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Feb. 19, 2013/For Immediate Release, high res. photo available

Media Contact: Lauren Whitaker, 336-734-2891, whitakerl@uncsa.edu


One of Only Five in North Carolina to Receive Designation 

(Winston-Salem) The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) is one of five universities in the state to be recognized by the National Weather Service (NWS) for weather-related emergency preparedness. Representatives of the NWS presented a StormReady recognition letter and sign to Rob King, chair of the UNCSA Board of Trustees, at the board’s regular meeting on Feb. 15.

Nicholas Petro, warning coordination meteorologist for the NWS in Raleigh, said the StormReady designation is “all about preparation.”

From left: Nicholas Petro, Clarisse Davis, Deb Cheesebro and Darin Figurskey. Photo by Brent LaFever.

“We can predict severe weather and get out warnings, but if you are not prepared you can’t react as quickly to protect your people,” Petro said.

King accepted the letter along with Deb Cheesebro, UNCSA chief of police and senior director of public safety and emergency management, and Clarisse Davis, emergency management specialist for UNCSA.

King said nothing is more important than the safety of students, faculty and staff.

“This recognizes what we all know: that our UNCSA Police Department is working hard, around the clock, to protect our campus and all who live and work here,” King said. “Chief Cheesebro and her department are to be commended on this achievement.”

The StormReady designation recognizes UNCSA’s efforts over the past five years to improve emergency management capabilities, including hiring an emergency management  coordinator; creating an emergency operations center; establishing 24-hour, multiple-method procedures for receiving and sending emergency communications; providing public education about weather threats; and crafting a hazardous weather action plan.

“Emergency management is a high priority for us,” Cheesebro said. “We’ve dealt with several weather situations over the past few years, and our planning helps us anticipate and react efficiently.”

Darin Figurskey, meteorologist-in-charge of the NWS in Raleigh, said, “It is not a trivial effort to achieve the StormReady designation. We understand how dangerous severe weather can be here in central North Carolina.”

Additional StormReady campuses are Appalachian State University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, East Carolina University, and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Nationally, 126 universities have received the designation. More than 2000 locations nationwide are designated as StormReady, including military bases, government sites, Indian nations, and commercial sites such as hospitals, airports and malls.

The StormReady program started in 1999 in Tulsa, Okla., to assist communities with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property before and during a weather event.


As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.