Background: Your basic responsibility is to organize a series of talks, so that graduate students AND faculty engage with each others’ ongoing research. Fortunately, over the first year, we had at least two (but sometimes more) faculty members present in each talk. Graduate student turnout is not something to take for granted, so try to be creative to attract more graduate students. In my experience, it's good to remind them how helpful this can be for the atmosphere of the department! (The DGS - Nick - is willing to encourage the students to attend. Remind him to do that).
How to do this:
1. Early in the semester, send out an email and get up to 5 speakers (but no more than 5, because people won't show up to too many events). It's important to set the schedule as early as possible; the department calendar needs to be set early in the semester, and it can help the turnout to have the event on schedule.
Suggestion: In the email that you send out, emphasize that this is for works in progress. I think the point should be to encourage an atmosphere of working together and feeling comfortable to develop ideas collaboratively.
2. This year, I divided the slots into 2 faculty speakers and 3 graduate speakers. It worked out pretty well. Graduate students were especially excited by the talks that the faculty gave.
3. Make sure that you are in touch with Val and the person who is organizing the departmental talks. Obviously, you don't wanna have other talks on the same day. But also, you don't want to have more than one talk in one week.
4. Book the seminar room by contacting Val. Keep Tony (or whoever is the chair) up-to-date, too. The chair wants to know the department's calendar!
5. A few days before each meeting, contact Danielle (or whoever replaces her). She can order pastries and coffee for the talks.
Do it! This was quite a rewarding job to do! You'd feel like you get to know your own department better and it can get you excited to work on your own projects.