The University of Alabama

November 28, 2000


The regular meeting of the Graduate Council was held at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 28, 2000, in Room 204B  of  the Ferguson Center.


MEMBERS PRESENT:   Dr. Martin G. Bakker, Dr. Bruce E. Barrett,

Dr. Carol Cassell, Dr. Jeri W. Dunkin,

Dr. Susan C. Fleming, Dr. L. Michael Freeman,

                                                Dr. Ida Johnson, Dr. Laura Klinger,

Dr. Richard G. Lomax, Dr. Sharon O’Dair

Dr. Martha Powell, Dr. Barrie Jo Price,

Dr. David R. Roskos-Ewoldsen, Dr. Nancy Rubin,

Dr. Edward J. Schnee, Dr. Will C. Schreiber,

                                                Dr. Min Sun, Dr. Stephen J. Thoma,

Dr. Joseph S. Thrasher, Dr. Elizabeth K. Wilson.


MEMBERS ABSENT:      Dr. Gary A. Copeland, Dr. Michael T. Dugan,

                                                Dr. Lea McGee, Dr. Harry E. Price,

Dr. Paul H. Stuart.



MEMBERS PRESENT:   Dr. Charles B. Osburn, Dr. George C. Rable,

 Dean Ronald Rogers.



PRESENT:                            Ms. Francesca Dillman Carpentier



PRESENT:                          Dr George Marsh (for Dr. Cynthia Sunal).




PRESENT:                          Dr. Pat Harrison, Assistant Dean

                                                Dr. John F. Schmitt, Associate Dean

                                                Ms. Dianne C. Teague, Records Officer


PRESENT:                          Dr. Priscilla Hancock, Dr. V. James Knight, Dr. Luoheng Han,

                                                Dr. Katherine Oths, Mr. Gopa Venugopalan (student), Dr. David Weaver.


The meeting opened with the approval of the September 26, 2000, Graduate Council minutes. Dean Rogers called for the reports from various committees.


I.             Reports from Graduate Council Committees


A.      Financial Aid

Dr. Will C. Schreiber, chairperson, stated that announcements and guidelines for all Graduate Council Fellowships have been sent to departments.  Dr. Schreiber asked if there were any questions regarding this material, and there were none.

B.       Admissions and Recruitment

In the absence of Dr. Paul Stuart, chairperson, Dr. Edward Schnee presented the revised proposals for admission standards for the graduate programs in Health Sciences, Human Nutrition, and General Human Environmental Sciences.  He explained that these three graduate programs are designed for practicing professionals.  Students in these masters programs generally do not continue in a research-oriented doctoral program.  He further noted that these programs are aggressively seeking older students with significant professional experience and minorities with the potential to impact the profession.  After a brief discussion, the vote was taken by a show of hands with 18 in favor and three against.  The proposal approved is as follows:  For the masters’ degrees in Health Sciences, Human Nutrition, and General Human Environmental Sciences, the university-wide minimum GPA requirements will be used for all applicants (3.0 for regular admission; 2.5 for conditional admission).  However, an admisisons test score will not be required if a student meets the 3.0 GPA requirement for regular admission.  An admissions test score will be required if the GPA is less than 3.0, but there will be no required cut-off on the test score.

Dr. Schnee presented the next proposal regarding a change of policy for conditionally admitted students, probationary students, and provisional language admitted students holding graduate assistantships.  The committee recommended that the current policy be changed to allow conditionally admitted students, in addition to students with regular admission, to hold graduate assistantships.  Dr. Joseph Thrasher from the Department of Chemistry, who submitted this proposal to the committee, explained that the purpose of the request is not to lower standards and the quality of graduate education at The University of Alabama, but to allow departments to be more competitive with peer institutions in recruiting graduate students, especially in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering.

Dr. Martha Powell, from the Department of Biological Sciences, questioned the rationale of allowing conditionally admitted students to hold assistantships, particularly after their first semester.  She said that unconditionally admitted students who fail to achieve a B average are placed on probation after completing six or more hours during their first term of enrollment and may not hold an assistantship until the probation is removed.  However, if this proposal is passed, conditionally admitted students holding assistantships who fail to achieve a B average after completing six hours during their first term of enrollment will be permitted to continue their assistantships during their next term of enrollment since they are given a total of 12 hours to attain a B average.   Dr. Powell noted that this seems inherently problematic.  Dean Rogers asked if she would like to propose an amendment to the proposal on the floor.  Dr. Powell’s amendment states that a student holding conditional admission with an assistantship who obtains a UA graduate GPA of less than 3.0 prior to meeting the condition of his or her admission will not be allowed to retain a teaching assistantship after the first term of enrollment, but will be allowed to retain a research assistantship.   After a brief discussion, the Council voted on the proposal by a show of hands with 18 in favor and three against.  The proposal that passed follows:  Students with conditional admission, in addition to students with regular admission, may hold any type of graduate assistantship, without departments needing to request special approval.  However, a GTA holding conditional admission who obtains a UA graduate GPA of less than 3.0 prior to meeting the condition of his or her admission will not be allowed to retain the teaching assistantship during the next term of enrollment.   For example, if a conditional admit takes nine credits during the first semester of enrollment and obtains a 2.5 GPA that student may continue to take courses to meet the condition ( a 3.0 on the first 12 hours), but will NOT be allowed to retain a graduate teaching assistantship.  The student would be permitted to hold a research assistantship.

