Stephen “Shane” Stovall, a certified emergency manager with nearly 20 years of experience leading private and public sector emergency management and disaster recovery efforts, is the new director of emergency services at Western Carolina University.
Stovall, who most recently was coordinator of emergency management programs for the True North Emergency Management firm in Fort Worth, Texas, has served as director of emergency management for the city of Plano in Texas and emergency management coordinator and emergency planner for Charlotte County in Florida.
He succeeds Tammi Hudson, WCU’s first full-time emergency manager, who recently left the university to accept a position in the private sector. His appointment, which follows a national search conducted by a campus committee, is effective Aug. 10.
In announcing the appointment, Mike Byers, WCU’s vice chancellor for administration and finance, said the search committee was impressed by Stovall’s experience in successfully building teams and completing projects with a variety of stakeholders at the local, state, regional and national levels and with partners in the private and public sectors.
“Throughout the search process, members of the committee kept asking themselves this question: ‘Of our candidates, who would you want taking that call in the middle of the night when some sort of emergency situation or disaster arose?’ Shane Stovall is the right person to be on the other end of the phone in the middle of the night,” Byers said.
“In today’s climate, the safety of all members of our university community – students, faculty, staff, visitors and neighbors in surrounding communities – is paramount,” he said. “Shane has the skill set and experience necessary to build upon the solid emergency management foundation put into place by Tammi Hudson and to identify the new tools, systems and processes needed to ensure that our campus is as prepared as it can possibly be for an emergency or disaster.”
Stovall earned his bachelor’s degree in emergency administration and planning from the University of North Texas. He has professional certifications from the International Association of Emergency Managers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, including National Incident Management System training.
He has extensive disaster planning and recovery experience, including projects related to Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey; hurricanes Charley and Georges in Florida; and an outbreak of wildfires in Florida.
In his new role, Stovall is responsible for the development of personnel, plans, processes and systems to provide for the safety, protection and preparedness of people and property at WCU, including the main campus in Cullowhee, instructional sites in Cherokee and at Biltmore Park in Asheville, and at Highlands Biological Station. He will be in charge of developing and coordinating university-wide emergency preparedness and continuity of operations plans.
Stovall will oversee the university’s Emergency Communications Center, which receives and processes more than 20,000 calls for service annually, and manage WCU Alerts, a system that allows students, faculty, staff and parents to receive messages in case of emergency via email, cell phone or home phone.
He also will work closely with emergency management and response personnel in Jackson County and across Western North Carolina to maintain strong working relationships, including regular drills and exercises.
“Emergency management on a university campus is different from emergency management at the state and local level, and I am excited at the opportunity to take on this new challenge,” Stovall said. “My predecessor has built a strong base, and I am eager to see how I can use the experience that I bring to the table to maintain a high quality emergency management program and, going forward, to make improvements and add additional activities as needed.”