An evaluation team representing the Middle States Commission on Higher Education got to see firsthand how University of Pittsburgh officials planned and assessed emergency situations. When the team visited the campus for two days in April, it experienced two evacuations from bomb threats against university buildings, including one at the chancellor's residence where a team dinner was planned.
What Pitt officials didn't know was that the Middle States team, which evaluates universities for reaccreditation, would include its personal experiences with the bomb threats in its final report, commending Pitt for its planning and assessment practices that allowed it to react efficiently during the crisis. During both evacuations, the team was relocated quickly to another facility.
"The team observed the benefits in real time, as the university coped with a series of bomb threats during the team's visit," according to the accreditation report.
"Staff, from the chancellor to the football coach, reassured students evacuated from their residence halls late at night; shelters were prepared in case of such evacuations in keeping with earlier planning exercises; the [Middle States] team was moved from one threatened building to a backup site for meetings already prepared in case it was necessary. Without advanced emergency planning, the university could not have functioned as well as it was doing as the semester was coming to a close," according to the report.