thanks for crunch info; new: advisor evaluations

Sarah Boomer sarai at
Sat Sep 14 12:20:20 EST 1996

Hello again,

Thanks for all the helpful tales of funding stories in other departments -
it has been enlightening!  Given the variety of stories I've heard,
I have yet another question for the group that has been buggin' me.

A few years ago when I was grad. student president, I was approached by
one of the students who really wanted to see some sort of mechanism in
place to evaluate advisors.  This individual handed me all sorts of
documents that were being used by another science dept. on campus,
apparently with great success.  There were all kinds of anonymity clauses
and rules if, say, there was just one student in the lab (such that the
boss would know who was writing what), and it seemed like a useful thing.
I, unfortunately, do not know how or when the system was set up but the
chair was instrumental and definitely is very concerned about student

At the time, I was working carefully with faculty and students on
redefining qualifying exams and felt like even that gentle boat-rocking
was enough.  I did approach several fellow students on the matter and the
result was - yes, that would be great but it was too political!  And so I
tried to do my best to subtly incorporate only ideas about  improving
student/faculty communication as part of the student-defined proposal for
the qual's.

I have since wondered extensively about how other dept's (if other dept's)
have any formal mechanisms for allowing students to evaluate advisors
(we're talking grad. students here!). My personal feeling too is that
students often float through grad. school, seldom themselves being
formally evaluated (I think, for example, there is some written rule that
says students are supposed to receive a note from their boss about
progress every year but I haven't received anything like that since I got
here!).  These were the kinds of things the students wanted and I tried to
address better during my "political stint."

So - my questions:

Anyone out there using (successfully or otherwise) a more formal
evaluation system between student and advisor (both ways, or just one)?

Anyone out there been involved in the set-up of a faculty-evaluation
system?  I still feel a little weenie for not having the gaul to even
suggest it - am I paranoid or do the PIs especially think that would be
too political?

Given that I'm graduating shortly (yipee!), I'm more interested in this
personally - but the student who suggested this is still around and
thinks about it (we chatted about it yet again the other day).  I thought
I'd bounce this off the group and see what people think!


Sarah Boomer				email:  sarai at
Dept. of Microbiology			work phone:  543-3376
Box 357242				work FAX:  543-3376
University of Washington
Seattle, WA  98195

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