December 8, 2019

A Message from the President

We have a strong and resilient community. Monday was trying — and, for some, traumatic. While we have learned now, based on the quick work of University police, that the campus never was under a credible threat, we took every precaution to protect our community. I was engaged in the deliberations of our Threat Assessment Team, and I applaud the team’s swift and appropriate response.

I realize questions and concerns abound. Here are the facts: A caller left a voicemail for a UMW employee warning that an individual would be coming to campus with a firearm. That voicemail was immediately forwarded to UMW Police, and the recipient of the call likely warned those around him or her. While dispatching his officers to learn as much as possible about the situation, Chief Mike Hall convened an emergency meeting of the University’s Threat Assessment Team, a multidisciplinary group composed of members of various campus departments (faculty and staff) who respond to concerns and threats that may pose a significant disruption to the campus environment and the institution’s academic mission. This group received a briefing and quickly determined that classes and campus activities should be suspended, and all members of the community should shelter in place, until police could learn more about the threat and the person who made it.

After further investigation, police identified the caller, who indicated the threat was never intended to be taken seriously. The caller was arrested without incident and is now in jail under a $10,000 secured bond. Making a false report or threat of this kind is a felony offense.

From Monday’s situation, we have learned important takeaways. The campus community would like to have more training on what steps to take in these types of circumstances. Also, we all would benefit from a common definition of terms such as shelter in place. UMW Police are currently finalizing a video related to firearms violence, and they are planning safety awareness and training programs for campus members next semester.

Again, I want to compliment the entire campus community. Your calm adherence to safety protocols and support for one another allowed the situation to be resolved expediently. You have my pledge: I, along with members of this community, work every day to ensure the University provides a living and learning environment that is as safe as possible.

President Troy D. Paino