The University of Alabama
September 24, 2013

The regular meeting of the Graduate Council was held at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 24, 2013, in 110 AIME Building.

Dr. Andrew Billings, Dr. Linda Cummins,
Dr. Jason DeCaro, Dr. Robert Findlay,
Dr. Susan Gaskins, Dr. Andrew Graettinger,
Dr. Maria Hernandez-Reif, Dr. Jonathon Halbesleben,
Dr. Allison Hetzel, Dr. Rick Houser,
Dr. Linda Knol (Substitute - Jeannine Lawrence),
Dr. James Leeper, Dr. Debra Nelson-Gardell,
Dr. Heath Turner, Dr. Mark Weaver,
Dr. Vivian Wright (Substitute – Craig Shwery)

Dr. Phillip Bishop, Dr. Melondie Carter,
Dr. John Giggie, Dr. Richard Houston,
Dr. Burcu Keskin, Dr. Aaron Kuntz,
Dr. Louis Marino, Dr. Mary Meares,
Dr. Jeffrey Parker, Dr. Ion Stancu,
Dr. John Vincent, Dr. Joseph Weber,
Dr. Frederick Whiting

Dr. Aaron Kuntz
Dr. Louis A. Pitschmann

Dr. John Schmitt, Associate Dean
Dr. Andrew Goodliffe, Assistant Dean
Ms. Beth Yarbrough, Registrar

Mr. Derrick Stokes
Mr. Robert Herron


Dean David Francko welcomed everyone and introduced all Graduate Council members present. Dean Francko asked if there any were corrections to the April 23, 2013 minutes. Motion was made to approve the minutes and seconded – all accepted – none opposed.

Dean Francko presented his annual “State of the Graduate School” PowerPoint.

Although Graduate enrollment has been up over the last seven years and several new records were set in Fall 2013, most aspects of admissions and enrollment for Fall 2013 are down from last year’s records.

The “State of the Graduate School” PowerPoint (Handout #1) highlighted the following points:

  • UA Graduate School Strategic Goals.
  • Previous enrollment increases.
  • Fall 2013 Enrollment.
  • Other enrollment indicators including numbers in colleges/departments and distance education.
  • Assistantships/fellowships numbers (Handout #2).
  • Reasons for the drop in enrollment.
  • Goals for the upcoming year.

The Fall 2013 graduate enrollment percentage of 13.5% (4,701 out of 34,852) is the smallest or second smallest graduate enrollment percentage in the Southeastern Conference. To keep up with undergraduate enrollment and increase our standing among SEC schools, graduate enrollment needs to increase by 10% or more.

One factor contributing to the decrease in enrollment may be that the census was run eight to nine days early; it is estimated that 30-40 students thus were not able to be included in the census count. Another factor may be the number of students graduating. We had a record number of graduate degree graduates last year. When 1,941 students graduate, 1,941 new students need to enroll just to maintain the same enrollment.

Because UA is known for its mentors, funding, research and highly regarded faculty, we have an advantage over many other schools in the country in terms of recruitment. Incoming students want to study at a school with such advantages, and if prospective students visit the UA campus and spend time with departmental faculty while here, a high percentage will attend the UA.

Dr. Rick Houser noted that these potential students want to work with the faculty in UA’s departments, so increasing the number of tenured faculty and faculty positions will help with recruitment. Many of the departments are losing faculty members as fast as they are being hired, in part because of better offers at other universities.

Master’s students comprise approximately two-thirds of graduate students, and doctoral students make up the other one-third. If there is an increase in the number of doctoral students, then funding must also increase; UA does not have adequate monetary resources currently.

I. Reports from Graduate Council Committees – No reports

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

Assistant Dean Andrew Goodliffe – The Graduate School has been working on a new application process for admission called APPREVIEW (Handout #3). Several advantages include:

  • Easier for department to use and working toward a totally paperless admission process.
  • Each department can make this customized to their specific admission criteria.
  • All departments will be able to review earlier – before all admission materials have been received. The new system could potentially save perhaps weeks in the review process.

APPREVIEW is currently being tested in several departments. Because this new process will be totally online, there will not be application paper-work going back and forth between the Graduate School and departments.

The Graduate School is shooting for APPREVIEW to be up and running in January of 2014. Since this program has been written in-house, adding additional steps for a department will be easy. Training has started in a few departments; however, all departments soon will be contacted across campus.

The Graduate School is sponsoring a new competition for doctoral students called the 3MT – Three Minute Thesis (Handout #4). The goal of this program is to equip our doctoral students to give short “elevator” pitches that can be broadly understood by a general audience. This develops skills that comprise an excellent tool for our graduate students in their efforts to secure jobs and in the improvement of their ability to communicate complex research information quickly and effectively. Winners will be judged on comprehension, engagement and communication.

Any currently registered student enrolled in a PhD program for the Fall 2013 semester will be eligible to be nominated by the department. All nominations must be submitted to the Graduate School by October 31st.

Training opportunities will be September 30th, October 11th and October 25th. Although only doctoral students may compete this first year, all graduate students are encouraged to come to the presentations and/or training sessions.  The presentations of several previous winners are online at (

Each department nominee will compete in University-wide semi-finals on November 12th. The top 13 winners will compete on November 20th at the UA final competition with the winner advancing to the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools’ Competition in San Antonio in February 2014. At the end of the final UA competition, the audience will vote for the “People’s Choice” winner.

All information regarding the 3MT Competition is at the Graduate School website - Next year, the Graduate School will be able to include competition at the master’s level as well.

Associate Dean John Schmitt reminded everyone that nominations for the Graduate School Awards will be due soon. These awards include the following:

  • Outstanding Thesis
  • Outstanding Dissertation
  • 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 Service by a Graduate Student

The committees review nominations online. For detailed information, dossier checklists, tips for faculty nominators, and so forth, visit the Graduate School website -

The colleges submit nominations for Outstanding Thesis and Outstanding Dissertation to the Graduate School by November 8th. All other nominations must be submitted to the Graduate School by January 13th. The seven award winners will be announced in late January.

Academic Program Review is currently underway and includes an online document repository and reporting system for reviews. The review committees include both current and former Graduate Council members.

“Thesis and Dissertation Seminars” are conducted twice each fall and spring semester. The Fall 2013 seminars, held on September 16 and 17, had more than 80 attendees. The seminars cover topics such as committees, timelines for completing major steps in the process and graduating on time, factors that slow down the process, and electronic submission of theses and dissertations. Surveys of graduate students who have attended the seminars are important in determining the content of upcoming seminars. The Spring 2014 seminar dates will be posted on the Graduate School website soon.

Dean Francko reminded the Graduate Council that recent Federal guidelines required a revision to graduate assistant workload appointments. The workload default now is .50, and overloads cannot be allowed. It would be advantageous for departments to stop the “doubling” of awards so that funding can be spread out more evenly among all students. Some overworked students are not finishing on time.

The “Through the Doors – 1963-2013” symposium (Handout #5) was held on September 12, 2013. Speakers were videoed, and once permissions are received, it can be viewed on the Graduate School website. The UA Graduate School is graduating twice the number of minority students today compared with the number just 11 years ago.

The Graduate School needs your help to re-energize graduate enrollment/admissions, for which the departments are key players. Several goals this year are:

  • New APPPREVIEW system to streamline the admission process.
  • Develop more programs in University Scholars (~ 250 students)
  • Increase the number of students in our dual-degree programs.
  • Increase the assistance of undergraduate recruiters in graduate recruiting.
    Confer 2000 degrees this year.
III.  Reports from Standing University Committees – no reports
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 Francko adjourned the meeting at 4:35 p.m.