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MSU obtains rare emergency readiness accreditation

February 2, 2023
<p>The Michigan State University Police Department, photographed Oct. 12, 2021. </p>

The Michigan State University Police Department, photographed Oct. 12, 2021.

Michigan State University announced today it obtained a second accreditation term from the Emergency Management Accreditation Program, or EMAP, a nonprofit which sets and reviews standards for institutions' emergency readiness. MSU remains the only university in the Midwest and in the Big Ten to hold an EMAP accreditation.

The “emergency readiness” reviewed in the process can include everything from mass-shootings, natural disasters and public-health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic.

The status lasts for five years. MSU was first accredited in 2017 and the university spent much of the 2021-2022 academic year attempting to meet EMAP’s requirements for a second term.

EMAP Executive Director Nicole Ishmael Livingston said achieving a second accreditation can be more “strenuous” than the first, as EMAP uses a “maturity model” to evaluate growth and longevity in organizations ability to respond. She also said following the COVID-19 pandemic, EMAP began looking for more “flexibility and scalability” in emergency response plans

MSU Police Department Spokesperson Dana Whyte said. “The reason why accreditation is important to us is that we want our campus to feel safe and know that we are making these efforts towards improving our safety response.” 

This announcement comes amid a dramatic rise in US mass shootings. A 2022 Best Colleges survey of 1,000 undergraduate students found that 60% of students considered campus safety as a factor in their college decision.

According to Whyte, MSU worked through the 2021-2022 academic year on the self-assessment required to begin the re-accreditation process. In Aug. 2022, EMAP inspectors visited the campus and questioned various members of the MSUPD and MSU administration on hypothetical scenarios and material readiness. In Jan., an EMAP committee completed a final review and awarded MSU with re-accreditation.

Past examples of MSU’s emergency management in action include events like set-up of COVID-19 vaccination clinics at the Breslin Center and the response to an Aug. 2022 bomb threat in Fee Hall. Whyte said good emergency management also often goes unnoticed at regularly scheduled events.

“An example can be football games,” Whyte said. “When we're bringing thousands of people to campus for a game, our emergency operations center is in effect, basically just there in the background in case an emergency were to occur and having a plan in place to respond appropriately.” 

MSU is one of only eight universities to hold an EMAP accreditation and the only one in Michigan.

Wayne State University Police Department Captain David Zarrieff said while his department devotes time and resources to emergency-readiness, specific accreditations from organizations like EMAP aren't something the university is pursuing

Organizations pay a subscription and a fee for review when seeking accreditation. According to EMAP’s website, an institution of MSU’s size would pay $7,950 to be considered. MSU did not provide the additional cost of on-site reviews by the time of publication.

Livingston said while her organization’s final accreditation is often valuable in assuring the community and insuring the clients, the feedback she receives suggests the process of getting the accreditation is where clients find the most benefit.

 “I mean, yes, it's very nice to have the accreditation at the end of the day,” Livingston said. “But what we hear from programs is it's the process of that self-assessment and onsite inspection that is so critical.”

MSU' Department of Police and Public Safety is available by calling (517) 355-2221 for non-emergencies or 911 for emergencies.  

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