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Literature of Leadership - Preventing Crises at Your University

PREVENTING CRISES AT YOUR UNIVERSITY: The Playbook for Protecting Your Institution's

Reputation. Simon Barker. (2021, Kindle Edition)

Hardly a day goes by without news reports about COVID outbreaks, admissions scandals, campus violence, computer system data breaches, to name a few issues impacting higher education institutions. Indeed, how an institution responds to these situations can have more of an influence on its reputation than the underlying issue/event itself. Yet, more frequently than not, it is only at the time of a crisis that “reputational risk” suddenly becomes an administrative imperative---essentially when it’s too late. Written by Simon Barker, managing partner of a crisis management consulting firm that specializes in higher education, Preventing Crises At Your University provides a playbook for governing boards and institutional leaders for addressing today’s reputational crises based on best practices and lessons learned in the field.

Undoubtedly, an institution’s reputation is core to its ongoing success. College and university leaders invest considerable time, energy and resources in defining the institution’s vision, core values and brand; communicating its differential advantage; and nurturing trusting relationships with internal and external stakeholders. According to Barker, given the profound reputational risks institutions of higher education face in today’s environment, it is (or should be) a governing board’s fiduciary duty and that of the institution’s leadership to regard and proactively manage and protect its reputation in the same manner as other valued strategic assets—both tangible (e.g., equipment) and intangible (e.g., intellectual property). However, from his experience, most colleges and universities do not. According to Barker, typical approaches to crisis management and communications, issues management, and/or emergency management (which are distinctively different) are insufficient.

Throughout this book’s nine (9) chapters, Barker presents core concepts and case study examples to help institutional leaders understand the basics of what reputation is (and is not) and why it is at risk, what frequently can go wrong in a crisis when reputational risk is most acute, and how to differentiate various types and levels of risk. In addition, frameworks and best practices are presented for assessing, building and improving institutional reputational risk management capabilities, including the role of leadership (president, faculty, governing boards, among others) in the process.

If your institution’s reputational risk management approach warrants improvement, this book would be a valuable resource.

Image source: Amazon


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