West Virginia University has been ranked among the most secure campuses in the United States by Readers Digest.

WVU was ranked 18th among 135 U.S. colleges and universities that participated in the Readers Digest survey, and earned an A for its strong commitment to safety. Each of the schools evaluated was given a grade of A, B or C based on its readiness to handle on-campus threats to security.

Ive talked to thousands of students and hundreds of parents, and campus safety is a concern we all share, WVU President Mike Garrison said.This ranking is a recognition of the spirit of cooperation that we have developed on safety issuesinvolving our students, our public safety officers, our staff and our faculty in identifying problem areas and taking steps to address them. WVU is a very safe campus, but we cannot stop looking for ways to make it safer.

The March issue of Readers Digest, which goes on sale on newsstands Feb. 19, features a special report on safety preparedness at colleges calledSafe at School?,which appears in conjunction with the survey results.

The report examines the numerous safety threats faced by college students today and describes some of the best safety practices employed by certain schools. Readers Digest examines important safety measures ranging from dorm rooms with self-locking doors to around-the-clock security and emergency plans.

WVU s levels of crime are mostly lower than average when compared with its national peer institutions and schools in the Big East, according to statistics compiled by the FBI s annual report for crime in the United States for 2006. These FBI statistics show that the University is below average in violent and property crimes.

In the wake of the shootings at Virginia Tech, WVU officials introduced a new campus safety initiative that included a text-alert system, improved lighting and student walking patrols on the Downtown Campus, among other programs.

WVU Alert, the Universitys Web-based text message alert notification system, is available to every student, faculty and staff member and others who are regularly on campus.

The system enables University officials to notify students and employees of an emergency quickly. It alerts the campus community to time-sensitive information from authorized campus officials, including weather-related closings and delays, crimes and emergencies/crises, said Bob Roberts, campus police chief.

The walking patrol program was organized by WVU s Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Student Government Association. A group of about eight to 12 student cadets are mentored and trained by a seasoned DPS officer to act as a second pair ofeyes and earsfor the department.

Since beginning their foot patrols in October, the cadets have proven to be a valuable asset to WVU Police, helping to spot and report disturbances, destruction of property and suspicious activity, Roberts said. Cadets also assist motorists in need and help watch over buildings and facilities.

The University also earmarked $250,000 for new lighting around campus. Brighter and more energy-efficient lighting fixtures continue to be installed in key areas where students often walk at night.

In addition, WVU police continue to increase their communications capabilities and conduct regular training for emergencies. Campus officers recently received 43 digital handheld radios that help them to quickly and easily communicate with first responders in other agenciesboth locally and across West Virginia.

All WVU police officers are also participating in specialized training over the next two months for first responders who might encounter a shooting or hostage situation.

The program, Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, supplements the campus officersextensive law enforcement training by teaching additional methods of stopping an active shooter.

To view the Readers Digest survey results and methodology, visithttp://www.rd.com/national-interest/education-issues/rd-campus-safety-survey-results-college-rankings/article.html.

Methodology: Survey questions were prepared in consultation with Matthew E. Kahn, University of California, Los Angeles; Safety on Campus Inc.; and the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.

About Readers Digest: Readers Digest magazine reaches nearly 40 million readers each month in the United States and twice as many worldwide. The magazine is published worldwide in 50 editions and 21 languages, and reaches readers in more than 60 countries. It is the flagship of The Readers Digest Association Inc., a global publisher and direct marketer of products that inform, entertain and inspire people of all ages and cultures around the world. Global headquarters are in Pleasantville, N.Y.