The University of Alabama
April 22, 2014

The regular meeting of the Graduate Council was held at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 in 110 AIME Building



Dr. Andrew Billings, Dr. Phillip Bishop, Dr. Melondie Carter,
Dr. Linda Cummins, Dr. Jason DeCaro, Dr. Susan Gaskins,
Dr. John Giggie, Dr. Andrew Graettinger, Dr. Jonathon Halbesleben,
Dr. Allison Hetzel, Dr. Rick Houser, Dr. Burcu Keskin,
Dr. Linda Knol, Dr. Aaron Kuntz, Dr. James Leeper,
Dr. Mary Meares, Dr. Debra Nelson-Gardell,
Dr. Ion Stancu, Dr. Heath Turner, Dr. John Vincent,
Dr. Mark Weaver, Dr. Frederick Whiting, Dr. Vivian Wright

Dr. Robert Findlay, Dr. Maria Hernandez-Reif, Dr. Richard Houston,
Dr. Louis Marino, Dr. Jeffrey Parker, Dr. Joseph Weber
Prof. Steve Miller
Dr. Louis A. Pitschmann
Dr. John Schmitt, Associate Dean
Dr. Andrew Goodliffe, Assistant Dean
Mr. Eric Harris, Assistant Registrar
Ms. Beth Yarbrough, Registrar
Dr. Arthur Allaway

Dean David Francko welcomed everyone and introductions were made. 

I.   Approval of the Minutes

Dr. Francko asked if there were corrections to the February 25, 2014 minutes.  Motion was made and seconded to approve the minutes as written – all approved, none abstained, and none opposed.

II.  Reports from Graduate Council Committees

A. Admissions and Recruitment Committee

Dr. Debra Nelson-Gardell introduced the idea of an awards rubric to be used in an advisory way due to previous requests for such a tool.  Human judgment naturally plays a role in making decisions, but a “more structured” (while not “hard and fast”) approach has been requested. Perhaps the next committee will take this idea and run with it.  Dr. Goodliffe has the information and can share with future committees.  Dr. Nelson-Gardell also stressed the importance of informing the Graduate School if a student will not be utilizing an award.  Dr. Goodliffe interjected that not awarding money – when it’s available is “criminal”; in the previous year a number of offers went unspent.  Transparency is a goal while keeping the process subjective and objective.  Decision meetings would not be necessary if GPA and test scores were the only criteria.  Concerning accountability of departments, Dr. Andrew Graettinger asked if there are any existing means to track the success of awardees down the line (e.g, paper production, scholarly articles).  Dr. Goodliffe offered to look into developing something of that nature for the upcoming year.  The entire effort is a “huge amount of work” but worth it.  Dr. Mary Meares posited that, as with the Three Minute Thesis talks, these efforts are very rewarding.  Productivity is hard to measure across different fields.  Interested faculty should apply to be part of a committee.  Dr. Jason DeCaro pointed out, as a note of caution, that productivity is wide ranging as well.  Dr. Andrew Billings concurred that feedback would be helpful in future funding decisions.  Dr. Nelson-Gardell reminded the GC that offer letters are important.  Dean Francko thanked departments for their participation and cooperation.   

Program and Degree Requirements, Research and New Programs Committee

Dr. Jason DeCaro presented a Marketing (M.S.) proposal to offer an analytics track.  Drs. Arthur Allaway and Chuck Sox developed the proposal.  The track is aimed at furthering the effort to train students to use analytics (“big data”) to test hypotheses in marketing research, and the proposal is a response to a growing need in the discipline and in the business community.  Dr. Sox agrees that this would indeed be a positive step and that there is ample seat availability in graduate statistics courses to accommodate the students pursuing the new analytics track.  Dr. Francko opened up the floor to any questions or discussion concerning the proposal.  Hearing none, he moved for a vote, which was seconded. Proposal passed unanimously.

Fellowship & Scholarship Committee   no report.

Teaching, Research and Service Awards Committee  no report.

III. Reports from the Dean's Office and Academic Affairs

Assistant Dean Andy Goodliffe

Assistant Dean Andrew Goodliffe introduced the topic of admissions and recruitment, highlighting the effectiveness of proactive involvement, and used Anthropology as an example. Anthropology asked how the GS might help the department recruit quality students and as a result netted a number of students that eventually received fellowships including McNair scholars.

The Brazilian mobility program focuses on STEM fields as a big growth area. 

The goal of beta testing for the App review system to speed up the process, so that departments can view applications as soon as possible, make decisions as soon as possible, and reduce review days and weeks to sometimes a matter of a few days or even hours.  College transcripts are viewable within minutes of being received by the GS.  Dean Francko stressed the importance of quick admissions decisions as a top priority of President Bonner.  Quicker acceptance decisions result in being able to ascertain how best to apply funding.  Dr. Goodliffe reminded the Graduate Council that the Graduate School is now giving all departments the tools to be more responsive to forthcoming applications.

