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HEPC asks for university emergency procedures

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The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission wants to know how the state's colleges and universities are preparing for future natural disasters and other emergency situations.

Paul Hill, chancellor of HEPC, told a legislative interim committee he asked administrators of the state's higher education institutions to provide emergency plans to the HEPC so the commission can review and compile that information. Hill's request comes on the heels of two big natural disasters — a derecho in late June and Superstorm Sandy in late October — which caused widespread power outages, road closures and downed trees in much of the state. In some cases, colleges and universities served as heating or cooling shelters for those without power and housed out-of-state emergency crews.

But the commission isn't just focusing on natural disasters. Hill pointed out that previous HEPC chancellors have requested emergency plans from the state's institutions in response to other situations, such as the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. Brian Hemphill, the new president of West Virginia State University, was instrumental in enacting an emergency plan when a shooting took place at Northern Illinois University, where he previously worked.

Hill said Hemphill's experience would be a "great addition," and said he would bring Hemphill to a future interim committee meeting to share his experiences.