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It’s not just students who should be educated in fire prevention. College and university employees may need to brush up on what to do in the case of an occurrence. “All too often we find that the faculty, and to some extent staff, are woefully unprepared, misinformed, or plain naive about fire safety,” says Paul Martin, vice president for The Center for Campus Fire Safety.

Following the fatal Seton Hall University dorm fire in 2000, legislation required all New Jersey colleges and universities to retrofit their residence halls with sprinkler systems. It’s a move being made by institutions across the country as well.

    A peak inside the future South Ellicott hall at the University of Buffalo (N.Y.) shows universal design features such as "front porches" located outside multipurpose spaces that can be used as study spaces for all.

    IT'S BEEN NEARLY A DECADE since the student-caused fire in a Seton Hall University (N.J.) dormitory killed three students and critically injured many others. The tragedy forced campus leaders to take a hard look at fire-prevention procedures and how to improve them.

    Student Union Building, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

    1. Personalized d?cor?featuring a campus mural, as at Georgetown University (D.C.), or student artwork, as at Winthrop University (S.C.), the University of Southern California and Norwich University (Vt.). Georgetown’s mural includes university founder John Carroll, a classroom scene, university sports, D.C. memorials overlooking the Potomac River, a graduation scene, and the university seal. At USC, a selection of student art gets rotated so there is always something fresh for diners to look at. Norwich’s hall features historic artwork and photos.

    1. A variety of table sizes and styles?from bar stools to tables fit for a team and everything in between.

    2. Comfortable seating?perhaps choosing sprung-back chairs, as the College of the Ozarks (Mo.) did.

    3. Detached food stations?to avoid long lines building up.

    4. Exhibition-style cooking?both entertaining and an excellent chance to get students and chefs talking.

    5. Multiple checkout areas?to give diners the chance to enjoy their meals as quickly as possible.

    6. Noise control?carpeting, room dividers, and separate quiet areas do the trick.

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    Each of our 65 entries was evaluated, using a point system for each response, by at least four members of the University Business team and one external judge, with similar-sized institutions grouped together.

    Questions covered:

    (1) the extent to which the facility and program uniquely reflect the institution

    (2) the comfort and safety levels of diners

    (3) sustainability initiatives

    (4) the process of getting input from program users and how requests are prioritized