The President’s Role in Crisis Recovery

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The media this week featured the work of Brandeis University's new president, Frederick Lawrence, who is tasked with guiding Brandeis through its recovery from both a financial crisis and a reputation crisis. In his three-month tenure at the institution, Lawrence has spent one-third of his time on the road, visiting with donors, alumni, and other stakeholders, and considering new plans for the much-disputed Rose Museum.

What the case of Brandeis illustrates is the critical role that an institution's president has to play during the recovery phase of a crisis. As the public face of the university, the president will be looked to for leadership, transparency, and for clear answers about the details of the situation and the institution's future.

To gain a better understanding of the steps a president needs to take during this sensitive period, we turned to Cindy Lawson, assistant to the chancellor for marketing and communications at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

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