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Perceptions of United States East Coast higher education leaders on natural disaster recovery

Hassan A Afyouni, Johnson & Wales University


On Monday, August 29, 2005, the City of New Orleans was caught off guard by Hurricane Katrina. The massive damage, including loss of human life and complete property destruction, was widely reported and appalled the nation. Though not as widely documented, the cost of interrupted business to higher education was also tremendous. In many instances, these entities will find it difficult to recover. As of November 2006, the estimated physical damage to institutions of higher education has amounted to more than one billion dollars, not including the tremendous financial and emotional toll on constituents, including students, faculty, staff, parents, employers, and community. This study examines the actual and perceived strategic issues and factors regarding disaster preparedness, to identify whether higher education leaders' perceptions of preparedness were realistic. This study also explores funding issues to assess whether these issues might hinder academic leaders from implementing a thorough disaster recovery plan necessary to protect their institutions from potential business disruption caused by natural disasters. Finally, this study examines major concerns regarding the evaluation and assessment of preparedness and readiness for natural disasters among institutions of higher education. This research collected data through a survey sample (N=84) of higher education leaders conducted on the East Coast. In addition to the survey, individual interviews were carried out with senior administrators of leading higher education institutions located on the East Coast of the United States. The interviews and the survey discussions and questions focused on natural disaster planning, implementation, concerns, issues, and nuances. Also reviewed was the process through which higher education leaders evaluate and perceive preparedness and readiness. Principal findings of the research show that higher education institution's perception of leadership towards natural disaster recovery planning is a top strategic issue (64% of respondents). However, when it comes to implementing the disaster recovery plan to insure preparedness and readiness, the implementation lacks major factors such as funding. The results of the survey reveal that surprising only 5% of the respondents believe that funding is adequate, while the others believe funding imposes a major constraint and this is due to lack of sponsorship. Furthermore, a resounding 82% of the respondents do not employ means to assess their existing natural disaster recovery plan.

Subject Area

School administration|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Afyouni, Hassan A, "Perceptions of United States East Coast higher education leaders on natural disaster recovery" (2007). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3270289.