by Mark Larson | January 25, 2010
Often, a learner will express frustration with the committee nomination process, which can be daunting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is persistence when one receives rejection after rejection.
One day, it dawned on me that an organized approach might make the task a bit simpler. Now I tell my advisees to follow this plan when they reach the dissertation stage. I should mention that I am writing this for learners in the Harold Abel School of Psychology (HASOP), but the basic idea can be adapted to fit the process in any of Capella’s schools or, for that matter, the committee process in any educational institution. It is important to note that learners in HASOP nominate one committee member from their specialization and one from a different specialization, but within HASOP. Only HASOP faculty members can serve on HASOP dissertation committees. These two faculty members join the mentor to comprise the 3-person dissertation committee. Other schools’ committee makeup requirements differ.
Here are the steps:
One: Review bios of prospective candidates (Capella learners should use Mentor Bios not Faculty bios.) Consider individuals you have met along the way – course instructors you have had, colloquium session leaders, faculty members you have met or heard about from your fellow learners.
Two: Make two tandem lists – one for your specialization member and the other for the alternative specialization member. Consider six or so potential candidates for each list.
Three: Prioritize the two lists.
Four: Compose a short, three- to four-paragraph email in which you introduce yourself with a brief bio. Provide a paragraph about your proposed research. Mention who your mentor is and, finally, ask if the person to whom you are writing would consider becoming part of your committee.
Five: Send emails to the top two faculty members on the list. Keep in mind that faculty do not generally respond during quarter break, so be sure to start working on this process at the beginning of the quarter or once you successfully pass your comprehensive exam. It is not appropriate to send “blanket” emails to faculty, thus this must be a systematic process.
Six: Wait 3-4 days and if you have heard nothing, send a very polite email message restating your request. If you get rejections, send emails to the next individuals on the list.
Seven: Once you have two individuals who agree to serve, complete and submit the committee nomination form. Remember, you must have their permission to nominate them.
Not every committee nomination is automatically approved. Even when a faculty member agrees to serve on a committee, the specialization chair makes the final decision. There can be a number of reasons why a committee member might not be approved and the best advice is always to consult with an ALDA advisor