Planning Your Event

The Heller Events Team is here to improve communication about events, provide guidance or advice as you plan an event and to coordinate event scheduling across all Heller departments. Submit an Event Request Form for any event that will take place in the Heller School in order to receive event approval and reserve a space.

Note: You should not schedule an event without first submitting a request form. Do not confirm a speaker or event until you have received confirmation on the date, time and space from the Events team.

The Events Team does not plan events for you, but can streamline the room booking and advertising process, guide you in addressing the finer details of your event, and check that no major conflicts exist – ensuring your event's success. We want to confirm that the date will work for your event and that an appropriate space is available.

You may contact the Heller Events Team at any time for advice about events or booking space at the Heller School.

Inviting High-Profile Guests and Presenters

The Heller School encourages faculty, staff and students to bring together scholars and public officials from all backgrounds, religions, and political views for a peaceful discourse. However, prior to issuing an invitation, you must contact the Office of the Dean if your proposed guests or presenters would give rise to any of the following issues:

  • President Ron Liebowitz or Dean David Weil would be expected to attend or participate
  • Security issues would be involved
  • The event may cause disruption of other university activities
  • Heller or university funding would be requested

If you would like the Heller Dean or the Brandeis University President attending or presenting at your event, you must send a request at least two weeks in advance to Meaghan Cummings for Dean David Weil and to Meredith Walsh for Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz. It is best to contact them a few months in advance to check their availability.


Most event planners use their own formatted excel list for RSVPs, but here are a few tips for making them highly efficient.

  • Sample RSVP List

  • Within your list you should add new addresses and/or emails for future communication.

  • Create a nametag column – Think ahead about what you want on your nametags and add this information when someone RSVPs. This relieves a lot of frustration in the days prior to an event and saves a lot of time.

  • VIP Guests – Note these guests in a particular column so you can easily identify and inform others of their attendance.

  • Note any special accommodations or food requests a guest may need.

  • Review list in advance for guests who need reserved seating, parking or special attention and inform them when they arrive at the event. Sometimes a card inserted in their nametag does the trick!

  • For large conferences/events – Make sure presenters RSVP to events in addition to their presentation and that they are on your RSVP list. Also make sure your staff is on the RSVP list in order to have an accurate headcount.

Ways to Increase Attendance

There are many ways to attract attendees to your event, especially on campus. Here are a few suggestions to help you have a great turnout:

  • A targeted invite – In addition to (or instead of) sending a broad invitation to everyone on your master mailing list, try targeting a few segments. This will allow you to focus on a group who may be more interested in the topic and more likely to attend, and can also save you money on print materials. Review the university's list of schools, departments and programs, which includes the director/dean/chair of each unit and their assistant to target your audience and to reach the appropriate assistant to relay your message.

  • Invite far enough in advance – When planning an event, it’s typical to invite people six weeks in advance. For large conferences or major events, you may also want to send a “save the date” which can be done at any time.

  • Target some key guests in advance to add to your invitation. You can also ask future RSVPs if you can add their name to your invitation/event reminder. Everyone likes knowing who they can rub elbows with or if they know anyone already attending.

  • Cross-Promote – It is especially easy to pair up with another department at Brandeis. If you are partnering with an organization, ask them to advertise to their cohorts.

  • Plan around holidays – Holidays and holiday travel can really make a difference in attendance. You’ll want to consider holiday timelines when planning your invitation timeline or publicity strategy. Holding an event before or after major holidays may decrease attendance because people are more focused on their personal plans. If you must have your event close to a holiday, it’s a good idea to use a save the date and to advertise far in advance.

  • Incentives – Everyone likes free stuff. Many events might have a raffle or giveaway promotional materials (like pens, mugs, notepads, shirts, etc.) to attract attendees.

  • Personal Calls – If you have a list of people you want to target, call them in advance to secure their RSVP.

  • Personal Conversations and Emails – Everyone loves a personal invitation. This also helps you explain your event in detail and why they would be interested in attending.

  • Social Media - Utilize Heller's social media presence by coordinating with our communications department to post an event or tweet.

  • Listing attendees on an invitation – Very often invited guests want to see whom they know. If you can add a list of attendees to your invitation or provide an updated RSVP list online, often this may attract more people to attend.

Coordinating Your Presenter

Choose one person to communicate with a presenter to avoid any confusion and have a direct point of contact. This person would confirm the event date and accommodations, meet them upon arrival at the event, get their presentation a few days ahead of the event and provide them with a detailed itinerary of their day, event timeline and program. If time permits, test their presentation in advance. You should ask what they need while they are visiting, which may include a hotel, car service, plane reservations or an honorarium (award/fee) for presenting. It's also considerate to provide them with a bottle of water during their presentation.

Day of Event Timeline

On the day of your event, it may be helpful for you and those on the program to have a detailed description of the event timeline. You'll also want to consider this timeline when deciding on your food service options. This could be used to give your speaker details about their visit and for event coordinators to track timing of the event logistics. For an example of a detailed timeline, contact the Heller Events Team.

Guests Needing Specific Accommodations

If you expect any attendees to need handicap parking or reserved parking, find this out when they RSVP and note it on your RSVP list.


When inviting a lot of off-campus people to your event, you must contact Ed Callahan, Director of Public Safety (781-736-4240). Unless the event is in the evening, it is university policy that attendees park in the Theater Lot during the academic year. They’ll want to know how many cars you expect. Conference and Events Services (CES) can work with Public Safety on your parking issues and even book parking monitors or schedule shuttle buses. You can also recruit Heller students as parking monitors. For small events during the day, the information booth at the main entrance can issue parking passes. An alternate location for parking passes is the campus police office, located in the Stoneman Building adjacent to the Health Center.

Liquor Policy

You are strictly forbidden to serve your own alcohol to event attendees. CES holds hearings on the fourth Tuesday of the month to apply for one-day liquor permits, so contact CES accordingly if you want to serve alcohol at a Heller event.

Food Policy

Food Policy - If you don't use Conference and Events (x6-4300) but will serve food or use additional chairs and tables, set up and cleanup of all food and furniture will be your responsibility. You must clean up after your event, especially in the evening and on the weekend. If you are having a major event on the weekend, you must hire a custodian before and after in order to assure clean rooms for the event and then for classes Monday morning. Any excessive trash (stacks of empty pizza boxes or food trays) should be taken out to the large trash bins at the side entrance/loading dock of the Heller-Brown building (near student mailboxes). It is not acceptable to leave trash overflowing trash bins. If needed extra trash bags can be provided before your event or meeting.


You may book a campus photographer or contact the Heller Events Team for suggestions. On the day of the event, provide a shot list for your photographer and point out who you want photographed. Inform them in advance if you plan to use the photos in any type of publication.

Hotel Accommodations

If you need a hotel room for your presenter there are many hotels to choose from in the Waltham area.

Car and Limousine Services

If within your budget, you can offer a car service for high profile guests and speakers. The Heller Events Team can provide references if needed.