Propane Update

The administration would like to thank you for your patience this winter as we faced encounters with snow, ice, colder than normal temperatures and challenges in propane supply. We know that combined, these challenges have made it more difficult for everyone.

The facility service team has been able to secure propane from an additional vendor and our contracted vendor has confirmed they are back to receiving normal deliveries.

In the communication earlier this week, it was communicated that conservation changes/restrictions would be implemented through 11 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015.

I am pleased to announce that through securing additional propane, conservation on campus and next week’s forecast for warmer temperatures, we will be returning campus operations back to normal on Sunday, March 1, 2015.

• By Monday, March 2nd the temperature in all academic and administrative buildings will return to normal settings. At that time, the relaxed dress code will no longer be in effect and employees are expected to return to the appropriate professional dress code.
• Changes in the residence hall temperature will begin over the weekend. It will take a day or two for the buildings to fully return to the typical 70 degree setting.
• Larsen Student Union will reopen on Sunday under normal hours and the Union Café will resume serving the full menu, including hot food.
• Showers in Sollenberger Sports Center will be available for students and employees who use those athletic facilities.
• Over the weekend, the swimming pool temperature will be increased. The pool will reopen for normal operations on Monday, March 2.
• Climenhaga Homestead and McBeth Advancement Center will reopen on Monday, March 2.
• The shower conservation request will no longer be in effect, though the College always encourages ongoing conservation efforts.

– Kathie Shafer, vice president of operations


Propane Conversation Follow Up and Q&A

There has been a lot of active conversation on campus and on social media since yesterday’s announcement about the College’s current propane shortage and its related voluntary conservation efforts. As a Christian college community, we have appreciated the expressions of collaboration, understanding and support as we seek to responsibly tackle the challenges of the extreme cold weather together during the next several days.

We have also observed the need for some additional clarification and information. Below is a Q&A that the College has created to try to answer some of the questions that we have been hearing.

Is the propane shortage occurring because the College didn’t order enough propane or isn’t willing to buy an additional supply?

The current challenge that Messiah is facing is related to the reduced supply of propane in the Northeast in the volume at which the campus uses this source of energy. It is not a cost or planning issue.

Messiah College annually enters a contract to purchase at least 500,000 gallons of propane a year. This quantity is based on past annual usage and average winter temperatures and has historically been enough supply. Without this annual contract, the College might actually have experienced more severe issues when the region has supply-and-demand issues. The challenge this year (and last) is rooted in record-cold temperatures which has affected the availability to our supplier from their suppliers to get propane to Messiah College at our contracted levels.

Why can’t the College just purchase propane from other regional suppliers?

The College works with various larger propane vendors that can help meet our needs of 30,000 to 40,000 gallons per week. In fact, due to the regional shortage, we are already supplementing our current propane supply with some of these alternate vendors. However, as an institutional customer, the College has volume demands and complex liability, safety/compliance issues that residential customers do not face. Many of the propane companies in the area cannot supply propane in volume enough to meet our needs. Most local firms can meet the needs of residential homes which get a typical range of 200-300 gallons for a month. By comparison, the College uses more propane in a week then they may typically distribute in a month.

It is important to know that Messiah’s director of facility services and the vice president of operations have been, and continue to be in, active ongoing conversations with suppliers in the area who can meet the volume and institutional liability/safety needs of the College.

Is it true there’s no hot water on campus?

It is not accurate that there is no hot water on campus; currently all campus facilities have hot water.

How is the College going to regulate its request that students and employees living on campus take shorter showers?

The College’s request that students and employees residents help to conserve energy by reducing shower lengths, being mindful of other hot water usage, etc., is a voluntary, short-term conservation measure. The College in no way is regulating this request, but rather, asking for cooperation.

By asking students and employees to voluntary conserve their hot water usage in the short-term, it is our goal to ensure continued hot water availability for everyone through the next several days we anticipate a return to normal temperatures and supply.

I’ve heard that the College is not currently offering hot food service on campus. Is that accurate?

No, that is not accurate. The College continues to provide hot food service and menus in Lottie Nelson Dining Room and The Falcon. The only short-term change communicated in the College’s announcement was that the Union Café in the Larsen Student Union will temporarily serve a more limited menu of deli and grab-and-go items (due to the significant amount of propane that is used in the union.) So this temporary menu change in the Union Café allows the College to conserve significant energy while at the same time continuing food service to students and employees in that location.

