University Council on Graduate Study
February 20, 2001
3:00-5:00 PM, 817 CL

Attending: Elizabeth Baranger (Chair), David Barker (FAS), Jacob Birnberg (KGSB), Ray Burdett (SHRS), Luis Chaparro (Engineering), Judith Erlen (Nursing), Joseph Grabowski (FAS/Chemistry),  Stephanie Hoogendoorn (GPSA), Steven Husted (FAS), Y.H. John Ismail (Dental Medicine), David Miller (GSPIA), Cindy Persinger (GPSA/FAS), Stephen Phillips (Medicine), Louis Pingel (Education), Deane Root (FAS/Music), Esther Sales (Social Work), Roslyn Stone (GSPH), Regis Vollmer (Pharmacy); Kit Ayars (Provost’s Office), Barbara Repasi Heron (Registrar’s Office), Miriam Hertz (SHRS), George Carvell (SHRS)

I.    Minutes Approval

The minutes of the January 2001 meeting were approved as written.

II. Announcements

Chair Elizabeth Baranger called Council’s attention to two items:

Graduate Bulletin: This is at the printer’s and should be available to schools in April.

GRE/TOEFL exams were stolen in People’s Republic of China (PRC); schools are advised to keep this in mind when reviewing applications. UCGS members discussed ways their schools are currently confirming fluency scores submitted by international students.

III. Draft Proposal for Electronic Theses/Dissertations Pilot

Steve Phillips introduced the draft of a proposal for a one-year pilot for submission of electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs). (See http://www.pitt.edu/~graduate/ etdpilot.html .) The major incentives for accepting ETDs include giving students the opportunity to use the technical opportunities available now, helping address storage or archive issues, and providing the opportunity for new forms of scholarship. ETDs cannot leave behind scholarly oversight. A small-scale pilot will allow the University to make a decision on whether to move toward full-scale acceptance of electronic dissertations and theses.

Council members noted that this was an exciting and well-framed proposal. Suggestions for the pilot included involving out-of-town students to see whether lack of direct access to campus computing facilities is an issue at all and surveying the programs currently used to produce theses/dissertations to ensure they readily convert to accurate PDF files. Potential concerns around copyright issues were noted.
UCGS approved sending the current draft to schools and students for comment, with a final proposal to be submitted to Council in May for a recommendation vote.

IV. Certificate Program in Disability Studies

Dr. Miriam Hertz explained the background behind the proposal from SHRS to establish a certificate program in disability studies. The certificate would be interdisciplinary in nature; it would educate graduate students in the field of disability studies and assist the community at large. While the first students who enroll will most likely be pursuing degrees in SHRS, she hopes that the program will attract degree candidates from other schools and people who already have a graduate degree but would like to have the certificate.

The faculty actively responsible for the  majority of the courses in the fifteen-credit program will be Hertz and Dr. Katharine Seelman, a visiting professor hired for the 2001-2002 academic year. Hertz projects an enrollment of 8 students by the 5th year.

Council asked questions regarding Dr. Seelman’s role and the potential need or impact on library facilities and other campus resources. More discussion ensued after the visitors left the meeting. Concern was raised about the small number of faculty, neither of whom is tenured in the school at this time, supporting the program: should either current faculty member leave, could the program continue? Do the existing courses and the projected new courses have enrollments that are not dependent on certificate students for their continued existence?

Council noted that the fact that the school initiated the program suggests strong internal support not reliant on specific faculty. Council voted to recommend approval of this program pending submission from the dean of a list of supporting faculty.

V. Graduate Student Affairs Committee

Due to a family emergency, Student Affairs Committee Chair Steve Hirtle was unable to attend Council to make a report. Issues raised at the committee’s meeting included supported student insurance, student housing, and the Survival Skills program. A full report will be made at the next UCGS meeting.

2/20/01