Graduate Council Meeting

22 January 2008

Members present:  Bradley, Brown, Chen, Clapp, Fields, Hernandez, Hewitt, Nelson, Olivares, Ramirez, Sétamou, , Uddameri, Verma, Vela Córdova, Williams, Wagman, Blair (Student rep), Lewis (student rep), Briana (student rep).

Members absent: Gresham, Bandyopadhyay (student rep), Breanne (student rep).

Meeting was called to order at 2:45 p.m.

Motion to accept minutes from November 13, 2007 meeting approved.

Executive Committee – Dr. Fields announced that Dr. George Wagman has now become a full member of the graduate council in replacement of Dr. Joon-Yeoul Oh. Dr. Wagman was warmly welcome by his colleagues.  

Curriculum Committee – Dr. Sue Bradley reported on graduate curriculum proposals to delete two overlapping courses in Communication Science Disorder, and replace them with one four-credit hour course.  An online delivery proposal in History-Politics proposed to start in fall 2008/09 was also reviewed and discussed. The goals of this proposal are: i) to attract more students and increase enrollment and, ii) reach students throughout south Texas and beyond.

      A motion to accept the proposals was approved.

      Dr. Olivares reminded the council that all proposals received by his office are forwarded to the Provost office and he stressed the need to follow them through.

Dr. Fields announced that distance education is running a pilot program called WIMBA that captures and stores lectures that are available for subsequent use. Distance education is working hard to bring up to speed this new program that will likely increase student enrollment. Dr. Fields expressed his satisfaction to see faculty members embracing these novel ideas and teaching methods that will allow tapping into new niches of students.

Membership Committee –Dr. Uddameri mentioned that the Graduate Faculty Membership Committee sent out a call for nominations on January 2, 2008, and that all department chairs should have received the list of their graduate faculty whose membership renewal is due as well as a notification for nominating new graduate faculty. He reminded that nominations are due to the Graduate Dean by Wednesday, January 23, 2008.


      Dr. Olivares stressed the importance for faculty of keeping their graduate membership current because this is a requirement for teaching graduate courses.

Program Review Committee –Dr. Clapp mentioned that the self study reports for the four graduate degree programs are under review. Four faculty members, Dr. Flores (Spanish), Dr. Rees (Agribusiness), Dr. Bennington (English as Second Language), and Dr. Delgado (Early Childhood Education), have been assigned to complete these reviews. Dr. Clapp, the committee chair, discussed the program review report requirements with these four reviews.  Dr. Delgado has already completed her review and written the report. The other three reviewers have verbally committed to complete their draft reports by February 1, 2008, and meet with the respective department Chairs no later than February 8, 2008.

      Dr. Olivares mentioned that final reports should be finished by the next graduate council meeting on February 12, 2008.    

Dean’s Report –Dean Olivares reviewed and reported on the following three documents:

1.   List of prospective candidates for master and doctoral degree for the May 16, 2008 commencement: A total of 182 graduates comprising 165 master and 17 doctoral level students are expected to graduate from five colleges: Agriculture, Natural Resources and Human Sciences (19 M.S. and 3 Ph.D.), Arts and Sciences (34 M.S.), Business Administration (11 M.S.), Engineering (49 M.S. and 4 Ph.D.), and Education (52 M.S., and 10 Ed. D.)

2.   TAMUS New Academic Proposal Review Timelines: Dr. Olivares presented the timelines for the different types of Academic proposal requests, and discussed that of the new doctoral degree program. Proposals for new doctoral degree programs are due to be submitted to the office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs twenty (20) months in advance of the proposed implementation date.

3.   Summary of the Graduate Advisory Committee (GEAC) meeting of the THECB held in Austin, Texas on November 30, 2007: Dean Olivares stressed the need to eliminate small, non-productive degree programs. Because of the economic crunch looming in the coming years in Texas, Campuses and System Offices must critically evaluate their degree programs and only consider approving high quality new programs that will be self-sustaining. In light of the expected decline in number of international students, approval of new programs should not depend on the international student population. Campuses and System Offices are also strongly encouraged to define and set standards for high quality in education, research, scholarship and publications.

      During this meeting, Dr. Olivares announced that 18 doctoral characteristics have already been approved by the CB.  At the CB meeting of February 13, 2008, he expects to get all the details on how to format and post the characteristics. It is expected that doctoral degree programs will be reviewed externally, based on the 18 characteristics. Among the criteria used by the CB in defining low productive programs is the number of graduates which is set at 6 master degrees over a 3-year period and 3 doctoral degrees over a 3-year period.

