SOURCE: Academic Impressions

Academic Impressions

March 18, 2010 12:28 ET

Academic Impressions Research: Over One-Third of Colleges and Universities Report Low Confidence or No Confidence in Their Ability to Effectively Respond to a Campus Crisis

Regular Evaluation and Testing of Institutional Crisis Response Plans Critical to Institutional Confidence in Responding to and Effective Management of Campus Incidents

DENVER, CO--(Marketwire - March 18, 2010) -   Academic Impressions (, the leading provider of professional development opportunities for higher education administrators, today released the results of proprietary research designed to gauge the effectiveness of crisis response on college and university campuses. The four-week email survey of higher education employees in January 2010 yielded responses from administrators in admissions, student affairs, business/planning, human resources and campus leadership at institutions across the country.

The research revealed compelling findings in each of the following areas:

Incidence of and Institutional Confidence in Addressing Campus Crises. 51% of responding schools reported having experienced a crisis on their campus in the last two years, and over one-third (34%) reported having either low confidence or no confidence at all in their institution's ability to effectively execute their crisis response plan in the event of an emergency.

Communicating Crisis Response Plans to Internal Stakeholders. Only 28% of responding institutions train new personnel on crisis response protocol during new hire orientation, while 20% of responding institutions have an annual in-person meeting to brief relevant internal stakeholders on the crisis response plan. 

Testing Campus Crisis Response Plans. Only 54% of responding institutions have tested their crisis response plan in the last year; while 23% have never tested their plans. Of those institutions that have tested their crisis response plans, only 30% found the plan proved effective in dealing with a campus crisis, while 42% found their institution's plan was only partially effective in addressing a campus crisis as a result of the test. Respondents indicated the largest obstacles to executing tests were timing (67%), participation (43%), budget (40%) and securing campus-wide buy-in (36%).

"In the wake of several high-profile campus crises, the importance of regular evaluation and testing of crisis management plans is critical to ensuring a coordinated, multi-departmental campus response," explains Marla Whipple, conference director at Academic Impressions. "Institutions should implement and adhere to foundational testing protocols to increase preparedness for environmental, facility and human-caused incidents."

In a recent Academic Impressions webcast, available for complimentary download at, an experienced panel of crisis management experts, including Steve Charvat with the University of Washington, Cindy Lawson with the University of North Carolina−Wilmington and Eugene Zdziarski with Roanoke College, offered practical steps to move institutions toward creating disaster-resistant campuses, which include:

  1. Set a schedule for testing, reviewing, and revising institutional crisis response plans. Amend plans based upon what campuses learned from practice tests and from evaluating successes and failures of other schools' emergency management protocol.
  1. Develop a graduated set of achievable tests, starting with basic drills and increasing the complexity over time. Keep in mind that it can sometimes take years to reach the stage wherein a campus is prepared to execute a full-scale crisis simulation.
  1. Mix up the drills and exercises conducted annually, testing different functions, scenarios and activities. This approach will ensure stakeholders become accustomed to responding to the variety of crisis situations that can affect a campus, including environmental, facility and human-caused incidents.

Additionally, Academic Impressions' upcoming event, Campus Crisis Simulation: Improving Campus-Wide Response to an Emergency, will simulate an emergency situation requiring an immediate response and clear, efficient communication among key campus and community stakeholders. The conference will be held on March 29-31, 2010 in Chicago, IL, and will offer institutions the opportunity to test their plans and debrief under the guidance of leading campus crisis management experts. Online registration is now available and space is limited. Register now at

About Academic Impressions: Academic Impressions offers focused and intentionally crafted learning experiences to help higher education professionals address their most pressing challenges. Professional development programming addresses a range of issues related to student recruitment and retention, faculty support and development, alumni engagement and development, and increasing organizational productivity. Learn more at

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