Faculty Deaths present nuanced challenges for the university and can require substantial allocation of resources. When possible faculty are urged to die over summer break or on weekends so as to avoid university-wide interruption.
Nevertheless, the university acknowledges Faculty Deaths do occur during the semester. When this happens, an email will be sent informing the campus community within 48 hours of any Death Event.
With regard to class cancellation, Faculty Deaths likely to cause widespread grief fall under the Inclement Weather Policy, which addresses other Moderate Atmospheric Events such as minor snow accumulation, or severe thunderstorms unlikely to produce tornadoes. In these scenarios, the decision of whether or not to cancel class in lieu of grief-related impediments will fall to individual faculty. Any faculty who cancels class after the death of a colleague should submit documentation for replacement of missed class-time to the appropriate dean prior to the end of the Healing Window.
Rather than cancel class, departmental colleagues of the deceased are urged to initiate Grieving Processes with affected students. In preparation for such a scenario, faculty may attend workshops offered by the Office of Faculty Enrichment. Semesterly topics include: “Bereavement 101,” “Mourning for Commuters,” and “Can I Hug a Crying Student?”
The university is aware faculty may sometimes be particularly devastated by the death of a colleague. In such cases Grief Counselors may be made available for up to 72 hours following Grief-Heavy incidences of Faculty Death. Only Grief Counselors can provide waivers for extending Grieving Processes. Faculty may apply up to two waivers before entering Mandatory Healing.
In the days following any Faculty Death, faculty are invited to tweet tributes to the deceased at the university Twitter, #U_Mourn. Faculty are reminded that flowers and handmade signs make for uplifting expressions, while photos of distraught or inconsolable students are real downers. Faculty are urged also to avoid expressions of true despair, especially where university working conditions may have hastened any incident of Faculty Death. Even within the most Grief-Heavy of Faculty Deaths, faculty should avoid public characterizations that jeopardize the university brand.
In a given calendar year, all deceased faculty will have their names read during the annual Community Remembrance held in the Fieldhouse at 7:30a.m. the Sunday after Homecoming, regardless of rank, service-time, or nature of death.
Further Official Remembrances of dead faculty will be determined based on length of service and rank at time of death and are contingent on funding and other scheduling. Faculty holding the rank of Full Professor who succumb to Verified Long-Term Illness will be eligible for on-campus Celebration of Life services during regular working hours. Deceased Associate Professors will be eligible for Remembrance on the university homepage with a link to their obituary, provided the family of the deceased submits an obituary of less than 300 words to the Office of Outreach within 24 hours of last breath.
Deaths of Pre-Tenure Faculty deserve special circumspection. As a rule, deceased Pre-Tenure Faculty will be officially remembered only after the university has made a determination as to the role Pre-Tenure Hazing may have played in any Death Event.
In addition, faculty who die unexpectedly, violently, and especially those who die on campus and whose deaths are reported by local media, will be honored with a Candlelight Vigil regardless of rank or service-time. Candlelight Vigils will take place from 8-9pm on the campus green on the first Tuesday following any Death Event that meets any two of the criteria “violent,” “unexpected, or “on campus.” Prior to any Vigil, department chairs will make a count of faculty likely to attend before accessing event-funds for procurement of candles. Where possible, faculty should share candles or provide their own. Faculty eligible for promotion are reminded to document attendance at Grieving Events.
In conclusion, The Policy Regarding Faculty Death is intended to expedite Grieving Processes and to initiate Healing while maintaining high levels of university function. All Grieving and Healing must be completed by the end of the semester in which the Faculty Death occurs. In future semesters, faculty are cautioned not to remember Faculty Deaths to new hires.
*This policy is intended to cover single Faculty Deaths, and not multiple Faculty Deaths, such as after Visits by Active Shooters. See: “Policy Regarding Multiple Faculty Deaths.”
- “Faculty” refers to tenure-system employees only.