The University of Alabama
September 27, 2011

The regular meeting of the Graduate Council was held at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 27, 2011 in 110 AIME Building.


Dr. Marsha Adams, Dr. Kim Bissell,
Dr. Mary Curtner-Smith, Dr. Robert Findlay,
Dr. DoVeanna Fulton Minor, Dr. Marysia Galbraith,
Dr. Susan Gaskins, Dr. Yuebin Guo,
Dr. Allison Hetzel, Dr. Rick Houser,
Dr. Diane Johnson, Dr. Burcu Keskin, Dr. Stevan Marcus,
Dr. Louis Marino, Dr. Carol Phelps sub for Dr. Debra Nelson-Gardell,
Dr. Jeffrey Parker, Dr. John Petrovic,
Dr. Michael Picone, Dr. Nancy J. Rubin,
Dr. Jamie Satcher, Dr. Edward Schnee,
Dr. Steve Thoma, Dr. Lori Turner,
Dr. Mark Weaver, Dr. Stephen Woski sub for Dr. Leslie Rissler


Dr. Lisa Dorr, Dr. Timothy Haskew,
Dr. Margo Lamme,
Dr. Kagendo Mutua


Prof. Steve Miller


Dr. Louis A. Pitshmann


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


Ms. Tamica Shambly

Dean David Francko welcomed everyone and made introductions for the 2011-2012 Graduate Council. Dr. Francko asked if there were corrections to the April 26, 2011 minutes. A motion was made to accept the minutes as written with one correction. The motion was seconded and all were in favor – motion passed.

I. Reports from Graduate Council Committees

A. Financial Aid Committee – Dr. Diane Johnson reported that to date, 88 Graduate Council Fellowship (GCF) offers were accepted in 37 departments for the 2011-2012 calendar year.
Dr. Francko noted that 80% of the applicants were the very top recruits. For the 2011-2012 calendar year, the Graduate School has a record number of Fellowships accepted, and 23 of the GCF award stipend offers were increased by the department through the Fellowship Enhancement Program. The Graduate School is planning to continue the Fellowship Enhancement Program and is working on expanding the $5,000.00 supplement. The concentration for the upcoming year will be on Out-of-State students.

B. Program and Degree Committee and Research and New Programs (combined)
Dr. John Schmitt announced that a new dual-enrollment MSW/JD program was submitted in April, reviewed in the Graduate School, forwarded by the Provost to the Board of Trustees, and then reviewed favorably by the joint Program & Degree Requirements and Research & New Programs Committee.

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

Dr. David Francko presented a PowerPoint show on Graduate School strategic goals, data and accomplishments. Included in the strategic goals (Attachment #1) are the following:

• Partner with colleges and departments to develop nationally-prominent graduate programs that synergistically contribute to the University goal of a 32,000 student, first-tier, student-centered research university by enhancing UA’s scholarly, teaching, and service missions.

• Increase the size, quality, and diversity of the graduate student body and maximize opportunities for graduate student and graduate faculty development.

The first part of a 5-year growth plan has been completed. Since The University of Alabama has set an enrollment goal of 32,000 total students, there has been an increase in size and diversity along with an increase in Graduate Faculty.

In 2006, there were 3,781 graduate students. In Fall 2011, there are 4,774 graduate students. This is the largest growth rate in the Southeast. Our goal is to have Graduate School enrollment increase to 5,200 by 2013.

In 2006, 36% of the graduate students were funded through assistantships, fellowships, and other funds. In 2011 that has risen to 40% funded. Our goal is to maintain at least 40% funding for graduate students.

In 2006, 16% of graduate students were funded through internal assistantships; now, 22% are funded. Our goal is to reach 30% funded through assistantships. In 2006, the stipend for a 0.50 FTE assistantship was $11,000.00. Currently the stipend is $13,600.00, with a goal to reach $15,500.00.

Since 2008, the Graduate student body growth has grown 20%, whereas the Undergraduate growth is at 17.4%. Unfortunately, the media overwhelmingly stress undergraduate enrollment and size of the freshman class, with Graduate enrollment rarely being mentioned.

Areas of particular emphasis in the near future are recruitment, retention and time-to-degree. In 2006, the Graduate School processed 6,003 applications, and currently the number is 7,900 applications. Once applications increase, there is a better pool for departments to recruit. The application money is used for assistantships, travel/research grants and recruitment. In the 2005-2006 AY, $75,000.00 was awarded in travel/research grants to 128 students. During the 2010-2011 AY, $457,000.00 was awarded to 709 students. That is a remarkable increase of more than six-fold.

The UA Graduate School has been nationally recognized for our student/parent support groups such as Tide Together and the Graduate Parent Support Program, along with the cohesive relationship between Graduate School and the departments on The University of Alabama’s campus. Because of programs such as these, UA’s Graduate Student retention rate is higher and time-to-degree is better than the national average.

UA Graduate School accomplishments:

• Nationally ranked graduate programs in Business, Communication, MLIS and other fields.

