It is essential that all examiners attend the oral examination. Examination dates should not be scheduled when any examiner will be absent. If the department has some warning that the supervisor or an examiner cannot attend the examination, the examination must be postponed and re-scheduled or the committee member must be changed. In cases of emergency where there is little or no notice of the absence of a committee member (ie, sudden illness), the situation will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Departments should contact the Vice-Dean, FGSR to respond to the situation immediately.
A pro dean, the Dean's representative, is a full voting member when attending a final oral examination. However, pro deans often see their role as assuring the proper conduct of the examination, and only intercede actively if they detect a procedural problem.
The pro dean has a special responsibility to comment on process. The questioning provided by a pro dean, who might not be an expert in the field, should normally be general in character. This type of questioning often helps to put the student at ease. If the examination is very good, or if problems are encountered, the pro dean is asked to submit a brief report to the Dean.
When an external examiner is present, the pro dean serves as an ambassador from the Dean to greet the individual and receive comments on the quality of the examination.
Pro deans are not required to have expertise in the discipline, but should have considerable experience with doctoral final oral examinations.