Link to pdf version: http://gradschool.ufl.edu/pdf-files/committees-externals.pdf
DATE: October 17, 2008
TO: Deans, Graduate Deans, Chairs/Directors, Graduate Faculty
CC: Graduate Coordinators, Graduate Staff
FROM: Henry T. Frierson
Associate Vice President and Dean of the Graduate School
RE: Composition of the Doctoral Committee and Role of the External Member
Confusion has arisen over the years regarding the role and responsibilities of the external member on doctoral committees. The explanations below are intended to assist faculty and staff in creating and managing doctoral supervisory committees.
The external member's primary responsibility is to represent the interests of the Graduate School on doctoral committee activities. In the event that supervisory committee activity conflicts with broader Graduate School policies or practices, the external member is responsible for bringing such conflicts to the attention of the Dean of the Graduate School. The external member is therefore prohibited from holding Graduate Faculty status in the doctoral candidate's department/major. The external member must be a regular member of the Graduate Faculty in another department/major.
Exceptions to this policy have been made for interdisciplinary degree programs that are not housed in an academic department and for departments that have merged/separated. In these situations, exceptions are made by the Dean of the Graduate School on a case-by-case basis.
Many faculty members have been under the impression that the external member should have knowledge of the field or research area addressed in the dissertation. This is useful but not necessary. The essential role of the external member is to ensure that due process occurs during the dissertation defense and fair treatment is accorded to the doctoral candidate. It is certainly acceptable for the external member to be from a discipline that provides critical background and/or research and scholarly tools that the candidate may need, but again it is not necessary.
Faculty holding Graduate Faculty status in the student's major cannot serve as the external member. However, in certain situations, such as departments that have merged, faculty in the same department as the student but in a different major may serve as the external member. It is up to the academic unit to determine if the appointment of a particular faculty person as an external member compromises the role that the external member plays on the student's committee.
Please also note that an obligation of any faculty member who has Graduate Faculty status is to serve as an external member when asked. A list of roles and responsibilities is included below to assist with the development of supervisory committees.
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE DOCTORAL SUPERVISORY COMMITTEE
Supervisory committees for graduate degree programs are nominated by the respective academic units, approved by the college dean, and appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School. Staff entering supervisory committee data into GIMS, do so with the approval of the student's committee chair, the chair/director of the academic unit, and the college dean.
At least four members of the graduate faculty are required for all doctoral supervisory committees. More members may be added by agreement of the chair and candidate. It is acceptable for departments to require more than four members on supervisory committees. All members must participate in the examinations.
a. Must have graduate faculty status in the student's department/major.
b. Cannot be a Special Appointment.
c. Serves as the candidate's mentor.
d. Assists the candidate with all committee appointments and has primary responsibility for the conduct of all examinations.
e. Must escort the candidate at commencement or find an appropriate substitute.
a. Is not required to have Graduate faculty status in the student's department/major.
b. May substitute for the chair at any examination, but only if the co-chair is in the same department/major as the student.
a. Must include at least one other member from the student's degree program, in addition to the chair.
b. Other members can be from the program recommending the degree or from a different educational discipline.
c. Serve to assist the student and chair with the research/scholarship of the dissertation and all examinations.
4. External Member
a. Must be outside the student's major.
b. Has the primary responsibility to represent the interests of the student, and the policies and practices established by the Graduate School.
c. Must verify that the student successfully defends the dissertation, that all members are present in person or via electronic technologies including teleconferencing, videoconferences, computer interfaces, etc, and that the defense is conducted properly.
d. Cannot be a Special Appointment.
e. May represent minor areas of study as long as they do not have Graduate Faculty status in the student's major.