Media and Mass Communication, Policy on

Title: Policy on Media and Mass Communication
Policy Owner: University Communications
Applies to: Faculty, Staff, and Student Employees
Campus Applicability: All Campuses, including UConn Health
Approval Date: December 19, 2023
Effective Date: December 19, 2023
For More Information, Contact: Vice President for Communications
Contact Information: 860-486-0871
Official Website:


The University of Connecticut (“the University” or “UConn”) needs to be able to communicate accurately, effectively and consistently with a variety of diverse audiences including the media. University Communications is the institution’s primary voice and official liaison to the news media. It is responsible for initiating, developing and maintaining effective, productive and beneficial relations with the news media in communicating University news and in responding to media requests. University Communications is responsible for coordinating and delivering official University comment on all matters regarding the institution internally and through mainstream and social media. This includes both proactive statements, interactions, and responses to requests. University Communications is responsible for disseminating and pitching news stories, responding to media inquiries, arranging interviews and visual productions, and handling requests for distribution of information on behalf of the University’s main campus in Storrs, UConn Health and all campus locations and programs.


The purpose of this policy is to gather the University’s existing policies regarding institutional and employee communication via mainstream and social media outlets and platforms into one accessible statement while reaffirming the University’s continuing commitment to the principles of academic freedom.  It incorporates policies on three distinct but related situations:

  1. Official University Position Statements or Responses
  2. Mass Communications Associated with News or Events
  3. Requests to Faculty Regarding Subject Matter Expertise
  4. Personal Speech


This policy applies to all University employees including administration, faculty, staff and student employees, employees at all campuses including the University’s main campus in Storrs, UConn Health, the regional campuses, and the School of Law. It applies to all employees in all programs wherever located. The policy applies to employees when they are acting in their capacity as employees of the University, including when they are asked questions.


  1. Official University Position Statements or Responses

All inquiries seeking an official University response or a statement on behalf of the University should be directed to the University spokesperson within University Communications. All inquiries seeking an official response or statement specific to UConn Health and its clinical and academic areas should be directed to the UConn Health spokesperson.

Authorization to speak on behalf of the University may only be given by the President or the Vice President for Communications. No organizational unit, faculty, or staff member may make official position statements on behalf of the University without consultation with, and express authorization from, the President or University Communications. This includes posting of such statements on University-administered and branded website and social media platforms.

University Communications will coordinate any University responses with appropriate members of the University and UConn Health communities, and should be consulted on any potential statements or responses being considered by an organizational unit.

Any employee who has not been authorized by the President or University Communications to speak to the media in the context of his or her role as a University employee must direct inquiries from the media about the official University comment on all matters regarding the institution to the University spokesperson.

No employee is authorized to speak “off the record” on behalf of the University to media on any matter pertaining to the University.

University employees must adhere to relevant UConn policies as well as all federal, state and local laws and policies regarding the release of information about activities of the University, or its employees, students, volunteers, patients or research subjects, including those that apply to privacy and patient confidentiality such as HIPAA and FERPA.

  1. Mass Communications Associated with News or Events

The University will only on rare occasions send leadership mass emails and social media messages about news and events in the nation and world. Those rare occasions will include external tragedies or sensitive issues that have become dominant challenges in the daily lives of our communities at large.

Tragedies or concerns that affect individuals or groups unfortunately occur with great frequency. A practice of emailing after every major news issue or event is not practical. Selecting some issues or events and not others is exclusionary and lacks consistency. In addition, mass email is a poor vehicle for processing complex and painful topics, and university stakeholders have different perspectives about how tragedies and impacts to people should be described.

A singular mass message provides only one-way communication to thousands of individuals and is a poor replacement for other modes of communication that allow for better engagement for understanding, empathy and support for those impacted. Such messages also can be seen as lacking action or sincerity, and frequent messages about national and global tragedies can heighten fears or mental stress. They also can de-sensitize audiences to such messages from leadership, or even polarize the community.

Decisions and authorization on sending mass communications regarding such subjects ultimately rest with the President and/or the Vice President for Communications. Guidelines and best practices for engaging the campus community in these situations can be found here.

  1. Requests to Faculty and Staff Regarding Subject Matter Expertise 

UConn is proud of its faculty and staff, and their expertise and scholarship in a vast array of subjects and disciplines. Many senior administrators and staff also have expertise. Individual faculty, administrators and staff experts are encouraged to provide subject-specific commentary based on their scholarship in their academic concentration or their expertise in their professional field. This includes athletic coaches and staff on matters related to university athletic contests and team- or program-related matters.

When offices and/or individuals are contacted for their scholarly or professional expertise, they are encouraged and expected to notify University Communications that a media representative has made contact. University Communications facilitates accurate, ethical and timely news coverage of significant programs and the achievements of faculty, administrators, staff, students and alumni. University Communications is available at all times to consult with administrators, faculty and staff about the most effective ways to work with the media.

Any questions that fall outside of a faculty member’s academic interest or expertise should involve consultation with the University spokesperson, who can be a resource in these instances. Questions also may be referred to the University spokesperson for direct handling. Inquiries seeking an official University comment must be directed to the University spokesperson.

If a faculty or staff member is unsure of whether a question or request for comment from the media concerns the faculty or staff member’s area of expertise or seeks an official University position, University Communications must be consulted.

  1. Personal Speech

Nothing in this policy is intended to restrict the freedom of faculty and staff members to engage in their scholarly activities or their personal involvement in community activities. Nothing in this policy is intended to affect individual employees’ rights to express personal opinions on University or non-University actions and policies. Nothing in this policy is intended to restrict faculty or staff members from commenting on matters of public concern implicating an employer’s official dishonesty, deliberately unconstitutional action, other serious wrongdoing or threats to health and safety. When speaking or writing as a citizen, an employee should be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, should not use University media or information technology (email) platforms, and should make every effort to indicate that he/she does not speak for the institution.

The University reaffirms its continuing commitment to the principles of academic freedom and its protections as set forth in Article XIV of the Laws and By-Laws of the University of Connecticut and the right to freedom of speech protected by the United States and Connecticut Constitutions.


Violations of this policy may result in appropriate disciplinary measures in accordance with University Bylaws, General Rules of Conduct for All University Employees, Office of Student Financial Aid Services – Student Employment Guide, applicable collective bargaining agreements, and any other applicable University policies and procedures.


Policy created: 05/05/2017 (Approved by the President’s Cabinet)
Revisions: 12/19/2023 (Approved by Senior Policy Council and the President)