RICHARDSON, Texas (July 5, 2005) — The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) Advisory Commission on Residential Housing, created in May to investigate allegations about problems at UTD’s Waterview Apartments, issued its preliminary report today, and university President Dr. David E. Daniel immediately ordered several actions to implement recommendations made by one of the panel’s three subcommittees, as well as one of his own.
The commission, chaired by Dr. Michael Coleman, associate provost and dean of undergraduate education at UTD, included three recommendations from its Subcommittee on Safety and Security in the preliminary report, even though the commission’s findings are not due until September and the preliminary report was devoted largely to how the overall inquiry is being conducted and structured.
Daniel, who assumed the UTD presidency on June 1, embraced the subcommittee’s key findings and ordered that immediate steps be taken to implement three specific safety improvements recommended in the preliminary report. They include:
- Upgrading and expanding the lighting at Waterview and in the parking lots at the housing complex
- Installing emergency call-box phones both inside and outside buildings throughout Waterview
- Hiring additional UTD campus police
The Subcommittee on Safety and Security, which is chaired by Bill Taylor, chief of campus police and director of public safety at Rice University in Houston, also noted that UTD has grown considerably and should “increase the size of the campus police force.” Daniel responded that “as a concrete demonstration of the university’s commitment to safety,” he was immediately authorizing the hiring of seven additional police officers. At present, the UTD Police Department has authorization for 19 officers, including the chief, but has only 16. Daniel’s directive could raise the number of officers on the university’s police force to 26.
The two other subcommittees – one on Maintenance chaired by UTD alumnus and former Student Government Association President and Waterview resident Sanjeeb Samanta, currently manager of World-Wide e-Learning Initiatives at Texas Instruments; the other on Business Practices chaired by Robert Shaw, president of Columbus Realty Partners, Ltd., an affiliate of The Staubach Company – did not make any recommendations in the preliminary report, choosing instead to defer any conclusions until their investigations are completed and the final report is presented to Daniel in two months.
But the Subcommittee on Safety and Security opted to include a statement in the preliminary report as well as make its recommendations on the need for improved lighting, the installation of emergency call-box phones and additional police officers.
The report, which was officially presented to Daniel this morning, noted that “the commission felt strongly that any recommendations that emerged early in the review process, particularly with regard to security and safety, should be made part of the preliminary report.”
To view the preliminary report in its entirety, please go to www.utdallas.edu/news/waterview/.
In its proffered statement, the Subcommittee on Safety and Security concluded that two facts were clear after a “thorough analysis of crime statistics comparing university campuses to each other, their surrounding communities, the state in which they are located and the entire nation:
“First, college and university campuses are among the absolute safest settings anywhere with respect to crime.
“Second, in comparison to other universities in Texas, and to a number of such prestigious universities as Harvard, Stanford, The University of Virginia and The University of North Carolina, UTD has comparably low rates of criminal activity across a wide range of crime categories.”
Daniel said that on the issues of improving lighting and adding call-box phones at Waterview, the university likely would begin by hiring a consultant who is an expert in those areas and then, once a plan was decided on, begin taking bids to have the necessary improvements made.
He added that once those improvements were made at Waterview, an assessment would be made of the lighting and emergency communications needs throughout the entire UTD campus.
President Daniel thanked Commission Chairman Coleman and the 11 other panel members for their work and said he “looked forward to receiving their final report in September.”
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls more than 14,000 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.