Special Events and Visits of High-Profile Guests to the University (Policy and Procedure)

Special Events and Visits of High-Profile Guests to the University (Policy and Procedure)

Topic: University Grounds and Physical Facilities
Approval Authority: President and Vice-Chancellor
Approval Date: March 11, 2020
Effective Date: March 11, 2020


Describes the need and authority for approval to plan and host special events and visits of external dignitaries or high-profile guests to the University campuses and to University events held off-campus.


To ensure that special events and visits of high-profile guests to the University are properly arranged and staged, the President shall, from time to time, establish formal procedures applicable to all members of the University community. These procedures will ensure the application of consistent standards for University events and will address appropriate protocol and operational considerations, including, but not limited to, the co-ordination for scheduling within the University calendar, evaluating the adequacy of the budget to the project requirements, space, risk assessment, security arrangements, invitations, media relations, and hosting.

Establishing a singular conduit of communications with a high-profile guest (and/or their office) will foster a positive working relationship thereby enhancing York’s reputation. When hosting a special event and/or high-profile guest, all York University staff are to notify the Office of University Events and Ceremonies (UE&C) prior to planning their event. This will ensure that the University is aware of the event, protocol is followed, and the guest is respectfully received. UE&C works closely with all campus partners to provide advice related to event planning and protocol for special events and events involving high-profile guests.

External convenors of conferences, special events and meetings should organize their events through Accommodation & Conference Services, but are also asked to advise UE&C.

Internally sponsored events should contact the Office of Temporary Use of University Space in regards to eligibility, service requirements, risk mitigation, and potential cost recovery.


Special Events are social occasions, conferences, receptions, dinners, and/or activities that have the potential to enhance the University identity, foster and develop relationships with the external community to raise the University’s public profile, and have the potential to attract significant media attention.

high-profile Guests include public figures and dignitaries (e.g. municipal, provincial or federal government representatives, members of Royal Families, foreign Heads of State, diplomatic staff and other international delegates, celebrities and/or public figures who attract media attention and/or raise concerns for security).

Visits to the University include visits to any of York University’s campuses or to any event sponsored or staged by York University or any of its Faculties, departments, research units, colleges, leased spaces or operating units. A visit includes a public appearance, speaking engagement, conference participation, performance, or confirmed attendance at an event.


UE&C provides a central resource and expertise for anyone charged with the responsibility of organizing a special event at the University and will advise and provide direction to organizing units to ensure that special events bring about desired results.

Convenors of on-or-off campus events with high-profile guests (regardless if the event is a York University event or organized by an outside organization) should communicate their event specifics to the Office of University Events & Ceremonies (UE&C) via https://uecr.apps01.yorku.ca/machform3/view.php?id=318395

This allows UE&C to compile a registry of events, while offering event logistical support, institutional knowledge, guidance, and protocol/diplomacy advice. This advice is based on established guidelines with the Office of Protocol of Canada, Ontario’s Office of International Relations and Protocol, and the recognized Table of Precedence of Canada.

Convenors of on-campus events (organized by an Academic and Administrative Unit, Research Centre, and/or Employee Group) looking to book space for their event, should communicate their event details to the Office of Temporary Use of University Space (TUUS) via the Mach Form: http://tuus.apps01.yorku.ca/machform/view.php?id=13241

Convenors of special events that involve a high-profile guest are requested to consult UE&C prior to the high-profile guest being formally invited and before public announcements or advertising are undertaken. This procedure allows for:

  • Better co-ordination of invitations to avoid duplicates being issued to the same person from multiple offices;
  • Avoiding conflicts in the University events calendar;
  • Ensuring that protocol issues are addressed;
  • Consultation with the Office of the President on the President’s availability if desired;
  • Invitations issued by the President to a high-profile guest on behalf of the event organizers, to signal the University’s support for their participation.

Note: If the visit of a high-profile guest is confirmed at the last minute, please remember to inform UE&C at the earliest opportunity.

Normally, a faculty member shall consult his/her department chair and Dean about an opportunity to invite a high-profile guest to visit the University.  Similarly, a non-academic employee shall consult his/her Director, Assistant/Associate Vice-President, or Vice-President.  Likewise, a student association or council shall consult the Student Success Centre, or the Office of the Assistant Principal, Student Services at the Glendon campus. (A college student council shall first consult the College Head before proceeding to the Student Success Centre, or the Assistant Principal, Student Services at Glendon.)

As applicable, the Dean, Director/AVP/VP or the Vice-Provost, Students, or the Office of the Assistant Principal, Student Services at Glendon, shall ensure that the request is directed to UE&C.

UE&C should be consulted to provide direction in regards to University protocol and special event planning (i.e. risk assessment, space reservation, security arrangements, invitations, hosting, publicity, media relations) and will engage, or provide contact information for, campus offices who have expertise in each particular area.

In the event there is a request for assistance at the last minute or if the requisite level of funding has not yet been arranged, UE&C should still be informed of the details of the event.

UE&C shall consider and determine a number of protocol issues for the visit including, but not limited to:

  • The availability and involvement of the Chancellor, President, or other senior University designate(s) to attend, participate or host;
  • How, when, and from whom the invitation is extended;
  • Whether the visit is of such significance that it needs to be managed as an institutional event;
  • Flag protocol, official gifts, signing the official University guestbook, seating, speaking order, and various forms of address for dignitaries, if required.

Visits of high-profile guests shall be governed by all applicable University policies and procedures.

Inviting the Chancellor

  • Invitations to the Chancellor are required well in advance of an event and should be sent to the Office of the President.

Inviting the President

Inviting Members of the University’s Board of Governors

  • Invitations to the University’s Board of Governors should be sent to the University Secretariat.

Contacting Government Officials

Legislative History: Reviewed by Senior Administration; Effective March 11, 2020
Date of Next Review: March 2025
Related Policies, Procedures and Guidelines: