Lightning strikes historic Park building

There’s an old saying that April showers bring May flowers, but at Park University, April didn’t just bring rain.

On Monday, April 10, lightning struck Mackay Hall during a thunderstorm. This surge of electricity created numerous problems on the campus.

This is the most significant lightning strike that Park has seen in over 10 years according to Park University’s Chief Technology Officer, James Nelson. He said, “It was just such a big surge that it bypassed any surge protection we had and damaged a lot of equipment.”

The largest problem was the phone and internet services shut down in several buildings and spaces on campus including Mackay Hall, Science Hall, Copley-Thaw, the Academic Underground and Labor Hall.

For the rest of the day, employees who worked in these buildings were encouraged to work from home or in other spaces on campus. Classes held in these buildings were continued as scheduled, but faculty could hold the class virtually at their discretion.

“Our biggest priority was to get the classrooms back up and running as quickly as possible,” Nelson said. He continued that to accomplish this goal, his team used spare computers and equipment to replace the damaged technology on campus. In cases where there weren’t spares, the team found workaround solutions for the time being while waiting for parts to be repaired. This means formerly wireless classrooms may have wires and cables for now.

The team prioritized wireless internet access and phone access on campus. In the Underground, the cell service is already poor, so restoring wireless internet access in this area was a big priority for them team. In addition, staff phones were also affected. The main Park phone line is a cloud service, so it was unaffected, but staff phones had difficulties making or receiving external phone calls. The IT team had to order part, but luckily they were delivered quickly so the team was able to restore access according to Nelson.

However, not all ordered parts have been delivered. Nelson said the parts are to fix Wi-Fi issues are still present in Mackay and other locations. “That equipment is supposed to be delivered next week and then we’ll deploy it as soon as it gets here.”

Other than that, the remaining issues have been small issues reported to IT. “If anybody still has a problem, students especially, they can report it by calling the help desk and creating a ticket for it… There may be things we’re not aware of or that haven’t been found, but if someone finds something, definitely let us know.”