College of Arts and Sciences - Benchmark Resilience Project  

What is a resilient organization?

A resilient organization, or a college in our case, not only survives crises better, but also performs better day-to-day.

In an age of turbulence, one of the greatest assets a college and university can have is to be able and agile enough to survive unexpected crises, to seize opportunity in adversity, and to thrive in the face of extreme change. The ability to manage the impacts of volatility is now a strategic imperative differentiating the successful from the mediocre on the world stage. 


What is the Benchmark Resilience Tool? 

The University of Canterbury in New Zealand developed the Benchmark Resilience Tool (BRT); the primary researchers are John Vargo, MBA, PhD in Information Systems and Erica Seville, PhD in Risk Management.  The tool provides a comprehensive report of an organization’s resilience strengths and weaknesses by measuring and benchmarking them against the strengths and weaknesses of other organizations. The BRT tool has been in use in both New Zealand and Australia for nearly a decade. The Resilient Organizations Model looks at 3 attributes of an organization (Leadership/Culture, Networks & Partnerships, and Change & Future Ready) and 13 indicators that underpin resilience and allow organizations to develop resilient cultures of trust, collaboration, and learning. For more details on the 3 attributes and 13 indicators in the model click here 


Why is CAS conducting the Benchmark Resilience Tool survey? 

After the tragic incident at Umpqua Community College in October 2015 the Governor of Oregon asked André LeDuc, AVP for Safety and Risk Services and Chief Resilience Officer at the University of Oregon, to chair a work group charged with looking at ways to improve the safety and resilience of Oregon’s post-secondary educational institutions.  The charge was to look at issues from an all-hazards approach. The work group assessed a broad range of threats that could have a negative impact on the safety of students, faculty, and staff and/or on the academic and research goals of universities and colleges in Oregon. The work group produced the 2016 Governor’s Campus Safety Work Group Report and is currently exploring ways to advance their recommendations. One of the Governor’s Campus Safety Work Group’s recommendations was to find a way to benchmark the current resilience of Oregon campuses. 

Dean Andrew Marcus and CAS Leadership offered to be the first college to use BRT process in Oregon to assess the college's resilience.  CAS’ participation in the BRT survey and focus groups is one step in addressing the need identified by the Governor’s Campus Safety Work Group to benchmark the resilience of a college and campus in Oregon.


Who do we want to hear from? 

The CAS resilience benchmark survey project is an opportunity to hear from all CAS employees (e.g., faculty, officers of administration, graduate employees, and classified staff) about their perceptions of the college's level of preparedness to address the unexpected. The goal of the project is to ask all CAS employees, not just leadership, about their perceptions of the college's status of resilience using the Resilient Organizations Model. Based on the survey findings, CAS leadership can develop action plans to proactively address areas in need of improvement and to maintain areas of strength. 

There are no simple or single solutions to address all of the issues campuses face today.  It takes all of us working together to ensure we have a safe and resilient campus community.  That is why we want to give CAS’ employees the opportunity to participate in this collaborative project.


What is the project timeline?

  • August 2018 -- Initial discussions with Dean Andrew Marcus about the pilot project.  
  • September 2018 -- CAS Heads and Managers Annual Retreat September 17th, 2018
  • October 2018 -- Project Update to CAS Heads and Managers on October 10th, 2018 and Benchmark Resilience Tool survey launched on October 23rd, 2018
  • December 2018 -- Benchmark Resilience Tool Focus Groups December 3rd and 4th, 2018 
  • February 2019 -- Draft findings shared with CAS Leadership 


Who is paying for the CAS BRT pilot project? 

The Safety and Risk Services (SRS) Unit is funding the project.  SRS has contracted with Resilient Organizations LLC to conduct the CAS BRT project. The contract includes provisions for Resilient Organizations LLC to deploy the survey, run 4 – 6 focus groups in December 2018, conduct the benchmark data analysis, and generate a final report that will include next step recommendations to be presented to CAS leadership.


Resilient Organizations 3 Attributes and 13 indicators defined   

Attribute #1: Leadership and culture

The adaptive capacity of the university created by its leadership and culture as identified by the following indicators:

  • Leadership: strong crisis leadership to provide good management and decision making during times of crisis as well as continuous evaluation of strategies and work programs to achieve the university’s goals.
  • Engagement: The engagement and involvement of faculty and staff who understand the link between their own work, the university’s resilience, and its long term success. Staff are empowered and use their skills to solve problems.
  • Situation awareness: Faculty and staff are encouraged to be vigilant about indicators of resilience as they relate to the university, their work, and the university’s success and/or potential problems. Faculty and staff are rewarded for sharing good and bad news about the university and/or their college or division including early warning signals which can be quickly reported to university leaders.
  • Decision-making: Faculty and staff have the appropriate authority to make decisions related to their work and authority is clearly delegated to enable a crisis response. Highly skilled staff are involved, or are able to make, decisions where their specific knowledge adds significant value, or where their involvement will aid implementation.
  • Innovation and creativity: Faculty and staff are encouraged and rewarded for using their knowledge in novel ways to solve new and existing problems, and for utilizing innovative and creative approaches to develop solutions.

Attribute #2: Networks and relationships

Internal and external relationships that are fostered and developed in ways that allow the university to leverage those relationships when needed; identified by the following indicators:

  • Effective partnerships: An understanding of the relationships and resources the university or college might need to access from other universities or colleges during a crisis, and planning and management to ensure this access.
  • Leveraging knowledge: Critical information is stored in a number of formats and locations and staff have access to expert opinions when needed. Roles are shared and faculty and staff are trained so that someone will always be able to fill key roles.
  • Breaking silos: Minimization of divisive social, cultural and behavioral barriers, which are often manifested as communication barriers creating disjointed, disconnected and detrimental ways of working.
  • Internal resources: The management and mobilization of the university’s resources to ensure its ability to operate its academic and research enterprise as usual, and its ability to provide extra capacity required during a crisis.

Attribute #3: Change or future ready

The planning undertaken and direction established to enable the university to be change ready; identified by the following indicators:

  • Unity of purpose: A university- or college-wide awareness of what the university’s or college’s priorities would be following a crisis, clearly defined at the university, college and school levels, as well as an understanding of the academic and research minimum operating requirements.
  • Proactive posture: A strategic and behavioral readiness to respond to early warning signals of change in the university’s, colleges’ and schools’ internal and external environment before changes escalate into crises.
  • Planning strategies: Development and evaluation of plans and strategies to manage vulnerabilities in the university’s strategic goals and those of key partners.  
  • Stress testing plans: Participation of faculty and staff in simulations or scenarios designed to practice response, continuity and recovery and validate plans.


Sources: Adapted from the Resilient Organisations LLC, October 2018