University Council on Graduate Study
 Report on 1998-99 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

Issues Addressed In 1998-99

Elements of Good Academic Advising
Council voted unanimously to distribute Elements of Good Academic Advising, developed under the aegis of the UCGS Graduate Student Affairs committee, to relevant deans and all graduate faculty across the University. The document notes that the quality of education received by graduate students is enhanced by effective academic advising at all stages of the program and outlines the responsibilities of faculty/academic units advising students before enrollment, as new students, as continuing students, at the thesis/dissertation stage, and as graduating students. Responsibilities of the graduate students and recommendations for problem resolution are also addressed.

Interface Between Strategic Planning and Evaluations of Academic Programs
In order to better integrate schoolsí strategic planning and budgeting efforts with the regular evaluation of academic programs, the responsibility for managing academic program reviews has been transferred from the Office of the Provost and the Subcommittee for the Evaluation of Academic Programs to the deanís office of each school.   The Subcommittee for the Evaluation of Academic Programs prepared the new Guidelines for Conducting Evaluations of Academic Programs, which were then approved by the Provost and circulated to the schools.
Postdoctoral Fellows
The Task Force on Postdoctoral Fellows, chaired by Ian Reynolds, documented information on the role of postdocs at the University of Pittsburgh and offered recommendations. Based on the work of the task force, UCGS recommends the following action items: (1) identify who post-docs are via more accurate employee coding;  (2) determine what benefits and employment practices should be and then include in appointment letters;  (3) compose a policy statement similar to the TA/TF Policy Statement; (4) extend thanks to the task force for its report, with a request that the action items be carried out as much as possible and that UCGS be kept informed of this work.

Revision of Regulation Regarding Special Status Students
The Graduate Procedures Committee presented a revised definition of "special status" admission as described in Regulations Governing Graduate Study, which was approved by UCGS with one modification.  The revised version permits all schools to allow qualified students to use credits earned on special status to be transferred toward subsequent degree programs, rather than restricting this to students in professional schools. Schools may specify the maximum number of credits for which an individual may enroll while in this status. The revised statement now appears in the on-line version of Regulations Governing Graduate Study.

Timing of Financial Aid Offers
The University is a signatory of the Council of Graduate Schools' resolution regarding the timing of offers of financial aid to graduate students. A member of Council proposed that the University no longer be a signatory because the resolution  makes it difficult for graduate units to offer all their aid without knowing how many students will accept and decline offers on April 15.

Several Council members pointed to the usefulness of the April 15 deadline in their work in recruiting and retaining quality graduate students. The general consensus was that there was more to lose by ignoring the resolution than there was in keeping it and that therefore the University should maintain its signatory status. Any violations to the policy should be sent to the attention of UCGS.

World Wide Web As Resource
In Councilís annual discussion of the value of the Web as a recruitment tool for graduate students, several Council members noted the importance of keeping graphics to a minimum to maximize download speed; pages should be kept simple and should avoid animation. Concerns included the need to keep information current: too many outdated links and too much outdated information are online. Units putting up Web pages should be sure to get permission from members of the University community before putting their names or pictures online.

Council was asked to discuss what should be considered or who should be involved when approved courses (that is, courses already in the system) are offered as Web courses rather than in their more traditional format.  This was occasioned by courses planned by the School of Education to be offered in the spring of 1999.

Council members agreed that schools should monitor and evaluate courses offered only on the Web, first to ensure they are comparable to courses offered in traditional formats and secondly to enable faculty to learn from the experience of others. Information about which courses are taught only on the Web and how they are evaluated should be available centrally.

UCGS Committee Activities

The Graduate Procedures Committee, chaired by Louis Pingel, reviewed several proposals prior to their submission to UCGS.  The committee considered changes to Regulations Governing Graduate Study at the University of Pittsburgh to modify the circumstances permitted to grant special status.

The Subcommittee for Evaluation of Academic Programs, chaired by Elizabeth Baranger, completed four reviews (English, History of Art and Architecture, Administration and Policy Studies, Music). It prepared draft guidelines for the new process to evaluate academic programs; these guidelines were subsequently adopted by the Provost.

The Graduate Student Affairs Committee, chaired by Steve Hirtle, reviewed, through representative members and additional graduate students, the health insurance policy offered to graduate students with eligible academic appointments and recommended that the University move to UPMC Health Plan as the provider.