Will these conservation measures extend past the Saturday, Feb. 28 timeframe communicated in the original email?

At this time, the College anticipates that its current conservation efforts will be sufficient to carry us through the Saturday, Feb. 28 timeframe communicated in the original announcement. If the temperatures increase as predicted this weekend, the amount of propane we use will decrease and we should be able to bring campus operations back to normal. This should also better regulate the supply and demand in the region as well.

If there is any change to this timeframe, the College will communicate as soon as possible to students and employees.


Propane shortage and restrictions

Today the College was informed by our propane supplier that the shortage we announced yesterday to campus has become even more severe due to the prolonged, record-cold temperatures in the Northeast. As a result, our supplier has reduced delivery levels to our campus and has not been able to completely fill our propane tanks. We are in ongoing communication with our propane vendor, and they are doing all that they can to meet our needs. The College is also working hard to purchase additional propane through alternate vendors, but the shortage in this entire region of the U.S. is making that difficult.

Messiah, like other residential and institutional propane customers in our region, is being asked to voluntarily conserve its energy usage. The College’s goal is to keep our campus community safe and operational until temperatures increase and propane delivery can resume its normal levels. To this end, the following conservation changes/restrictions will be in place through 11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28:

Centrally controlled building temperatures: We will continue adjusting all centrally controlled room temperatures at a 68-degree hold during the hours of 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., and at 60 degrees between 7 p.m.- 7 a.m. (with the exception of the Larsen Student Union; see below).

  • Due to these changes, employees are permitted to dress during this time in appropriate casual wear, i.e., jeans are acceptable, Messiah College logo wear, other office-appropriate casual clothing (in keeping with your professional responsibilities for each day). If you have questions, please consult with your supervisor.

Larsen Student Union: Effective immediately, the hours of operation for the student union are changed to 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. (during which time a temperature hold of 68 degrees will be in effect).

  • Food service in the Union Café will temporarily be limited to salads, soups, deli and grab-and-go menu items only (no hot food service will be available).
  • The Division of Student Affairs and Dining Services will be in communication with their employees and students who are assigned to that building to discuss the impact on their work schedule.

Sollenberger Sports Center: Effective immediately, there will be no use of the showers in the sports center for students and employees who use those athletic facilities.

  • Note: Exception is granted for student-athletes training on Messiah’s wrestling team and for visiting athletes who will be on campus for the wrestling invitational tournament this weekend.

Swimming pool closed: Effective immediately, the swimming pool and diving pool will be closed for all college-related and external activities.

Climenhaga Homestead and McBeth Advancement Center: No new reservations will be taken for the Climenhaga Homestead Guest House and the employees in the adjoining McBeth Advancement Center will be temporarily relocated.

Shower conservation: Effective immediately, all students and employees who live on campus are being asked to avoid running hot water unnecessarily and to restrict their showers to three minutes or less to conserve hot water usage.

Preliminary forecasts predict that the outside temperatures will begin to moderate early next week, and it is our hope that our energy supply and operations can return to normal. In the interim, all staff and students are reminded that portable space heaters are prohibited for use in our campus buildings due to their severe safety/fire threat.

The College is grateful for the patience, understanding and partnership of all students and employees as we work through this unprecedented month of extreme temperatures and the energy shortage it has created. Thank you for working together during the next several days to conserve and meet this challenge as a campus community.

Public health

Ebola Response Q & A

This fall, there has been heightened public attention surrounding the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the related isolated cases that occurred in the U.S. Throughout this situation, the College has been proactively monitoring the international and domestic response to Ebola and its impact on college-related travel. The College’s International Risk Management Committee has met as needed this semester and has already been in direct contact with all students and employees whose travel may have impacted for J-Term. Although media coverage of the Ebola outbreak continues to slow, we want to assure the campus community that the Crisis Management Team and the International Risk Management Committee will continue to monitor this international health situation in a measured and proactive way.

The information below will help answer questions you may have about Ebola and the current state of Messiah College’s response.

Basic background questions about Ebola
Source: the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

What is Ebola?

Ebola is a rare, often fatal disease in humans and some animals. It is caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains, named for the Ebola River in Africa where the virus was first discovered in 1976.

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What are the signs/symptoms of Ebola?

Symptoms of Ebola include:

  • Fever (greater than 101.5°F or 38.6°C)
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)

Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.

