Crisis Leadership Retreat   |   Focus on Campus Unrest

Thursday Afternoon Breakout Sessions

Breakout Option 1: Media Training with a Focus on Protest Management

With colleges and universities at the center of social movements and cultural conversations, journalists are likely to seek out comments from and interviews with campus leaders. This session will help you “think like a reporter,” prepare key messages, and manage the risks that come with speaking publicly and representing your institution. You’ll learn:

  • the current media landscape and how news organizations work
  • the arts of media relations, engagement and storytelling
  • tactics and preparedness for media interviews
  • verbal and non-verbal communication skills
  • risks and pitfalls to avoid

You’ll also have an opportunity—through simulating interviews and/or town hall-style questioning—to practice:

  • adhering to core messaging
  • using bridging techniques
  • controlling voice and body language

Designed for: Leaders outside the communications team who may be less accustomed but nonetheless expected to represent the institution in a media interview or during a press conference.

Breakout Option 2: Protest Management Policy & Planning

Campus protests and encampments have exposed insufficient planning, clarity and conviction on the part of institutional leaders on how to respond. With either inadequate policies, or unwillingness to enforce them, many universities and colleges have left stakeholders confused, angry and unclear about what is allowed – leading to litigation, investigations, and significant reputational risk to both leadership and the institution as a whole. With a contentious election cycle ahead, this session will focus on the following important topics:

  • Understanding the distinction between free speech and civil disobedience
  • Key components of “Time, Place, & Manner” (and what may be missing from what you have in place)
  • Event / Protest Approval Process and Risk Assessment
  • Demonstration Management Protocol > Defining the administration’s response process to protests including:
    • tolerance levels
    • aligned response expectations
    • engagement of public safety / law enforcement (particularly outside agencies)

Friday Morning Contentious Meetings & Disruptive Events

During periods of significant change or crisis, there are unavoidable high-stakes encounters with key stakeholders that can present significant risk to an institution and its leadership. They are also the situations in which the reputation of the institution and its relationships with its critical stakeholders can either be strengthened or severely damaged.

And, as we’ve seen, the range of events for which we need to be prepared include not just “internal” town halls or meetings with the student government or faculty senate, but more significantly commencement celebrations, or public symposia with controversial speakers. During this session we’ll discuss planning and response to both contentious meetings and disruptive events which require staff intervention

Contentious Meetings:

  • How to prepare for these meetings, including setting reasonable expectations
  • Controlling voice and body language
  • Avoiding risks and pitfalls
  • De-escalation techniques including the importance of active listening
  • Identifying appropriate “venting” versus indicators of possible violence

Disruptive Events:

  • Disruption levels and calibrating appropriate response
  • The role of student affairs and event management staff in intervention and “de-escalation”
  • The role of the moderator and the “administrator in charge” in disruptive events
  • Engaging law enforcement to remove protestors
  • Considerations when pausing, postponing or cancelling events

De-Escalation/Intervention Role Playing:

We’ll take some time to put into practice the tips and tricks we’ve learned in the sessions above.


Crisis Leadership Retreat
Breckenridge, Colorado
July 31 – August 2


Retreat Price Includes:

  • 2-night stay at the all-suite Residence Inn Breckenridge
  • dinner upon arrival
  • daily breakfast
  • lunch & snacks during sessions
  • hosted happy hour
  • a copy of Managing Partner Simon Barker’s book “Preventing Crises at Your Institution”