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The beginning of the fall semester presents an atmosphere of new found energy and excitement on the college campus. The campus sidewalks are bustling with heavy foot traffic, new students are scurrying to find their classrooms, and the distant sound of music coming from welcome back events fill the air. However, as most university leaders along the Gulf Shore are monitoring enrollment numbers, they are also keeping a watchful eye on the potential of tropical disturbances in the Gulf. As university leaders at the University of New Orleans, we found ourselves in this situation this past Fall semester when the weather associated with Hurricane Isaac was threatening the New Orleans area. Due to the unpredictability of the storm, the decision was made to close the campus and evacuate the on-campus students to the pre-planned evacuation site at another university.

This session will provide participants with a brief theoretical overview discussing the Crisis Matrix framework as well as the Crisis Management Cycle with an emphasis on the environmental crisis. Then moving from theory to practice, the session will discuss the process of negotiating a student evacuation destination, setting up the terms of agreement between the two universities, coordination and communication when the decision was made to evacuate, the collaboration with student housing and campus police, as well as the student response to the evacuation. The session will conclude with lessons learned from this process and allow for others to share their related experiences.