Strategies, Challenges, and Lessons Learned


Natural disasters, conflict, turmoil, riots, terrorism, and health warnings dominate today’s headlines and highlight the reality that social or geographical boundaries no longer limit the reach of crises. A situation that one region faces today will likely affect another community, country, or continent tomorrow (Gainey, 2009). Higher education institutions are not exempt nor immune from these crises. Whether an organization survives a crisis with its condition intact is determined less by the severity of the crisis than by leadership, timeliness, and effectiveness of response (Demiroz & Kapucu 2012). Leaders in higher education will need to become crises leaders, and develop competencies to effectively manage, determine risk, get people out of harm’s way, and provide some form of safety and normalcy. If ever there was a time for crisis leadership in higher education it is now, because the stakes are high, therefore, this research is timely and expedient. This narrative inquiry explored how senior leaders in a Western University in Canada responded to man-made and natural crises with a focus on crisis leaders competences. Data sources were semi-structured interviews, and documents. The findings, insights, and experiences from this study will be useful in advancing the knowledge base in the field of crisis leadership and response to man-made and natural disasters in higher education. As well as provide a learning tool for current and future educational leaders as they better understand situations that they can prepare for but can never truly predict.


Higher Education, Leadership, Crisis


Educational Organization and Leadership


Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


  • Glory Ovie
    • PhD Candidate , Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada Canada
    • I am currently PhD candidate at the University of Calgary. My research focus is on natural and human crises management in higher education.