Graduate College

Graduate Council Minutes #1041

December 11, 2014

Present: Calderon, Chatham-Carpenter, Clayton, Coon, Deemer, Fontana, Gacke, Kucuksari, Moore (for Caswell), Nesbit, Noh, Pohl,

Guests:  Donna Hoffman, Chris Larimer, Lisa Steimel, Joy Thorson, Donna Vinton

Absent:  Beall, Power, Stokes, Teske

The meeting was called to order by Chair Clayton.  Motion by Pohl to approve the minutes of the November 13, 2014 meeting; seconded by Calderon.  Motion approved.

Graduate College Reports

Chatham-Carpenter reported that as a result of a request from the Board of Regents office, she and Coon have been working on compiling graduate program information.  This information will be provided prior to the campus visit by a Board of Regents representative.  The meeting will take place next Thursday, December 18 and will include presentations from several graduate coordinators.

Chatham-Carpenter informed the Council that there has been a request for funding to replace Deloitte Consulting.  She added that at this point there is no indication that graduate programs will be involved in the review.

Coon reported that the Graduate College is currently at testing phase of the assistantship and scholarship portion of the imaging process.  It will not affect those who are submitting offer forms.  Once assistantship and scholarship workflow is complete, the Graduate College staff will move forward with testing of forms such as the comprehensive exam approval, non-thesis approval forms and thesis/dissertation-related forms. 

Coon mentioned that in the near future departments would be receiving a list of their students who are eligible to enroll for Spring 2015, but have not yet enrolled.  She will encourage departments to follow up with those students to encourage them to enroll.  In addition, Coon will be e-mailing department heads a list of their graduate courses that are on the Spring schedule and the graduate faculty status of the instructors of those courses; whether the instructors are regular graduate faculty, have associate graduate faculty status or neither.  If the faculty is not regular or associate graduate faculty, the department will be asked to complete the appropriate form for processing through the Graduate College.

Chair of Graduate Faculty Report

On behalf of Beall, Clayton reported that there will be two brown bag sessions co-sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.  These brown bags will be panel discussions related to the challenges and opportunities of teaching 4000/5000-level courses.  Additional information will be provided early in the Spring semester.  

Old Business

Curriculum Packet for Master of Public Policy Program

Clayton welcomed Donna Hoffman, department head and Chris Larimer, associate professor, from the Department of Political Science.  Clayton referred to an e-mail sent to Hoffman and Larimer after the last Council meeting regarding the steps that needed to be taken related to the approval of the Master of Public Policy curriculum.  Hoffman stated that the consultations had been completed and the results of those consultations had been provided to the Council.  Updated rationale in terms of graduate courses was also provided.  Clayton mentioned that all the consultations came back with no impact or implied consent.

Motion by Pohl to approve the Master of Public Policy curriculum packet; seconded by Moore.  Motion approved.  Clayton said she would forward this information to the Faculty Senate.

New Business

Approval of Revised Graduate Assistant Handbook

In order to be consistent University policies, the policy titled Discrimination and Harassment Policy was changed to Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy.  The Accommodations of Disabilities Policy was added.  Due to provisions under the Affordable Care Act and after discussions with the Office of Human Resource Services, there was a change in employment restrictions for students holding graduate assistantships.  Domestic graduate students who serve as

Graduate Assistants cannot work more than 29 hours per week of University employment in the combination of assistantship and hourly student employment and occasional special engagement employment (judging, music at commencement or other events, translation services).  Steimel noted that there was no change in the restrictions for international graduate students, who are limited to working a maximum of 20 hours per week as mandated by federal law.  As a result of some past issues there was a change to the Extended Leaves portion of the handbook.

Motion by Pohl to approve the revisions to the Graduate Assistant Handbook; seconded by Deemer.  Motion approved. 

Approval of Revised Timeline for Graduate Assistant Offers

Related to Timeline for Graduate Assistantship and Graduate Scholarship Offers, Chatham-Carpenter commented that the April 1 deadline was discussed at the last two Graduate Coordinator meetings in order to get feedback prior to making any changes.  Coordinators had expressed concern related to the timing of Graduate College allocations to the various departments, which have been addressed in the timeline.  She added that the April 1 deadline for offer forms is very important due to an April 15 deadline set by the Council of Graduate Schools that says students do not have to accept any offer until April 15.  By getting the offers out sooner, the student will have more time to consider UNI’s offer and Graduate Assistantships and Graduate College Scholarships can be used as a recruiting tool.  The coordinators also had a concern as to whether or not they would be held to the deadline if a student did not accept an offer; Chatham-Carpenter indicated that the revised timeline also allows for this circumstance.  Steimel added that with the current offer deadlines, the Graduate College is not able to get the Office of Financial Aid the information it needs in order to do the “graduate packaging” of financial aid in a timely manner.  Not providing the data to Financial Aid prior to mid-May requires that the process be done manually instead of using the automated system.  Having to enter information manually also increases the number of errors made in the students financial aid.

Motion by Pohl to approve the Revised Timeline for Graduate Assistantship Offers; seconded by Calderon.  Motion approved. 

Clayton welcomed Vinton to the meeting.  Chatham-Carpenter noted that she had invited Vinton to the meeting in order to present information she had been working on over the past four years.  Vinton has been working to help graduate programs at UNI use the data they are already collecting and put it into a form that helps improve graduate programs and curriculum.  Chatham-Carpenter said that this work came as a result of the Higher Learning Commission’s (HLC) accreditation process and that Vinton led the effort for the University to join the Assessment Academy.  She added that she thought it was important for the Council to be aware of the progress that has been made in terms of assessment. 

Vinton said that when the University joined the Assessment Academy, approximately one-third of the graduate programs had submitted reports on outcomes assessment and learning objectives.  As a result, the HLC said it would really like to see some work done on assessing student outcomes in graduate programs.  As of the end of the four years, 85 percent of the graduate programs had submitted at least one report.  During the presentation, Vinton provided the following handouts as resources for faculty use:

- From the Higher Learning Commission: - “Student Learning, Assessment, and Accreditation”

- Strategies for Developing Graduate Program Learning Outcomes

- General Learning Outcomes for Graduate Programs

- Examples of Graduate Program Learning Outcome Statements

- Twenty Reasons for Doing Assessment

- From Cornell University’s Center for Teaching Excellence – “Graduate Level Assessment Methods”

- Information from the Office of Academic Assessment Homepage

Vinton also provided information and a potential timeline hand-out related to the Assessment Mini-grant that is available through the Office of Academic Assessment for those who may have an idea for an assessment project.  This mini-grant provides grants up to $1,000.

The meeting adjourned at 4:49 p.m.

The next scheduled meeting is Thursday, January 22, 2015 at 3:30 p.m. in Lang 115.


Respectfully submitted,

Cheryl Nedrow
Secretary