Building a University Safety & Security Structure

Support for public safety by senior campus leadership, as well as the creation of emergency plans and appropriate communications systems are critical components of UT Austin’s successful campus protection program.

I am often asked “Where do I start to put together a safety and security structure for my organization?” For all of us, it is a fair question. In today’s world with all of its the demands, expectations and requirements, this task can seem overwhelming.  This is true whether you are starting from scratch or trying to piece together elements from an existing organization.  

Here’s what we have created at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin).

Correct Structure Ensures Everyone Works Together
On a campus, regardless of size, campus safety and security is housed in many silos. To keep a campus protected, it is important to understand how things work on your campus and to gain support.  

Related Article: UT Austin’s Mass Notification Methods

First and foremost, there’s a need for support from your senior leadership. In today’s world, the last thing any campus wants is to be caught short in this area. The results can be devastating to the institution, so determine who the stakeholders are and how you interoperate with them.  

In 2005, Dr. Pat Clubb, UT Austin’s vice president for university operations, defined the structure under which campus safety and security programs would operate. The major shift was to establish a campus safety and security office that would oversee all aspects of campus protection. The associate vice president (AVP) for campus safety and security would oversee these organizations.

Other campuses have housed campus safety and security responsibilities in the university police department or combined the responsibilities with other areas. For UT Austin, it worked best to establish the campus safety and security office.  

With the support of senior leadership and the organizational structure in place, the next key was to establish a structure that could slice across the campus to address campus protection issues. In 2003, Clubb established a campus safety and security committee within university operations. The role and membership of that committee was expanded in 2005. That committee now consists of these members:

  • Deputy to the President
  • Provost Office
  • VP University Operations
  • AVP Campus Safety and Security
  • AVP Facilities Services
  • AVP Legal Affairs
  • AVP Human Resources
  • AVP Equal Opportunity Services
  • Chief UTPD
  • Dir. Emergency Preparedness
  • Dir. EHS
  • Dir. Public Affairs
  • Dir. University Counseling & Mental Health Ctr.
  • DOS
  • Dir. Parking and Transportation
  • Department of Athletics
  • Fire Marshal
  • Dir. Utilities
  • Dir. UHS
  • Dir. Travel
  • Student Affairs
  • Office of ITS
  • Dir. Housing & Food Service
  • Office of Accounting
  • Office of Compliance

This committee is chaired by the AVP for campus safety and security, and meets monthly. The committee works to address safety and security issues across all areas of campus. This group communicates across organizational lines and informs the various departments and agencies across campus.  

Develop Your Campus Emergency Plans
To continue with establishing structure, it was important to develop plans that would define how the campus would function during an emergency (at www.utexas.edu/safety/plans you will see the plans developed for UT Austin). The overall emergency plan is often referred to as the burnt orange book or plan. This emergency management plan is an all hazards plan that addresses assumptions, phases of emergency management, levels of response, readiness conditions, types of events, command and control, support teams, organizational responsibilities and functions, continuity of governance, emergency facilities, communications, and administration and support.


Emergency Alerts, Emergency Planning, Features, Security Officers, Two-Way Radios

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