Virginia Tech receives first-ever higher education accreditation for emergency management
October 22, 2014
Virginia Tech is the first college or university in the country to receive accreditation by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program, an independent non-profit organization that has established rigorous national standards for emergency planning.
“Accreditation demonstrates that Virginia Tech makes the safety and security of our students, faculty, and staff a priority. We have devoted significant time and energy to build a culture of preparedness on campus,” said Sherwood Wilson, vice president for administration. “It’s quite an achievement to be the first in higher education and the only one in Virginia, other than the state itself, to be accredited.
Since EMAP’s inception in 1997, only 54 emergency management programs have achieved accreditation. Those accredited are primarily state and local government programs and a few federal agencies. The university is the only entity in Virginia, other than the commonwealth, to be accredited.
To achieve accreditation, Virginia Tech had to meet 64 national standards in areas including emergency planning and procedures; prevention; risk assessment; training and exercises, and communications and warning.
A team of six emergency management experts from across the country visited campus and spent a week reviewing all of the university’s emergency plans and procedures and determined they met industry recognized standards. The organization’s commission approved the accreditation at its annual meeting.
In a letter announcing the accreditation, EMAP Commission Chairperson Barb Graff stated, “Accreditation recognizes the ability of programs to bring together personnel, resources, and communications from a variety of agencies and organizations in preparation for and in response to a disaster of any type. These capabilities form the foundation of the nation’s disaster response system. We applaud the Virginia Tech’s leadership and congratulate you on your commitment to achieve accreditation. More importantly, we recognize the dedication to the safety and security of the residents that it represents.”
Some of the university’s preparedness efforts examined by the assessors include the use of more than 220 departmental continuity of operations plans, public information and communication capabilities, regular drills and exercises, resource management, hazard mitigation, and coordination of internal and external stakeholders.
Virginia Tech, led by the Office of Emergency Management, spent 22 months preparing for the assessment.
“Accreditation is the result of ongoing hard work from many throughout the university. The effort of many individuals and departments across the university is key, along with strong support and commitment from our leadership,” said Michael J. Mulhare, director of emergency management.
Accreditation is valid for five years and Virginia Tech must continue to maintain compliance with the standards.
Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.