institution is, effective risk management can limit
unfortunate incidents to a minimum.
On the other hand, failure to implement sound
risk management practices could be costly. Every
dollar spent on liability claims, property damage
and high insurance premiums is money diverted
from supporting the core mission of teaching and
learning. And the human toll of injuries to staff or
students can be devastating.
Accurately assessing risk requires knowing one’s
institution inside and out. “Each college environment is unique and carries its own types of risks,”
says William Kerwin, who has directed risk management programs for community colleges and
high schools in California.
For instance, community colleges with athletic
programs have certain risks that others don’t, requiring concussion management protocols and other
precautions against sports-related injuries. Colleges
that have dual-enrollment agreements with local
high schools are likely to have minors on campus,
and they should take specific measures to protect this
student population—such as making sure employees
have undergone extensive background checks.
Because budgets are limited and resources
are often constrained, careful risk assessment is
essential. Knowing the risks that are most likely
to occur can help colleges get the most out of their
investment in risk prevention.
“Risk management might only account for 1
to 3 percent of a community college’s operating
expenses, but it must be responsible for protect-
ing 100 percent of assets,” says John McLaughlin,
managing director of higher education practice
for Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services.
“Spend wisely, and understand what you’re trying
Risk managers have many resources to help
them accurately gauge the risks to their college.
These include city and county threat assessment
and natural hazard mitigation plans, as well as
insurance claims data from their own college and
for similar institutions.
“Slips, trips and falls consistently rank as
the No. 1 area of claims for Wisconsin colleges,”
Stoeger-Moore says. “This isn’t surprising, given
the nature of Wisconsin winters.” Armed with this
information, campus leaders in the state can be
proactive by making sure roads and walkways are
kept well plowed and salted—and loose carpeting
and stair rails are promptly repaired.
“Look at what the loss drivers are, and then
come up with mitigation plans to help solve these
problems,” he recommends.
One of the core aspects of risk management is
preparing effectively for emergencies.
“Often, community colleges lean heavily on local
first responders for assistance—especially during
sidewalks are clear
of ice and snow to
“The philosophy of
responsibility has to
start from the top.”
STEVEN STOEGER-MOORE , president, Districts