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The Plan


  • To communicate quickly and accurately with and to the University community – students, faculty and staff – about the crisis and/or issues via multiple communication vehicles (including, but not limited to, WVU Alert,, MOUNTAINEER E-News, student e-mail,, and the emergency website (
  • To provide timely and accurate information to the general public via external news media outlets (WVUToday, traditional and social media.)
  • To provide this information internally and externally without complicating the situation or compromising any resulting investigation or any confidentiality issues.

Levels of Crisis

  • Phase I — A limited response which can be managed by on-duty personnel.
  • Phase II — Situations (such as fire, shooting, protest, etc.) in which additional staff and resources are required.
  • Phase III — Situations (such as a terrorist attack, mass casualty situation) warranting a total mobilization of all UR/Communications personnel and other logistical support.

WVU Staff Notification Procedure

During Monday through Friday working hours (8:15 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.), the director of news in the University Relations/Office of Communications will be the primary contact. In his/her absence, that responsibility will fall to the managing editor. If neither is available, there will be designated on-call person (usually either the senior executive director of communications or a senior writer).

Outside of regular operating hours, the director/ managing editor/designee will continue to serve as the primary contact. In the case of a Phase II or Phase III crisis, phone or text will be used to notify UR/Communications staff and selected others to assist with the crisis. At that time, assistance will be needed in areas such as information gathering, clerical, media relations, Internet, social media, e-mail, WVU Alert and other communication tasks.

University Relations/Office of Communications staff should always have access to the Crisis Communication Plan, either online or via mobile device, at home and office. This document includes the crisis plan, emergency contact lists, common media numbers and media tips.

Initial notification of a crisis will be sent immediately — or as quickly as possible. That notification will primarily be accomplished through the WVU Alert system, operated by the University Police Department and supported by University Relations/Digital.

WVU Alert

WVU staff will send emergency messages as warranted in coordination with University Police (same notification procedure as above). These alerts are sent by the University Police, in consultation with University Relations/Office of Communications when possible. However, if the consultation would result in a significant delay in disseminating the information, UPD will send alerts on its own initiative, using predetermined templates.

Situational examples include:

  • Emergency Alert: Notifications regarding critical incidents that pose an imminent threat or disruption to the health or safety of the University or campus community, including criminal activity. Examples of such emergency incidents include, but are not limited to: severe weather, hazardous materials incidents and acts of criminal violence that broadly threaten the safety of the University community.
  • Weather Alert: Utilized when the National Weather Service issues an official warning, e.g. tornado warning, flash flood warning, flood warning, blizzard warning or severe weather statement (followup). We will not do watches.

When activated, WVU Alert sends text messages to cell phones and/or emails of students, faculty and staff; sends messages to the InfoStations distributed around campus and continues to display them until UPD disables. (Students are automatically enrolled at the beginning of each semester if they have provided a valid cell phone number. Faculty and staff should sign up for the alert.) University Relations/Digital places a red alert banner on the WVU homepage.

Responsibilities for Phase II and Phase III

Director of News

Contacts senior executive director of communications, who will go to the scene to evaluate the situation and then to the Joint Information Center, located at the Monongalia Emergency Centralized Communications office at 74 Mon General Drive. In consultation with
the senior executive director, the director will assign a staffer to go directly to the crisis scene to gather initial information, handle and assess media coverage and estimate staffing needs and serve as liaison with onsite emergency personnel.

Using group text or phone calls, the director will notify the appropriate UR/Communications staff so they can begin reporting to various posts/responsibilities. (If text messages are not practical, or unavailable, revert to UR Phone Tree.)

The director will report to the main office at Marina Tower (or if that is unavailable, to a designated news distribution office; see below) to supervise incoming and outgoing communication with news media via office phone, email, Internet, social media, etc.

The senior executive director and director will also be responsible for communicating with other key WVU administrative staff (appropriate senior leaders, UPD, hospital communications unit, etc.) to keep each briefed on the extent and nature of the event. The director will designate sites for media briefings (listed separately) and serve as the principle spokesperson in consultation with the senior executive director. He/she will also help identify other WVU and local area spokespersons (such as president, police, fire chief, mayor, hospital officials, etc.) as needed and will work with them to develop messages. The director (or designee), in cooperation with local public information officers and in consultation with the vice president of University Relations and senior executive director, will have final approval on information to be released. He/she will stay in constant contact with UR/ Communications staff, key WVU administrators and other local officials; remain available by cell phone; and work with designated representative from UR/Digital to activate the crisis emergency web site to post pertinent information as it becomes available.

Specific In-Office Assignments

(in addition to on-site UR/Communications staffer, see above):

Managing Editor/Designated senior writer

Supervise incoming and outgoing communications with employees and external audiences via WVUToday, Mountaineer E-News, Unews, etc. He/she will also contact other WVU employees to assist with communications efforts.

Senior Director of Marketing (or social media designee)

Monitor and post on social media, using appropriate outlets/accounts, e.g., Twitter, Facebook, etc., sending information using all appropriate accounts, especially but not limited to WVUToday, WestVirginiaU. The Senior Director of Marketing may also identify a social media designee to monitor social media platforms in long- running situations.

Remaining communications specialists/ writers/photographers

Unless otherwise instructed by the director, others will report to the Marina Tower office (or off-site location if unavailable) to field media calls, help process information or head to scene if appropriate. The director may, if the situation appears to become long- running, assign some to report immediately, and others to wait to report until a later time.

Program assistant

Will report to the Marina Tower office (or off-site location if unavailable) to assist with answering phones, sending emails and other information needs.

Off-site Office Equipment and Supplies

(kept next to office copier on 2nd Floor, Marina Tower) Should the UR/Communications office in Marina Tower be unavailable, UR/Communications will set up at another campus location known as the Designated Crisis Communications Center (likely the College of Law, the Mountainlair or one of several places (see below) on the Health Science Center campus).

The supplies should include:

  • Cell phones – activated and accessible at all times.
  • Crisis Communications Plan Notebook – To include crisis plan (this document), emergency contact lists, common media numbers, media tips.
  • Laptop with software including PowerPoint and fax, email and print capabilities, Photoshop.
  • Mult boxes with proper cords.
  • Multifunction color printer (including scanning capabilities), network cables, telephone cables, extension cords, portable battery operated AM/FM radio, batteries, digital camera, computer paper. (Kept at Marina Tower).
  • Other – Branded backdrop, two branded pullups, portable podium, easels, letterhead, legal pads, Post-It notes, reporter notebooks, pencils, pens, markers, highlighters, easel poster paper, stapler and staples, paper clips, labels, blank nametags, duct tape, campus directory, media directories (state and national), experts list, media parking passes, media credentials, directions to campus locations, campus maps, local maps, etc.

Media Briefing Sites

Small and large areas identified with adequate parking, satellite, phone and Internet access:

Large scale briefings

  • College of Law Event Hall (media work area also available)
  • Coliseum athletics facility (uplink)
  • Puskar Center (athletics)
  • Mountainlair Ballrooms (media work area also available)
  • Health Sciences Center
    • (Okey Patteson auditorium, Fukushima auditorium, Hostler auditorium)
    • Media work area: Health Sciences Center 2940A-B

Small scale briefings

  • Visitors Center, One Waterfront Place (uplink)
  • Museum Education Center at Art Museum of WVU

Family Site

  • Erickson Alumni Center

Emergency Health Care Sites

  • WVU Indoor Practice Facility
  • WVU Shell Building