interpersonal, internal and external communication  

What's important for me to keep in mind now about internal and external departmental communications?

Suggestions to get you started:

1. Departmental communications:  Your role has changed. More than ever before you will need excellent communication skills to inspire and inform your department members. You will need to be sure that all of your communications are inclusive and responsive.  Some quick tips to consider:

  • Interpersonal:  Creating a welcoming community rests upon the tone you set. Listen more than talk. Extend thanks and appreciation often. Don't avoid the hard issues. Welcome and include input.
  • General: Decide on how you want to update your faculty and staff about departmental meetings or other information (e.g. a beginning and end of semester email, newsletters, Microsoft Teams).
  • Students and Parents/Families:  Responding to student and parent concerns is important -- and an ongoing, often time consuming, and unpredictable responsibility.  Assess what issues you need to personally address or those that can be referred to others (e.g. Dean of Students).  Ultimately, you are responsible for responsive, respectful communication with your students and their families.

2. External communications: Promoting the achievements of your department is strategic to the department's reputation.  Although very important, it may not be a first semester priority:  

  • Review what's happened in the past and who on your staff work on external communications.
  • Reach out to your school/college communication staff to understand how they work with departments (e.g. website support or research or student promotions).
  • Reach out to your school/college development/advancement staff to discuss alumni cultivation. 
  • Consider hiring a talented work-study undergrad to assist you with website updates or strategies for using social media. 
  • If an issue arises, working within your school/college communication staff is the first step. If you (or one of your faculty) are contacted by the news media, notify the Office of News and Media Relations before responding. The office is a resource for advice and consultation.


  • University MarCom Group aka/ University Relations can help with such areas as graphic design, editing and planning of published pieces, event photography, listservs for event notice dissemination, or website assistance.  The availability of these services vary by project so its best to work with your school/college communications team first to determine the best plan going forward.  
  • If you are facing potential issues that require communication strategies and advice, first consult with your college/school communications staff. Note that UMass Amherst has an Incident Response Team (IRT), which is comprised of senior leaders who meet to anticipate, avert, and mitigate issues that have the potential to disrupt university business. Academic Affairs matters that are appropriate to bring forward to the IRT are shared through the assistant provost for accreditation and administration.