The graduate policy that a student on probation may not hold a graduate assistantship remains in place.  Beverly York, Graduate Registrar, will continue to monitor students who obtain less than a 3.0 GPA each semester, and take appropriate measures if any conditionally admitted students have less than a 3.0 and should be dropped from a GTA.

C.      Graduate Faculty Membership

There was no report.

D.      Research and New Programs

The Department of Geography proposed a graduate certificate program in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).  Council members had the opportunity to review the proposal prior to the meeting, and there were few questions about it.  The proposal passed unanimously.

The Department of Anthropology proposed a Ph.D. program with emphases in the archaeology of complex societies and medical anthropology.  After brief discussion focusing on faculty, resources, and graduate assistantships, the proposal passed unanimously.

E.       Program and Degree Requirements

The Council unanimously passed a proposal that a University student in the M.S.N. program who takes specified core courses at UAB or UAH (which are cooperating institutions in the program) may transfer the course(s) from the cooperating institution to UA if the overall GPA at the cooperating institution is less than 3.0.  The student would, of course, need to have an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher to graduate.

Also passed unanimously was a policy that grades of “In Progress” (IP) must be removed by the end of the semester following the semester in which the IP was assigned.  If not removed by that time, the IP will convert to an I, and the appropriate scholarship rules for grades of Incomplete will be applied.

The Council considered a proposed change to the policy on seniors taking UA courses for graduate credit.  The policy that passed unanimously states that, “A senior at The University of Alabama who has at least a 3.0 grade point average overall may petition to take graduate courses toward a graduate career.  Permission to take a particular course is granted based on approval by the instructor, the instructor’s  department chairperson, the dean of the student’s division, and the graduate dean.  The total course load for an undergraduate taking graduate course should not exceed 15 hours a semester.  A senior may accumulate no more than 9 hours of graduate credit.”

At two meetings the Committee has discussed the issue of plus/minus grading for graduate students, an issue that had been proposed by a Council member.  The issue is only at the discussion stage, and the Committee is seeking input from faculty and graduate students on whether or not there is sentiment in favor of plus/minus grading for graduate courses, and if the feeling is positive, which version of a plus/minus system might be the best fit for graduate students at The University of Alabama.  Dean Rogers has asked each department with graduate programs for their input by late December.  Students attending the Council meeting suggested that master’s students, although not unanimous in their views, seem to have more favorable opinions of plus/minus grading than doctoral students do.  Dean Rogers will provide the Committee with input when he has heard from the departments, and the Committee will continue to consider the issue during the spring 2001 semester.


II.                  Dr. Priscilla Hancock, Associate Vice President for Information Services


Dr. Hancock gave the Council an update on recent computing developments at the University.  She provided copies of a white paper titled, “The University of Alabama Technology Directions for 2000 and Beyond.”  The three main goals she discussed in depth are to (1) provide data communications network upgrades, (2) enhance and expand the University’s Web presence, and (3) improve business system functionality. 

III.               Report from the Dean’s Office and Academic Affairs


Dean Rogers discussed the status of his 5-year review, indicating that the Provost reported that the percentage of faculty voting for a review was well below the minimum needed for the review to take place.  Nonetheless, Dean Rogers will give a State of the Graduate School address in the spring of 2001.  The address likely will take place at a called Graduate Council meeting that all graduate faculty are invited to attend.  Prior to the meeting, the Graduate Council may be asked to survey departments regarding needs and suggestions for future directions.

Dean Rogers spotlighted the recent edition of the Princeton Review that ranked the University’s School of Accountancy among the top 10 in the country.  He also noted that the number of publications by UA Ph.D. graduates who went on to positions as Finance faculty ranked 3rd, behind only The University of Texas and The University of Chicago.

IV.                Reports from Standing University Committees


There were no reports.

V.                  Old Business


There were no reports.

VI.                New Business


GSA representative Francesca Carpentier mentioned several issues of particular interest to graduate students.  The issues included health insurance (on which a poll is being taken), childcare (especially at the Recreation Center), payments for printing costs (Uniprint), and health care for females at the Russell Student Health Center.   Because of the late hour, there was little time for discussion of these issues.  They will be covered at Council meetings in the spring of 2001.


The meeting was adjourned at 5:10 PM.