The Student Organization Coach
The Student Organization Coach provides leadership and holistic development through experiential learning opportunities, advocates for the mission and vision of the organization in which they are associated, and counsel officers and members of the organization regarding their responsibilities. Coaches also help student leaders manage the programmatic, financial, and logistical operations of their student organization(s).
At Vanderbilt, student organizations must have a faculty or staff coach in order to be a registered student organization. By serving in this role for a student organization, a faculty or staff member chooses to play a significant role in the development of students. Coaches serve as a consultant, mentor, role model, and educator to an organization. Furthermore, they assist in the growth and development of the group by providing direction through advice, understanding, challenge and support. A coach’s role will include:
Guidance and Student Leader Support
- Fostering an environment that promotes a sense of belonging, education of the whole student, and development of socially responsible leaders;
- Helping students find a balance between their academics, personal needs, and co-curricular activities;
- Facilitating a learning experience for student leaders and members by enabling their success, or, when necessary, by illustrating that failure often teaches as much as success;
- Clarifying their role to group members, in order to have a shared understanding of responsibilities;
- Attending meetings occasionally or frequently, depending on agreed-upon responsibilities;
- Motivating the group in setting annual organizational goals;
- Providing guidance in planning programs and events;
- Informing officers about leadership development opportunities such as conferences, workshops, and scholarships;
- Offering constructive feedback where appropriate and facilitate creativity and innovation for the organization;
- Affording continuity from year to year in the face of frequent officer turnover;
- Acting a conscientious and caring manner to promote student growth;
- Consulting the Office of Student Organizations, Leadership and Service for advice, guidance, and more information at SOLS@vanderbilt.edu
- Assisting with budgetary planning and spending in the Oracle finance system;
- Authorizing spending by granting organization permission to reserve check out card, arranging to pay for student group expenses, or delegate signature authority to a second designee (often another staff member or department secretary);
- Authorizing student organizations to request travel;
- Guiding officers in the maintenance of accurate records and bookkeeping;
- Discuss the posting of items for sale in the Marketplace for their student groups.
- Acting as an interpreter of University policies that govern registered student organizations;
- Approving registration paperwork;
- Encouraging groups to review and update their constitution annually;
- Provide administrative guidance and support to student leaders;
- Consulting the Office of Student Organizations and Governance for advice, guidance, and more information at
- SOLS@vanderbilt.edu .
When a faculty or staff member accepts the position of coach for a student organization, they also accept responsibility for the actions and activities of the organization. A coach 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 coached and the type of activities planned by that organization. Some suggestions to guide coaches follow:
Coaches should anticipate risks which may arise out of any decision or situation. Regardless of what organization or activity is involved, there will always be an opportunity for something to happen that might create a liability for the University. However, if decisions are made in good faith and reasonable precautions are taken, the risk involved can be minimized.
Review Student Handbook
It is important to be aware of University policies and regulations as they affect student organizations. The Student Handbook is the student information manual and a source for many University rules and regulations. Coaches should be familiar with the 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 coaches and their student organizations.
Know Their Limits
Coaches should act only within the scope of their authority. Coaches may make certain decisions or take certain actions within their stated responsibilities as Coaches. For example, a coach may approve purchases necessary for the day-to-day operation of an organization. However, coaches do not have the authority to contract on behalf of or to bind the University. Dean of Students is authorized to sign contracts. For more information about liability and risk management, coaches may contact the General Counsel’s Office at 615-322-8331 or the Office of Risk and Insurance Management at 615-936-0660.
Our office also has training materials on financial documents and other important topics for coaches that may aid them with supporting their Student Organization(s). Other training material is also available on the the Vanderbilt Student Organization Coaches Anchor Link page.
If you are interested in becoming a Student Organization Coach, you may send a message to email@example.com.