Kent State examines risks to university

Rachel Abbey

A recent evaluation of potential risks at Kent State showed student safety low on the list, surprising the Board of Trustees, said David Creamer, vice president for Administration.

The university has put a lot of time and effort into improving safety measures on campus, he said, lowering the possibility of accidents.

Creamer said Kent State underwent a risk assessment by the Aon Corporation, a major corporate consulting firm, beginning last spring. Many organizations are hiring out-of-company businesses to get a better idea of their possible vulnerabilities.

These are not necessarily current problems at the university, but issues such as information security that could arise in the future.

“We want to be attending to these issues so we don’t have an unexpected problem,” Creamer said.

The risks identified for Kent State result from quicker-paced changes in society, rather than brand-new problems, Creamer said. Many of them deal with technology.

“That’s why they’re rising to the top,” he said. “Our environment is changing.”

Creamer said because the problems are not new, they already have initiatives in place.

For example, student safety has been addressed in the past with campus security and lighting, Creamer said.

Inside and out of the residence halls, sophomore fashion merchandising major Mallory Schneider said she feels safe. She and sophomore fashion merchandising major Sheena Sinclair cited the presence of campus security and the amount of lighting around campus as good safety measures. They also said they feel safe within the residence halls.

“There’s always people monitoring the hallways,” Schneider said.

Freshman interior design major Rachelle Hurley said she is confident in campus security and likes the idea of the student-escort program. While she has not called the escorts yet, she said she will consider using the program so she does not have to walk home from her night class by herself.

Safety is still monitored, Creamer said, but the university’s precautionary measures are why the risk is low.

The six main risks identified by the assessment are program accommodations, student retention, changes in management, budgetary cuts, disaster recovery and information security, Creamer said.

Information security is the most important of these, he said. With new technology, there are more ways to get sensitive information than when records were kept primarily on paper.

The university addresses problems such as these by changing policies, a move which often frustrates students, faculty and staff, Creamer said. If a new policy makes personal information harder to access, there is also less risk of the information being stolen or abused.

These risks have been around for years, he said, but had occurred more gradually in the past.

An increase in the amount of students enrolling at Kent State will require more programs, Creamer said, meaning program accommodations, or changes. To remain competitive, the university will have to adapt to the market.

Changes in management and budget cuts require adjustments within the system, forcing organizations to make do with less resources, Creamer said.

Disaster recovery is closely tied to information security, he said. If something caused the systems to crash, the university needs to be able to continue programs such as registration with little to no problems.

“We’re much more dependent on these information systems than we’ve ever been,” he said.

Student retention is always a concern at the university, Creamer said. Kent State invests a lot of money recruiting students, and losing the students can cause a loss in revenue.

Contact administration reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].