NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Emergency management officials from higher education institutions across the country are at Tennessee State University this week.
They are among more than 200 first responders, consultants and volunteers attending the Best Practices in Emergency Management for Higher Education Conference TSU is hosting May 22-24.
“We’re glad TSU could host such an outstanding conference,” TSU President Glenda Glover said at a luncheon on Wednesday. “We have some of the leading emergency management experts in the country right here on our campus.”
Patrick Sheehan, director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), was the conference’s keynote speaker. He said conferences like the one at TSU are important because they allow emergency management officials to stay “engaged” and share information.
“It’s so important that we seek opportunities to come together and to share,” said Sheehan. “You’re all trying to tackle the same problems, and you’ve come up with innovative solutions to those problems, or to prevent problems.”
TSU, the first HBCU selected to host the conference, has been recognized for its unique urban-agriculture and cutting-edge emergency preparedness initiatives that have earned the university many accolades, including a Storm Ready designation.
As a result of the recognition, TSU was presented with the Best Practice Trophy at last year’s conference at Virginia Tech, and subsequently was selected to host the 2018 conference.
Dr. Curtis Johnson, TSU’s chief of staff, said the need for emergency management has increased over the years.
“The frequency in emergency situations have increased,” said Johnson. “And so, in turn, institutions of higher education have learned that we need to be better prepared for these situations, so many of them are putting resources where they can respond.”
One of the topics at the conference was about problems that arise from mental health issues, and how to address them.
“Mental health is a challenge in higher education because some individuals … don’t always take their medicine,” said Johnson. “And when they don’t take their medicine, they become a challenge. We have to be prepared to manage it, and work with those individuals to get them back to as normal as possible.”
Gary Will is assistant vice president for campus security and emergency management at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. He acknowledged mental health is an issue, but he said the biggest problem in northwest Georgia is the weather, and letting people know if there’s a threat.
Berry College got its Storm Ready designation in 2015.
“The biggest thing with being Storm Ready is advising people of what’s happening, at least having that inclination that there’s some sort of threat that’s on the horizon,” he said.
For more information about TSU’s OEM, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/emergency/
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About Tennessee State University
With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.