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Graduate Council


Minutes of
October 13th, 2006

MEMBERS PRESENT: Roger Boyd, Mike Crider, Chair, David Duvernell, Christa Johnson for Steve Hansen, Ali Kutan for Rakesh Bharati, Nancy Lutz, Maruice Mangum, James Panico, Anne Perry, William White, S. William Whitson


I. Announcements

Christa Johnson announced that she has been co-organizing the "Metropolitan St. Louis Regional Grants Conference," scheduled to take place over the course of two days, January 10th and 11th, 2007, at SIUE and Washington University consecutively. The guest speakers include Tom Cooley and Richard Buckius from the NSF, and several representatives from the USDA, Department of Energy, NIH, Army Corps of Engineers, and NEH. There are a number of activities for Humanities faculty on both conference days as well as panel discussions related to foundation and corporate support and tech transfer.

II. Minutes of September 13th, 2006

The minutes were approved as amended.

III. Partial Tuition Waivers for 25% Graduate Assistants

SIUE offers two levels of graduate/teaching assistantships: the 25% assistantship (referred to as part time) requires that the student work for 10 hours per week, the 50% assistantship requires 20 hours per week. All assistantships award a stipend as well as a tuition waiver. Currently, the administration waives the full amount of tuition for those who hold either type of assistantship with no maximum limit on the number of credit hours waived.

The handout from Dean Hansen for the September 13th ERP meeting stated, in part:

"A large percentage of the graduate assistantships at SIUE are less than 50% (20 hours/wk), and the number has been increasing over the past five years. In Fall 05 Semester, 57% of all assistantships were for 25% appointments. No other institution in Illinois approaches such a high percentage (see attached). Most institutions restrict the number of 25% assistantships because of the cost of the tuition waivers and because a 25% appointment is an insufficient financial award for graduate students.

The amount of waived tuition dollars has increased from $1.4 million in FY98 to $3.8 million in FY05. In FY98, the University waived 35.2% of its graduate tuition. In FY05, it waived 49.3% of its tuition."

The ERP was charged with examining this issue, and with finding a way to curtail the high amount of tuition lost by granting full tuition waivers for partial assistantships. One possibility is to eliminate the practice of granting full tuition waivers for partial assistantships.

Christa Johnson narrated a PowerPoint slide show that she created from her research on this issue. SIUE is giving tuition waivers worth $3.86 million to graduate assistants. The amount waived in FY 05 was 49.7% of the assessed graduate tuition. 57.43% of all assistantships are awarded as partial assistantships. Johnson conducted an informal survey through a list-serve of Illinois universities, and discovered that out of 15 respondents, only 3 reported "giving full tuition waivers for part time grad assistants." Although SIUE is the most generous institution in Illinois in giving tuition waivers to part time graduate assistantships, it has low stipend levels, and it also has one of the lowest rates of tuition in Illinois.

Johnson asked the question, "What if [SIUE] could recover some of this tuition and increase stipends?" She suggested that if SIUE could recover $750,000 by discontinuing the practice of granting full waivers for partial assistantships, SIUE's assistantship stipends might be increased by as much as $200/month. She concluded by suggesting that the impact of changing the current policy may produce "more competitive stipends, better students, and more 50% assistantship appointments." She felt that SIUE would be attracting a somewhat different cohort by offering higher stipends for the 50% graduate assistantships. She stressed that the Graduate School does not wish to restrict departments' flexibility by putting a cap on the number of 25% assistantships.

S. William Whitson thanked Johnson for the research, and wondered whether the administration would be willing to return the money to the schools and college to use for assistantship stipends, or whether they would have other uses for the re-captured funds.

Roger Boyd informally surveyed eight graduate assistants in his department, and learned that they would not have elected to attend SIUE if they had been offered only a partial tuition waiver for a part time assistantship. Ali Kutan stated that SIUE could lose as many as half of its graduate students. He added that the potential loss of international students would negatively impact diversity, and wondered whether domestic students would miss out on opportunities for 50% assistantships in order for departments to provide full waivers for international students. Nancy Lutz felt that was a non-issue since departments are supposed to award assistantships based on ability, not resident status. James Panico suggested that if a portion of tuition must be paid by those graduate students who have 25% assistantships that that portion be assessed at the in-state rate, regardless of their residency. This method would alleviate the perception that international students who hold 25% assistantships would be unfairly penalized by the implementation of this proposed policy.

Mike Crider stated that assessing tuition at in-state rates for 25% graduate assistants would help to lessen the shock of being asked to pay partial tuition. He called for a motion.

Nancy Lutz made a motion to have 25% graduate assistants pay 50% of the tuition cost of all credit hours at the in-state rate; S. William Whitson seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

Anne Perry made a motion to request all of the dollars captured go back to graduate assistant stipends; Roger Boyd seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

IV. Old Business

There was no old business.

V. New Business

Mike Crider handed out a report from Laura Strom concerning how Banner will impact the calculation of grade point averages. This topic will be examined at a later ERP meeting.

VI. Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 9:47 AM.

Respectfully submitted,

Christa C. Johnson, Assistant Dean
Graduate Studies and Research