Graduate Council Meeting
November 18, 1999

The meeting convened at 3:05pm.  Members present:  Sue Blodgett, Ken Bowers, Ralph Johnson, John Sears, Craig Stewart, Bruce McLeod, Rebecca Ward.  Guests: Ian Godwin; Jerry Bancroft, College of Arts and Architecture.

1. MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking

Dr. McLeod asked for approval of the "Briefing Statement/Pre-Intent" summary describing a new graduate program in Media and Theatre Arts.  The full proposal and "Notice of Intent" should be ready for review by the Council in December.

Members unanimously approved the summary.

2. Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Sears stated that the proposal was denied funding by the Whitacker Foundation, and is tabled for the moment.

3. Graduate Assistantship Policies

Ms. Ward commented that she didn't receive enough e-mail responses about several issues regarding assistantship policies.  She asked that definitive motions be made on each item in the handout distributed.

Item 1: Graduate Summer Assistantships.  Dr. McLeod asked members to consider eliminating the special summer assistantships, thereby allowing research and teaching assistantships only.  He commented that the issue is currently on hold with Dean's Council; that more input is needed from faculty and departments.  Ms. Ward noted that no other school, as far as she knows, offers a special summer option such as GSA.  The discussion focused on these main issues:  GTA/GRA policy requires students to register for a minimum number of credits each semester, keeping students registered "as students" while they are on campus using campus facilities, and generating fees from those students.  In contrast, GSA policy precludes registration during summer session, resulting in no fee revenues, even though these students are on campus.  On the other hand, eliminating GSA may create potential problems for students who, for instance, teach in the summer primarily for an income.  Some possible remedies for this concern, such as grants paying student fees, and hiring students as adjuncts, were discussed.

Decision: Tabled.

Item 2:  Graduate student employment.  Should graduate students be allowed to hold faculty, classified or professional positions at MSU at 20 hours/week?  Members generally were concerned about negative effects on students' academic progress.  Alternatively, some members felt it was important to hold students responsible for their own decisions and that departments should not be "babysitting."  Ms. Ward expressed concern about students' progress based on the Appeals Board's reviews of numerous appeals for extensions from students, and that there may be a link between academic progress and other work the student may be doing.

Decision: The Council agreed to eliminate restrictions on graduate student employment provided that a method of checking academic progress is in place.

Item 3: Credit minimums.  Should minimum credit requirements to hold GTA and GRA positions be increased? Currently, the minimum number of credits required to hold an assistantship is 3.

Decision: The Council agreed to change the minimum requirements to 6 credits with the last semester at  3 credits.

Item 4: Maximum hours of work vs. credits.  Should GRAs be restricted to no more than 12 credit hours of coursework if appointed to work more than 15 hours per week (as GTAs are)?  Arguments for GTAs and GRAs working under the same restrictions were discussed as well as the issue of having restrictions at all.  Members were concerned about the quality of teaching if restrictions were lifted.  For GRAs, having PIs handle specific problems with students was discussed.  Dr. McLeod suggested that a counseling form be developed for the PI and student to sign.

Decision: The Council agreed to continue current restrictions for GTAs, and that it should be strongly suggested to GRAs that this restriction is desirable for them as well, but the decision would be left to the PI and the GRA.

Item 5: Stipend amounts.  Should a minimum or maximum be imposed?

Decision: no.

Item 6: Tuition waivers.  Should the maximum number of GTA tuition waivers for domestic, non-resident students be changed from 2AY semesters to 2AY semesters plus 1 summer semester?

Decision: Yes.

Item 7: Minimum GTA scores.  Should the minimum GRE verbal score (currently 420) be increased to match the GRE mean (around 480)?

Decision: The Council agreed to leave the minimum at 420 for now, but raise it to 480 after an interview (departmental or board) process has been established as an additional method of evaluating a new student.

Item 8:  Maximum semesters of support.   Should the number of potential semesters of support for master's and doctoral students be reduced to more closely reflect the number of semesters expected to complete a degree?

Decision: The Council agreed to reduce master's support from 8 to 6 semesters, and leave doctoral support at 10 semesters beyond the master's.  The section for doctoral students which stated "18 semesters beyond the bachelor's degree," was seen as unnecessary and stricken from the policy.

Item 9:  Graduate assistant reviews.  What criteria should be used to review student progress?

Decision: This item was tabled.

Item 10: Funding.  Should non-degree granting departments be funded for GTAs, or should that funding be funneled through the students home department?

Decision: Council agreed that funding should go through the home department.

Item 11:  Probation.  Should GTAs and GRAs be allowed to hold appointments if they are on university probation, academic or otherwise?

Decision: Council agreed that a GRA or GTA could be on probation for one semester.  The student will lose his/her assistantship if the result the next semester is suspension.

Council agreed that these new policies will take effect in Fall semester 2000.

4. Agenda item D: procedures for "off ramps" in graduate programs, was tabled for the next meeting.

Meeting was adjourned at 4:15 pm.


Graduate Council Meeting - November 18, 1999