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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas

National Campus Safety and Security Project Launched

February 19, 2008

A major initiative to address all threats faced by colleges and universities and to strengthen their safety and security was launched this month by NACUBO in partnership with several higher education associations. This comprehensive new assessment of the wide-ranging risks common to all institutions will explore key safety and security threats and deliver information to help campuses prepare. Study results will include guidance on preparing emergency management plans for prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery related to threats of every nature:  natural disasters, infectious diseases, shootings, terrorist attacks, cyber attacks--all types of events with the potential for devastation.

The seven organizations partnering with NACUBO in this initiative are the American College Personnel Association (ACPA), APPA, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), EDUCAUSE, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA), the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA), and University Risk Management and Insurance Association (URMIA). The partnering organizations have provided funding for the initial phase of the project; additional support is being sought. The effort has been endorsed by the American Council on Education and five other key presidential associations.

"What makes this initiative unique is the coming together of so many organizations within the higher education community to deal with a tremendous common problem," notes NACUBO president, John Walda. "On any given day, any institution, no matter what size or scope, can be brought down by a violent crime, a hurricane or ice storm or tornado, a pandemic outbreak--the list goes on. We’ve seen just this month, unfortunately, in Tennessee, how weather can wreak havoc on a campus. With our new assessment, we will keep in mind the different factors that influence emergency management approaches at different types of institutions while we focus on the core similarities among the threats and among the campuses that wind up as victims."

Mark Luker, vice president of EDUCAUSE, underscores the importance of addressing campus threats through a multi-organizational effort: "EDUCAUSE, for example, has investigated cyber security and assisted institutions in solving related problems. Expanding on our past efforts in the most meaningful way to colleges and universities requires more of an enterprise approach. We’re looking forward to this opportunity to integrate the concerns and work of EDUCAUSE with those of our partners in the higher education community who represent other components of campus life."

Long-time NACUBO member, James A. Hyatt, will serve as the project director. He recently retired as executive vice president and COO of Virginia Tech (VT).  Last summer he led a study undertaken by VT examining security options in the aftermath of the April shootings there. Before VT, Hyatt served as vice chancellor for budget and finance and CFO at the University of California, Berkeley, as assistant vice president for resource planning and budget at the University of Maryland at College Park, and as director of the Financial Management Center at NACUBO. Hyatt also served as interim executive vice president of NACUBO from 1986-87.

Study Methodology and Deliverables

Numerous deliverables will result from the all-threats initiative. "For the next 12 months, we’ll conduct research through a survey of a cross-section of colleges and universities to identify the current state of emergency preparedness," Hyatt explains. "The project team will also do onsite research by visiting a diverse set of campuses--urban and rural, large and small, community colleges, public and independent institutions. Some of the key results from our exploration will be a symposium on taking an all-threats approach to campus safety and security, plus a campus self-assessment instrument."

After the review of existing studies and research, a comprehensive survey to assess the state of safety and security plans at a cross section of institutions will be one of the first major project undertakings. The cooperation of NACUBO members in coordinating survey responses from various campus offices will be key to its success. Other activities designed to gather information will include multidisciplinary focus groups and campus site visits. A symposium will bring together campus representatives and experts in campus safety, emergency communications, legal affairs, health services, and other relevant areas.

Project deliverables will include:

  • a self-assessment instrument that would allow all colleges, regardless of size, to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their current security systems and processes;
  • a publication highlighting results of the study and providing guidance to colleges and universities on such topics as security planning, threat assessment, vulnerability remediation, and crisis intervention; and,
  • articles, web casts, and other professional development activities as appropriate on various topics.

NACUBO Contact:  Jim Hyatt, project director, 202.861.2570.