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Abstract

Using the case study model, the effects of an American tragedy on the communications planning and overall crisis mindset of a Canadian university are examined. The goal of this case study was to assess how Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario was impacted by the events that unfolded at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, where a lone gunman shot and killed 32 students and staff before taking his own life. Four administrative leaders at Trent were interviewed and existing crisis planning documents were analyzed. The results revealed that a parallel crisis can have a substantial impact on an organization’s crisis mindset in the months immediately following the event. The effect of Virginia Tech on Trent resulted in: new lessons learned by senior administrative staff; a heightened awareness on the campus of risk factors; and enhancement of the university's crisis plan.

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