6 Things Presidents and Chancellors MUST Do to Prepare for a Crisis

Open road in area with lots of forrest
Member Exclusive


This article was adapted from interviews conducted during the course of preparation for chapter 3, authored by Cindy Lawson, in Managing the Unthinkable, Crisis Preparation and Response for Campus Leaders, edited by Gretchen M. Bataille and Diana I. Cordova, Stylus Publishing, LLC. 2014.

by Cindy Lawson, DePaul University

Throughout my long career in public relations both at a Fortune 500 company and at five different higher education institutions, I have had the privilege of working with some great presidents and chancellors.  Together, we faced a number of crises, including a tuberculosis scare, a chemical lab mishap, a natural gas explosion, fires, electrocutions, kidnapping, active shooters, bomb scares, rapes, plane crashes, multiple deaths resulting from car crashes, tropical storms and hurricanes, drownings, suicides, murders…and many more. With each crisis came lessons learned – for individual responders, for the president/chancellor and for the institution as a whole.

I interviewed several of those (now ex-) presidents and chancellors about the various crises each experienced.  I asked them what advice they would give other presidents and chancellors in terms of preparing for any type of crisis. Following are their, and my, top six suggestions:

We hope you’re enjoying this read. The full text of this article or report is complimentary for Academic Impressions members. to read it!

If you're signed up to receive our Daily Pulse, but your institution does not have an active membership, you won't have access to this article.


An Academic Impressions membership provides multiple users on your campus with unlimited access to exclusive reports, research briefs, hundreds of free webcasts and online trainings, and discounts on conferences. Learn more about membership and get unlimited training and reading for you and your team today.