How we handle death reflects how we value people in our community. As a campus, not only do we celebrate each others' accomplishments, but we are supportive and compassionate during difficult times. Good communication is particularly important following the loss of a member of our campus community.
When a death occurs, it is the responsibility of the departmental administrative official to communicate with various campus constituencies, as well as survivors. Notification procedures vary according to the position the deceased held at UC Berkeley. The Guidelines for Responding to Death contain checklists to ensure that the deceased's department notifies the correct central departments in a timely and efficient fashion. For example, if the deceased is an employee of the University, the administrative official should notify the Office of Human Resources to handle benefits for the deceased family. Separate sections in the guidelines discuss notification procedures for the death of a student, a staff member, faculty, emeriti and retirees, and a visiting scholar or postdoctoral appointee. The guidelines also discuss how to respond to the death of a student's or employee's family member.
If a member of the campus community dies while on campus, the UC Berkeley Police Department should be notified immediately by dialing 9-1-1 from any campus telephone. Once the immediate health and safety issues have been resolved, or if the death occurred off-campus, the administrative official is responsible for notifying the Office of the Chancellor and interested members of the community.
Trauma and grief counseling is available to academics, staff and students who witness the death and/or who knew the deceased. Arrangements for this counseling can be made by contacting the following departments in University Health Services.
Administrative officials may find it helpful to review their internal protocols in advance of need, so they are familiar with the necessary activities and required communications when a death occurs. The Chancellor has given full support for the use of departmental funds and time, within the scope of applicable funding and personnel policy constraints, to attend memorial events and to address the needs of those in the department who are grieving.