Graduate Council Meeting - Minutes
March 2, 2001

Graduate Council Members

Ken Bowers, College of Letters & Science (Mathematics)

Janice Bowman, College of Agriculture (Animal & Range Sciences)

Doug Cairns, College of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering)

Gretchen Iman, Graduate Students

Ralph Johnson, College of Arts & Architecture (Architecture)

Bruce McLeod, Graduate Dean

Gretchen McNeely, College of Nursing

Craig Stewart, College of Education, Health & Human Development (HHD)

Kent Swift, College of Business

Present:   Bruce McLeod, Rebecca Ward, Ian Godwin, Ken Bowers, Kent Swift, Lynn Taylor (Nursing), and Gretchen Iman.

Informational Topics Discussed:

Item 1: The College of Graduate Studies is collecting information about the cost and responsibilities of transcript evaluation services.

The topic of increased difficulty in evaluating international transcripts was discussed. There is a concern for the rise in forgeries of Chinese credentials and questionable transcripts. Kent Swift's department requires applicants to provide syllabi to compare coursework. International students preparing for the CPA exam must have their coursework professionally analyzed. Ken Bowers added that Chinese students are very well qualified for graduate level work, and are required to provide transcripts translated into English. The CGS will research the possibility of requiring international applicants to provide professional credentialing vs. training CGS staff to sufficiently evaluate transcripts internally.

Item 2: The Federal Reserve has implemented new restrictions on the definition of "acceptable" international checks run through U.S. banks.

First Interstate Bank refused to cash international checks from graduate applicants for $50.00 application fees. It was agreed by Tom Stump that as long as checks are drawn on U.S. funds by a U.S. bank, and that all numerical routing codes are imprinted on the checks, the deposits will be accepted.

Item 3: The 9-credit rule for transferring credits to the major area was discussed.

Students need to be knowledgeable about policies, especially the 9 non-degree credit transfer. Departments need to be well informed and advise students properly. Kent Swift feels that the catalog policies are "cut and dried", and are made for a reason. His department distributes a worksheet to graduate students at the onset of their program, outlining policies and procedures to be followed. The penalty for failure to meet deadlines is currently the need to enroll for three additional credits. The council agreed that many times this results from the students being poorly advised. The departments must be up-to-date on CGS policies and procedures. The idea of instituting full-time graduate faculty is a topic for future discussion.

Graduate Council Items:

Item 1: Review of policy regarding whom may serve as graduate student committee chair.

The policy states that a graduate student must have tenure-track faculty as committee chair. It was proposed to allow an outside expert to be co-chair of committee. A concern was raised regarding having someone with no knowledge of MSU policies and procedures, acting as the primary advisor to graduate students. However, by having a co-chair not affiliated with the university, combined with a tenured faculty member, they could complement each other. Lynn Taylor, Nursing, stated that she's not sure that all Nursing chairs are tenure-track. They are all very qualified in their field, and well versed in the academic "hoops" that students need to know. She will check on the tenure status of current graduate student chairs. Becky Ward will establish guidelines to distribute to non-tenure faculty.

Item 2: Defining the composition of student committees for interdisciplinary graduate degree programs. Current policy requires the chair and the majority of committee members be selected from the student's department.

CGS policy currently states that two-thirds of committee members must be in the student's home department. The chair must be from the home department. Exceptions to this policy are some Engineering programs, and the inter-college, inter-departmental MSSE program, where a steering committee is formed. Council members had no problem with interdisciplinary committees, as long as the majority of committee members are from the home department. This policy should not be considered closed. It was recommended that the policy be changed to indicate that the chair must be from the home department. Individual departments may choose to adopt stricter controls and guidelines regarding committee composition.

Item 3: Providing evidence of the currency/proficiency of coursework for outdated courses. (The CGS is now requiring one question for the comprehensive examination and/or defense from each outdated course in cases where the student is given an extension of time on coursework.)

Currently, Ph.D. coursework has a time limit of 10 years. The question was raised as to whether this policy should be waived in certain cases. Master's students have a 6-year time limit. In part, this has raised an issue for doctoral students who decide to pursue a Master's degree, but have had the coursework expire. The question was raised, as to whether students should be awarded a Master's degree in lieu of achieving a Ph.D. Does this diminish the worth of a Master's degree? Should there be a difference in timelines for Master's and Ph.D. programs, or should both timelines be the same? It was suggested to remove the time limit on coursework, and include the subject area in the comprehensive timeline. Bruce McLeod stated that the CGS will be conducting a comprehensive review of all policies, and will be seeking input from all departments regarding this and other CGS policies.


* The next Graduate Council meeting is scheduled for 9:00 a.m., April 6 in the President's Conference Room (Montana Hall).


Graduate Council Meeting - Minutes March 2, 2001