Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis


Educational Leadership and Policies


Higher Education and Student Affairs

First Advisor

Jennifer Bloom


This study investigates how three institutions of higher education responded to the shootings at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in 2007. Current policies and practices were reviewed at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), James Madison University (JMU) and the University of South Carolina (USC). To better understand the development and implementation of policies and practices at each institution, this study uses a multiple case study approach.

The shootings at Virginia Tech had, and are continuing to have, an impact on institutions of higher education. Areas of impact include: gun and weapon policies, emergency management plans, police officer and campus community training, university housing and residence life practices, communication systems, privacy rights of students, and crisis management teams. All three institutions reviewed, revised, and refined these policies and practices as a result of the shootings at Virginia Tech. The study reveals the four phases of emergency management (mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery) as a comprehensive process that involves commitment from all levels of an institution. Similarities and contrasts are identified through the four phases of emergency management as well. Pitt, JMU, and USC all responded to the Virginia Tech shootings differently, but created and developed initiatives that increased awareness of active shooter preparedness and response. The administration at these institutions of higher education recognize the vital importance of keeping their students, faculty, and staff safe, as well as maintaining the appeal of a collegiate experience.


© 2010, Lauren Rose Bosselait