The University of Alabama

February 27, 2001


The regular meeting of the Graduate Council was held at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 27, 2001, in the Forum Room  of  the Ferguson Center.


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

Dr. Carol Cassel, Dr. Jeri W. Dunkin,

Dr. L. Michael Freeman, Dr. Ida Johnson,

Dr. Laura Klinger, Dr. Richard G. Lomax,

Dr. Lea McGee, Dr. Sharon O’Dair

Dr. Martha Powell, Dr. Harry E. Price,

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

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

                                    Dr. Paul H. Stuart, Dr. Min Sun,

Dr. Cynthia S. Sunal, Dr. Stephen J. Thoma.


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

                                    Dr. Susan. C. Fleming, Dr. BarrieJo Price,

Dr. Jack Sulentic, Dr. Joseph S. Thrasher,

Dr. Elizabeth K. Wilson.



MEMBERS PRESENT:    Dean Ronald Rogers.



PRESENT:               Ms. Francesca Dillman Carpentier, Ms. Melanie Eddins.




PRESENT:                Dr. Pat Harrison, Assistant Dean,

                                    Dr. John F. Schmitt, Associate Dean,

                                    Ms. Dianne C. Teague, Records Officer.


The meeting opened with the approval of the November 28, 2000 Graduate Council minutes.

Dean Rogers called for the reports from various committees.

I.    Reports from Graduate Council Committees

A.     Program and Degree Requirements

Dr. Stephen J. Thoma, chairperson, reported that the Graduate Student Association solicited comments between November, 2000 and February, 2001 regarding a proposal to institute a plus/minus grading system for graduate students.  An estimated 85% of graduate students indicated a preference to keep the current grading system, and fewer than 15% of all graduate students are estimated to support the implementation of a plus/minus grading system.  Dean Rogers added that an informal poll of department chairs on this subject revealed that one-third of the departments are in favor of a plus-minus system for graduate students, 52% are against, and 12% are equally split.  Dr. Thoma stated that, based on this information, the committee recommends that there not be a change in the current grading system.  The vote was taken by a show of hands with 7 voting in favor of changing to a plus/minus grading system, 9 voting against changing to a plus/minus grading system, and no one abstaining.  The motion to change to a plus/minus grading system at the graduate level fails.

Dr. Thoma presented the next recommendation from the Program and Degree Requirements Committee, which is to alter the existing policy on academic warning (probation) for regularly admitted graduate students.  The current policy allows regularly admitted graduate students to be placed on academic warning (probation) after completing six semester hours, whereas conditionally admitted graduate students complete a minimum of 12 semester hours before being placed on academic warning.  The committee recommends that a graduate student with regular status in a graduate program who drops below a “B” average (at any time after earning 12 semester hours) will be placed on probation.  The rationale for this change is that the current policy is unfair to regularly admitted graduate students.  After a period of discussion , the council voted unanimously to change the current policy to read “A graduate student with regular status in a graduate program who drops below a “B” average (at any time after earning 12 semester hours) will be placed on academic warning.

Dean Rogers informed the Council that the UA System Strategic Planning Initiative has not received support from the faculty at UA, UAB, and UAH due to its top-mandated format and the unworkable nature of certain of the initiatives.  Chancellor Meredith has been advised of this position.  An ad hoc committee has been formed to study the Initiative and its impact on the three campuses.  Dean Rogers asked if the Council wished to be involved in any way with this committee.  He explained that The University of Alabama stands to lose the most if the Initiative is set in motion.  Dean Rogers asked Dr. Jeri Duncan how the co-op program in nursing is going with UAB.  She said it is terrible, that there is no cooperation on UAB’s part.  Dean Rogers went on to state that over half of UA’s doctoral programs are not represented, even at the bachelor’s level, on the other campuses.  The Council indicated a willingness to be involved in examining the strategies of the Initiative.  Dean Rogers said that each of the initiatives would be referred to the appropriate Council committee and that if anyone not on those committees would like to help, they should let him know.  Dean Rogers asked if the College of Education representatives wish to form a subcommittee to look at the education patterns of the plan.  They declined and noted that this review should be conducted by the College of Education.

B.  Admissions and Recruitment

Dr. Paul Stuart, chairperson, announced that at the January 31, 2001 meeting of this committee, they discussed the current use of the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) for UA graduate admissions.  The MAT is used as an alternative to the GRE by several UA graduate departments.  The committee discussed their concerns about the limitations of the MAT (e.g., measures verbal analogies only, limited data on validity) and noted that the MAT is accepted by fewer than half of the universities of the Southern Universities Group.  The committee discussed that the GRE and GMAT have superior psychometric properties and voted unanimously to submit the following recommendation to the Graduate Council:

Beginning with applications for fall semester 2002, the Miller Analogies Test should not be used for       admissions to doctoral programs at The University of Alabama.  Colleges and departments may elect to use the MAT as one of their admissions test alternatives for admissions to masters and educational specialist programs.

