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CGSP asks for program criteria policy statement

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 12 - November 10, 1994

The Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies (CGSP) approved changes to Policy Memorandum 126, which calls for each graduate-degree-granting program to formulate a policy statement spelling out program criteria, and keep the information on file with the college dean and the Graduate School.

The changes are in an additional whereas: "Whereas, there is a need to assess the implementation of program standards and procedures," and the statement that "The CGS&P and the Graduate School will review individual program statements and assess their implementation as part of regular graduate-program evaluation. Departments will maintain a current copy of the policy statements at the Graduate School."

The changes will be forwarded to the University Council. In the meantime, the commission's Degree Requirements Committee is devising a means to implement the policy.

Also at the November 2 meeting, the commission discussed the impact of a proposed research faculty title series on graduate students.

Ernie Stout said the university now has special research appointments, but these are one-year appointments, and although they can be renewed, "they are limited in the kinds of activities they can be involved in."

The proposed research series would allow three-year appointments for a research assistant professor and five-year appointments for research associate professors and research professors, "although it is unlikely a department head or dean would approve an appointment beyond the funding."

The proposed series would allow the university to take advantage of "a cadre of well-trained Ph.D.'s who could contribute to university research and other,missions. The university faculty will not grow...so this represents a potential for growth." The positions would be funded by "soft money." "A regular faculty member would have to generate the (initial) salary, and the department would provide space," Stout said.

"These folks could direct graduate student theses and dissertations, consistent with department policy and Graduate School approval," Stout explained. "This is a significant departure from present policy."

He said there are still some "wrinkles." "Regular faculty appointments of one year or less don't have to go through an EO/AA search. We are saying these positions do. We may want to rethink that; although, if there is an opportunity to make a transition to a tenure-track faculty position, we would have to have a full search at that time."

"This is an opportunity to attract very strong individuals who will attract research that will support graduate students," John Eaton said.

Steve Boyle asked about research faculty members competing with regular faculty members for research funds. Stout said, "ten more people in the nationwide pool are not going to make any difference." Eaton added that is up to the department whether or not to use the positions.

"Who picks up the slack (as graduate advisor) if the research faculty member leaves?" asked John Burton.

Stout said that is an issue that should be reviewed.

Mike Vorster said, "I think the existence of these positions improves the ability to further the research agenda and to direct theses and dissertations."

Jennifer Tank added, "It would open up more positions for graduate students."

Bob Mullins expressed concern that a researcher with a lot of money would get graduate students aboard and then leave, taking the money and the graduate students, or leaving the students behind. He also expressed concern about a research faculty member having different expectations of graduate students. Stout said existing policies to maintain graduate-education quality would remain in effect.

In response to a question, Stout said a research faculty series exists at most research universities. Vorster said that at Stanford a research professor can be tenured.

Joe Merola said directing graduate students in the course of research is teaching, so he would not want to send the message that research faculty members are those who don't want to teach or who aren't teaching.

Burton said there needs to be a safety net for students if the research faculty decides to "bolt." "Any graduate student who accepts as a major professor a person with only one-year's funding is not too bright," Tank said.

Vorster said the requirement for department and Graduate School approval provides a safety net.

Merola suggested the commission members raise the issue with colleagues before the commission votes on endorsement of the policy. He also asked members to think about summer enrollment and be prepared to discuss it at the November 16 meeting.

In other business,

* Merola said the Academic Integrity Committee will respond to the NSF mandate that institutions with NSF funding have a specific conflict-of-interest policy, and will devise forms to accompany NSF proposals. In the long term, the committee will look at the university's general academic-integrity standards.

* Ron Johnson said between 30 and 40 people attended the IFS forums. "Comments ranged from people who would kill the messenger and kill the people who designed the policy to those who would raise the latter to sainthood. The students who were there are happy with the policy. The students who didn't get awards don't know it's because of the policy, and weren't there. One problem is there are some research sponsors who will not fund student stipends."

Mullins said a common comment was, "Let's not go back," but departments want implementation to be as easy as possible.

Larry Harris said that whether the bridging mechanism in effect this year will be continued is an important factor in the impact of the policy on colleges. Johnson said the colleges of Architecture, Education, and Business will have shortfalls next year. "Horrendous" shortfalls, Harris indicated. The ad hoc committee on IFS policy hopes to have recommendations in the next few weeks.

* Robin Hohauser reported that Susan Kelleher has been named to chair the Graduate Student Assembly's Graduate Research Development Program and the Travel Fund.

* Joann Eustis reported that the library is working with George McDowell to provide economic-reform assistance to the agricultural producers of Albania. Three library staff members have gone to Albania, and individuals from Albania are coming here.

Eustis said the library can't afford to send notices regarding overdue books, but can provide a free PIN number so the borrower can look at their own record to see what is due. She also reported the library is continuing to put Current Contents on line, and that there is a free bibliography service called CARL.