Solar Eclipse: Information for Employees

While we do not know how many visitors we will have on our campus for the event, there are estimates that up to 1 million visitors will be coming to Oregon to view the eclipse making travel to and from the areas along its path a challenge.

In acknowledgement of the exceptional circumstances of this event, normal campus operations will start at noon Aug. 21. Staff who are not essential to morning campus operations and eclipse viewing activities do not need to report to work until noon. Supervisors are responsible for communicating with employees about whether they are required to report to work.

We realize that staff may want to enjoy the eclipse with their friends and families. Because campus operations will begin at noon and many students will already be on campus — including JumpStart program participants, student-athletes, student volunteers and residence hall staff, we cannot completely close the campus. With a noon campus opening, classes at the Atkinson Graduate School of Management are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. College of Law classes have been cancelled for the day.

Supervisors will need to add time using the “University Closure” time type to hourly employees’ timesheets for hours scheduled to be worked before on the day of the eclipse. Staff who are required to work to support eclipse activities should record hours as normal. As with a weather-related closure, staff required to work will receive straight time for actual hours worked at their regular pay, as well as the “University Closure” time for hours scheduled to be worked before 12 p.m.

Employees should use their best judgment regarding the safety and feasibility of making it to campus and adjust travel plans to account for potentially high traffic volumes. Employees who decide not to report to work Aug. 21 should contact their supervisor and plan to use vacation leave time to cover hours after 12 p.m.

Here is some other information about the eclipse and about viewing activities being planned at Willamette:

What is the total solar eclipse and why is this one extraordinary?

A total solar eclipse is when the moon moves between the earth and the sun, with the moon blocking out or covering the sun completely for a very short time. The eclipse will darken the sky and the corona that surrounds the sun will be visible.

Although total solar eclipses occur about every 18 months, you have to be located in a very narrow strip of land called the “path of totality” to see the total eclipse. That strip of land is usually in places like Mongolia, the Sahara desert, or the ocean.

Another total solar eclipse won’t cross Oregon until 2169, though a small part of the Oregon coast will see a total eclipse in 2108.

When is it going to occur?

The Total Solar Eclipse will take place Aug. 21. For Salem, the total eclipse should start just after 10:17 a.m. and last almost two minutes.

What are the eclipse activities on campus?

If you do make it to campus to view the eclipse, we encourage you to participate in our eclipse viewing activities on the north lawn behind Waller and Eaton Halls with overflow space on The Quad. With eclipse totality expected to occur at 10:17 a.m., we anticipate people will start staking out their spaces as early as 7 a.m.

Willamette will host the largest gathering of solar scientists throughout the path eclipse. They will be on campus sharing information and offering activities for the public along the north lawn sidewalk.

Bon Appetit will sell eclipse-themed concessions, the Willamette Store will sell items at their pop-up store and the Willamette MBA program will provide free eclipse viewing glasses. According to NASA, except during the moments of total eclipse, there is no safe way to look at the sun without solar filters, such as eclipse glasses. If you are planning to view the eclipse, please ensure you have appropriate eye wear.

We will also have a number of scientists conducting private experiments around campus, including at Ford Hall, Sparks Field and outside Hatfield Library.

Will I be able to camp on campus the night before?

No, camping will not be allowed on campus before the eclipse.

If I come to campus, will I be able to park?

If possible, we encourage you to bike or walk to work that day because roads may be congested.

If you do drive, Willamette University parking lots will be available only to permit holders throughout the day with a few spots reserved for invited guests. Campus Safety will be working to ensure that only those with valid Willamette permits are parked on campus.

Anyone else looking to park will need to look for garage, city or street parking, available on a first come, first served basis. According to the City of Salem, parking will be extremely limited in the area that day.

If you have further questions about the eclipse viewing at Willamette, please contact Colleen Kawahara in the Office of the President at

We look forward to watching the eclipse as a community Aug. 21.