Completed Evaluations of Academic Programs

Graduate Programs in the Department of Administration and Policy Studies
The evaluation of the graduate programs in the Department of Administration and Policy Studies in the School of Education was conducted between January and September 1998. The recommendations made by the Subcommittee for Evaluation of Academic Programs were approved on  October 20, 1998 and sent to the Provost. The SEAP recommended that the department prioritize a coherent plan for a departmental mission or strategic vision; that the department address faculty attrition through recruitment consistent with a broader strategic vision and focus on research, publication, and scholarship; that communication be improved within the department across program lines and between directors, faculty Ė especially junior members, and students; that APS focus on the opportunity to build on the strengths identified by the internal and external review teams; and that the high ratio of doctoral students to faculty should be addressed to include increased mentoring and faculty scholarship. The SEAP recommended that the department be asked to submit an interim report in one year, identifying activities taken to address issues raised by the internal and external review teams. External consultants should be secured to assist in the preparation of an action plan, with another review of APS completed in six years.

Department of English
The evaluation of the academic programs of the Department of English in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences was conducted between March and December 1998. On February 16, 1999, the recommendations made by the Subcommittee for the Evaluation of Academic Programs were approved by UCGS, and then submitted to the Provost. Both the Internal and External Review Committees as well as the SEAP commended the department for its strong program. Council affirmed the internal and external review team recommendations to facilitate communication in the department community, elevate Film Studies, make more visible the composition programís approaches, offer unencumbered fellowships to attract the best graduate students, share the writing-requirement burden with other FAS departments, fill vacant faculty positions, combine some part-time faculty positions into full-time non-tenure-stream positions, and review the departmentís academic programs again at the next regularly scheduled interval. Council stressed that the department should develop methods to facilitate communication of information between faculty (both full- and part-time), students, and administrators to ensure that the goals of the department are both clearly articulated and implemented.

Department of History of Art and Architecture
The evaluation of the academic programs of the Department of History of Art and Architecture in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences was conducted between February and October 1998. The recommendations made by the Subcommittee for Evaluation of Academic Programs were approved on November 17, 1998 and submitted to the Provost. The SEAP recommendations were  (1) to continue to take seriously the reports of the internal and external review committees, (2) to find fellowship support for doctoral students in order to reduce the studentsí teaching responsibilities, (3) that the University plan to address the departmentís critical space needs, and (4) that the department be reviewed again at the next regularly scheduled interval.

Department of Music
The evaluation of the academic programs of the Department of Music in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences was conducted through 1998. The recommendations made by the Subcommittee for Evaluation of Academic Programs were approved on  January 12, 1999 and submitted to the Provost. SEAP recommends that the department and the dean of FAS continue to work together to attain the goals of the academic programs in the Department of Music, that the department and FAS should explore University-level support for staffing of student performance groups, that a planning process be initiated to move the department to more acceptable space, and that the academic programs be evaluated again at the next regularly scheduled interval.


Review of Proposals

Certificate for West European Studies
Approved on September 22, 1998. Approved by Provost on October 28, 1998. The University Center for International Studies proposed a graduate certificate in West European Studies; Council approved the proposal with an increase to 15 in the minimum credits requirement to meet University guidelines, and with the attending requirement that these additional credits are taken outside the student's department.

Name Change of Graduate Programs in School of Medicine
Approved unanimously October 20, 1998. Approved by Provost on January 28, 1999. The School of Medicine proposed adding the word "molecular" to the names of its Cell Biology & Physiology and its Pharmacology programs to better reflect the focus of the work there. There was some discussion about the potential for over-limiting the department's scope and about the rapidity of the change (given that one of the programs' current names is less than a year old). The faculty of the school support the name change, however, as does the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences Graduate Council.

Master of Occupational Therapy
Approved  January 12, 1999. Pending submission to Board of Trustees. The change from an undergraduate program to a graduate program reflects changes in the profession and the expanding knowledge base in the discipline. The change to a professional masterís degree in occupational therapy will assure that the University of Pittsburgh remains in the forefront of occupational therapy education.

UCGS voted to approve the proposal pending emendation of the proposal to include a statement that advising of the graduate students will be in keeping with the guidelines prepared by UCGS on good academic advising.

Elimination of Graduate Programs in Education
Approved March 30, 1999. Approved by the Provost April 20, 1999.  As part of its planning process, the School of Education recommends that some graduate programs be eliminated. Students were individually informed of the phase-out plans for their programs, and the school is working on arrangements so that accredited programs planned for elimination will have accreditation for five more years so that students can graduate from an accredited program.

Course work and faculty will be available to students so that they can complete their programs in a reasonable period of time (i.e. within the statute of limitations for that degree). Inactive students will be readmitted only if courses are available..

UCGS moved and approved (with 2 abstentions) the school's plans for processing the elimination of the programs contingent on continued strong commitment from the dean for making available to current students those resources necessary for completion of the programs within the statute of limitations.

