The University of Alabama
April 28, 2015

The regular meeting of the Graduate Council was held at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday,
April 28, 2015, in 110 AIME Building.

Dr. Beth Bennett, Dr. Andrew Billings
Dr. Joy Burnham, Dr. Ibrahim Cemen, Dr. Julia A. Cherry
Dr. Linda P. Cummins, Prof. J. Thomas Fitzgibbon
Dr. Andrew Graettinger, Dr. Jonathon Halbesleben
Dr. Maria Hernandez-Reif, Dr. Laura M. Hopson
Dr. Burcu B. Keskin, Dr. Seongsin Kim
Dr. Linda Knol, Dr. Alice March, Dr. Cathy Pagani
Dr. John Petrovic, Dr. Marietta P. Stanton, Dr. Heath Turner
Dr. Frederick Whiting, Dr. Craig Shwery (for Dr. Vivian Wright)

Dr. Jason DeCaro, Dr. Aaron Kuntz
Dr. James Leeper, Professor Sarah Marshall
Dr. Mary Meares, Dr. Daniel L. Riches
Dr. Harris Schlesinger, Dr. Ion Stancu, Dr. Dennis Sunal
Dr. John Vincent, Dr. Joseph P. Weber

Prof. Steve Miller
Dr. Louis A. Pitschmann

Dr. David Francko, Dean
Dr. John Schmitt, Associate Dean
Dr. Andrew Goodliffe, Assistant Dean
Ms. Beth Yarbrough, Registrar
Mr. Eric Harris, Assistant Registrar

Ms. Jean Swindle
Mr. Joseph L. Waters

Dean David Francko welcomed everyone to the April Graduate Council meeting. Dean Francko asked if there were corrections to the official minutes from the February 2015 meeting. A motion was made to accept the minutes as written. The motion was seconded and all were in favor – motion passed. Next Dean Francko announced that after 26 years of distinguished service to the Graduate School, Dr. John Schmitt will retire on June 1, 2015. Dr. Cathy Pagani will be welcomed as the incoming Associate Dean. There will be a retirement party for Dr. Schmitt on May 18 in Alston Parlor.

I. Reports from Graduate Council Committees

A. Committee on Fellowships & Scholarships – Dr. Jonathan Halbesleben reported on the Graduate Council Fellowships. From Round 1 there were 40 nominations, 30 awarded, and 18 accepted (60% acceptance rate). From Round 2 there were 54 nominations, 30 awarded, and 13 accepted (43% acceptance rate). Round 3 had 56 nominations, 29 awarded, with 16 accepted (55% acceptance rate). Nine students have not been heard from and may still potentially be awarded. The Research & Creative Activity Round was completed with 61 nominations and 19 offers made.
Committee members are looking for ideas on how the program may be even more effective in the summer and going forward. Dean Francko reiterated his support for the Committee on Fellowships & Scholarships and reminded everyone that all available funds/awards need to be put to use even as supplementary funds, if at all possible including for the forthcoming summer semester.

B. Program and Degree Committee Requirements, Research and New Programs Committee (combined) — With Dr. Aaron Kuntz (interim chair) and Dr. Jason Caro (chair) unavailable, Dr. Schmitt presented the Council with two proposals for specializations to be voted on. A new specialization in “Learning and Assessment” within the long-standing M.A. program in Educational Psychology has been reviewed in-house in the Graduate School on both the admissions and registrars’ side with the proposer Steve Thoma and his colleagues. The PDR/RNP met and after a few revisions, has hence recommended approval of the specialization as an already seconded proposal. Dr. Thoma was available for questions or comments. Hearing no discussion, Dr. Schmitt put the proposal to a vote of the Graduate Council. All present voted to approve. The motion was passed. Secondly, the Communications Studies department has developed a proposal for a 12- hour specialization in its M.A. program, namely the Executive Specialization in Organizational Leadership. Dr. Beth Bennett and Dr. Jane Baker were on hand to answer any questions and address concerns from the Council. Of primary importance to ACHE and the Board of Trustees is whether a new specialization will require any additional costs. This specific specialization anticipates no such costs and has built-in measures to address additional costs should its success result in higher numbers of students in the future. A motion was made to pass. All members present approved the motion.
Transmittal letters for both approved specializations will now be sent to the Provost and President, then to Chancellor Witt and on to the BOT and ACHE for approval.

