Date of Conferral







Cheryl Keen


The shooting on Virginia Tech’s campus that left 32 dead in 2007 and other incidents since then resulted in active threat preparations at institutions of higher education (IHEs) in the United States. Little is known about how emergency managers understand campus preparedness and what enhanced learning in the implementation, training, and effectiveness of policies. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to understand how campus emergency managers perceived the effectiveness of the design and implementation of their standard operating procedures to protect against an active threat and what the emergency managers perceived enhanced their learning in the design and implementation of procedures. The conceptual frameworks for the study were Kezar’s concept of shared leadership in higher education and Knowles’ theory of andragogy. Open-ended interviews were conducted with eight emergency managers from different campuses in a mid-Atlantic eastern state. Interviews were hand coded to extract emergent themes. Three themes emerged in the results. Related to Research Question 1, the two themes that emerged were emergency managers being entrusted to design an effective plan and their working together to create a safer culture. The resulting theme for Research Question 2 concerned lessons learned from their experiences. The results may lead to positive social change by helping emergency managers and other campus leadership gain additional insight into collaboration and coordination on planning and improved communications to develop, implement, and improve plans to protect against an active threat. These improved plans could help students and staff be better prepared for an active threat should one occur on campus, preventing injuries and or death.