The regular meeting of the Graduate Council was held at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 23, 2003 in the Forum Room of the Ferguson Center.
GRADUATE SCHOOL REPRESENTATIVES PRESENT:
Dean Ron Rogers asked if there were corrections to the April 29, 2003 Graduate Council minutes. No corrections were noted, and the minutes were approved as written.
Dean Rogers opened the meeting with a presentation he prepared for a dean’s meeting. Dr. Rogers reported that graduate school applications have increased by 16.7% over the last five years, resulting in a more selective admission process. On-campus graduate enrollment has increased by 13% with a 35% overall growth at the doctoral level. African-American student enrollment has increased by 38% over the last five years. The University of Alabama continues to rank among the best in receiving SREB Minority Doctoral Scholars Program awards.
The University has experienced a 28% increase over the last five years in the area of externally funded research assistantships. However, externally funded research assistantships represent only 18% of University of Alabama assistantships, far less than other SEC institutions. U.S. Department of Education data indicate that the average University of Alabama stipend ($8,678) is below both national and NSF averages, which range from $11,000 to $15,000. These dollar amounts place UA graduate recipients below the U.S. poverty threshold.
Dr. Rogers’ goals for The Graduate School are first to increase graduate enrollment and subsequently to increase our research capacity and achieve the profile of a research university. Fall 2003 graduate enrollment is up by 6.2% with graduate enrollment representing 19% of total university enrollment. Second, he emphasized the importance of offering competitive stipends and generating more assistantships based on research grants. Dr. Rogers envisions an improvement of the National Research Council ratings, exceeding the national median on objective criteria such as publications and citations. Dean Rogers stressed the importance of doctoral programs that meet the experience needs of employers and the career aspirations of students. “Conducting research at the highest levels of achievement and at the frontiers of knowledge, which is cited and then funded in the peer-review process, is what distinguishes prestigious universities from the rest,” Dr. Rogers concluded.
Excellence can be achieved by programs which 1) offer the potential to attain national preeminence, 2) are ripe for significant intellectual or applied development, 3) contribute to the welfare of our constituents, and 4) offer an academic, financial, or political return to the University. No-cost opportunities exist for the University to strengthen graduate education. These include improving the National Research Council ratings, developing an ethic of nurturing students, mentoring and socializing graduate students into the profession, more responsive master’s and doctoral level comprehensives, and strengthening graduate faculty criteria.
Dean Rogers called for the reports from various committees.
I. Reports from Graduate Council Committees
Admissions and Recruitment
Chairman Dr. Ed Schnee reported that the Admissions and Recruitment Committee had its first fall meeting. The committee is charged with the responsibility of reviewing those departments/majors, which have received waivers or modifications of the admission test score requirement. Programs to be reviewed fall 2003 are MSW, Criminal Justice, Engineering, Art (studio), Nursing and Theatre. Requests for data will be sent to these areas in the near future with a January 15, 2004 deadline. The committee would like to develop a standardized approach to the review process for the benefit of future committees.
The committee reviewed preliminary data from GRE regarding percentile rankings for the new analytical writing portion of the GRE. Extensive data are not available from either GRE or the University; therefore, the committee recommends that the Graduate School and departments continue to analyze GRE writing score data before determining specific admission criteria.
Dr. Schnee reported that all admission applications are available online. Plans for workflow, the online review of applications by departments, continues but progress has been slow.
Most of the issues related to GRE security in Asia and the delay of GRE testing due to SARS have been resolved. International applicants continue to experience delays due to immigration and visa issues.
Dr. Schnee expressed concern regarding a growing problem of losing admitted applicants to institutions, which provide greater financial incentives to graduate students. He introduced the idea of waiving the out-of-state portion of tuition to encourage admitted applicants to select The University of Alabama for their graduate careers.
Chairman of the Financial Aid Committee, Dr. David Roskos-Ewoldsen, was unable to attend, but provided the Council members with material summarizing the fellowships administered by the Graduate School. Dr. Pat Harrison called special attention to the tentative schedule of 2003-2004 deadlines for Graduate Council and other Graduate School fellowships. Dr. Harrison reported that the committee had conducted its annual follow-up of previous fellowships recipients and found that their gpas, graduation rates, and other accomplishments continue to exceed the University average.
II. Reports from the Dean’s Office and Academic Affairs
Dr. Pat Harrison reported, on the behalf of Dr. John Schmitt, that more than 200 new GTAs attended the 17th annual Workshop for New GTAs, August 14th and 15th. Topics discussed were syllabus and course preparation, the use of the Internet and multimedia in college teaching, leading discussion groups, collaborative and peer learning techniques, and policies and legal issues for GTAs and faculty. The second day provided opportunities for each GTA to be videotaped while teaching and to be provided with both written and verbal feedback on teaching strengths and weaknesses.
The Graduate Council’s Committee on Teaching and Research Awards will select recipients for four awards for outstanding teaching and research. Two separate committees of faculty emeriti will select the thesis and dissertation winners. Award deadlines and procedures can be found on the Graduate School’s website in the “Student/Faculty Resources” section, in the area titled, “Additional Information.” The divisional committee chairs are:
A&S Joe Benson
C&BA Dave Miller (teaching & research)
Amelia Baldwin (thesis & dissertation)
CCIS Bruce Berger
Education Liza Wilson
Engineering A.A. El-Keib
HES Steve Thoma
SW Paul Stewart (teaching & research)
Jordan Kosberg (thesis & dissertation)
Dr. John Schmitt presented a seminar on Completing a Thesis or Dissertation, September 10th and 11th, 2003, with 60 graduate students attending. The seminar covers a variety of topics of importance for the successful completion of a thesis or dissertation.
Dr. Schmitt is very much involved with SACS Reaffirmation of Accreditation. University Leadership Team members met with SACS officials in Atlanta in June, and the process of gathering documentation to show whether or not UA is in compliance with each of the 73 SACS Principles of Accreditation has begun. Dr. Schmitt will provide the Council with regular updates regarding reaffirmation efforts.
Dr. Louis Pitschmann, Dean of University Libraries, encouraged those Council members who have not visited Gorgas Library since the completion of its remodeling to do so. He believes the newly remodeled library presents a more inviting atmosphere, one that both students and faculty will appreciate and enjoy.
Dr. Pitschmann reported that the UA libraries would be involved in a pilot project to secure certain academic publications electronically. The libraries will work with certain departments over the next twelve months to review the electronic format of publications, provide faculty training, and identify specific needs. During the pilot project, no print subscriptions to these publications will be discontinued. Dr. Pitschmann indicated that should the project prove successful, the monetary savings would be reinvested in securing additional research materials.
Mr. Seth Burgess, President of the Graduate Student Association, reported to the Council that graduate students are showing an increased interest in campus involvement. He requested the assistance of faculty to encourage that interest and to assist graduate students in identifying areas of involvement. Five seats are available to graduate students on the Student Government Association and, if members are aware of interested students, please have them contact him. Mr. Atokie Boman, President of the African-American Graduate Student Association, reiterated the importance of nurturing a sense of identity of among graduate students and having them involved in campus-wide activities.
Reports from Standing University Committees
Dr. Tavan Trent reported that the Faculty Senate had discussed benefits issues and had rejected a proposed option to the current health care plan until further study could be conducted and effects on current coverage assessed.
There was no old business.
V. New Business
There was no new business.
Dr. Rogers adjourned the meeting at 4:15 p.m.