The University of Alabama
April 26, 2011

 The regular meeting of the Graduate Council was held at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 in 110 AIME Building.


Dr. Rebecca Allen, Dr. Kim Bissell,
Dr. Mary Curtner-Smith,
Dr. Chuck Schmidt for Dr. F. Todd DeZoort,
Dr. Lisa Dorr, Dr. Marysia Galbraith,
Dr. Susan Gaskins,
Dr. Yuebin Guo, Dr. Diane Johnson,
Dr. Margo Lamme, Dr. Stevan Marcus,
Dr. Gordon MacNeil for Debra Nelson-Gardell,
Dr. Michael Picone, Dr. Kristy Reynolds,
Dr. Leslie Rissler, Dr. Nancy J. Rubin,
Dr. Jamie Satcher, Dr. Edward Schnee,
Dr. Lori Turner, Dr. Wayne J. Urban,
Dr. Derek Williamson, Dr. Vivian Wright


Dr. Marsha Adams, Dr. Martin Bakker,
Dr. Kim Caldwell, Dr. Timothy Haskew,

Dr. John Petrovic, Dr. Wendy Rawlings,

Dr. Steve Thoma


Prof. Steve Miller

Dr. Harold Stowell


Dr. Louis A. Pitschmann


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


Ms. Anita Mixon, Mr. Robert Harris


Dr. Rob Morgan, Dr. Angela Benson
Dr. Bill Wallace, Mr. Bill Merriman

Dean Francko welcomed everyone and introductions were made.

I. Minutes

Dr. Francko asked if there were corrections to the February 22, 2011 minutes. A motion was made to accept the minutes as written. The motion was seconded and all were in favor. The minutes were accepted.

II. Special Report from Bill Wallace and Bill Merriman – ELI

The English Language Institute (ELI) was established in 1982 after problems arose with students understanding Graduate Teaching Assistants and from a desire to place qualified,  intelligible GTAs in undergraduate classrooms. Approximately 200 students are registered in the ELI for two main reasons: 50-60% take the ELI for Academic Reasons and 40-50% take the ELI for Personal Reasons. (Attachment #1)

The International Teaching Assistant Program (ITAP) is used to evaluate and train non-English speaking students to determine their readiness to teach. There are also 4-6 outside programs completed with embassies, corporations, and other outside companies or groups.

The Program uses the “Speak Test” with questions and responses. The scoring is 20-60 points, and a rubric is used along with videotapes. There are three scores possible, and placement occurs as follows:

    Pass – Teach Class and/or Lab
    Conditional Pass – Teach Lab
    Fail – None

A proper TOEFL score can be used, but a student must also take the placement test. Bill Merriman will create a flow chart to explain this entire process, will provide score guidelines, and will list the most-effective remediation steps.

In order for a student to move from a Conditional Pass to Pass, there are several options available: Retake the ITAP Proficiency Exam, enroll in spoken English course, and/or enroll in an English writing course. The ITAP testing is held twice a year and the student would need to take the test again to change the score from a Conditional Pass to a Pass. The flowchart will help with the understanding of this process. If a student must retake the ITAP, there is a priority list. Currently, the Office of Academic Affairs funds around 60 spots for repeats.

After a student passes the ITAP, he must take the teaching training course in order to be able to teach. The only exemption allowed is if a student taught at another college or university. If placed in a classroom, the ELI monitors 1-2 times each semester in addition to the monitoring that the department handles.

A “Trial Pass” may be used. In this case, the student will be observed in the classroom, and notes will be taken and communicated to the student. At the second observation, notes will be taken regarding the student’s improvement. Several Council members expressed a concern about International Teaching Assistants (ITAs) not improving and being pulled from the class in the middle of a semester. However, the student is usually allowed to complete the semester but may not teach the following semester(s).

In the Speak portion of the ITAP Exam, the UA sets our own scoring. Rounding is not used, and as a result, the UA average is a little lower than the national average. Departments can also have their own rankings.

It was suggested to add website links to give International Students practice sites to work on their English.

III. Reports from Graduate Council Committees

A. Financial Aid Committee – Diane Johnson reported that to date, 88 Graduate Council Fellowship Offers have been sent out. To date, 68 have accepted and 14 have declined the offer. Currently, the Graduate School is waiting for a response from 15 offers made from the final round. The Goal is 80 maximum, and so far, 23 of these have been enhanced by the Fellowship Enhancement Program. In total, Graduate Council Fellowships have been offered to 47 departments.

B. Program and Degree Committee and Research and New Programs (combined) – Derek Williamson presented two new proposals that were presented to the committee.

1. A STEM-MBA pre-admission program proposal was presented (Attachment #2). This program would recruit STEM students beginning their freshman year to be slowly admitted into the MBA program by the end of their senior year. After some discussion, a motion was made and seconded to accept the new proposal. All were in favor and none opposed – motion passed.

2. An Alternative Doctoral Residency proposal was presented (Attachment #3). This proposal applies only to students in the Instructional Technology concentration within the Instructional Leadership, Ph.D. program. After some discussion, a motion was made and seconded to accept the proposal. All were in favor and none opposed – motion passed.

C. Admissions and Recruitment Committee – Ed Schnee presented a report on the admission waivers that were up for review. (All admission waivers are reviewed every four (4) years).

1. The School of Music submitted the four (4) year progress report and was approved for an additional 4 years.

2. The Modern Languages department sent in a unique request. The French and Spanish areas did not want to extend the GRE test waiver, but the German area wanted the waiver extended. The waiver was approved for the German area of Modern Languages and Classics for another four (4) years.

This request was treated as a review extension, rather than a new request. There was a motion made to consider this as a report, not a new waiver request. The motion was seconded and 11 approved, 1 – opposed, and 1 abstained. Motion passed.

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

Associate Dean John Schmitt reported on the recently updated and submitted SACS Fifth Year Report. He thanked all of the members that worked diligently over the last several months to finalize the report. Sometime in July, SACS will provide the University with its response.

John Schmitt reminded everyone that the start of fall classes was moved a week later than previously scheduled and is August 24th. Therefore, the dates of the 25th Annual Workshop for New Graduate Teaching Assistants also had to be changed. The Workshop will be at the Bryant Conference Center on Thursday and Friday, August 18-19, 2011.

Dean David Francko reported on the Research/Travel Grants fund (Attachment #4). Research/Travel Grants continue to grow and the number granted has exceeded our goal in five years. Hopefully we will have 1000+ students to fund in the future. Several times a year, students may apply for a Research/Travel grant. Monetary support comes primarily from application fees and from departmental matching.

Dean Francko reported on a report concerning the time from graduate application to decision. Processing time is down significantly, and there will be a follow-up report in a few weeks. These are three-year data, and next year, the Graduate School will be working with departments on their response time. (Attachment #5).

Assistant Dean Natalie Adams reminded everyone that the nominations for Tide Together Peer & Faculty Groups will be sent out soon. Nominations are for students in an underrepresented group, a female in a STEM program, or a 1st generation college student.

III. Reports from Standing University Committees

There were no standing committee reports.

IV. Old Business

There was no old business.

V. New Business

There was no new business.

Dean Francko adjourned the meeting at 4:35 p.m.