Dr. Goodliffe’s third point of business was to announce two items to be presented in the Fall for consideration: 1) the proposition to accept a previous Master’s degree as equivalent to twenty four hours of credit in a doctoral (PhD but not EdD) program.  The purpose is to allow the incoming student to begin research endeavors sooner.  If adopted this measure would place UA in line with a number of prominent research universities. 

A possible second item to be introduced in the Fall will be a move to conditionally accept international students without a TOEFL test score or an admissions test score, similar to what is currently in place with regard to Saudi Arabian students.  Many overseas students do not have access to testing centers and/or have already been through a vetting system in their home country.  Dean Francko alluded to other preliminary measures that may be considered in the Fall

B. Dean David Francko

With this being the last Graduate Council meeting of the 2013-2014 academic year, Dean David Francko expressed his gratitude for everyone’s hard work and attendance.  Special acknowledgement to members rotating off the GC was given to Dr. Philip Bishop, Dr. Bob Findlay, Dr. Allison Hetzel, Dr. Rick Houser, Dr. Burcu Keskin, Dr. Lou Marino, Dr. Debra Nelson-Gardell, Dr. Jeff Parker, Dr. Mark Weaver, and student representatives Robert Herron and Derrick Stokes.  For returning members we will “hit the ground running” in the Fall. 

Dean Francko addressed admissions numbers falling off last year as a two-semester trend.  Applications are up ~2% for Summer 2014 and ~5% for Fall 2014. Both numbers continue to increase each week, and the GS could perhaps enjoy its second best application year on record if current numbers continue.  A strong applicant pool should result for departments across campus. Collaboration pays off, and App Review will only add to this growth trend in the coming year.

Graduate School Research and Travel Grants summary: GS set a goal of awarding $600K/900 students funded and numbers from early April were $611K/932 students funded.  Conservative estimate has GS reaching $640K and funding perhaps 975-1,000 students for AY 2013-2014.  In talks with his SEC colleagues, Dean Francko has determined that UA quite likely spends more on Graduate Student Research and Travel Support than the other 13  SEC schools put together.  We will continue to grow this support in concert with faculty efforts.  President Bonner is very much pro-graduate school and would like to see additional doctoral students at the Capstone. 

Lastly, exciting things are coming next year – including expanding the Three Minute Thesis, perhaps televising it and engaging a wider audience.  We are still trying to maximize admissions and recruitment efforts into the summer including new orientation efforts in August which will offer “A Taste of Tuscaloosa” event on the Black Warrior River featuring engaging activities for incoming students on the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk.

C. Associate Dean John Schmitt

Associate Dean John Schmitt began by also expressing his appreciation and thanks to outgoing members.  He also thanked the Program and Degree Committee chair, Dr. Jason DeCaro, and Awards Committee Chair, Dr. Vivian Wright, for outstanding work with those committees.  They worked very hard and efficiently and their efforts resulted in making a marked difference.  The PDR/RNP Committee voluntarily expanded it number of yearly meetings from four to seven, in order not to rush their consideration of proposals and to allow proposers sufficient time to make meaningful modifications in preparation for full Graduate Council review.

Dr. Schmitt reported that recently the 2013-2014 program reviews in the College of Arts & Sciences were completed for the Departments of English and History. He thanked specifically Dr. Burcu Keskin and Dr. Natalie Adams (former Graduate Council member) for chairing the committees.  The Graduate School/Academic Affairs has kicked off the modified review of all departments and degree programs in the Colleges of HES and CIS.  Information on the program review process is available online at

The Workshop for New GTAs for the 2014-2015 AY will be held on August 14-15, 2014.  Attendees will need to be present from ~8am to 3pm each day.  As it is a required workshop, Dr. Schmitt asked that all departments avoid scheduling departmental meetings during those two days. 

The seven graduate awards for dissertation, thesis, teaching, research and service were presented in the college award ceremonies of the respective winners during Honors Week ceremonies. The Graduate School produced its own edition of the “Crimson Honors” booklet that recognizes the seven award winners, as well as winners of various Graduate School fellowships.  It is important to note that each college award winner who is thereby a contestant for a UA-wide award receives due recognition.  Winners receive a framed certificate and check for $1,000.  Those who won in their colleges but did not receive the UA-wide award receive a congratulatory letter from the Graduate Dean and a Certificate of Merit to recognize their high level of achievement.  Faculty assistance with the awards effort is greatly appreciated, and Dr. Schmitt asked for continued faculty involvement in this process to recognize the “best of the best” graduate students.   The Graduate School will make the “template” for the award certificate available to interested departments to use for their awards if they choose.  Dean Francko added that these efforts help foster a more positive, student-friendly environment.

III. Reports from Standing University Committees

No reports from Standing University Committees.

V. Old Business

No old business

VI. New Business

No new business

Dean Francko adjourned the meeting at 3:55 p.m.