Dean's Representative FAQ


What is a Dean’s Representative (DR), and what are the responsibilities she or he performs?

Although adherence to policy is the concern of all graduate committee members, it is the special responsibility of the Dean's Representative (DR) who represents the Graduate School and the university to ensure that all policies and procedures of the Graduate School and the department are followed and to see that the final milestones in the doctoral program—the general examination and the dissertation defense—take place in an orderly, transparent, and equitable manner.  Serving as a Dean's Representative is a basic responsibility of all Graduate Faculty for the university-wide academic community. 

The Dean’s Representative (DR) is a full member of the doctoral committee. The DR must be appointed to the committee at the time the general examination is scheduled, and must receive all scheduling requests and materials pertaining to the general examination and the dissertation in the same timely manner as the rest of the committee members.

Although it is possible that the DR may be knowledgeable and take an active role in the student’s dissertation, that is by no means a requirement. The DR should plan to attend the general examination and the final dissertation defense, each of which averages two hours. Reading the dissertation is a choice by the DR, not a requirement.

Although we anticipate the DR responding to a brief survey in future, the DR is welcome at any time to contact the Dean of the Graduate School (whether by telephone, letter, email or a visit) with comments, concerns, or suggestions. 

For an overview, see Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree.


How much time is involved in serving as a Dean’s Representative?

The role of the DR is not very time consuming.  Doctoral exams typically last about 2 hours, although some will run longer.  Prior to the exam date, the DR may choose to spend some time reading the materials provided by the student.  Students occasionally will request advice from the DR regarding dissertation preparation.  The DR will determine how much time is needed in providing support to a student requesting advice from his or her DR.


In serving as a Dean’s Representative, am I required to have any knowledge related to the student’s field of research?

No.  Background experience related to the student’s discipline and research is not a requirement to serve as DR.  The DR’s primary responsibility is to ensure the integrity of the examination procedures by serving as a committee member and observer from an outside department.


As a Dean’s Representative, will I have any materials to prepare?

No.  As noted above, reading exams or the dissertation is the option of the DR, not a requirement.   


How often do I have to serve as DR?

There is no set minimum for service to the scholarly community as a DR.   Your own schedule and interests will determine whether or not you accept each invitation.  You will probably be asked to serve about once every 2-4 semesters.  If the requests can't be met, you will be asked until we find an opportunity that serves your schedule and interests as well as the student's needs. 


What if I have particular fields in which I'm interested in serving as DR, or I enjoy serving as DR and want to do so more often?

Please let our DR specialist know of your preferences, and we will make every attempt to accommodate your interests and your willingness to serve. In addition, examination committee chairs and doctoral students themselves may suggest DRs.


Will my chair or dean know that I have served as a DR?

The Graduate School will send you a letter of thanks for your service, which is routinely copied to your chair.  Please be sure to note your service as a DR, however, in your annual report. 


What are my responsibilities as a DR?

The DR should

  • Assure that all the committee members are present before starting.
  • Confirm that the remote participation policy is followed: this states that no more than one committee member may remotely participate, and this remote participation must have been approved in writing by the Graduate Dean.
  • Assure that there is a completed dissertation that has been circulated to all committee members at least two weeks in advance.
  • Assure that the pass/fail/retest policy is followed.
  • Report if student and/or DR are not treated respectfully.
  • Serve (for purposes of continuity), whenever possible, at both the examination and dissertation meetings.
  • If unable to attend a milestone exam, inform the chair of the committee and the Graduate School as soon as possible so that a replacement can be found in a timely manner.


What should I do as a DR if I find that any of the above conditions haven’t been met?

The DR is authorized to cancel or reschedule the examination. The DR should inform the chair of the committee and the Graduate School immediately in such an event.