Getting Started

Form a Planning Team

An administrator or representative from the applicable department(s) or unit(s) should lead the planning team.  Other members should represent a range of experiences and perspectives and could include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Administrative representative from the college or unit
  • Chief Business Officer, Health Sciences Vice President/Dean’s Office
  • The communications officer for the school involved
  • The development officer for the school or unit

The committee should initially meet at least three months prior to the date of the ceremony.  Designate one main contact person/event organizer within the Department who will be responsible for coordinating all event logistics.

Prepare an event binder to house all paperwork, invoices, correspondence, etc., for reference.

Form a budget for the event and determine who will collect and pay all invoices.

                Confirming Event Logistics

Before finalizing any event dates, consult the WVU academic calendar

( and the WVU events calendar ( to avoid scheduling conflicts with other events on campus.  Review also potential conflicts with cultural and religious holidays.  The following website may be helpful in identifying high holy days of various religions ( 

If your event program or attendee list includes leadership from WVU, Health Sciences, and/or WVU Medicine, plan 4-6 months in advance. Consult with Joanna DiStefano in the HSC Office of the VP and Executive Dean to coordinate calendar inquiries. Before any request is made, the VIP function at the event should also be determined, i.e. speaker, guest, ribbon cutter, etc.

Reserve space on campus through 25 Live (  Technical equipment can be reserved at the same time. For public spaces (HSC Commons, Pylons Area, Fukushima Lobby, outdoor areas), contact Cathy Patterson in Health Sciences Facilities at 293-1811 or

When setting an event start time, consider the schedules of your target attendees. In general, events between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm often receive the most media coverage. Events after 5:00 pm are generally better attended by clinical staff (after clinic hours).    

Once date, time, and location are confirmed, add the event to the WVU calendar (, the HSC events calendar (, and internal departmental and staff calendars.


                Communications and Promotion

Plan your communication strategy with attendees and key constituents in mind. More wide-scale coverage through traditional and social media channels is not always better. Reaching your target audience is.

For events that have an external element, work with your school communications officer to devise a promotional strategy.

For events that are primarily internal to Health Sciences, event coordinators can manage postings to WVU E-News (, WVU Hospital Connect (, not for students), and social media accounts (tagging other Health Sciences identities).

If you will be sending out invitations to your event, be sure to include the following information:

  • Hosting Entity
  • Who is invited (you and a guest?)
  • Event Name
  • Day and Date
  • Time Location
  • Parking
  • Contact information for requesting accommodations (dietary restrictions, reserved seating, ASL interpreter, etc.)
  • RSVP (phone number and/or e-mail address of person designated responsible for RSVPs)
  • Logo
  • Map
  • Website (if applicable)
  • Social media (if applicable)

Electronic “Save the Date” notifications should be sent to invitees approximately two months in advance of an event.  Invitations by email are preferred, and they should be sent no later than 2 weeks in advance of an event.

In all electronic invitations, use high contrast colors (dark text on a light background) and enable alt text for any embedded images.  Include text with event details if an event advertisement is only a graphic image.   

One exception to the email invitations is the in the case of external VIPs, donors, etc. Work with your school communicator or Philanthropy to design a hard copy invitation and pull a mailing list.

All promotional material, hard copy and electronic, should contain 14 point type font and larger.  Avoid fancy-looking and script fonts.  Sans serif fonts are a good choice. 

Consult the Center for Plan Language for tips on drafting copy for promotional materials and correspondence ( 

Designate a contact person and method of contact to handle incoming questions, coordinate special requests and accommodations, and track RSVPs as they are returned. This person may also want to send a reminder to RSVP (sent ONLY to those that have not sent in an RSVP) approximately 5 days in advance of the event.

RSVPs should be tabulated on a spreadsheet generated from the Invitee List. Be sure to include any guests that may attend with the person invited and indicate “regrets” on the spreadsheet. Also, make sure to indicate any special needs or dietary preferences, if snacks or a meal will be served.



Accounting for the diverse needs of attendees should be a top priority for any planning team:

  • For events charging a registration fee, consider routes of financial assistance or discounts to offset what might otherwise be prohibitive to some attendees.
  • If your event will include nametags for attendees, attendees should have the option to designate a preferred name and pronouns upon registration.
  • For all events lasting a half day or full day, incorporate breaks into your schedule. If possible, plan to provide healthy snacks between meals.  Share the availability of HSC’s Reflection Room (HSCN 2001) and the Lactation Room (HSCN 1167). 
  • Every person with a disability, visible or not, should be able to access your event venue and participate in your event fully and with dignity. When selecting a room or venue, note the location of accessible and gender inclusive restrooms, accessible parking spaces and entrances, and elevators convenient to your event location. 
  • All of the inclusive restrooms on our campus are listed in the REFUGE app. Include language about this app in event promotions. 
  • Ensure wheelchair accessibility and companion seating in addition to multiple outlets for laptops or other electronic aids. Electronic presentation slides should be shared with attendees, either via email or posted to an event or departmental webpage.  Any video/audio files should also include captioning. 

There is no expectation that all event planning committees will be experts at all cultural competencies at all times.  However, it is expected that when faced with any uncertainty regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion, planners will do their own research and reach out to university offices and student groups for expertise, guidance, and resources:


Health Sciences