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Education, School of

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Book Chapter

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Published Version

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Designing successful transitions: A guide for orienting students to college



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On April 16, 2007, at 6:47 a.m., Seung-Hui Cho stood outside West Ambler Johnston residence hall. Approximately 30 minutes later Cho shot and killed Emily Hischler and a resident assistant, Ryan Christopher Clark. By 7:30 a.m., a “person of interest” had been identified, and the University’s Policy Group called a meeting. Within an hour of the incident, the chief of police provided information to the Policy Group; requested the Virginia Tech Police Department Emergency Response Team arrive at the scene; and the Policy Group discussed how to notify the community of the homicides. Meanwhile, Cho chained three doors inside Norris Hall and began shooting at 9:40 a.m., entering classrooms and firing on students and instructors. The police attempted to enter the building but were stopped by the chains holding the doors shut. At 9:50 a.m., e-mails and messages over loud speakers warned students to remain inside their buildings because a gunman was loose on campus. At 9:51 a.m., Cho shot himself in the head. In all, 174 rounds were fired. Cho killed 30 people in Norris Hall and wounded 17 more (Virginia Tech Review Panel, 2007). In the aftermath of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, many asked how the killings could have been prevented. Others began to examine how university officials responded to the crisis and its aftermath. As a result, many campuses examined and revised or instituted crisis management plans. This chapter offers an overview of crisis management planning paying particular attention to orientation programs. The chapter opens by defining the kinds of crises educators might expect to encounter on campus and outlines strategies for developing, implementing, and assessing crisis management plans. The chapter concludes with case studies of crisis responses in the orientation setting.


This book chapter is published as Squire , D., Wilson, V., Ritchie, J., Bradford, K. & Wolfman, A. (2009). Incorporating crisis planning and management into orientation programs. In J. A. Ward Roof and C. Hatch (Eds.) Designing successful transitions: A guide for orienting students to college (3rd Ed.). Columbia, SC: National Resource Center for the First Year Experience and the National Orientation Directors Association. Chapter 9 pg.131-148. Posted with permission.


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