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Graduate Assistant Supervisors

Supervisor Roles and Responsibilities

Graduate assistantships serve a dual purpose for students, they are a source of funding for graduate education and they are an opportunity to learn by working with faculty and professional staff in the academic environment. For departments and supervisors graduate assistants provide the opportunity to enhance our work whether it is doing more research or offering more classes, more services, or more learning opportunities to our undergraduate and graduate students. The benefits of a graduate assistantship are meant to flow in both directions.

Developing a positive and productive supervisory relationship with your graduate assistant is one way to ensure this balance. Each supervisor brings his or her own style and skills to the supervisory relationship and each student brings his or her own skills, abilities, and needs and the working relationship will take time to build.

The following suggestions might assist you in getting off to a good start:

  1. Meet with your GA to review the responsibilities of the position and your expectations of the GA, including professional conduct, department/office culture, work hours, and productivity. Supervisors should also identify their expectations of GA work hours during semester breaks.
  2. Introduce the GA to the people with whom they will be working in your area and other important contacts.
  3. Identify the resources available to the GA for their work, such as; desk space, computers, printers, phones, mailbox, paper, pens, etc.
  4. Discuss how you and your GA will communicate. Will it be via email, phone, weekly or monthly meetings or a combination of methods? Clearly establish the boundaries for communication for both of you, i.e. what is the preferred method and how often.
  5. Encourage skill development. In addition to working with you to develop new skills, there are a number of resources available on campus for GA’s, including the School of Graduate Studies GA orientation, workshops offered by LR&TS on library research and workshops through Informedia Services (IMS) on software use.
  6. Establish how the GA will know if they are successful. How will you provide feedback on what is going well and what needs improvement. When will this feedback be provided and in what manner? Included in the handbook is a template for GA Evaluation. Departments are encouraged to develop their own evaluations related to the position responsibilities and professional or disciplinary expectations.

It is everyone’s intention that a graduate assistantship be a positive and productive learning experience for everyone involved. On occasion a graduate assistantship will not work out. The School of Graduate Studies can be contacted to address complaints or assist with mediation; supervisors can terminate GA’s for cause as listed on page three of the Handbook; or elect not to renew a contract.

GA’s may also resign from positions. GA’s must provide two weeks’ notice to the department.