Protocol for Campuswide Messages, Statements or Media Responses from the President

Stanislaus State’s president communicates regularly with our campus community, alumni, donors and the public through a variety of formal and informal channels, including faculty meetings, gatherings and receptions, STAN magazine, digital newsletters and emails to students, faculty and staff, and social media. It is vital for our president to know what is on the minds of faculty, staff, students, families, alumni and the local community. Comments and feedback are always welcomed at

The president receives many requests to speak about specific issues. The voice of the institution’s leader is a powerful tool for communicating during good times and bad and the president will use their voice when appropriate. However, the “overuse” of the president’s voice can lead to an expectation that the president should personally respond to a broad range of issues or national and world events, even those that do not directly affect the Stan State community. Excessive presidential communication might erode the significance of presidential messaging during crucial moments and could create an expectation that the president ought to address every situation, thereby diminishing the importance of other voices in our community.

The following are examples of some, but not all, situations that may merit a statement directly from the president:

  1. Crisis situations directly affecting the University’s campuses and/or our campus community (students/faculty/staff). Stan State’s campuswide crisis communications protocol guides processes and procedures during emergency situations on campus, including a serious crime, a weather-related situation or a major disruption to operations. Stan Alerts are typically the first communications, with a follow-up message from the president largely to provide a broader update and share additional key information and emotional support, when warranted, during response and recovery. At times, a message from the vice president (or dean, director or coach) who oversees the area most closely connected to the situation is more appropriate. A decision as to when and how to send messages or statements from the president is advised through the emergency management/crisis incident response structure.
  2. Matters that affect or are related specifically to the University’s core mission of teaching and scholarship, have significance for higher education as a whole, or where significant national or world events have occurred (e.g., the Sept. 11 attack; the death of George Floyd).
  3. Matters that are related specifically to our institutional and/or the president’s strategic priorities (e.g., educational access and equity; diversity and belonging on campus and in our community; relationships with local and regional governments, businesses and organizations in the region we serve; other institutional and presidential priorities).
  4. A tragedy that involves direct impact to individuals or groups in the University community. Consideration should always be given to whether other University administrators can and should serve as primary messengers. This applies especially when a situation involves a specific audience in the University community and the area vice president or dean is the most informed source of information. For example, in situations related to academic or faculty affairs, the provost likely will serve as the messenger. On matters specific to the student body, the vice president for student affairs or a dean of students may serve as the messenger. Messages related to diversity, equity, inclusion and/or belonging may be appropriate to come from the vice president and chief diversity officer. It is expected that administrators, senior leaders in particular, will share plans and draft communications prior to messages being sent to broad constituencies (e.g., University community, students, faculty, parents, alumni, etc.).

    In any situation when members of our community may be anxious or affected, our practice is that Student Affairs will reach out directly to students to make sure that they have the support they need; we take the same action from Human Resources when faculty and staff members are directly affected. Events or other gatherings to demonstrate support and concern and to share perspectives are supported and encouraged. These events often will be organized at the “local” level and organically by the University or student groups, though there may be instances when a campuswide gathering is warranted and appropriate (e.g., 9/11).

    Vice presidents and/or department/program heads may wish to share communication with their respective communities; the dean of a college with their specific students, faculty and staff; and a coach to share with a particular athletic team. Any such communication is permitted under this protocol; a copy should be shared with the senior associate vice president for strategic communications and marketing as an FYI to disseminate to cabinet and other campus leaders.
  5. Student (or other) media responses or interviews. The president is committed to maintaining a strong relationship with student media reporters — befitting their preparation as future journalists and with the belief a student newspaper is an important campus voice — and external news media, and will be available to discuss important matters or situations (e.g., strategic planning, broad presidential priorities, presidential decisions directly related to the student experience, news features pertaining to presidential leadership, major initiatives and decisions, etc.).

