The University of Memphis

Crisis Management Planning


Issued: February 15, 2017
Responsible Official: Vice President for Business & Finance
Responsible Office: Vice President for Business & Finance

Policy Statement

Policy Statement

The President of The University of Memphis has primary responsibility for effectively managing any crisis that may occur on or affect the University of Memphis campus or any of its off-campus centers or sites.

The University of Memphis Crisis Management Plan (CMP) shall formally establish and document a coordinated plan for managing crises that may arise in spite of all mitigation efforts. This plan will be designed to provide a flexible framework for crisis management rather than step-by-step directions for handling any and every conceivable crisis.

Only the President or designee can declare that a crisis exists, thereby activating the Crisis Management Plan.

The Vice President for Business & Finance is responsible for ensuring that the CMP is developed and maintained. University departments involved in crisis management are responsible for developing internal procedures and ensuring personnel are trained as required under National Incident Management System (NIMS) standards. The plan shall be reviewed annually and exercised bi-annually.



The purpose of Crisis Management Planning is to provide (a) a leadership framework for crisis management and (b) response and recovery procedures with sufficient flexibility to accommodate contingencies of various types and magnitude. The National Safety Council recommends all facilities have a written response plan, including procedures for emergencies that are most likely to occur at the facility. Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 requires State Agency implementation of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). The President may authorize the University to adopt NIMS compliance standards. Overall objectives are to:

  • Protect and preserve human life, health and well-being.
  • Minimize damage to the natural environment.
  • Minimize loss, damage or disruption to the University’s facilities, resources and operations.
  • Manage immediate communications and information regarding emergency response operations and campus safety.
  • Provide essential services and operations.

Provide and analyze information to support decision-making and action plans.



An incident with the potential to cause deaths or injuries – physical and/or psychological - to students, faculty, staff, or the public; or to shut down business, disrupt operations, cause physical or environmental damage; or to threaten the institution’s financial standing or public image.


A serious situation or occurrence that happens unexpectedly and demands immediate action.

National Incident Management System (NIMS) 

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) is mandated by Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 5; the system provides a consistent nationwide approach for federal, state, local and tribal governments; the private sector; and nongovernmental organizations to work effectively and efficiently together to prepare for, respond to, and recover from domestic incidents, regardless of cause, size or complexity.  To provide for interoperability and compatibility, the NIMS includes a core set of concepts, principles, and terminology.  HSPD-5 identifies these as the Incident Command System (ICS); multiagency coordination systems; training; identification and management of resources (including systems for classifying types of resources); qualification and certification; and the collection, tracking, and reporting of incident information and incident resources.

Incident Command System (ICS)Incident Command System (ICS) is a standardized, on-scene, all-hazard incident management concept in the United State. ICS is based upon a flexible, scalable response organization providing a common framework within which people can work together effectively. These people may be drawn from multiple departments or agencies that do not routinely work together, and ICS is designed to give standard response and operation procedures to reduce the problems and potential for miscommunication on such incidents. ICS has been summarized as a "first-on-scene" structure, where the first responder on a scene has charge of the scene until the incident is resolved or the initial responder transitions incident command to an arriving, more-qualified individual.

EOC Director

This position is designated by the President of the University to activate and provide overall strategy for the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in consultation with the Crisis Management Team.  The EOC Director reviews and approves overall priorities and action strategies for the emergency response, and oversees response and recovery operations. The director has delegated authority to act in the best interest of the University and the goals of emergency response and recovery, on behalf of the CMT Policy Group during immediate response operations.

Incident Commander

The individual in charge of the on-scene crisis response. Different individuals will take on the role of Incident Commander depending on the type of crisis and level of severity. Until Incident Command is formally ceded, the Director of Public Safety will assume Incident Command.


Leadership Framework

This leadership framework for crisis management is designed to provide an organizational structure capable of responding to various levels of emergencies ranging in complexity. It also provides the flexibility needed to respond to an incident as it escalates in severity. Because of this flexibility, the leadership framework for crisis management may not resemble the day-to-day organizational structure of the University. Employees may report to other employees to whom they do not usually have a reporting relationship. Further, assignments and reporting relationships may change as crisis conditions change.

The Crisis Management Team (CMT) coordinates the campus response to and recovery from major crises.

The CMT is composed of two teams or groups – the Policy Group and the Operations Group.

