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Graduate School


October 12th, 2007

MEMBERS PRESENT: Scott Belobrajdic, Anthony Denkyirah, Gary Denue for Jay Starratt, Laura Fowler, Jane Gillespie, Steve Hansen, Stephanie McAndrews, Michael Shaw, Chair, Valerie Yancey

MEMBERS EXCUSED: Christopher Herndon, Steve McCommas, Sarath Rajkumar

GUESTS: Rita Arras, Assistant Professor, Family Health and Community Health Nursing
Dan Dooly, Assistant Professor, Computer Science
Abdullatif Hamad, Chair, Physics
Gussie Klorer, Graduate Program Director, Art Therapy Counseling
Susan Morgan, Chair, Civil Engineering
Allen Otsuka, Associate Professor, Applied Dental Medicine
Wayne Nelson, Chair, Educational Leadership

I. Announcements

There were no announcements.

II. Minutes of September 21st, 2007

Laura Fowler made a motion to accept the minutes; Stephanie McAndrews seconded. The motion carried unanimously.

III. Form 91A - Art Therapy Counseling, Post-Baccalaureate Certificate (CAS-07-048)

The program wishes to eliminate the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate because the accrediting body no longer allows those without master's degrees to become licensed art therapists, so the certificate is not viable.

Gary Denue made a motion to approve the request; Valerie Yancey seconded. The request passed unanimously.

IV. Form 91A - Art Therapy Counseling, MA (CAS-07-047)

The program wishes to require at least three credit hours of undergraduate statistics as part of the psychology pre-requisites.

Stephanie McAndrews made a motion to approve the request; Laura Fowler seconded. The request passed unanimously.

V. Form 91A - Learning, Culture, and Society: Admission requirements (SOE-07-357)

The graduate program wishes to remove the requirements of a MAT/GRE score and letters of recommendation from its admission requirements. It does not believe that it gains any relevant information from these materials and wishes to remove the "unnecessary barriers to graduate student application and admission."

Anthony Denkyirah made a motion to approve the request; Laura Fowler seconded. The request passed unanimously.

VI. Form 91A - Instructional Technology: Admission requirements (SOE-07-356)

The graduate program wishes to remove the requirements of a MAT/GRE score from its admission requirements. It does not believe that it gains any relevant information from these materials and wishes to remove the "unnecessary barriers to graduate student application and admission."

Anthony Denkyirah made a motion to approve the request; Laura Fowler seconded. The request passed unanimously.

VII. Form 91A - Web-Based Learning Post-Baccalaureate Certificate: Admission Requirements (SOE-07-358)

The graduate program wishes to remove the requirements of a MAT/GRE score from its admission requirements. It does not believe that it gains any relevant information from these materials and wishes to remove the "unnecessary barriers to graduate student application and admission."

Anthony Denkyirah made a motion to approve the request; Laura Fowler seconded. The request passed unanimously.

VIII. Graduate Program Review Report: Civil Engineering

Steve McCommas of Biological Sciences, and Stephanie McAndrews, of Curriculum and Instruction, served as the graduate program review sub-committee.

The report was very positive. Recent improvements include adding a technical writing proficiency requirement to the program, and it has "added an explicit requirement for data analysis, to the final research paper … and the general option for study was removed to focus on a more in-depth program of study in one field."

The sub-committee gave three recommendations, quoted below from the report:

1. Offer courses more frequently so that full-time students can earn their degrees within two years and still be able to take more courses within their specialty area. Perhaps having more course offerings will make the full-time program more attractive and help reverse the trend of falling enrollment of the full-time students.

2. Provide more opportunities for graduate students to do research with faculty. According to Mark Rossow, "The most significant factor discouraging research is the lack of good quality graduate student research assistants." The graduate assistants come from the pool of full-time graduate students and therefore it is important to make the program more attractive to them. In addition to our first recommendation, providing more opportunities for graduate assistants to conduct research with the faculty should increase the quality and number of graduate assistants.

3. Hire more faculty and provide more courses in transportation to meet the student demand as well as the reported demand in the field. This was a clear priority from both faculty and students. The ability to offer more courses and research opportunities in this high demand area may also make the program more attractive to potential students.

