A-State's disaster preparedness program ranked as top in nation

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
Dr. Deborah Persell, Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management Program Director (Source: KAIT)
Dr. Deborah Persell, Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management Program Director (Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas State University's Regional Center for Disaster Preparedness was honored recently by a college ranking website, College Choice.

The website ranked A-State's Masters in Emergency Management program as number one in the nation.

"We're usually ranked in the top 10 and I think this is the first time for us to be number one so we're really proud of that," Program Director Dr. Deborah Persell said.

College Choice looks at reputation scores, tuition costs, and early career earnings for students who earn that degree from A-State. The program was established in 2011, so it is still a relatively new course of study for A-State.

Dr. Persell said that makes this recognition even more impressive.

"We've worked very hard to put together a really good, comprehensive graduate degree in disaster preparedness and emergency management and it's got a healthcare focus," Dr. Persell said. "It meets a niche that's just not out there across the country and so we think that also helps us reach a target audience that others might not be able to reach."

She also said they try to engage with their students despite it being an online degree program.

"To give them the feedback they need to be successful, to offer them any kind of guidance or assistance that's possible as they try to use their degree to advance their careers, to provide them the resources they need to be successful in the course, and to have that personal touch even though we're an online program," Dr. Persell said. "We know who they are and they know who we are. They're not just a name in our courses."

The program teaches mitigation, planning, response, and recovery from disasters.

"We don't neglect the big kinds of emergencies at the national priority such as weapons of mass destruction and such, but we do tend to focus on the disasters that communities face every day and have a higher probability of occurring," Dr. Persell said.

Those disasters can include weather-related, like tornadoes, earthquakes, or floods, as well as things like explosions and public health emergencies.

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