Best Practices

Identifying the correct service provider

When beginning to plan an event it is important to make sure you are reaching out to the proper staff member for assistance. It can sometimes be unclear who should be your primary point of contact. Please take the below descriptors into consideration when deciding on who to reach out to about assisting with your event.

The Arts & Sciences Events Management Team will generally assist with any educational gathering that requires at least two of the below arrangements:

  • Event Space Reservations
  • Catering Requests
  • Audio/Visual Services
  • Travel & Lodging
  • General Event Guidance
  • Budget Recommendations
  • Honoraria Payments
  • Marketing, Promotion, and Poster Creation

Events coordinated by the Events Team tend to be student or Pitt community focused. Some faculty-centered events like social hours, workshops, and/or meet and greets will also fall under the responsibility of the Events Team.

Your Department Coordinator will be able to assist with events that require ONLY room reservations and with securing food orders for non-event gatherings, like orientations.  Retreats, Candidate Visits, and Research Visits should all be arranged with your Department Coordinator.

The Conference Service Team is available to assist with large scale conferences (100+ attendees) and events that have extenuating needs. Like the Arts & Sciences Events Management Team, they have limited resources and will need adequate notice to assist with any event planning.

If you are unsure who to contact for event assistance, please contact your Department Coordinator and they will direct you to the proper service provider.


Important Dates/Times for Event Planning

Deadline for Event Requests

The Arts & Sciences Event Management Team wants to ensure that your event has the best chance for success. To assist in providing adequate planning and promotion time for your events we strongly encourage you to contact the team within the suggested timeframe:

Six (6) Weeks Notice for events with 40 or less attendees

Eight (8) Weeks Notice for events with 60 – 100 attendees

Three (3) to Four (4) Months Notice for large conferences and events with 100 or more attendees

Please note that requests made below these timeframes may be subject to approval based on available resources.

Request Blackout Dates

To continue serving faculty effectively we have instituted request blackout dates during times when resources tend to be depleted. No new event requests will be processed during this timeframe:

                Fall Term: December 20th – December 31st

                Spring Term: April 1st – May 1st

If an Event Initiation Form is submitted within this timeframe it will not receive a response until the blackout window has closed. All events in before and after this window of time will be managed as normal.

Event Blackout Dates

Over the years several time periods have revealed themselves to be less than ideal for hosting events. We desire to give your events the best chance at success, which is why these times are blocked off for hosting events:

                University Closed Dates (National Holidays and Observations)

                Winter Recess

                Spring Break

                The two (2) weeks leading up to Graduation

                Graduation Weekend

                Finals Week (Exception given to study breaks hosted by departments and/or programs)


Paying Invited Guests

Honoraria payments for guest speakers, travel and lodging reimbursements, and service fees for performers will be processed by the Events Team, as part of their duties related to event coordination. Before agreeing to a payment method or process, please confer with your designated Event Coordinator to ensure that the agreed upon method is in compliance with university policy and relevant tax laws.

For resources related to paying invited guests, please refer to the Resource Guide.


Staffing Your Event

Onsite event support will be provided by the Events Management Team based on the availability of team staff members. However, it is the primary responsibility of the faculty member hosting the event to coordinate and provide onsite support the day of the event.

It is highly encouraged to seek volunteers to provide onsite assistance. Student workers, participating students, and graduates with a vested interest in the event topic are all great volunteer sources to pursue.


Food & Beverages

Campus Catering is the preferred food and beverage provider for university sponsored events. Whether you require simple snacks or a black-tie reception, they have an extensive array of options to fit your budget and your dietary needs. If Campus Catering is unable to provide your desired food options, you are highly encouraged to choose an America To Go (ATG) provider. Please note, not all ATG caterers provide delivery. If you choose a caterer who does not deliver, it is the responsibility of the faculty host to retrieve and setup the chosen catering.

Outside catering (not ordered through ATG) and food purchases may only be made with prior approval and must adhere to established university catering/reception policies.


Gifts & Prizes

Gifts and/or prizes for students and faculty cannot be purchased without prior approval. Please work with your designated Event Coordinator to get proper approval before purchasing any gifts or prizes for your upcoming events. Any gifts or prizes purchased without prior approval will not be reimbursed.


Alcohol Guidelines


The following apply to ALL events or meals that are University-sanctioned or sponsored:

  • Alcohol is never permitted at events where undergraduate students are invited/present.
  • Alcohol is never permitted at events open to the general public.
  • Alcoholic beverages are never reimbursed or permitted as a cost of recruiting graduate students.
  • Review and approval of all requests related to alcohol must be submitted to the Dean’s Office. Requests for exceptions to any aspect of this policy are strongly discouraged

Additional Guidelines for Events:

  • Prior permission from the Dean’s Office is required for events (not including restaurant meals as described below) where alcohol will be served.
  • No alcohol will be permitted at events before 5:00pm.
  • Food and non-alcoholic beverages are required to be available at events when alcohol is served.
  • Only beer and wine may be served at events that receive approval to serve alcohol.
  • You must contract with a bartender with the appropriate insurance if alcohol will be served at your event. Campus Catering will provide bartenders for both on-campus events and events at private residences only if Campus Catering is used for the food service. Campus Catering can also provide you with outside companies for bartender services that frequently work University events and are familiar with our policies. If you choose an outside bartender service a Professional Service Agreement is required.
  • Events at private residences are strongly discouraged (exception allowed for new faculty recruiting events).
  • No more than two (2) drinks can be served to each individual person at events where alcohol is served, and individuals are not allowed to give drink privileges to others.
  • University policy caps reimbursement for food and beverage at receptions at $25 per person.
  • Any event taking place on campus or at an off-campus location (including private residences) that does not have written prior approval from the Dean’s Office is not considered a school-sponsored event and is not eligible for reimbursement.
  • Dean’s Office approval is required for alcohol reimbursement and contracts where the department wishes to procure alcohol through a supplier such as Dreadnought Wines.

Additional Guidelines for Restaurants:

  • No more than two drinks per person will be reimbursed with restaurant meals. If ordering a bottle of wine, one bottle is the equivalent of five (5) drinks.
  • An itemized receipt is required that clearly documents all alcohol purchases. The Dean’s Office reserves the right to deny reimbursements when clear documentation is not presented.


Paying for Events

No payments (whether for equipment, entertainment, food, and/or for speakers) should go out without having a confirmed budget and IDC account number established for your event. Most payments for events will be processed by the Event Management Team in collaboration with your department/program Fiscal Manager and should not be paid directly by faculty unless approved.

It is strongly recommended that faculty seek payment approval before proceeding with making and/or agreeing to any payments related to an event. Making payments for events without prior approval may result in increased personal liability and the inability to be reimbursed by the university.


Outside Venues Rentals

If you are interested in scheduling an event in an off-campus venue, you should review the PantherExpress Purchasing Guidelines for Events and Conferences. If a venue rental does not require a contract, it can be purchased using a Travel Card with prior approval. If a contract is required, it must be processed in PantherExpress through Contracts+. Faculty should not sign off on venue contracts, to avoid any personal liability for the rental and use of the space. 

Faculty are encouraged to use a Signature Venue when choosing off-campus venues for an event. These venue options can be found under the Purchasing Guidelines for Events and Conferences.