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Preventing Crises at Your University

'Preventing Crises at Your University' cover image

Preventing Crises at Your University

The Playbook for Protecting Your Institution's Reputation

A new playbook for effective crisis management in higher education.

Unlike other industries, in higher education an institution's most important asset is its reputation. Yet as fundamental as it is, many leaders continue to view managing reputation as dishonest and counterproductive, a suspect process that undermines the very idea of reputation as an organic outcome of reality. When leadership credibility is on the line, though, and an institution's reputation is facing potentially irreparable damage, the concept of reputational risk moves from being nebulous to all too tangible.

In Managing Reputational Risk in Higher Education, Simon Barker demonstrates how critical it is for colleges and universities to align strategy and values with decision-making during times of crisis. Arguing that leaders must stop considering the discussion of reputational risk as unseemly, he demonstrates that this discussion is in fact a strategic imperative for every leader. Significant reputational damage, Barker asserts, is not the inevitable outcome of a crisis but of a poor response. Defining a new crisis leadership playbook to deal with self-inflicted crises, he also

• explains what typically goes wrong in a crisis;
• describes how to prevent crises from escalating;
• demonstrates how a stakeholder-centric model of communications can help mitigate reputational damage; and
• introduces a number of original concepts, including a Reputational Risk Management Framework, a Reputational Risk Maturity Model, and a Culture and Capability matrix.

Moving beyond the theoretical by presenting case studies of real crises involving sexual assault, freedom of speech, student protests, faculty misconduct, and a broad range of financial, social, and ethical issues, the book highlights and underscore key concepts around effective management of reputational risk. Ultimately, Managing Reputational Risk in Higher Education serves as a wake-up call for all higher education leaders and board members.