A doctoral student caused an explosion in his housing complex, fortunately only injuring himself. The subsequent investigation uncovered a cache of arms, and chemicals capable of producing bombs. DHS, FBI and others descended on campus at which point it was discovered the student had taken prohibited chemicals out of the university’s labs and placed an on-line order for components–paid for by the school(!). Chemical removal and destruction inadvertently took place on one of the country’s oldest organic farms, creating additional reputational challenges for the university.

BMCG was asked to support the administration in its response to addressing not only the immediate issue but broader, campus-wide concerns about safety.

Actions / Recommendations:

  • Provided leadership team advice on response, including the need to respond to significant student and parent concerns while balancing a mandate from DHS/law enforcement that little information be shared.
  • Provided advice on proactive steps required, including Initiating a number of internal investigations anticipating disclosure of this being an interrupted terrorist threat, including background on all direct supervisors, student, chemical safety protocols, procurement regulations etc.
  • Led crisis management meeting process for large response team to help ensure coordination, prioritization, accountability of agreed decisions and related action items.


Due to the proactive management process and conscious effort to plan ahead, the vast majority of issues–with exception of the destruction of the organic garden–were identified prior to stakeholder concerns being raised internally and publicly, and concrete steps were agreed upon and taken. Proactively addressing broader concerns about lab safety – which had occurred in the past – became part of the overall strategy, reducing criticism of administrative leadership and oversight.