On Nov. 4 at 2 a.m., clocks were turned backward one hour to standard time from daylight savings. But the following Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, analog clocks inside classrooms at UT remained one hour ahead.
Public health freshman Livia Frost said she noticed the incorrect time on the clocks when she walked into her first class last Monday.
“When I walked into class, I started to freak out because I looked at the clock and it was an hour after my class was supposed to start,” Frost said. “For a couple of minutes, I thought I missed my class.”
Frost’s experience led her to start asking questions.
“I started to wonder, how many people does it take to change all of the clocks around campus and how long does it take for them to change them?” Frost said.
Laurie Lentz, communications manager of financial and administration services, said the clocks are not typically changed by people, rather they are run by technology.
“The classroom clocks are not changed manually,” Lentz said. “They are actually changed from a central system.”
The system that controls the thousands of clocks around campus is located in the Main Building.
Dale Davis, facilities operations and maintenance technician, is responsible for managing the system and said it is more complicated than most students think.
“In each building on campus, there is a system that controls the clocks in the classrooms of the building,” Davis said. “These systems are all connected to the central system in the main building.”
Davis said the WWV — a signal from the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology’s radio station in Fort Collins, Colorado — continuously transmits the official U.S. time, but during the days following the transition from daylight savings to standard time, the signal was lost.
“If the WWV was working correctly, the clocks across campus would have automatically corrected to standard time,” Davis said.
Davis said because the signal was lost to the master system, he had to switch to using the backup generator until he could identify and correct the problem with the master system.
By Thursday, Davis was able to correct the problem, and the clocks were updated with the correct time.
“Because of cellphones, people don’t usually care about what the clocks read around campus,” David said. “But when they’re slightly off, students begin to notice, and I work as quickly as I can to correct the problem.”