Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level



Political Science


Michael Miller

Committee Member

Valerie Whiteside

Second Committee Member

G. Gearhart


Crisis Management, Critical Incident Management, Mental Health, Crisis Response, Discretion, Threat Assessment, Emergency Management


Crisis Management is a very important part of higher education on college campuses across the nation. Violent events that have occurred in recent years have caused universities to examine how they respond to critical incidents that have negatively affected students, faculty and staff. Because these incidents have resulted in death, injury and other negative consequences, more consideration is given to various aspects of critical incident management such as administrative discretion. This study concentrated on examining the intersection between crisis management and administrative discretion at institutions of higher education (IHE).

Mental health status, laws with relation to information sharing and disability and other critical issues can factor into the decisions that are made when addressing crisis incidents on campus. Incident management and threat assessment are critical issues that must be considered when examining the interaction between policies, administrators and students.

Higher education administrators registered in the Association for Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), were sent an electronic survey that questioned them regarding crisis management and threat assessment processes and procedures and administrative discretion. The survey was forwarded to 88 potential participants and was completed in whole or part by 19 administrators. It was determined that the clear majority of campuses have crisis management and threat assessment plans and groups and that administrators perceive themselves to have discretion when making determinations regarding students who have been involved in acts contrary to campus conduct standards. Administrators at these institutions of higher education utilized various organizations when developing and designing polices and were collaborative in their approach to revising and updating policies. Examining all facets of administrative discretion and critical incident management will allow higher education institutions to adequately prepare to respond to violent incidents that are likely to occur in the future.