Institutions of higher education around the world recognize a strong reputation leads to high quality faculty, an edge in recruiting a dynamic student body, supportive and active alumni, a competitive edge in research and grants, and the support of local communities and government authorities.

Yet by their very nature, colleges and universities are often at the crossroads of a variety of uniquely difficult issues—from racial justice and freedom of speech to rankings, athletics, admissions, financial and accreditation scandals. Layer this on top of the traditional risks all organizations face, along with, in some cases, the management of the equivalent of a small city (often with its own police force, advanced research and/or medical facilities) and the pressure—even pre-COVID—is intense.

We know higher ed

At Blue Moon Consulting Group (BMCG), we understand the broad range of risks inherent in higher ed. Our team has been in the trenches with institutions in crisis for decades. We’ve supported school leadership in their response to issues around first amendment & academic freedom, sexual assault allegations against prominent faculty & staff, DEI / Hate Crimes, IP theft / research misconduct, accreditation / reorganizations / program cuts, along with a range of other social, financial, and ethical issues.

We can help you

… prepare
We’ve created world-class issues, crisis, and change management programs for every type of campus—from small private colleges to university systems with multiple campuses, research facilities, and affiliated healthcare organizations. We’ve conducted training sessions for presidents and their teams on crisis leadership and held multi-location and multi-team functional and tabletop exercises focused on decision-making, policy, and reputational risk.

…respond
There is no easy, off-the-shelf answer to solving some of the biggest challenges your college or university may face. But BMCG has developed a rigorous, comprehensive, flexible, and proven methodology to reduce the impact of real-time physical and reputational events on campus through the alignment of emergency operations, crisis management, and crisis communications disciplines.

…change
For institutions with a core mission to transform the lives and futures of students, change can be extremely difficult—particularly if the change is perceived as undermining educational standards, or academic traditions like tenure. Change, however, is vital to the majority of universities and colleges around the country facing significant strategic headwinds—whether due to a declining student-going population, an unsustainable cost structure, reduced government funding, or a skepticism about the “return on investment” of higher education.

We use this same approach and methodology coupled with proven change management strategies to help you effectively undertake the high-visibility, critically important, but difficult to implement projects that are imperative to your institution and leadership team’s success.

Our clients include:

12

AAU Schools

23

Top National Universities (USNWR ranked)

10

Division I athletics programs

11

Faith-based or religiously affiliated schools

8

Liberal arts colleges

11

Professional Schools or Hospitals

16

Carnegie Classified R1 schools (very high research activity)

5

Carnegie Classified R2 schools (high research activity)

23

Public schools

21

Private schools

We (literally) wrote the book on Higher Ed crisis management

In “Preventing Crises at Your University: The Playbook for Protecting Your Institution’s Reputation” (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2021), BMCG Managing Partner Simon Barker demonstrates how critical it is for colleges and universities to align strategy and values with decision-making during times of crisis. Highlighting key concepts through the presentation of case studies at colleges and universities; significant reputational damage, Barker asserts, is not the inevitable outcome of a crisis but of a poor response.

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