How is Ebola spread?

Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with

  • blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
  • objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus
  • infected animals

Ebola is not spread through the air or, in general, by water or food, unless those items have been in direct contact with the items listed above. You can read more about the transmission of Ebola at

Messiah College community travel/international origin

Are Messiah College students and faculty currently traveling to areas where Ebola is most prevalent?

To the best of our knowledge, Messiah College does not currently have students, faculty or other employees on college-sponsored travel (i.e., cross-cultural/study abroad courses; foreign exchange; missions, research or other educational-related travel) to or from the three West African nations experiencing Ebola outbreaks (Guinea, Nigeria, Liberia, or Sierra Leone). The College has also not sponsored any of this type of travel to these countries in the past 30 days or in the coming months. The closest countries where we have students or employees right now is in Rwanda and Uganda (neither of which border outbreak nations). Messiah College is daily monitoring the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC)’s international travel advisories and our program partners there have comprehensive safety protocols and procedures in place should evacuation become necessary.

Are there any plans to cancel upcoming college-related travel to other West African countries—or to all African countries―as a precautionary measure?

Messiah College defines West Africa as a collection of 17 countries in the westernmost region of the African continent. They include: Benin, Burkina Faso, island of Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, island of Saint Helena, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe, and Togo.

As a precautionary measure, Messiah College has canceled J-term 2015 study-abroad trips to Ghana and Burkina Faso. Additionally, the College prohibits any student to travel to/from West Africa for college-related purposes until the outbreak is contained in that area, and declared as such by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and/or the World Health Organization (WHO).

Messiah College will allow trips outside West Africa to move forward, but will continue to closely monitor. If an Ebola case emerges in any country where we are sending students or currently have students, the College will automatically review country-specific experiences, with the College absorbing any potential financial loss of canceling the trip or bringing students home early.

How long is the outbreak going to last? Will it be safe to travel in the spring semester?

According to the CDC, it is impossible to predict with complete certainty how long an outbreak might last in West Africa. Colleges and universities should consider the likelihood that the outbreak could continue for months and that CDC’s recommendation to avoid non-essential travel may remain in place for as long as the outbreak lasts. This might mean not traveling to the affected area during the spring semester if the outbreak is still ongoing.

Messiah College will continue to monitor the outbreak in compliance with CDC and WHO recommendations and make plans for spring travel accordingly.

Are there any restrictions on Messiah students’ or employees’ personal travel at this time?

There is currently no College-imposed restriction on personal travel at this time. However, the College strongly urges students and employees to follow the U.S. State Department’s travel advisories and the CDC’s self-monitoring health guidelines when they travel domestically or abroad. Information for travelers can be found on the CDC’s website here.

What is Messiah’s plan of action should a student or employee traveling internationally begin showing signs and symptoms of Ebola?

Messiah College has a variety of protocols and practices in place to assist with students and employees who fall ill abroad, including:

  • International medical insurance in partnership with FrontierMEDEX, which includes emergency medical and evacuation coverage
  • Working closely with in-country partners who can provide immediate on-the-ground assistance in the event of illness
  • Registering each participant with the US State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to ensure diplomatic assistance should the need arise
  • Institutional international crisis management team to help facilitate care

In the event a Messiah student or employee were to show signs and symptoms of Ebola while abroad, they would immediately report to the nearest healthcare facility, in partnership with FrontierMEDEX, to determine appropriate next steps with Messiah’s crisis management team, and in consultation with the US Embassy in country, as necessary.

Does Messiah College have any students who live in Ebola-affected areas of West Africa or other nearby countries?

Based on our records, we do not have any international, missionary or transcultural students from Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone, the three countries in which there are currently Ebola outbreaks.

Messiah’s emergency response

How is Messiah College responding to the international Ebola outbreak and recent cases in the U.S.?

In response to the first human-to-human transmission of Ebola in the United States (as of October 13, 2014), Messiah College’s Crisis Management Team began meeting regularly to:

  • establish a monitoring plan;
  • identify CDC best practices to apply to our community;
  • develop a communication strategy as needed for students, employees, parents and the community;
  • and identify potential risks from College-related international travel and determine appropriate risk-management. The College’s International Risk Management Committee has met to process decisions for college-related travel this fall and has already been in direct communication with students, their families, and employees whose travel plans were directly impacted by precautions taken as a result of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

In the rare instance a student, employee or visitor on campus was at risk for Ebola and began to show symptoms, what is the College’s protocol for quarantine and treatment?

