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Assistantships

Applicants for graduate assistantships must demonstrate promise, particularly in their work for the B.A. degree. Decisions on the awarding of assistantships are made by the department’s Graduate Committee. The committee normally makes the awards by March 15 of each year for the subsequent fall semester. All applicants to the program are assessed for their potential as assistants, but to ensure consideration for the limited number of assistantships, the application for admission should be submitted to the Graduate School by January 20 (that is, a month prior to the February 20 application deadline).

The graduate coordinator will hold an orientation session for new teaching assistants during the week preceding the first day of fall-semester classes. Appointments to assistantships are normally made for one year, with renewal based on satisfactory performance. Nevertheless, each assistant’s academic performance and work as an assistant shall be reviewed at the end of every semester by the graduate program coordinator. In cases of demonstrated incompetence and/or malfeasance, as judged by the Graduate Committee, the department may discontinue an assistantship after a single semester. Assistantships may also be granted under particular conditions, such as for a single semester due to budgetary limitations. All reappointments are contingent on satisfactory performance as a student and graduate assistant, but other considerations, notably budgetary circumstances or the quality of applicants for first-time appointment, may influence department decisions.

Satisfactory performance as an assistant means appropriately professional performance of the assigned duties noted below. The department strongly discourages assistants from accepting major employment outside the department.

At all times assistants should remember that they are representatives of the department to undergraduate students and others in the university community and therefore should act and present themselves accordingly.

Assistants are also expected to participate in the department-sponsored programs and lectures, including the department seminars.

Satisfactory performance as a graduate assistant means maintenance of timely progress toward receiving the degree. This includes continuing registration in accordance with the regulations for seminar, course, and thesis work as noted above in this “Guide.” Assistants must enroll for a minimum of 9 credit hours each semester, of which at least 6 hours must be course and seminar work. After completion of the coursework, all 9 credit hours may be HIST 8910.

Assistants who receive a grade of lower than “B” in any graduate course, or assistants who have been placed by the Graduate School on academic probation, will have their assistantships terminated. The assistant, before taking a grade of incomplete (“I”), must discuss the matter with the graduate program coordinator. Receiving an “I” is discouraged and the carrying of two simultaneous grades of “I” will normally be construed as unsatisfactory progress toward the degree and may be cause for termination of the assistantship.

Duties of Graduate Assistants
Graduate assistants work 20 hours per week in the department. They mainly grade papers and otherwise assist professors in freshman-level courses; a few of their hours are also given to research and other similar duties for department faculty. The graduate program coordinator assigns the graduate assistants to the supervising professor whereupon the latter is in charge of assigning particular duties within the guidelines noted below. Except in cases where these guidelines have been violated demonstrably, the Graduate Committee will not ordinarily hear grievances which individual assistants may have against the judgment or policies of supervising professors.

The Graduate Committee and department chair have approved the following guidelines for graduate assistants serving solely as graders and for the professors for whom they grade:

  1. The assistant shall attend each class for which he or she is grading, taking careful note of the material presented by the professor (if the assistant is grading for two sections of the same course taught by the same professor, the assistant need attend lecture only once).
  2. The assistant shall also keep roll for such classes, if the professor requests it.
  3. Before each examination or quiz to be graded, the professor shall meet with the assistant, briefing him/her on how to grade each question.
  4. The professor shall spot check exams or quizzes graded by the assistant and, before returning the exams or quizzes to the student, make necessary corrections.
  5. The assistant shall keep at least two office hours per week, the times of which are posted, for consultation with students.
  6. The professor, and not the assistant, shall assign the final course grade.
  7. The professor, during the last week of regular classes in the semester, shall prepare the department graduate program coordinator a one or two page written evaluation of the assistant’s performance as a grader.
  8. Although it is not required, the assistant may prepare at the semester’s end for the department chair a written evaluation of the professor for whom the assistant graded (a copy must also go to the professor evaluated).
  9. Additionally, assistants who serve as graders for a large freshman-level section of Western Civilization or American History, shall work two hours per week in the department as general assistants, with such responsibilities as proctoring exams, showing films, and grading objective tests; assistants who serve as graders for the smaller survey sections shall work five hours per week as research assistants. One assistant among the latter will be assigned to help with HIST 1980 and will receive credit for four hours work per week towards his/her research duties.
  10. Additionally, assistants shall work two hours per week in the department with such responsibilities as proctoring exams and showing films. One assistant among the latter will be assigned to help with HIST 1980 when it is offered and be relieved of any additional duties.

Other Types of Assistantships
On rare occasions the department is able to award assistantships paid for by agencies outside the department or university. Normally, such assistantships require research work done for the agencies or organizations providing the stipend.