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Graduate Office Representative for Doctoral Committees

The Graduate Office Representative (GO Rep) is appointed for doctoral committees only, not master’s committees.  A GO Rep must be from outside the student’s doctoral program, and more specifically, cannot share an appointment in the same unit as the student’s dissertation committee chair.  The GO Rep’s role is to perform specific administrative duties on behalf of the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS).   

A GO Rep (and the entire dissertation committee) is appointed via the GO-16D form.  On the form, two suggestions for GO Rep should be presented, in priority order; the final selection of the GO Rep is determined by OGS.  In terms of identifying potential GO Reps, faculty in the student’s doctoral program are often the best source of knowledge about faculty expertise in related disciplines.  We recommend that the student contact a potential GO Rep and ask if he or she is willing to serve in this role before submitting the name as a suggestion on the GO-16D.  OGS expects a faculty member to have some experience serving on committees – preferably doctoral committees, but potentially master’s committees as well – before being appointed as a GO Rep for the first time.  If there is ever a question about faculty eligibility to serve as a GO Rep, feel free to contact OGS.

Duties of the GO Rep

All regular duties of a dissertation committee member: participate in the student’s dissertation proposal and final defense, including final vote on pass or fail; review drafts and provide feedback throughout the process; etc.

Perform administrative duties on behalf of OGS.

1. Ensure proper policies and procedures are followed.

“No proposal defense shall be valid without a dissertation committee approved by the Office of Graduate Studies” (2013-14 Bulletin, p. 69).  We ask that the GO Rep verify the committee has actually been appointed through OGS before the proposal defense takes place.  The GO Rep will know if this has happened based on receipt of the approved, electronic copy of the GO-16D from OGS.

“All appointed committee members, or alternates approved in advance by OGS, must be present for the proposal defense/final defense; one regular committee member (not the Chair or GO Rep) may participate via video or teleconference. The student must attend the proposal defense in person (i.e., not via video or teleconference).”  (2013-14 PSU Bulletin, p. 69-70).  We ask that the GO Rep ensure these policies are followed:

- Verify all committee members are present by using the GO-16D form previously received to “take roll.”

- “Alternates approved in advance” – if this happens, the GO Rep will receive email notification from OGS.  If there is a need for a last minute alternate (due to sudden illness, etc.), contact OGS about options BEFORE proceeding with the proposal/defense meeting.  

- Only one of the regular members – not the Chair, GO Rep, or student – can participate electronically. If there is a compelling reason to deviate from this policy, contact OGS for options.  

2. Ensure the student is receiving fair academic treatment.  While there are rarely issues of this nature, when needed this is a critical function of the GO Rep.  The GO Rep should contact OGS if there is an area of concern.  


Additional Considerations

We ask that a faculty member consider any potential conflict of interest before agreeing to serve as a GO Rep, especially as it pertains to the student or dissertation chair.  The reason a GO Rep must not be from the student’s doctoral program is so that he or she can serve as an “objective outsider” in the process.  If a faculty member who has been asked to serve as a GO Rep thinks there might be potential conflict of interest issues but is not sure, please contact OGS to discuss.  

We view a GO Rep appointment to be for the life of the student’s dissertation committee, and we ask that a potential GO Rep consider this before agreeing to serve.