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Christina L McDowell, Karen S Markel

Earthquake readiness: Preparing to lead and communicate in a natural disaster crisis

This case describes a higher education institutions’ crisis readiness to a natural disaster. On November 30, 2018 a 7.1 magnitude earthquake happened in Anchorage, Alaska. The earthquake occurred at 8:30 a.m. on a Friday morning, so very few students were on campus. The case specifically focuses on the crisis communications disseminated to faculty, staff, and students by university administration following the earthquake. The case explains the crisis situation and highlights the need for communities of practice – in this case, higher education institutions – to reflect on the almost impossible-to-imagine scenarios of widespread destruction of a campus and the surrounding communities. Crisis readiness at higher education institutions is a challenging effort, not only for concern for potential crisis but because of the various constituents that compose a university. A college or university resembles a town or a city structure more than that of a business, non-profit, or a corporation. A university employs a wide variety of professionals who find common ground in the mission of higher education and the institution itself, rather than in the profession practiced by community members.