The committee noted that this new policy would have no impact on departments that currently hold approval NOT to require an admissions test.

In addition, the committee noted that for those departments using the simplified or expedited application process for students moving from a master’s degree program to a higher degree program in the same department, they may elect to allow students to use an MAT score from their master’s application when they apply to the higher degree program.  This would include doctoral programs in the same department.

Dean Rogers noted that Provost Barrett had recently expressed her concern over UA’s using the MAT as an acceptable graduate admission test.

Dr. Harry Price and Dr. Steve Thoma said that this seems to be a 180 degree turn from the Graduate School’s recent philosophy, which has been to  defer such admissions decisions to the individual departments.  He cited the example of the numerous departments which no longer require any admissions tests. 

Other College of Education representatives noted that their faculty were opposed to the motion.  They requested additional time to discuss the topic at the college level and to evaluate the technical data for the MAT.

After a period of discussion, Dean Rogers indicated that perhaps it would be a good idea to postpone this discussion until the committee has received more input from the Council members.  The Council agreed.  Dean Rogers asked for volunteers to form an ad hoc committee to study the technical data.  Dr. Paul Stuart, Dr. Steve Thoma, and Dr. Richard Lomax will work with Assistant Dean Harrison on the ad hoc committee.

Dr. Stuart then brought before the Council the committee’s recommendation regarding assistantships for international students holding provisional language admission.  According to current policy, “Students who have provisional language admission are accepted to the Graduate School, but must attend full-time intensive English language instruction at the English Language Institute (ELI).  The student must complete the ELI’s Intensive English Program with a minimum GPA of 3.5 in the advanced levels (levels 4, 5, and 6) and earn a score of at least 550 on the TOEFL before he or she will be allowed to enroll in graduate courses and/or be awarded a graduate assistantship.” (p. 81 of the Graduate Catalog)  The committee reviewed the reasons that the provisional language admission policy was approved by the Graduate Council in fall semester 1998, including the use of the policy by applicants who are being sponsored by their governments for study in the U.S. (e.g., the Royal Thai program, the Saudi Arabia program) and who need the opportunity to study English full-time before taking graduate classes.  The committee unanimously recommends the following to the Graduate Council:

Students who have provisional language admission may be approved to hold an externally funded research assistantship through a contract or grant.  Dr. Stuart explained that the wording, “externally-funded,” is in place because ELI students don’t take graduate classes outside ELI, and internally-funded students are required to take classes.  After a period of discussion, the vote was taken by a show of hands with all voting in favor except for one dissenting vote.  There were none opposed.

C.      Teaching and Research Awards

Dr. Carol Cassel, chairperson, reported that the winners of the 2000-2001 Graduate School Awards for Outstanding Teaching and Research are:

Teaching at the master’s level, Michael Shiffler, Biology, A&S

Teaching at the doctoral level, Sondra Yarbrough, Secondary Education, ED

Research at the master’s level, Matthew Gage, Anthropology, A&S

Research at the doctoral level, Trent Selby, Chemistry, A&S

Dr. John Schmitt reported that the winner of the Thesis Award is Benjamin Murphy in Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering, adviser, Dr. Beth Todd; the Dissertation Award winner is Dorina Miron in Mass Communication, College of Communication and Information Sciences, adviser, Dr. Jennings Bryant.  The title of Mr. Murphy’s thesis is Using the Finite Element Method to Develop  a Testing Standard for Determining the Effectiveness of Exercise Countermeasures for Long Duration Space Flight.  Dr. Miron’s dissertation title is The Relationship Between Fantasy in Children’s Television and Preschoolers’ Creativity in Solving Problems.

II.    Reports from the Dean’s Office and Academic Affairs

Dr. Schmitt announced that the Graduate School Web Page now provides forms which can be completed at the computer, printed and mailed to the Graduate School office.  This is more user-friendly than the previous offering which required downloading, typing at a typewriter or hand-writing, and then mailing.  The files are all in Adobe .PDF format.

Dr. Schmitt advised the Council of the upcoming SACS self-study in 2002-2003 and of the SACS site visit in 2004.  Many of the new SACS statements have to do with distance learning programs. During the self-study the university will need to demonstrate full compliance with regard to the DL programs.  Dr. Schmitt noted that SACS must be notified six months prior to implementation  when 50% of an existing or new program will be delivered via distance learning (QUEST, IITS, Web).  Currently, The University of Alabama has 13 SACS-approved DL programs.  Dr. Schmitt explained that additional SACS requirements are orientation and training of faculty for DL activities; “continuous, systematic evaluation” of DL programs; and an institutional plan for ongoing data collection about DL.  Those data also must be used in the planning and evaluation processes.  Dr. Schmitt asked the Council to assist in making sure UA is in compliance with regard to the number of courses and programs being offered in departments through DL

III.    Reports from Standing University Committees

There were no reports.

V.     Old Business

There was no old business.


VI.   New Business


       There was no new business.


The meeting was adjourned at 4:20