The University of Alabama
February 28, 2012

The regular meeting of the Graduate Council was held at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 in 110 AIME Building.


Dr. Marsha Adams, Dr. Kim Bissell,
Dr. Mary Curtner-Smith, Dr. Robert Findlay
Dr. DoVeanna Fulton Minor, Dr. Susan Gaskins,
Dr. Yuebin Guo, Dr. Timothy Haskew,
Dr. Allison Hetzel, Dr. Rick Houser,
Dr. Diane Johnson,

Dr. Charles Schmitt sub for Dr. Bruce Keskin,

Dr. Margo Lamme,
Dr. Stevan Marcus, Dr. Louis Marino,
Dr. Kagendo Mutua,
Dr. Wesley Church sub for Dr. Debra Nelson-Gardell,
Dr. Jeffrey Parker, Dr. John Petrovic,
Dr. Nancy J. Rubin, Dr. Edward Schnee,
Dr. Steve Thoma, Dr. Mark Weaver,
Dr. Stephen Woski


Dr. Lisa Dorr, Dr. Marysia Galbraith,
Dr. Michael Picone, Dr. Jamie Satcher,

Dr. Lori Turner


Prof. Steve Miller

Dr. Louis A. Pitshmann


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


Ms. Tamica Shambly

Mr. Michael George, University Registrar’s Office
Mr. Denny Savage, University Registrar’s Office
Mr. Kurt Morton, University Registrar’s Office
Ms. Diane Layton, University Registrar’s Office

Dean David Francko welcomed everyone and introductions were made to the Council. Dr. Francko asked if there were corrections to the November 27, 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.

The University Registrar’s Office was present to demonstrate the Degree Audit System called DegreeWorks. Mr. Michael George, Mr. Denny Savage, Mr. Kurt Morton and Ms. Diane Layton were in attendance from the University Registrar’s Office.

Currently, DegreeWorks degree audit system is used by Faculty and Advisors to assist in advising students to degree completion. All programs are set up to check number of hours, number of major hours, GPA and so forth. The Master of Social Work degree program was demonstrated. Since the MSW is a lock-step program, the department only used the Major block aspect of the audit. The Master of Science in Geology was demonstrated as their degree program uses a Major block, a Concentration area and other departmental requirements rules.

All University Scholars students would have two degree audits – an Undergraduate and a Graduate audit. All programming is updated through the University Registrar’s Office.

Courseleaf (courses) changes will be updated in DegreeWorks through the Banner system. As long as a course is repeatable in Banner, it will be used as repeatable in DegreeWorks. As this program moves forward, the expectation will be that everyone will participate.

The Graduate School and Registrar’s Office are following a detailed timeline to put all master’s programs in production with DegreeWorks by the end of 2012. Work on doctoral programs begins in 2013.

I. Reports from Graduate Council Committees

A.      Admission and Recruitment Committee – Dr. Ed Schnee reported that currently four (4) programs with waivers of the normal admissions policies were up for their required four-year review.  Art, Social Work, and Nursing have extended their admission requirements another four (4) years.  Engineering admission requirements are pending further review.

For many years, Graduate School admissions practice has been to require all transcripts from undergraduate and graduate schools be submitted to the Graduate School for the admissions packet.  The Council discussed changing the practice to require only those transcripts containing 15 or more hours of coursework.  The Graduate School will try this out to see how well it works.  The goal is to expedite the admission process, so that an acceptance is not delayed for lack of an older transcript—often from a 2-year college—at which the applicant completed just a few hours.

B.      Financial Aid Committee – Dr. Diane Johnson reported that to date, forty-nine (49) Graduate Council Fellowship (GCF) offers have been sent and fourteen (14) have been accepted.  The acceptance deadline is April 15, 2012.  Thursday, March 1, 2012, Round 2 is due and Round 3 will be due on March 29, 2012.  The Financial Aid Committee is hoping to set a record for the number of Graduate Council Fellowships this year.

C.      Teaching, Research and Service Award Committee - Dr. John Schmitt reported on the Teaching, Research and Service Awards, as well as the Thesis and Dissertation awards.  The first-year online evaluation worked well with the committee.  All nomination information was placed online for committee review, followed by compiling the scores in a report format.  The Graduate School award winners are the “best of the best” graduate students, since each nominee already had to have won a college-wide award to enter the competition.  Each winner of a Graduate School award is honored in his or her respective college’s ceremony during Honors Week.  The winners receive $500.00 and a framed certificate.  College nominees who do not win a Graduate School award nonetheless receive a letter of commendation and a certificate of merit.

