University Council Minutes

October 19, 1998

Present: Landrum Cross, Eileen Hitchingham, Mary Ann Lewis (for Janet Johnson), Robert J. Dunay (for Paul Knox), Peggy Meszaros, Carole Nickerson, Len Peters, Lauren Coble (for Minnis Ridenour), Hap Bonham (for Rich Sorensen), Charles Steger, Bill Stephenson, Andy Swiger, Tom Tillar, Richard Bambach, Julia Beamish (for Jim Burger), Clyde Harris, Cindy Harrison, Robert Tracy, Muzzo Uysal, Paul Metz, Bill Ley (for Kevin Pelzer), Bob Benoit, David de Wolf, Rosemary Goss, Frank Gwazdauskas, Sam Hicks, John Randolph, John Seiler, Jamaa Bickley-King, Donna Cassell, Anita Haney, Pete Martens (via phone), Judy Fielder (for Nancy Phillips), Ben Poe, Peggy Rasnick, Joel Donahue, Aashish Jain, Paul Wagner, Jody Olson, Dan Richter (for Kathleen Knight), Duncan Neasham, Laurie Steneck, Sean Blackburn

Absent: Bob Bates, Erv Blythe, Greg Brown, Ben Dixon, Peter Eyre, Elyzabeth Holford, Ray Smoot, Paul Torgersen, Charles Lytton, Terry Swecker, Neal Vines, Skip Fuhrman, Norm Marriott, Deborah Mayo, Eliza Tse, Bernard Feldman, Curtis Lynch

Guests: Wanda Dean, David Ford

  1. Call to Order

    Dr. Peggy Meszaros called the meeting to order at 3:00 p.m. and announced that a quorum was present. Dr. Meszaros noted that Dr. Torgersen is teaching his class.

  2. Adoption of Agenda

    A motion was made and seconded to adopt the agenda. The motion passed.

  3. Announcement of approval and posting of Council Minutes of October 5, 1998

    Dr. Meszaros noted that the minutes from the October 5, 1998, University Council meeting have been voted on and approved electronically. Once voted upon, University Council minutes can be publicly accessed on the Governance Information System on the WEB.

  4. First Reading, Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies Resolution 98-99A
    Resolution Regarding Offering of Master of Science in Life Sciences

    Julia Beamish, representing Jim Burger, presented Resolution 98-99A, Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies Resolution Regarding Offering of Master of Science in Life Sciences for first reading. Bill Newton responded to a question raised regarding specialization. Dr. Newton explained the two reasons for undertaking this course. The major one has been dictated by SCHEV who said that the productivity numbers for the individual masters degrees are too low, these programs are endangered and if the numbers do not increase those programs will be eliminated. The master's degree in the four departments is thought of as an integral part of the academic program and part of the academic program that we do not wish to lose as individual departments. The second part is that for the last 20 years there has been a Ph.D. in Life Sciences that has been offered by several of the same departments and has been eminently successful. There has been a high enrollment in that program and the graduates of that program do not suffer at all from any negative aspects of graduating with a Ph.D. in Life Sciences. Dr. Newton reported that we have had 20 years experience with a similar Ph.D. program with no negative effects that we can measure. Dr. Newton responded to a comment regarding this degree not being listed in the catalog and the confusion this may cause. Dr. Newton noted that this has not been a problem with the Ph.D. in Life Sciences degree and feels the chances of misidentification are slim. The relationship between Biology and the programs in Life Sciences are such that the department can recognize when a student applies to the wrong program. A question was raised as to why this was not called "Agriculture and Life Sciences" instead of "Life Sciences." Dr. Newton responded that the MS in Life Sciences was paralleled exactly with the Ph.D. in Life Sciences that was approved 20 years ago. In the past problems with SCHEV have occurred when using the Masters Degree as a fallback masters - someone comes in to finish research early or has been unable to make the grade as a Ph.D. student and allowed to fall back into the masters program. Problems occur when the Ph.D. and Masters Degrees have different titles. If a student is enrolled in a Ph.D. in Life Sciences they could not fall back to a masters degree in biochemistry and nutrition. It was noted that other departments, such as geological sciences, have single degrees at the masters and doctoral levels, yet there are students who are mineralogists, paleontologists, geophysicists and so forth that identify adequately.

    Clarification of degrees is sorted out in the admissions process and is not a problem. Concern was raised that this resolution has no mechanism for creating a specialization notation on the degree. A second issue raised concerned the lack of representation by graduate students in the decision making of this resolution. A motion was made by Joel Donahue and seconded to defer this resolution back to the Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies so they may 1: consider the option of adding the notation as to the specialty on the degree to parallel the Ph.D. program and 2: seek consultation with the graduate student representatives in those four departments. A handout to clarify the concerns expressed in the motion was distributed by a GSA representative. Dr. Newton reported that in biochemistry there was no response at all to the students being notified of this merger taking place. Dr. Newton also noted that this process started four years ago and the population of graduate students at that time were solicited for their input, plans were explained and it was agreed to go forward. The length of this process is creating some of the problem addressed in this motion. Dr. Newton reported that if something were not done there would be no master's degree. Three of the programs are on the SCHEV endangered list. The response of some of the presidents of the various clubs within these departments has been that they are not happy with this merger and are not happy with losing the specialization notation, but recognize having this degree is better than having no degree at all.

