Since we're discussing some important issues in the profession and how to help graduate students succeed, I'll continue in that vein to ask more generally about what our obligations are to our graduate students while focusing on a specific sort of case that might arise. Incidentally, I should begin with a caveat: the scenario I'm about to describe, while remotely related to events at my department over the past year, does NOT apply to any specific graduate student with which I've had experience. (It was probably most inspired by something that happened to me in grad school.)
OK, so here's the case. Suppose a graduate student on whose committee one participates has been offered a tenure track job prior to finishing her dissertation. But the job offer comes with a condition: the offer will be rescinded if the student doesn't finish her dissertation by the beginning of the term. The institution cannot hire someone for this position without a Ph.D.: they cannot even hire the student as an instructor, say, so the job will definitely be lost if the condition isn't met. Suppose further that the student has rushed the dissertation so as to get it ready in time, and while it is a serviceable first draft, with some interesting ideas, it is not nearly as good as it might be after another few drafts. The student is promising and is a very good teacher (which will be the main focus of the job, a job the student eagerly wants). The question, then, is this: should the committee pass the dissertation more or less as is (the deadline to get the job is within a few weeks, so there will be no time for substantive rewrites) or insist that the dissertation be redrafted and improved, which will effectively lose the student the job? (We may add other details: the student would certainly be able to put together a very good dissertation if given another year; you will not have to lie in a letter about the quality of the dissertation, for no letters are currently needed, the dissertation is not the worst that has been passed in the program over the years, etc.)
The more general question, of course, is what is our foremost obligation to our students at this stage, especially in a financial climate like this? Is our primary purpose to help students who want them to get jobs, or is it to get them to write the best dissertation they can (where the jobs will presumably follow)? Obviously, we want, where possible, to do both. But this (artificial) case is designed to see which end you think is primary. Thoughts?