Role of Policy Group (CMT-Policy):

  • Defines Crisis Policy
  • Approves overall priorities & strategies
  • Issues public information reports & instructions
  • Determines program closures and resumptions
  • Plans and prioritizes long term recovery

Role of Operations Group (CMT-Operations):

  • Determines the scope and impact of the incident
  • Prioritizes emergency actions
  • Deploys and coordinates resources and equipment
  • Communicates critical information and instructions
  • Monitors and reevaluates conditions
  • Coordinates with government agencies

Membership in the CMT-Policy Group will consist of the University's senior leadership (the Executive Officers, Legal Counsel, Director of Communications Services, and others as needed depending on the nature of the crisis). Membership in the CMT-Operations Group will include but not be limited to senior representatives from the following areas: Academic Affairs, Communications Services, Environmental Health & Safety, Human Resources, Physical Plant, Public Safety, Residence Life, Student Affairs, and Telecommunications.

Each member of the CMT will have a designated primary and secondary back-up.

Designated team members shall receive NIMS and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training as recommended by the Federal Department of Homeland Security.

The Incident Commander has on-scene responsibility for management of all operational activities at the scene of the crisis, including the coordination of operational activities with external agencies and contributing to post event after-action reporting. Initial University response to any emergency is normally directed by the University Police; the Director of Public Safety or his/her designee will therefore normally assume Incident Command. Incident command may be ceded by University Public Safety to representatives of Physical Plant, Environmental Health and Safety, Student Health Services or other University units, as the situation warrants. In addition, command may be ceded to the governmental agency with the broadest jurisdictional authority (e.g., Memphis Fire Department, the Memphis and Shelby County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), among others) for that incident. 

The EOC Director will collaborate with CMT Operations Group members to provide overall strategy for the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). This individual reviews and approves overall priorities and action strategies for the emergency response. Works with and supports Communication Services in the development and delivery of messages. Coordinates and communicates as necessary with the CMT Policy Group and other University groups regarding the U of M Campus EOC operations. Oversee response and recovery operations. Activates the EOC, lead the EOC Action Plan, and deactivate as conditions return to normal. Has the delegated authority to act in the best interest of the University and the goals of emergency response and recovery, on behalf of the CMT Policy Group during immediate response operations. This position is designated by the President and may be any member of the Crisis Management Team.

The organizational structure of the CMT is outline in the Crisis Management Plan, which can be found online at


Plan Development, Maintenance & Dissemination

The Vice President for Business & Finance is responsible for ensuring that the crisis management plan is developed and maintained.

Components of the CMP are based on identified potential emergencies that may be expected to occur on the campus or at off-campus centers resulting from the conclusions of a Hazard and Vulnerability Analysis.

The maintenance and further development of the plan must be a shared responsibility, involving many departments and units across campus. The Emergency Preparedness Coordinator is responsible for facilitating that work.

Each unit or department identified as having a role in this CMP is responsible for communicating the content of the CMP to its staff. Each administrative and academic unit shall develop their own crisis plans. These plans will outline strategies for protecting department personnel and programs, and for coordinating with the whole. The Vice President for Business & Finance or designee shall develop a common framework for this purpose.

The CMP shall be reviewed annually by the Crisis Management Team-Operations Group and be modified as necessary. Results of the reviews and any changes to the CMP shall be reported to the President for approval. Semiannual exercises shall be held to (1) train CMT members and other personnel and (2) evaluate the adequacy of the CMP.  An after-action report on each exercise shall be prepared by the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator and submitted to the President of the University.

As potential crises emerge, any member of the CMT-Operations Group may convene a Group meeting to discuss hazard specific planning and/or request activation of the Crisis Management Plan.


Communications with Campus Community

Mechanisms to communicate with the campus community during a time of crisis are identified in the Crisis Communications Plan.

Communications with Media

The University of Memphis Crisis Communications Plan (a component of the University's CMP) establishes procedures related to communications with internal and external audiences (i.e., media, community, etc.). In line with this plan, a Joint Public Information Center will be established in the event of a University crisis. The Director of Communications Services is responsible for developing procedures related to the development of such a Center.

Assistance to CommunityA crisis affecting the community may require local authorities to request the assistance of The University of Memphis personnel and/or facilities. Such assistance would most likely involve the necessity to provide temporary shelter and care for victims of a disaster. The University of Memphis will cooperate as much as reasonably possible in any emergency assistance operation that is directed by an outside agency. Assistance of this nature may require implementation of the University's Crisis Management Plan.


Emergency Closings Policy

Crisis Management Plan

Revision Dates

 UM1532 -- Revised February 15, 2017
UM1532 Rev.1 -- updated December 15, 2008
UM1532 - Issued: November 3, 2003 supercedes policy number 2A:13:01A and 1:2A:13:01

Subject Areas:

AcademicFinanceGeneralHuman ResourcesInformation TechnologyResearchStudent Affairs