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Access Answers and Advice
from an Experienced Campus Planner

Special event planners in higher education inhabit a unique world. Tradition, history, and campus peculiarities are part of our planning mix. Of course, we must possess an expert command of the basics: planning, budgeting, site selection, catering, production, and the like. But we must also understand the arcane world of academia. We're expected to coordinate high-tech symposia as deftly as we orchestrate tradition-infused academic ceremonies. Our audiences vary from prospective students to distinguished faculty members and public officials. And the functions we oversee range from intimate dinner parties to multi-day conventions. We take it all in stride. Indeed, we thrive on the variety. But do we have questions? Naturally! The good news is that Correct on Campus is here to provide answers.


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Correct on Campus is devoted to being the go-to source for the answers and ideas campus events planners need most. To spare you from having to sift and sort through resources more suited for events consultants or corporate meeting planners, I've posted the information you need every day. I hope you'll come here often.
Etiquette Fact
  • Is it R.S.V.P. or R.s.v.p.?  An abbreviation for the French phrase "repondez s'il vous plait" (please respond) it can be written either way. Choose the form you prefer and be consistent.
  • Send save-the-date cards six months to a year in advance for presidential inaugurations, anniversary commemorations, and other once in the history of an institution occasions.
  • Never presume the right to address a person by his or her first name. Wait until he or she gives you permission to use it.
  • "Ms." is the proper form of address for women, regardless of their marital status.
  • When a woman outranks her partner by virtue of an elected office or military rank, her name precedes the male's name regardless of the couple's marital status.
  • American federal, state, and local government officials are referred to by the courtesy title "The Honorable." Write this on the line above the person's full name. Don't use the abbreviation "The Hon."
  • The guest of honor is given a special place to sit on the right-hand side of the host. The second-most-important guest is seated on the host's left.
  • Arrange foods on a buffet in a logical order. Plates should come first, then the main course. Next are side dishes, salads, and finally, rolls. Present dessert on a separate table or in a different room. 
  • Open doors for others, regardless of gender. When someone opens a door for you, regard it as an act of politeness and respond accordingly.
  • Use your full name when introducing yourself.
  • Shake hands with everyone, male and female.
  • Stand for introductions.
  • Immediately following an event, send thank-you notes to everyone who helped make it a success. Phone calls or e-mails are nice but don't release you from the obligation to write a note.     
  • In many cultures, flowers and flower colors have strong meanings. When hosting international visitors, it is important to know which flowers are not welcome by your guests.
  • An academic seal is the official mark of an institution and is used on diplomas and other documents. It should be used with dignity, not stamped on t-shirts, souvenir items, and disposable items like cups and plates.  
  • Faculty colors were standardized in the 19th century and were chosen for traditional meanings. Green was selected for medicine because it is the color of healing herbs. Red was the traditional color of the church and therefore was assigned to theology. Science was given golden yellow to signify the wealth of knowledge produced by research.
  • The mortarboard should be worn level on the head, not pushed back, so that the tassel falls in a line perpendicular to the ground.
  • The proper position for a name badge is on the upper right chest near the shoulder so the printed name is easily visible while shaking hands.  
  • Don't use the term "first lady" for the campus president's spouse. The term is reserved for the wife of the President of the United States.
  • Military officers are addressed by rank.
  • Extend formal invitations by first-class mail using a postage stamp, not a postage meter.     
  • Invitations come from people, not entities. It is correct to say, "The Board of Trustees of Major State University invites you. . ." because the board is made up of people. It is incorrect to say, "Major State University invites you."