The University of Alabama
September 25, 2012

The regular meeting of the Graduate Council was held at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 25, 2012 in 110 AIME Building.


Dr. Marsha Adams, Dr. Mary Elizabeth Curtner-Smith,

Dr. Jason DeCaro, Dr. Susan Gaskins, Dr. John Giggie,

Dr. Yuebin Guo, Dr. Jonathon Halbesleben,

Dr. Allison Hetzel, Dr. Rick Houser,

Dr. Richard Houston, Dr. Burcu Keskin,

Dr. Linda Knol, Dr. Aaron Kuntz,

Dr. Margo Lamme, Dr. James Leeper,

Dr. Louis Marino, Dr. Debra Nelson-Gardell,

Dr. Michael Picone, Dr. Steve Thoma,

Dr. Mark Weaver, Dr. Joseph Weber,

Dr. Frederick Whiting, Dr. Vivian Wright,

Dr. Stephen Woski


Dr. Kim Bissell, Dr. Robert Findlay, 

Dr. Timothy Haskew, Dr. Jeffrey Parker

Dr. Kagendo Mutua



Prof. Steve Miller (absent)

Dr. Louis A. Pitshmann


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


Mr. Derrick Stokes (Absent)

Mr. Jonathan Handy


GUEST(S): None

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


Dean David Francko welcomed everyone, and introductions were made. The meeting began with a PowerPoint presentation, “State of the Graduate School”. The same presentation was recently given at meeting of the vice presidents and deans. In the presentation, Dean Francko outlined goals and current status of the Graduate School, as listed below:


The Strategic Goals of the Graduate School at The University of Alabama:

  • Partner with colleges and departments to develop nationally-prominent graduate programs that synergistically contribute to the University’s goal of a 35,000-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.

  • In short, be the best student-centered graduate program in the Southeast!

There has been an increase in applications and enrollments every year since 2006:

  • Calendar year applications have grown 38%. 

  • Fall semester applications have increased 50% since 2006 - new admissions are up 18% and new enrollments are up 30%.

  • Overall enrollment is up over 31% since 2005; doctoral enrollment is up 50%.

  • Historically, more than 60% of grad students were Alabama residents – now 53% are Alabama residents, and the incoming classes are approximately 60% out-of-state.

  • African-American/Black enrollment has almost doubled since the mid-2000s.

  • Degrees awarded have increased more than 30% since 2006-07.

Many initiatives have moved UA to the upper ranks among the 50 U.S. flagship universities in creating an inclusive graduate student community and improving retention/time-to-degree.  Several examples include:

  • CGS/Peterson’s Award in 2008 that created Tide Together Mentoring Program (70 mentees to date, only 5% attrition), and the Graduate Parent Support (GPS) program (over 400 participants).

  • McNair Graduate Fellowship Program (over 50 McNair Fellows on campus).

  • New Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Student Chapter.

  • Annually rank in top 2-3 A.A. degree producers among 50 flagship campuses.

By partnering with departments and programs, support for student research and travel has grown 7-fold in 6 years to over $500,000 at present.


Graduate enrollment growth by division has been uneven – a major demographic shift over the past several years, and some large divisions actually declined this year. 


Growth in Distance Learning graduate students linear and now ca. 29% of total graduate enrollment.


Graduate School Alumni are important to Alabama’s Economy:

  • Historically, 60% of UA grad students are AL residents, and a proportional share of our Master’s recipients stay in Alabama after graduation.

  • A higher percentage of doctoral grads stay in Alabama than expected based on enrollment/graduation numbers, so we are becoming a net importer of doctoral talent.

  • Master’s and doctoral recipients earn an average of 400,000 and $1.3 million more, respectively, over their lifetimes than persons with a baccalaureate degree;  $24.1 billion value-added to Alabama economy and tax base.  61% of all masters/EdS graduates currently reside in Alabama, and 65% of all doctoral graduates reside in Alabama.

  • Student funding has increased over the past five years at the department and University level:

  •  Graduate Assistantships have increased an overall 32%.

  •  Graduate Fellowships have increased an overall 252%.

  •  Combined Assistantships and Fellowship have increased an overall 50%.

  • Although Expenditures have increased, so has income:

    • Expenditures have increased from $31.3 million to 47.6 million.

    • Income has increased from $36.5 million to 51.7 million.


Beyond 2012-13

  • Continue enrollment growth in new, high-demand dual-degree, certificate, and other professional programs.

  • Hopefully, reinvigoration and enrollment growth goal-setting in “core” Master’s and PhD programs, especially in Arts and Sciences, Education, and other large UA graduate divisions.

  • Closer coupling of growth in faculty research and graduate recruiting in grants-active disciplines, especially in STEM.

