December 8, 2010: ADCOM Minutes

Graduate Council Advisory Committee
HUC Board Room
Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Members present: Puri Bangalore, Gregg Janowski, Douglas Ayers, Jim Collawn, Kyle Grimes, Bryan Noe, Susan Rich, Jeff Engler, Cecelia Graham, David Macrina, Erica Pryor, Rosalyn Weller

Staff: Susan Banks, Cynthia Ballinger, Thomas Harris

Guest: Martha Bidez, Bharat Soni, Chris Lowther

Agenda Items:

    1. Request for a specific exception for the Masters in Advanced Safety Engineering and Management program to the requirement that students who are accepted into UAB graduate programs must hold their baccalaureate degree(s) from a regionally accredited institution: Guest: Dr. Martha Bidez. The School of Engineering has launched a unique track in Advanced Safety Engineering and Management that requires students to have a minimum of five years working experience before being allowed to be enrolled in the program track.  Students are not admitted immediately after completing their baccalaureate degree. The program is totally online and emphasizes peer to peer learning.  The average work experience of the first class enrolled was 15 years.  The only baccalaureate program in Safety Engineering and Management is offered by Columbia Southern University (CSU).  CSU is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council, but not by SACS.  The request to admit students with bachelors degrees from CSU is only for the Advanced Safety Engineering Management track and will not be implemented in other masters programs or tracks. The criterion for the working experience is based on the accrediting requirements for the program.  An advantage of having the masters degree is that it will allow career advancement.  A motion stipulating that, to be accepted, eight years of work experience is required from CSU graduates with six years being in decision making positions was made.  ADCOM members voted to approve the motion.
    2. Proposal for a Graduate Certificate in Leonardo Art and Engineering. Guests: Drs. Bharat Soni and Chris Lowther.  A collaboration between the School of Engineering and the Art and Art History department in the College is proposed to offer a certificate that will prepare students to use 3D imaging and simulation technologies that can be applied in a number of ways that would have both industrial and esthetic applications.  The “Leonardo” part of the name is a reference to da Vinci’s penchant for amalgamating science and art.  Classes will teach students to use 3D imaging technology to visualize architectural spaces or for animation projects. Prospective students will be required to have a baccalaureate degree from either art, science, or engineering fields.  Senior Mechanical Engineering students can earn the certificate 18 credit hours, or in one additional semester.  There will be a requirement for a non-thesis six credit hour project.  The goal of the program is to produce students who are comfortable as an artist as well as a scientist or engineer.  Job opportunities will be available in engineering and architectural design.  The certificate will prepare students for jobs that currently do not exist.  ADCOM recommended revisions to clarify the requirement of having an undergraduate degree and other expectations for admission eligibility.  ADCOM members approved the certificate proposal with the proposed revisions to admission requirements.
    3. Setting a mandate (rather than the current ADCOM recommendation) for frequency of thesis and dissertation committee meetings. A proposal was made during the Fall semester Graduate Council meeting to specify the frequency of students’ committee meetings.  Previously, ADCOM had “recommended” a minimum of one committee meeting per year. The program director who made the proposal, stated that a “recommendation” was not strong enough, and was basically ignored by many advisors.   ADCOM members raised the question of how a potential “requirement” could be enforced.  One proposal would be to require a one paragraph documentation of what occurred during the committee meeting that will have to be generated by the student’s committee chair and then given to his/her program director.  At the end of every year, documentation will then have to be provided to the Graduate School for verification that the committee meetings had been held and their proceedings recorded.  Another possibility would be to place the graduate faculty status of the mentor in jeopardy if he/she doesn’t agree to a meeting once a year.  Annual meetings are important in reviewing the student’s progress, giving students advice in a timely fashion, and helping the students overcome obstacles so they can complete their degree requirements in a timely fashion. Time to degree can be accelerated when committees do their job on a regular basis. The committee members agreed to table the proposal until the next meeting, and in the interim collect best practices information from all programs. ADCOM will revisit this issue during the next meeting when best practices can be considered.
    4. Listing of defunct courses in the Graduate Catalog and online. This item was included because a program director asked what is done about courses that have been listed in a program’s catalog, but have not been offered in 3-5 years during the Graduate Council meeting.  Should courses which are rarely if ever offered continue  to be listed or should be they purged from the catalog?  The School of Education allows courses to be left in the catalog because once a course is removed; the process of getting the course back is difficult.  School of Nursing will occasionally deactivate a course out of the master course file, but has always kept the Graduate Catalog course listing current in terms of what is offered.  ADCOM members recommended that the school representative should take the issue back to their respective School Deans for consideration.

Information  Items:

    1.  New Policy on when Grad Students can Drop Classes (Noe). New policy will be implemented in Fall 2011.  The new lasted drop date for Graduate Students will be yhr same as for undergraduate students; 75% through each semester.  Getting faculty sign off is not feasible for students who are taking course work exclusively online.  Instead, IT will develop an algorithm that will allow them to run a monthly report showing all the students who dropped during that month.  The graduate school will in turn send that information to the program directors of students who dropped a course(s) during the semester. 
    2. Tuition Allocations to Programs for fiscal 2011 (Noe). Due to increases in tuition rates over the last several years, the Graduate School’s fiscal 2011 tuition budget was initially insufficient to provide full tuition support for the students it supports. An allocation of $7,500 was provided initially for each student.  Fortuitously, a sufficient number of programs did not use all of their tuition allocation from the 2010 fiscal year.  This allowed the Grad School to carry over unused tuition resources into fiscal year 2011.  Supplements of $2,000 per student for doctoral students and $1,000 per masters student were made to program tuition budgets.  Total allocations should now be sufficient to allow all programs to meet their tuition commitments at the higher tuition rates.

(ADCOM web site is http://www.uab.edu/graduate/graduate-council-information)

The meeting adjourned at 5:30 p.m.