Presidents’ Advice for Campus Leaders in a Crisis

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by Cindy Lawson (DePaul University)

While writing a chapter for Managing the Unthinkable: Crisis Preparation and Response for Campus Leaders (ACE, 2014), I had the opportunity to interview two retired presidents/chancellors with whom I had worked – former University of North Carolina Wilmington Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo and former Texas A&M President Ray Bowen.  DePaolo faced two different student incidents in which a student was stalked and then murdered, after which the perpetrator committed suicide. Both incidents occurred within a two-month period early in her tenure at UNCW.  Bowen was president during the Texas A&M bonfire collapse that killed 12 students and injured another 27.

I asked them, “Given what you have learned from successfully managing a number of significant campus crises, what’s the most important advice you would give to other presidents, chancellors and campus leaders in times of crisis?”


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