|Title:||Policy on Communication with External Media|
|Policy Owner:||University Communications|
|Applies to:||Faculty, Staff, and Student Employees|
|Campus Applicability:||All campuses, including UConn Health|
|Effective Date:||May 5, 2017|
|For More Information, Contact||Vice President for Communications|
|Contact Information:||Phone: (860) 486-0871|
REASON FOR POLICY
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 primary 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 official University comment on all matters regarding the institution. This includes both proactive interaction 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 employee communication with external media 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:
- Requests for Official University Position or Response
- Requests to Faculty Regarding Subject Matter Expertise
- 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.
- Requests for Official University Position or Response
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 Information Officer.
Authorization to speak on behalf of the University may only be given by the President or the Vice President for Communications. No faculty or staff member may make official statements on behalf of the University without consultation with, and express authorization from, the President or University Communications.
University Communications will coordinate the University response with appropriate members of the University and UConn Health communities.
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.
- 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 athletics 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.
- 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 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 Laws and By-Laws, 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: [5/05/2017] (Approved by President’s Cabinet)