Virginia Tech Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer James A. Hyatt has announced the implementation of two initiatives to address public safety on campus.

First, Hyatt announced the appointment of John Beach of Salem, Va., Virginia Tech’s director of physical plant operations, as the university’s interim director of emergency management, effective immediately.

In addition to Beach’s appointment, Hyatt announced the reorganization of the reporting structure of the Virginia Tech Police Department from the vice president for administrative services to the executive vice president and chief operating officer.

“There is precedent for the chief of police to have a direct reporting relationship to the university’s chief operating officer,” Hyatt said. “In fact, the University of Virginia as well as other research universities have operated under the structure for many years. We have taken the opportunity to review the reporting relationships during a period of time when a vice president position was vacant and are implementing changes that are good business decisions.”

As interim director of emergency management, Beach will serve as the focal point for emergency operations and training at Virginia Tech, allowing the university to appropriately prepare for and respond to campus emergencies. He will report to the executive vice president and chief operating officer and is responsible for the coordination and management of all emergency response activities, including development, implementation, and review of emergency action plans, procedures and training. Duties and responsibilities include all emergency preparedness activities, including development and implementation of a university-wide program; the development of the Campus Emergency Action Plan; and the development of the university’s Continuity of Operations Plan.

“Prior to April 16, Virginia Tech was in the process of conducting a search of a director of emergency management,” said Hyatt. “This search will continue and a permanent director is expected to be named in the early fall. Until that time, Beach will serve as the interim director of emergency management and will also continue to serve as the director of physical plant, a role he performs in an extraordinary capacity.”

Beach began his career at Virginia Tech in 1988 as the director of building maintenance. He was later promoted to associate director of physical plant operations, and served as interim director of physical plant operations until he was hired as the permanent director.

In addition to the leadership he has provided in physical plant operations, Beach brings to the position 28 years of experience in emergency management. From 1979 to 1981 he served as a volunteer member of the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad. From 1981 to 1988, Beach volunteered on the Williamston, N.C. rescue squad, and since 1988, he as served on the Salem Rescue Squad.

In recognition of his years of service he now holds life membership in both the Virginia Tech and Salem rescue squads. Former positions include safety coordinator for maintenance, member of Mill Managers Safety Task Force, and member of Mill Hazmat Response Team, all at Weyerhaeuser Mill in Plymouth, N.C. He also was president of the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad and chief of the Salem Rescue Squad.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech is the most comprehensive university in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is among the top research universities in the nation. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to quality, innovation, and results through teaching, research, and outreach activities. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.