Graduate Council Advisory Committee
HUC Board Room
Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Members present: Kyle Grimes, Bryan Noe, Susan Rich, Jeff Engler, Stephen O’Connor, David Macrina, Erica Pryor, Rosalyn Weller

Guest: Donna Slovensky, Vivian Pijuan-Thompson

Staff: Julie Bryant, Thomas Harris

Agenda Items:

  1. The first agenda item was the review of the Department of Health Services Administration graduate program proposal top add a track. Dr. Donna Slovensky attended the meeting to support the proposal. The Health Information Management (HIM) Masters track will be a degree track with a focus on development and management of electronic records. There is currently at trend in the medical and health informatics fields to move to graduate level instruction to prepare practitioners. The track will consist of 44 credit hours of course work. Five courses will be derived from the existing Health Informatics curriculum and six new courses will be added to offer the advanced components. The advanced course work will provide the perspective of an IT environment. Two new faculty numbers will be hired once enrollment begins to grow. Currently, the program can draw on adjunct faculty to cover the additional course instruction necessary for the track. Degree credentials for the new HIM track will be similar to that of MSHI. The track will be offered as an online program designed for working professionals. The track can be either a Plan I or Plan II, but will mainly be a Plan II, non-thesis track. The track proposal was given consensus approval from ADCOM.

  2. The second agenda item was the review of the Cytology track proposal for the Master of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science program.  Dr. Vivian Pijuan-Thompson attended the meeting to support the proposal.  Training in cytology is transitioning toward having more of an impact on disease testing and there is a need for more advanced teaching of concepts in cytology for graduates from the CLS program to become more marketable. Students in this program will already have a bachelor’s degree in CLS or an affiliated field but will be coming back for additional training. Graduate who hold this degree will be able to find work in hospitals, labs, private labs and other disease testing facilities. The track will be placed within the MS for CLS program and will share common courses (17 hours of shared course work) followed by more advanced course work focused on cytology. The bachelor’s degree in Cytology will be fazed out. A non-thesis option will be offered.  Based on the students’ interest for research, some will perform research and prepare and defend a Masters thesis. A final paper will be required with a recommendation that the paper be submitted to an appropriate journal for publication.  The University of South Alabama is the only other institution in the state that offers a degree specialization in cytology. Graduates from the UAB program will be in high demand. After completion of the certificate program, the students will be required to sit for a registry exam as well as a proficiency exam. ADCOM approved the proposal by a consensus vote.
  3. The third agenda item was a follow up review of the policy for granting the MSBMS degree. The ADCOM membership agreed that the MS degree bioscience and the natural sciences should be a thesis based degree with a research component. The JHS departments have been using the MS degree differently. Dr. Susan Rich completed a survey of the JHS departments and found there to be more Plan II degrees granted than Plan I. Justification from departments for issuing the MS degree varies but included, the need to show that students earned a degree so that information could be included in future training grant applications, and also to give students a degree for completing one to two years of course work.  The rationale for the latter being that this is roughly equivalent to minimal standards being met in other designated Plan II Masters level programs. The ADCOM membership recommended developing standard requirements for granting the MS degree that all bioscience and natural science departments must follow. 
  4. The fourth agenda item was consideration of a request from the Information Engineering Management program regarding the admission of students from ITT and other non regionally accredited colleges. Students in the IEM program are working professionals with bachelors degrees, some of which were granted from non-regionally accredited institutions such as ITT. These students are also not required to provide GRE score for consideration of acceptance into the IEM program. ADCOM members were concerned about allowing students with bachelors degrees from ITT or other non-accredited schools into the IEM program as it would create a precedent for prospective applicants with degrees from similar institutions.  Allowing these students to enroll could potentially hurt UAB’s own accreditation. The consensus of the ADCOM membership was that UAB should not allow students who earn their bachelors degree from a non accredited institution should not be allowed to enroll in UAB graduate programs.  This decision was communicated to the IEM program director by Dr. Noe.

Information Items:

  1. Dr. Engler briefly discussed the PREP grant award from NIH NIGMS.  Once the Notice of Grant Award has been received, up to fifteen students will be contacted to gauge their interest regarding participation in the program. The grant will help prepare post-baccalaureate students to be better qualified to enroll in, and to be successful in a graduate program.
  2. Dr. Engler gave an update regarding the ORI/CGS grant sponsored Responsible Conduct of Research survey.  The survey roll out will be delayed until September. The survey will again be sent to all faculty, postdocs and graduate students. Student and faculty at the UA and Huntsville campuses will be included in the survey.  The results will be compared to those from other institutions who have received an ORI/CGS RCR grant.
  3. Dr. Engler will be doing a follow up to the request sent last fall for best practices in graduate programs. An email will be circulated to all program directors requesting that they submit to the Grad School an updated version of their program handbook. The handbooks will be checked for the inclusion of the best practice suggestions.
  4. Dr. Noe addressed the importance of good mentorship. New publications, “On Being a Scientist” and two CGS publications will be purchased by the Grad School and distributed to each program director. The new publications provide best practices mentor - student relationships.
  5. Dr. Noe announced the high probability of receiving funding for a new training grant. The Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (IRACDA). The grant was prepared by Drs. Susan Rich and Lisa Schwiebert and will be administered through the Office of Postdoctoral Education.  In addition to their research training, the grant will provide postdocs with the opportunity to assimilate teaching pedagogy and to get teaching experience at minority serving institutions.  The postdoc participating in the program will spend between 15% – 20% of their time on the teaching related activities.

 (ADCOM web site is

The meeting adjourned at 5:30 p.m.