AUSTIN, Texas — University of Texas at Austin President Gregory L. Fenves has received a comprehensive security assessment of the campus from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and will oversee implementation of the DPS recommendations to improve safety.
Fenves requested the audit after UT Austin student Haruka Weiser was killed in April, the first murder on campus in nearly 50 years.
“Keeping our community safe is my first priority,” Fenves said in an email message today to the UT community.
“This has been a historically safe campus, and the DPS report recognizes the university’s efforts to protect students, employees and visitors. DPS, however, also identifies potential vulnerabilities and issues the university should rectify.”
The recommendations include:
- Additional public safety staffing is required, including more University of Texas Police Department officers and security guards who can assist with campus patrols.
- Upgrading of video surveillance systems.
- Better lighting is needed in many areas, and excessive vegetation and overgrowth should be cleared to increase visibility.
- Policies should be developed to reduce the presence of transients on the campus.
- Improved controls should be introduced to limit access to campus buildings at night by individuals who are not members of the UT community.
“As a globally distinguished research institution situated in the heart of one of the fastest growing metropolitan cities in the nation, the University of Texas at Austin is urged to continuously evaluate its security programs and posture, and collaborate with internal and external stakeholders to address evolving safety and security risks and threats,” DPS Director Steven C. McCraw wrote in a letter to Fenves accompanying the assessment.
McCraw noted that the university already began taking steps to improve security while the assessment was being conducted.
In addition, this August the university launched the “Be Safe” public awareness campaign to promote safety in the campus community, especially among students. University leaders are continuing to work with city and community leaders to address issues related to homelessness in the West Campus area.
The president’s office and the university’s Executive Compliance Committee, which is chaired by Fenves, will oversee the implementation of the DPS recommendations. Fenves has asked the university’s chief compliance officer, Paul Liebman, to lead the efforts, including implementing the most pressing recommendations immediately and coordinating campus-wide to implement the others.
“I am grateful to DPS officers and the agency’s leadership for providing a thorough review and recommending improvements for our university,” Fenves wrote today to students, staffers and faculty members. “Implementing the DPS recommendations will improve the safety of our entire community.”
The full DPS review is classified as “Law Enforcement Sensitive.” It describes operations related to security and assessment methods that cannot be released. Media and members of the public may file a Freedom of Information request, and the university will work expeditiously with the University of Texas System and Office of the Attorney General to determine whether any information from the full report can be made public.