USC to add emergency management concentration to master’s program

When floods devastated the Columbia area, President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency and emergency management professionals worked around the clock to help in recovery efforts. According to officials at the University of South Carolina, the natural disaster demonstrated the need for educated and well-trained officials in the state’s emergency management system, and they are stepping up to fill the need.

USC has announced the addition of an emergency management concentration its master of public administration degree program.

“We have to have good, solid, educated and experienced people to be successful during state of emergencies,” said Derrec Becker, public information coordinator for the South Carolina Emergency Management Division.

The program has been in the works for more than a year, according to university officials.

“The timing of the floods and our announcement was really a coincidence,” said Christopher Witko, director of the master of public administration program. “But this is a big issue on people’s minds right now and it lets them know that we take preparations very seriously.”

Witko said South Carolina is prone to almost every natural disaster except volcanoes and there is a strong need for this kind program locally.

“With our quality training and traditionally strong relationships with governments, nonprofits and for profits, combined with the knowledge and skills about emergency management that students will acquire in this program, they will be well-positioned to succeed in the emergency management job market and make a difference in their communities,” Witko said.

The university and the South Carolina Emergency Management Division have been working together on building the program.

“Every major disaster shows us that there are always people who don’t know how to get resources or implement a recovery program,” Becker said. “This program will help us, on a local level and state level, to minimize the amount of training we have to do.”


The courses in the emergency management concentration will be taught by geography faculty who oversee the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute and who developed the SHELDUS database, the nation’s most comprehensive source of U.S. storm and natural disaster information.

The program will begin in January of 2016. More information is available here.

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