Graduate Council Meeting
March 21, 2000

March 28, 2000


Present: Ken Bowers, Janice Bowman, Bruce McLeod, Gretchen McNeely, John Sears, and Rebecca Ward.

Item 1: Graduate Summer Assistantships (GSA)
Dr. McLeod opened by reminding the council of the fine distinct difference between the GSA issue and continuous enrollment.

Dr. McLeod then initiated the discussion regarding GSAs by trying to establish the impact of GSAs on departments. From there the conversation quickly turned to the second agenda item, continuous enrollment. After discussing continuous enrollment for a while, a call was made for a proposal on GSAs. Dr. Bowers moved to continue the GSA policy as it currently exists (students may not register for any credits and can be employed up to 40 hrs/wk). Dr. Bowman seconded the motion and the council voted.

Decision: The Graduate Council supported the continuance of the current GSA policy. Dr. McLeod will take this decision to the Dean's Council and Provost for consideration.

Shortly after the decision was made, the discussion returned to the GSA issue when Dr. McLeod mentioned that one of the possible advantages of continuous enrollment could be the proper compensation of MSU for use of the campus infrastructure for research by graduate students in the summer. Dr. Bowers admitted that there was probably some abuse of the system occurring, but did not think the appropriate solution was the establishment of a blanket policy, but also said that he did not know where the line should otherwise be drawn.

Dr. McLeod suggested the possibility of making GSAs available for summer Teaching Assistants only. Dr. Bowers said this would not be a problem for Math. Dr. Bowman believed it to be a fair solution. Dr. Sears mentioned that it seemed somewhat contradictory that while the University was not typically funding research faculty in the summer, MSU still expects students to pay for the use of University facilities when working on those research projects. Dr. McLeod established the possibility that if GSAs were to be retained strictly for students involved in teaching, and institutional credit was to be required of graduate researchers during the summer semester, perhaps there was a way to return some of those funds back to the research faculty supervisors.

Item 2: Continuous Enrollment
This discussion began with an observation by Dr. McNeely that a requirement for continuous enrollment seemed incongruous for colleges where faculty were not funded or available in the summer to assist and/or supervise student research. Dr. Sears speculated about how a continuous enrollment policy would effect part time or summer only graduate students, indicating that such a policy might discourage enrollment.

Dr. McLeod mentioned that based on the input the College of Graduate Studies (CGS) had received from other schools with "continuous enrollment," their policies typically did not go into effect until after completion of all coursework for masters degree students or completion of the comprehensive examination for doctoral students.
Dr. Bowers said that he was strongly opposed to any continuous enrollment policy seeing it as a fund-generating tool for the University with little programmatic justification. He added that he suspected that such a plan would strongly hinder graduate student recruiting efforts by potentially increasing the overall costs of their graduate education. Dr. Sears said that he suspected several departments would also oppose such a plan. Dr. Bowman said that her department already had a hard time recruiting. Dr. Sears added that he suspected that such a plan would not increase the revenue base anyway, simply redistribute the existing funds due to students simply redistributing their credit load from other semesters.

Dr. McLeod then mentioned that according to CGS notes, some form of a continuous enrollment policy may have been adopted by MSU in 1996, but never enforced.

Dr. McNeely said that a continuous enrollment policy would probably not effect the College of Nursing.
Dr. Sears asked Dr. McLeod for his perspective on the advantages and disadvantages of a continuous enrollment policy at MSU. Dr. McLeod said the primary disadvantage could be an increase in the total out-of-pocket costs for graduate students. The primary advantages, Dr. McLeod thought, were fair compensation to the university for use of facilities during the summer months, and added incentive for students to complete their graduate programs in an expeditious manner.

To conclude the discussion, Dr. McLeod asked if he could bring the following statement to the Dean's Council concerning continuous enrollment: "The Graduate Council supports, in principal, the adoption of a continuous enrollment fee for students who have completed their comprehensive exams or required coursework, whichever comes first, but would need to have the details defined before giving its full support."

Item 3: Supporting Courses on the Graduate Program of Study
Dr. McLeod asked that the Graduate Council address defining "Supporting Courses". Dr. Bowers asked why we have a supporting course requirement at all. Dr. McLeod said that it was to encourage a broader educational background during a doctoral student's studies. Dr. Sears added that it was a hold-over from a greater emphasis on the "philosophy" part of the Ph.D. degree. Dr. Sears added that he believed that supporting courses should be external to the students home department.

Dr. McLeod asked if we need to maintain the requirement at all or simply remove it from the catalog and let departments determine what, if any, supporting course work is required.

Dr. Sears asked that any decision be postponed until additional feedback could be gathered from departments in the members respective colleges.

Item 4: Graduate Student Organization
Dr. McLeod asked that members begin collecting feedback on the possibility of creating a Graduate Student Organization independent of ASMSU which could better represent the graduate student body.

* The next Graduate Council meeting is scheduled for 12:00 p.m., April 11 in the PCR.