ORG CHART: Benton Best Takes on Campus Emergency Manager Role

Benton Best and two others confer at a computer
Benton Best, the new campus emergency manager, center, was leading a tabletop emergency exercise for senior campus leaders Dec. 2 when participants transitioned from a fictional scenario to respond to a sit-in at Mrak Hall. Here, he confers with police Lt. Mike Green and Kristina Spurgeon, emergency manager for UC Davis Health. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

“During a disaster is not the time to exchange business cards,” goes an old saying in emergency services, and no one takes that to heart more than UC Davis' new campus emergency manager, Benton Best. He took up his post in October and since then has been forming relationships with departments across the campus — reviewing and preparing action plans with fire, police, UC Davis Health and more.

"Everyone I meet here is so proactive in their approach to safety, and I’m grateful to bring my ideas to a table where everyone is eager to prioritize preparedness,” he said.

Best practices

Benton Best, dressed in fire turnout, communicates by radio with a fire in the background
Best lends support at a barn fire in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, where he served as the county emergency manager. (Courtesy)

A 13-year veteran of emergency management, Best came to UC Davis from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, where he served as a division chief, and he was the emergency manager for Tioga County, Pennsylvania, before that. 

Having moved more than 20 times, throughout six different states, he has had the grand tour of emergency services across the United States. He said he has picked up best practices along the way and looks forward to sharing what he's learned. 

Among other titles, Best is certified as a firefighter, emergency medical technician, amateur radio technician and CPR Instructor. He considers himself a lifelong learner, so working for an educational institution seemed appropriate, especially one like UC Davis. 

"There's a lot of groundbreaking stuff happening here at UC Davis and there's an opportunity for emergency management to be in lockstep with that," Best said. "I’m excited to take what I’ve learned over the years and see how they plug into the existing systems here.”

Plans for UC Davis

Something Best is looking forward to the most in the upcoming months is improving continuity of operations — ensuring that researchers can maintain essential functions in case disaster strikes. He and a planner will be consulting with departments and units to update more than 200 Continuity of Operations Plans, or COOPs, in the coming months. 

"I feel very fortunate to be doing this kind of work at a world-class university — I get to do what I love while learning about cutting-edge research," Best said. "It’s rewarding to give researchers the peace of mind of preparedness so they can focus on the important work that they do.”


Best has set up recurring office hours, via Zoom, in support of anyone working on a UC Davis Emergency Action Plan, or EAP; Continuity of Operations Plan, or COOP; or other emergency management-related plan.

  • Office hours — 11 a.m.-noon every Tuesday
  • Zoom Meeting ID — 828 352 3499


Tahila Aghily is a writer on the communications team in the division of Finance, Operations and Administration. This article was first published on the Safety Services website.

Dateline UC Davis welcomes news of appointments of various kinds for faculty and staff, for publication in Org Chart (formerly titled Transitions). Send information to

Primary Category

Secondary Categories