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News in higher education

Tennessee State University intends to spend millions of dollars over the next five years to boost campus security with gated entrances and additional surveillance cameras to monitor more than 500 location points on campus, officials said.

TSUs Blue Ribbon Commission on Campus Safety released a 100-plus page report last week during a press conference detailing security plans after the Halloween slaying of a man delivering food on campus last year.
Tennessee State University intends to spend millions of dollars over the next five years to boost campus security with gated entrances and additional surveillance cameras to monitor more than 500 location points on campus, officials said.

TSU's Blue Ribbon Commission on Campus Safety released a 100-plus page report last week during a press conference detailing security plans after the Halloween slaying of a man delivering food on campus last year.

"Tennessee State University is a safe campus," said Melvin Johnson, the school's president. "We saw the need for some improvements in safety. We believe the work that the commission has pursued will be a gauge of where we are heading."

Although the commission was formed just weeks after the campus slaying, Johnson said the group's findings were not a direct result of the October shooting of Ji Hong Peng because that crime could have occurred anywhere. The victim was a lawyer from China who was working temporarily as a delivery man for a friend while visiting his wife and son in Nashville. He was fatally shot and robbed by assailants who didn't attend the university as he was taking food to a TSU dorm.

"The shooting was a city of Nashville problem and not just a TSU problem," Johnson said.
After the incident, some area delivery businesses temporarily suspended service to TSU. School officials said food delivery workers now notify police as a safety precaution before making a stop on campus.

TSU has spent about $162,000 on more campus manpower since the shooting, officials said. That's part of $2.1 million spent on campus security since 2001. The university also has been conducting safety measures such as random I.D. and vehicle checks on campus and has cameras monitoring 128 location points.

"When we started (in 2001) it was to protect certain residence halls. Now, it has grown campuswide," said Samuel Polk, director of facilities management at TSU. He served on the commission, composed of representatives from Metro Police, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, TSU students and faculty and the community. Polk said the recommendations would be implemented in several phases over the next few years.

Some of the changes include the following: security organization restructuring; electronic proximity key cards for access to specific campus buildings for faculty and students; additional surveillance cameras, security booths and emergency phones; a new surveillance system, along with staff to manage it; and relocation of campus security to a central location.

Officials said they hope the Blue-Ribbon Commission's recommendations will serve as a model for other schools. (The Tennessean, April 20, 2006)

The University of Memphis had the lowest crime rate last year among the state's 12 largest colleges and universities.

When asked if they feel safe at U of M, students at the school gave mixed reviews.

"There are policemen around all the time, and it seems like they're always watching," said student Shana Jefferson.

"There's a lot of campus police riding around," said student Brandon Perry. "If they tend to the criminal activity more than the traffic, I think it'll be a more safe environment."

According to the TBI report, about 20 crimes were reported for every 1,000 students. That's a small number compared with other large schools in Tennessee.

"It's not as bad as I think some people perceive," said Bruce Harbor, U of M's campus police director. "It's nowhere near that bad, but you still need to be extremely cautious and careful."

U of M has about 250 cameras spread all over campus. Emergency call towers also can be found throughout the school, where a student can press a button to be connected to campus police. The school also recently added lighting and observation towers to parking lots.

"There's an added expectation on us because people see us as having a parental role to making sure that their students, even though they are adults, 18 or older, that they remain safe," Harbor said.

Campus police officials said recent security upgrades are helping meet that expectation. (WMC-TV Memphis, April 21, 2006)

There is a new avenue open for University of Memphis political science students who would like to earn a law degree while working on their Master of Arts.

The Tennessee Board of Regents recently approved the Dual M.A.-J.D. Program offered by the department of political science and the Cecil C. Humphrey's School of Law.

"For many years a lot of undergrads who want to go to law school and also want a master's degree have had to make a choice between the two," said Shannon Blanton, chair of the political science department. "The advantage of this program is that credit toward degrees in these career-related disciplines can be earned simultaneously if admissions and curricula are carefully structured."

Many reputable institutions such as Yale, Duke, Syracuse, Tulane and Cincinnati have a program similar to this one, but there are none here in the Midsouth region. Adding the program provides a competitive advantage for U of M students, Blanton said.

The program requires that students begin the M.A. in Political Science and then apply separately to the law school, or vice versa. The student will be enrolled in both colleges and have a separate adviser for each.

"We are going to have to just wait and see what students actually choose to take advantage of this program," Kritchevsky said. "I think that it will be the people interested in public policy and those who plan on working in government."

A total of 16 credit hours in law will apply toward the master's degree, reducing the amount of time to earn both, Blanton said. (Daily Helmsman, April 13, 2006)

A world leader in public health soon will bring his experience to East Tennessee State University to improve the health of the region's residents.

Dr. Randy Wykoff, senior vice president for international operations at Project HOPE, will become the inaugural dean of ETSU's new College of Public Health when it opens next year.

“It's an overused phrase, but trust me, he has the right stuff,” ETSU Vice President for Health Affairs and Medical Dean Ron Franks said in announcing Wykoff's appointment in a recent news conference at the ETSU medical school's Stanton Gerber Hall.

At Project HOPE, a nonprofit organization that provides public health services in more than 30 countries, Wykoff oversees initiatives in such areas as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, children's health, maternal and reproductive health, humanitarian aid and disaster response.

Prior to working for Project HOPE, Wykoff was deputy assistant health secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He was responsible for implementing Healthy People 2010, the nation's comprehensive health plan.

He also worked with the surgeon general on initiatives involving obesity and promoting sexual health and responsible behavior. His work earned him the Surgeon General's Medallion, the highest civilian honor in the U.S. Public Health Service.

The free-standing ETSU College of Public Health, the first in the state, will allow ETSU to compete for major grants from several new funding sources.

Plans call for the college to house five departments and offer doctoral programs in environmental health sciences and public health. The entity is growing out of ETSU's College of Public and Allied Health. Once the College of Public Health opens, the existing college's other programs will be housed in a new College of Health Related Professions. (Johnson City Press, April 14, 2006)

U.S. Xpress Enterprises Inc. donated a truck that has served in its fleet to Chattanooga State's Commercial Truck Driving program, assisting with the expansion of the college's program and making some of the trucking industry's most technologically advanced equipment available for training purposes.

Dr. Jim Catanzaro, president of Chattanooga State, accepted the keys to the truck as Max Fuller, co-chairman and CEO of U.S. Xpress, accepted a $1 donation.

The donated truck features the majority of the on-board technology that U.S. Xpress employs in its fleet. The donation is an over-the-road sleeper cab that includes auto-shift transmission, which eliminates the need for shifting gears because shifting is done by computer and is based on truck speed and road grade.

The truck also will feature an on-board camera system, offering one of the newest pieces of safety technology in the industry. The camera system enables drivers to see down the right side, see their right turns and help alleviate the blind spot that drivers experience. (Chattanoogan.com, April 20, 2006)