Minutes of University Graduate Council
November 15, 2007


Present: Michelle Hardy (AG), John Brittingham (A & A), Priscilla Wisner (BUS), Mark Nelson (EHHD), Robert Maher (ENGR), Carl Fox (DGE), Robert Rydell (L&S-Letters), Yves Idzerda (L&S-Science), Rita Cheek (NURS), Seth Humphries (STUDENT), David Weaver (FC).
            Also attending were MaryKay West, Jen Jencso, Kaylee Ranck, Kristin Gill, and Donna Negaard from DGE.
            Visitors were Denise Thompson (Animal and Range) and Jennifer Smith (Chemistry).

Meeting commenced at 1:05 in Sherrick 103 instead of 114 (due to telecom difficulties).


Approval of Minutes of October 11, 2007

Motion:  Rob Maher motioned to accept the minutes as written.  John seconded.  Approved by unanimous vote.


Open Campus Forum

  • Forum is for comments from anyone not on Graduate Council
  • No one came forward


DGE Staff Reports

  • Web survey and catalog update – Kaylee Ranck


  • Kaylee is surveying all MSU departments’ websites with view of prospective students
  • A list of stellar websites will be sent to departments as examples
  • A handful of departments have not updated their programs
  • DGE is trying meet the deadline of November 30 to put the updated information into the shadow catalog
  • DGE is working on a disclaimer:  See DGE website and departmental websites for the most up-to-date information.
  • Little Bighorn Career Fair – Kristin Gill


  • Carl and Kristin attended the Fair to represent MSU graduate and undergraduate programs
  • Education on the reservation is highly valued
  • Little Bighorn plans to grow to a 4 year college
  • Carl connected with several faculty members who may be interested in graduate education
  • Rockin the Rez – Jen Jencso
  • DGE was invited to participate in Rockin the Rez to help promote MSU’s graduate education at local reservations
  • Carl and Jen attended a community dinner and a breakfast, and presented a seminar at the College
  • Native Americans need people with degrees in engineering and business
  • Carl attends the monthly meeting of the Indian Program Directors
  • The new Washington Fellowship for graduate native American students will award $10,000 for one year and it is renewable
  • Erin McCormick from MSU Family and Graduate Housing also attended
  • DGE will notify MSU departments of upcoming Fairs on reservations so that they can have a presence at the Fairs.


PhD Credits – Jen Jencso

  • When DGE recently changed the policy requiring PhD students to take 60 credits post bac (instead of the previous requirement of only 30), problems with number of research credits were not anticipated
  • Program Structures:                                                                                              Total

MS to PhD:   MS – 10 cr. Research                     PhD – 18 cr. Research                = 28 cr.
                                        20 cr. Coursework                           12 cr. Coursework = 32 cr.
                                        30 cr.                                             30 cr.                                  60 cr.

            BA to PhD:                                                       PhD – 18 cr. Research                                                                                                                                      42 cr. Coursework (10 more than total
                                                                                             60 cr.

  • This was just a guideline—each program is unique
  • 42 credits of coursework is difficult for some departments to provide
  • Minimum and maximum has been 18 research credits; additional research credits could not be counted towards the total of 60
  • Individual departments identified what students within their field need to be competitive—either more research or more coursework
  • A discussion ensued on expanding the number of research credits to potentially a cap of 28, or no cap at all
  • A concern was raised that if no cap is set on the number of research credits, could end up with NO coursework being required (loss of classes and FTEs could become a concern)
  • Student’s Program of Study ensures that adequate coursework and research credits will be taken
  • Occasional problem of research professor prolonging a student’s research; a cap on research credits would be beneficial for the student
  • In order to help equalize the quality of all departments’ programs, departments submit what they think is appropriate for their degree requirements to UGC, which then makes recommendations to DGE
  • The Board of Regents has recommended a review of programs every seven years—either internal or external review


Motion: Rob Maher motioned that DGE update the MSU post bac PhD credit requirements to require 18 to 28 research credits out of the 60 credits in a combination of MS and PhD credits.   Yves seconded.

  • DGE reviews each Program of Study and notifies department if there is a problem—DGE does not sign Program until the problem is resolved
  • Each department’s qualifying exam will provide quality assurance


Revised Motion:  Rob Maher motioned to instruct DGE to make the PhD post bac credit requirement to read:  A student entering with credits from a Masters degree will be required to take 18 dissertation credits as part of his/her doctoral program; a student entering with a baccalaureate degree will be required to take between 19 and 28 inclusive credits of 690.     Seconded by Yves.  Approved with one opposed.


Proposal from Veterinary Molecular Biology – Michele Hardy

  • last month, Michele asked UGC for an exception to the number of coursework credits for VMB’s PhD program; she was asked to provide comparisons of coursework loads from other universities
  • Michele chose universities that were peer and close to MSU
  • She found that VMB has 42% of their credits as coursework, which is in line with other universities
  • VMB is requesting a minimum of 35 credits of research (up from 18), and 25 credits of coursework for their PhD program
  • It was questioned that if other universities require 35 credits of coursework, why does VMB require only 25
  • It was difficult to compare the content of other universities to MSU due to vague descriptions such as research credits, faculty seminars, dissertation credits; essentially, the VMB program is the same for content
  • Some private Ivy League universities have no requirements for coursework
  • To produce qualified graduates, VMB needs 25 credits taught through formal coursework plus 35 credits which are more effectively delivered through dissertation/research experience
  • Michele will re-write her previous memo


Motion:  Priscilla motioned that UGC accept the VMB proposal to allow 25 credits of formal coursework.    There was no second so the motion could not go forward.

  • Mark asked members what they wanted from VMB in order to be able to proceed in the future
  • A modified proposal was offered
  • Michele did not know that she could second Priscilla’s motion


Motion:   Priscilla re-introduced her motion that UGC accept the VMB proposal to allow 25 hours of formal coursework in their 60 hour dissertation requirement.   Michele seconded.  The vote was as follows:  three in favor, one opposed, and two abstaining, therefore the motion passed.

  • Discussion of this matter will continue at a future meeting (to include the possible implications for the FTE count).


Meeting adjourned at 3:05 p.m.

NEXT UGC meeting:  Thursday, December 13,  1:00 – 3:00 p.m.,   114 Sherrick

Respectfully submitted
MaryKay West