Campus Safety Update, Lighting Upgrades and University Neighborhood Enhancements

May 6, 2019

Dear Campus Community:

The safety of our students, faculty and staff is paramount. The 2018 TBI Crime on Campus report (link below) was released last week. Across all UofM locations, on-campus incidents decreased 4.8% compared to 2017. Our total reported incident rate for 2018 was 12.2 per thousand, almost 40% below the average rate of 19.7 among the ten largest institutions (campus population >5,000). Over the past five years (2014-2018), the UofM has had the lowest reported incident rate three times and the second-lowest twice.

Consistent with our commitment to safety and security, another major project is underway to retrofit exterior lighting on the Main/Central campus. You may have noticed lights being installed last week. Lighting is a critical element of crime prevention and can enhance both safety and comfort on our campus.

The LED lighting project is funded by a $4.03 million grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation “Empower” Program. The lighting retrofits are projected to save the UofM approximately $40,000 annually in electricity costs, due to reduced consumption. Additionally, the lights that are being removed will be sold and the proceeds returned to the UofM and reinvested in our campus.

The project should be completed by Fall 2019 and will involve almost 800 new outdoor fixtures, to include walkways, building entrances, some on-campus streets, and 700 new fixtures in the two existing garages. The new, general-access garage on Southern Avenue is also being built with LED lighting. The exterior lighting on the Lambuth Campus has already been retrofitted, with parking lot lighting upgrades to follow. Similar lighting retrofits are planned for outdoor site lighting and parking lots on the Park Avenue Campus.

Benefits of the Empower LED lighting project include the following:

  • Increased light levels and reduced glare
  • Uniformity of lighting – no overly bright spots, which can make other lighted areas seem dark
  • Photo cell operation – on at dusk, off at dawn
  • Motion activated – to save energy, lights reduce output to 30% after several hours, then return to 100% when motion is detected
  • Parking garage lights are on timers, are motion activated, and will adjust for sunlight to maintain consistent levels in each garage
  • Instant “on” – no “warm-up” delay
  • Efficient, long-lasting and low maintenance
  • Eco-friendly and help reduce the carbon footprint

In a separate safety-related project involving the City of Memphis, the University Neighborhoods Development Corporation (UNDC) and the UofM, almost seventy LED street lights have been installed in the Highland Street area between Central Avenue and Spottswood. These lights were funded by City and County Tax Increment Financing/TIF funds. Approximately 20 cameras have also been installed in the neighborhood.  

If you have questions about the campus lighting project, please contact Tony Poteet, Associate Vice President for Campus Planning and Design, at ppoteet@memphis.edu or at 901-678-2619.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) Crime on Campus Report – 2018 can be accessed at: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/tbi/documents/tibrs/2018%20Crime%20On%20Campus-Final.pdf



M. David Rudd
The University of Memphis