Graduate Studies Committee Meeting

October 3, 2012
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM


Present: Ruscher, Dawers, Gaver, Ha, Jayawickramarajah (for Fink), Molix, Perdew, Robinson, Schrader, Tasker, Taylor, and Borrego

Absent: None

Committee Chair

Jeff Tasker was nominated and accepted the nomination.

Graduate Recruiting Strategies

Committee members discussed the types of recruiting each department participates in, including annual meetings, website recruiting, and booths at fairs. It was noted that the object of the recruiting is to disperse information on program content, departmental research areas, and quality of life in New Orleans. One department is in the process of creating an electronic interest form that they would be willing to share. S. Borrego mentioned that through Connect we have an online interest page that students can sign up through to get information on their specific area of interest, which will also guide them to the application website. One department stated that they pay $300 to three students to staff a booth at an event. A couple departments talked about the need for a table banner, and BME mentioned that they had recently purchased one for that use. Committee members agreed that they would like help from the Dean’s office with recruiting materials and publicity/graphic design. J. Ruscher agreed that there is no centralized recruiting strategy that works for all departments, and she will discuss resources publications and resources with Dean Altiero and the SSE office staff. Minority recruiting strategies and events were also mentioned (SACNAS, McNair Scholars Program, GEM). J.Ruscher and Dean Altiero are attending HENAAC next week; HENAAC will be in New Orleans 2013 and 2014.

Leave of Absence

J. Ruscher stated that there is an undergraduate policy for leave of absence (2 semester maximum), but nothing for graduate programs so the School is free to set its own rules. A proposed form and guidelines for leave of absence requests were presented to Committee members for their comments. Department/Program staff members involved in Graduate Studies had also reviewed the form, and it was suggested that a line be added for the advisor’s signature. Any official leave of absence granted by the Dean’s office will not count toward a student’s tenure clock. It was suggested that wording should be added to clause #2 regarding readmission, should a student extend his/her leave beyond one year. It was noted that there is always room for exceptions to the rule. Committee members also asked that clause #5 be changed to state that the student’s support upon return to the program must be renegotiated with the advisor and department. The Psychology department uses wording used in one of its internal forms, and J. Ruscher will look it up and use it to update clause #5. It was proposed that the final approval for the leave of absence be left to the Department Chair and Associate Dean for Grad Programs. The form should be amended so that the student and advisor will sign as having read and understood the policies and procedures while the Chair and Dean will sign to give their approval of the proposed leave of absence.

“Safety Net” Funds for Student Emergency Medical

Currently, there is no emergency/safety net fund for students while on a leave of absence. J. Ruscher has been exploring sustainable revenue streams for this need. It was mentioned that Cornell takes .3 percent of IDC towards a safety net fund. It was asked whether a small deduction could be worked into IDC or fringe rates, and J. Ruscher will explore this possibility.

Graduate News

J. Ruscher asked that departments send any news items that can be posted on the Graduate News website. Stories are important for graduate recruiting, alumni relations, and outreach to external constituencies. A recent story was published highlighting the NSF fellowship recipients, which was written with the help of the students.

SSE Writing Courses

Last year SSE offered two writing courses in the spring semester: ESL writing for international students and a scientific writing course of native English speakers. The ESL writing course has elicited positive feedback; SSE plans to continue this course in the spring. The Committee discussed whether a writing course for domestic students should focus on grant-writing. C. Taylor mentioned that EEB currently offers a course every other year that is a peer-review course that focuses on grant writing; it typically enrolls 9-10 students. With respect to ethics, J.Ruscher pointed to the CITI training modules available on the asvpr website. Committee members also discussed the need for a workshop that covers ethics, data management, and grantsmanship. There are several departments that offer a workshop or course that covers some/all of this material, although topics and degrees of importance differ across departments. J. Ruscher is contacting each department to learn what each offers in this area.

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