University Council on Graduate Study
 Report on 1999-2000 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@pitt.edu.


Issues Addressed In 1999-2000

Revision of Regulations Governing Graduate Study
The Graduate Procedures Committee (GPC) recommended and Council approved a revised statement regarding the MA comprehensive exam. The approved sentence reads: “When a program substitutes an equivalent requirement for the comprehensive examination, the department should notify the University Council on Graduate Study and describe the substitution.” In conjunction with this revision, Council asked to see an overview of how programs are implementing the current MA/MS comprehensive requirements.

GPC recommended and Council approved that the Regulations statement on masters coursework be revised to read: “At least four courses (12 credits) or one-half the master’s degree program, whichever is greater, must be at the graduate level (the 2000 or 3000 series) and must be completed with at least an average grade of B (3.00).”

GPC recommended and Council approved that the following statement on students’ status be added to Regulations in an appropriate place: “A student on provisional or special status or on probation is not eligible to take the PhD preliminary evaluation, to take the MA/MS or PhD comprehensive examination, or to be graduated.”

GPC recommended and Council approved that the following statement be added to the section on doctoral comprehensive exams: “A student who is unable to complete all degree requirements within a five-year period after passing the comprehensive examination may be re-examined at the discretion of the department or school.”

GPC recommended that, as per University procedures, researchers be reminded in Regulations of the need for approval by the University Institutional Review Board for research involving human subjects. On the recommendation of GPC, Council voted unanimously to add the following statement to the “Overview of Prospectus Meeting” section (page 39) of Regulations Governing: “If the research proposed in the overview or prospectus involves human subjects, that proposed research must be approved by the University Institutional Review Board (IRB) before it may be carried out.”

Clarification of Regulation on Minimum TOEFL Scores
In response to concerns regarding inconsistencies in schools’ admission practices for students whose English language proficiency may be marginal, Council discussed enforcing uniformly a minimum TOEFL score of 550 for admission; this minimum standard would ensure that students do not struggle unnecessarily and would allow education to take place at the appropriate graduate level.

With overwhelming support from a majority of deans, Council voted to revise Regulations Governing Graduate Study to make it clear that a TOEFL score below 550 (or 213 on the computer test) means that the student cannot be admitted to graduate study under any status (special, provisional, or full).

Revision of TA/TF/GSA Policy Statement
The Student Affairs Committee recommended that the TA/TF/GSA Policy Statement be modified to indicate that a “department may, during the year, transfer a student, after consultation with the student and for good cause, from a teaching assignment to another appointment as a Graduate Student Researcher or to another appropriate assignment that provides for essentially equal financial benefits and professional responsibilities.” While this revision passed with a divided vote of Council, it was further edited at the Provost’s Office level. The statement now reads: “a department may, during the year, transfer a student, after consultation with the student, from a teaching assignment to another appointment as a Graduate Student Researcher or to another appropriate assignment that provides for essentially equal financial benefits and professional responsibilities.”

The Student Affairs Committee also recommended and Council approved that in the definition of TA/TF appointments, it should be stated explicitly that TA/TFs are graduate students with “full graduate admission status.”

Elements of Good Academic Advising
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. The Student Affairs Subcommittee evaluated schools’ responses to the call for documents outlining good academic advising for their students and recommended follow-up action.

Certificate Programs
Currently almost all certificate programs offered at the graduate level are called “Certificate of Advanced Study.”  In addition, several are called “Master’s Level Certificate” and three are called “Doctoral Level Certificate.”  Vice Provost Baranger proposed names that might be better descriptors of the programs.  However, Council was reluctant to support such a change.  It would present confusion for students in the program and for those maintaining historical records.  New definitions were not sufficiently improved to warrant making a change.  There seemed to be no agreement among universities on appropriate names, though there was agreement that the certificate marketplace is growing, as is the need for procedures and guidelines. The matter was referred to the Graduate Procedures Committee for further study.

Online Applications
Council noted the value of the Web as a recruitment and admissions tool for graduate students and discussed the importance of developing online applications. Schools interested in reviewing vendors of online application systems met periodically; seven graduate schools contracted with LamTech to develop online applications for their schools by the fall of 2000.

Increased Application Fee
In order to address the need for a single application fee on online applications, almost all graduate schools increased the application fee for domestic students from $30 to $40.  Council reviewed this as an information item.

Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Upon hearing a report on the status of electronic dissertations and theses at other institutions, Council decided that the University needs to begin considering a time frame for implementation of some means to accept electronic dissertations and a mechanism for addressing issues arising. Institutions now accepting or requiring electronic dissertations include Virginia Tech, West Virginia University, University of Georgia, University of Iowa, and others. A working group or task force will be formed to begin work on this project during the fall of 2000.

Report of the Director of the John P. Murtha Center
Council received the 1998-99 report of the Director of the John P. and Joyce Murtha Center for Continuing Education and Professional Development at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

Health Insurance Program for Supported Students
The University moved its insurance program for supported graduate students from a Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield program to one provided by UPMC Health Plan. Council stayed informed of the reasons for the move, of the difficulties encountered during the transition, and of any problems arising during the course of the academic year.



