Procedure for Responding to the Death of a Student or Currently Employed Faculty or Staff

Applies To:

Month/Year Posted: 
September, 2020

Procedure for Responding to the Death of a Student or Currently Employed Faculty or Staff

Revised – August 2020

The President’s Office should be informed as soon as possible when a current employee or student dies. If the deceased is an active employee, the President’s Office shall contact the appropriate divisional Vice President. Following this initial notification, the following contacts should be made:

  • If the deceased is currently employed faculty, notify the Associate Vice President for Faculty Affairs as soon as possible. If they are unavailable, the Vice Provost is notified.
  • If the deceased is currently employed staff, notify the Associate Vice President of Human Resources as soon as possible. If they are unavailable, the Senior Employee Relations & Compliance Manager is notified.

  • If the deceased is a current student, notify the Vice President of Enrollment Management as soon as possible. If they are unavailable, the Dean of Students is notified.

In the event initial awareness occurs on a weekend, holiday, or after hours, employees are asked to call the University Police Department, 826-5555, who will contact the emergency numbers for the President and either the Associate Vice President of Faculty Affairs, the Associate Vice President of Human Resources, or the Vice President of Enrollment Management.

Immediate Contact and Alternatives:

President’s Office:  707-826-3311

Faculty Death

Associate Vice President for Faculty Affairs: 707-826-5086

Alternate: Vice Provost: 707-826-3511

 Staff Death

Associate Vice President of Human Resources: 707-826-5084

Alternate: Senior Employee Relations & Compliance Manager: 707-826-5174

Student Death

Vice President of Enrollment Management: 707-826-3361

Dean of Students: 707-826-5698

 Action Steps

  • The Associate Vice President of Faculty Affairs, the Associate Vice President of Human Resources, and Vice President of Enrollment Management, or their backups, will partner with the College Dean and/or Division Vice President to assess the circumstances and assign responsibility for the next steps.

  • In all circumstances, notify or confirm notification with the University Chief of Police. In the event that law enforcement personnel request emergency contact or next-of-kin information for the deceased, any person on campus with access to the information may provide it to the authorities. Such person also should contact either the Associate Vice President of Faculty Affairs, the Associate Vice President of Human Resources, or the Vice President of Enrollment Management that emergency contact information has been released. 

  • In all circumstances, notify University Marketing and Communication (see below for specific responsibilities). No information shall be released until confirmation is received that the family has been notified. 

  • If there are any unusual circumstances or ongoing concerns, notify the University Chief of Police who will activate the crisis management team.  Special circumstances may involve a concern about public health or safety.

  • If the death occurs on campus or a work-related site, inform the Risk Management & Safety Services Specialist in Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). EHS shall immediately notify the Sacramento District Office of OSHA at (916)-263-2800. Immediately means as soon as practically possible but no longer than 8 hours after the university is informed of the death. If exigent circumstances exist, the time frame for the report may be made no longer than 24 hours after the incident. 

  • The appropriate administrator should meet to inform the immediate faculty and/or staff.

  • If the death has an impact on students, notify the Dean of Students.

  • Determine which person or person(s) from the University will be in contact with the family and when.

  • Communicate the news to the University Community. Such communication will come from the President. In certain circumstances, and after appropriate consultation, the communication may come from another person.

  • Evaluate whether there are additional people, internally or externally, who should be notified such as the Chancellor’s Office, other CSU campuses, research partners from other universities or institutions. If so, determine who the best person is to handle the notifications and ensure they occur.

  • If the deceased employee received salary from a grant and/or contract, the Principal Investigator or departmental administrator should contact the Executive Director of Research and Sponsored Programs as soon as possible, normally within one or two weeks.

  • Coordinate Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services, as appropriate, to affected department and/or individuals.

  • Prepare benefits synopsis.

  • Contact the family as soon as is appropriate to provide support, review resources and benefits. 

  • Notify the Payroll Office of the event. Payment must be made to the deceased employee’s previously identified designee or, in the absence of a designee, to their estate. The Payroll Office will coordinate distribution of final pay.

  • Notify UPD/Parking if the individual may have a vehicle parked on campus. Such notification may prevent inappropriate ticketing or towing of the vehicle. The vehicle may need to be temporarily relocated for safe storage.

  • Notify the Chief Information Officer to initiate Information Technology Procedures (see below)

  • Discuss whether someone (e.g., V.P, Dean, Department Chair, colleague, etc.) from the University will attend the services as a representative from the University.

  • Arrange with President’s Office for flowers to be sent to the family from the President on behalf of the University.

  • Personal property at the worksite – Two persons from the department are required to inventory and remove the property to give to the family or executor. In the event there is no immediate next of kin available who will accept the personal property, it should be turned over to the Coroner’s Office. If there is any question as to whom the property should be released, the Coroner’s Office should be notified, and they will collect the items and determine disposition. If there is no known next-of-kin or executor, the Coroner’s Office will collect the property. The University should never get involved in releasing property if there is any question or dispute over the items. The Coroner’s Office will always take responsibility for the disposition of personal effects. 

Specific Roles and Responsibilities

External Affairs – Vice President of University Advancement

  • Assesses whether any adjustments to the standard process are appropriate.

  • Assesses potential external implications

  • Handles any press inquiries

  • Drafts University Announcement

Information Technology Procedures – Chief Information Officer

  • The department may exercise discretion in determining how to handle the deceased employee’s university email account. Consider having the deceased person’s email automatically forwarded to another account if s/he received departmental requests or a considerable volume of business correspondence. In addition, an automatic reply message may be returned to the senders. At the request of the deceased person’s appropriate administrator the Information Security Office will make these changes on the department’s behalf. Consider the amount and type of email received by the person when selecting email handling options, as well as the need for removing employees from email subscriptions and from web forms that mail to them. Some options are:

  • If work files, correspondence, and other electronic information need to be retrieved from the person’s office computer by the department, using the deceased person’s HSU ID, the request to reset the password must be documented as follows:

    • The deceased person’s appropriate administrator should send an email to the Information Security Office requesting that the person’s account be unlocked and the password reset in order to retrieve work files.

      • §  Include the person’s name and HSU ID (if known)

      • §  Include a contact name and phone (the person to receive the password)

      • §  Copy the Associate Vice President for Faculty Affairs or the Associate Vice President of Human Resources (staff or faculty death)

      • §  Copy the Chief Information Officer

  • If family members or executors request access to the person’s computer account(s):

    • Do not share the person’s password with the family/executor.

    • Do not forward or make copies of files, work, or other computer correspondence without first consulting with an appropriate administrator, who will contact the Office of General Counsel, to determine confidentiality and ownership.

    • For payroll/benefits information, refer them to Benefits Administrator at 826-5171.

  • Computer equipment, files, software, or other University property located at the deceased person’s home needs to be returned or retrieved by the department.

    • The Department Chair/Supervisor and Appropriate Administrator (Dean or Director) will coordinate contacting the next of kin or the executor about retrieving University property from the home, so that only one visit to the home is made.

  • The deceased person’s appropriate administrator should complete the employee separation procedure, which includes:

    • The Separating Employee Clearance form (;

      • §  Indicate on the request that the user’s name be removed from the Global Address List and phone directory

      • §  The deceased person’s basic network and email accounts should be locked, but not deleted for at least 6 months; this will allow for the file retrieval and sorting defined above.

    • The Separating Employee Checklist for Digital Resources (; and

    • An Access Request Form is submitted removing all access for the deceased person. 

Additional Resources Include:

University Police Department
Office of the Vice President of Enrollment Management
Employee Assistance Program
Health and Counseling Services