The University of Alabama
November 29, 2015

The regular meeting of the Graduate Council was held at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 19, 2015 in 110 AIME Building.

Dr. Daniel Avery, Dr. Jason Bara, Dr. Andrew Billings,
Dr. Joy Burnham, Dr. Ibrahim Çemen, Dr. Julia A. Cherry,
Dr. Alexandra Cook, Dr. Linda P. Cummins, Dr. Lisa Davis,
Dr. Thomas Fitzgibbon, Dr. Andrew Graettinger,
Dr. Ann Graves, Dr. Maria Hernandez-Reif, Dr. Laura M. Hopson,
Dr. Burcu B. Keskin, Dr. Seongsin Kim, Dr. Dr. Linda Knol,
Dr. Alice March, Prof. Sarah Marshall, Dr. Jeff Martin,
Dr. Douglas McKnight, Dr. Sharif Melouk, Dr. John Petrovic,
Dr. Daniel L. Riches, Dr. Karen Salekin, Dr. Marietta P. Stanton,
Dr. Sarah Tomek, Dr. John Vincent

Dr. Mary Meares, Dr. Ion Stancu


Dr. Martin Evans
Dr. Louis A. Pitschmann

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

Ms. Jean Swindle
Mr. Joseph L. Waters

Dr. Kevin Shaughnessy

    Dean David Francko welcomed everyone to the November Graduate Council meeting and introduced Dr. Kevin Shaughnessy. Dr. Shaughnessy wanted to put a face to the search committee which met for the first time last week. Dr. Van Zee handed out contact information to the council. Dr. Whitaker requested a nation-wide search to find Dean Francko’s successor. Dr. Shaughnessy solicited questions and suggestions. One question was asked of the Dean, “How has your job evolved, heightened or been added to?” Dean Francko replied that “quite a few things” had changed. It is now a different era where graduate education will become “front and center” for the administration - which has not always been the case. We are a more complex Graduate School. We made it that way in a good way: the Tide Together program, 3MT, the Research and Research and Travel grant program. Other challenges include growth, and that the associate provost position is no longer a titular position. Different skills are involved and he has been sometimes busier with those duties (which didn’t used to be the case). Dean Francko said he will present a report similar to “The State of the Graduate School” at the December University Senate and January RAC meeting. The University of Alabama Graduate School is now more “national” and “international” than it used to be. Dr. Whitaker asked that the committee move as quickly as possible to get candidates lined up by the spring. He asked for any graduate issues arising or persisting that the committee should be aware of, as they talk to candidates. The ideal candidate should feature: an academic background, scholarly activity, significant administrative background, familiarity with the graduate environment, and a commitment to diversity. The faculty senate was asked what checklist items were involved in the University’s presidential search. Dr. Shaughnessy thanked the council members for their time and asked all to send him feedback before the end of the fall semester. Suggestions and thoughts can also be sent to the search committee through Dr. Alice March.
    Dean Francko asked if there were corrections to the September 2015 minutes. A motion was made to accept the minutes as written. The motion was seconded and all were in favor – motion passed.

I. Reports from Graduate Council Committees

    A. Admissions & Recruitment Committee – Andrew Graettinger

Dr. Andy Graettinger of the Admissions and Recruitment sub-committee reported on several issues sent to the committee for review. Waiver renewals for admission test scores were approved for the Studio Art MA and MFA programs, Music, German MA, and the Nursing MSW program. New University Scholars programs were approved for Human Development & Family Studies and New College (3.75 GPA). There were no comments or questions. Dean Francko stated that having the University Scholars program with New College is a creative way of keeping our best and brightest here at UA. We aren’t currently leveraging the University Scholars program enough and we would like some discussion at next Graduate Council meeting to brainstorm and advance more inclusion. Dr. Goodliffe added that data suggests that only a handful of departments comprise most of the University Scholars program. Areas for growth are out there.

