Graduate Council Meeting
December 9, 1999


The meeting convened at 3:10pm.  Members present:  Sue Blodgett, Ken Bowers, Dan Hertz, Gretchen McNeely, John Sears, Craig Stewart, Bruce McLeod, Rebecca Ward.  Guests: Jerry Bancroft, College of Arts and Architecture; Ron Tobias, Media and Theatre Arts.

MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking

Dr. McLeod announced that he planned to bring a Notice of Intent before the Board of Regents in January and asked that everyone peruse the expanded proposal which should be on the Regents agenda by March.

Dr. McLeod introduced Ron Tobias from Media and Theatre Arts, who spoke about the history and development of the proposed program and how it has evolved with Discovery Communications.  It will be the only masters program of its kind anywhere.  Discovery will support the program during the first seven years, and will participate in other ways, such as airing the best theses and helping  MSU develop an endowment in support of  a "Discovery Chair."  The curriculum consists of ½ filmmaking, 1/4 science courses, and 1/4 thesis film.  In lieu of internships, the program will offer apprenticeships.  The program is scheduled to begin in Summer 2001.

Council members posed a variety of questions to both Ron Tobias and Jerry Bancroft concerning more specific details of the program.  Dr. Sears asked if engineering was considered part of the general science emphasis, and if not, suggested that perhaps it should be.  There was general agreement that the definition of science could include engineering.  Members also discussed the total number of credits needed to complete the program.  Mr. Tobias noted that MFA programs tend to be longer by one year than a standard master's program, which typically requires around  60 credits, (in contrast to 72 credits, which is the current trend in MFAs).  Dr. McLeod suggested that the number should remain at about 60 credits total, with internships (apprenticeships) as optional credits beyond the minimum.

Dr. Blodgett moved that the Council approve the proposal for placement as a Notice of Intent for the January Regents meeting.  Dr. Sears seconded.   The motion was unanimously approved.

The Council also reviewed the five year budget for the program.  If the program does not succeed at the end of this time period, a financial exit strategy for phasing out the program is in place.  Dr. McLeod added that the program will be part of a new funding model that promotes program self-sufficiency, meaning that a portion of the tuition and fees will go back into the program.

Dr. Blodgett inquired about the relationships with Discovery Communication, and if Mr. Tobias had any concerns.  He responded that Discovery had no control over the program, but that they were eager to draw from the students for apprenticeships as well as subsequent employment.  Discovery has no rights of approval of theses, for instance, nor does it have influence in any other way that affects academic integrity.

Dr. McLeod asked that members review the proposal and e-mail him with comments before the holidays, as well as vote for the proposal proceeding on to the Board.

The meeting was adjourned 4:15pm.