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The Student Organization Advisor

An organization must have a faculty or staff advisor in order to be a registered student organization. Advisors affirm the organization’s registration paperwork, authorize financial transactions, and approve student organization travel, where appropriate.  Additionally, an advisor assists in the growth and development of the group by providing direction through advice, understanding, support, and challenge. An advisor’s role will include:

APPROVAL & POLICY REQUIREMENTS
  • Authorizing spending by signing 1180s, purchase orders, and check requests, or delegate signature authority to a secondary advisor (often another staff member or department secretary)
  • Authorizing Procurement Card (P-card) purchases
  • Reconciling monthly accounting reports (electronic access to accounts) or delegate to student members or secondary advisor;
  • Authorizing student organization travel
  • Acting as an interpreter of University policies that govern registered student organizations
  • Approving registration paperwork and encouraging groups to review and update their Constitution annually
PROVIDING GUIDANCE AND ADVICE
  • Clarifying advisor roles to group members, in order to have a shared understanding of responsibilities
  • Providing guidance in planning programs and events
  • Motivating the group in setting annual organizational goals
  • Informing officers about leadership development opportunities such as conferences, workshops, and scholarships
  • Guiding officers in the maintenance of accurate records and bookkeeping
  • Attending meetings occasionally or frequently, depending on agreed-upon responsibilities
  • Consulting the Office of Student Organizations and Anchor Link for advice, guidance, and more information at studentorganizations@vanderbilt.edu
LIABILITY CONCERNS

An advisor acts on behalf of the University and is expected to exercise that responsibility reasonably, diligently, and in good faith. The type of liability or risk varies greatly depending on the type of organization being advised and the type of activities planned by that organization. Some suggestions to guide advisors are below:

  1. Advisors should anticipate risks which may arise out of any decision or situation as activities might create a liability for the University. Risk can be minimized when appropriate precautions are taken well in advance.
  2. It is important to be aware of University policies and regulations as they affect student organizations. Advisors should be familiar with the Student Handbook, particularly those sections that apply to community life, student organizations, and guidelines for organizational activities. The Student Organizations and Anchor Link staff can also serve as resources for advisors and their student organizations.
  3. Advisors should be aware of and act in the scope of their authority.  In order to protect you from personal liability, advisors are not authorized to contract on behalf of or to bind the University. Only the Dean of Students is authorized to sign contracts.

For more information about liability and risk management, advisors may contact the General Counsel’s office at 615-322-8331 or the Office of Risk Management at 615-936-0660.

ADVISOR RESOURCES

Click the links below for more information.

  • Training materials and financial documents.
  • Important topics for advisors.
  • If you are interested in becoming an Advisor, please fill out the “Advisor Interest Form” found on Anchor Link.