The committee emphasized the need for lab space and more faculty. The department is currently conducting two searches.

Stephanie McAndrews made a motion to approve the report; Anthony Denkyirah seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

IX. Graduate Program Review Report: Physics

Daniel Dooly, of Computer Science served as the chair of the graduate program review committee, which also included Rita Arras of Nursing, and Allen Otsuka of Applied Dental Medicine. Dan Dooly read the committee's recommendations, which were:

1. The Graduate Program in Physics should continue to execute the plan outlined in the SAGE proposal to study other successful peer programs and emulate efforts to recruit qualified students to the program.

Rationale: The current enrollment limits the number of courses taught and the number of graduate assistants available.

2. Consider whether consolidating the program from the present three to one or two specializations will allow more resources to be allocated to the remaining specializations. Given that the photonics specialization is attracting the most students this specialization should be highest priority. Since one-fourth of those graduating since 2000 are working as educators, consider retaining that specialization.

Rationale: The small enrollment makes it difficult to support three specializations.

3. Increase contacts and ties with the community and with industry.

Rationale: This will improve the visibility of the program and hopefully help with recruitment of domestic students and employment opportunities for existing and future students.

4. Set reasonable benchmarks for recruitment, enrollment and graduation. Three graduates per year is the average, so this would appear to be reasonable. If the program cannot demonstrate this capacity, despite fulfilling other recommendations, the program should be discontinued.

Rationale: The national decline in graduate physics enrollments will not support the current number of graduate physics programs. While we would like to see the physics program here continue, it must be able to compete with other programs for the shrinking number of students.

5. If the program is to continue, serious attention needs to be paid to improving the laboratory space. Consolidating to one or two specializations might help free up some space, but there is probably little that the department can do without additional resources from the College of Arts and Sciences.

Rationale: Present space and facilities are unappealing and do nothing to attract students to the program.

The sub-committee's summary was as follows: "That the Graduate Program in Physics be continued for three years, at which time another Program Review should be conducted. The present program barely has a handful of students, but there are some glimmers that the program might advance in the next few years. Because there is a chance this program might become viable, it would be unfair to junior faculty in Physics working for promotion and tenure to eliminate the Graduate Program and deny them the opportunity to teach and utilize graduate students in their research endeavors. However, the Graduate Program must show progress on recommendations 1, 3, and 4 at that time."

Associate Dean Wendy Shaw thanked the committee for all their work before addressing the recommendations. Regarding #1, the College agrees that the major issue is the number of students in the graduate program. For #2, she felt that consolidating two of the options into one would not result in an efficiency. Regarding #3, CAS agrees that physics must seek to increase its ties with industry. For #4, the College feels that the Physics department is taking this report very seriously and is taking steps to move forward. Regarding Recommendation #5, the College of Arts and Sciences cannot address these issues on its own. Shaw added that the teaching load is in line with the expectations of the College and with other departments, emphasizing that the load in physics is not heavier than that of the other graduate programs and departments. She added that she agreed with the requirement that the Physics graduate program undergo an interim review in three years and is hopeful regarding what the Physics graduate program can accomplish during the next three years.

Abdullatif Hamad, Chair of the Department of Physics, also responded to the recommendations. #1. Although the graduate program has received money, the amount is insufficient for its needs. He taught a course that began with 23 students. He intentionally scared them so that several would drop the class because the equipment would not support that many students. The class enrollment shrunk to 12. The lab kits cost $20,000 each time they are used and they can only be used by one student once. He has had to cannibalize equipment to meet the need, but space is always a problem. The lab is crowded. They found two lab assistants but they have to share the lab with each other and Hamad is also sharing his lab with them. The equipment issues could be solved with internal and/or external funds. Hamad has drawn up plans to address this issue and has distributed tasks for each departmental committee that he has formed. Hamad added that the faculty should be encouraged to apply for external funds for equipment and that he is trying to work with other disciplines to find funding opportunities. He remarked that he is confident that faculty can be competitive in getting grants, but the departmental culture needs to change. He also said that the department does not cancel classes often, and pointed out that SIUE's master's degree in physics is not a terminal degree for optics and photonics. Successful students can go on to a PhD program.

