Graduate Chair Responsibilities

Role and Responsibility of the Graduate Program Chair

The Chair of a Graduate Program will be a strong supporter of the graduate studies enterprise as demonstrated through a commitment to disciplinary and interdisciplinary training excellence. The Chair will demonstrate leadership qualities in developing and promoting an outstanding training environment for graduate students.

In reporting to the Senate Graduate Studies Committee, and the Dean of Graduate Studies under delegated authority, on all matters pertaining to graduate studies, the Chair of a Graduate Program connects the unit’s graduate studies program to the full graduate enterprise at the university. 

The Chair is a member of the unit’s graduate program committee. With administrative assistance from the unit’s graduate secretary, the committee has oversight over the full graduate program, including recruitment, enrolment, funding management, disciplinary quality assurance in graduate learning outcomes, and the overall graduate student experience. 

Specific unit or departmental Graduate Program Chair responsibilities:

  1. chair the unit’s (department, school, faculty) graduate program committee
  2. chair or participate on the Faculty’s graduate program committee
  3. ensure SFU general graduate regulations and all additional within-unit SGSC-approved academic performance criteria are followed, and that all such governance is well articulated to all current and prospective students, faculty and staff
  4. seek ways to improve the overall graduate student experience, foster a collegial and professional culture of working toward excellence within the unit, including regular review and critique of the unit’s graduate programming (such as the unit’s plan for the graduate program that is included in the regular unit review and its interim progress report);  graduate enrollment (including recruitment, sustainable levels, program quality), funding, orientation, time to completion, graduate learning outcomes as a direct result of programming, success of graduates, etc.)
  5. ensure the productive and efficient progress of all graduate students in the unit, from recruitment through degree completion
  6. ensure open lines of communication exist between graduate students and their supervisors, as well as other faculty members as required, and develop capacity and experience within the unit to facilitate solutions to graduate studies related disagreements within the unit
  7. ensure that new faculty are mentored with respect to best practices regarding the training of graduate students, and similarly, ensure that all graduate students receive timely and necessary mentorship for success in their graduate programs
  8. chair all unit thesis defenses
  9. organize workshops on disciplinary skill sets, professional skills (for example, organize and lead discipline-based scholarship application writing workshops), and encourage student, staff, and faculty participation in professional development workshops such as those organized by the Teaching and Learning Centre
  10. oversee the management of funding within the graduate program, including internal SFU funds (graduate fellowships, private awards), external funds (advertise opportunities, coordinate the review and ranking of tricouncil scholarship applications), and unit’s assignment of TA/TM positions
  11. oversee the unit’s nomination of students/theses to external competitions. For example, coordinate the review of unit’s theses nominated in thesis award competitions such as CAGS, Tricouncil, Governor General’s Medal nomination, Convocation Medal nomination
  12. lead or assist the unit’s process to identify a faculty member who will next assume the position of graduate program chair, ideally 2 years in advance, and take a lead in the training of that individual