I'm about to graduate and would like to give my research mentor a book as a gift. It is common in my institute (which is in the US) to give professors gifts as students graduate. However, the problem is my research mentor last year became the dean of the college, and I'm not sure if there is a different set of rules for the administrators than for the faculty. So is it okay for me to give a gift to the dean? Would it make a difference if I do it before or after my graduation?
I don't think the fact that your research mentor is the dean changes the issue. The only minor thing might be that the dean may be even more concerned that they follow official university policy.
Thus, all the general questions about buying a gift for your supervisor would apply:
- Is it appropriate to buy a "thank you" gift for a PhD supervisor?
- Is it standard for graduate students to get gifts for their advisors?
The core issue from my perspective is that you want to avoid a conflict of interest for the advisor. Thus, I would wait to give a gift at least until after you have passed your thesis.
In addition, it is important that the gift is not too expensive. Many universities have policies about gifts over a certain value having to be declared or are even forbidden. Furthermore, if the gift is expensive, it has greater potential to be seen as creating a conflict of interest. Related to this principle is the idea that the gift should be a small token of appreciation and, in no way, should it represent a form of payment.
Also, as you suggest, custom and policy can vary between universities. So that should be a good guide to what is reasonable.