The University of Alabama
November 27, 2007

The regular meeting of the Graduate Council was held at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 27, 2007 in 205 Gorgas Library.


Dr. Silas C. Blackstock, Dr. Catherine E. Davies,
Dr. F. Todd DeZoort, Dr. Nirmala Erevelles,
Dr. M. Jenice “Dee” Goldston, Dr. Matthew Green,
Dr. Yuebin Guo, Dr. Allan V. Kaufman,
Dr. Michael D. Murphy, Dr. Janis M. O’Donnell,
Dr. David R. Roskos-Ewoldsen, Dr. Nancy J. Rubin,
Dr. Edward J. Schnee, Dr. Roy Ann Sherrod,
Dr. Charles R. Sox, Dr. Robert P. Taylor
Dr. Stephen C. Tomlinson, Dr. Keith A. Woodbury,
Dr. Kenneth E. Wright, Dr. Vivian H. Wright


Dr. Kimberly L. Bissell, Dr. Martyn R. Dixon,
Dr. Robert H. Findlay, Dr. Ida M. Johnson,
Dr. Charles J. Kacmar, Dr. Mark R. Klinger,
Prof. Andy Fitch (for Dr. Elaine A. Martin),
Dr. Samit Roy, Dr. Shuhua Zhou, Dr. Carol B. Mills


Dr. Jimmy J. Williams, A&S Assoc. Dean for Multicultural Affairs




Dr. John Schmitt, Associate Dean
Dr. Natalie Adams, Assistant Dean
Beth Yarbrough, Registrar

I. Dean’s Welcome to the Graduate Council
Dean Francko welcomed everyone, and introductions were made. Dean Francko asked whether there were corrections to the September 25, 2007 minutes. The minutes were accepted with one correction. Opening statements were made regarding the many issues that are being considered by the Graduate Council.

II. Reports from Graduate Council Committees
Committee on Program and Degree Requirements.
Dr. Stephen Tomlinson spoke regarding the time limit for doctoral students in the JD/Ph.D. in PSC dual-degree program. A detailed plan of study for all JD/Ph.D. students was presented. In the first year, students would be taking coursework only in Law. Students would not begin PSC coursework until the second year. After some discussion, the Committee recommended that the doctoral students have an eight-year time limit, with the clock beginning when the first PSC courses are taken in the second year. This time limit would apply only for dual-degree JD/Ph.D. in PSC students and not to regular PSC doctoral students who are not simultaneously working on a JD degree. Dr. Dee Goldston moved that the proposal be accepted; Dr. Vivian Wright seconded the motion. The proposal passed unanimously.

Committee on Admissions & Recruitment. Dr. Silas Blackstock introduced a discussion item regarding the acceptance of three-year baccalaureate degrees from the 49 countries that participate in the Bologna Accord. Several issues arose during the discussion:

1) If UA accepts these three-year undergraduate degrees from Bologna, then students from other countries (such as India) that are not in the accord likely will want their three-year undergraduate degrees accepted as well.

2) U.S. students must have a core curriculum, which often is not required of foreign students. The longstanding standard has been that only four-year baccalaureate degrees can be used toward admission to a graduate school in the U.S. Different nations have different standards and currently, UA is not comparing the specifics of each foreign degree with our U.S. degree. As an example, U.S. graduate schools do not do course-by-course comparisons of foreign credit hour or coursework content with U.S. credit hour or coursework content. UA might be putting itself at a risk of losing students if we don’t begin to make some changes and consider accepting three-year Bologna Accord degrees. Many top students in Chemistry, for example, are from countries with three-year degrees, and Chemistry faculty report that UA may have difficulty recruiting these students in the future.

3) If this proposal is based on the needs of the departments, should this be definitive, i.e., should departments be able to opt out of accepting three-year Bologna degrees for graduate admission? Dr. John Schmitt expressed that if this policy were adopted, each department could accept three-year baccalaureate students or not. Departments always are free to have standards higher than the minimum standards in the Graduate Catalog. The other option is to request an exemption for each student that a department wants to admit, but that option obviously would be more tedious both for departments and the UA Graduate School.

Several positive aspects emerged from the discussion. Admitting Bologna students would create a much more diverse community on campus, and many of the three-year undergraduate degrees across Europe are very sound degrees. Some are considered to be superior to the typical U.S. four-year undergraduate degree. Some report that this is especially true in the sciences.

Dean Francko stated that this issue has been discussed at the national and international level at a number of conferences and that the influx of international students will continually increase between now and 2010-2011. UA departments were surveyed on this subject, and to date, none had raised objections. However, the Committee is not ready to make specific recommendations. In the next several months, the Committee should have enough information to bring to the Council a recommendation.