  • Fall 2013 is last year of “old” 5-year strategic growth plan in Grad School – goal was/is 5,200 students.  To reach that goal and grow to 6,000 or larger (maintain 18-20% grad/professional enrollment) will require:

  • Continued growth in funded positions – BOTH internal and especially external growth in stipend size and number.  Currently, UA is still 15-25% below aspirational competitors in stipends.

  • Continued growth in the applicant pool AND a better yield from that pool – through Enrollment Rx or similar software, GRE, McNair lists, etc. 

  • MOST IMPORTANT:  Campus-wide recognition of central role of research and graduate education in UA’s future institutional profile.



There was discussion regarding the colleges/departments with static or declining graduate enrollment—including some of the larger colleges. Hopefully, the new president will work with the graduate school and colleges to reverse the trend. One challenge is to increase the number of faculty to handle the growing enrollment. Although UA has the capacity to grow, more faculty and grant money are needed. 


It was reported that the College of Arts & Sciences now has a minimum enrollment requirement that has increased from 10 to 15(UG) and 5 to 7(GR). Faculty are busy, and there is natural push-pull between teaching and research duties. If the number of sections is lowered, faculty will have more time to do research and be able to apply for more grant money. It is the college’s/department's prerogative to make those decisions through their dean’s office. Each college/department must develop a model that works for them.


It was mentioned that the UA infrastructure needs continual assessment as enrollment increases. UA needs more classrooms and computer labs for students without computers. UA is working to equip all of the new buildings on campus while trying to revamp the old buildings. Improving and expanding infrastructure can be a real draw for recruitment.


Dean Francko asked if there were any corrections to the April 24, 2012 minutes. No corrections were made, and the minutes were approved.



II. Reports from Graduate Council Committees

A.     Admission and Recruitment Committee – none


B.   Fellowship and Scholarship Committee – none


C.   Teaching, Research and Service Award Committee – none


D.   Program and Degree Committee and Research and New Programs (combined) – none


E.   Reports from the Dean’s Office and Academic Affairs -


Dean David Francko asked about changing the meeting in November from the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to the Thursday before Thanksgiving.  The motion to move the next Graduate Council meeting to Thursday, November 15, 2012 passed with a majority vote.

Natalie Adams will be moving to New College.  The Graduate School will begin interviewing three candidates over the next several weeks for the Assistant Dean Position.  The Graduate School is asking for help from the Graduate Council with the recruitment process and seeks input from members of the Council.  There is a special session from 10:00 to 10:45 on the day of the interview for Graduate Council members only.  Council members were asked to contact Kathleen Nodine ( if they planned to attend.

Associate Dean John Schmitt reminded everyone that at the April 2012 Graduate Council meeting, the Council recommended approval of two new certificate programs (qualitative research and quantitative research).  Both certificate programs now have been approved by the Board of Trustees and ACHE. 

Dr. Schmitt also thanked Dr. Bob Findlay, Dr. Debra Nelson-Gardell, Dr. Timothy Haskew and Dr. Marysia Galbraith for serving an important role in representing the Council as members of program review committees.

Attendance at the 26th annual Workshop for New GTAs was 230+ new GTAs.  The workshop included speakers from all over campus, presenting on a variety of topics related to college teaching.  Additionally, the new GTAs were videotaped while teaching, were able to see themselves on tape, and received both verbal and written input on their teaching strengths and areas for possible improvement.  The students also engaged in collaborative activities designed to help them solve classroom problems following ethical and legal guidelines for faculty and GTAs.


Dr. Schmitt reported that nominations for Outstanding Thesis and Outstanding Dissertation are due to the Graduate School by November 9, 2012.  Nominations for all other Outstanding Graduate Student awards are due January 11, 2013.  The other Outstanding Graduate Student awards include 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, and Outstanding Service by a Graduate Student.  The awards selection timeline and procedures already have gone out to the deans and college-wide awards-selection coordinators.  College winners will compete with the other campus colleges for the UA awards.   Please take the time to nominate your top students.  It is of great benefit to the students, and winning an award is recognition of the quality of faculty and student efforts in departments. 

Assistant Dean Natalie Adams announced that the Financial Aid Committee has a new name – the Fellowship and Scholarship Committee.  For the 2012-2013 Academic year, the final numbers for fellowships are as follows:  88 Graduate Council Fellowship, 30 National Alumni (License Tag) Fellowships, and 13 McNair Scholarships.

Tide Together has 28 participants this year, and the Graduate Ambassadors program has a total of 49.

Human Resources agreed to hire a person to handle the Graduate Parent Support (sitters for service, etc.) group.  This new position of assisting both Graduate and Undergraduate students has been filled by Cori Purdue.

McNair Preview Day was well attended.  Dr. Adams thanked those who assisted in making Preview Day a success.  Attendance was down, but this was expected with the $10 million budget cut made by congress.  There were about 40 McNair students from all over the United State in attendance.



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 4:15 p.m.