    Dr. Newton responded to a question regarding the new degree curriculum as follows: the main difference is there are three core courses that are identified and these core courses will be a requirement of every student in this program. Most students were taking one or two of these core courses anyway. There is a requirement for biochemistry which almost all students took, there is a requirement for statistics which almost all students took, and the third is an information technology course that is being developed specifically for this degree because we believe that information technology is going to be part of everyone's future and would be reasonable for all students to take. The goal is not to increase the load, but still meet the SCHEV requirement of at least nine core hours for a degree. There is no degree in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences that notes the specialization. The specialization is noted on the official transcripts generated for the students. The proposal that is proposed to go forward to SCHEV says: this is the merged degree, these are the core courses, these are the concentrations within that degree (biochemistry, food science and technology, entomology, plant pathology physiology weed science, and two new masters degrees (non thesis, non research degrees) because we think there will be an increased demand for professional degrees to compete within their industries. We are trying to turn this into an opportunity to get more masters students and to satisfy what we see as an increase demand from industrial professionals for higher degrees. Dr. Meszaros clarified with Bill Newton that the way they propose to handle the specialization designation for this master's degree is parallel to the way it is handled for the Ph.D.; the specialization is not noted on the diploma but is noted on the transcript. Council Member Donahue agreed this would clarify his point regarding specialization; however, this is not made specific in the resolution. Julia Beamish, Graduate Curriculum Committee member, noted that the diploma will say the same thing it says now (Master of Science), it has never had any specialization on the diploma, but has always had it on the transcripts and this is the way we handle the Ph.D.

    Dr. Beamish shared that there was discussion with the graduate student representatives at the Commission meeting, and they understood the concern, but the Commission felt it was important for this to go through governance because it was under some timelines in terms of actually losing the program if action was not taken. This proposal has been through all the stages through the departments and colleges. Dr. Len Peters noted that it is fairly common practice across the United States that degrees at the graduate level do not necessarily have specialization noted. The transcript, thesis or dissertation is used to indicate the area of expertise for a particular student. Dr. Newton commented that SCHEV is pushing for a proposal. Dr. Meszaros noted that at the IPAC meeting on September 25, Donna Brodd, Associate Director in charge of academic programs, told all provosts that the State Council will be reviewing all endangered programs and eliminating this year. This is on the schedule to the Board of Visitors in November, which means that if it were approved at each level, something would be in your hands before the first of the year. It was noted that a six-week deferral does not mean we have to wait six weeks. The resolution says the proposal for the masters be approved and forwarded. We have not seen the full proposal although it has been worked through its various groups. The concern is that there are still questions imbedded in the proposal that interested groups feel they have not been properly consulted on. Deferral of the resolution back to the Commission for appropriate consultation with the affected student groups passed by a voted of 24 in favor of the motion, 17 opposed. Therefore the resolution is deferred for a maximum of six weeks. Dr. Meszaros noted that if the resolution is approved at the November 2 meeting there will be time to take it to the Board of Visitors. If not, then negotiations are in order with State Council. Julia Beamish will take this resolution back to the Commission and also keep Dr. Meszaros informed if it is to go forward.

  5. Council approved a packet of Commission minutes comprised of:

  6. Discussion

    Dr. Meszaros introduced Wanda Dean, University Registrar, to provide an update on the implementation status of the resolution to establish the 15-minute class breaks on Monday-Wednesday-Friday. Ms. Dean handed out and reviewed the Timeline of Approval of Change in Scheduling M, W, F Classes, University Registrar Update of Status of Implementation, and Implementation Timeline. Presidential Policy 177 went through two readings at University Council. This was a policy that was supported by the Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies and was not supported by the Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies. Once brought to University Council it was not approved until amended. The Policy was passed with the effective date of fall 1998. At that time we were sure this deadline could not be met and in fact it could not, Ms. Dean reported. Dr. John Seiler expressed a concern that at the time the policy was passed it was not made known that the implementation date of Fall 1998 was not possible. In December 1997 Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies endorsed and University Council agreed to move the deadline to fall 2000. This is to coincide with the new system coming up and give time to deliberate different alternatives to how to implement the 15 minutes between classes on M,W,F. Fall 1998 is being used as the baseline and this will be presented to the departmental schedulers (typically a faculty member in the department). Ms. Dean will work with them individually and as a group and take suggestions to see what is the best solution. Consensus has to come by March 1999, to build course offerings in the fall of 1999 and consider how to build new system. After speaking with the schedulers and getting some consensus on how to proceed, she will report back to the Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies and University Council. Concern was expressed that students cannot get from some classes to others in ten minutes. It was suggested that some of the money from technology fees be used for this project. Ms. Dean responded that the software has already been purchased. The concern at this point is not the purchase of software, but sufficient classrooms and course offerings. Ms. Dean assured the members that this is a much more complex issue than just changing the time between classes. At this time three approaches are being modeled as a baseline and being presented to departmental schedulers no later than December of 1998 to bring all of this to conclusion in March 1999.

  7. Adjournment

    Dr. Meszaros adjourned the meeting at 4:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Carole Nickerson
Executive Assistant to the President


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