The University of Alabama
February 24, 2015

The regular meeting of the Graduate Council was held at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 24, 2015, in 110 AIME Building.



Dr. Andrew Billings, Dr. Joy Burnham,
Dr. Ibrahim Cemen, Dr. Linda P. Cummins,
Dr. Andrew Graettinger, Dr. Jonathon Halbesleben,
Dr. Maria Hernandez-Reif, Dr. Laura M. Hopson,
Dr. Burcu B. Keskin, Dr. Seongsin Kim, ,
Dr. Lance Kinney, Dr. Aaron Kuntz,
Dr. James Leeper, Dr. Alice March,
Prof. Sarah Marshall, Dr. John Petrovic,
Dr. Daniel L. Riches, Dr. Harris Schlesinger,
Dr. Chris Brazel (sub for Heath Turner),
Dr. John Vincent, Dr. Joseph P. Weber,
Dr. Frederick Whiting, Dr. Vivian Wright


Dr. Julia A. Cherry, Dr. Jason DeCaro,
Prof. J. Thomas Fitzgibbon, Dr. Linda Knol,
Dr. Mary Meares, Dr. Ion Stancu,
Dr. Marietta P. Stanton
Dr. Steve Miller
Dr. Louis Pitschmann
Dr. Dave Francko, Dean
Dr. John Schmitt, Associate Dean
Ms. Beth Yarbrough, Registrar
STUDENT REPRESENTATIVE:                                
Ms. Jean Swindle
Mr. Joseph L. Waters

Dean David Francko welcomed everyone to the February Graduate Council meeting. Dean Francko asked if there were corrections to the November 2014 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.

I.   Reports from Graduate Council Committees

A. Financial Aid Committee – Dr. Jonathan Halbesleben reported on the Graduate Council Fellowships. To date, 40 nominations had been submitted, 30 offers were made and 5 had accepted for Round 1. The Research & Creative Activity Round just completed and there were 61 nominations and 19 offers were made. Round 2 nominations will be due February 26, 2015, and Round 3 will be due March 26, 2015.

B. Teaching Research & Service Awards – Dr. John Schmitt reported on the committees of emeritus faculty that review the theses and dissertations. There were 16 dissertations and theses nominated from the colleges, and the quality was very high. The winners will receive a $1,000 check and a framed certificate during Honors Week.
The winners are:

Yaolin Xu – Outstanding Research by a Doctoral Student (Chemical and Biological Engineering)
Achsah Dorsey – Outstanding Research by a Master’s Student (Anthropology)
Michelle Gannon – Outstanding Service by a Graduate Student (Geological Sciences)
Adam Sharples – Outstanding Teaching by a Doctoral Student (Communication and Information Sciences)
Christopher McCarter – Outstanding Teaching by a Master’s Student (English)
Steven Price – Outstanding Thesis (Mechanical Engineering)
Yuanyuan Su – Outstanding Dissertation (Physics & Astronomy)
Brandee Easter, last year’s thesis winner, won the award for best regional thesis, presented by the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools.

C. Program and Degree Committee Requirements, Research and New Programs Committee (combined)— Dr. Aaron Kuntz informed the Council that the first post-implementation reviews of alternative doctoral residency plans are beginning. There is a format to follow that worked well in conjunction with Counselor Education and demonstrated a positive outcome. Counselor Education was approved to continue to use the alternative. Because of the positive outcome, hopefully this will open up the door for other departments to look at their residency requirement and consider proposing alternative residency methods.

D. Admission and Recruitment Committee – Dr. Andy Graettinger reported on several issues sent to the committee for review.
  1. As a notification item, the Chemical and Biological Engineering department will be adding the PhD program to the University Scholars list of approved programs.
  2. The Mathematics and Physics & Astronomy departments have been working with the Curriculum and Instruction department for a new University Scholars program. This program will allow students to get their teaching certification along with the Master’s degree.
  3. Creative Writing currently has a GRE Waiver in place, and there is a re-vote on the renewal every four (4) years. The committee has proposed that they have the power automatically to renew the waiver without having to come to a vote with the Graduate Council. This gives departments and the Graduate Council committee a chance to re-evaluate the validity of the exception. A motion was made and seconded to allow the committee to approve any renewals without a vote from the Graduate Council. All members were in favor, none opposed or abstained.
  4. The Communication Studies program requested a waiver of the GRE score if a University Scholars student has a 3.7 undergraduate GPA. If a University Scholars student has an undergraduate GPA of >3.3, but less than 3.7, the student would be required to take the GRE before admission to Phase II of the program. A motion was made and seconded – all in favor, none opposed or abstained.