 
UCGS Committee Activities

The Graduate Procedures Committee, chaired by Louis Pingel, considered and made recommendations on a variety of issues concerning Regulations Governing Graduate Study at the University of Pittsburgh, issues which arose as the shared section of the new Graduate and Professional Bulletin was being developed.  The committee considered proposals for an early admissions program and for awarding transfer credit for undergraduate courses and recommended a set of guidelines for off-campus graduate degree programs.

The Student Affairs Committee, chaired by Stephen Hirtle, evaluated graduate programs’ academic advising documents and recommended actions to address deficiencies. It reviewed and recommended revision of the TA/TF/GSA Policy Statement sections on termination of appointment and on admission status.



Review of Proposals

Transfer of Child Development and Child Care Program to School of Education
Approved September 21, 1999. Approved by Provost January 19, 2000.

Reorganization of the Master of Public Administration Program
Approved October 19, 1999. Approved by Provost November 15, 1999. The proposal replaces the current major with separate majors in Urban and Regional Affairs, Public and Nonprofit Management, and Policy Research and Analysis, thus enabling a clear delineation of academic programs.  It also introduces seven minors, to enable students to indicate on their transcripts the options they have pursued.

Certificate Programs in Law
Reviewed March 21, 2000. Approved by Provost May 8, 2000. The School of Law proposed new first-professional certificate programs in Environmental Law, Science, and Policy; International and Comparative Law; and Civil Litigation. These programs are similar to the recently approved certificate in Health Law: students concentrate electives in a particular area of the law in order to earn the certificate.

Five-Year BS/MS in Computer Science
Approved May 9, 2000. Approved by Provost August 30, 2000.  The BS/MS proposal would allow exceptionally able students, identified in their freshman year, to enter the graduate program at the end of their junior year. The student would then graduate with both a BS and an MS after a total of 5 years of study. The program is intended to help counteract the shortage of computer scientists with graduate degrees, as well as to provide research and teaching opportunities for students.

New Majors in GSPIA: Global Political Economy; Security and Intelligence Studies
Approved May 9, 2000. Approved by Provost June 6, 2000. The Graduate School of Public and International Affairs proposed two new majors leading to the MPIA degree. The majors in Global Political Economy and Security and Intelligence Studies would take the place of the existing International Affairs major, thus strengthening the degree program by moving students away from a generic major and toward majors that more clearly identify and address the specific scholarly work of their discipline.

Masters and Certificate Programs in Clinical Research
Approved May 9, 2000.  Approved by Provost June 1, 2000. The overall educational goals of the programs as proposed by the School of Medicine are to train individuals to become knowledgeable about the conduct of clinical research and to become competitive in seeking research support for clinical studies.  The programs will be open to students with a doctorate in any one of the health sciences and will be taught by faculty in various schools in the health sciences.

Joint Degree Program in GSPH/GSPIA
Approved May 9, 2000. Approved by Provost June 7, 2000. This proposal establishes a joint degree program leading to an MPH degree in the Graduate School of Public Health, with a major in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, and to either a Master of Public Administration or a Master of Public and International Affairs in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. The program will highlight the University’s ability to educate students interested in health issues in less economically developed societies. It is expected to attract students who want to add public health to their public administration training, as well as students interested in health issues in developing countries.



Documents Circulated to the University Community

Report on 1998-99 Activities, University Council on Graduate Study, University of Pittsburgh.

Elements of Good Academic Advising, University Council on Graduate Study, University of Pittsburgh
http://www.pitt.edu/~graduate/advising.html

Graduate Faculty Membership Roster, Fall, 1999, Office of the Provost, University of Pittsburgh. http://www.ba.pitt.edu/irweb/gradfac/homepg.htm

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

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

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

Choosing A Dissertation Advisor, Office of the Provost, University of Pittsburgh.
http://www.pitt.edu/~graduate/advisor.html

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



1999-2000 UCGS Standing Committees

Graduate Procedures: Chair, Louis Pingel
Graduate Student Affairs: Chair, Steve Hirtle



1999-2000 UCGS Members

Jacob Birnberg, Katz Graduate School of Business
Ray Burdett, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Luis Chaparro, School of Engineering
Allisha Chapman, GPSA/School of Law
Nancy Condee, Interdisciplinary
Judy Erlen, School of Nursing
Thomas Fararo, FAS Social Sciences
Joseph Grabowski, FAS At-Large
Sabine Hake, FAS Humanities
Richard Henker, School of Nursing
Stephen Hirtle,  School of Information Sciences
Stephanie Hoogendoorn, GPSA/FAS
Steve Husted, FAS At-Large
John Ismail,  School of Dental Medicine
Margaret Mahoney, School of Law
David Miller, GSPIA
Ronald Neufeld, School of Engineering
Stephen Phillips, School of Medicine
Lou Pingel,  School of Education
Esther Sales, School of Social Work
G. Gordon Spice, School of Education
John Stephens, Graduate and Professional Student Association
Roslyn Stone, Graduate School of Public Health
David Turnshek, FAS Natural Sciences
Regis Vollmer, School of Pharmacy
 
 

Observers:
Barbara Repasi Heron, Senior Associate Registrar
Kit Ayars, Assistant to the Provost