MSU 100

Graduate Council Meeting - Minutes
February 18, 2002

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)

Marc Giullian, College of Business

Richard Helzer, College of Arts & Architecture (Art)

Bruce McLeod, Graduate Dean

Gretchen McNeely, College of Nursing

Alison Spain, Graduate Students (Art)

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

            Present:Chair Bruce McLeod, Ken Bowers, Janice Bowman, Durward Sobek sitting in for Doug Cairns, Gretchen McNeely, Alison Spain, Richard Helzer, Craig Stewart, Mark Giullian, Rebecca Ward (College of Graduate Studies), Donna Negaard (College of Graduate Studies)

Graduate Council Items:

Item 1:Continuing discussion of Pass/Fail/“N” grading for 590 (thesis) and 690 (dissertation) credits.

Becky explained the increasing problem of students receiving Pass (?P?) in thesis or dissertation credits for several semesters and subsequently not passing the defense.  The College of Graduate Studies is concerned that this may become a legal question if a student completes every semester with a “P” and then fails the defense.  Council members asked several questions regarding the issue including: Why are students receiving a “P” if they are not accomplishing anything during a semester?; How does the professor know how much a student is accomplishing if the student is simply reading and compiling research?  Why do we have situation in which the faculty doesn&rsqou;t know what the student is doing for the credits?  Council members thought other solutions might be used instead of adding yet another grade.  Other possible solutions might be to require a contract similar to 570’s; to use letter grades instead of (P)ass or (F)ail or to have student expectations identified and increase better communication between advisor and students.

McLeod asked for a motion and vote.

MOTION:  Helzer moved to retain 590/690 credits as Pass/Fail (“P”, “F”) credits with a reminder from the College of Graduate Studies to faculty and students to specifically address the criteria for Pass/Fail in these credits.  McNeely seconded the motion.  Vote was unanimous in favor of the motion.

The College of Graduate Studies would like feedback from Departments on individual programs regarding what constitutes “Satisfactory Progress” toward a degree.  Becky indicated that the CGS would be asking departments for clarification of “Satisfactory Progress” in the near future.

Item 2: Discussion of use of credits required for completion of a master’s program and the use of these credits toward a doctoral program.

Continued discussion regarding whether or not courses beyond a masters count towards the PhD.  Bowers reiterated that Mathematics does not require any content course credits past the master’s degree but that most students take credits during pursuit of the doctoral degree.

The majority of PhD candidates take an average of 4-6 years to complete their program. 

The CGS will ask all departments about how many credits past the master degree must be taken.  Also departments should clarify their policy “students must satisfactorily pass” the doctoral comprehensive examination. 

Item 3: Continued discussion of Graduate Program Review

McLeod asked Council members to remind their respective dean and faculty to submit comments/suggestions about the program review spreadsheets.  Council members suggested that the spreadsheets be placed on the WEB.  (The spreadsheets refer to 3 sections: student, faculty and department.)

McLeod reminded Council members that the Program Review is to help determine the current status of graduate programs including information about how long students take to complete the degree, where resources can or should be used and what degree programs are in trouble. McLeod also indicated that this information will help in future MSU accreditation processes.

Item 4: Continuing discussion of the development of "graduate faculty"

McLeod addressed the need for additional comments from faculty and departments regarding a graduate faculty.  Stewart indicated that Health and Human Development faculty unanimously support a graduate faculty status in part to address work load, promotion and tenure issues for which faculty receive no credit for their work with graduate students.  Bowman said the work load/credit issue is also pertinent to undergraduate mentoring/advising.

Bowers said that Mathematics feels all their faculty should have graduate faculty status so requiring a graduate faculty process would require more work and processing.  Bowman said Agriculture felt the same way.

The issue has both pro’s/con’s.  There would be a creation of two different levels of faculty and a faculty member could be a member of both levels.  Having a “Graduate Faculty” could help with the recruitment and retention efforts of graduates.  MSU has a broad focus of recruitment and retention efforts for the undergraduate and this will help balance that with the graduate students.  Graduate students have different needs from undergraduates.  They require individualized attention including feedback and specialized focus on a set program.  Of great concern is that the number of PhD students is decreasing and post-docs numbers are increasing.  The responsibility of a graduate faculty is to advise, mentor and help with recognition, recruiting, and retention.  Provost  Dooley is in favor of a graduate faculty. 

Issue is tabled for further discussion.

 * The next Graduate Council meeting is scheduled for 1:00 p.m., March 25th in the President's Conference Room (MT Hall 103).