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Inviting Dignitaries

Procedure Statement

Alabama A&M University is committed to fostering important intellectual and cultural experiences/exchanges for students, staff, and faculty by inviting dignitaries, including elected and appointed officials.


The visit of dignitaries or officials to Alabama A&M 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. Such a visit can often receive national and international attention from the media. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that official events on Alabama A&M University’s campus comply with acceptable standards of etiquette and an appropriate level of support.

Entities Affected by Procedure

This application of this procedure applies to:

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


Dignitaries or officials shall be invited to Alabama A&M University only after consultation with the Office of the President and in accordance with procedures outlined in Section V. Once the Office of the President has received a request, determination of the President’s involvement and/or the appropriate level of university representation will be made. 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 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, charge d’affaires, minister or consulate-general
  • Mayor of the City of Huntsville or Madison County, executive of Madison County, and other officials who serve as the head of local government
  • High-ranking members of royalty
  • Religious or spiritual leaders, such as the Pope
  • Presidents of universities, colleges, and accrediting agencies
  • 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


Before any public announcement or advertisement is made, and to provide proper reception, observe appropriate protocol, and ensure that adequate facilities and public safety concerns are addressed, invitations to dignitaries or officials shall be extended only after consultation with the Office of the President.  

Contacting and consulting with the Office of the President concerning an invitation to dignitaries or officials shall be made at least 90 days in advance of the event using the university’s Visiting Dignitary/Official Request Form.

All information requested on this form must be provided to the 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 of the office of international programs 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 Alabama A&M University:

  • A faculty member must consult their department chair, dean, or the chief academic officer/provost
  • A staff member shall consult his/her manager, director, or vice president
  • Student organizations must consult with the vice president of student affairs

Event Expenses

Hosting a high-profile dignitary at an event often involves sensitive, heightened, and costly security measures. As a general rule, these costs are the responsibility of 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, to promote goodwill. Please contact the Office of the President for the gift to be presented by the President or the President’s representative.  It is also procedural to coordinate with other units, if more than one gift is to be presented, in effort to ensure that the appropriate level of gifts is presented and that duplicates are avoided.


Failure to follow these procedures or any other approved university policy/procedure shall result in disciplinary action, including termination of employment.