Hour by Hour, a Tense Week at the U. of Massachusetts at Dartmouth

April 20, 2013

Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings who was taken into custody late Friday, was a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and lived in a dormitory there. Between the bombings, on Monday, and Mr. Tsarnaev's capture, he was reported to be on the university campus.

UMass at Dartmouth evacuated all students and faculty and staff members on Friday and sent continuous updates via text messages and social media. Following is a timeline of critical communications and events.

Monday, April 15. Chancellor Divina Grossman posts a message on UMass Dartmouth's Facebook page and linked to the @UMassD Twitter account:

"To the UMass Dartmouth community,

"By now I'm sure you're aware of the tragedy that struck the Boston Marathon. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those harmed. As details continue to emerge, let us remain resilient and hopeful. If you become aware of any member of our UMass Dartmouth family affected by this incident, please let us know so that we may respond accordingly."

Tuesday, April 16. Ms. Grossman posts another message on the university's Facebook page, linked to Twitter:

"My dear students, faculty, and staff:

"Yesterday's tragic events in Boston remind us of the fragile and unpredictable nature of our lives, and at the same time demonstrate that courage, resilience, selflessness, and optimism endure in the human heart. Let us gather at 5 p.m. today at the bell tower to simply be together for a few moments, remember the people who have died and been injured, and reflect on the issues this incident raises for us as individuals, a community, a nation, and a university."

Thursday, April 18. Officials post a message on the university's Facebook page and @UMassD Twitter account:

"The F.B.I. has released photos and videos of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects and is appealing for the public's help in identifying them. Please share!"

Friday, April 19, between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. University public-safety officials learn that one of the bombing suspects is a registered student at UMass Dartmouth.

Friday, April 19, 8:13 a.m. Pine Dale Hall, the residence of Mr. Tsarnaev, was evacuated by security and law-enforcement officers.

Friday, April 19, 8:44 a.m. The university delivers a campuswide alert via its alert system, which generates text messages and telephone calls, as well as updates to the Web site and computer screens across the campus:

"Campus closed. Go to for more information as it becomes available."

Friday, April 19, 9:25 a.m. Similar information follows on Facebook and Twitter:

"The campus will be closed today (Friday 04.19.13) and classes have been cancelled."

Friday, April 19, 9:48 a.m. The university releases a statement via e-mail and Web platforms:

"The University has learned that a person being sought in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings is a registered student on campus. Out of an abundance of caution, the campus has been closed. Students, staff and faculty who have not already evacuated have been told to shelter in place. No one is being allowed on campus."

Friday, April 19, 10:03 a.m. The university delivers another message via its alert system:

"Campus evacuation. Please leave campus calmly as soon as possible. Go to for more details."

Friday, April 19, 10:28 a.m. The university issues a statement via e-mail and Web platforms, and slightly later (11:11 a.m.) on social media:

"UMass Dartmouth is closed and is in the process of a controlled evacuation of the campus. Students, staff and faculty have been asked to leave campus in a calm and orderly fashion. This action is in response to information that the person being sought in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing is a registered student. State, local, and campus police are on campus to assist with the evacuation and to conduct a full investigation."

Friday, April 19, 10:52 a.m. The @UMassD Twitter account posts a message to parents:

"UMass Dartmouth Parents—The campus is currently under evacuation orders. If your child needs transport from ... [link to contact information for local taxi services]."

Friday, April 19, 11:22 a.m. UMass Dartmouth's Facebook page and @UMassD Twitter account give further instructions:

"Students who do not have transportation off campus should proceed immediately to Lot 1, where they will be transported to a secure location at Dartmouth High School. If students wished to be picked up at the High School, the address is 555 Bakerville Road, Dartmouth, Mass."

Friday, April 19, 1 p.m. Evacuation of the campus is completed.

Friday, April 19, 1:32 p.m. UMass Dartmouth's Facebook page and @UMassD Twitter account announce further closure:

"Update, 1:30pm: UMass Dartmouth will be closed Saturday, April 20. All students should evacuate campus immediately. Those who do not have transportation off campus should proceed immediately to Lot 1, where they will be transported to a secure location at Dartmouth High School, where accommodations are being made."

Friday, April 19, 2:16 p.m. Chancellor Grossman puts out a statement via e-mail, Web platforms, and social media:

"The Boston Marathon tragedy has touched our University in many ways. On Tuesday, we drew strength from a campus vigil that attracted hundreds of people in remembrance of the victims, and today we learned that a suspect is one of our students. We closed and evacuated the campus to assure the safety of our students, faculty, and staff.

"The safety of our campus is always our top priority. I want to thank all of the law enforcement personnel for their courageous and professional response. I also want to commend our students, faculty, and staff for their calm and orderly actions during this very difficult situation. We will provide more information as we are able."

Friday, April 19, 3:45 p.m. All students have been picked up from the high school or transported by the university to a nearby Best Western Hotel.

Friday, April 19, 10:11 p.m. Ms. Grossman issues a statement via e-mail, Web platforms, and social media:

"Law enforcement and university officials, operating with an abundance of caution, have determined that the campus is safe. We are grateful that the suspect identified as one of our students is in police custody. After an extensive search of the campus, including a thorough inspection of the student's residence hall room, police have concluded that the campus is secure.

"Due to logistical considerations the campus remains closed. An update on the campus status will be released Saturday.

"On behalf of the UMass Dartmouth family, I want to extend my deepest appreciation to the many university, local, state, and federal law enforcement officials who came to our campus to help protect the safety of our community. UMass Dartmouth had a system in place to ensure our campus was notified and evacuated in an efficient and effective manner. Our evacuation was calm and safe, and our faculty, staff, and students performed admirably throughout the process.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families affected by this week's tragic events. UMass Dartmouth is committed to being part of the healing process that will unfold in the days and weeks ahead."

Saturday, April 20, 9:56 a.m. UMass Dartmouth's Facebook page and @UMassD Twitter account explain Saturday's closure:

"UMass Dartmouth will remain closed today—Saturday, April 20—as campus and law enforcement officials continue logistical and investigative operations. We appreciate everybody's patience as we work to return the campus to normal."

Saturday, April 20, 7:10 p.m. UMass Dartmouth announces that the campus will reopen Sunday morning, with residence halls reopening at noon. 

Sara Lipka, Libby Sander, Ann Schnoebelen, and Beckie Supiano contributed to this article.