- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 17, 2007

RICHMOND — Gov. Timothy M. Kaine will host a conference for Virginia colleges and universities to share information on campus security strategies and services in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings, his office announced yesterday.

The Aug. 13 conference comes as schools across the country re-evaluate their campus security after the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, which left 33 persons dead, including the gunman.

“Certainly, these are very important issues that were highlighted by the horrific events at Virginia Tech in April,” Kaine spokesman Kevin Hall said. “But a conference like this would be useful any time or anywhere it was held.”

Representatives from the state’s public and private, two- and four-year colleges and universities were invited to the conference at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. The schools were encouraged to send top administrators and officials from emergency-management, health, counseling and information-technology departments.

“We’ve seen a lot of universities independently taking their own action, and this is a way to share the wealth,” Mr. Hall said. “Regardless of a school’s own sense of its preparedness, there still could be some valuable insights to be gained.”

On April 16, gunman Seung-hui Cho killed two students in a campus dormitory and hours later killed 30 other students and faculty in a classroom building on the other side of the Blacksburg, Va., campus.

After the shootings, steps were taken to change security at Virginia Tech and other schools nationwide.

More than 4,300 students and employees have signed up for Virginia Tech’s new notification system that will alert them to emergencies by text messages, e-mail and online instant messages.

The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg last week announced a similar system will be installed in time for the upcoming semester. The University of Virginia in Charlottesville also started a new system this month.

Marketers will be available at the conference to speak with school officials and show them the latest advancements in the field.

Panel discussions will focus on campus emergency-alert systems, preparedness training, campus and local community coordination, campus safety and security coordination, plus crime prevention through environmental design and risk assessments.



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