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When a UC Berkeley Student Passes Away

The Dean of Students team serves as the UC Berkeley campus liaison for family, friends and University officials when a student passes away. We understand that the death of a student presents a difficult time for the family, friends and the campus community. When the loss is the death of someone close to us, someone we care about — a family member, friend, neighbor, or colleague/ co-worker — the loss can trigger a grieving process that can affect our way of living, both at home and at work/school. We can help you better understand how loss can impact you and provide some support when someone close to you passes away. We empathize wholeheartedly with your loss and are here to support you through this time by providing guidance and serving as the next of kin’s liaison regarding University related matters. Our support includes:

  • Organizing grief support for impacted UC Berkeley students, faculty and/or staff
  • Notification to University officials and academic department chair
  • Serving as the liaison for family members inquiring about the students’ University matters such as financial aid/billing, housing, retrieval of personal belongings from campus housing, and posthumous degrees.
  • Supporting family and friends as best we can with their unique needs as we understand that each family will have special situations that need support.

If you are made aware of the death of an undergraduate or graduate student, please notify the Dean of Students Office by calling 510-642-6741. You will be asked for the following information:

  • Student’s full name
  • Student UC Berkeley identification number (if known)
  • Name and contact information of family or spouse/partner
  • Date and cause of death
  • College and/or major (if known)
  • Enrollment status
  • Residence (on or off campus)
  • Name and contact information of student friends/campus affiliations (if known)

Note regarding graduate students: The Dean of Students office contacts Graduate Division when they are made aware of a graduate or professional student death. Someone in the office of the Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Services will also respond. Graduate Division generally defers to the Dean of Students office and to the graduate student’s academic department in matters relating to early contact and coordination with family and friends.

In the case of an on-campus death or during non-business hours please call UCPD first as an emergency by calling 9-1-1 on campus.

Please see below for additional information regarding support services and options for those personally impacted by the death of a student.

Campus memorial

Every fall, the campus holds an annual memorial service to recognize the faculty/academics, staff, students, emeriti faculty, and staff retirees who died in the past year. All family members and friends are welcome to attend.

In Memoriam: Donations and Gifts

People often want to do or give something when someone passes away. There are a number of ways to memorialize a student, such as planting a tree, setting up a scholarship or endowment, establishing a UC Berkeley memorial fund, or donating to a cause of the family’s choice.

The Dean of Students Office will work with you should you want to request to plant a tree or dedicate a bench on campus in honor of your student. You can also contact the campus landscape architect directly. They are happy to provide donation information, guidelines, and ideas (type of tree, style of bench) and locations for the recognition.

We can also connect you with the appropriate individual from University Development and Alumni Relations if you would like assistance in developing a memorial fund. If you have decided to establish a memorial fund at the university, you may want to include that information in the obituary.

Posthumous degrees

A posthumous award will be considered if there is sufficient evidence that the deceased would have likely earned the degree in, or close to, normative time. There are academic policies in place regarding the review of posthumous degrees for undergraduate and graduate degrees. The Dean of Students Office will assist in contacting the appropriate University official(s) to inform them of a request for posthumous degree. The posthumous award may be acknowledged at the appropriate ceremony. The actual diploma or announcement will be sent to the designated family member.

Transportation of remains

In some instances, the University may be able to assist the family financially with the transportation of remains if it falls within University insurance protocols or if the student is on the SHIP insurance.

Travel to campus

Sometimes it is difficult for families of students to afford the cost of traveling to campus to attend memorial services and/or collect their student’s belongings. Although the campus does not have designated funds available to defray these travel costs, we do what we can to support the family in their travel arrangements. This is done case-by-case as each situation and resources available is unique. An example includes situations where the student is on the campus insurance program (SHIP). There might be coverage that assists with the travel cost for one family member. This would need to be evaluated and arranged through SHIP in advance of the travel, not retroactively reimbursed.

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