Safeguarding your Reputation: Risk Management’s Role in Higher Education

“Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome.” 

–Samuel Johnson, English author (1700s)

For risk managers in higher education this quote is especially relevant as we attempt to strike a balance between exercising prudent risk management (and sometimes objecting to the activities of students/faculty/staff) versus not hindering academic freedom, long standing traditions, or the mission of the institution.  With that said, once you understand the institution’s “duty of care” in your jurisdiction, you may decide that implementing new risk protocols (and managing the inevitable push back from the campus community) is more important than continuing to “do things the way they have always been done”. At the end of the day, is your institution upholding your legal duty to exercise reasonable care to protect students or other persons from risks you could have reasonably foreseen to occur? If not, it might be time to re-evaluate your risk management program.

This topic, among many others, including: Title IX, Enterprise Risk Management (ERM), Board Fiduciary Responsibility, Cyber & Privacy Liability, Kidnap & Ransom, Clery Act, FERPA, Study Abroad, Contractual Risk, Hazing, Club Sports, Student Health, and Workers’ Compensation, were discussed at URMIA’s (University Risk Management and Insurance Association) annual conference in Phoenix earlier this month, which was attended by several members of RCM&D’s Education Practice.

The common thread between all of the risks mentioned above is that ANY accident or allegation (especially those that become front page news) can either strengthen your reputation or irreparably damage it. Without full commitment to, and understanding of inherent industry risks, an institution’s reputation can be tarnished or scarred when accidents and claims occur that have not been properly insured, mitigated, or previously evaluated.

As consultants and brokers who specialize in higher education risk management, our goal is to partner with clients to implement practical risk management techniques so you are prepared to respond to, and effectively manage any adverse event. RCM&D’s Education Practice is comprised of professionals who dedicate themselves to education and the intricacies of safeguarding the institution, so you can focus on what is truly important: carrying out your mission and building your reputation.

Connect with James on LinkedIn or E-Mail him at