The seven Graduate School award winners are as follows (Attachment #1): 

Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation – Dr. Sally A. Zengaro

Outstanding Master’s Thesis – Mr. Miguel Sequera

Excellence in Teaching by a Master’s Student – Mr. Adam J. Sharples

Excellence in Teaching by a Doctoral Student – Ms. Ashley J. George

Excellence in Research by a Master’s Student – Mr. Brock M. Huntsman

Excellence in Research by a Doctoral Student – Mr. Meisam Salahshoor

Outstanding Service by a Graduate Student – Ms. Krystal Anne Hedge

D.     Program & Degree Requirements Committee with Research & New Programs Committee – Dr. Steve Thoma presented a committee-approved proposal for a Graduate Certificate Program in Qualitative Research from the Department of Educational Studies in Psychology, Research Methodology and Counseling (Attachment #2).  This program was developed in response to a growing demand of students requesting interest in qualitative research.  Currently, no certificate program in qualitative research exists at another university in the State of Alabama. 

This program would require eighteen (18) credits for completion and would be taught on campus only.  There is a twenty-five (25) student enrollment projection within the first five (5) years of the program inception, with fifteen (15) certificates awarded by year six (6).

      Lou Marino made a motion to accept the new certificate program, and Andy Finch seconded it.  All were in favor and none opposed.  Motion passed

      The second proposal was for an Alternative Doctoral Residency for the Ph.D. in Instructional Leadership with a concentration in Social and Cultural Studies in Education.  This proposal is from the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy and Technology Studies.  (Attachment #3)

      This proposal was developed in response to the growing number of adults working in the State and across the region who are unable to put their jobs on hold to pursue doctoral study or may not have the flexibility to meet the current residency requirements. 

Students will enroll in 18 hours of graduate coursework across three consecutive semesters.  The 18 hours of coursework must include the following: 

·         no more than 6 hours of online/distance education coursework (including Gadsden Center offerings, courses completely online, and hybrid courses)

·         no more than 3 hours of hybrid or online coursework in a given semester (Note: This prohibition excludes Gadsden Center courses offered in face-to-face format.)

·         a minimum of 12 hours of approved coursework on the Tuscaloosa campus, including a minimum of 6 hours of the 12-hour core.

      Discussion followed, and Dr. Lou Marino made a motion to accept the new Alternative Doctoral Residency.  Dr. Diane Johnson seconded.  All were in favor and none opposed.  Motion passed.

The joint committee suggested that when there is the required review of the first group of approved Alternative Doctoral Residencies, there should also be a more general discussion of ADR implementation and how it works in each department.  The Council was reminded that approval of each ADR proposal has been contingent, in part, on having an appropriate set of measures the department will continually assess to determine that the ADR option is achieving the same purposes as the traditional residency option.


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


Dr. David Francko informed the Council that the National Alumni Association (NAA) License Tag Fellowship announcement will be sent out this week.  Nominations are due March 30, 2012, and offers will be sent out during the first week in April. 

The NAA License Tag Fellowship Announcements will go out in the fall like the Graduate Council Fellowships, and there will be a standardized timetable similar to the one used for selecting Graduate Council Fellows.

Dr. Natalie Adams reported on changes in Graduate School Admissions.  Because changes to International Admissions are forthcoming, the Graduate School is looking at a May 1st target deadline for fall acceptances.  Most applications received in May/June are International.  This early deadline will be needed, especially in the STEM programs. 

A new University Scholars program for undergraduate students in Political Science has been approved beginning Spring 2012.  (Attachment #4). 

Dr. David Francko reported on the new background checks for assistantships.  The background check process is beginning now for the Fall 2012 semester.  Paperwork forms and the information packets have been sent to each department.  All background checks must be completed before an assistantship offer can be finalized for a student.

Mr. John Chambers will be conducting eight (8) training sessions on background checks over the next few weeks.  Each department will be asked to insert the proper language in its offer letter.

Departments and students will not pay for the background checks.  This is for students that are to be employed by the UA only – not all graduate students.  However, falsifying information on the admission form is grounds for denial of admission or dismissal from the program and The University of Alabama.

Results for the background checks will be sent weekly.  Appointments late in Summer can be temporarily approved, but may be rescinded if the report comes back negative.

The Graduate School is using a company in Northport.  The checks normally take about 24-72 hours for domestic students and a little longer for international students. 

The University of Alabama is concerned primarily with violent crimes against people.  An ad hoc committee has been set up for students who petition for review, or for whom the Graduate School/department is unsure about an admission decision.  The committee will make the admission decisions in these special cases.

The call for the Travel/Research Funds comes out in late March.  Applications for funds may be submitted any time, but they are reviewed quicker if students will use the timetable set


up for each round.  Professor Steve Miller stated that this makes a huge difference for the few students at the international level.

The Graduate School has placed an ad in USA Today’s Graduate School Edition.  The ad will be inside the front cover of the early May edition.

Dr. John Schmitt thanked Council members for their service on program review committees and asked members to respond positively if they receive an invitation from Dr. Bonner to serve on a review committee in the future.

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.

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