The inclusion of a Graduate Faculty Representative (GFR) on a student’s advisory committee is based on a model used by a number of major research institutions in the United States. It was a proactive decision on the part of the UNC Charlotte Graduate Council and the Graduate School at the time doctoral education began at the University to include a GFR on all doctoral advisory committees. The purpose of the GFR is to not only protect student rights and uphold University standards and policies, but also provide all graduate faculty members the opportunity to participate in doctoral education. By including a GFR on the advisory committee, graduate faculty members in areas that do not offer the doctoral degree have the opportunity to participate in the doctoral education process.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What does the Graduate Faculty Representative do?
The exact duties of the GFR will vary depending upon the procedures utilized by the graduate student’s program. For example, a number of programs add the graduate faculty member to the student’s committee at the time of the dissertation proposal. The GFR will participate in the dissertation proposal defense, the development and review of the dissertation research, and the defense of the dissertation. Other programs will add a GFR to the student’s program committee. In these instances, the GFR will be involved in evaluating the student’s work throughout the program and be a member of the dissertation committee. Regardless of the particular program’s orientation, the GFR will have the opportunity to contribute to the committee’s activities on an equal basis with the discipline-based faculty members and will have the added responsibilities of upholding University policies and protecting the student’s rights.
2. How do you choose which Graduate Faculty member to ask to serve on a doctoral committee?
As the GFR's major responsibilities are procedural and not content oriented, there are no specific criteria for the appointment to doctoral committes except regular membership on the graduate faculty. However, any faculty selected to serve as the GFR should have served on other committees previously. As the role is designed, in part, to protect the process and the student, new faculty unfamiliar with the process are not well suited to this role. The Graduate School has endeavored to provide the greatest possible participation from all departments and colleges.
3. Is the Graduate Faculty Representative a voting member of the doctoral student’s advisory committee?
Yes. The GFR is a voting member of the Doctoral Committee and has the same standing on the Committee as the members representing the student’s discipline.
4. How is representing the Graduate Faculty on aN advisory committee factored into my workload? does the faculty member Receive any "credit" for being involved?
The questions related to faculty workload and credit are best answered by the college, school and/or department rather than the Graduate School. However, it is the position of the Graduate School that when one becomes a graduate faculty member, one incurs an obligation to participate in graduate education. Serving as a GFR to a doctoral advisory committee allows participation at the highest educational level offered by the University. It also provides faculty members in colleges and departments that are considering the developing doctoral program the opportunity to gain firsthand experience that may be useful in developing the written policies and procedures that guide the anticipated doctoral program.
5. How much time is involved with being a Graduate Faculty Representative on a doctoral committee?
It is difficult to predict the exact amount of time required as each committee is unique. The GFR’s major responsibilities lie in (1) assuring that the doctoral student is treated fairly and impartially by his or her advisory committee, and (2) assuring that University standards and policies are upheld. However, since the GFR is also a full voting member of the committee, they are expected to participate in all of the committee activities to the extent that their background allows.