University of Massachusetts Dartmouth releases report on response to issues related to Boston Marathon Bombing

A three-member task force, which included Police Foundation President Jim Bueermann, has completed an in-depth look at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s response to issues related to the Boston Marathon bombing. The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Response to Select Issues Related to the Boston Marathon Bombing report praised the university’s overall response to the emergency, including the evacuation of the campus once it was learned that a bombing suspect was a UMass Dartmouth student. It notes numerous actions the university has taken over the past four months to improve policies and procedures and makes several recommendations for additional improvements.

The task force, formed on May 20, 2013, was chaired by Montana State University President Dr. Waded Cruzado and included Bueermann and University of Connecticut President Dr. Susan Herbst. The task force was charged with conducting a wide-ranging review covering emergency planning related to public safety and business continuity, academic and financial policies and procedures related to maintaining “student in good standing” status, and policies and procedures related to international student immigration.

“On behalf of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, I want to convey my sincere appreciation for the Task Force’s thoughtful and careful analysis,” UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman said. “While the effectiveness of our actions has been widely acknowledged since April 19, we look forward to reviewing the recommendations of the task force and implementing them to the best of our ability.”

The Task Force did not find any indication that UMass Dartmouth could have foreseen the alleged actions of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, nor did the Task Force find any indication that students at UMass Dartmouth were in danger prior to, or after, the bombing of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.

“The University’s successful full-campus evacuation demonstrated exemplary leadership and collegiality among campus members and community partners,” Bueermann said “Because of UMass Dartmouth’s strong relationship with local law enforcement and other community partners, the response was calm, orderly, and effective.”

Among several recommendations and observations the Task Force made related to emergency planning, “student in good standing” policy and procedures, and international student issues, are the following:

  • Establish formal mutual aid agreements with the Town of Dartmouth and surrounding communities, and seek legislation providing UMass Police jurisdiction off-campus. (Similar legislation has allowed UMass Amherst to have such jurisdiction.)
  • Assess the structure and staffing levels of the Department of Public Safety, including the hiring of a full-time emergency management specialist.
  • Relocate the Department of Public Safety, which is currently co-located with the campus power plant. (The University has included a new public safety/visitor center in its capital plan.)
  • Upgrade campus surveillance systems.
  • Improve communication regarding academic standards and financial responsibilities.
  • Enhance staff in the international student office to take full advantage of the new software tools.