Are You A Graduate Coordinator?

Welcome! As a graduate coordinator you are the first point of contact for both graduate students and the Office of Graduate Studies. To help you in your new position, below is some important information you will need to know.

General Information

Learn, Familiarize Yourself with and Know:

  • The Calendar regulations of your own program(s)
  • The Calendar regulations for Master's and Doctoral (PhD) programs in the Graduate Studies section
  • The CUPE Collective Agreement, especially section 16.03.b which deals with the types of duties that can be assigned to Graduate Assistantships (GA's) and the number of hours of work permitted per week
  • All sections of Graduate Studies website pages, especially:
    • the "forms" section where you will find most if, not all, the forms requiring your attention
    • the supervision policy that outlines best practices between supervisor and student
  • The various sources of graduate student funding (both tri-council and other bodies) and the deadlines for application
  • All Graduate Studies policies
  • Contact coordinates of all graduate students in your program
  • Emergency numbers to call for Security
  • The contact number for Student Health Services on campus
  • The Ontario Council on Graduate Studies (OCGS) website, as well as OCGS By-Laws and Procedures. This is especially important if your unit will be undergoing OCGS appraisal as you will be responsible for writing the 3 volume OCGS Brief (with the aid of the Office of Graduate Studies.)
  • Each graduate program needs to prepare a pre-OCGS Report in the year prior to an OCGS appraisal. (See section 1.B.1.b. of the Academic Plan)
  • To never provide any "official" correspondence for visa purposes. Canadian embassies will accept only official letters of offer, including conditional offers of admission, for the purpose of issuing visas

Seasonal Tasks

As you represent your graduate program at the Faculty of Graduate Studies Council and because you are responsible for developing a graduate culture within your program, you need to perform a number of "seasonal tasks". Details by season are provided below.

Summer

  • For incoming students: maintain contact via email or telephone, ensuring that ambivalent students make Lakehead their final choice. Recruitment continues until students arrive and begin their studies in Thunder Bay. At that point, retention efforts should begin
  • Establish an email distribution list for all graduate students in your program and set aside a bulletin board in the Department for posters and brochures
  • Begin planning a welcome orientation event for the first week of term. Some programs have a party at a faculty member's house, others organize a pizza and beer cash bar in the Faculty lounge or The Study, some organize a special outing. The specifics are unimportant. What is significant is:
    • to establish a "culture of appreciation" from the very outset
    • to introduce new students to continuing students and to professors
    • ensuring that no student (especially those from away) are isolated
  • Complete Graduate Assistantship (GA) assignments well before the students arrive on campus and inform students via email who their supervisors will be and what their duties will entail. We wish to avoid the unprofessional situation of students needing to ask in late Fall who their supervisors are. Be sure to complete and return the Graduate Assistant Statement of Work (PDF) to the Office of Graduate Studies by September 30

Fall

  • Ensure that all students in your program are registered and have completed the necessary paperwork for their GA funding and scholarships
  • Organize a discipline-specific skills workshop. You may wish to use the services of Instructional Development Centre or the Office of Graduate Studies. For new students this workshop should include mentoring in the complexities of applying to the tri-councils (grant writing skills); for continuing students this workshop (or another one altogether) should be devoted to issues such as preparing a poster for presentation or a manuscript for submission to a conference or a journal, applications to PhD programs, resume writing, etc. The keyword is "Mentor." As graduate coordinator, your primary responsibility is to mentor (or to organize mentoring for) graduate students throughout their learning experience
  • Familiarize yourself with the internal deadline and processes for the external grant application cycle (October 15). Be informed about your own program's ranking protocols and ensure they are completed in a timely fashion. Be hyper-sensitive to deadlines as late applications are simply NOT accepted by the Office of Graduate Studies
    • For students: ensure that your students have access to faculty editors when writing their grant application--a faculty member who will read and edit grant applications before they arrive in the Office of Graduate Studies
    • For faculty colleagues: remind them that the best reference letters are longer than one sentence, are not hand-written and do not dwell on a student's shortcomings. That is: mentor your colleagues about how to construct a strong and positive letter of reference. When in doubt, ask at the Office of Graduate Studies
  • Begin Recruitment planning for the next year (it starts this early!) Develop a poster or program brochure with the aid of the Office of Graduate Studies (we'll ensure that information is OCGS approved); update the program website; develop a form letter about the program and send copies to colleagues elsewhere; ensure that your program colleagues are aware of these materials and that they bring these brochures and/or posters to conferences and symposia
  • Familiarize yourself with the application and admission process for the following year. Be sure that your program has a Graduate Studies Committee in place who will handle, in a timely fashion, the applications when they begin to arrive in late Fall, early Winter
  • Ensure that every student has been assigned at least one notional supervisor and supervisory committee by the end of their first term at Lakehead

Winter

  • Familiarize yourself with the Time Extension and Leave of Absence regulations
  • Recruit. Don't hesitate to email or telephone prospective students. You should not make a firm offer of admission or funding yourself (to avoid liability issues), but do be clear that you will be recommending admission and/or funding support to the Office of Graduate Studies and that the student should feel free to contact you again for more details if needed. Remember: recruitment is much more than opening the mail
  • Encourage your program's GSC to make decisions in a timely fashion. Remember that April 15 is the "claw back" date--the day all unused GA's and unoffered scholarship dollars are taken back by the Office of Graduate Studies from individual programs and redistributed to those programs that have a reversion list. (Keep a reversion list!)

Spring

  • If your program uses External Examiners for the Master's thesis you will need to coordinate and implement the mail outs, reports etc. The Office of Graduate Studies coordinates external examiners only for PhD dissertations
  • Review the milestones reached and capstone projects completed for each graduate student in your program to ensure timely completion of the degree. "Times to Completion" are a critical indicator for the MTCU in determining University funding. If your program does not have a coherent set of milestones and deadline dates you may wish to consider introducing these progress indicators
  • Delegate a replacement for yourself during vacation periods, conferences, and so on. Be sure to inform the Office of Graduate Studies of the name of your replacement