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Graduate program review discussed

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 30 - May 2, 1996

The Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies (CGSP) discussed a draft of guidelines for graduate and research program review at the April 17 meeting.

The Degree Requirements, Standards, Criteria, and Academic Policies (DRSCAP) committee recommended that "procedures that are as consistent across colleges as possible...be developed and implemented at Virginia Tech."

According to a handout provided by Dean Stauffer, "The primary use of these reviews is for identifying strengths and weaknesses of each program to allow improvement."

The guidelines offered by the committee call for

* DRSCAP to develop a detailed approach during the 1996-97 academic year;

* The graduate/research program reviews to integrate with existing review procedures "so as to not create additional or redundant effort";

*Review teams of people from outside the departments and university, along with representatives of the program under review;

* Identification of benchmark programs for each discipline to be compared to the program under review;

* A two-phase procedure: 1) a check-list to determine how well the program meets Graduate School policies, and 2) "a program-dependent evaluation to provide recognition that each program has unique attributes that are not easily compared to other programs"; and

* copies of the final reports to be provided not only to the deans of the respective colleges, but also to the central university administration.

During discussion, it was suggested that the Graduate School rather than the review teams might determine the benchmark institutions.

Bruce Chaloux asked who will pick up the extra cost of a review beyond what would be incurred by existing reviews, such as for accreditation.

Joe Merola said, "The issue is how much emphasis is put on graduate programs in existing reviews."

Len Peters suggested there be meetings over the summer to look at existing review processes program by program. "We need to come back to the committee with fairly detailed information." He asked for an ad-hoc group of five people to come back in the fall with "fairly detailed plans" such as drafts of forms and who might share efforts.

Rebecca Lovingood asked about interdisciplinary programs, and Stauffer said, "How well programs integrate with other programs maybe should be part of the review.

Don Mullins said, "We need to link back with the administration so they're aware of what we're contemplating. There's some wisdom there. Might save some energy down the road." He said there is already a check list in the Graduate School of things every department is supposed to do. "Our main concern is improving programs in general."

In other business, the commission added language to the policy on electronic theses and dissertations (ETD) stating "The thesis/dissertation shall not be made available on the WWW until a release form granting permission to do so has been signed by the student and major professor (co-chairs). This release may be granted after such time that the author(s) have ascertained that prior publication issues are resolved.... It is the responsibility of the students and major professors to determine whether or not theses/dissertations accessible on WWW constitute prior publication for the journals in which they publish."

Thesis and dissertations will be accessible electronically through the Graduate School and Newman Library, however.

The Oversight Committee was charged with working with societies and publishers to encourage them to adapt their policies concerning ETD.

Changes to the credit requirements for the Master of Public Administration were approved so that the program is consistent with similar programs at other universities.

William Ley is chair elect for next year. John Broderick will chair the CGSP next year.