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CGSP wants governance review of program resources

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 18 - January 25, 1996

Members of the Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies (CGSP) agreed at the commission's January 17 meeting that governance should have a role in reviewing issues related to resources required to either start or to discontinue graduate-degree programs.

John Eaton, associate provost for graduate studies, explained that new graduate programs come from the department or college to the Graduate Curriculum Committee, University Council, Board of Visitors, and SCHEV. "This commission would like to see resource issues worked out first, and is drafting a document to address that."

Discontinuation of programs "supposedly follows the same route," he said. "But what is the role of the governance system in granting requests? What is our role in deciding ways to keep a program the college wants to cut?"

Commission members referred to an as-yet unannounced proposed elimination of the sociology Ph.D. degree program.

"Do we know whether something is coming to the commission?" asked Bruce Chaloux.

Eaton said he was asked what the procedure is to eliminate a degree, and that he responded that it needs to go through the same approvals as to start one.

John Burton, representative from the College of Education, pointed out that the commission did discuss the order to eliminate the adult-education degree programs.

Len Peters agreed that voicing an opinion that adult education is a significant program "helped the university reach the decision to move the program" rather than cut it."

"But it is unclear how that impacts the discussion to cut the Ph.D. in sociology," Burton said.

When Rebecca Lovingood asked whether the restructuring plan for Arts and Sciences will come before the governance system, Peters said there is no indication that it will.

Michael O'Brien, architecture, pointed out, "Sometimes not all the colleges are involved in a discussion, but the impact of a decision is across more than one college."

"Programs need to bring something forward," said Susan Brooker-Gross.

"But not the entire restructuring plan," said Eaton.

"The groups impacted need to know the impact in advance," Lovingood said.

"It might be good to have the University Council on record that there needs to be a process to eliminate a program," said O'Brien.

Jim Burger also recommended there be a procedure. "Our concern is how it affects other programs, not whether or not they should eliminate the program."

Mike Voerster added, "The procedure when a program is introduced is to make sure the interfaces work, not to question the wisdom of the deans."

Lovingood referred the issue to the Graduate Curriculum Committee, which is also considering a procedure to review resource demands for proposed programs.

The commission also heard an unofficial report on the status of the College of Education. Eaton said it has been recommended by the committee that the college be merged with the College of Human Resources. "The deans will meet with the provost, who will meet soon with the president."

"Keep tuned," said Lovingood. "That's what those of us in the two colleges are doing...as we recruit, plan curriculum, etc."

Bryan Rowland asked why the issue didn't come to CGSP, since programs across campus are affected. There were other comments as well.

Lovingood concluded, "Thinking about policy issues is more helpful than `how does this affect me.'"

In other business, the commission discussed policies for participation in graduate Commencement ceremonies, progress on an electronic thesis and dissertation policy, and the Commonwealth Campus program.

Eaton said the Graduate School requires doctoral students to complete all requirements for the degree before they can participate in Commencement. Master's students must pass the final exam or defense, but are not required to have turned in the thesis. "But this fall we seemed to have had a large number of requests from students who thought they could participate without completing the final exam. We need to make sure faculty members are comfortable with our policy and make sure students are informed."

O'Brien said architecture students are now scheduled to defend during the first summer. "We may be able to comply within two years, but not now."

The issue was referred to the Graduate Student Relations Committee.

Dean Stauffer explained that the Degree Requirements Committee has hit an impasse in its discussion of the electronic dissertation and thesis (EDT). The recommendation being discussed is the requirement that all students submit their dissertations or theses electronically. The documents will be stored in the library and available online. Virginia Tech is a leader in offering this capability.

"Potential concerns" are:

1) Should the policy be phased in or done in a pilot study? "We recommend identifying a dozen departments representing a variety of thesis types to provide information and experience for when the recommendation is fully implemented."

2) The availability of resources to support the change needs to be established.

3) Copyright protection needs to be determined, as does whether publication on-line will be considered prior publication by some journals.

4) Procedures for exemptions must be clearly developed.

5) The extent to which hard copies will be available needs to be determined.

6) How do we adapt to new software?

Stauffer asked CGSP members to get feedback from colleagues to him by February 1.

O'Brien said, "We've done half a dozen conversions. It works reasonably well when photo-quality clarity is not required. The 8.5x11 screen size does not work well for some projects. And our file sizes (architecture) are pretty big-24-30 megs.

Peters responded regarding point three that EDT's can be copyrighted right away "but you could ask a copyright expert to look at the issue," and that EDT's are not prior publications.

Eaton said "85 percent of people would be delighted to have their thesis or dissertations looked at by others" although he was sympathetic to concerns from those worried about theft of data.

It was suggested that Ed Fox, Ed Schwartz, and Gail McMillan be added to the committee to respond to technical concerns for the balance of the discussion on EDT policy. Stauffer agreed.

Chaloux said the Commonwealth Campus program is designed for three markets 1) students who already have graduate degrees who want to take a course or two to update their skills; 2) students with bachelor's degrees who want to take a course or two--many of whom are enrolling in degree programs which is increasing the paperwork; and 3) others who want to explore various subjects.

"All colleges except Veterinary Medicine are reporting participation," he said. He will report later in the semester about who is enrolling and the numbers. "It will grow as we get the word out. It's not just an extended campus program." He emphasized that the program uses excess seat capacity in existing courses.