DARTMOUTH, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth response to the Boston Marathon bombing could serve as a model to other schools, though there is still room for improvement, according to a report released Thursday.
The report details the findings of a three-member task force formed in May to evaluate the school’s emergency planning and academic and financial policies. The panel consisted of chair Montana State University President Waded Cruzado, University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst and Police Foundation in Washington, D.C. President James Bueermann.
The report focused on the events of April 19, 2013, when police locked down the city of Boston to search for one of the bombing suspects, Dzokhar Tsarnaev, who was a UMass Dartmouth student.
The university fully evacuated the campus in response.
According to the report, “UMass Dartmouth handled a chaotic and critical event in an exemplary manner and, in doing so, has provided the higher education community with some remarkable lessons,” a release said.
The report also noted that the school “smoothly returned to its daily operations” after the crisis.
“The University's successful full-campus evacuation demonstrated exemplary leadership and collegiality among campus members and community partners,” said Bueermann in a statement. “Because of UMass Dartmouth's strong relationship with local law enforcement and other community partners, the response was calm, orderly, and effective.”
The report also offered several recommendations for improving emergency response, such as establishing formal mutual aid agreements with the town of Dartmouth, hiring a full-time emergency management specialist and upgrading campus surveillance tools. It also recommended improving communication regarding academic and financial standards and enhancing the staff in the international student office.
The task force found that UMass Dartmouth could not have foreseen Tsarnaev’s alleged actions and that students were not in danger prior to or after the bombing.