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Examining the influence of professional emergency management coordinators driving preparedness and resilience on university campuses

Stephen A. Murphy, PhD, MPH, MBA, Maureen Lichtveld, MD, MPH


Objective: To characterize the compliance with disaster management recommendations of ensuring a full-time, dedicated professional is responsible for coordinating disaster management programs. This research targets a subset of institutions of higher education (IHEs) in the United States at risk of annual hurricane threats or having experienced an active shooter incident near campus.

Design: A comprehensive Web-based assessment was conducted to determine the Web presence of emergency management of 265 IHEs with student enrollment greater than 2,000 in coastal states at risk of annual Atlantic Hurricane landfalls. Results were displayed spatially using ArcGIS.

Results: Although the Web sites of 91 percent of IHEs with enrollment greater than 20,000 displayed easily accessible information on a dedicated professional leading emergency management, only 42 percent of the Web sites of those IHEs with enrollment between 10,000 and 20,000 did so. As enrollment declined, the compliance rate declined. Compliance rates for IHEs with different enrollments were as follows: 6,001-9,999, 30 percent; 3,001-6,000, 23 percent; 2,000-3,000, 13 percent.

Conclusions: A full-time, dedicated professional coordinating emergency preparedness is a best practice as evidenced by various accrediting bodies, but this practice is not mandated for IHEs. Our results suggest that proximity to significant annual hurricane threats does not influence the adoption of this recommendation. Despite IHEs being core stakeholders in assuring disaster resilience, gaps exist in preparedness practice.


resilience, emergency preparedness, IHEs

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