National Higher Education Emergency Management Needs Assessment

December 01 2016

Image of Higher Ed Emergency Management Needs Assessment Cover Page
Download the full report.
Emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere. When an emergency does occur, it can threaten public safety, the environment, property, the economy, critical infrastructure, and the health of individuals. In 2015, the National Center for Campus Public Safety, in partnership with the Disaster Resilient Universities® Network and the International Association of Emergency Managers-Universities and Colleges Caucus, sponsored a nationwide study to identify emergency management program (EMP) needs at institutions of higher education (IHEs). A research team from the University of Oregon Community Service Center (CSC) conducted the research, analyzed the results, and provided key findings as part of the study. The goal of the assessment was to inform the following questions:


  • What is needed to improve emergency management at IHEs?
  • Where are resources currently being deployed on campuses?
  • Where are the gaps in resources and information?
  • What is the best way to fill these gaps and improve campus public safety?

The key findings are based on information collected from a national survey of emergency management practitioners at IHEs, targeted interviews, case studies, discussions at a summit of representatives from Oregon IHEs, and input from a project advisory committee. The CSC research team identified five key themes related to EMP needs: institutional engagement; training and exercises; plans and operational continuity; staffing and resources; and partnerships and assistance.

The CSC research team also developed a set of draft recommendations, which were vetted and refined by an advisory committee. The final five recommendations are:

  • Re-fund the U.S. Department of Education’s Emergency Management for Higher Education (EMHE) grant program.
  • Establish an emergency management curriculum and training program targeting executive leadership.
  • Establish an ad-hoc working group focused on communication and resource coordination between campus emergency management officials and federal agency representatives.
  • Encourage designation of IHE emergency management coordinators at the state or regional level.
  • Establish an ad hoc working group to develop a program maturity model for institutions’ EMPs.

Download the National Higher Education Emergency Management Program Needs Assessment (PDF) report for an overview of emergency management at IHEs; results of the higher education emergency management needs assessment survey as well as a copy of the survey instrument; findings, conclusions, and recommendations; recommended best practices for EMPs at IHEs; and an appendix of selected resources for IHEs.


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