• 1st quartile rankings for Student Support/Outcomes and Academic Diversity in the 2010 NRC Assessment of Research doctorates; many 2nd quartile programs in overall quality.

• Awarded 1728 graduate degrees in 2010-2011—expected to reach 2000 in 2013.

• More than 30% of UA degrees awarded are graduate degrees (greatest growth in doctorates).

• Nationally a leader in the development of minority scholars (SREB, “Extra mile Award,” etc.), 3rd among 50 U.S. flagship universities in A.A. graduate degrees, and 3rd in first-generation PhDs among all universities.

Graduate School challenges:

• Increasing the Fall 2012 enrollment to 5000.

• Processing 8200 applications in 2011-2012.

• Reducing the application acceptance/rejection time to 42 days.

• Increasing acceptance number by May 15th each year and taking action on all international applications by that same date.

• Increasing enrollment in the core disciplines and larger colleges.

Many changes are on the horizon for the Graduate School this year. By December 2011, there will be a 5-year embargo available for Electronic Thesis/Dissertation submissions (in addition to the existing choices of 6-month, 1-year or 2-year embargo). A new doctoral exit survey is expected to be rolled out by Spring 2012 (this is in addition to the long-standing Survey of Earned Doctorates).

Background checks for all GTAs will begin in January 2012. This new process has been adopted by many universities in the U.S., and it is increasingly important for universities to have a system in place. The plan may be for only new GTAs to be checked, but that may be modified before the system goes into effect. The University is looking to identify individuals who have committed major criminal acts. There will be a fee, but more detailed information will be forthcoming.

This process will also be for all International students and cannot be completed in 24 hours. There will be a section placed on the application asking about criminal background. This is not intrusive to the applicants, and in fact, the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration and the College of Education are already using a similar process. The application will follow the existing Undergraduate application format. ITAP is also making changes to better screen and prepare the International Students.

An application will be rejected if the applicant falsifies information on the form, but if everything checks out, any other information found during the screening will not go to the department for privacy reasons. As a result, we will not be able to accept applications from International students in July. Since the Provost asks that all applications be responded to by June each year, we are going to handle this process in May. Please contact the Graduate School if problems arise and we need to make a change.

The enrollment report has just been published (Attachment #2). Larger divisions overall had little or no growth, but smaller divisions had larger growth. The Internet/Video programs enrollment category has the largest growth since Fall 2009 and encompasses 80% of the Graduate enrollment increase over the last 2 years. If there is a 2% growth in the core divisions and distance education, enrollment should reach 5200 by 2013.

There was a brief discussion of doctoral residency. Dean Francko reminded Council members that there are established guidelines and procedures for any interested department to propose an Alternative Doctoral Residency (ADR) to the Graduate Council for consideration. The Council has approved six departments’ requests for the ADR option, and another likely will be considered by the Council at its next meeting.

Dr. John Schmitt reported that over 250 new GTAs attended the 25th Annual Workshop for New Graduate Teaching Assistants at the Bryant Conference Center August 18-19. The Workshop is one of a handful in the U.S. in which new GTAs are videotaped while teaching and receive both written and verbal critiques about their teaching strengths and areas for improvement. Information about the Workshop is available at the Graduate School’s website.

The process of selecting winners of the Graduate School’s seven (7) awards for outstanding graduate students is beginning. The awards are as follows: Outstanding Teaching by a Master's Student; Outstanding Teaching by a Doctoral Student; Outstanding Research by a Master's Student; Outstanding Research by a Doctoral Student; Outstanding Thesis; Outstanding Dissertation; and Outstanding Service by a Graduate Student.

The thesis and dissertation nominations are due from the colleges on November 9. Nominations for the teaching, research and service awards are due January 11, 2012.

The University of Alabama has 190 degree programs. Over 60% (120) are graduate degrees. Only 70 degrees are undergraduate.

Dr. Natalie Adams stated that this year is a record for recruitment. There will be a new Recruitment Schedule on the website soon for all departments to view (Attachment #3). Any department going on a recruitment trip is encouraged to contact the Graduate School for assistance and/or handouts.

New Graduate Ambassadors will be named by mid-October. Ambassadors are current graduate students who represent a variety of academic fields. They serve as official student representatives for the Graduate School in recruitment activities and a variety of other activities throughout the academic year.

Dr. David Francko commented that over 60% of Graduate students are out-of-state students, graduate students represent many states, and this is an increase from previous years.
Twice as many McNair Scholarships were awarded this year versus last year. Hopefully, we will have 20 this year. The goal is to be known as the Graduate School with a McNair Scholar in every department.


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 a comment about the information that accompanies a nomination for an outstanding thesis or dissertation. The process requires a support letter from the thesis or dissertation advisor, as well as a letter from the nominee. The chair of the college award selection committee typically includes an indication of support as well. However, letters are not required of all members of the thesis or dissertation committee. Dr. Schmitt said that he will place an additional statement on the awards site to encourage nomination letters from committee members in addition to the chair.

There being no further business, Dean Francko adjourned the meeting at 4:35 p.m.