In addressing the low enrollment and graduation rate, Hamad said that retention problems are due, in part, to their practice of weeding out weak students, noting that the program is getting "higher quality students" now. He pointed out the problems that 9/11 caused for international students in their pursuit of visas. Although international applications have dropped in the past five years, Scott Belobrajdic pointed out that international graduate application numbers are increasing. Another factor contributing to low enrollment is the low stipend for graduate assistants. Physics graduate students are in high demand and can be paid a higher stipend at one of the other universities in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Hamad stated that SIUE lost one student to SIUC because its physics program offered a higher stipend. He wants the Graduate Council to remove the cap on teaching assistants' salaries.

Regarding the course load, Hamad felt that the nature of physics courses is more demanding than that of other CAS courses. The department is trying to have the GAs teach labs for the first time, to help with the faculty load. His intention is to have physics faculty teach only two courses. In order to be successful in finding enough GAs, the physics department will need at least 14 graduate students. Currently they have eight graduate assistants, which is not enough to cover all the labs in three different branches. He has asked Dean Neely for two more teaching assistantships which would be exclusively for physics students. He is willing to discuss eliminating one of the options (optics and photonics, condensed matter theory and computational physics, and physics and astronomy education research) with his faculty, but does not believe that doing so would be of substantial benefit.

Regarding the length of the program, which should take about two years to complete, Hamad said that some students arrive with deficiencies, which increases their time in progressing through the graduate program.

Regarding contact with industry, Hamad said that the department has a committee to improve its relationships with industry.

Professor Hamad said that he was comfortable with the recommendation that the physics graduate program be re-evaluated in three years. He is confident that it will do well.

Associate Provost Hansen reiterated the major factors that are making it difficult for the physics graduate program to succeed. These include insufficient equipment and space, low graduate assistant stipends, difficulty in getting the best students, the implication of not offering enough courses, and the perception that faculty cannot participate in scholarship. Although he is never in favor of eliminating a graduate program, he asked the committee to consider the difficult questions of whether the program should continue, and whether or not the problems contributing to low enrollment and graduation rate can be solved.

Rita Arras said that since the Graduate School and the Provost's Office had invested in SAGE, and the outcome was yet undetermined, she felt that the Graduate Council owes it to the physics graduate program to let the impact of SAGE be known. Sometimes one thing can change many other factors. The committee remarked that the physics graduate program is in a fiercely competitive environment, and wondered what would happen to the department and its faculty if the graduate program should be discontinued.

Allen Otsuka pointed out that there had not been a great deal of progress between the last report of 2001-2002 and this report. Hansen interjected that there had not been any notable progress in about 16 years, since the report of 1990-91. Hamad pointed out that the graduate program implemented the revised program with three options in the fall of 2005, so felt that the physics graduate program was less than three years old. Associate Dean Wendy Shaw disagreed with the concept that there had been no movement since the previous program review. In 2004, CAS added a new faculty position in physics, and they have replaced two faculty and added an adjunct faculty in optics. She said that the next step is finding external funding, but pointed out that the three new faculty members are getting established so there may be a short delay before they can begin to bring in external funding. Nonetheless, the reputation of the new faculty members will draw students.

Hansen asked the committee to determine benchmarks to evaluate the graduate program's progress in three years. After discussion, the Programs Committee asked the program review sub-committee to add the following to its report:

"…the Graduate Program must show progress on recommendations 1, 3, and 4. The following benchmarks should be met at that time.

• At least 33% of the faculty should regularly submit external grant proposals.

• The number of applicants to the program should increase.

• The program enrollment should increase to at least ten students.

• At least three students per year should graduate from the program.

• The department should increase its connections with the local community and industry."

Mike Shaw expressed the Programs Committee's confidence in Professor Hamad's ability to lead the graduate program in physics into prosperity.

Jane Gillespie made a motion to accept the report as amended; Valerie Yancey seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

X. Old Business

There was no old business.

XI. New Business

There was no new business.

XII. Adjournment

Stephanie McAndrews made a motion to adjourn; Anthony Denkyirah seconded. The meeting adjourned at 3:20.

Respectfully submitted,

Stephen L. Hansen
Associate Provost for Research and
Dean, The Graduate School

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