University Council on Graduate Study
Report on 1996-1997 Activities

As stated in its bylaws, the University Council on Graduate Study is to communicate its decisions to the faculty, students, and administrative officers of the University. If you have comments on the activities as reported here or suggestions for agenda items, please contact Vice Provost Elizabeth Baranger at 624-0790 or via email at eub@vms.cis.pitt.edu.

Issues Addressed In 1996-1997

Medical Insurance

Council expressed grave concern when notified that the health insurance plan available to all undergraduate and graduate students would be discontinued; Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is no longer willing to underwrite the spiraling costs of this plan. Information about community-based plans will be made available to students. While such plans could mean lower premiums for some students, it could mean much higher premiums for students with pre-existing conditions. Council asked Vice Provost Baranger to notify all deans and to express their concern to the Provost. Council also was concerned that the health insurance plan available to funded graduate students (TA/TF/GSA/GSRs) will increase in price by 20%. In response to requests from graduate students, an optional dental/vision plan will be offered to students who subscribe to the funded-graduate-student plan, with the cost to be covered by the student.

World Wide Web As Resource

As part of the process for redesigning the University of Pittsburgh’s homepage and the accompanying top-level pages, Council was asked how the pages might be improved. Council members stressed that the World Wide Web is used extensively for graduate student recruitment and that the Provost’s Committee on the University’s Presence on the Internet should insure easy access to departmental and program homepages for applicants looking for information about particular programs.

Graduate Student Representation

At the request of the Graduate and Professional Student Association, Council discussed the role of graduate students on departmental committees and agreed that Vice Provost Baranger should write to deans and department chairs to remind them that graduate student representation on committees is a valued practice at the University.

UCGS Committee Activities

The Graduate Procedures Committee, chaired by Louis Pingel, reviewed proposals for new doctoral programs and changes in doctoral program names prior to their submission to UCGS. These included the creation of the Immunology program in the School of Medicine and the change in names of several of the doctoral programs in the School of Medicine. In addition, the committee considered and recommended approval of a proposal from the School of Social Work to offer the MSW program at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. The committee recommends that guidelines be established for offering graduate programs at non-Pittsburgh campus locations and for processing proposals for such offerings. The committee, at the request of Council, also reviewed the policy for appointments to the graduate faculty and recommended that no changes be made since no convincing arguments were made for change.

The Subcommittee for Evaluation of Academic Programs, chaired by Elizabeth Baranger, began four reviews (History, Biological Sciences, Psychology in Education, and the doctoral program in Social Work) and completed those described below.

Completed Evaluations of Academic Programs

Doctoral Program in Nursing

The evaluation of the doctoral program in the School of Nursing was conducted between December 1995 and August 1996. The recommendations made by the Subcommittee for Evaluation of Academic Programs were unanimously approved on January 21, 1997 and sent to the Provost on August 22, 1997. Both the Internal and External Review Committees commended the School of Nursing for the improvements made in this program, particularly in the increase in faculty research productivity and the effective focus of the doctoral program. The SEAP recommended that the school continue efforts to increase the number of full-time students while making an effort to create a scholarly environment designed for the part-time student; continue the review of the doctoral program curriculum with the goal of integrating the relationships between research and theory; continue to identify and support faculty whose research accomplishments meet criteria for promotion to senior rank; continue to explore ways to ameliorate unevenness of mentoring, advising, and other workload issues; continue to increase programs for enabling greater racial and gender diversity of the faculty and student body. The SEAP recommended that the Department be reviewed again at the next regularly scheduled interval.

Neuroscience

The evaluation of the academic programs of the Department of Neuroscience was conducted between December 1996 and May 1997. The recommendations made by the Subcommittee for Evaluation of Academic Programs were unanimously approved on June 24, 1997 and submitted to the Provost on September 15, 1997. Both the Internal and External Review Committees commended the Department and the University on the excellence of the Department. The SEAP recommended that the Department augment its expertise in molecular neurobiology and cognitive neuroscience, assist junior faculty in establishing independent research, and continue to work on increased representation of minorities in the faculty. Furthermore, the SEAP recommended that postdoc fellows’ role and future in the Department be clarified (this is an issue across the University), that the animal facility should be maintained, and that the University should continue to provide a high level of support, including space, to the Department. The SEAP recommended that the Department be reviewed again in five years due to the rapidly-evolving nature of the field.

Greensburg

The evaluation of the academic programs of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg was conducted between October 1995 and September 1996. The recommendations made by the Subcommittee for Evaluation of Academic Programs were sent to the Provost on September 15, 1997. Both the Internal and External Review Committees commended the Greensburg campus for their academically sound programs, committed faculty, and dedicated administrators, noting that problems found were mostly due to lack of resources. The SEAP recommended that elimination of overload teaching be explored and that the advising system be improved; that an infrastructure for student services such as tutoring, placement, and learning disabilities services be created; that teaching of part-time instructors be monitored and evaluated; that workloads of division chairs be examined to determine if more release time can be given; that efforts should be made to increase representation of minorities in the student and faculty bodies; and that morale problems among some faculty groups be addressed. The SEAP recommended that the campus be reviewed again at the next regularly scheduled interval.

Review of Proposals

Change in Name of the Master of Library Science (MLS) Degree

Approved September 24, 1996. Approved by the Provost November 4, 1996.The School of Information Sciences proposed this name change to reflect the change in the name and focus of the Library and Information Sciences Department. The proposal to change the name of the degree to the Master of Library and Information Sciences was approved by Council unanimously.

Certificate in Clinical Cardiovascular Engineering

Approved October 15, 1996. Approved by the Provost November 19, 1996. The School of Engineering proposed the certificate program for students who would take a combination of bioengineering and ethics courses as well as participating in clinical internships. Council approved the proposal unanimously.

