Graduate Council Advisory Committee
Lister Hill Library, room G08
Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Members present: Alan Eberhardt, Jim Collawn, Lynn Kirkland, Bryan Noe, Susan Rich, Jeffrey Engler, David Brown, David Vance, Edwin Cook, Stacey Cofield, Donald Muccio

Staff: Thomas Harris, Cyndi Ballinger, Susan Noblitt Banks

Guest: Drs. Janelle Chiasera, Tika Benveniste, Donna Slovensky, Will Brooks, and Iwan Alexander

Action Items:

The first Action Item on the agenda was consideration of a full proposal from School of Health Professions and the Joint Health Sciences for a new MS program in Biomedical and Health Sciences. Drs. Janelle Chiasera, Tika Benveniste, Donna Slovensky, and Will Brooks responded to questions from the committee.  Students who complete the proposed program will be prepared to matriculate into Medical, Dental or Optometry schools. There are 108 similar programs around the nation. Most of those programs are referred to as postbac or premed programs. There are less than 30 similar programs in the southeast and none are located in Alabama. A survey of undergraduates was conducted within the UAB CAS to gauge student interest in the new program. A high percentage of students who responded indicated they would apply to enroll if the program were offered. The program would primarily benefit students who had applied but were not admitted into Medical, Dental or Optometry school programs. The program will be three semesters in length and will be a unique systems based program.  The UAB Deans of Medicine and Dentistry are enthusiastic about the new program and the fact that it may benefit economically disadvantaged students.

An ADCOM member questioned the five year admission projections of 12 to 20 new students per year as it relates to the survey done in CAS where most students reported a problem with their inability to achieve acceptable standardized test scores.  Evaluation of applications that place a high value on test scores will eliminate a large number of applicants, whereas part of the proposed program’s mission is to help students with low test scores get into professional schools. Response: The admission projections are conservative to assure that ACHE criteria for viability will be met. The number of admitted students will likely be higher than those cited in the proposal.  With regard to low standardized test scores potentially disadvantaging some applicants, the program will target students with midrange test scores who were just below the threshold for admission into Medical or Dental school.  An ADCOM member recommended not admitting students who test below the mid-range as there is a poor success rate for students who have low test scores.  Another ADCOM member argued against using a point system to evaluate the applicant pool. Response:  Different test types such as the GRE and MAT are not comparable so using a point system will help with evaluating each applicant.  Standardized test scores will comprise only a small component of the evaluative criteria that will be used.  An ADCOM member asked if the recruitment effort will target students from Alabama only. Response: With many similar programs offered in other states, recruitment of out of state students will be difficult as they would have to pay out of state tuition vs attending a program in their home state.  The primary intent of the proposed program is to fill a need at UAB and in Alabama.  However, as the program matures, recruitment may be extended to out of state students. 

An ADCOM member asked about minimal admission requirements.  Response:  Having a bachelor’s degree and having successfully taken specific science course work will be prerequisites. An ADCOM member asked about recruitment efforts for targeting disadvantaged groups. Response: Recruitment and retention will be a challenge. An effort will be made to reach out to HCBU’s and the schools that are visited during the annual Alabama Circuit recruitment event.  The applicants who had been slightly below meeting all criteria for medical school admission will be advised to consider this program to gain an edge for future admission to a professional school.  An ADCOM member asked about the demographic factors that will enhance medical professionals practicing in rural counties. Response:  The history of the “Path Leading Home” program in the medical school is a model mechanism that offers clinical work to students in rural counties.  It would be difficult to include a similar clinical practicum during the one year MS program.  However, most students would acquire that type of experience once they have been admitted to medical school.  Also networking and recruiting from rural medically underserved areas could have an impact.  An ADCOM member questioned whether this new program will compete with enrollments into other programs like the M.S. in Biology. Response: Increasing enrollment is a continuing trend for all programs. The proposed program is designed specifically as a vehicle to help underrepresented students to be more competitive for professional school admission. An argument can be made that all new programs might reduce enrollment numbers in other programs, but the proposed program is not research based and therefore will not compete with research based masters programs such as the M.S. in Biology.  An ADCOM member asked about the professional school matriculation of graduates from similar programs that are offered at other schools.  Response:  The majority of similar programs target medical school admissions and the matriculation rate into medical schools for their graduates is 85-95%.  An ADCOM member asked about the teaching mechanism and whether there is an adequate number of faculty to teach the proposed courses. Response: The combined faculty from several departments in both the SOM and SHP will be more than adequate to team teach all of the courses. There are more than ten faculty members who will be primary teaching faculty in the program, and others will participate as needed. Class space and labs will be utilized in the LRC and Volker Hall.  

A Motion to approve was made and seconded. No further discussion. The committee voted  unanimously to approve the program.

The second Action Item on the agenda was review of a NISP from Engineering proposing a new Concentration in the existing Masters of Engineering program.  The degree will be the M.Eng. in Design and Commercialization.  Responding to questions from the committee were Alan Eberhardt and Iwan Alexander.  The new Concentration will be added into the existing program. The existing program is a 1 year program leading to the conferral of a professional degree. The new Concentration will also be completed in one year. It will be a non-thesis option (Plan II) degree in design with an added certificate in commercialization from the Business School. Students will take 24 credit hours from the Engineering school and 12 credit hours from the MBA program in Business School. The goal for the new Concentration will be to prepare graduates to take new products from development to commercialization. Personnel at the Innovation Depot and other local industry leaders are supportive of adding this new track. Availability of the new Concentration should be attractive to entrepreneurs and industries who are interested in sending current employees to gain new sets of expertise. The new Concentration will be one of several joint endeavors between Engineering and Business, some still in the planning stages. Projected job placement for students will be as Project Managers in various industries.  There are other similar successful programs across the nation. The new Concentration will also be an attractive option for engineering undergraduates who don’t immediately move on into Ph.D programs.  ADCOM members had no questions or concerns with the proposed new Concentration.

A Motion to approve was made and seconded. There was no further discussion. The committee voted unanimously to approve the proposal.

Information Items:

  1. Update on IDP implementation and early training outcomes
    1. Presenters: Drs. Susan Rich and Jeff Engler
  1. Proposal to require verification of training in Scientific Integrity (Responsible Conduct of Research) as a prerequisite for eligibility of research based Masters (Plan I) and Doctoral (PhD) students to take their qualifying examination - Engler
  1. Falsification of application materials - Noe

The meeting adjourned at 5:10 p.m.