Businesses near the Penn State campus fear the child molestation scandal and the resulting sanctions that will weaken the football program for years could spell economic trouble for years.
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Oops. We see a need for some planning in Illinois: "Three years later, only 66 of the state’s 185 institutions have filed the required plans, records show."
"In February 2008, a gunman opened fire in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University, killing five students and wounding 21.
Soon after state lawmakers tried to make sure colleges and universities were prepared to respond to such an emergency.
They passed a law requiring them to create and practice detailed plans to prevent violence and manage emergencies by January 2009."
A brief but useful summary of the kinds of things campus leaders should be thinking about regarding crisis management, as well as imnplementation of responsible policies for future litigation protection.
"Schools should evaluate whether they want to impose requirements and penalties beyond those required by law in order to better protect their students, employees, and other individuals. As we have seen from the Penn State scandal, if an incident arises at your school that attracts media attention, it will be important to not only show that your school has the appropriate policies in place, but also that you effectively enforce these policies and act in an ethical manner when handling any incidents. A failure to establish and consistently implement the right compliance structure for identifying and addressing abusive actions that every institution hopes will never occur on its campus could wipe out years of goodwill, erode public trust, and result in financial hardship."
Scott Carlson and Collin Eaton for The Chronicle, on the UC System's Board of Regents meeting Monday. It could hardly be more clear that recent events are leading to a more negative atmosphere toward higher education leadership. This is a leadership challenge.
"They couldn't have been farther apart—in socioeconomic status, and, quite likely, in point of view. And the divide was something that students and faculty members pointed out again and again when they addressed the University of California's Board of Regents during a raucous meeting on Monday. The regents met at four system campuses, linked to each other by teleconference, and then heard public comment.
'Honestly, I am not interested in a false dialogue with a body, the UC regents, that is not democratically accountable to the students or any members of the community,' said Robin Marie Averbeck, a graduate student at the University of California at Davis. Meetings like this, she said, were meant to 'make us feel like we're being heard, when the fact that we are here on teleconference shows how absurd it is.'"
Dennis Plane is associate professor of politics at Juniata College.
"Like college professors across the country, last week I witnessed the sprouting of tents on the campus quad. That can mean only one thing: It's time for that time-honored Juniata College tradition known as 'tenting.' ...
For starters, instead of fighting the tents, colleges should embrace them. And there is certainly no need for campus police to respond with pepper spray to disperse peaceful student protesters.
by Michael Fickes
"America's 2,500-plus college and university campuses comprise a treasure trove of historic buildings. Over the years, campus facility directors and campus architects have grown adept at maintaining these structures, often carrying out major adaptive-reuse renovations. Fire safety ranks as one of the most daunting challenges to successful adaptive reuse of historic buildings."
"The president of the University of California system said he was 'appalled' at images of protesters being doused with pepper spray and plans an assessment of law enforcement procedures on all 10 campuses, as the police chief and two officers were placed on administrative leave.
'Free speech is part of the DNA of this university, and non-violent protest has long been central to our history, UC President Mark G. Yudof said in a statement Sunday in response to the spraying of students sitting passively at UC Davis. 'It is a value we must protect with vigilance.'"
We're beginning to see inside the Penn State leadership:
"How much information should college presidents share with their governing boards when handling sensitive matters? That question has been at the center of conversations this week as college-governance experts and campus leaders search for lessons from the Penn State child-sex-abuse scandal.
A communication breakdown between senior officials and trustees at Pennsylvania State University in reacting to the case against a former football coach, Jerry Sandusky, contributed to what some crisis-communications experts say was a weak initial response by the institution. And a decision not to notify the full board about the state attorney general's investigation and the charges against Mr. Sandusky may have hastened the departure of President Graham B. Spanier, according to people with knowledge of the board's deliberations."
If you read nothing else about the management of campus crises - including reputational and governance crises - this week, read this: How Prepared Are America's Colleges and Universities for Major Crises?
"Colleges and universities, if not necessarily their leaders, generally survive everything from earthquakes to grade scandals. However, as the complexity of institutional operations, technology, and infrastructure increases, the risks facing universities and their leaders multiply as well, and wise leaders will plan accordingly. But while a review of various university web sites reveals that some are prepared for physical disasters, those sites rarely display plans to manage a broad range of both physical and reputational crises.
The purpose of this article is to outline a set of recommendations to college and university leaders and governing bodies on how to develop crisis-management systems to ensure that their institutions are as well prepared as possible for a wide range of crises. These recommendations are based, in part, on crisis-management programs developed for various business organizations by one of the authors.
Since there is virtually no national research that details how colleges and universities have prepared for such events, we also conducted a survey of colleges and universities to determine the level of crisis-management preparation among American colleges and universities. The results of that survey also inform our recommendations."
A brief, concise, timeless document which is a template for college and university campuses being prepared to respond appropriately to any emergency or csisis.
