Dignitaries on Campus

Inviting Dignitaries to Howard University

I. Policy Statement

It is the policy of Howard University to foster important intellectual and cultural exchanges for students and faculty by inviting dignitaries, including elected and appointed officials, to Howard University.

II. Rationale

The visit of a dignitary or official to Howard University, especially heads of state, members of the diplomatic corps or high-level United States officials, are guided by standards of international and national protocol. Given Howard University’s location in Washington, DC, such a visit can often receive national and international attention from the media.

The purpose of this policy is to assure that official events on Howard’s campus comply with acceptable standards of etiquette and an appropriate level of support.

III. Entities Affected By This Policy

This policy applies to:

  • Howard University deans, directors, faculty, students and staff.
  • Howard University schools, colleges, divisions, offices, centers, organizations, associations and enterprises.
  • External groups/organizations seeking to invite an official or dignitary to Howard University’s campus or to an event sponsored by Howard University.

IV. Definitions

Dignitaries or officials shall be invited to Howard University only after consultation with the President’s Office and according to procedures outlined in Section V.

Once a request has been received, the Chief of Staff, in consultation with the President, shall determine the President’s involvement and/or the appropriate level of University representation. The President reserves the right to extend an invitation to any dignitary or official. 

A Dignitary or Official is defined as the following:

  • President of the United States or spouse.
  • Former United States president or spouse.
  • Other head of state, government head or spouse.
  • Former head of state, government head or spouse.
  • Sitting United States cabinet member or other high-ranking appointed official.
  • Current (or former) United Nations Secretary-General. • Members of the United States Congress (senator or representative).
  • High-ranking representatives of foreign governments such as ambassador, chargé d'affaires, minister or consulate-general.
  • Mayor of the District of Columbia, county executive of Montgomery, Fairfax, Alexandria and Prince George’s counties and other officials who serve as the head of local government.
  • High-ranking members of royalty.
  • Religious or spiritual leaders, such as the Pope, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and Bishop T.D. Jakes.
  • High-profile individuals who may generate substantial media attention and large audiences.
  • Any other high-ranking or high-profile individual not specifically named in the above categories.

V. Policy Procedures

To provide proper reception, observe appropriate protocol and ensure that adequate facilities and public safety issues are addressed, invitations to dignitaries or officials shall be extended only after consultation with the President’s Office. The Chief of Staff in the President’s Office must be contacted prior to extending an invitation and before any public announcement or advertisement is undertaken.

Contacting and consulting with the President’s Office concerning an invitation to dignitaries or officials shall be made at least 90 days in advance of the event using the Howard University Visiting Dignitary/Official Request Form. All information requested on this form must be clearly provided to the Chief of Staff, Office of the President.

Upon notification of approval by the Office of the President, the requestor makes all appropriate arrangements to ensure a successful visit by the dignitary or official. The Executive Director or Diplomat-in-Residence, Ralph J. Bunche Center International Affairs Center, shall be consulted on protocol matters, particularly regarding visits of foreign dignitaries. 

Please use the Protocol and Notifications Checklist in preparing for a campus visit by a high-ranking dignitary or official.

Invitation Protocol

When an opportunity arises to invite a high-level dignitary or official to Howard University:

  • A faculty member shall:
    • consult his/her department chair, dean or the Chief Academic Officer/Provost or Senior Vice President and Executive Dean for Health Sciences.
  • Staff shall:
    • consult his/her manager/director or vice president.
  • Student organizations shall:
    • consult with the Vice President for Student Affairs or the student affairs executive in the respective college or school.

Event Expenses

Hosting a high-profile dignitary at an event often involves sensitive, heightened and/or costly security measures. As a general rule, these costs are borne by the requestor and/or host department.

The requestor/requesting department must ensure that there is adequate and appropriate funding to host all special events surrounding dignitary/official visits, including security costs, appropriate rental transportation, receptions, meals and gifts.

Dignitary Gifts

For international dignitary visits, it is appropriate that a gift be presented on behalf of the University in appreciation for the visit or to promote goodwill.

It is the responsibility of the requestor/hosting department to purchase an appropriate gift that can be presented by the President and/or the President’s representative and to coordinate with other units if more than one gift is to be presented, thus ensuring that appropriate levels of gifts are given and duplicates are avoided.

VI. Interim Policies

This policy supersedes any previous policies.

VII. Sanctions

Failure to follow this policy or any other approved University policy shall result in disciplinary action, including termination of employment.

VIII. Website Address

The Howard University Visiting Dignitary/Official Request Form and Protocol and Notifications Checklist can be downloaded from www.howard.edu/policy.