Oregon is not immune to disaster and crisis on its college and university campuses. We have faced the COVID-19 global pandemic, meningitis outbreaks, significant ice and snowstorms, threats from wildfires and smoke, and the tragic shooting at Umpqua Community College.
The consequences of these and other recent emergencies have exposed the need to strategically invest in Oregon's educational institutions to prevent, respond, and recover from unexpected events by building on the University of Oregon's (UO) Disaster Resilient Universities (DRU) work and cultivating network at the state level.
DRU- Oregon Campus Resilience Consortium (OCRC) Concept
As envisioned in the 2016 Governor's Campus Safety Work Group Report, the OCRC's goal is to turn our greatest concern- the protection of our students and educational institutions- into a network that can leverage our limited resources and collective expertise under a shared mission:
To make Oregon campuses more disaster resilient now and in the future.
OCRC can leverage limited resources at the state level, develop intercampus partnerships, build local capacities through partnerships, and share resources to advance disaster resilience. The OCRC has representation from public universities, community colleges, and private and independent universities. We have established a foundation of trust and partnerships and seek funding to advance our collaboration across campuses for risk reduction, mitigation, and overall disaster resilience.
Education is a cornerstone of modern civilization that fosters upward economic mobility and opens doors to opportunities. Institutes of higher learning sustain the foundation for measurable success in the broader society. Our campuses are hubs of employment, economic productivity, knowledge, and scientific advancement throughout the state.
Oregon's colleges and universities drive economic development in local and state economies and, by extension, the national and global economies. However, economic impact assessments, do not reflect the intangible and intrinsic benefits of post-secondary education. Higher education creates a ripple effect on the public good and well-being of Oregonians.
There is an acute need for colleges and universities to engage in pre-disaster mitigation in a manner that is similar to preparations by local jurisdictions. Based on the 2022 DRU National Higher Education Program Survey campuses still have work to do around emergency management.
|Type of Plan||National-Yes||National-No||National- In Progress||Oregon-Yes||Oregon-No||Oregon- In Progress|
|Emergency Management Strategic Plan||47.3%||32.8%||19.9%||27.8%||72.2%||33.3%|
|Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment||71.2%||13.2%||15.6%||64.7%||5.9%||29.4%|
|Emergency Operations/ Response Plan||82.6%||3.3%||14.1%||73.7%||5.3%||21.2%|
|Continuity of Operations Plan||51.5%||17.5%||31.1%||47.4%||15.8%||36.85%|
|Executive Leadership Succession Plan||52.5%||28.4%||19.1%||35.3%||17.6%||47.1%|
|Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan||50.5%||32.2%||17.3%||47.1%||23.5%||29.4%|
|Training and Exercising Plan||41.1%||32.2%||26.7%||46.7%||40%||13.3%|
|Crisis Communication Plan||71.8%||12.1%||16%||68.4%||15.8%||15.8%|
Benefits to Oregon
Given the disparity between available resources across institutions and the substantial universal impact of emergencies, we need to incorporate risk reduction on our campuses collectively. Oregon post-secondary institutions can benefit from a finely coordinated and collaborative approach to risk reduction, pre-disaster mitigation, crisis response, continuity of operations and recovery efforts.
The proposed OCRC will help institutions identify resource gaps, and institutional efficiency, with an eye on budget and future needs. It is imperative that we, as stewards of the Oregon institutes of higher learning, ensure that their trajectory toward academic, research, and social achievement can continue. By safeguarding our post-secondary education systems in Oregon through the OCRC, we ca and will continue to be resilient in the face of adversity.
Proposed Project Activities
The 2016 Governor's Campus Safety Work Group Report provides a comprehensive set of recommendations for the OCRC. The core members of the OCRC, which include the Oregon Community College Association, Oregon Alliance of Independent Colleges and Universities, and representatives from Oregon 4-year public universities, continue to seek partnerships and funding to advance the recommendations.
Examples of proposed actions include:
- Establish a statewide, standardized, shared-services training program for incident response, continuity, and recovery. The trainings and statewide workshops will meet several objectives specifically:
- Provide technical assistance, education, and training
- Building local capacity and partnerships between the campus and the community
- Establishing a baseline for building incident management teams
- Linking campus and communities, statewide and national resources, and networks
- Establish and maintain an online resource-sharing and collaboration center for higher education practitioners charged with maintaining campus safety and disaster resilience. The online training and resource center would serve as a hub of information from a peer-to-peer network. This allows campuses to work together on projects that are mutually beneficial. The online center would also connect Oregon campuses to national networks and serve as a spoke and hub for communications, resource-sharing, and product development.
- Develop and support all-hazard and all-phase (e.g. mitigation, response, continuity, and recovery) incident management teams to serve Oregon colleges and universities. The teams would consist of both campus and regional teams to cover all colleges and universities in the state.
- Support the adoption and management of the National Intercollegiate Mutual-Aid Agreement for all Oregon colleges and universities.
- Develop statewide training and resources for higher education academic, research, and administrative continuity.
- Create training and outreach materials for preparedness and mitigation to benefit all Oregon colleges and universities, staff, faculty, and students, as well as community partners.
- Develop a self-audit tool for behavioral threat-assessment teams to help Oregon colleges and universities benchmark their prevention, preparedness, and mitigation capabilities.
- Coordinate with the K-12 Oregon Task Force on School Safety in implementing their 2015 recommendations.
The National Context
The UO has demonstrated record of engaging higher education institutions in addressing risk, making campuses safer, and responding to emergencies.
In 2005, the UO started the DRU Network after participating in a Federal Emergency Management Agency university resilience initiative. The goal was simple: facilitate open communication, discussion, and resource sharing among university and college practitioners charged with making campuses more disaster resilient. Since then, DRU has become a vehicle for daily interchange nationally among university and college professionals.
In 2015, the National Center for Campus Public Safety (NCCPS), a federally sponsored entity that has since lapsed, collaborated with the DRU Netowrk to conduct the first nationwide higher education emergency management program needs assessment. The findings and recommendations are being used to advise professional associations and federal government agencies on how to advance emergency management on campuses.
In 2015 and 2016 in partnership with US Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and former Congressman Peter Defazio, the DRU presented congressional briefings in Washington, D.C.