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Editor's Note

Lesson Learned

University Business, Jan 2012
Tim Goral

As this issue of University Business was being prepared to go to press, we were all stopped in our tracks as word came, first via social media and then from conventional news sources, that another shooting had taken place at Virginia Tech.

In the midst of the early confusion, our thoughts immediately went back to the 2007 rampage that left 33 people dead. In the aftermath of that tragedy, Virginia Tech was ultimately fined $55,000 by the Department of Education because the school reportedly waited more than two hours from the first gunshot to alert students, teachers, and staff to take cover and avoid the campus. (And, in a weird twist of fate, on the same day last month’s shooting took place, Virginia Tech officials, including campus security, were in Washington to appeal that fine.)

But this time proved different.

While authorities are still trying to learn why Ross Truett Ashley, who was not a VT student, walked on campus and killed police officer Deriek Crouse before eventually taking his own life, the institution’s emergency alert system, overhauled and improved after 2007, worked as intended. Buildings went into automatic lock down, and students were alerted by text alerts, tweets, instant messages, and more to stay put. Local and state law enforcement deployed immediately to sweep the area in a massive manhunt. The VT administration did everything by the book this time out, and for this they must be commended. The school’s actions that day are a good example of how to do things right.

The administration at Virginia Tech did everything by the book and should be commended.

Special mention must also be given to the editors and staff of The Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech’s student newspaper. Although they were kept out of their offices by the lockdown, the reporters and photographers carried on with their work, largely through social media. Indeed, for much of the time during the manhunt, The Collegiate Times staff was literally the link to the outside world for many, keeping students and parents informed, running down rumors, and correcting misinformation before it could turn into panic. The Collegiate Times is a shining example of  student journalism at its best.

Models of Efficiency

There is still time to get your entry in for the first round of 2012’s Models of Efficiency program. Three times a year, we honor campus department that have found ways to save money and streamline the business process to better serve their constituents. If your department has a story to tell, we want to hear it. Tell us what your challenge was and how you solved it. And remember to quantify your solution with data, such as how much time or money was saved as a result of your efforts. Entries that are chosen by our judges will be featured in a University Business profile, highlighting how they can do more with less­—and do it better. Entries for the first round will be accepted until January 18, but if you don’t make the deadline, remember that this is a year-round program.