FROM THE PROVOST


On Graduate Groups and Chairpersons

Following consultation with the Vice Provost for Graduate Education, the Graduate Council of the Faculties, the Council of Graduate Deans, and graduate group chairs, I have revised the Provost's Memorandum on "Organization and Responsibilities of Graduate Groups and Graduate Group Chairpersons" originally issued by Vartan Gregorian and revised by Thomas Ehrlich.

There are a few changes in substance to that memorandum. The earlier versions had required that all members of Ph.D. examination and dissertation committees be members of the Standing Faculty or the Associated Faculty. The current version requires that this be the case for at least half of the committee. In addition, it requires that members of the committee who are not members of the graduate group serve only with the written approval of the graduate group. The revised memorandum also requires that the chairs of all committees be members of the Standing Faculty in the graduate group, although the chair does not have to be the primary adviser. The committee chair is responsible for convening committee meetings, advising the student on the rules, and advising the graduate group chair that all graduate group requirements have been met.

Another change is an addition to the rule in the previous memorandum that instructors in Ph.D. courses must either hold the Ph.D. degree or be members of the Standing Faculty or the Associated Faculty. The addition is that "No one may teach a required core course for more than one semester without becoming a member of the Standing Faculty or the Associated Faculty."

These changes all appear in the document below that constitutes the full memorandum. The changes I have described can be found in Section II.

-- Stanley Chodorow, Provost

Organization and Responsibilities of Graduate Groups and Graduate Group Chairpersons

February 11, 1980;
Revised February 10, 1984 and Revised February 16, 1996

I. The Graduate Group

In the University of Pennsylvania, graduate programs leading to the Ph.D. and related master's degrees are carried on by associations of faculty members called "graduate groups." Many of these groups are founded on individual departments. In such groups, all members of the Standing Faculty of the foundational department are ipso facto members of the graduate group, but there may be many members of the group who come from other departments or schools. These groups typically provide disciplinary training.

A significant number of groups are not founded on any one department. These graduate groups are composed of faculty from several departments or schools and typically provide interdisciplinary training. (In cases in which the type of a graduate group is not clear, the Graduate Council of the Faculties determines its character.)

The graduate group structure provides the adaptability necessary to mount graduate programs in newly developing areas of intellectual endeavor or to phase out programs in areas of declining vigor, without profound and perhaps premature perturbation of the underlying structure of the traditional disciplinary departments and schools. The price paid for this adaptability is continuing vigilance over the academic quality and vigor of each graduate program, particularly those that are not founded on a single disciplinary department or school. The purpose of this memorandum is to outline the organization and responsibilities of the faculty who are members of graduate groups, and of the group chairpersons, all within the context of the graduate organizational structure established in the spring of 1977.

II. Graduate Group Faculty

Only members of the Standing Faculty, the Associated Faculty and Emeritus Faculty are eligible for membership in Graduate Groups.(1) Thus, Instructors, Lecturers, Research Associates, etc. are not eligible. Moreover, scholars and scientists employed by, or visiting from, other universities are not eligible unless they have an appointment in the Associated Faculty.

The fundamental responsibility for the academic quality and effectiveness of a graduate program rests with the faculty of the appropriate graduate group. The essential duties of this faculty include:

  1. Design of an academic program that meets the requirements of the student and of the University for depth, breadth, and academic quality of the highest order. Equally important is the continuous adaptation of this program in response to the challenges by and opportunities for new developments in its scholarly field.

  2. Establishment of well defined academic standards and requirements that are rigorous and flexible and that ensure quality and encourage the free development of the scholarly abilities of individual students. These standards and requirements must be consistent with the intellectual style and spirit of the field and also with the minimum base requirements of the University, as established by the Graduate Council of the Faculties.

  3. Establishment of standards and procedures for admission of graduate students and the operation of an admissions program that will attract and admit students of the highest possible quality. Such admissions standards and procedures must be consistent with University- wide standards and procedures established by the Graduate Council of the Faculties, the Council of Graduate Deans or the Vice Provost for Graduate Education.