The situation at Penn State causes us to bring a valuable SCUP document out for wider dissemination.
This brief, concise PDF document should be on the e-reader of every cabinet-level officer on every campus in the country. It can be referenced quickly for important points distilled from conversations with college and university presidents about the right way to respond to crisis, emergencies, disasterz, including those without physical campus damage.
Please share it widely.
James Alan Fox: As with the Oikos U. tragedy, suspects are often older students, who see their education as do-or-die situations.
I don't claim to be clairvoyant. I'm just someone who has studied the 20 campus shootings that resulted in multiple fatalities over the past two decades. The average age of these assailants exceeds 35, with several being well into their 40s. Unlike a traditional-age college student who might dismiss a failing grade or an expulsion as a temporary setback, older students often view their pursuit of a college degree as their last hope for success. Failure at this stage of life can leave them feeling that they are simply out of options.
Lucinda Roy had sought help for Seung-Hui Cho before his 2007 massacre. Her view of Thursday's shooting in Blacksburg includes a lingering question:
"Campuses like Virginia Tech's are small cities. People are right to point out that there are violent attacks in cities, so it stands to reason there will be violent crimes on campus. But it's also true that the threat posed by violence in our schools and colleges is particularly dangerous. When violence subdues learning, everything is at risk. Can we really afford to continue to have open access to our campuses? Can we afford to funnel unbalanced, dangerous individuals through a system that repeatedly ignores them in hopes they'll go away? What is preventing another attack, or, worse still, a large-scale slaughter? Wishful thinking? Young students are our future tense, the most effective method we have of avoiding a tense future. But we are finding it increasingly difficult to make their classrooms safe."
This is more on higher education's branding situation. We are worried about it:
"The way some veteran Washingtonians remember the names and locations of U.S. House of Representative Offices Buildings—Cannon, Longworth, and Rayburn—is to remember the expression 'cheaters, liars, and robbers,' or, if a juicy congressional sex scandal is underway, 'cheaters, liars, and rapists.'
Unfortunately, that came to mind when I recently saw the top 15 stories listed on the electronic front page of USA Today. Three of the stories dealt with college scandals—SAT examination cheating at New York City suburban high schools, thuggery amongst the marching band at Florida A&M University, and more on the Penn State football scandal that indeed appears to involve rape."
There is a trend right now to view institutions negatively, and there are both negative stories and intentional disparagement of higher education.
This is a time when higher education institutions need to be sharing positive stories focused on students and communities, not seeming to be concerned more about the institution itself than those people expect it to serve.
Goldie Blumenstyk and Jack Stripling wrote this good article for The Chronicle.
When is it okay for a president to criticize the actions of another president?
"A few days after campus police used truncheons to break up a nonviolent protest at the University of California at Berkeley, I received an e-mail describing the use of excessive force in Sproul Plaza. I wound up blogging about the incident, both on my campus and for The Huffington Post. My administrative colleagues were concerned about whether I should be criticizing another university, and another administration. I suppose as a president I was supposed to have more in common with chancellors, presidents and their "reports" than I was supposed to have with professors and students. This is misdirected allegiance. We are all students and teachers. This has only become more evident with the inappropriate use of force at UC Davis and other venues.
The second strain of criticism came from readers who thought I left the door open for using force when I wrote: "I can imagine (with dread) extreme situations in which force would be required to preserve campus safety and our ongoing operations. As students, staff and faculty make their voices heard, however, the university's responsibility is to protect their rights, even as it ensures that the educational mission of the school continues.”
Cathy N. Davison is a neuroscientist from Duke University. In August she published the book, Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn. She was visiting UC Davis when during the recent pepper spraying:
"We also need to learn from our mistakes, because as protesters are being shifted out of the city parks of metropolitan areas, they are moving to college campuses. First, the claim that the Occupy encampments are unsanitary, unsafe, and insecure is almost comical to someone at Duke, where "tenting" has been a venerable student tradition since 1986. "Krzyzewskiville" is an encampment of students staying in tents, in winter, for weeks at time in order not to lose priority getting into Duke home basketball games. A few years ago, in one of my classes, we studied K-Ville's rules as a model of self-organizing and self-policing communities. If K-Ville can thrive despite the frenzy of winning and losing championship basketball games, so can a well-organized group of students advocating on behalf of their educational future."
This could well become an increasing campus management issue, so it would be wise to stay current with what's working and where serious mistakes are being made. A PDF on presidential management of disasters and a Change magazine article about crisis management are among the resources being collected here.
Please Suggest additional items.
A really good 2007 summary by Kathleen A. Rinehart about lessons learned post-Virginia Tech Tragedy:
Amazon.com: Campus Crisis Management: A Comprehensive Guide to Planning, Prevention, Response, and Recovery (9780787978747): Eugene L. Zdziarski, Norbert W.
Highly recommended. Think: Penn State.