The University of Alabama
September 22, 2015

The regular meeting of the Graduate Council was held at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 22, 2015, in 110 AIME Building.

Dr. Daniel Avery, Dr. Andrew Billings, Dr. Joy Burnham,
Dr. Julia A. Cherry, Dr. Alexandra Cook, Dr. Ana Corbalán
(for Dr. Cummins), Dr. Mary Alice Davis, Dr. Andrew Graettinger,
Dr. Maria Hernandez-Reif, Dr. Laura M. Hopson, Dr. Burcu Keskin,
Dr. Seongsin Kim, Dr. Linda Knol, Dr. Alice March,
Prof. Sarah Marshall, Dr. Douglas McKnight, Dr. Mary Meares,
Dr. Sharif Melouk, Dr. John Petrovic, Dr. Daniel L. Riches,
Dr. Karen Salekin, Dr. Sara Tomek, Dr. John Vincent

Dr. Jason Bara (for Dr. Turner), Dr. Ibrahim Cemen,
Prof. J. Thomas Fitzgibbon, Dr. Ann Graves, Dr. Ion Stancu


Dr. Martin J. Evans
Dr. Louis A. Pitschmann

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

Ms. Jean Swindle
Mr. Joseph L. Waters

Dean David Francko welcomed everyone to the September Graduate Council meeting. Introductions were made by all Graduate Council members in attendance. Present for the inaugural 2015-16 GC Meeting was recently appointed University President, Dr. Stuart Bell. After a formal introduction by Dean Francko, Dr. Bell gave a short speech. On campus since July, Dr. Bell has been making several rounds both on campus and away from the Capstone. He stated, “we are doing a lot of good things,” UA “is not broken” and not in any “financial spirals” as are some other universities. Changes and improvements in facilities, roads, and buildings have resulted in the University being well positioned for attracting new incoming students. Entrance test scores are up and point to a well-qualified crop of freshman students. We have a great student body to work with. At the same time there are challenges; reengaging in the graduate and research and discovery areas as the “flagship university.” Our competition is with other flagship institutions: University of Texas, University of North Carolina, and Ohio State University. We will continue to compete for funding from NSF, NIH, and other funding agencies. Performance, research, discovery are all areas that faculty have expressed in interest in improving. Improving enrollment at the graduate level is an additional area to focus on. It is the right time for a change in this direction. A lot of passionate parties – both within UA and outside - that have an interest in seeing UA succeed in these areas.


1) Andy Graettinger asked Dr. Bell about a plan in place to support students where grants are too small or not available. Yes, must be part of the overall strategy -- state, tuition, auxiliary operations, athletics, dormitories, and contracts and grants (NSF, NIH, DOD, DOE). We must seek out ways to increase funding to further support graduate students and grow our numbers. In STEM and non-STEM disciplines there are opportunities. Non-STEM areas can “do a lot with a little.” Universities nationwide are trying to “hang on” to state dollars in the current trend of falling revenue. We must look at academic analytics and find UA’s “aspirational peer groups” in order to compare against other schools and find out what works at other institutions. There is no silver bullet, other than being smart, creating a strategy, and sticking to it.

2) Daniel Riches asked about non-tenure versus tenure-track positions and recent trends on having more clinical- and lecture-track people. It’s a blend, and it’s good to mix that part in but, tenure to tenure-track positions will require “fairly substantial investment.”

3) Margaret Kim asked about how the determination is made to focus, which areas to invest in, emphasize. Dr. Bell stressed the need to maximize a return on investment and that proven successful areas need to be invested in.

Dean Francko moved to approve the Minutes from the April 28, 2015 Graduate Council Meeting. Dean Francko asked if there were requested corrections. Hearing none, the minutes were accepted as written.  

I. State of the Graduate School

Dr. Francko expressed his gratitude for President Bell’s attendance and stated that he wished our previous presidents had been present at graduate council meetings in the past. Echoing Dr. Bell’s words, Dr. Francko said that the time is now for strategic planning to increase graduate enrollments. We have already begun to utilize available funds from undergraduate scholarships toward graduate study. We are now allowing previously earned master’s degrees (older than six years) to go toward doctoral coursework (if the individual has been working in-field).

Dean Francko then progressed through his PowerPoint presentation on the State of the Graduate School (attachment #1) covering Graduate School strategic goals to increase applications, enrollment, degrees conferred, and funding. In 2015-16 and beyond we must work to establish graduate education as a higher priority at UA, work with Deans and Vice Presidents to reverse the decline in external position funding, and continue to add more GAs from internal funds. Also, we must seek to increase applications from 8,300 to 9,000 by utilizing APPREVIEW and Talisma and to get back to a 25% benchmark for international applicants – an area that has been static over the past ten years. We must reverse the trend of static new acceptances and enrollments versus record numbers of outgoing graduates.

II. Reports from Standing University Committees

On behalf of Andy Graettinger, Dr. Goodliffe addressed the council. We will soon be permitting applicants to submit their own copies of official transcripts as part of the admission process. Previously, transcripts had to be submitted at this stage by the institution at which grades were earned. If admitted, students will be required to have official transcripts submitted from their institutions

III. Reports from Graduate Council Committees

A. Program and Degree Requirements, Research and New Programs Committee – Dr. Daniel Riches will be chairing this committee but no news was announced.

B. Teaching Research & Service Awards – Dr. Burcu Keskin requested preliminary nominations to be made for regional and national awards.

IV. Old Business
There was no old business.

V. New Business
Dean Francko informed the Council that he does intend to retire in summer 2016 and that a search committee to find his replacement is in the works.

Dean Francko adjourned the meeting at 4:35 p.m.