January 8, 2014: ADCOM Minutes

Graduate Council Advisory Committee
Lister Hill Library, room G08
Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Members present: Puri Bangalore, Alan Eberhardt, Melissa Galvin, Ken Miller, Jim Collawn, Lynn Kirkland, Bryan Noe, Susan Rich, Jeff Engler, David Brown, David Vance, Edwin Cook, Roderick Fullard

Staff: Thomas Harris, Cyndi Ballinger, Susan Noblitt Banks

Guest: Drs. Jeffrey Clair, Janelle Chiasera, Tika Benveniste, Donna Slovensky and Lou Anne Worthington

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

Action Items:

The first item on the agenda was a proposal for a GRE Waiver from Sociology. Dr. Jeffrey Clair presented the rationale for the proposal and responded to questions from the committee. The program has been receiving interest from prospective students who only want a Masters degree so the department is considering offering an online program to meet this need. The GRE is an obstacle for many of the individuals who are interested in applying for the proposed Masters program. The prospective applicants are community college professors, military personnel, and other working professionals. The Sociology faculty members do not believe the GRE will be predictive of success for this subset of students. The GRE is not likely to be predicative of success for this subset of students and keeping it as a requirement will actually limit the number of potential applicants. An ADCOM member asked if there was any data to support the proposal to eliminate the GRE requirement. Dr. Clair responded that there is no data at the present time. An ADCOM member commented on a Masters program from his school that had received a GRE waiver for the same reason. He indicated that the students enrolled have been quite successful, thereby supporting the premise that, for students with relevant work and/or life experience, taking the GRE becomes irrelevant.

An ADCOM member questioned whether there are other testing mechanisms of assessing preparedness for a Master in Sociology program. Response: The program admission committee relies heavily on the applicants’ GPA and strong letters of recommendation, and also considers years of work and life experience. The educational standards of the program would not be lowered by eliminating the GRE. The type of students admitted will have been well established in their careers. An ADCOM member asked about enrollment projections if the GRE were to be eliminated. Response: There are currently 16 individuals who have expressed strong interest. There was a soft launch in the fall and five students entered, and 11 entered this semester, all as non-degree students for whom the GRE is not required. There are many more prospective students who are waiting to see if the GRE requirement will be dropped. With advertisement, the expectation is 50 students per semester. A Motion to waive the GRE was made and seconded. The committee voted unanimously to approve the request.

The second agenda item was the review of a NISP proposing to establish a Masters program in Healthcare Quality and Safety from Health Professions and Joint Health Sciences. Responding to questions and comments were Drs. Chiasera and Benveniste. The development of the NISP evolved from discussions between the Provost and the Dean of the Dental School regarding disadvantaged students. It was determined that UAB needed a program that could help strengthen the academic profile of students who wish to improve their probability of being accepted into a First Professional training program. The Provost has cited university wide data on the number of post-baccalaureate students currently registered in non-degree status who are already on campus (710). Most of those students are not being advised. Drs. Chiasera and Benveniste were asked by the Provost to develop a program in partnership that helps to enhance the academic profile of students that meet the minimum criteria, but are not highly competitive for admission into Dental, Medical, or Optometry school, or any of the graduate Health Professions programs. The proposed program will offer academic enhancement as well as counseling and academic advising. The third element is to provide a rigorous three semester program that can be a referral program. The program will require completion of 30 – 36 credit hours of course work. It will be divided into a set of core courses that are fundamental foundation science courses with a medical and clinical bent to them. Some courses already exist. There will also be two, one credit career development courses that will help students with exam prep and interviewing skills. The remaining 20-24 hours will be elective courses tailored for each student’s needs. There are thirty-five similar programs at the graduate level across the country, with twelve in the Southeastern region, but none in Alabama. A specific goal of the program is to target students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, but it will also be open to all interested students. Programs like this across the country have matriculation rates of 78% - 100% into Medical, Dental, or Optometry schools at the same institution that provides the program, as well as other institutions in their state.


