FROM READERS: Stephens College crews meet challenging weather head-on

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:28 p.m. CST, Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Luanne Andes, left, assistant to President Dianne Lynch, delivers a “Thank You” book to custodian Stephen Cox.

Mandi Schroff works in the Student Health Services at the Stephens College. 

The winter storm that hit Columbia in early February reminded me why I love being a part of Stephens College.


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Stephens, like most area colleges, closed its campus because of the icy conditions, but that doesn’t mean all employees had a day off. Our facilities crews, security officers and those who work in our dining hall were still on campus to make sure the students who live here were fed, warm and safe—and that the horses at our Equestrian Center were cared for, as well.

I can speak for the snow crew and others in the facilities department that each and every one of our Stephens’ women are our first priority, and we are happy to do what it takes to make sure they are taken care of. If staying overnight on campus to make sure sidewalks are clear, meals are served and every student (and horse) is safe, that is what we will do and that is what we did.

The night she called off classes, President Dianne Lynch asked other employees—those who weren’t needed on campus—as well as students to send a quick “thanks” to the critical staff members who still had to be on campus. And, wow, what a response. Some 200 emails flooded in with high praise for those of us working during the storm.

Lynch then compiled those emails into a book she had printed for each of us. The response was heartwarming. One student wrote: “I can’t believe you guys slept on campus in order to help us students. That is just one of the many reasons I love being at Stephens. The first thing I said excitedly to my roommate was ‘Snow Day!’ and the second was ‘AND there’s still food!!!’ We are all so blessed to be here at Stephens with all of you wonderful people helping to feed us and keep us safe and not get mad at us for sledding on the snow and accidentally damaging your freshly shoveled sidewalks.” Fellow employees sent notes of appreciation and empathy. There was even a message from “the horses!”

We stayed because we are dedicated to Stephens and the safety of our students. We continue to stay because we love being a part of this incredible institution, as evidenced by the unrelenting appreciation that the students, faculty and staff give for our hard work and dedication. I cannot imagine a better place to be.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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