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Making Our Campus as Safe as Possible
Lehigh University’s security and preparatory measures help ensure our campus is as safe as possible and our response to emergency scenarios of all types is thoughtful, collaborative and efficient. We have developed plans and established processes to enable us to respond quickly and effectively to crises. The goal is to ensure the safety of people – students, faculty, staff, visitors and neighbors—and to protect the university’s reputation and assets.
Ultimately, campus safety is a shared responsibility involving all members of the Lehigh community. The culture at Lehigh is one in which reporting safety concerns or possible criminal activity is encouraged and valued. We expect and ensure that within our campus community there is regular and open sharing of information about safety, the procedures to be followed in an emergency situation and our current year and/or historical crime statistics for the campus.
Planning for possible emergencies of all types is undertaken with diligence. A disaster and emergency preparedness plan have been assembled. It includes more than two dozen department/unit protocols for responding to specific emergencies, developed under the guidance of the Office of Risk Management, the Office of the General Counsel and the Director of Health and Environmental Safety using best practices. The plan is evaluated and reviewed regularly and practiced locally as appropriate or required.
In the event of a crisis, or even when unusual occurrences unfold on or around the campus, a team of senior campus leaders, called the Crisis Management Team, initiates internal information sharing and dialog as needed. Their primary focus is to provide leadership and policy decision-making, the capability to mobilize necessary resources, to support the operational experts that are normally the first responders to a campus emergency/crisis situation (campus police, environmental safety staff, student life personnel, etc.), and to ensure that the President and Board of Trustees are kept informed. Additionally, the Crisis Management Team assesses the possible impact of the circumstances on our campus community members and campus operations and determines the need for additional communications, decisions, or university responses to the specific emergency/crisis.
The university utilizes a range of tools to communicate with the campus community about emergency or crisis situations. The specific choice of tool depends upon the severity of the circumstances. Among the available communications tools are the following:
- Sirens on all campuses, which serve as notification that there is imminent danger and that more information should be sought via the university web site, www.lehigh.edu.
- LU-ALERTS, which includes text messages and voicemail messages sent to registered cell phones in the event of an emergency or a weather circumstance that may impact normal campus operations; an effort is made each year to promote the program and to encourage students, faculty and staff to register for such messages. To sign up, visit www.lehigh.edu/lu-alert.
- Classroom announcements, which are relayed via speakers in classrooms across campus.
- Emails, sent to everyone who has enrolled a campus email address in the LU-alert system. They can also be sent out via our own campus tool to all community members.
- Telephone messages at (610) 758-NEWS, which are updated when an emergency happens or when the campus is closed or opening is delayed due to weather.
- Official Facebook and Twitter pages are utilized to convey the status of an emergency situation or to relay a closing due to inclement weather as well as to monitor the accuracy of campus interpretations of emergency circumstances. Like www.facebook.com/lehighu and follow twitter.com/LehighU.
- Website updates and banners placed on the university home page repeat what is sent out via LU-ALERTs.
- Call Center, activated with trained campus staff to take calls and provide answers when campus operators are overwhelmed
- The Lehigh University Police Department and other first responders will also provide on-site direction.
At least twice a year, we test our emergency communications systems to ensure they are fast and reliable. Additionally, the Crisis Management Team conducts monthly meetings to discuss hypothetical scenarios or to evaluate real experiences (at Lehigh or on other campuses) in order to maintain an active state of preparation for emergencies of all types. The work of the Crisis Management Team is audited periodically by risk management professionals.
Crisis Management Team Members
Chair, Joe Sterrett, Murray H. Goodman Dean of Athletics
Van Dobson, Associate Vice President, Facilities Services and Campus Planning
Patrick Farrell, Provost
Fred McGrail, Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs
Frank Roth, General Counsel
John Smeaton, Vice Provost for Student Affairs
Erik Walker, Chief of Staff, Office of the President
Linda Harbrecht, Communications Director
Volunteering in a Crisis
Severe weather, power outages and other crises affecting campus are best dealt with by planning ahead. Lehigh has created a new resource where eligible faculty and staff may sign up in advance to volunteer when a crisis occurs, as well as specify the types of volunteer service they can provide. With an up-to-date volunteer database, Lehigh University will have a quick access to potential volunteers to assist at a moment’s notice. Visit the Volunteering in a Crisis page for eligibility information, FAQs and to enroll.