Termination of the Masters Program in Interdisciplinary Studies

Approved January 21, 1997. Approval by the Provost is pending. The Vice Provost of Graduate Studies proposed the termination of this student-designed program as it has not been used in many years and its termination will have no effect on existing programs at the University. Council approved the proposal unanimously.

Doctoral Program in Immunology

Approved February 25, 1997. Approved by the Provost July 9, 1997. The School of Medicine proposed the initiation of a graduate training program in Immunology as part of the reorganized Biomedical Graduate Program within the School of Medicine. An MS program was approved as well, to be offered to students only in exceptional circumstances. Council approved the proposal unanimously with the explicit call for review in five years of the Immunology program as well as a review of how the new structure of the Biomedical Graduate Program in the School of Medicine impacts the various graduate training programs associated with it.

Change in Names of Doctoral Programs in School of Medicine

Approved February 25, 1997. Approved by the Provost March 12, 1997. The School of Medicine proposed that the names of the following doctoral programs be changed to more accurately reflect the breadth of their programs and to enable applicants to better understand their content: Biochemistry to become Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics; Microbiology to become Molecular Virology and Microbiology; and Pathology to become Cellular and Molecular Pathology. A related proposal to change the name of Physiology was tabled at this time pending a full proposal regarding that change. Council approved the proposal unanimously.

Termination of PhD Program in Center for Neuroscience

Approved March 25, 1997. Approved by the Provost August 4, 1997. The School of Medicine and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences proposed the elimination of this program in order to enhance and streamline the neuroscience graduate programs offered by the University and to alleviate the confusion of prospective applicants. Currently enrolled students will transfer to the Neurobiology program in the School of Medicine and will be given the option of being graduated either in the terminated program or in Neurobiology. Both the School of Medicine’s Neurobiology program and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Neuroscience program will continue to be offered.

Post-Master’s Certificate Program in Employee Assistance Programs

Approved March 25, 1997. Approval by the Provost is pending. The School of Social Work proposed this post-master’s certificate for students and working professionals interested in this growing area of social work practice. Council approved the proposal unanimously.

Graduate Certificate Program in Film Studies

Approved May 13, 1997. Approved by the Provost July 1, 1997. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences proposed this certificate for graduate students interested in the interdisciplinary study of the nature and impact of visual culture. Council approved the proposal with three abstentions.

Master of Public Health in Environmental and Occupational Health

Approved June 24, 1997. Approved by the Provost September 2, 1997. The Graduate School of Public Health proposed this degree for students who are interested in becoming practitioners in environmental and occupational public health arenas after graduation. Council approved the proposal unanimously with the suggestion that the school consider how this program could benefit from a relationship with related programs in the School of Engineering.

Certificate Program in Environmental Health Risk Assessment

Approved June 24, 1997. Approved by the Provost July 30, 1997. The Graduate School of Public Health proposed this certificate in response to repeated requests from public health professionals looking for more education in this area. Council approved the proposal unanimously with the recommendations that the school consider how this program could benefit from a relationship with related programs in the School of Engineering and that the school clarifies for incoming students that admission to the certificate program does not guarantee admission at a later date to a degree-granting program using the same curriculum.

Documents Circulated to the University Community

Report on 1995-96 Activities, University Council on Graduate Study, University of Pittsburgh. Web address: http://www.pitt.edu/~graduate/9596report.html

Graduate Faculty Membership Roster, Fall, 1996, Office of the Provost, University of Pittsburgh.

Regulations Governing Graduate Study at the University of Pittsburgh, University Council on Graduate Study, University of Pittsburgh. Web address: http://www.pitt.edu/~graduate/reg.html

Finding the Graduate Program That's Right for You, Office of the Provost, University of Pittsburgh. Web address: http://www.pitt.edu/~graduate/gradprogram.html

Policy Statement for Graduate Student Researchers, Office of the Provost, University of Pittsburgh. Web address: http://www.pitt.edu/~graduate/gsr.html

Policy Statement for Teaching Assistants, Teaching Fellows, and Graduate Student Assistants, Office of the Provost, University of Pittsburgh. Web address: http://www.pitt.edu/~provost/tapolicy.html

Style and Form Manual, Office of the Provost, University of Pittsburgh. Web address: http://www.pitt.edu/~graduate/style.html

1996-97 UCGS Standing Committees


Graduate Procedures: Chair, Louis Pingel
Evaluation of Academic Programs: Chair, Elizabeth Baranger
Graduate Student Affairs: Chair, Ron Neufeld

1996-97 UCGS Members


Paula Baker, FAS Social Sciences
Patricia Bohachick, Nursing
Rob Coalson, FAS Natural Sciences
Phyllis Coontz, GSPIA
Kathleen DeWalt, FAS At-Large
Giovanna DiBlasi, Graduate and Professional Student Association
Stephen Hirtle, School of Information Sciences
John Ismail, School of Dental Medicine
James Knapp, FAS At-Large
Wynne Korr, School of Social Work
Ram Mahalingam, Graduate and Professional Student Association
Margaret Mahoney, School of Law
Mainak Mazumdar, School of Engineering
Ronald Neufeld, School of Engineering
Lou Pingel, School of Education
Evelyn Rawski, Interdisciplinary
Ian Reynolds, School of Medicine
Merrilee Salmon, FAS Humanities
G. Gordon Spice, School of Education
Roslyn Stone, Graduate School of Public Health
Edward Sussna, Katz Graduate School of Business
Regis Vollmer, School of Pharmacy
Valerie Watzlaf, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Observers:

Samuel Conte, University Registrar
Kit Ayars, Provost’s Staff