  4. Wise and intensive counseling of graduate students in matters both academic and nonacademic, to encourage their rapid progress toward their academic goals.

  5. Active participation in the quest for financial resources for support of graduate students and in the allocation of available resources so as to optimize the quality of the program and its students.

  6. Active assistance in the placement of the program's graduates in positions where their abilities and training are utilized to the fullest degree possible.

At least half of the members of Ph.D. examination and dissertation committees must be members of the graduate group at the time of appointment to the committees. Faculty who are not members of the graduate group may serve only with the written approval of the graduate group. The authority to approve membership on committees may be delegated to the graduate chair. The chairs of dissertation committees and of all examination committees must be members of the Standing Faculty in the graduate group. If the chair of a dissertation committee leaves the Standing Faculty before the dissertation is completed, then a new chair from the Standing Faculty must be appointed as chair. The dissertation committee chair is responsible for convening committee meetings, advising the student on graduate group and university expectations, and assuring the graduate group chair that the group's requirements have been met. The committee chair does not have to be the primary dissertation adviser.

Instructors in courses that satisfy the requirements for the Ph.D. must hold the Ph.D. degree or be members of the Standing Faculty or the Associated Faculty. No one may teach a required core course for more than one semester without becoming a member of the Standing Faculty or the Associated Faculty.

The selection and appointment of faculty to membership in a graduate group are the responsibility of the appropriate dean, in consultation with members of the graduate group and such other faculty groups or individuals and academic administrators as may be appropriate. The standards and criteria to be used in selection and appointment of members of the Standing Faculty or the Associated Faculty to graduate groups are established by the dean in consultation with his or her faculty and include academic excellence and commitment to the academic goals of the program.

In cases where a graduate group is founded on an academic department or school, appointment to membership in the graduate group accompanies and is implicit in a primary appointment to the Standing Faculty in the department or school and is for the same term. In all other cases, appointment to membership in a graduate group is for a term specified at the time of appointment.

All appointments to membership in a graduate group carry full voting rights in the deliberations of the group unless otherwise specified at the time of appointment.

All appointments to membership in a graduate group must be reported to the Vice Provost for Graduate Education at the time of appointment.

It should be noted that this procedure for appointment of a faculty member to membership in a graduate group not founded on his or her department or school differs from and is independent of two other types of intrauniversity "linking" appointments:

  1. Interlocking faculty appointments, made by the Provost to facilitate interaction between the faculties of the several schools.

  2. Secondary faculty appointments, made by the Trustees following the normal academic appointment process.

These two types of appointments, as well as all appointments to other than Standing Faculty positions, do not automatically carry with them appointment to a graduate group.

III. Graduate Group Chairpersons

The chairperson of a graduate group is charged with the responsibility of leading and coordinating the work of the graduate group faculty in the discharge of their responsibilities, including those listed in Section II. This is an important task requiring academic and personal abilities of a high order.

Graduate group chairpersons are appointed by the Provost upon recommendation of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education and the appropriate dean or deans. The letter from the dean to the Provost transmitting the recommendation should be sent through the Vice Provost for Graduate Education and should refer to the selection process (e.g. department chairpersons and other deans consulted, procedure for self- selection by the graduate group) and the proposed term of appointment (generally three to five years, renewable).

In cases where a graduate group is founded on an academic department, the graduate group chairperson reports to the department chairperson and may carry a title such as "Associate Chairman for Graduate Affairs." In all other cases, the graduate group chairperson reports directly to the appropriate dean or delegate. (The latter may carry a title such as "Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research.") The dean determines the appropriate reporting channel.


(1) Members of the Research Faculty may not take responsibility for courses or seminars nor may they supervise theses or dissertations unless the prior approval of the Provost is obtained for each such activity. (Office of the Provost -- 8/5/83)


Almanac

March 19, 1996
Volume 42 Number 24


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