DOGS Responsibilities

In General, the DOGS serves as a emissary of the Graduate Dean to each department. The DOGS should serve in a capacity to ensure the success of the graduate students from recruitment through graduation. The DOGS should be an advocate for support of graduate students in each department, and should have a passion for improving the success of each graduate and professional degree program.

Formally speaking, the DOGS are only mentioned in the Graduate Handbook surrounding the Degree requirements as approving the supervisory committees (if the department chair does not do it). Other than that, there are no duties that are formally written in policies.

However, in practice the DOGS does many things to ensure the success of the graduate and professional students. These may vary from department to department, but in general the DOGS performs most of these tasks:

1) The DOGS keeps track of Departmental graduate handbook, and keeps it up to date. The Departmental Graduate handbook is the manual for incoming and current graduate students, and it generally contains:

  • typical course sequences
  • exam requirements, including expectations for format, duration, etc. for the  qualifying exams and other preliminary exams
  • minimum course loads
  • procedures for  requesting financial support from the department
  • expectations for TAs and RAs
  • resources for graduate students who are just beginning their research
  • departmental policies on number of years maximum for a degree
  • formal guidelines for dispute resolution
  • formal policies on graduate student family leave
  • formal policy on orderly dismissal of graduate students

The graduate handbook should contain everything a student needs to navigate through graduate school successfully.

2) Meets informally as needed with graduate students to resolve issues, especially for students who appear to be stuck and not making progress towards finding a research supervisor, completing degree, etc.

3) Maintaining a departmental web page (or web page content) for graduate students.

4) Making students aware of fellowship and scholarship and travel support available (either at departmental, University, or external levels).

5) Keeps track of changes in university policies regarding graduate student support, and ensures department chair is aware of important changes that may affect graduate student support in the department.

6) Help resolve issues of graduate student support when they inadvertently `fall through the cracks’ of a policy.

7) Attend the DOGS meetings and participate in discussions of graduate student support across campus and help to motivate campus wide change, when needed.  This also includes clarification of Graduate School policy when it is unclear.

8) Run a yearly graduate student town meeting to assess issues in the department that are affecting graduate students, and provide feedback as appropriate to chairs, deans, to solve any identified problems.

9) Respond to future students inquiries regarding degree and program offerings, and assist with new student recruitment. This may involve one-on-one meetings with students and tours of the department (or organizing faculty and staff to provide such tours). Some departments have separate graduate recruitment committees; the DOGS might serve on this committee.

10) Organization of graduate admissions, including selection of students, assignment of TA/GA offers, etc.   Some departments have separate committee to handle admissions where the DOGS serves as a member of the committee.

11) Run/organize orientation sessions for incoming graduate students.

12) Attend public thesis defense meetings, thesis proposal meetings for al graduate students. The purpose is to assess student outcomes over longer period of time by sampling the final product of the graduate degree program consistently. This occurs sometimes in smaller departments, where it is feasible. It is difficult for a single DOGS to attend all thesis defenses in a large department; other strategies might be used.

This list is not exhaustive. There may be additional departmental or college wide responsibilities added to the list by the department chair and/or dean. To balance workload, some of the above items might get assigned to somebody else in the department (except 7: the DOGS is required to attend the monthly DOGS meeting).

The Graduate School does not mandate additional support for a person who is the Director of Graduate Studies in a department. Instead, many departments will generally reduce the level of other committee assignments for the DOGS. It is usually a good idea to maintain the same DOGS for multiple years (3 year terms are typical) so that there is some continuity and expertise built up in the department.