In the interest of safety to the Messiah College community, if a student, employee or faculty member believes they’ve been exposed to Ebola and is showing symptoms, the following protocol would be in effect:

  • The individual should call the Engle Center at ext. 6035. If it is after-hours, he or she should follow the prompts to speak with the on-call nurse. Engle Center staff will triage appropriately. This may include keeping the individual where they are (isolated) until further instruction or going to the Engle Center, depending on circumstances.
  • Upon triage and if Ebola exposure is suspected, the Engle Center will contact the PA Department of Health for next steps.

How will the campus be notified if a student, faculty member or employee is suspected of having Ebola?

Messiah College will communicate all necessary safety information to students and employees through established channels such as mass email, the College hotline, the website and its emergency blog as detailed at

For additional CDC resources and information on Ebola visit

Hurricane Sandy (2012)

A message from President Kim Phipps

A Message to the Messiah College Community Following Hurricane Sandy from President Kim Phipps

As president, I want to express my profound gratitude and appreciation for the way that the Messiah College community has responded to Hurricane Sandy and all of its related challenges—not only during the storm, but in the proactive planning and response to this historic weather event. A hallmark of the Messiah community has always been the way that we work together and care for one another in difficult times—and that has certainly been exhibited in the events of the past several days.

Messiah’s Crisis Management Team, led by Vice President for Operations Kathie Shafer, has prepared and responded admirably to the challenges of Hurricane Sandy, keeping our campus community secure and well-informed. This team represents an effective partnership between numerous campus departments, and they met frequently in the days leading up to, during and following the storm to plan and make the necessary (and often difficult) decisions to keep our campus safe.

Students cooperated with the safety instructions from their residence staff and other College personnel and responded with patience and good-spirit to the hurricane-related schedule changes and inconveniences. (I’ve enjoyed hearing the stories and seeing the photos of the creative ways that students and residence life employees found to pass the time!)

Essential employees in Campus Events, Dining Services, Facility Services, Safety, and Residence Life exhibited selfless dedication in the way they cared for the needs of our students and physical campus environment. The majority of these individuals were on campus around-the-clock for several days, spending time away from their own families in the height of the storm to protect the wellbeing of our students.

Alumni, parents and community friends prayed for the safety and protection of our students, employees and campus—and we deeply appreciate their prayer support.

As a community, may we continue to pray for those individuals, families and neighborhoods who are dealing with the overwhelming loss and destruction from this devastating storm.

Warm regards,

Kim S. Phipps

Hurricane Sandy (2012)

Power restored to campus buildings; Grantham Campus to re-open Wednesday, Oct. 31

Thank you to all students and employees for your patience and cooperation during the storm and aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. PP&L was able to restore power to the affected buildings on campus late Tuesday afternoon. The Grantham Campus will re-open at 6 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31 and all classes and college activities will resume normal operations.  All essential and non-essential employees should report to work according to their regular schedules.

For the remainder of Tuesday evening, Oct. 30:

  • All evening classes and activities remain cancelled.
  • Eisenhower Campus Center and the Sollenberger Sports Center will close following dinner service.
  • All other campus buildings (with the exception of student residences and the Larsen Student Union) will remain closed throughout Tuesday evening so that facilities and safety personnel can conduct general maintenance and safety walk-throughs of campus facilities prior to re-opening Wednesday morning.  

For Wednesday, Oct. 31:

  • Dining: Lottie Nelson Dining Hall will resume its normal hours (with a modified menu); Union Café will open at 12 noon (with a limited menu). The Falcon will remain closed on Wednesday, but all dining venues are scheduled to reopen with regular hours and menus effective Thursday, Nov. 1.
  • Maintenance issues: If employees notice leaks or other storm-related maintenance issues when returning to their offices and work spaces, they should report them to Facilities Services after 7:30 a.m. at ext. 6011.
  • Traffic and parking: Due to rising flood water and debris, the South Entrance of campus, Creekside Drive, Starry Athletic Complex and the Art Warehouse (Mill House) remain off limits to all vehicle and pedestrian traffic until further notice. Commuter students should park in the visitor parking lot (between Old Main and Eisenhower Campus Center).
  • Vehicle fleet:  The College’s fleet vehicle travel will resume at 6 a.m.