Getting a Sponsor

Finding a faculty sponsor is probably the most difficult stage of the Seven Steps – but relax, it’s still not that hard, provided that you start looking for a sponsor early. Here are the main requirements a prospective sponsor must fulfill:

  • Must be an instructor of recorda lecturer or a faculty member (GSIs don’t count, sorry).
  • Can only sponsor one DeCal per semester.

Approaching a Prospective Sponsor

The Easy Way: Approach your favorite professor whom you already know. Talk to them after class, send them a polite and casual e-mail, or bring it up during their office hours. Since they know you and trust you, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. A match made in heaven.

The Less Easy Way: You have no idea where to start, so try looking up a contact in the department and ask them about prospective faculty sponsors. Hopefully you’ll be able to form a list of candidates – from there, e-mail or call the person first and see if they have any interest. Then visit them in their office hours with a syllabus and/or lesson plan(s) – you want to prove that you’re competent, intelligent, and that you won’t let them down. It also helps if you have most of the Special Studies form already filled out.

Sponsor Responsibilities

First, understand that faculty members are busy people. They have their own research, their own courses, their own problems – so be nice to them and don’t expect too much.

Most sponsors will be somewhat hands-off unless you have some serious problems (student complaints, petition to drop after the deadline, plagiarism) though some sponsors may insist on weekly meetings and periodic class visits. It’s up to the facilitator and the sponsor to establish the level of involvement.

At the bare minimum, your faculty sponsor’s most important responsibility is the inputting of grades at the end of the semester. It can be as easy as e-mailing them and saying “Pass everyone, but fail this person.” They also grade you, if you choose to enroll in a Special Studies 99 / 199 section to get credit as a facilitator.

For the official list of faculty responsibilities, refer to the Faculty Checklist for Student-Initiated Special Studies 98 / 198 Courses. (PDF)