However, to provide the most helpful and timely information, in many cases the president will refer questions to other campus leaders or experts most closely associated with the topic. News media and student reporters should contact the Office of Strategic Communications and Marketing ( to be connected with a campus expert, spokesperson or the Office of the President, as appropriate. The media relations team works together with the president’s Cabinet as well as deans and program directors across campus to connect media with the best source of information in a timely manner.

When Other Voices are Appropriate

It is important for other leaders across campus, all of whom are essential members of the University leadership team, to be represented when a supportive, caring or unifying voice is necessary. Following are examples of situations or circumstances when the president will defer to other campus leaders:

  • When a preliminary, or “holding,” message is needed in advance of an important presidential communication.
  • Day-to-day media requests that are more appropriate for subject or topic experts or division/departmental leaders.
  • When an alumnus, student or employee is involved in a national incident or suspected of wrongdoing; Stanislaus State will respect due process and the privacy of individuals involved. 
  • Reporters should contact the Office of Strategic Communications and Marketing ( to connect with the campus expert most closely associated with the story topic.

Guiding Principles for Campuswide Messages

Ensuring effective, consistent communication with our community is important for fostering understanding, unity and engagement. Campuswide messages play a crucial role in disseminating information and shaping the collective narrative of our institution. Therefore, establishing guiding principles for sending such messages is essential to maintain relevance, uphold values and navigate potential challenges. The following criteria are intended to guide the decision-making process when considering a campuswide message at Stanislaus State.

  1. Relevance to Higher Education: Determine if the event or issue is critical and pertinent to higher education, aligning with the educational mission and goals of Stanislaus State.
  2. Circle of Influence: Assess the scope of influence for the issue to determine if the impact is local, regional, national or international. This helps in tailoring the message to the appropriate audience and delivering the message accordingly.
  3. Purpose of Communication: Identify the motivation behind communicating in regard to a specific topic, event or incident. Is it driven by moral considerations, aligned with the institution's values or mission or prompted by the actions of peer institutions?
  4. Political Implications: Evaluate whether the issue has political significance. Understanding the political context helps in crafting messages that are sensitive to potential implications and is inclusive of the voices of all stakeholders.
  5. Value-added Communication: Consider whether a statement would contribute value to the ongoing conversation. Messages should aim to provide insight, clarity, support or constructive input.
  6. Potential for Change: Determine if issuing a statement has the potential to affect positive change. Assess the institution's ability to influence the situation through messaging.
  7. Concrete Support Actions: Assess whether the University is taking tangible actions to support the affected community. This criterion ensures that statements are backed by substantive efforts and not perceived as hollow commentary.
  8. Avoiding Discrimination: Consider whether the statement might be perceived as discriminating against any group. Strive to maintain inclusivity and fairness in communication.
  9. Institutional Response: Anticipate potential pushback and determine a plan for the institutional response. This proactive approach ensures preparedness for various reactions to the communicated message.

The president, University leadership and/or the campus may wish to consult general counsel to evaluate what information may be publicly communicated based on the facts of a particular situation.

Channels of President Communication

Multiple communication channels are available for sharing presidential messages, statements or other responses. Not all channels will be necessary for every message; email, for example, is reserved for instances when a message must reach every member of a stakeholder community (e.g., all alumni, all staff and faculty, all students, etc.). Whereas social media may be used to disseminate an important message further or for the president to share personal thoughts or observations, recognitions or good news about Stan State).

  • Universitywide email (or video in specific circumstances) directly from the president.
  • Statement issued through the Office of Strategic Communications and Marketing for attribution to the president.
  • News release on the University webpage.
  • Other channels managed by Strategic Communications and Marketing, such as StanNews, Faculty & Staff Digest e-newsletter, alumni/community e-newsletter, and weekly student e-newsletter.
  • Messages posted to the president’s webpage (major messages will be archived on the president’s page for ongoing reference).
  • Instagram post from the president’s account (@stanstateprez) or University account (@stanstate) or other University social feeds (Facebook, LinkedIn, X, TikTok, YouTube, etc.)

*Adapted from DePauw University Presidential Messages Protocol.

Updated: February 22, 2024