Engaging Risk by Paul Vene Smith

“College leaders have a responsibility to manage the risks while giving students room to explore, discover, construct, experiment, and experience their primary sources of studying the fullest and most direct way possible.”

I had been on the job for a little more than a month. I was still getting my bearings and learning places and names. Then one evening, the campus went on lockdown. Sort of. At this moment in history, the school had no centralized emergency system. There were no official texts, emails, phone calls, telegrams, or carrier pigeons. Though I was the Director of Housing, I had no official information to share with my residents. One of the students pointed me to the Twitter feed of Jane. Who is Jane? I had no idea. Apparently she worked in Advancement.

The next day, the administration and residence life had a meeting. We realized we were all caught off guard. We needed a better system of preparation and response. Thus began my journey into emergency and risk management. With the Vice President, I began researching systems and developing plans. It was a lot of work but it was great stuff.

But all that work would have gone to waste if we didn’t create a culture of ownership. Engaging risk is a campus-wide initiative. There is no one person or one department that engages risk. Everyone needs to own it and manage it. Yes, there needs to be a person or office on campus that champions risk management and cultivates the language and culture, but everyone on campus plays a vital role. The institutional risk leader “holds primary responsibility to prompt, remind, counsel, and connect everyone else on campus with the information and resources they need.”

I really enjoyed this book. It is clearly written and understandable. I recommend this book to any college administration official.