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Graduate Council

EDUCATIONAL AND RESEARCH POLICIES COMMITTEE

Minutes of
September 13th, 2006

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

MEMBERS EXCUSED: Anne Perry

I. Announcements

The committee introduced themselves.

II. Minutes of April 13th, 2006

The minutes were approved as submitted.

III. Partial Tuition Waivers for 25% Graduate Assistants

The committee read the summary of the partial tuition waiver issue provided by the Graduate School, which stated,

Graduate Assistantships:

Partial Appointments and Tuition Waivers

PROBLEM:

There are two inter-related issues: 1) the large number of 25% (10 hour/wk) assistantship appointments, and 2) the amount of waived tuition dollars.

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. 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.

RECOMMENDATION:

The Graduate Council needs to consider a policy change to address this problem. It might consider:

• Partial tuition waivers for partial appointments: This approach would help us recapture tuition dollars although it might not directly reduce the number of 25% appointments. Nevertheless, this approach would increase tuition revenue which the Council could request be used to increase the assistantship stipend levels.

• Restrict the number of partial appointments: The Council might declare that the number of 25% appointments could not exceed 33% of the total number of departmental appointments. This approach would stop the proliferation of partial appointments but it would not generate any new revenue.

• Centralize the allocation of GAs: In many institutions, the Graduate School allocates the number of GAs to units. This approach controls the amount of tuition waivers and the number of partial appointments. It does not, however, generate additional revenue.

Christa Johnson stated that it was important for the Graduate Council to address this problem on behalf of graduate programs and students. If this issue is ignored by the representatives of the graduate faculty, the SIUE administration may set policy for partial graduate assistantships.

Several issues were raised regarding the advisability of reducing waivers for partial assistantships. One concern is that some students couldn't work 20 hours and keep an outside job as well. The committee asked how much of the increase in waivers is due to increased undergraduate enrollment, with its attendant need for more graduate assistants, and how much of the increased need for partial assistantships might be due to raised tuition.

Roger Boyd stated that some departments depend on their graduate assistants to help provide instruction for laboratories and undergraduate classes. He expressed concern about the possibility of losing students to UMSL. Boyd said that this university is committed to go to the "next level" - it needs to have the manpower for research and more assistantships to achieve that goal.

David Duvernell wondered whether reduction of waiver benefits for part-time graduate assistantships would contribute to a decline in enrollment. He also said that he didn't think any of the above options would increase revenue, and was bothered by the desire to generate revenue. He suggested that what the Graduate Council ought to do is determine how much money the university saves by using graduate assistants instead of hiring equivalent staff to perform the same functions.

S. William Whitson said that the university needs to examine the increase in undergraduate enrollment, and its impact on graduate enrollment. He added that SIUE should be more concerned with recruiting high quality graduate students. He suggested that the ERP conduct a survey of graduate students to determine why they attend SIUE, why they stay, and what would drive them away. He felt that such a survey might give ERP both information and leverage to use to defend awarding full waivers for partial assistantships. Whitson stressed that the Graduate Council needs to support graduate education and not be intimidated by the administration. He wondered whether SIUE is pricing itself out of graduate students.

Rakesh Bharati stated that there was a more fundamental issue at stake. The value of graduate education cannot be calculated in monetary terms. He is concerned that the push to eliminate full waivers for part-time graduate assistants will hurt SIUE which, he states, is characterized as a premier undergraduate metropolitan university.

Christa Johnson stated that she would bring data on the distribution of the graduate assistantships to the next meeting. She also stressed that generating funds was not the primary issue. The real concern is the need to curtail the amount of waived tuition. She reminded those present that different departments have different reasons for dividing their assistantships as they do. It is possible that departments do not attract the best caliber of students by offering a large number of partial assistantships. She felt that if reducing the number of partial assistants had the effect of decreasing enrollment in the short term, that this situation would be offset by attracting better students in the future. She added that if graduate programs could recapture the tuition dollars, they could offer more 50% assistantships in the future.

After asking about the time frame, Whitson suggested that the ERP complete deliberations on this issue by the end of this semester.

Maruice Mangum made a motion to table this issue; Rakesh Bharati seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

IV. Revision of Research Review Procedures

Bill Whitson made a motion to add a representative from the School of Pharmacy to the Research and Development Committee, and to the Research and Projects Advisory Board; Rakesh Bharati seconded. The motion was withdrawn when the committee realized that the guidelines did not preclude a member from the School of Pharmacy.

V. Old Business

There was no old business.

VI. New Business

Bill Whitson announced that he would introduce a discussion later in the year regarding the flexibility of using research funds. Currently, state money needs to be allocated by March 15th. It is difficult for scientists to predict their expenditures for the remainder of the year. Whitson would like the Accounts Payable office to extend this deadline for researchers. Whitson requested that the ERP invite Ken Nehr and/or representatives from Administrative Accounting to attend an ERP meeting this year.

VII. Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 10:10 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Christa C. Johnson, Assistant Dean
Graduate Studies and Research

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