Subject: [faculty] On the importance of supervision of graduate and undergraduate students
From: "Soren P. Sorensen"
Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2006 13:58:48 -0400
To: "Physics Faculty"

To:      Tenured, tenure track, joint, research, and adjunct faculty in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
From:   Soren
Date:    September 19, 2006
 

On the importance of supervision of graduate

and undergraduate students.

 
The quality of the graduate program is of vital importance to the mission of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Recently we have seen several indications of the success of the graduate program: we have more students than in many, many years (this fall 99 graduate students), the quality of the students also seem to be increasing, and we have more American applicants than usual.

However, the success of the graduate program depends primarily on the quality and availability of the student supervision. It is the lack of full availability of this supervision that is the reason for this memo, since it seems difficult for many of our students to find supervisors for doctoral and masters research work. And it is even more difficult for some students to find supervisors able to pay for Graduate Research Assistantships.

I have therefore found it necessary to write this memo to clarify the expectations of the Department with respect to the faculty’s supervision of graduate and undergraduate students. If any of you have any issues with this clarification of the Department’s expectations, please discuss it with me. If needed, I will be happy to discuss these expectations at a faculty meeting.

a)      It is the expectation that every faculty member (tenured, tenure track, joint, and adjunct faculty) supervises graduate students at any given time.

b)      It is the expectation that every faculty member obtains external funding that will help supporting Graduate Research Assistantships for supervised students, at least during the research phase of their graduate studies. It is also the expectation that all faculty who obtain external funding budget appropriate support for graduate students, if the grant proposal solicitation allows for this.

c)      It is the expectation that every faculty member will be willing to work with both doctoral and masters students, and will be willing to work with students at all acceptable levels of qualifications. (In other words, you can not just expect to work with super students and reject other students.) If a graduate student consistently does not perform at an acceptable level, as judged by the supervisor, the student’s committee, and the Director of the Graduate Program, the faculty member’s supervision and financial support can be terminated.

d)      It is the expectation that every faculty member is willing to work with interested and motivated undergraduate students in undergraduate research participation.

e)      Faculty who does not meet the expectations for research supervision will be expected to teach substantially more lecture classes than the 1+1 teaching workload.

f)        Faculty who does not meet these expectations for research supervision can only expect to receive a “meets expectations” annual evaluation for their teaching contribution if they excel in the quality and quantity of their classroom teaching.

g)      Adjunct faculty who does not meet these expectations for research supervision can in general not expect to get their adjunct status renewed unless there are other compelling reasons for their adjunct position, like bringing substantial external funding to the Department or providing unique research capabilities that substantially benefits the Department.


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  Soren P. Sorensen    Department of Physics
  Professor and Head   University of Tennessee
                       Knoxville, TN 37996-1200

  TEL: 865-974-7805    sorensen@utk.edu
  FAX: 865-974-7843    http://www.phys.utk.edu/sorensen
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