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Appendix A Committees and Advisory Personnel

Subsection A.1 Graduate Advisor

The Advisor to Graduate Students acts as a mentor to graduate students not yet advanced to candidacy, gives them help and guidance, and advocates on their behalf with the Graduate Program Committee. The Advisor also is responsible for approving course selection.

  • Keep in touch with all the graduate students, and with instructors of graduate courses. Know who is doing well, who is in trouble, and who is interested in what field. Try to make sure graduate students know and are comfortable with you.
  • Together with the graduate program representative, meet with incoming graduate students, as a group and individually, to discuss the grad program in general and course choices in particular. Make sure the students file a report with their plans for the first year.
  • Discuss course choices with graduate students before registration. Sign registration cards (at least for all grad students who do not yet have a thesis advisor.)
  • Approve “permission only” courses, which include all reading and independent study courses. Taking a reading or independent study or research course means finding a faculty member to supervise the effort, and who will provide a pass/fail grade at the end of term.
  • Discuss advancement plans with students. Push them to anticipate deadlines and be proactive about constituting a committee. Remind the applied students that applications for summer internships are often in mid February.
  • Be the GPC's source of information on student progress, especially at evaluation time. Keep the Graduate Program Representative informed about important and/or problematic issues.
  • Be the graduate students' representative, as needed, in their relations with the GPC, with the Graduate Office, with their instructors and students, with the department as a whole.

Subsection A.2 Graduate Program Committee (GPC)

The Graduate Program Committee evaluates graduate student progress on a regular basis, makes decisions on issues such as leave of absence and advancement schedules, and entertains changes in graduate program practice or policy.

  • At the start of fall term, remind graduate students (in all years) to meet their advisors and file their yearly report with the department (see Subsection 8.5)
  • Evaluate the progress of all graduate students at least once a year. This can include reviewing the yearly reports and contacting advisors for more information, as needed.
  • Be up to date on students' progress on meeting deadlines. Take action regarding those who fall behind, warnings first, action later.
  • Evaluate students for advancement to candidacy. Generally, if they have secured a primary and secondary advisor (part of their Advancement Committee), they will have satisfied all requirements of the advancement committee.
  • Make decisions and send official letters regarding student requests for leave of absence, extension of deadlines, questions of academic status (e.g., probationary status), other special requests.
  • Make decisions on a fifth year of support. Students who seem to be floundering at the end of the third year should be reminded that a fifth year of support does depend on making reasonable progress (ask the thesis advisor whether a nudge is in order). The occasional exceptional student to whom we might want to give a sixth year of support should be referred to the department as a whole for a decision; the Graduate Program Representative needs to ask the Graduate Office for permission if the support is to come from a Dartmouth Fellowship, and permission will probably not be granted.
  • Entertain suggested changes in graduate program policy and practice. Make decisions on small items; refer larger items (including anything reflected in the ORC, and any change in requirements) to the department for a vote.

Subsection A.3 Graduate Representative

The Graduate Program Representative basically runs the graduate program. Specifically, the GPR is the liaison among the various relevant committees, and to the department chair and the office of the Dean of Graduate Studies.

  • Be the official “Graduate Program Representative” listed with the Graduate Office. Make sure they know this every year.
  • Be the one to consult with the Graduate Office, as necessary, about issues such as incompletes (when the course instructors don't handle incompletes themselves), leaves of absence, etc.
  • Make sure the Graduate Office gets all the paperwork it needs. It needs copies of letters about leaves of absence, letters about academic status, other official letters.
  • Assign tutoring and teaching jobs to graduate students. Consult with the department chair about which classes get TA's and what slots are available for graduate student teachers, consult with the advisor to graduate students, teaching course instructors and graduate students themselves (and read files of incoming grad students) to determine graduate student interests and abilities. Make sure everybody in sight is informed about assignments and expectations. (TA assignments: Course instructors/chairs, department chair, department staff, TA's. Teaching assignments: Course supervisors, department chair, department staff, grad student teachers.) Remind the chair as necessary to assign teaching mentors to all grad student teachers.
  • Consult with the department chair on the scheduling of graduate courses.
  • Keep in touch with the Administrative Assistant about grant support for graduate students.
  • Keep the stipend projection spreadsheet updated. Consult with the department chair and the Admissions Committee chair about how many students to admit each year.
  • Accompany the Admissions Committee Chair and the Administrative Assistant to the annual meeting with the Graduate Dean about admissions, etc. Be informed about progress of current graduate students and projected admissions targets for this meeting.
  • Be in close touch with the Graduate Program Secretary; this varies from being an unofficial job supervisor in some areas to getting the secretary's advice and approval in others.
  • Be the backup for graduate students having difficulties with the Advisor to Graduate Students.
  • Oversee the graduate program portions of the department's web page.
  • Stay in the loop and informed about everything having to do with the graduate program.

Subsection A.4 Teaching Evaluation Committee

The Teaching Evaluation Committee regularly evaluates the teaching of all new and visiting faculty and the teaching and tutoring of graduate students. As such it is an important committee which is active throughout the year.

Ideally, a prearranged classroom visitation should occur within the first few weeks of the term (when modifications can still be made if needed), but after the the instructor has had a chance to develop some rapport with his/her class, say after 3-4 lectures. Based upon the visit, members give feedback to the instructor and prepare a written evaluation which is included in their file. For graduate students this goes to the department AA and for faculty it goes to the department administrator. A copy should also be given to the chair.

These evaluations provide a valuable resource especially for JWYs and graduate students who will need a teaching letter among their application materials for a new job, and are an excellent means of catching any problems which may be brewing while there is still time to make changes. They are also used by the graduate program representative in deciding on future teaching assignments.

It is also the intention that the teaching evaluation committee evaluate the performance of graduate student TA's each term they tutor. We are now using TA evaluations to help in this regard.

The harder part of the job is to remember to do this at the beginning of each term, and not just in the fall. Obviously instructors who have not been contacted about a visit and desire or need one, should contact the teaching evaluation committee chair.