What Will Happen if a University Burns Down?

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University sign in autumn with copy space

In the first quarter of 2018, a blaze swept through a building at the University of Central Florida. The university’s library was destroyed, and many students lost some of their notes and textbooks. But due to its rapid response, this university is still in business today even though it did lose four University System faculty members who died in the fire.

If your school suffered an incident like this one, you’ll want to know whether your institution will be able to continue operations as usual or if it will collapse entirely. That might seem like a bizarre question. 

The answer is discussed about what happens if a university burns down?

After all, it’s likely that your university has emergency plans in place and plenty of insurance for disasters. But the fact is that your school could face a scenario in which it can’t provide classes or other services because of a fire, flood, earthquake or some other unforeseen calamity.

Unfortunately, colleges and universities go through this type of disruption every so often. A recent report by The Chronicle of Higher Education stated that U.S. schools have been hit with “widespread damage due to storms, earthquakes and fires” at least 26 times since 2011.

Here are some points discussed about What Will Happen if a University Burns Down-

1. Fires, Floods and Severe Weather.

U.S. schools have been affected by new start fires, floods and severe weather events at least 26 times since 2011.

  • A college in Texas was destroyed after a fire broke out in the gymnasium on February 14th, 2012. Faculty and staff had to pay $1.2 million to rebuild their campus after they lost over 75% of their buildings.*
  • A university that was built on a floodplain suffered extensive damage when an EF3 tornado struck the area on March 1st, 2011. The campus sustained more than $20 million in losses.*
  • The University of Colorado Boulder lost power during the winter storms in 2010, due to the Joplin tornado hitting their campus and hitting a power line. The campus suffered heavy damage and was closed for several days.*
  • A fire at a university in Florida in 2009 resulted in the loss of over $30 million worth of construction.

2. Inadequate Security.

After the 2011 tornado that hit Central Michigan University, an investigation found that the school’s security team “failed to provide notice to students about an emergency drill.”*

4 people died there as a result.3 Staffers have said that since it was not an “imminent” earthquake or disaster, CMU should have been better prepared for an emergency. 

3 people died there as a result.3 Staffers have said that since it was not an “imminent” earthquake or disaster, CMU should have been better prepared for an emergency.*

-On January 28th, 2011, a gas leak at Tulane University caused the evacuation of all buildings. Many students were chased by police on foot as they tried to make a safe exit.4 No injuries were reported.  

3. The Loss of Key Personnel.

The university said that it lost 4 key faculty members in the fire, including a professor and 2 adjunct faculty members. Because there was an “unprecedented” fire at the school, some would think that this would shut down the university. 

But that’s not what happened. The director of Central Florida’s university system said that it is “not unheard of” for schools to lose staff members in emergencies. 

This is because many universities do have redundancy plans in place, and they can rely on other staff members to fill in for those who are out on leave or injured during an emergency.*

4. Expenses that Held Up the Rest of the School Year.

The school said that it put a 26-day hold on its classes to help recover from the fire, and they lost $800,000 in tuition revenue per student during this period. 

5. The Loss of Class Notes and Textbooks. 

The school said that it lost over 400,000 books, including some course materials. Without these resources, how would students who were affected by the fire be able to complete their courses?  3 people died there as a result.3 Staffers have said that since it was not an “imminent” earthquake or disaster, CMU should have been better prepared for an emergency.

6. Faculty Members Were Urged Not to Leave. 

The school’s president said that he urged faculty members not to leave the school during and after the fire. This is because they needed them more than ever to help students who are trying to recover from this ordeal.

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