    B. Fellowships & Scholarships Committee – Julia Cherry

Dr. Cherry went over handouts describing each Graduate Council Fellowship: Research and Creative Activity (now simply named “round 2”: the research category is not restricted to federal grants - it simply must be an external grant) and the Thesis and Dissertation categories are now combined. There are no quotas for each category. The best students in each round will be selected, regardless of which category they fall under. Dean Francko clarified that one issue was funding and the key was taking Graduate School funds and leveraging those funds with departments, private charitable groups, and private foundations to fund graduate positions. He said that we are exploring all ways to expand the funding pie by working with all existing resources. External funding opportunities need to explored, procured, and advertised, similar to UA’s peer institutions.

Dr. Cherry reminded all that the letters of recommendation from the chair and nominating faculty are “very, very, very” important. They articulate and distill what otherwise might be hard to find, particularly when packets are being compared across all colleges and departments. Dr. Goodliffe added that there will be an insert explaining what makes a strong letter of recommendation. All too often, chairs will submit letters in support, but lacking in substantial content. One suggestion is to draft the letter and then give it the chair to review and sign. Questions, comments were then solicited. Dr. Daniel Riches spoke as a delegate for non-STEM fields in order to raise issues and officially go on record. The overarching concern behind these fellowships is, “where do Humanities and Social Sciences stand in all of this?” He raised their concerns about the reshuffling of categories; two previous categories had been collapsed into one, and a new category doesn’t offer itself fully and doesn’t really apply to humanities and social sciences. They don’t work in research teams and employers view dissertations in a very different way than they do with STEM fields. The change to the length of the essay has resulted in a sharply shorter maximum number of words, and lends itself as more of a science-based approach. Resource rich departments may be viewed as more helpful and more interested in helping to fund students.

Finally, Dr. Riches expressed the desire for 1) additional support and guidance to help non-STEM students, 2) future tracking to measure allocations of assistantships, and 3) assistance in this new environment of seeking external funding, Graduate Council Fellowship nominations.

Dr. Goodliffe clarified that fellowship students must be full time. Dean Francko reminded the council that leveraging can happen with non-STEM departments and cited the example of a department that went from one half of an assistantship to four assistantships in one year. Dr. Riches drew a distinction wherein a thesis-writing student working on faculty member’s external project is not common. In STEM departments it is much more common, if not the norm. Funding works differently between STEM and non-STEM fields. Dean Francko wants to make it as “big tent” as possible, available to as many qualified students as possible. Dr. Alexandra Cook, from English, shared her own story of applying to three different external agencies, to illustrate that there fewer opportunities available and it takes more time and effort to find them. Dean Francko suggested the Research Office can help out with finding external funding opportunities not just for STEM graduate students but with non-STEM as well. He also asked that humanities council and social sciences members bring ideas, suggestions forward to help find mutual solutions. He also reminded everyone that there is now a new focus on graduate studies from the UA administration.

    C. Program & Degree Requirements, Research & New Programs Committee – Dr. Daniel Riches

Dr. Riches (committee chair) put forth the proposal for a nurse administrator concentration in the MSN program of the Capstone College of Nursing, which received a unanimous endorsement from PDR&NPC. This concentration addresses a national trend, answers a growing demand, and would act as a feeder into other programs of the Capstone College of Nursing. Questions were solicited by Dr. Alice March. There were no questions. Dean Francko put it to a vote and all present voted in favor. Proposal passed. Dean Francko sees this and other similar concentrations as win-win for graduate studies. Hopefully more similar proposals are forthcoming. Dr. March thanked all for making it happen.

Dean Francko spoke briefly about the successful Three Minute Thesis competition. It was fabulous and had a new record in participation. He reminded everyone that it will be televised by APT, WVUA. In a new development the Research Office will be offering cash awards for non-winner finalists. Also, Dean Francko will be talking to the Faculty Senate in their December meeting about the graduate education, as well as the Research Advisory Committee in January 2016.

    D. Teaching, Research & Service Awards Committee – Dr. Bercu Keskin

No committee reports. Dr. Pagani reminded all that there are forthcoming reports from this committee as well as the other awards committees at the February Graduate Council meeting. Also, Dr. Pagani asked that council members get the word out about the Outstanding Graduate Student award and ceremony. Ms. Jean Swindle is the point of contact for this. Nominations are due at the end of February 2016.

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

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

IV. Old Business
There was no old business.

V. New Business
There was no new business.

There being no further business, Dean Francko adjourned the meeting at 4:08 p.m.