Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management

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Managing crisis in a university setting: The challenge of alignment

Abstract This paper explores the unique challenges of university leadership when planning and aligning communications and activities before, during, and after crises. We examined the three stages of a crisis and the unpredictable nature of large‐scale crises, including natural or man‐made disasters, that threaten people and structures. Compiled data exposed the frequency and complexity of critical events emphasizing the urgent need for attention and action. Case studies informed primarily by the literature, and a personal interview with a crisis strategist, detail specific alignment challenges and recommend a holistic crisis management system for university leadership to implement that addresses planning, response, and recovery. Consequences of misalignment include loss of message control, rumourmongering, prolonged disruption of operations, and the likelihood of reputational damage.

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