The Catholic University of America

July 16, 2009

CUA Receives Federal Grant for Emergency Preparedness

Catholic University will use a $491,681 Department of Education grant to enhance its emergency management planning.

The Department of Education recently awarded Catholic University an Emergency Management for Higher Education Grant, which will allow the university to address needs being identified in CUA's student-safety programs. CUA was one of 26 colleges and universities nationwide to receive more than $9.7 million in 2009 emergency management grants from the education department.

"This grant will give CUA an opportunity to build on our existing emergency plans and strengthen our ability to keep the campus community safe," said Thomasine Johnson, director of CUA's Department of Public Safety.

Johnson said the grant will be used to review and update existing emergency plans, train those who would support the management of an emergency as well as students and faculty, and improve safety awareness and emergency communications.

As CUA improves its emergency planning, it will pay particular attention to prevention of potential threats, including violence on campus, and to responses to potential threats, including infectious disease outbreaks. The university also will consider how to best meet the needs of people with disabilities and others with special requirements during an emergency.

CUA maintains an emergency-management plan that outlines preparation and response for emergencies and recovery efforts. With more than 193 acres, CUA is the largest university campus in Washington, D.C. "The open nature of the university campus makes security even more demanding," Johnson noted.

In June, CUA co-sponsored the Emergency Management in Higher Education Seminar. The one-day symposium held on the CUA campus was attended by emergency preparedness personnel from the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area and others.

CUA added an emergency communications tool - a state-of-the-art campus-wide public-address system - and a backup safety center in 2008. More than $900,000 was invested in safety upgrades in 2007 in the aftermath of the shootings at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

CUA confers with the Metropolitan Police Department on emergency policies and practices.