III. Reports from the Dean’s Office

  • Dean Francko thanked everyone for voting for a replacement representative from the Council to the UA Committee on Merger or Discontinuation of Academic Units. Former Council member Marsha Houston has agreed to serve.
  • The Graduate School’s Research and Travel grants program for graduate students might be used for international travel (maybe not 100%) if the criteria can be met. Many graduate students need international experience, particularly for research and related activities.
  • The dean is working with the registrar regarding the University’s and State’s guidelines for graduate students to qualify for in-state residency. They are working to try to liberalize the policies and/or guidelines and should have a resolution soon.
  • Dr. Natalie Adams discussed Round 1 of the Graduate Council Fellowships (GCF). The call for nominations will go out this week, with the first round of nominations due January 23, 2008. This will be sent out by e-mail and posted on the Graduate School website. Included will be helpful hints for writing nomination letters that are more personal, positive, and helpful to the committee in making decisions about GCFs. Council members were asked to keep in mind that this is a round for regular Graduate Council Fellowships and not for Research/Creative Activity Fellowships.
  • The McNair Scholarship nominations will be accepted by the Graduate School January 8th through February 28th.
  • Dr. John Schmitt discussed the five graduate student awards for Teaching, Research and Service. The winners of these five awards are determined by the Council’s Committee on Teaching, Research and Service Awards. Additionally, the Graduate School appoints two committees of emeritus faculty to select the winners of the Outstanding Thesis and Outstanding Dissertation Awards. All seven of the Graduate School’s award winners will be determined by February 1.
  • The online Graduate Catalog is working well, and sometime in January we should have a limited number of hard copies available to deans, departments, and selected others on campus. However, all or selected sections of the Catalog already can be printed at any time and customized for each user’s particular needs.
  • The online list of Graduate Faculty members will be updated continually, will be accessible with links from Section 2.7 of the online Catalog, and will include all three categories of graduate faculty—full, associate, and temporary members.
  • Dean Francko mentioned plans for fundraising and will have more information to share after the first of the year. Monies raised will be used to increase the endowment for the Last Lecture Series, Scholarships, support funds, and so forth. The initial focus for prospective donors will be on previous Graduate Council Fellows, Graduate School award winners, and License Tag Fellows. The provost has not given final approval to the development plan, but hopefully it will be forthcoming.
  • Dr. Alan Kaufman spoke about the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) conference. He would like to see an increase in The University of Alabama’s presence at the SREB conference each October, with perhaps UA’s having a display for attendees. This would be appropriate for several reasons, including the fact that UA perennially has the greatest number of students who are SREB Doctoral Scholars. Dean Francko will bring this idea to the Council again in the spring, with the idea of sending four or five Graduate Council Members to the October 2008 conference.
  • There was a question about possible double-dipping of Graduate Council Fellowships. It was explained that there can be no double-dipping, in the sense that no student ever may hold two Graduate Council Fellowships at the same time. The only time that a student might hold a second GC Fellowship is in the very rare case that a student has a regular Fellowship early in the graduate career and later is awarded one for research/creative activity.
  • Dean Francko stated that UA has only about 37% of its graduate students on some type of funding. The average across the country is 50-60%. We must work to increase the number of GTAs and GRAs, as well as the number of students holding grants and fellowships. These will naturally increase somewhat as the Graduate School enrollment increases to 4,500, but we need to do more.
  • Discussion ensued about the difference in the Graduate Council Fellowships for Research/Creative Activity versus those in Rounds 1, 2, and 3. Dean Francko also mentioned that at the last minute each semester, monies typically are available to fund a small number of Fellows as a result of a few last-minute declinations by students who had accepted GCFs.

IV. Reports from Standing University Committees
No standing committee reports.

V. Old Business
There was no old business.

VI. New Business
Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD). Dr. John Schmitt introduced the issue of electronic thesis/dissertation (ETD) submission. Some universities across the country have made ETD submission mandatory; others give students the option to submit either hard copy or electronic copy; and some permit only a hard copy. Most students already have their thesis/dissertation in some electronic form, which would help students begin the process of electronic submission. One of the many issues to consider is the long-term storage of ETD.

Institutions that have ETD typically have found that the Graduate School is asked to develop templates for preparation of manuscripts for ETD submission. Having separate templates for theses and dissertations can make it easier for students to achieve correct formatting and might in some cases reduce the time that the Graduate School must spend in final checking of the manuscript. An ETD also would allow music, 3-D graphics and other elements that cannot be accommodated in a traditional hard-copy document. A host of other issues, including technical support, would need to be considered by a steering committee or ad hoc committee charged to evaluate the steps to take and resources needed to make ETD submission a reality at UA. Dr. Roy Ann Sherrod wondered if electronic submission of theses and dissertations might increase the occurrence of plagiarism.

The Graduate School has learned from other institutions that to gain acceptance on campus, the introduction of ETD needs to be a bottom-up rather than top-down process. If faculty and graduate students are not the primary motivators from the outset, the ETD effort may have trouble succeeding.

UAB requires ETD submission only (hard copy submission is no longer an option), and Auburn University allows either format. No other institution in Alabama has ETD.

Alumni Tracking. Dean Francko brought up the idea of having a formal method to track alumni. Currently, the Graduate School is dependent on departments, and the tracking of alumni by departments varies considerably. The Office of University Advancement is working with the Graduate School to develop a comprehensive system for tracking graduate student alumni, including GCFs and others.

Number of Graduate Degrees. Despite rumors to the contrary, UA offers the largest number of graduate degrees across the state. The current ACHE Program Inventory shows that UA has 120 graduate degree programs.

There being no further business, Dean Francko adjourned the meeting at 4:30 p.m.