Faculty Advisors for ACS Student Communities

The faculty advisors for ACS student chapters and GSOs play an important role in guiding, supporting and motivating students. An enthusiastic and supportive faculty advisor fosters community spirit, encourages student leadership, and provides continuity through the group’s evolution.

Faculty Advisor Responsibilities

The primary function of the faculty advisor to a student community is to support your students in managing a successful student chapter or GSO. While the amount of support students need varies from group to group (and even year to year), faculty advisors are generally expected to:

  • Attend meetings to stay informed on member and leadership dynamics, as well as activity plans. Faculty advisors should also meet regularly with the student leaders to review plans and progress.
  • Maintain group history by archiving the group’s records and advising leadership on what has and has not worked for the group in the past.
  • Provide logistic support to secure financial and program resources from your institution; ensure your community is meeting the minimum criteria required by your school and ACS
  • Building connections with industry, professional organizations, and federal/local governments.
  • Develop your students' leadership skills by advising current leaders, identifying potential future leaders, and connecting students to skill-development opportunities.
  • Review and approve all community reports and applications for grants and other opportunities

Faculty advisors must be current ACS members with a standard or premium package membership.

4 Hallmarks of a Faculty Advisor

1. Advise student leadership on successful practices

Listen to your student leaders’ ideas and provide constructive feedback to help them achieve their goals.

2. Encourage development of essential skills

Help your students develop organizational, administrative, and communication skills.

3. Provide continuity

Serve as the institutional memory for the group through membership changes; guide the students in effective leadership succession planning

4. Share opportunities

Keep the group informed of grants, awards, conferences, workshops, and potential speakers that can engage members.

Frequently Asked Questions

Community Operations

  • What steps can I take to help my community operate effectively?

    • Provide a list of duties to each officer. Consider having them sign a statement confirming that they clearly understand their responsibilities.
    • Check periodically that assigned tasks are getting done.
    • Set “go/no-go” checks for major events, after which the event is canceled if students have not followed through with the necessary preparations.
    • Assign one of your officers the duty of writing a summary after each event and conducting a debriefing session to assess the success of the event.
    • For student chapters: make sure that activities are being added to your chapter report as they happen, instead of waiting until the end of the year. 
  • What are the best communication methods?

    • Use all available communication tools: email, text, flyer, social media, in-class announcements, bulletin boards. Don’t limit yourself to one method, but also ask your chapter what is their preferred communication mode and focus on those first.
    • Advertise events to community members, department chairs, faculty, and staff members. Be sure to advertise to other clubs, student government, student centers, and other departments outside of science.
    • Take advantage of on-campus opportunities (radio, newspaper, bulletin boards).
    • Promote events to other ACS communities in your area, alumni, colleges and K–12 schools, and industries.
    • Have a chapter PR committee or include PR in the job description of one of the officers.
  • What are strategies for maintaining continuity from one year to the next?

    • Keep passwords for websites for your records. The faculty advisor should be the one in charge of passwords.
    • Create a new folder for each year to keep in a cloud drive. Upload all forms and paperwork for that year, so that future officers will be able to see what you did.
    • Keep a copy of your reports and reviews.

Develop Student's Leadership Skills

  • What are other resources I can share with the students?

    ACS Resources for Students

    ACS offers a suite of resources to help students and student groups thrive, including:

  • How do I attract student leaders to my community?

    Describe professional benefits

    • Developing communication skills (writing and speaking)
    • Developing networking skills
    • Assistance in attending ACS meetings

    Showcase successful track record

    • Publicize your successful events and activities (Tool: ACS PR Guidebook)
    • Contact your college or university media relations department to publicize your events in the local newspaper
    • Advertise with your school newspaper or radio station
    • Use social media
    • Get faculty buy-in; the students will see it as important if other faculty members see it as important.

    Tailor the activities to the students’ needs

    • Survey your student community to find what is important to them
    • Design activities that are exciting and attractive
    • Allow students to create new activities that highlight their skills
    • Develop activities that fit into students’ schedules

Collaborate with Other ACS Communities

  • How do I find an International Chemical Sciences Chapter (ICSC)?

  • How do I locate my local section?

    • Search for your local section by zip code to find your ACS local section and the contact information for executive board members.
    • Each local section has access to an online report of student members, which is grouped by student chapter, the associated faculty advisor, and chapter status. Feel free to ask for this report.
  • How can we get involved with our local section or ICSC?

    • See if you can sign up for the newsletter. If not, reach out to the leadership to be contacted about upcoming events.
    • Ask to promote upcoming student community activities or event highlights in the newsletter or on the website.
    • Determine what funding your local section or ICSC may have for student programs and/or activities, or how they can assist in obtaining ACS funding. 
    • Ask if your local section or ICSC needs volunteers for their outreach activities or invite them to participate in your activities.
    • Offer to host a meeting on your campus.
    • Invite a member of the local section or ICSC to speak to your chapter about the benefits of ACS membership, chemistry careers, and/or professional development.
    • Check if there is an active Younger Chemists Committee so students can meet current grad students, post docs, and early career professionals.
    • Find out if there is a annual Student Research Poster Session, and find out how student members can participate. If one does not exist, offer to assist in organizing one on your campus.
    • Is there a Science Café series or similar social-based seminar series appropriate for a wide audience? If not, offer to assist your section in organizing one in a common location.
    • Offer to split the cost of bringing in a speaker who would be of interest to both communities.
    • Find out if student members can serve as a liaison or as an executive board member.
  • How can we interact with our local section or ICSC if distance is a barrier?

    • Offer to host a section meeting on your campus.
    • Ask if an event can be hybrid.  
    • Ask for event information as early in the academic year as possible so that your student community members can participate in their events.

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