I asked everyone in person. I sent an email that let them know that I was at the point where I needed to solidify my committee and program of study areas and that I would like to speak with them about my options since I’m interested in (whatever your interests). I would specify that I needed about 20 or 30 minutes. Then during the meeting let them know up front that you’re looking to put your committee together and describe your interests more in depth. Then toss it back to them that you’re wondering if they believe they’d be a good fit and who the other faculty in the department are that may be a good fit as well. This should spark the necessary conversation. Things that should come up are how many other students they have currently, and at what stages these students are; what they’re research plans are over the next several years (i.e. planned or anticipated sabbaticals, or extended research or teaching travel, etc.); also ask about their advising/mentoring philosophy (this is similar to management style in work settings and can impact the goodness of fit just as much as content area); also ask about their current projects (your looking for intersections, things you’d be able to help them with that may or may not end up in co-publishing) – this is important because it should be a relationship that works well and is productive for both of you.
If they respond and are traveling then whether you proceed via email or wait is dependent upon how long they’ll be away, how important it is that they be on your committee and the strength of the “alternates”.
Hopefully this is helpful.
I would say that the first point of order is to figure out whose work in the department you like the most, and ask that person to be your chair. You can stick with the one you have now, or select someone else if you prefer. The professors in our department are remarkably cool with you changing your committee members. I did so 3-4 times as a grad student as my needs changed, and everyone always understood that….since there has been little interaction between you and them at this point, I’d be amazed if there were any friction for you at all in terms of changing members. Who is your current chair? Do you like them as the chair?
After deciding who you want to be the chair, I suggest a meeting with that person ASAP in their office and map out what you want to do for comps….I would not even bring up dissertation yet, just talk about 3 fields you want to develop expertise in. Discuss some of the people you want to contact to join your committee, and see what he/she has to say before contacting anyone. When you agree on 2-3 members, write those professors and schedule meetings with them and talk about your interests….
As far as forms go, it’s probably best to do the administrative stuff AFTER you’ve met with your chair, your potential new members, and THEN visit Tammy to fill out whatever forms are needed. I think it is simply a one-page form that has your name, specialty areas, and signatures from committee members that they agree to join your committee. Tammy will also give you a form to replace whatever members are coming/going, that they just simply sign. It’s no trouble at all, really, and is not difficult in any way.
The most important thing right now is to decide who in our department you want to be your chair from now until graduation. At that point, the two of you have a meeting and collaborate together on the remaining structure/requirements towards graduation…..hope that this helps, and let me know how things turn out!