C. Committee on Admissions & Recruitment – Dr. Andy Graettinger reported on the success of key issues sent to the committee and recommended for approval.

  1. The new PhD Transfer of Graduate Credit policy, allowing for a previously awarded master’s degree to be brought in to UA as a block of as up to 24 coursework hours for use toward a PhD plan of study.
  2. New University Scholars Programs; the Mathematics and Physics & Astronomy departments worked with the Curriculum and Instruction department for a new University Scholars program. This program will now allow students to get their teaching certification along with the Master’s degree. Also passed unanimously was the Communication Studies proposal for a waiver of a GRE score contingent on an undergraduate GPA of 3.7 or higher.

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

A. Dean Francko used the occasion to highlight several accomplishments from the previous year. He called attention to the following:

  1. More than 2,000 graduate degrees conferred - a 50% improvement over the past decade. 375 doctoral degrees compared with 160 a decade ago - a ninth consecutive year for doctoral increase.
  2. WiSE (Women in STEM Experience) symposium in January 2015 drew over 200 participants.
  3. Summer 2015 applications up 7% from last year’s record. Fall 2015 applications are up 4%, and are in reach of the fall 2012 all-time record.
  4. Research/Travel Grants are running 30-plus students and $6K ahead of last year’s record.
  5. UA Graduate School “Outstanding Thesis Award” winner from last year, Brandee Easter, was the Outstanding Thesis Award winner of the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools as the best thesis in the entire Southern U.S. region. Further, the UA 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) award winner, Brandon Chicotsky, was the People’s Choice award winner, at the 2015 Conference of Southern Graduate Schools’ meeting in New Orleans.
  6. New policy allowing undergraduate scholarship recipients to apply their unused funding to support their graduate programs.
  7. ALL departments are now on AppReview and ALL master’s programs have degree audits built in DegreeWorks.
  8. To date, over 7,000 Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) have received formal college teaching training through the GTA Teaching Workshops held each August.

B. Dr. John Schmitt announced that two program reviews recently have been completed.
Academic Program Review has finished up the reviews of Anthropology and New College (neither of which has an external accreditor). Both had a “full” review involving a UA faculty committee and external consultant. Both were “very productive” reviews. 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. 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 in-process. Dr. Schmitt alerted members to the fast-approaching GTA workshop (Aug 13-14). Upon registration (by respective departments) students are emailed with all pertinent information for a successful experience. Departments need to keep those two days free of any obligatory events or orientations, so that any possible time conflicts can be avoided. On the backend, there is a post-workshop survey that all attendees are asked to complete. This serves to continuously improve the yearly event. Dr. Julia Cherry asked about liability videos for insurance against future audits. Dr. Schmitt said that there are measures in place to cover any and all new GTAs that can’t make the two-day session in person. Dr. Linda Knol asked if there is an equivalent workshop for January. There currently is none, but new GTAs for spring are directed to the Graduate School’s website to view videos of the key session from the prior year and to take a brief content exam on each session. Dr. Knol asked if there is a record of those that attended. Dr. Schmitt replied that there is a record of registration and of who goes through the orientation.

C. Dean Francko reminded the GC that fellowships are widely distributed among colleges and departments, perhaps contrary to popular belief among some departments and faculty. Also, he reiterated that there will be a Retirement Party for Dr. John Schmitt on May 18 in Alston Parlor, fourth floor.

D. Dr. Andy Goodliffe related his recent trip to Eastern Washington University. The main goal was to recruit fantastic students, and names have been passed along to departments for follow-up. Excellent meetings were offered. Also, if departments have promising undergraduate students, they should take them along to these sorts of events. UA had 5 students present. A brochure is being prepared for international recruitment that will be part of the international applicant handout. Items specific to international students will be highlighted. The brochure will be soon available in various languages (Chinese, Turkish, Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, and Hindi).

Also, the 3MT competition is scheduled for November 18, 2015. Departments should begin preparing for that. The deadline for submission of names is October 21. Dean Francko expressed the need for the College of Education to be further involved in the 3MT competition. Based on what Dr. Francko has seen, they stand a very good chance at succeeding there. There is a strong desire among GS Deans to win at the regionals.

III. Reports from Standing University Committees
There were no standing committee reports.

IV. Old Business
No old business.

V. New Business
No new business.

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