The students in my disaster response class have to work in groups to put together and run a short functional exercise as part of their class requirements. This is one of my favorite assignments as historically the students have delivered at a high level. We had the first exercise of this semester this past Thursday. The first group ambitiously ran two EOCs (City of Fargo and NDSU) and challenged the participants in their exercise to communicate and coordinate activities between the EOCs as they faced a series of unfortunate events.
The group did a good job and set the bar for the other groups who will run their exercises over the next couple of weeks. I must say though, I think the other groups will be hard-pressed to trump the first group in one area – realism. You see, the first group decided that it was logical that NDSU’s President would request a briefing at some point, so they built it into the exercise. Then these students operated as students so often do – with no appreciation of any limitations – and asked the real President of NDSU – Dr. Dean Bresciani – if he would participate in the exercise. Well, lo and behold, he agreed. I wasn’t entirely shocked when I heard from the group that he would be making an appearance as he is very student-friendly, but I was thrilled for them as it was the icing on their proverbial cake.
I have to tell you, the students in the NDSU EOC turned a little pasty and pale when Dr. B first walked in and asked them for a briefing, but as Dr. B’s questions continued their confidence grew and overall I thought they did a good job. Dr. B did a good job as well. I thought it was exceedingly gracious of him to come over and participate in their exercise. Needless to say, he played the role of NDSU’s President well.
So, props to Dr. B for taking that time out of his day to participate in my students’ group project. He asked all the right questions, delivered them with the appropriate amount of gravitas and accurately illustrated the expectations of such a briefing. In total, Dr. B spent less than 10 minutes with the students, but I guarantee they won’t soon forget that briefing.
The briefing was nicely done, Dr. B – let’s hope you don’t have to utilize too many of those briefing skills while you are with us at NDSU. But by all means, please do keep being so responsive to such student requests (of course, as time permits – I understand university presidents are busy folks). The direct connection you made with this group of students’ educational experience on Thursday sent a powerful message to them about what you invest in at NDSU; and, as a faculty member and parent of NDSU students, I like that investment strategy.
Day six hundred and fifty of the new forty – obla di obla da