Graduate Council Meeting - Minutes
July 6, 1999

Graduate Council Members

Sue Blodgett , College of Agriculture (Entomology)
Ken Bowers , College of Letters & Science (Mathematics)
Dan Hertz , College of Business
Ralph Johnson , College of Arts & Architecture (Architecture)
Bruce McLeod , Graduate Dean
John Sears , College of Engineering (Chemical Engineering)
Craig Stewart , College of Education, Health & Human Development (HHD)
Therese Sullivan , College of Nursing

Present:   Sue Blodgett, Ken Bowers, Ralph Johnson, Bruce McLeod, Craig Stewart, Therese Sullivan, Rebecca Ward.

Item 1: Graduate Committee Chair Eligibility

Dr. McLeod opened with a clarification of the policy Graduate Studies has been following regarding non-academic (non-teaching) faculty acting as Graduate Committee Chairs. The policy is that non-teaching faculty may co-chair graduate committees but may not be the sole chair. This policy exists because non-teaching faculty may not be as familiar with the academic requirements, policies, dates & deadlines as teaching faculty, which could hamper a student’s progress in their program.

Dr. McLeod asked if there were any objections to the continuance of the policy as it has been observed. There were no objections. There was a suggestion that exceptions might be made for non-teaching faculty that have previously had extensive experience on graduate committees. The response was that in many cases these individuals are the same ones inspiring the need for a return to following the letter of the policy. There was no further discussion.

Item 2: Architecture’s Seamless Masters Program

Discussion opened with a synopsis of the Seamless Program in Architecture as it currently exists. Some of the problems include: 1) things not fitting into the current system (registrars systems, etc.), 2) students need to declare the junior year of their undergraduate program so there is no final transcript available, and students who want to begin their graduate course work must get registration waivers, and 3) trying to deal with the issue of financial Aid and the different packages available to undergraduates and graduate students. The Architecture Department has been in extensive consultation with the Graduate Dean to try and figure out how to make things work to include: 1) generating two transcripts, and giving students the opportunity to request that courses be reported on one or the other of the transcripts, and 2) having Architecture’s study abroad course operating under dual systems (students registered through MSU or through Extended Studies).

Other topics of discussion / questions to ponder included:

Item 3: Unsatisfactory Graduate Student Progress

This item concerned the apparent unwillingness of individual departments to notify students that they are not making satisfactory progress towards their degree and then hold them accountable for improvement.

Initial response was that a memo from Graduate Studies should be generated and sent to departments outlining the need to review student progress on a regular basis and develop deadlines for improvement for those students falling short of expectations. It was further noted that there was no consistent means of dropping a student from a program. Dr. Mcleod indicated that it should be the departments, not Graduate Studies, which should be responsible for initiating drop procedures for their students.

The question then came up concerning how many breaks a student, particularly one accepted provisionally, should get before suspension. Provisionally accepted students have already been given one break. If they get two more, they are already half way through their program. “What is the quality we’re trying to maintain?” was asked. The response was that there continues to be a mixed message from the administration revolving around priorities between the quality and quantity of MSU graduate students. There was further discussion concerning the need to develop more “professional master’s programs”. The comment was made that the structure already exists (Plans A & B), and is not being utilized to a great extent.

Closing conversation on this topic was a reiteration that it would be reasonable to request that departments conduct annual reviews of their graduate students to determine their progress and provide an assessment of satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

* The next Graduate council meeting was scheduled for 9:00 am, August 17.