The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has formed a task force to review school policies including emergency planning after the Boston Marathon bombings, which have led to criminal charges against four former students, including the surviving alleged bomber.
UMass Dartmouth said Waded Cruzado, president of Montana State University, will chair the panel. It will also include Susan Herbst, president of the University of Connecticut, and Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation, a research group in Washington, D.C.
The task force will review a number of university policies including emergency planning, academic and financial guidelines for maintaining “student in good standing status,” and recruitment and support for international students, the statement said.
Those policy areas are relevant because alleged bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was a university sophomore who spent time on campus after the April 15 attack, which killed three people and wounded more than 260.
Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan are accused of killing MIT police Officer Sean Collier during the massive search for the siblings.
The younger Tsarnaev had reportedly failed several classes at UMass Dartmouth and was carrying an outstanding balance of more than $20,000 at the time of the attacks.
Three former classmates, two of whom arrived on campus from Kazakhstan, are facing federal charges of impeding the investigation into the bombings and lying to the FBI.
None of those men are charged with having any involvement in the attack, which Tsarnaev allegedly carried out with his older brother, who was killed during the police pursuit of the siblings.
UMass Dartmouth chancellor Divina Grossman has asked the task force to complete its report by Aug. 15. She said in the statement that the panel will “have full access to all necessary university resources and personnel and the cooperation of everyone in the UMass Dartmouth community.”
John Hoey, a UMass Dartmouth spokesman, said the panelists will not be paid, but the university expects to cover expenses for items including travel.
He said the task force members will decide whether to hold hearings, but “most such reviews are conducted through an examination [of] records, policies, and procedures and interviews with individuals.”
Bueermann said in a phone interview that he will focus on reviewing the actions of the campus police department. He said it appeared from news reports that campus police “did a very good job in a difficult situation.”
In the statement issued by UMass, Cruzado said she was honored to serve.
“My colleagues on this task force bring greatly valued perspective, experience, and credentials to this mission,” said Cruzado. “The work begins today.”
Herbst, in a statement released by UConn, said that such a review is “critical for any institution following a campuswide crisis or emergency.”
“This effort will not only generate important feedback for UMass Dartmouth, it will also provide very valuable lessons that every college and university in the nation can learn from,” Herbst said. “UConn was deeply affected by the tragedy in Boston, given our proximity to the city and our many alumni who live there, so we hope that we can contribute in some way to its institutions of higher education.”
UMass president Robert L. Caret also voiced support for the panel in a statement.
“UMass Dartmouth’s performance in the days and weeks following the Boston Marathon tragedy has been exemplary in many respects,” Caret said.
“The campus was safely evacuated, and university officials worked closely with law enforcement authorities to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff.”