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Death of a Current Student of Cal State San Marcos | Policies | CSUSM

Death of a Current Student of Cal State San Marcos

Definition: This policy guides university response to notice of the death of a current student.
Authority: The President of the University
Scope: This policy and related procedures applies to all currently enrolled students (which includes students who have stopped out for one term).
Responsible Division: Office of the President
Approval Date: 04/11/2012
Originally Implemented: 04/11/2012
Signature Page/PDF: View Signatures for Death of a Current Student of Cal State San Marcos Policy


These procedures are used upon notification of the death of a currently enrolled* CSUSM student.  It is understood that the President or Vice President of Student Affairs may make exceptions to the standard procedures.  The procedures do not preclude individual members or campus units from holding or attending memorial or recognition events, but does provide guidelines for official responses.

I. Death of a Current Student of Cal State San Marcos

The untimely death of a current student affects the campus community in different ways, depending on the cause of death, whether it is on or off campus, the length of time the student has been enrolled, and the student’s activities and outreach beyond immediate family, friends and academic cohort.  The campus community acknowledges the loss, but also respects family issues related to a student death.  The following procedure codifies the guidelines used by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for reporting and responding to the death of a currently enrolled student. 

  1. When the university is notified of the death of a current student (or “Stopped Out” student enrolled the previous semester), the information is relayed to the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs (date of death, circumstances, caller contact information) for the Dean of Students’ response.
  2. The Dean of Students confirms the death with the Coroner’s Office and calls a family member if appropriate and if/when approved by the Coroner’s Office.
  3. The Dean of Students relays information to the Vice President for Student Affairs, who sends condolences to the family on behalf of the university, once the death is confirmed.
  4. Upon confirmation, the Dean of Students completes a confidential memorandum notifying appropriate campus offices (President, Provost, appropriate College Dean, Department Chair, Registrar, Payroll, Human Resources and Equal Opportunity, Bookstore, Cashier, Library, IITS, parking, etc.) of the student’s death and determines other appropriate actions, such as notifying individual faculty, current instructors, or student organization advisors.
  5. If appropriate, the Communications Office will announce to campus community, and note Employee Assistance Program services available for employees, and Counseling Services available for students.
  6. If the death occurred on campus, University Police will be notified immediately. The Dean of Students notifies Risk Management and Legal Counsel, and mobilizes Counseling Services to make services available to students.  The Dean of Students also contacts Human Resources & Equal Opportunity to make resources through the Employee Assistance Program available to faculty and staff as needed.
  7. If the student lived on campus, the Dean of Students notifies the Director of University Village Apartments and University Corporation Executive Director to work with the campus residential staff and deceased student’s family to pack up room/belongings and determine appropriate memorial recognition.  Counseling Services will consult with the Director of University Village to provide services to residents as needed. If the student is a resident of university affiliated housing, a similar procedure will be followed.
  8. If the student was an employee, Payroll Services shall arrange for the deceased student’s last paycheck to be provided in accordance with California Government Code Section 12479.
  9. If fellow students wish to memorialize the deceased, the Dean of Students may work with them to determine how this will be done.  This is a fluid process, and students may choose to express their memorial through a student organization or other means. 
  10. Campus flags will not be lowered to half mast.

II. Process for the Award of Posthumous Degrees

  1. Purpose of the Award
    The California State University San Marcos community wishes to show sympathy and compassion to families of deceased students near completion of their degrees and to recognize the academic achievement of these students who would have likely fulfilled the requirements of the degree.  These actions must also be balanced with attention to academic and institutional integrity. The posthumous degree can only be awarded in the academic year in which the student would have graduated.
  2. Criteria
    Decisions on awarding of posthumous degrees shall be made on a case-by-case basis using the following criteria:

    a) For the Posthumous Baccalaureate Degree, the deceased student was:
    - In his/her final semester of coursework, and
    - Enrolled in courses that would have completed the degree requirements.

    b) For the Posthumous Graduate Degree, the deceased student had:
    - Completed or was enrolled in courses that would have led to the completion of degree requirements;
    - Achieved advancement to candidacy status; and
    - Begun his/her culminating activity (thesis, project, exam preparation, etc.) appropriate for completion of the graduate degree program.

    c) For the Posthumous Graduate Degree, the student’s culminating project committee must agree that the student would have completed this requirement during the final semester.
  3. Procedure

    a) In consultation with the appropriate academic department chair, and the Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management Services, the student’s college dean determines whether the student satisfies the criteria required for awarding the posthumous degree and notifies the Dean of Students and the Provost.

    b) Upon approval, the dean’s office of the appropriate college contacts the family to inquire about interest in having the posthumous degree awarded.  If the family concurs, the college dean’s office notifies the Registrar.

    c) The Registrar documents the awarding of the degree in the student’s academic record and sends a transcript and diploma to the student’s family.

    d) Efforts will be made to accommodate family members’ participation in an appropriate commencement ceremony on behalf of the deceased student.  It is the responsibility of the college dean’s office to contact the family regarding interest in participating in such activities as a department-based ceremony, graduation reception, or commencement.  If the family members desire that the deceased student be recognized at commencement, a family member may participate during the “reading of the names” of graduates.  The family member may present the student’s name for reading, walk across the stage, and receive the acknowledgement of the university administration on behalf of the deceased student.

    e) The college dean’s office is responsible for notifying the commencement coordinator by March if the family decides to participate in the ceremony.

    f) While these guidelines allow family involvement during commencement, there is not a moment of silence or other universal acknowledgement of the deceased student during commencement.

* Matriculated in Self-Support or as regularly matriculated student