III. Instruction

Administrative Guidelines

Appeal Procedure

The dean of the Graduate School shall be the final appeal authority of any decision of an evaluation committee and may establish such ad hoc procedures in each case as deemed appropriate. 

Adjunct, Affiliate, Part-time, and Fixed-term Faculty

Graduate Faculty appointments for these persons are made for the period of their affiliation with the University. They are expected to participate actively in the graduate program, and to interact with students and faculty in a context of research or other creative activity that extends beyond the scope of an instructional assignment. 

Temporary Appointments of Visiting Faculty

Based on the previous criteria, these temporary appointments may be made by the dean of the Graduate School for the period of affiliation, on the recommendation of the program chairperson. 

Tenure in the Graduate Faculty

A member may be dropped from the rolls of the Graduate Faculty by the dean of the Graduate School upon the recommendation or concurrence of the program chairperson and with the concurrence of the college evaluation committee if he or she fails to participate significantly in the graduate affairs of the University or has no record of continuing scholarly or creative activity. A member may be dismissed from the Graduate Faculty by the dean for failure to maintain appropriate standards of professional ethics as described in University Policy AD-47. The action will be contingent upon the recommendation of an ad hoc investigatory committee, consistent with University Policy RA-10. Criteria for such dismissal include: ethical misconduct, including fraud, fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, and other serious deviation from accepted practices within the roles of teacher, researcher/scholar, colleague, and member of the University; failure to adhere to the principles of co-authorship in scholarly reports, papers, and publications (ref. RA-13); and failure to exercise utmost good faith in all transactions touching upon the individual's duties with and on behalf of the University so as to avoid conflict between the interests of the University and the individual (ref. HR-91). 

Composition of Doctoral Committees

Doctoral Committee -- General guidance of a doctoral candidate is the responsibility of a doctoral committee consisting of four or more active members of the Graduate Faculty, which includes at least two faculty members in the major field. The dissertation adviser must be a member of the doctoral committee. The dissertation adviser usually serves as chair, but this is not required. If the candidate is also pursuing a dual-title field of study, a co-chair representing the dual-title field must be appointed. In most cases, the same individual (e.g., dissertation adviser) is a member of the Graduate Faculty in both the major and dual-title fields, and in such cases may serve as sole chair. At least one regular member of the doctoral committee must represent a field outside the candidate’s major field of study in order to provide a broader range of disciplinary perspectives and expertise. This committee member is referred to as the “Outside Field Member.” In cases where the candidate is also pursuing a dual-title field of study, the dual-title representative to the committee may serve as the Outside Field Member. If the candidate has a minor, that field must be represented on the committee by a “Minor Field Member.” (See also Major Program and Minor Field under D.Ed.—Additional Specific Requirements in the University Bulletin.) This committee is appointed by the graduate dean through the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services, upon recommendation of the head of the major program, soon after the student is admitted to candidacy. The dean may on occasion appoint one or more members of the committee in addition to those recommended by the program chair. A person not affiliated with Penn State who has particular expertise in the candidate's research area may be added as a “Special Member,” upon recommendation by the head of the program and approval of the graduate dean (via the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services). A Special Member is expected to participate fully in the functions of the doctoral committee. If the Special Member is asked only to read and approve the doctoral dissertation, that person is designated a special signatory. Occasionally, special signatories may be drawn from within the Penn State faculty in particular situations.

The membership of doctoral committees should be periodically reviewed by the program chair to ensure that its members continue to qualify for service on the committee in their designated roles. For example, if appointments, employment at the University, etc., have changed since initial appointment to the committee, changes to the committee membership may be necessary. If changes are warranted, they should be made as soon as possible to prevent future problems that may delay academic progress for the student (e.g., ability to conduct the comprehensive or final examinations).

Chair -- The chair or at least one co-chair must be a member of the graduate faculty of the specific doctoral program in which the candidate is enrolled. A retired or emeritus faculty member may chair a doctoral committee if he/she began chairing the committee prior to retirement and has the continuing approval of the department head or program chair. The primary duties of the chair are: (1) to maintain the academic standards of the doctoral program and the Graduate School and assure that all procedures are carried out fairly, (2) to ensure that the comprehensive and final examinations are conducted in a timely fashion, (3) to arrange and conduct all meetings, and (4) to ensure that requirements set forth by the committee are implemented in the final version of the thesis.

Teaching by Non-members of the Graduate Faculty

Under special circumstances, on recommendation of the program chairperson and on approval of the dean of the Graduate School, individuals who are not members of the Graduate Faculty may be approved to teach specific 500- or 800-level courses. 

The Graduate Council

The Graduate Council is the representative body of the Graduate Faculty, with approximately forty-five Graduate Faculty members elected from established voting units and five graduate students elected through the Graduate Student Association. The dean of the Graduate School is a voting ex-officio member and serves as the chair of the council. Executive and administrative matters are the responsibility of the dean of the Graduate School.

The principal functions of the Graduate Council are to represent the University as a whole in controlling, through its curricular approval powers, the quality of graduate studies offered by the graduate units, to stimulate and encourage the offering of graduate work and the pursuit of research and creative activity, to help formulate the objectives of graduate programs, to inform and advise the President of the University and the executive vice president and provost of the University regarding all aspects of the University's graduate programs, and to facilitate the offering of interdepartmental and intercollegiate programs of graduate study and research, or other equivalent creative activity.

Detailed information about graduate programs can be found in the Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin. For additional information, contact the director of graduate education administration (phone 814-865-2518; e-mail L-GRAD-EDU-ADMIN@lists.psu.edu).