The University of Southern Mississippi is among 13 recipients nationwide to receive a U.S. Department of Education grant to enhance its emergency management plan to prevent and respond to campus violence and natural disasters.
The $476,486 Emergency Management for Higher Education (EMHE) grant recently awarded to Southern Miss is part of $5.2 million provided to higher education institutions to develop, review, improve and fully integrate campus-based all-hazards emergency management planning efforts, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
“This grant will give us a wonderful opportunity to create a more comprehensive plan focused on making our campus even safer," said Southern Miss President Martha Saunders. "I’m very pleased with the initiative taken by our people on this important issue.”
The 18-month EMHE grant will require a framework of four phases of emergency management - Prevention-Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery.
“In being one of 13 recipients, our proposal showed us to already have a strong campus-based all-hazards emergency response plan,” said University Police Chief Bob Hopkins. “This grant will enable us to improve what we currently have and to enhance our partnerships with other agencies that would be available to assist us. It will also provide an education module to the campus community to be better prepared, how to best respond and how they can help with recovery.”
Reviewing and revising the Southern Miss emergency management plan may include conducting vulnerability assessments, providing training to staff and students, collaborating with local first responders and community partners, and enhancing plans for preventing violence by assessing and addressing the mental health needs of students who may be at risk of causing campus violence.
Southern Miss has already implemented programs and established a center enhancing emergency response and prevention. Campus Action Referral and Evaluation Response System (CARES) is a system that educates students, faculty and staff on recognizing students in distress and encourages more people in the campus community to refer students to mental health services. Part of the process includes training key “gatekeeper” staff members who come into frequent contact with students.
"We are enhancing our existing emergency management plan to include the university as a whole, from the students and deans to the administration," said Dr. Lou Marciani, principal investigator of the grant at Southern Miss and director of the Center for Spectator Sports Security Management. "By 2010, The University of Southern Mississippi will have a chance to develop a fully integrated campus-wide emergency plan and uniquely position Southern Miss to model, train and supervise other universities' emergency management planning.”
The Center for Spectator Sports Security Management at Southern Miss is a national center in partnership with the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics to increase sports security awareness, improve sport security policies and procedures, and enhance emergency response through evacuation, recovery operations and crowd management training.
The Emergency Management for Higher Education grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools and the Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.