Program Administration

Overview

The doctoral programs (and the Liberal Studies master's program) of The Graduate Center are administered by an Executive Officer appointed by the president after consultation with faculty and students in the program. Each program has such standing committees as the Graduate Center Governance Document [PDF] and the program's governance may require; these committees, made up of faculty and students, make recommendations to the Executive Officer on faculty membership, curricular matters, admissions and awards, and elections.

The Executive Officer is the chief academic and administrative officer of a program. Subject to the Graduate Center Governance document, the program's governance document, and the general principles established by the program's Executive Committee, the Executive Officer is responsible for ensuring that the academic and administrative policies of The Graduate Center are applied fairly and supportively to each applicant and to each enrolled student in the program, as well as to the program's faculty and staff.


Meetings and Elections

The Executive Officer, as chair of the Executive Committee, calls meetings of the program faculty at least once a year and student meetings at least once per semester. Student elections (for membership on Graduate Council, the Doctoral Students' Council, and program standing committees) should be held as specified in the Governance document.

Elections of faculty and student program representatives to Graduate Council are required to be conducted annually, before April 1st, by an election committee in each program; the basic formula is one faculty and one student representative for each hundred or fewer matriculated students (Graduate Council Bylaws, Sections 2.1A-D). All matriculated students are eligible to be elected to the Council. Neither faculty members nor students on leave of absence are eligible to serve. The procedure for electing new faculty and student representatives is as follows: in each program the Executive Committee establishes an election committee consisting of the Executive Officer, three faculty members, and three student members. This committee has responsibility for nomination and election procedures. Faculty members vote for faculty representatives only; students vote for student members only.


Student Recruitment and Retention

Faculty involvement in both recruitment and retention of graduate students, particularly ethnic minority students, should be encouraged. Low rates of participation in graduate education by African Americans, American Indians, Latinos, and Puerto Ricans are a problem which The Graduate Center is committed to addressing. Programs should evaluate how financial aid distribution contributes to both recruitment and retention of students and develop explicit policies on how these resources are best used. The program's Admissions and Awards Committee plays a central role in this effort.

Programs should also consider how socialization into the program and into the discipline occurs for their students. Mentoring and social support might be provided for students through a number of mechanisms: seminar groups related to special research interests, required research involvement with faculty, workshops for professional activities such as conference presentations, and so forth. Consult with Professsor Herman Bennett, Executive Officer, Educational Opportunity and Diversity Programs (212 817-7540), on recruitment and retention issues.


Financial Aid

In consultation with the program's Admission and Awards Committee, the EO has responsibility for the distribution of the program's financial aid allocation, including Graduate Assistantships. Information on estimated educational costs, detailed descriptions of the financial aid programs, and information on application procedures and filing dates are available from the Financial Aid Office. The Graduate Center Bulletin and its prospectus, "Doctoral Study," provide an overview of financial aid awards, including named fellowships, available to Graduate Center students. See the Financial Assistance web page for information.


Student Progress and Mentoring

One of the chief administrative challenges at The Graduate Center is maintaining a faculty and student body community by fostering positive faculty-student relations (and student life) under CUNY consortial arrangements within the complex New York City environment. This challenge is shared by the entire administration but overseen at the program level primarily by the Executive Officer and his or her designees. It encompasses a range of responsibilities, including ensuring that proper academic advisement takes place, monitoring student progress, interpreting policies and procedures, and identifying solutions to problem situations. The Executive Officer is the principal link between students and faculty and the academic and administrative offices of The Graduate Center.

Cluster groups of Executive Officers have suggested a list of "best practices" that could aid in mentoring students. See the PDF file "Recommendations and Best Practices." The pamphlet "Research Student and Supervisor: An Approach to Good Supervisory Practice" (Washington, DC: Council of Graduate Schools, 1990 [reprinted 1995]; available in the Provost's Office and in Student Affairs) has helpful information; see also Faculty for further material about the monograph. The "Final Report and Recommendations of the President's Task Force on Mentoring" is available from the Provost's Office and Dean for Humanities and Social Sciences.


FERPA

New federal regulations (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) require that any information about students that may be considered personal or private should not appear on publicly accessible web pages without the students' prior written consent. An information release form must be used to secure students' consent to display their personal information on a program's web site. Click here to download the FERPA release form.  Questions should be directed to Ms. Sharon Lerner or Mr. Matthew Schoengood, Vice President for Student Affairs.


Student Files

This section offers information and guidance about the rules that apply to the content of student files and access to these files.

1. What can a student see?
Students have the right to see everything in their student files except letters of reference (e.g., contained in a copy of the admissions application) if a student has waived in writing the right to see a given letter. Note that students are permitted to see their examinations and reader comments whether kept in individual student files or in a departmental student "Exam" file.

2. What can a student have copies of?
The program may release copies of anything in student files other than copies of transcripts (from the GC or elsewhere) and copies of reference letters that the student has waived in writing the right to see. With regard to copies of completed examinations, the program may release copies of student examinations unless it is the policy of the program not to do so.

3. What about subpoenas?
All files, documents, e-mails, etc., of any kind, can be required to be produced pursuant to a subpoena. If a program receives a subpoena for student records, it should be delivered to the Vice President for Student Affairs as soon as possible.

4. What belongs in the student's file or files?
All documents pertaining to a student's academic status and his or her progress to the degree belong in the student's file. This includes official records (e.g., copies of registration forms, satisfactory progress forms, grade changes, evidence of completion of different requirements) and official communications about the student (e.g., letters requesting advancement, financial aid information). All official communications to the student and from the student belong in the file.

5. What is not appropriate to place in a student file?
Only final documents (e.g., letters, forms), and not drafts, belong in student files (whether filed by student name or general category). An exception would be drafts of student papers if they would pertain to issues of status, advisement, and progress and would be useful to have on file.

Notes on the EO's opinion of or thoughts about a student - as distinct from official academic evaluations - are not appropriate to include in student files. Notes that are descriptive and objective, such as the content of an advisement discussion the EO had with the student, or a report about an incident, can be included. Such notes or memos must be strict reporting, however, without interpretation.

Material that is legally required to be kept confidential or more private than other material (e.g., on a "need-to-know" basis), such as disability or medical information, must be retained in a separate, confidential file to which there is no general access. This is still part of a "student file," but must be maintained in a manner to protect confidentiality. Thus, for example, if a student has a disability, information about it would not appear in the student's general folder where any faculty member or someone preparing a fellowship recommendation would have unnecessary access to it.

For any questions about whether or not a specific document can go into a student's file, please contact Vice President for Student Affairs Matthew Schoengood (212 817-7400).