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

Dean Francko announced that Dr. John Schmitt will be retiring on June 1, 2015. He thanked Dr. Schmitt for his 39 years of service to the University and encouraged Council members and others to submit an application for Dr. Schmitt’s position.

There has been an increase in Graduate School applications this year. Applications and enrollment peaked in fall of 2012. Beginning fall 2013, there was a dip in both applications and enrollment. Since then, enrollment and applications have been on the rebound. Currently, applications are up 3-4% from last year and up 5% from 2013. Each year, graduate programs must replace the students that are graduating just to keep steady-state enrollment. This year, over 2,000 graduate students will complete their degrees and graduate, up ca. 600 from a decade ago.The 3-Minute-Thesis (3MT) contest will be broadcasted this Sunday and next Sunday from 8:00-9:00 p.m. on WVUA. It will be aired statewide on Alabama Public TV next month.

The National Alumni License Tag nominations are due around the same time as the last GC Round in April. The Graduate School each year receives approximately $500,000 of the $4.8 million generated by the tag program; the majority of the funds go to UG admissions. This year, the plan is to make 32 awards, whereas last year we offered 29 out of approximately 60 nominations. Information will be sent out next week.

In 2013-2014, 1,014 graduate students received $671,917 from the Research and Travel Fund. To date, 414 students have received approximately $555,000 in funding this year, and it is projected that over $750,000 will be used in funding this year through the Research and Travel Fund.

Dr. John Schmitt announced that the dates for the 2015 Workshop for New GTAs are Thursday, August 13 and Friday, August 14 at the Bryant Conference Center. This is the Thursday and Friday before classes begin. Please note it on your calendars and share with your departmental colleagues and new GTAs for Fall 2015. The online registration will be available in June and July. The workshop is required for all new GTAs and attendance is usually 280-300.

Thursday, August 13: Presentations on college teaching, legal issues for professors and GTAs, effective communication in college teaching, leading discussion or lab sessions, the teaching technologies available to UA professors and GTAs, etc.
Friday, August 14: Hands-on day for the new GTAs. Each new GTA is video-recorded by Graduate Teaching Fellows (highly experienced UA GTAs, recognized for their teaching experience and expertise). Each new GTA receives written and verbal evaluations of strengths in their teaching, along with specific suggestions for improvement. Feedback is immediate from peers and seasoned GTAs in the sessions on Friday. Students have commented that this is a great experience and is very helpful.

Academic Program Review is currently finishing up the reviews of Anthropology and New College (neither of which has an external accreditor). Both departments had a “full” review involving a UA faculty committee and external consultant. Recently the “modified” reviews have been completed for all degree programs in the College of Education and the College of Human Environmental Sciences (which do have external accreditors). The “modified” reviews of the departments and degree programs in the College of Communication and Information Sciences are beginning. The 2015-2016 “full” reviews are scheduled for the degree programs in Criminal Justice and Gender and Race Studies. We are in the final stages of developing the pool of nominees for the UA internal review committees and the external consultants.

Dr. Schmitt restated that his retirement will take effect June 1, 2015, after 39 years of service to UA, with the last 25 years in the Graduate School and Office for Academic Affairs. He said, “I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the Graduate Council on many important issues for graduate education. The April Graduate Council meeting will by my 104th and final meeting. Major changes have occurred at UA and in graduate education during that time, and I will miss the many colleagues and graduate students with whom I have had the pleasure to work over the years.”

III. Reports from Standing University Committees


IV. Old Business

No old business

V. New Business

Dean Francko noted that the Dialog reported on the Bryce campus. The superintendent’s house will be renovated and become the Graduate School exclusively (including parking). The bond issue for funding will be available 2017. This information is based on the information in the UA Campus Master Plan.

There being no further business, Dean Francko adjourned the meeting at 3:50 p.m.


Dean Francko thanked all in attendance and adjourned the meeting at 4:18pm.


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