Georgia Highlands College

Protocol Death of a Student On/Off Campus

Immediate Actions

1.         If on campus, dispatch Campus Safety to the scene to evaluate the situation.

2.         Call 911 to alert emergency vehicles.

3.         Verify that the student is deceased.

4.         Notify the Vice President for Student Affairs, who is responsible for notifying senior staff, college counselors and other relevant personnel in Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and College Relations.

5.         The Vice President for Student Affairs or pre-designated representative notifies the family.


Subsequent Actions

              1.         Notify campus community through email.  Special considerations should be given to notifying significant others (boy-girl friends, team members, classmates.)

              2.         Set up an immediate meeting of the campus crisis team to review the following:

  • Press release & other media matters.
  • Availability of Counseling services.
  • Memorial services, if requested by the family.
  • Institutional representative(s) at funeral.
  • College will refer all medical inquiries to health care facilities involved.
  • College will refer all criminal investigation questions to appropriate authorities.
  • College will not release name(s) of student(s) involved pending notifying family.
  • College will confirm off-campus inquires based on other public record contact.


Campus Action

             1.         Announce counseling services; group counseling in centralized area (possibly student center)  meet with specific groups directly affected (classmates, organizations, etc.)

2.         The President or other senior staff member should send official letter/response of sympathy to parents, spouse, or guardian.

3.         The institution should decide whom (if) a representative from the institution will attend the funeral as representative of the institution (such as President, Vice President for Student Affairs, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Academic Advisor, and Instructor.)

              4.         The institution should send flowers, unless family requests otherwise (Funds from Student Life budget.)

              5.         If a memorial service on campus is considered, the Vice President for Student Affairs should plan it with assistance from the President, Director of College Relations, and possibly students who wish to be involved.

             6.         The appropriate campus counselor should send out a note to faculty and staff describing the grieving process, and recognize “red flags” from students who are not coping beyond the normal grieving process.  A referral process should be included in this note.

             7.         Registrar should immediately administratively withdraw student from all enrolled classes and initiate fee refund process.

             8.         The Registrar will verify if student is eligible for a posthumous degree according to the College Policy on Posthumous Degrees.  If so, then

            a)         Application for Graduation Fee will be waived;

            b)         Vice President for Student Affairs will consult with family and determine if degree is to be awarded at graduation or private ceremony.

            c)         Registrar will consult with PTK Advisor to determine if student is eligible for such recognition.

            d)         Registrar will arrange related logistics for graduation or private ceremony, with the administrative assistant to the President.

            9.         Vice President for Finance and Administration in consultation with the Director of Financial Aid should immediately send any financial adjustment due to the deceased immediately to the next of kin.


Georgia Highlands College Posthumous Degrees

A posthumous degree shall be awarded at the request of or with the concurrence of the family or friends of the deceased, if, at the time of death, the student was:

1. Fifteen or fewer hours short of the number of semester hours required to complete the degree which the student was seeking, and

2. in good standing with all financial obligations cleared.


The amendment to the Policy, “Protocol – Death of a Student On/Off Campus,” was approved by the President’s Cabinet.

© 2018 Georgia Highlands College