Graduate Council Advisory Committee
Hill University Center, room 325
Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Members present: Puri Bangalore, Alan Eberhardt, Melissa Galvin, Douglas Ayers, Ken Miller, Kyle Grimes, Kyle Grimes, Lynn Kirkland, Bryan Noe, Susan Rich, Jeffrey Engler, Cecelia Graham, David Vance, Roderick Fullard

Staff: Thomas Harris, Susan Banks, Cyndi Ballinger

Guest: Dr. Martha Bidez

The meeting began with the introduction of guests and new ADCOM members.

Action Items:

  1. Review of two NISPs from the Division of eLearning and Professional Studies for establishment of a Masters program in Patient Safety and System Design, and a Certificate in Patient Safety and System Design. Dr. Martha Bidez presented and defended these proposals.

Dr. Bidez provided an overview of both proposals. Each of the proposals originated as a result of discussions with the UAB health system within which there were concerns regarding patient safety and quality of health care. There is a need for a better way to address medical errors that not only have a human toll, but also generate an enormous financial waste in the health care system. The concept is to develop professional studies programs that will address these issues. The first training component will lead to the proposed Certificate. Individuals will have to complete 5 courses, 15 credit hours total to earn the Certificate. Two of the courses will focus on quality of health care and improvement in the provision of health care services. Two additional courses will concentrate on patient safety. The final course requirement will consist of a capstone project that will require students to go back to their clinical unit and apply what they have learned from the course work. There is no requirement for students to continue taking course work past those required to earn the certificate.  However, completion of those 15 hours and the Certificate will serve as motivation for some students to apply to enroll in the masters program. The masters program will require students to complete 33 credit hours. The initial 15 hours from the certificate will transfer in and the intent is to require students to enroll in courses provided by other schools such as the Schools of Health Professions and Business. Other courses will be added later.

ADCOM members asked a three part question: what is the new eLearning Division, where is the new division located, and will the Master’s program be administered from the Provost’s office or from within a school?   Response: The Division was started as the Office of eLearning and Professional Studies, an Academic Unit. During the last Board of Trustees meeting the Division was approved as an Academic Unit, according to the Board of Trustees’ Handbook. The Unit does report directly to Provost’s office. The only courses or degree programs that will be offered through the Division are those that encompass multiple schools. Otherwise, the Division will facilitate online course work leading to degrees in each of the individual schools. ADCOM members stated their concern regarding offering degrees from within the Provost’s office.  Past joint programs have been developed equally between the schools involved and administered from within the schools involved. To address that, Dr. Bidez has formed an academic advisory council, the members of which will vet the curriculum. The advisory council has representation from the following schools: Business, College of Arts and Sciences, Education, Joint Health Sciences, Medicine, Dentistry and Engineering. ADCOM members expressed an additional concern that faculty may not be receptive to offering a degree from the Provost’s Office, considering that all other degrees originate from schools. From a faculty perspective, the curriculum of any degree program is the responsibility of the faculty in the department of the school that administers the graduate program, and should not be controlled by an advisory council. Dr. Bidez’ response was that the degree will be faculty driven.  ADCOM members asked where the tuition revenue stream will go.  Response: For any degree programs that are developed within the Division, the tuition will go to the Division in a manner similar to the way in which this is done in schools. ADCOM members did not understand the rationale for having the new degree program based in the eLearning Division rather than in one of the schools. A suggestion was made that the new masters program could perhaps be housed in the School of Medicine, or School of Health Professions. ADCOM members also recommend doing a dual degree program to build consensus from faculty.  Dr. Bidez’ indicted that the eLearning Division is similar to a school in that it is an independent Academic Unit. ADCOM members asked if there are any core faculty assigned to the Division and whether the new Division had the approval of the school Deans . Dr. Bidez stated that the new division had been vetted by the Deans of the CAS, the SOPH, Education, Engineering, and Business.

ADCOM members stated that concerns still remained with the fast track approach and the nontraditional proposal to offer a degree program that was not based in a school. Dr. Bidez responded that the reason its being proposed this way is because the degree is being offered totally online and UAB is known for being innovative and trying new models. It is an attempt to bring many different units together.  ADCOM members asked who the faculty were and whether they were UAB faculty.  Response: Yes, all participants will be UAB faculty; faculty are currently being recruited from all the schools. ADCOM members asked if  the first offering of the program would be classroom based with the online component being developed later. Dr. Bidez responded that yes, after the initial offering it will be taken to an instructional designer and then offered online, but it will still be presented by UAB faculty. Has the new program has been discussed with any of the interdisciplinary groups on campus? Response: yes; several members sit on the advisory council.  An ADCOM member asked if Optometry was represented. Dr. Bidez stated there is no Optometry representative on the advisory council. ADCOM members asked who is on the advisory council and how often they meet.  Dr. Bidez stated the advisory council has not yet met.  Will the masters program be Plan I or Plan II and who will administer it?  The new program will be a Plan II. The graduate faculty who will present the program are being assembled.  

ADCOM members expressed additional concern regarding the checks and balances that exist within the schools would be infrastructure that is missing in the eLearning Division. Dr. Bidez addressed that concern by saying within the division, the only faculty that can be hired have to be at the instructor level. For the most part, the division has to pull faculty from other schools as teaching faculty. An ADCOM member posited that a department chair may be concerned about the time commitments their faculty members might make to teach online courses outside of the department.  Dr. Bidez responded by saying the online courses that will be developed will be either courses that the department head and faculty say they want to do, or they won’t be offered. Faculty will not join the division creating new courses that will take away time from the department.  ADCOM members did not understand the incentive for a Dean or Department Chair to allow their faculty to have another commitment outside of their departmental commitments to teaching and research. Dr. Bidez stated it will be the decision of the faculty and their Dean at the school level.

After additional discussion, even though the committee members were quite favorably disposed toward the proposals for the Certificate and the Masters degree program, there was an overriding concern regarding the potentially precedent setting possibility of offering either of these from the new Division of eLearning rather than from within one of the existing schools.  Accordingly, a motion to table action on the NISPs until after the issue of which unit would provide the academic home for the proposed Certificate programs and Masters program had been resolved.  The motion was seconded and passed without further discussion.

Information Items:

  1. Discussion regarding recommendations resulting from the Huron Consulting outside review of the Graduate School Org
    1. Update on ongoing effort to strengthen T32 grant application preparation support – S. Rich
    1. Restructuring of the Professional Development program – Engler
    1. Oversight responsibility for Professional/Practice based Masters programs – Noe
  1. Update from graduate programs regarding recruitment of new students with a particular emphasis on the impact of the current fiscal climate, if any, on fall 2013 enrollment targets.  Please perform an informal poll of program directors in your school prior to the meeting; their responses will inform our discussion.

The meeting adjourned at 5:40 p.m.