University Council on Graduate Study
March 15, 2005
3:00-5:00 p.m.
817 CL

Attending:  Patricia Beeson (Chair), Jeff Brodsky (A&S), Luis Chaparro (ENG), Judith Erlen (NUR), Robert Gibbs (PHARM), Paula Grabowski (A&S), Justin Hsieh (GPSA), Steven Husted (A&S), Timothy James (GPSA), Malcolm McNeil (SHRS), Margaret Mahoney (LAW), Marianne Novy (A&S), Steve Phillips (SOM), Barbara Porter (GSPIA), Roslyn Stone (GSPH), Martin Weiss (SIS), Glenn Whitehead (A&S); Barbara R. Heron (Registrar), Carrie Sparks (Provostís Office)

Guests: Timothy Thompson (OIS) and Alan Juffs (Linguistics)

Approval of Minutes
The minutes of the December 14, 2004 meeting were approved as written.

Changes in the TOEFL Exam
A new generation of the TOEFL exam will be launched by ETS this fall.  The new version of the TOEFL is substantially different from the current version and includes a Speaking section, in addition to the Reading, Writing, and Listening sections that comprise the current exam.  Timothy Thompson, Office of International Services and Alan Juffs, Chair of the Department of Linguistics, presented the changes in the TOEFL and the establishment of new standards. As a result of these changes, UCGS reviewed and discussed new standards of acceptable scores at the University of Pittsburgh.

The Internet-based test will begin in September of 2005. By 2006 other countries will be on board.

A Member of Council asked if the new TOEFL exam will cause more students not to apply to the United States. Timothy Thompson said that could be a possible issue in regards to accessibility and international students feeling welcome here.

Members of Council suggested that we make it known in our promotional materials that we also accept IELTS in addition to the TOEFL.

After a significant discussion regarding the new exam, scoring, and procedures, Council decided that Patty Beeson should contact CGS to see how other universities are setting minimum score requirements and if they are setting minimum standards by each component. Pitt has to have a standard set by September, so this issue will need to be revisited prior to September but only after more information is obtained.

Cross-Program Coordination in Graduate Student Recruiting
There was general discussion on graduate student recruiting and how programs can better coordinate recruiting efforts including coordinating efforts on the recruitment of McNair Fellows. The Graduate and Professional Admissions and Recruitment Committee (GPARC) at Pitt works together to share best practices between the schools on issues related to graduate recruitment.  It was suggested that GPARC and UCGS work together on common goals.

There was further discussion on graduate student stipends and concerns over how regionally competitive they are in certain fields, particularly the natural sciences. Patty Beeson will continue to research the available stipend data.

The meeting was adjourned. The next UCGS meeting will be on April 19, 2005.