Following devastating natural and human-caused disasters, including the attack on the Pentagon, Virginia welcomed early 2004 Pre-disaster Mitigation Grant funding for three DRU plans. Ultimately, the Commonwealth supported development of eight public university DRU plans through FEMA HMA grant support. The SHMO was quoted as saying that, “university hazard planning is critical since universities not only represent a microcosm of society, they concentrate populations of citizens, students, business enterprises, critical research and often medical institutions.” Each of eight Virginia DRU Plans was unique and different responding to well-varied university missions, programs, campuses, hazards, vulnerabilities, challenges and priorities. Two universities, UVA and the Virginia Commonwealth University are home to medical centers hosting critical medical schools and Level I trauma centers; Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village and Rotunda at UVA anchors a World Heritage Site; and the University of Mary Washington’s James Monroe Museum archives more than 10,000 rare documents.
On April 16, 2007 the Virginia Tech tragedy unfolded. It will never be fully known if tragedy could have been prevented, but elements of Dewberry’s DRU building analysis for fire and emergency access were directly related to the forensic study in crime investigation and evaluation of campus security. As DRU development and plan implementation continues, Dewberry will be pleased to share lessons learned on the seven Commonwealth DRU plans which we facilitated.
Mills, Deborah and Sibley Frantz, Jane, "Ensuring the Safety of our Institutions of Higher Learning" (2013). DRU Workshop 2013 Presentations – Disaster Resistant University Workshop: Linking Mitigation and Resilience. Paper 15.