An ADCOM member questioned what the threshold will be for admission. Response: Students will be required to have a BS or BA, a minimum 3.2 GPA, a minimum GRE score or a MCAT score that ranges from 24-26. An ADCOM member asked if there was a threshold difference between someone wanting to get into Medical School vs. the Physician Assistant program because a 3.2 GPA will not be competitive for entry into Medical School. Response: A 3.2 GPA will most likely be inadequate for entry into either Medical School or a Physician Assistant program. The usual average GPA is 3.6 for either, but the intent is to build partnerships with the professional schools at UAB to provide some reassurances for success of the students who complete the Masters program. An ADCOM member asked if going through the program the students could potentially become better prepared to improve their GRE scores. Response: Yes, that would be a potential outcome. An ADCOM member speaking for one of the UAB professional schools indicated that the school would welcome a new program such as this as a vehicle for enhancing the preparedness of disadvantaged students who could then be admitted their school. An ADCOM member asked about the process that might be used or targeting disadvantaged and minority student groups as prospective applicants. Response: A combination of recruitment events for disadvantaged students, outreach, recruitment from the UAB non-degree graduate student pool, as well as establishing partnerships to build a pipeline into specific programs similar to the pipeline for the Medical School Administered by Hughes Evans. An ADCOM member asked if the courses will be taught at the graduate level. Response: The entire program will be taught at the graduate level. An ADCOM member followed up with a question regarding a statement that some basic natural science courses might be included; e.g. Physics that is taught at the undergraduate level. Dean Noe commented that undergraduate credits could not be applied toward meeting the requirements of a graduate degree. Response: Some students who are admitted into the program may have to take prerequisite course work to be fully prepared to master some of the required graduate course work.

An ADCOM member asked if there was a concern regarding the rather high number of credit hours being required per semester. Response: Students in many graduate health science programs average fifteen to seventeen graduate credit hours per semester. Thirteen hours is the low for health professions programs. If students want to be successful they need to be able to show that they can handle a demanding course load. An ADCOM member asked why the program is being offered in three semester’s vs. the normal four semesters for most master’s programs. Response: The purpose of proposing three semesters is to have the students begin in the summer to assure that their completion time is linked with the entry date for most medical schools. The students being admitted will have met the basic criteria for entry into medical (or other professional) school and are already in a pool of desired applicants. An ADCOM member questioned if students could extend their time in the program beyond three semesters. Response: Students would be allowed to take a longer time to complete degree requirements under appropriate circumstances, but it will as an exception rather than the norm.

An ADCOM member expressed concern regarding admitting students with only a 3.2 GPA. Response: The proposed 3.2 minimum may possibly be raised during the development of the full NISP. An ADCOM member inquired whether options for educational opportunities other than entering a First Professional school program were available. Response: Students will have a variety of options. Multiple health related programs are possibilities. Students know about medical and dental school, but most are not familiar with other training opportunities in health professions. Counseling regarding these other options will be available. For students who complete the program and are not accepted into a health professions related program, the degree will still have value. Other options for the graduates may be in biomedical research, enhancement for teaching positions, or in science writing. An ADCOM member suggested that the proposed degree will not have prepared students for specific types of jobs. Response: While developing the full program proposal, more outcomes data will be obtained from the other schools that have similar programs. This data could inform choices of elective course work for some students. An ADCOM member asked why propose a new Maters degree program rather than proposing a certificate program? Response: One reason is that only students who are enrolled in degree programs are eligible for most forms of financial aid. Also, having a graduate degree is more desirable than having a second bachelors degree, or a bachelors degree with an add-on certificate. An ADCOM member recommended that the proposed name of the program might be changed to avoid confusion with other programs already in existence. An ADCOM member asked if any new courses be developed. Response: There will be a combination of new and existing courses. Faculty from both the JHS and SHP will work together to develop the full program proposal, and in the process, discuss what new courses that must be developed.

An ADCOM member moved accept the NISP, and the motion was seconded. The vote was unanimous to approve.

The third Action Item was to review a proposal from the Education School to add a new Ed Specialist Level Certification in Collaborative Teacher. Dr. Lou Anne Worthington led the discussion and presented the justification for the new certificate. The certification will offer a collaborative teaching certification that will span across eight disabilities. There is a significant shortage of special education teachers, and students with reading disabilities is the number one problem in most schools. The new certification track will have a unique twist which will allow students from other fields of study to earn a certification in special education. The Collaborative Teacher certification has already been approved by the State Board of Education, but implementation was delayed during the inclusion of the School of Education within the new College of Arts and Sciences, and then the subsequent disassociation of the two schools. Many current teachers are interested in getting this certification, and there is no other similar program in the state. Teachers getting this certification will learn to be both reading coaches as well as special education teachers. All schools currently have reading coaches. There will be a 20% increase in the need for more special education teachers across the state over the next five years. An ADCOM member asked if other special education tracks already existed. Response: There is one Masters level track in Reading but there are no other available disability tracks at the six year level. The new track will allow teachers who have obtained their Masters degree the opportunity to earn an additional certification without the need for a second Masters degree.

A motion was made to approve the Collaborative Teacher certification and seconded. The Motion passed unanimously.

Information Items:

  1. Summer Enrollment Proposal – Noe, Bangalore, Cook
  2. NIH recommendation regarding employment of Individual Development Plans

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

The meeting adjourned at 5:20 p.m.