Graduate Council Advisory Committee
HUC Board Room
Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Members present: Stephen Watts, Burton Patterson, Melissa Galvin, Douglas Ayers, Jim Collawn, Kyle Grimes, Bryan Noe, Susan Rich, Jeff Engler, Stephen O’Connor, David Macrina, Erica Pryor, Rosalyn Weller

Staff: Julie Bryant, Susan Banks, Thomas Harris

Dr. Noe opened meeting by thanking the ADCOM members for taking time to participate in the President’s Retreat on Graduate Education.

Information Items:

    1. Dr. Noe discussed the implications of the budget reduction within the Graduate School. An announcement was made during the January ADCOM meeting that the Provost office was willing to subsidize the budget in order to allocate the same total stipend amounts through Fiscal 2010. The remainder of the budget cut will come from the Grad School operations and personnel budgets
    2. The Barker Nomination solicitations were sent. The deadline for receiving responses will be February 24. Dr. Noe encouraged Program Directors to nominate well qualified students
    3. Graduate Student Research day format will be changed this year. All Masters Student’s presentations will be held on a separate day (Wednesday). Also, there will be a separate session for the Ireland Tuition scholars. Faculty volunteers to serve as Judges are needed. The dates for the GSRD event will be February 25 – 27
    4. Dr. Engler discussed the funding of the new PREP grant award from NIH NIGMS. Ten trainees will start during the summer or fall. These students will have a bachelor’s degree, may have applied to graduate school but were not accepted into a program. The grant is designed to bring these students to UAB and put them into a lab with a mentor. 80% of their time will be spent in the lab. The lab work will be equivalent to a Plan 1 thesis project that can be completed with two years. The students will receive GRE preparation, writing assistance and will be able to travel to professional meetings. The training program is funded at $1.4 million over four years
    5. Dr. Engler gave an overview of the findings from a Responsible Conduct of Research survey taken by UAB faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. The graduate schools from UAB, UA, and UAH participated in a survey that solicited their perceptions about their training in issues of scientific integrity. The primary problem areas identified were mentor/student relationship issues (i.e. trust issues). The Grad School has received a new two year grant from ORI and CGS that will allow development of educational videos that facilitate scholarly integrity education to be embedded into curriculum. The Avoiding Plagiarism workshop is being considered as a model way to get ethics issues discussed in regular classroom settings. 

Agenda Items:

    1. Proposal for a Plan A Certificate program in Global Health, Presented by Melissa Galvin: The certificate program is in the School of Public Health.  The 2 credit hour courses are all existing courses. The completion requirements are grades of A or B and a GPA of 3.0 or higher to earn the certificate. Out-of-state tuition will be charged.  All certificate students will be taking courses online. ADCOM voted unanimously to approve modifications to this certificate program
    2. Policy Review of MSBMS, Presented by Dr. Noe: Masters of Science in Basic Medical Science which applies to JHS programs. The degree is an opt-out degree for PhD degree students in JHS who do not wish to continue their PhD studies. Since 1994, more than half of the JHS program students granted the MSBMS degree without preparing and defending a Masters thesis. Dr. Noe asked ADCOM for feedback on regarding “no thesis requirement” approach.  He is concerned that, at least in the biosciences, the “MS” degree implies that the recipient has had research experience that has led to the preparation and defense of a thesis.  Obviously, some programs have been granting the MSBMS as a course based degree only. This approach makes the degree merely a consolation prize for students after they have completed two years or more of course work.  In other disciplines (e.g. Engineering) it is common practice to award Masters degrees (i.e. Plan II at UAB) based on course work only and the degree is considered a valid credential for graduates from those programs when seeking employment.  Obviously, practices differ among disciplines.  For the bioscience and natural science programs, more clearly defined requirements for completion of core course work, advanced course work, and research product to earn the MS degree are needed.  Dr. Rich will poll JHS programs to ask for their qualifications for earning the MSBMS degree.  The results will be discussed during a future ADCOM meeting. 

 (ADCOM web site is

The meeting adjourned at 5:30 p.m.