CMB Virtual Meeting Guide

If the meeting is to be held virtually (via web conference), it is the student’s responsibility to identify a date and time that the meeting will be held, determine which web-based conferencing system the PI will use for the meeting and to gain competency in presenting materials using that web-based platform. It is the responsibility of the student’s PI or other designated thesis committee member to serve as host, invite attendees for the date and time determined by the student, control the virtual meeting platform, and delegate presentation authority to the student.  PIs and students are encouraged to use UW-Madison sponsored web-based conferencing systems (https://kb.wisc.edu/luwmad/page.php?id=45390).

The thesis advisor serves as chair of all committee meetings besides the Preliminary Exam. For the Preliminary Exam, together with the Thesis Advisor, the student should establish the chair of the meeting amongst the other committee members and notify that person in advance of the meeting.

After a successful prelim or thesis defense, and if the meeting was held virtually and a paper copy of the warrant was not available, distribute an electronic copy of the warrant to committee members. Obtain electronic signatures of all committee members on a single PDF file and return to the student (see notes below under Obtaining Electronic Signatures for Warrants). The student will then upload the signed warrant as part of the final dissertation submission to the Grad School (thesis) or submit the signed copy of the prelim warrant to the CMB office via email. For signatures on progress report forms–any meeting besides your prelim or thesis defense–you can simply have each committee member send you an email of approval and then send those emails along with your progress report to the CMB Office.

Importantly, we recommend that faculty members (and NOT students) serve as virtual meeting hosts for two reasons:

  1. The meeting host could continue the meeting in the absence of the student, for post-meeting committee member huddles. Examples include discussions of progress and recommendations and prelim / thesis defense voting.
  2. Virtual meetings can be recorded, but only the virtual meeting host (and not participants) has the authority to record meetings. Meeting security is therefore an elevated concern in our new reality.

If a virtual thesis defense is not possible, the seminar is not essential. The student would still submit their thesis to their committee two weeks before the normal defense date. The committee would send questions and comments to the PI. The student would receive the questions the day of the proposed defense and would then have 48 hours to respond to the questions. After responding, the committee would have two days to ask for clarifications or ask further questions, of which the student would have two days to reply. After this process, they would be asked to sign the warrant electronically (process outlined above).

Obtaining Electronic Signatures for Warrants:

(Note: for progress report forms–any meeting besides your prelim or thesis defense–you can simply have each committee member send you an email of approval and then send those emails along with your progress report to the CMB Office.)

For warrants, the Graduate School requires that all signatures be on one PDF document. Please follow the process below.

  1. Send your warrant to your first committee member for their signature.
  2. When you receive it back, save the document, then send the saved document to your next committee member.
  3. Continue until all members have signed your document.
  4. The CMB office will take care of the “Signature of major department chairperson” line.
  5. Send the signed warrant to the CMB office with the date of your prelim.
  6. The CMB office will add the date to your prelim and send it to the Graduate School.