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Community Safety
A monthly conversation with Missouri State University President Clif Smart.

Smart: MSU has "Swung the Pendulum" in Focusing on Emergency Notifications

Scott Harvey
An emergency station on the MSU campus/Credit: Scott Harvey

Missouri State University President Clif Smart says the school learned some things from an October case that prompted the lockdowns of some area schools and businesses.

That’s why during a vague threat on February 4, MSU made efforts to consistently update faculty, staff and students of the situation.

“We have really swung the pendulum to the notification side. We’re gonna tell people when we learn about these things to reassure them that both we know they’re out there and that we’re taking steps. And if we thought that there was something potentially serious out there, directions on what they should do,” Smart said.

Those signed up through the school’s emergency notification system were alerted to the threat, which noted “no additional credible information exists at this time to verify an actual threat,” and should credible information emerge, the school will active its emergency response plan and notifications.

While President Smart says MSU could have done better in their handling of last October’s threat, he believes the school made the right decision in not locking down campus last fall. The vague threats of a shooting that day did force lockdowns at nearby Ozarks Technical Community College and the Midtown Carnegie and Park Central branch libraries.

“The likelihood that that [October incident] being a significant threat was minimal. This last one even more unlikely that it was a significant threat. But because people are talking about, because they get worried about it, or worked up about it, or anxious, or nervous, or angry about it, people need to know that we’re on top of these things, we’re evaluating them, and that we’re involving the right people the and we’ll give them the proper direction.”

Smart says that after these types of situations, there is always a debriefing that takes place to determine what went well and what could use improvement.

Also during this month’s conversation with President Smart, which can be heard in its entirety above, he addresses the freeze in tuition he’ll recommend to the Board of Governors, and the latest enrollment figures for spring.

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