The regular meeting of the Graduate Council was held at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday,
November 20, 2014 in 110 AIME Building.
Dr. Jason DeCaro, Dr. Joy Burnham,
Dr. Ibrahim Çemen, Dr. Julia Cherry,
Dr. Linda Cummins, Dr. Thomas Fitzgibbon,
Dr. Andrew Graettinger, Dr. Jonathon Halbesleben
Dr. Maria Hernandez-Reif, Dr. Laura Hopson,
Dr. Linda Knol, Dr. Seongsin (Margaret) Kim,
Dr. Aaron Kuntz, Dr. Alice March,
Dr. Mary Meares, Professor Sarah Marshall,
Dr. John Petrovic, Dr. Daniel Riches,
Dr. Harris Schlesinger, Dr. Marietta Stanton,
Dr. C. Heath Turner, Dr. John Vincent,
Dr. Frederick Whiting, Dr. Vivian Wright
Dr. James Leeper
- MEMBERS ABSENT:
- Dr. Andrew Billings, Dr. Burcu
Dr. Joseph Weber, Dr. Ion Stancu
- EX-OFFICIO MEMBERS:
- Dr. Steve Miller
Dr. Louis Pitschmann
- GRADUATE SCHOOL REPRESENTATIVES
- Dr. John Schmitt
Dr. Andrew Goodliffe
Mr. Eric Harris
Ms. Beth Yarbrough
- STUDENT REPRESENTATIVE:
- Ms. Nicole Vaux
I. Approval of Minutes of the
September 23, 2014 Meeting
Dean David Francko welcomed everyone
and asked for any corrections or changes to the minutes from last
Graduate Council meeting. Having heard none, motion was made to approve
the minutes from September 23, 2014. All approved, none opposed, none
II. Reports from Graduate Council
A. Dean David
Francko – Dean Francko began again by welcoming everyone, introduced two
proposals worked on by committees for quite some time, both significant
opportunities for graduate departments at UA; the first from the
Admissions & Recruitment – Additional Language Requirement. Dean Francko
gave Dr. Andrew Graettinger the floor so that he could to provide an
overview of the first proposal. Dr. Graettinger described the proposal
to rename (rework) Provisional Language Admissions. Fundamentally, the
proposal concerns how the federal government looks at the name of the
admission and the need for UA to be more in line with that.
Traditionally, students could be admitted conditionally or even “double
stamped” if they did not meet one or both GPA and GRE minimum
requirements. However what the committee found is that there are many
untapped populations of students – particularly in the Middle East and
South America – that quite possibly don’t have the means or opportunity
to take the GRE (or TOEFL).
This provision is an attempt to welcome accomplished foreign students
and allow them to study at UA and sit for the GRE after a full semester
of ELI coursework. ‘Provisional’ admits would now be considered,
labelled ‘Conditional’ admits. Further, fully funded, international
students would receive the opportunity to have a full year of English
language training and then sit for the required exam. Limited enrollment
(in addition to ELI courses) would be allowed if the department was to
be in favor of such. Dr. Goodliffe added that if the TOEFL score is low,
then the student would be allowed to enroll in “one carefully chosen
class” in order to become acclimated to the department’s surroundings
and academic culture. At present, UA is not on a level playing field
with many other research universities and this would allow for UA to be
more competitive in the pursuit of top tier international students,
particularly in the STEM disciplines.
Dr. John Petrovic raised the issue of students possibly failing the
entrance exam after being admitted and spending an entire year in
residence at UA. Would the students be required to repay any funding
that they had previously secured? Dr. Goodliffe answered that in some
instances they would be required to repay funding, but that that
scenario is no different from any other student that fails out of a
program. Dean Francko agreed, stating that repayment would be required,
but reminded members that the overarching purpose of the proposal is to
remove barriers that presently encumber such international students, and
prevent them from being able to meet graduate admissions requirements.
There is a need to be more competitive with other institutions that
already have these allowances to recruit otherwise qualified students.
Under no circumstances are departments required to admit any students.
A second question was raised inquiring as to how departments know that a
particular student is “well qualified” if the GRE has not been taken.
Dr. Goodliffe answered stating that students that would be considered
for this allowance, scholarship have in most instances been vetted in
their home country. Secondly, the GRE is not always the best predictor
of future success. Dr. Ibrahim Çemen opined that in his experience the
TOEFL is a better indicator of how well prepared a foreign student may
be. Dr. Schlesinger asked if the GS has any information on how well
Saudi students have done under the same – already existing – structure.
Dr. Goodliffe replied assuring members that tracking data would be
fairly easy to pull. Dean Francko solicited further comments or
questions. No other hands were raised so the proposal was brought to a
vote. Proposal passed (21 in favor, 1 in opposition, 2 abstentions).
