Graduate Council Advisory Committee
Hill University Center, room 325
Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Members present: Alan Eberhardt, Melissa Galvin, Douglas Ayers, Jim Collawn, Lynn Kirkland, Bryan Noe, Susan Rich, Jeff Engler, Cecelia Graham, David Vance, Steven Pittler

Staff: Thomas Harris, Susan Banks, Cyndi Ballinger

Guests: Drs. Stephanie Corcoran, Lou Ann Worthington

Agenda Items:

Meeting began with the introduction of new ADCOM member David Vance, representative of the School of Nursing. ADCOM members introduced themselves and departments they represent.

Agenda item one was the review of a NISP from the Education School proposing the establishment of a Masters degree in School Psychometry. Guests, Drs. Stephanie Corcoran, Lou Ann Worthington, and ADCOM member Lynn Kirkland spoke on behalf of the proposal and responded to questions and comments. Lynn Kirkland was recused from ADCOM voting on the proposal. Dr. Corcoran is currently director of the Psychometry program. Currently the program is at the certificate level and they would like to convert it into a master’s degree program. School Psychometrists must combine education practices and psychology expertise to perform IQ testing, diagnosis of learning disabilities and determination of eligibility for gifted services or remediation.  To be eligible to enroll, a master’s degree is required with two years of teaching experience.

The program has been very successful and has graduates spread across the state. The program is designed as an executive style program with blended classroom and online courses, Saturday classes as an institute and summer courses. The program is very attractive to full time working teachers and school administrators. However, with the program being non degree, students in the program are not eligible for financial aid and some students are being missed. Another segment of students being missed are students who want a master’s degree after having worked as teachers for several years. Student enrollment is projected to double after converting the program it to a master’s program.

ADCOM members questioned if a teacher has a master’s degree in special education, would they be students of interest or if they had the certificate would they be acting as a special education teacher. The Psychometrist’s role within schools is unique. A School Psychometrist is typically housed in a school’s office of special education. But they have a separate role from the special education teachers.  ADCOM members asked whether the certificate will be replaced. To get certified in school psychometry, the state department of education requires a master’s degree which is why the certificate is currently offered as a post master’s certification. If the program was turned into a master’s program with certification, the students will graduate with certification.  Right now, students who do not already have a masters degree are being turned away because of the state requirement to complete a masters degree. 

ADCOM member: Are there any concerns about mixing new teachers with experienced teachers in an executive style program?  Response: One thing that has made the experience so rich was the experience level. There should be a complementary blend of both more and less experienced teachers. The state requires a minimum of two years teaching experience before trainees can start the program so there will always be experienced students in the program. ADCOM members asked if the psychometry certificate program has had any interaction with the Low Vision program which follows a similar process within Vision Science to help special needs students.  Response:  Psychometrists are qualified to identify and refer low vision students appropriately. ADCOM members asked whether the required number of course hours will be  spelled out for people interested in coming back to get the certificate vs. students who will be getting a full masters. To get just the certificate, students are required to complete 31 hours which is equivalent to a second masters. It is hard to get just the certificate without getting another degree with it because of the number of hours. Most students choose the second masters in order to get financial aid. Course requirements are specified by the state. There will not be a thesis as the field is more applied. ADCOM suggested enhancing the proposal by adding comments to the NISP regarding working with the UAB Low Vision program to indicate  a complementary interaction with an existing program. Motion to approve the NISP was made, followed by a second.  ADCOM voted unanimously to approve the NISP.

Agenda item number two was the review of a proposal from Biomedical Engineering for providing an option for BME students to add the Certificate Life Sciences Entrepreneurship to the Plan I Master of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering. Speaking in support of the proposal and responding to questions and comments were ADCOM members Alan Eberhardt and Douglas Ayers. The Biomedical Engineering program has been working for the past year on enhancing the collaborative activities between the Schools of Engineering and Business. Two initiatives have been established with the first being at the undergraduate level with the senior design projects, and the second which is the idea to commercialize developed projects that aid people with disabilities.  The discussion evolved into how to put Engineering students with Business students to learn how to commercialize biomedical devices either developed in the BME students’ capstone projects or through the intellectual property at the UAB Research Foundation and try to bring about an interest in commercialization activities at UAB that link the Schools of Medicine, Business and Engineering.

This represents a tangible mechanism by which engineering students could gain training in  business practices to obtain a degree that has an element of commercialization in it so that when they graduate not only are they a master of science and biomedical engineering, but they have a certificate in Life Sciences Entrepreneurship as well that hopefully will make them attractive to local industry as engineers and business folks. The proposal is combining two existing programs: a Plan I Master’s of Science in Biomedical Engineering with an existing certificate. This will be an opportunity to enhance the graduate program and perhaps what’s going on in the school of business as well. The School of Engineering courses will remain exactly the same with one elective which will be a recommended business course; students will still perform masters thesis research. Master’s and MBA students will work toward commercialization of a device and in the process they will generate a piece of scholarship. The proposal is course heavy from BME standpoint.  ADCOM members questioned the total credit hours for the combined program; it will be 39 credits. ADCOM members asked about course BST 621. The course would likely be replaced with a course that has a little more direct application into experimental testing. AN ADCOM member suggested contacting Dr. Leslie McClure for additional suggestions for biostatistics course offerings.

Dr. Ayers added comments from the perspective of the Business School. For the business school, the collaboration would help keep their courses multidisciplinary. The last course listed, ITY accelerator is a new course but the good thing about it is that teams stay together across the courses working on the same project as the content develops and they are paired with a mentor from the local business community.  Students will have a winning combination by being exposed to working with mixed teams from other disciplines. If the program works with BME, the intent is to broaden it to all engineering disciplines. There are four engineering students working in program now to pilot the concept. ADCOM members then discussed that there is no need for formal Board approval since the proposal is combing two existing programs that have already had approval from the Board.  As a courtesy, ADCOM will touch base with Planning and Analysis and ACHE to see if an information item is should be submitted.  A suggestion was made that the proposal has distinct similarities similar to a PSM (Professional Science Masters) program.  Many schools have developed PSM programs to prepare students at the sub-doctoral level for specific niche jobs. What are the employment options for the trainees with this combined expertise? Students could go into tech transfer, pharma and move into out of labs into managerial and/or financial analysis positions. PSM programs are blended programs and potential employers are attracted to the PSM brand name and training that occurs in the PSM programs.  ADCOM members asked if the program may move to a dual degree option down the road.  It would be natural to move into a dual degree as PhDs are thinking about alternative careers.  Motion to approve the proposal was made, followed by a second. No further discussion. ADCOM voted to approve.

Agenda item three was a discussion of fraudulent credentials in international applications. Excerpts were read from an article in Higher Education. Recommendation from ADCOM was made to suggest to all programs that they may wish to consider using ECE or WES services to verify international student’s credentials from submitted applications for admission. 

Information Item:

  1. Update on the status of the outside review process for the Graduate School, GBS, and the Office of Postdoctoral Education

The meeting adjourned at 5:20 p.m.