Cindy Lawson

With more than 30 years professional experience at various-sized higher education institutions and with a Fortune 500 company, Cindy’s breadth of public relations experience includes crisis communications, issues management, media relations, web communications, integrated marketing, advertising, institutional research, photography and videography, event planning, publications, community relations, visitors centers, and speakers bureaus.

In addition to her current job responsibilities as Vice President for Public Relations and Communications at DePaul University, Cindy provides crisis communications consultation to many universities throughout the United States, Canada, and the world. She also provides timely webinars on a variety of crisis communications and marketing topics through Academic Impressions and HigherEd Hero, and she has been a lead instructor at past Crisis Communications Institutes hosted by Academic Impressions. In addition, as an Observer/Controller for the National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center in Texas, she has provided consultation to cities, counties, and municipalities regarding their crisis communications preparedness. Cindy is a guest speaker at Harvard’s Crisis Leadership in Higher Education, one of that university’s Institutes for Higher Education programs specifically designed for Presidents, Chancellors and other senior leaders.

During the 1999 bonfire tragedy at Texas A&M University, during which 12 students died and 27 others were injured, Cindy’s handling of all crisis communications during that tragedy became the benchmark for crisis communication in higher education. CNN, CBS, NBC and ABC reporters praised her for handling the crisis “as well or better than the Tylenol crisis.”

Cindy has authored the crisis communications chapter for Campus Crisis Management: A Comprehensive Guide to Planning, Prevention, Response, and Recovery published by Jossey-Bass, and she has authored Effective Crisis Communications, a set of instructional materials for the National Response and Recovery Training Center. In addition to the many news and magazine articles written about her handling of the Bonfire crisis, several authors have written about her crisis communications leadership, including Kathleen Fearn-Banks’ book Crisis Communications, A Casebook Approach; PRSA’s Strategies and Tactics; and Weathering the Storm by Christopher Simpson. Cindy is also a frequent commentator on current crisis communications issues covered by Academic Impressions’ Higher Ed Impact.

Cindy received both her B.A. Ed and M. A. Ed degrees from the University of Michigan, majoring in education and communication strategies. She also is a graduate of Harvard University’s Institute for Educational management and has completed additional coursework in public relations at New York University and micro-economics at UCLA. She holds an Economic Development certification from the University of South Florida and a Master’s Certificate in Advanced Interactive Online Marketing and Measurement from the University of San Francisco.

  • Company:DePaul University
  • Job Title:Vice President, Public Relations and Communications
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