg, Executive Assistant to Vice-President Reaves, said that Reaves recommended the closure to Randel for a variety of reasons, such as a general lack of staff motivation once the holiday season approaches. Many employees already consistently take time off around the holidays, making the entire period a full two-week break.
"Productivity is often low at this time as many colleagues' offices are closed and the excitement of the season distracts from work," Friedberg said. "The nature of our academic calendar provides an opportunity for staff to take time off during slower periods in most people's work cycles. And finally, this is a practice which competitively postures us with many of our higher education peers."
As for the costs of shutting down the buildings in the University for an extra two days, Friedberg said that the University has not officially done an analysis on them. But she believes that the University will save money closing the buildings rather than heating or maintaining buildings for just a few office workers.
Many in the University were pleased with the administration's decision to give its employees an extra holiday, saying that the University was right in taking into consideration the schedules of its employees during the holidays.
"I think it's a wonderful idea," said Janice Gyure, an Executive Administrator for the Department of Neurobiology, Pharmacology and Physiology. "It's been a long time coming that the University should consider this because schools are closed and employees want to be with their families during the holidays."