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U.S. Department of Education Awards More Than $960,000 Grant to Virginia Tech


The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools has awarded Virginia Tech a $960,685 grant to assist with ongoing recovery efforts on campus, as well as to help develop a model for assessing and responding to at-risk behaviors in a higher education setting. In April 2007, Virginia Tech, a public land-grant university in Blacksburg, Va., was victim to the most deadly campus-based shooting in U.S. history. A 23-year-old student shot and killed 32 members of the Virginia Tech community, including himself, and physically injured 27 additional people.

“In the wake of this horrible tragedy, the Virginia Tech community joined together to support and help each other,” Secretary Spellings said. “With this grant, we want to make sure they have the continued support they need to recover, rebuild and prevent future acts of violence.”

Virginia Tech’s grant—“Assessing and Responding to At-Risk Behaviors in a Higher Education Setting: A Virginia Tech Demonstration project”—will be used, among other things, to:

Establish a sustainable institutional infrastructure for identifying; assessing and responding to at-risk students, faculty and staff with appropriate mechanisms for mental health services and/or referrals
Conduct an initial and follow-up needs assessment to determine mental health needs of staff and students
Provide case management and services coordination for at-risk students, faculty and staff
Provide education and outreach to the university community to identify and serve at-risk students, faculty and staff
Engage in national discussions on assessing and responding to at-risk individuals in a higher education setting.
To support these goals, Virginia Tech will engage in a variety of activities over the proposed 18-month grant period. Some of the key activities include:

Establishing a task force to review current institutional policies and procedures
Identifying appropriate on- and off-campus mental health services
Providing education on trauma recovery and threat assessment
Distributing the findings on appropriate models for threat identification and assessment.
Following the April 16th shooting, Virginia Tech submitted an unsolicited proposal to the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools for the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act National Programs, Federal Activities funds. These discretionary funds support a variety of national leadership projects designed to prevent violence and drug abuse among all education levels—from pre-school through post-secondary.

“The safety of students on a college campus is of utmost importance to parents, university officials, as well as to us,” said Deborah Price, assistant deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. “The grant will help Virginia Tech move beyond this tragic and horrific ordeal by raising awareness of warning signs and helping to prevent tragedies by implementing new policies and procedures, conducting additional assessments and providing mental health services to its campus community.”

In July, the U.S. Department of Education provided additional support to Virginia Tech by way of a meeting on campus titled “Managing At-Risk Students: Issues in Identification, Intervention and Treatment: A Symposium for Virginia Tech.” The all-day symposium brought together a panel of six experts to discuss mental health issues faced by college students, the role of the university in dealing with mental illness, best practices for student affairs, state and federal laws that affect the student and the community, and interaction with off-campus mental health providers. The symposium was designed for student affairs professionals at Virginia Tech, mental health professionals in the university and in the community and faculty and university administrators.


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