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Sponsored Student Organizations (SSOs) are required to have a Faculty Advisor, as articulated in the Sponsorship Agreement between the student organization and sponsoring unit.  Faculty Advisors to SSOs should review and understand the Role & Responsibilities of Faculty advisors.

Voluntary Student Organizations (VSOs) are not required to have a Faculty Advisor.  Therefore, those who choose to advise these organizations have no formal responsibility or oversight of the organization.  The role and responsibilities of the advisor to a VSO is minimal and since there are few rules for what role the advisor will take, it is up to you to sit down with the VSO and come to an agreement about what role they will play.

Non-Affiliated Student Organizations (NSOs) are not University recognized student organizations and as such we strongly recommend against serving as an active advisor.  If you have questions, please contact us in the Student Events & Activities Center.

Sponsored Student Organization Faculty Advisors - Role & Responsibilities

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PDF of Role & Responsibilities

1Facilitator Model of Relationship

Oregon State University recognizes that sponsored student organizations are inherently linked to the University because of their role in enhancing education, representing OSU and/or presenting events that are considered an integral part of the institution.   In order to best support the learning of student leaders in our community, we have adopted a philosophical approach of partnership and collaboration with individual students and student organizations as “facilitators” in the involvement experience.  As “facilitators,” advisors work with administrators, faculty and staff to support student organization members and leaders in making intelligent, fair and reasonable choices within the boundaries established by state, federal and local laws, university rules/policy, and the mission of the sponsoring unit.  At Oregon State University, the Faculty Advisor serves as the primary “facilitator” to Sponsored Student Organizations.


Role of the Faculty Advisor

The OSU Student Organization Recognition Policy (SOR) defines a Faculty Advisor asfaculty, staff or personnel responsible for maintaining relationship with a sponsored student organization that allows for education and development as well as administration of data collection and University policies, procedures and guidelines.”

A Sponsoring Unit must provide a faculty advisor who shall be the primary liaison between the Sponsoring Unit/University and the Sponsored Student Organization (SSO). Under the tenets of the Facilitator University Model, the faculty advisor is much more than just a signature at the bottom of a piece of paper.  Rather, the faculty advisor works collaboratively with students, sharing responsibility for the development, practices and outcomes of Sponsored Student Organization and its events. 


Responsibilities of Faculty Advisor

As constituents of a Facilitator University, the faculty advisor works collaboratively and proactively with students, sharing responsibility for the organization and its events.  Faculty advisors support, guide and partner with student organization leaders to ensure, fair, intelligent and reasonable decisions and actions.  Specifically, it is expected that the faculty advisor:

  • Serve as the primary link between the sponsoring unit and student organization in order to support the success of the sponsorship relationship as outlined in the sponsorship agreement
  • Be a facilitator and a resource for student leaders in the interpretation of and compliance with University policies & procedures.
  • Be a role model, demonstrating professional, ethical and positive behavior
  • Annually review the student organization’s governing documents (constitution & bi-laws) and/or guiding policies to ensure accountability by the student organization.
  • Annually review risk assessment of student organization and work with the Office of Risk Management to identify and then mitigate any issues of concern
  • Partner with student leaders planning and executing organization events & activities, including travel. 
  • Support student organization leaders with the timely reporting of organization events & activities to allow for visibility, risk assessment & insurance considerations
  • Maintain awareness of student organization expenditures, ensuring that University funds are expended appropriately
  • Engage with the student organizations solicitation for sponsorship or donation to ensure all University, OSU Foundation, State, Federal and IRS policies and regulations are complied with
  • Facilitate the advancement of contracts and  purchases through appropriate unit financial processes, business center and/or University Procurement & Contract Services
  • Ensure appropriate use of the University name and trademarks in conjunction with the student organization and its activities
  • Promote co-curricular learning through organizational development, events & activities planning,  and interpersonal relationships
  • Act as a resource to the campus for communication and issues related to the student organization. 

The Unit Head, faculty advisor and student organization leaders should discuss any additional roles or responsibilities of the advisor in supporting the student organization.  The key point is to work in partnership (advisors & student leaders to encourage organization success and rewarding experiences.  

1For more information about the Facilitator University model, please refer to The Rights and Responsibilities of the Modern University: Who Assumes the Risks of College Life? by Robert D. Bickel and Peter F. Lake, published by the Carolina Academic Press in 1999.

VSO Advisors - Roles and Responsibilities

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As the advisor to a Voluntary Student Organization, your role is instrumental in helping the student organization and its members grow, develop and learn real life leadership skills for the future. Your support will not only help the student organization succeed but more importantly, create an exciting learning opportunity through involvement that both you and the organization can enjoy and appreciate. In your role, please keep in mind the following:

  • Voluntary Student Organizations are student-run organizations, recognized as being "@ Oregon State University." While recognized by the University, VSOs are not considered official representatives of the Oregon State University.
  • VSOs are not required to have an advisor as a condition for recognition. Thus, it is recommended that you have spoken with your Department Head and/or Dean, to ensure that this voluntary role does not conflict with your work responsibilities.
  • Your role is not one of directing or controlling the work of the student organization but rather, one of advising, consultation and support of the organization needs.
  • VSO activities should not be supported by departments either with funding or access certain university benefits (i.e. Motor Pool) unless the activity has been sponsored by a department through an Event Sponsorship Agreement.
  • Resources are available through the Student Events & Activities Center to support your knowledge of university policies and guidelines that your student organizations will work within.