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October 22, 2001

An open letter to the Emory community


In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., a number of students, parents and others have raised questions about Emory University’s preparedness for emergencies. In particular, these questions have focused on the University’s proximity to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the University’s plans for evacuation of the campus, if necessary.

Let me first address the CDC question. Following discussions with the center’s director, Dr. Jeff Koplan, and with those directly charged with the security of the center, I can report that CDC security has been heightened since Sept. 11. Even in normal times, security at the CDC is very tight.
Dr. Koplan reported that the State of Georgia is better prepared than most other states in the event of biological threats.

Moreover, DeKalb County, in which Emory is located, has had for some time a detailed plan for responding to bioterrorism. It is one of three such plans in the country funded by the CDC, and provides a model for coordinating state, federal and county agencies.

Emory, the CDC, and our Clifton Corridor neighbors are working together to make sure that any plans for emergency response will be well coordinated. Emory has two satellite campuses a mile away, in opposite directions, from the main campus. Should the need for evacuation of the main campus arise, we are working out the details for using those campuses—on Clairmont Road and on Briarcliff Road—as collection points for students and employees, as well as for any necessary emergency and relief services.

We at Emory are fortunate to have two of the finest hospitals in the state, with a superb emergency medicine depart-ment and a sophisticated disaster plan. Emory Hospital, on campus, and Crawford Long Hospital, downtown, regularly participate in citywide disaster-relief exercises—much like fire drills but bigger and more complicated—with other hospitals in the metropolitan area. Our tertiary-care hospitals are well prepared for disasters and emergencies.

Before Sept. 11, the Office of Public Affairs and the Emory Police Department had created crisis communications and operational centers from which the senior administration of the University will work with Emory Police and, if necessary, state and local authorities to address emergencies. We have learned in the past month the impossibility of foreseeing every possible contingency. But I believe the University is even better prepared than it was last month, and we will continue to plan and prepare in the coming months. The safety and well-being of the students, faculty and staff of the University are vitally important to all of us in this community.

William M. Chace

For more information on Emory's response to Sept. 11 as an educational, moral and civic community, through forums, programs, and special events, please visit


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