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When Lehigh Loses A Faculty or Staff Colleague

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Two years ago, Lehigh implemented a new protocol for notifying the campus about the death of current faculty and staff members.  The Deputy Provost for Faculty Affairs and the Associate Vice President for Human Resources developed the policy collaboratively with the Employee Relations Advisory Committee (ERAC), the Senior Officers, and the Council for Equity and Community (CEC).

Under the protocol, the Provost’s Office (for a faculty member’s death) or Human Resources (for a staff member’s death) sends an announcement about the death to all faculty and staff members.  A simple template that provides the facts — “We are sorry to inform you that….” and provides the information about the services, with perhaps a link to a website if available, is suggested.

The steps leading to the distribution of the campus-wide email vary slightly depending on the employee’s position.

Death Of Faculty Members

When a current faculty member dies, the department chair or other department contact confirms with the deceased’s family that an announcement regarding the faculty member’s death may be shared with the larger community and verifies what information about services may be shared. The department chair informs the department staff and faculty and the academic department informs the President’s, Provost’s, and Dean’s Office.

Department members may inform others as they wish — i.e., Lehigh staff, faculty, and students who knew or worked with the deceased. The President’s Office sends flowers to the immediate family. The Provost’s Office sends a message to all faculty and staff regarding the death and provides any known information regarding services.
 
Death Of Staff Members

When a current staff member dies, the supervisor or department head confirms with the deceased’s family that an announcement regarding the staff member’s death may be shared with the larger community and verifies what information about services may be shared. The supervisor or department head informs the department faculty and staff and Human Resources (HR). HR then informs the President’s Office.

Department members may inform others as they wish — i.e., Lehigh staff, faculty and students who knew or worked with the deceased. The President’s Office sends flowers to the immediate family. HR sends a message to all faculty and staff regarding the death and provides any known information regarding services.
 
Memorials

The protocol also defines ways in which deceased faculty or staff members are to be remembered:

  • With the assistance of University Communications, the Provost Office (for faculty), or Human Resources (for staff), will provide an article about the deceased person for publication in the In The Spotlight section of HR’s monthly Spotlight e-newsletter.
  • The program booklet for the annual Lehigh Appreciation Dinner for faculty and staff held in May lists the names of any actively employed staff and faculty members who died during the academic year.
  • Following established academic tradition, a deceased faculty member is memorialized at a subsequent faculty meeting.

A Note About Retirees

Many retirees and other former employees have moved away or have otherwise lost touch with the university. Therefore, it is not always possible to share information about their deaths in a timely way.  If department faculty and staff learn of the death of a retiree or a former employee, they are encouraged to share this information with those who knew the deceased. 

The passing of a retiree is noted officially by Lehigh in two ways, if HR is informed of their passing:
  • They are remembered in the monthly In The Spotlight section of Spotlight
  • They also are listed in the program of the annual Lehigh Appreciation Dinner.

For More Information

The above information provides an overview of the protocol. The entire protocol document can be found here.

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Spotlight is published monthly by Human Resources. Please address any comments to Hillary Kwiatek, Spotlight Editor, Human Resources, 428 Brodhead Avenue, send email to hik210@lehigh.edu, or call extension 85165.

Current and past issues of Spotlight can be viewed and searched at: Past Issues.