Council hears Duke safety plans


Council hears Duke safety plans


By: Eugene Wang
Posted: 4/20/07
Executive Vice President Tallman Trask spoke about Duke's emergency response system and Jo Rae Wright, dean of the Graduate School, reported on the future of the school at the Academic Council's meeting Thursday.

Paul Haagen, chair of the council and professor of law, said he asked Trask to speak about Duke's preparation for "extraordinary safety-related events," in light of the massacre at Virginia Tech Monday.

Duke has the plans, equipment and notification systems in place to respond to emergencies, Trask said. He added, however, that a response system alone may not have been able to prevent the tragedy.

"In the current circumstances, I can assure you we have taken all prudent preparatory steps to deal with the circumstances," Trask said. He added it is impossible for the University to notify everyone instantly in the case of an emergency.

"We don't know of any communication systems that can get a message to 27,000 people in three minutes," Trask said.

He also noted that although the electronic door locks can be instantly disabled, there is no way of instantaneously restricting entry to Duke's campus.

"We don't even control access to our campus... there are almost 20 different roads anyone could ride down to get into Duke," Trask said.

Some members asked why no mass message was sent to the students and their parents after the massacre at Virginia Tech.

"We deliberately decided not to send a message to all parents... because none of us really know what to say, none of us know the facts," Trask said.

Council members also discussed if Counseling and Psychological Services has the capacity and strategies to deal with students' mental health issues. "We need to be clearer in instructions about what faculty can and cannot do," Trask said.

The council also listened to a presentation by Wright on the "strategic plan" for the Graduate School and the state of the school's finances. She said her goals for the future are like a "three-legged stool"-to recruit, retain and train the "best and most successful students."

She said the school must improve its financial support packages, including health insurance, stipends and summer research awards, if it hopes to attract talented graduate students. "Having outstanding graduate students is critical to getting outstanding faculty," Wright said. "If we aren't willing to make that commitment as an institution, then we're in the wrong business."

She said her priorities for the Graduate School next year include recruiting underrepresented minorities, planning the Graduate Student Center and evaluating teaching assistant training programs. Wright added, however, that the funds to implement these priorities are still uncertain.


Original Source: <a href=>Duke Chronicle - April 20, 2007</a>


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Eugene Wang, “Council hears Duke safety plans,” The April 16 Archive, accessed June 24, 2024,