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January 14, 2011
CMU: Exemplary Campus Crisis Readiness
 
We imagine that more and more colleges and universities are including emergency response information on their websites. But it's hard to imagine one doing it more handily and clearly than what we've come upon at Central Michigan University. The CMU postings strike us as a model for campus emergency Web readiness.

On the CMU home page, there's a Quick Links section that includes Emergency Info. Go there and you find the university's Crisis Response Plan and a statement by Kathleen M. Wilbur, CMU's interim president.  "Central Michigan University is vulnerable," the statement begins. "At any moment, CMU may be threatened by an emergency or disaster situation, whether it be a flood, tornado, accident involving hazardous materials, resource shortage, civil disorder, or terrorist threat. Consequently, university offices have been collaboratively working to identify resources, communication plans, and courses of action, and to build solid relationships with local and state agencies to bolster our preparedness efforts."

Realistic, up-front, straight out. And backed by solid planning and readiness. There are links for staff and student resources and a Faculty and Staff Checklist. All are plainly available so as many people as possible, on-campus and off, can be on the same page should a crisis occur. The university has an Emergency Operations Center and a Crisis Response Team, and we imagine, at least, that they are kept toned up in regular drills. (Hope so.)

This is an exemplary. shared readiness presentation that all involved hope won't be needed. But hope is no basis for any form of effective public relations, especially crisis response. CMU, its Wikipedia page advises, is one of the nation's 100 largest public universities.  

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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