The Management of the Effects of a Hurricane: A Study of Higher Education Crisis Management Processes as Viewed through a Performance Management System
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On September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike, a huge storm with tropical storm force or greater winds extending 275 miles from the eye, made landfall in Galveston, Texas submerging over 75% of the city. In response to this crisis, Texas A&M University at Galveston, a small ocean oriented satellite school of 2000 students, deployed a never-before-attempted business continuity plan, relocating 91% of the student body and campus operations 150 miles inland to the mother campus of Texas A&M University in nine days. As a result, Texas A&M University at Galveston successfully weathered the storm and enjoyed a record enrollment the following spring semester. This dissertation utilized a case study methodology to look at the approach/planning process that went into the plan, the deployment of the plan, and the learning that took place throughout the crisis. In addition, the case study was considered through the use of a performance management system, specifically the Quality Texas Foundation - Engagement Level Criteria based on the Malcom Baldrige Quality Management Criteria, to determine whether this criteria might be appropriate for assessing future crisis response in higher education. All Texas A&M University at Galveston crisis team members were interviewed using the criteria to guide the discussion. The study revealed that the approach taken by the Texas A&M University at Galveston crisis team members was very timely in that a number of significant changes were implemented in the plan only a year prior to Hurricane Ike, initiated in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita’s impact on other universities. Furthermore while the approach outlined a plan that guided the relocation effort, significant areas that were not directly related to the relocation of the students, such as plans for the workforce not directly involved in the relocation and community involvement, were not adequately addressed. In deployment of the plan, the development of guiding principles to further align the thousands of decisions that would take place proved critical. The study further identified that the crisis team members incorporated learning into the approach and deployment of the plan, and established a very comprehensive assessment process immediately after the crisis. The study also revealed a number of valuable lessons for practice for use by other institutions as they develop their own crisis management plans. Lastly, the Quality Texas Foundation - Engagement Level Criteria provided a solid platform for crisis management assessment in higher education, particularly in large scale disaster type crises.
Sutherland, Todd (2013). The Management of the Effects of a Hurricane: A Study of Higher Education Crisis Management Processes as Viewed through a Performance Management System. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from