B. Dr. Jason DeCaro introduced the second proposal, Amendment to the
University of Alabama PhD Credit Transfer Policy. At present, PhD
students are able to transfer in a maximum of twenty four hours from a
previous institution on a course by course basis. In many instances,
less than twenty-four hours are transferred into UA due to various
reasons (no A or B, too old, or no existing UA equivalent course). This
proposal would allow for a second option - for departments wishing to
exercise it – that would instead ask that the Graduate School accept a
master’s degree in place of a list of twenty-four separate course hours.
If the degree is more than six years old, the onus would be on the
department to show that the student has been working in the field in
some capacity during the interim period.
Areas discussed in committee were: 1) giving departments the latitude to
choose which option to follow, 2) possibility of accepting old
coursework, and 3) possibility of diluting admissions requirements. A
strong interest from the STEM departments as well as other non-STEM
departments was expressed. Dean Francko reminded all that the proposal
has been in the works for nearly two years and it would bring UA on par
with what other research institutions have in place in order to admit
new doctoral students. This measure would help departments exercise more
flexibility in determining how much previous work to count toward the
total amount of coursework needed, before a student can begin research.
The proposal would put more control in the hands of departments.
Dr. Goodliffe gave an example of a recent student that approached him
about not being able to transfer in coursework from a master’s degree
that was older than six years, but who had been working in her field.
The student felt that transferring to another university might be her
only recourse. Dr. Goodliffe viewed that as unacceptable and stressed
that this change to the transfer credit policy is vital to attract and
retain students who would have otherwise gone elsewhere for their
Dr. Schmitt stressed that this new policy would place greater
responsibilities on departments to scrutinize the amount and quality of
work performed by students with an older master’s degree. Also, some
departments are more consistent than others in distinguishing between
500 and 600 level coursework in a student’s respective program of study.
Dr. DeCaro noted that much time was spent in committee addressing the
need for departments to inform prospective doctoral students that UA is
not offering a “Master’s plus 24” degree, but that if all twenty-four
hours qualify, then they can be transferred in as a block of coursework
toward the PhD.
After some discussion the proposal was brought to a vote and passed (20
in favor, 1 opposed, 2 abstentions).
III. Reports from the Dean's Office
and Academic Affairs
IV. Reports from Standing University Committees
A. Dean Francko gave the Graduate Council an update on the status of
Graduate School applications. At present applications are up 6% over
last year and the number of Fall 2015 applications are up as well. He
reminded all present that Dr. Blake Bedsole has a useful, interactive
spreadsheet available to anyone interested. GRE/GMAT/TOEFL scores can be
accessed that will aide both departments and the Graduate School alike.
Reports can be tailored made and generated for specific purposes. A list
of all undergraduate McNair scholars is also available. Dean Francko
also informed members that undergraduate Presidential Scholarships can
now be used if the student finishes the baccalaureate degree in three
years. This is not only important for that student but means that
departments can now leverage that funding in order to provide partial or
full funding for an additional student. Dr. Goodliffe stated that the
logistics of using the funds are fairly complicated but are being worked
out. This new development is a “game changer” and needs to be fast
tracked so that it can be taken advantage of as soon as possible. Dr.
Knol asked about the continuous nature of the award. The funds are only
available if the student begins graduate studies in the semester
immediately following undergraduate studies. In other words, the awardee
cannot take time off. Research & Travel is 10% ahead of last semester
and 6% ahead of 2013. 338 awards totaling $236, 000 has been given.
Finally, the Three Minute Thesis competition was a success with 275 in
attendance to see 15 finalists represent 10 different departments across
campus. A WVUA broadcast of the awards contest is forthcoming, which is
welcome state-wide press for what is a very successful event at UA.
B. Dr. John Schmitt announced that DegreeWorks for all master’s degree
programs is nearing completion. The last two degree program audits have
been scripted and are being reviewed. Both should be moved to production
by the end of Fall 2014 term.
A revised GTA Departmental Training Activities online survey will be
sent to departments, and the results will be posted. With this survey,
departments can see the primary GTA training activities of all UA
departments and have the opportunity to use that information to improve
their overall GTA training programs.
C. The three committees to select the seven Graduate School awards are
working to have their selections finalized by the end of January 2015.
Winners will receive framed certificates and honoraria from the Graduate
School during Honors Week. College winners who did not win a UA-wide
award all receive a Certificate of Merit from the Graduate School to
acknowledge their winning at the college level.
D. The UA master list of degree program accreditations recently was
updated. It is posted in the UA Fact Book and available in the A-Z
website indexes at the UA homepage and Graduate School homepage.
E. Dr. Andy Goodliffe shared his impressions from a recent trip to Peru.
The conference was massively well attended. The college and university
fair resulted in many good contacts and renewed interest in South
America as an emerging source of highly qualified students.
V. Old Business
No old business
VI. New Business
No new business
Dean Francko thanked all in attendance and adjourned the meeting at 4:18pm.