Proposal for Awarding University Honors to LLM Graduates
While graduate students do not receive University Honors upon graduation, undergraduate and first-professional students can receive such honors. The School of Lawís LLM program has requested a waiver of this policy so that it can award honors, based on class rank, to its graduates. The Graduate Procedures Committee of UCGS confirmed the policy that QPA-based honors are not appropriate for graduate degree recipients. To the question of whether the LLM program should be given an exception and allowed to grant honors, the vote of Council was 7 for making an exception and 8 opposed.

Proposal for the Establishment of a Master of Studies in Law
Approved March 30, 1999. Pending submission to the Board of Trustees. The School of Law proposed the establishment of a Master of Studies in Law program. This graduate degree would have as its purpose the enhancement of qualifications of non-law professionals; graduates would not be qualified to practice law.

UCGS moved to approve the proposal and recommend it to the Provost by a vote of 11 for, 2 against, and 3 abstentions.

Joint Operation of Doctoral Program in the Neurosciences
Reviewed May 11, 1999. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the School of Medicine proposed joint operation of the doctoral programs in the neurosciences. Students will apply to the program and be admitted to FAS or School of Medicine by research interests or randomly; the numbers in each school will be roughly equal. Students will be granted a degree in the school of their dissertation advisor. No new degree is required; Council reviewed the proposal for comments and information.

Cooperative Certificate Program in Social and Organizational Networks
Council approved, contingent on approval from the CMU provost, May 11, 1999. This cooperative certificate was proposed through the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in cooperation with Carnegie Mellon. It would formalize an informal current cooperative program.

Proposal for Joint Programs Leading to JD & MA and MD & MA in the Bioethics Program
Approved May 11, 1999. JD/MA approved by Provost May 18, 1999; MD/MA approved October 8, 1999. Last year, the MA track in Medical Ethics in the graduate program in History and Philosophy of Science was replaced by an Interdisciplinary Master of Arts program in Bioethics. A joint JD/MA and joint MD/MA had been operating within this previous program as approved programs; the Faculty of Arts and Sciences proposed that these joint programs continue, with the new MA in Bioethics replacing the track in the MA program in the History and Philosophy of Science.

Documents Circulated to the University Community

Report on 1997-98 Activities, University Council on Graduate Study, University of Pittsburgh.

Elements of Good Academic Advising, University Council on Graduate Study, University of Pittsburgh

Graduate Faculty Membership Roster, Fall, 1997, Office of the Provost, University of Pittsburgh.

Regulations Governing Graduate Study at the University of Pittsburgh, University Council on Graduate Study, University of Pittsburgh.

Finding the Graduate Program That's Right for You, Office of the Provost, University of Pittsburgh.

Policy Statement for Graduate Student Researchers, Office of the Provost, University of Pittsburgh.

Policy Statement for Teaching Assistants, Teaching Fellows, and Graduate Student Assistants, Office of the Provost, University of Pittsburgh.

Choosing A Dissertation Advisor, Office of the Provost, University of Pittsburgh.

Style and Form Manual, Office of the Provost, University of Pittsburgh.

1998-99 UCGS Standing Committees

Graduate Procedures: Chair, Lou Pingel
Evaluation of Academic Programs: Chair, Elizabeth Baranger
Graduate Student Affairs: Chair, Steve Hirtle

1998-99 UCGS Ad hoc Committees

Task Force on Postdoctoral Fellows: Chair, Ian Reynolds
Ad hoc Committee on the AAU Committee on Graduate Education Report: Chair, Peter Karsten

1998-99 UCGS Members

Jacob Birnberg, Katz Graduate School of Business
Robert Devaty, FAS Natural Sciences
Kathleen DeWalt, FAS At-Large
Sabine Hake, FAS Humanities
Tina Hines, School of Nursing
Stephen Hirtle,  School of Information Sciences
John Ismail,  School of Dental Medicine
Rainer Johnsen, FAS At-Large
Peter Karsten, FAS Social Sciences
Wynne Korr,  School of Social Work
Margaret Mahoney, School of Law
David Miller, GSPIA
Ronald Neufeld, School of Engineering
Lou Pingel,  School of Education
Evelyn Rawski, Interdisciplinary
Ian Reynolds,  School of Medicine
G. Gordon Spice, School of Education
John Stephens, Graduate and Professional Student Association
Roslyn Stone, Graduate School of Public Health
Regis Vollmer, School of Pharmacy
Valerie Watzlaf,  School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Barbara Repasi, Acting University Registrar
Kit Ayars, Office of the Provost