      To improve the quality of dissertation, Dr. Olivares strongly encourage graduate faculty to have their student dissertations reviewed by external selected reviewers.

      To sustain current doctoral programs and add new programs, Dr. Olivares presented the suggestion to improve the pipeline for getting high school graduates into our undergraduate college programs.

      The needs to focus on P-12 education and on training of teachers for college readiness have pointed out by the GEAC as means to maintain the high standard of higher education.

      Dr. Olivares also announced to the Council that he would be retiring at the end of summer 2008 after serving the university for 37 years, including 27 years as graduate dean.

      After Dean Olivares presentation, Dr. Fields stressed the need to broadcast these requirements for efficient degree programs to the faculty community of each department and recommended that we take corrective actions to strengthen our programs as deletion of degree programs can lead to termination of faculty appointment. Improvement of faculty webpage and offering online courses are two such ways of improving a degree program as they can attract prospective students to enroll in the program. He also point out that student recruitment is part of faculty appointment.   

Student Representatives – No report.

Old Business – Dr. Fields and Uddameri reported on the status of the “Master’s external paper review” and the “Doctoral external review” task forces and the timeline for submitting final reports. Dr. Olivares encouraged members of the task forces to assist their task force chairs and contribute to their reports.

    a. Master’s Task Force- Dr. Fields reminded the council that all reviews of graduate degree programs for next academic year must include an external reviewer selected by the Dean of the Academic College from a list of five recommended names with sufficient experience and expertise within the discipline to be evaluated. The external reviewer will answer a set of specific questions pertaining to the strengths and weaknesses of the degree program based on materials provided by the program. Dr. Fields suggested a list of seven (7) review questions but encourage members of the council and task force to send him their suggestions or recommendations for the external review process. It was also suggested that external reviewers be allowed to add their own questions. Dr. Fields reminded the council that the external paper review process will come into effect in 2009.  

    b. Doctoral Task Force –Dr. Uddameri announced that the taskforce has finished its first review of the doctoral program review documents. He is currently evaluating the document against the 18 criteria set forth by the coordinating board and will send out the document for a second review to the membership committee in February, and the final version will be submitted to the Graduate Dean in March 2008.


  Comprehensive Examination Policies for Doctoral Programs

      –Dr. Ruiz presented the Department of Bilingual Education policies and procedures regarding doctoral comprehensive examinations for written and oral comps. Students must complete all coursework prior to taking the comprehensive examinations in all 5 core program areas over a five-day period. Comps are given three times a year and students are required to declare their intent to take comps no later than one month prior to the schedule comp date. Before taking comps, students are strongly encouraged to meet with the teachers for guidance and areas of questions. Written comps are given as computer exams and students must pass all 5 comps before being allowed to take the comprehensive oral comps and beginning work on the dissertation proposal. Students who fail are allowed to retake the written comps up to three times, but those who fail three times are excluded from the program. A remedial plan including continued work with the faculty has been suggested to ensure that students who get initially failing grades pass the exams.

       Dr. Hernandez presented the Animal and Wildlife Sciences department policy on master and doctoral program qualifying exam and student academic milestones. All M.S. and Ph.D. graduate students must have an initial degree plan completed, research committed identified, and accepted research proposal completed by the end of their second long semester. After all their coursework, M.S. students are required to successfully complete an oral exam demonstrating mastery of knowledge within their discipline and their thesis project, but individual committees have the option to require written exam in addition to the oral exam. Ph.D. candidates must complete both a written and an oral exam demonstrating mastery of knowledge within their discipline. Written exams must be successfully completed no later than one semester prior to graduation. Successful completion of written exam is based on a majority decision of “pass” by the committee. Students who fail are allowed the retake the written exam only once and if they continue to fail are expelled from the program. After passing the written exams, students are allowed to take oral examinations within three months of the written exams. As for the written exams, successful completion of the oral exams is based on the majority decision of the committee, and only one retake is allowed for failing students. Only students who pass both qualifying written and oral exams will be awarded the Ph.D. candidacy. Successful completion of the Ph.D. program will also comprise satisfactory oral defense of their dissertation scheduled during the last semester of the student’s program. Failing students at the defense level are allowed only one more chance to successfully defend their dissertation, else students will be terminated from the program.

New Business – Dr. Olivares announced that Dr. Roberto Vela Cordova received a teaching award for the previously semester. Dr. Cordova was warmly congratulated by the council.

Motion to adjourn at 4:00 p.m.

Minutes submitted by Dr. Mamoudou Sétamou