The doctoral committee is appointed by the dean of graduate division following a recommendation from the astronomy graduate chair. The graduate chair is strongly influenced by the preferences of the student, but a student should not formally invite faculty to be on the committee before discussing its membership with the graduate chair.
The University's requirements on the doctoral committee are:
Additionally, it is the policy of the astronomy program that:
The university requires that all members of the doctoral committee be present at the final examination (a.k.a. "thesis defense"). This requirement can cause problems if a faculty member leaves the university or goes on extended leave at the time that the dissertation is completed. It is therefore a good policy to appoint an extra member to the committee at the outset (making a total of six), so that if one member is unable to attend the final exam he/she can resign from the committee without having to be replaced by an astronomer unfamiliar with the student's progress.
A student may request a change in his/her doctoral committee at any time. The change requires the approval of all the current and proposed members of the committee, the graduate chair and the Dean of Graduate Division. There is a graduate division form for making the change.
The following is excerpted from the graduate division policy:
The university representative is an optional member of the thesis committee and a required member of the dissertation committee. He or she should possess sufficient familiarity with the student’s research topic to be able to review and comment on the manuscript. The university representative fulfills the following functions:
1. Represents the Graduate Division on the committee, ensuring administration of proper procedures and fair treatment of the student;
2. Ensures that the level of research is indeed appropriate to the student’s degree objective; and
3. Provides disciplinary expertise and an academic perspective that may not be possessed by the faculty of the student’s graduate program.
In consultation with his or her committee chair, the student shall identify a faculty from a different graduate program to serve as the university representative. In the case of a dissertation committee, the university representative must be a full regular graduate faculty. The committee chair must ascertain that the university representative is indeed an individual who is at “arm’s length” from the faculty in the student’s graduate program.
It is possible to appoint a suitably-qualified astronomer from outside University of Hawaii onto the doctoral committee either as an extra member or as one of the "internal" members (but not as the "external" member). Several astronomers from non-UH organizations on the island of Hawai‘i and the U.S. mainland have served on doctoral committees in the past. Non-UH astronomers who are asked to serve on doctoral committees are appointed as affiliate graduate faculty members. Students are encouraged to consider adding a non-UH astronomer to their committee, but should discuss with their proposed committee chair how travel expenses are to be met, since the graduate program has no funds that can be used to bring committee members to Honolulu.