Graduate Studies

Graduate Council Minutes - December 3, 2012

3:00 p.m., Horrabin Hall 60/QC Campus 114

Members Present: L. Kilmer, B. Locke (Chair), K. McClure, J. McQuillan, A. Mossman (Vice Chair), J. Myers, W. Polley, T. Walker

Guests Present: John Drea, Russ Morgan, Magdelyn Hammond Helwig, Richard Carter

Ex-officio: N. Parsons

Others Present: A. Schulz


A. Academic Integrity Incident Reports Filed in the School of Graduate Studies, November 2012

Dr. Parsons reported that there were two academic integrity incident reports filed in the School of Graduate Studies in November and both were resolved at the instructor level.


A. Magdelyn Hammond Helwig, Assistant Professor, English and Journalism

Motion: To approve the request. (Kilmer/McClure) MOTION CARRIED 7 YES – 0 NO – 0 AB


A. GPA Calculation for Integrated Programs

Dr. Parsons presented a proposal from the Graduate School recommending a change in procedure for the GPA calculation for integrated programs. The current procedure calculates the GPA using straight letter grades and all retakes are counted. The proposed procedure will take the GPA from the WIU transcript without any recalculations unless credit has been transferred in by another school. Dr. Locke questioned if this was a change in policy or a change in procedure. Dr. Parsons clarified that it is a change in procedure because it is a change in how the GPA is calculated and not a change in the admissions requirements. Dr. Drea noted that this would take care of the original concerns of some students not making the GPA cutoff because of the difference in calculations.

Motion: To accept proposed change in procedure. (Mossman/Myers) MOTION CARRIED 7 YES – 0 NO – 0 AB


A. General Studies Master’s Degree Program

Dr. Carter was in attendance to present the information to the Council. Dr. Carter began by providing some background information. The Bachelor of General Studies has been around since the 1970s. Based on feedback from student surveys in the ‘90s, it was recommended to offer a Master’s degree. The proposal was brought to the Council back then. A package was created but the stopping point was which academic department or college would oversee the degree. The original package was given to the College of Arts and Sciences. This was used to create the Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences degree. This degree is not serving the students that originally requested a Master’s of Professional Studies. The proposed degree would be offered completely online and would potentially be offered through the School of Distance Learning. Dr. McQuillan questioned if it was a good idea to offer this type of degree. Dr. Carter noted that students would have to meet the standards set by the Council. Dr. McClure asked what the reasons were that students felt the MLAS was not meeting their needs. Dr. Carter responded that the degree is not available completely online and that it only offers courses in the College of Arts and Sciences disciplines. The proposed degree would require students to create a path towards a specific target that would have to be approved by a committee before the student begins classes. Dr. Kilmer questioned if a feasibility study had been done yet. Dr. Carter responded that a new one would need to be done because too much time had passed since the last one.

Professor Myers asked if new courses would need to be created or would existing ones be used. Who would be in charge of creating the new courses and will there be enough students to fill them? Dr. Carter responded that existing courses would be used and no new courses would be developed. Dr. Kilmer inquired as to the current inventory of graduate courses in each department. Dr. Carter stated that he did not know at this time but it would be investigated should the proposed degree move forward. Dr. Locke asked for clarification regarding using existing courses for the proposed degree. Would majors and Professional Studies students be in the same courses? Also, would committees for the Professional Studies students include departmental representation? Dr. Carter responded yes to both questions. Dr. Polley noted that courses are created with students in the program in mind. Prerequisites for these courses are used to assess the background of the student. Dr. Mossman added that she advises MLAS students and in some cases, these students do not have the background that other students in the course have which affects all students in the course. She has concerns with these students being able to succeed in these courses.

Dr. McClure posed the question, “I’m a student that wants a Master’s, what is my reasoning for wanting a general degree?” Dr. Carter responded that this degree is not really general; it is more focused but done completely at a distance. It will be designed for individuals that are not following the traditional model of starting graduate school immediately after obtaining a Bachelor’s degree. Professor Myers stated that she likes the concept because students that are from different programs and backgrounds can offer a different perspective to the course and it could be a great benefit. It is a way to help prepare students for jobs that don’t exist yet. She also recommended that each department designate which courses could be used for the degree. Dr. Polley asked if the different colleges had been approached yet because it would impact all on campus in different ways. There could be accreditation issues with some programs. Dr. Carter responded that the conversations have not taken place yet and would be done on an individual basis before this possibly moves forward. The proposed degree is not being created as competition to existing programs but as an addition to the University.

Dr. McClure noted that not all departments offer online courses. There needs to be an instructor education component included because the practices and procedures of conducting an online course vary greatly from a physical classroom. Dr. Locke stated that he would be interested to see how the committees for each individual student are created and the parameters. He is also interested in how the academic rigor is going to be maintained. Dr. Parsons asked what kind of exit options would there be for the students. The struggles with the MLAS program are having enough members on their committees. Dr. Carter responded that there hasn’t been an in-depth discussion yet but the three major exit options are listed. Dr. Parsons questioned if there were examples from other universities as far as how many research-based exit options there were and if this will be discussed in the feasibility study. Dr. Morgan noted that the most difficult part of the MLAS is the forming of committees. Faculty do not feel obligated to serve on the committees because the students are not in a designated department.

Dr. Mossman stated that the advising portion of the program cannot be underestimated because some students will want to come in and not designate their focus path. There is the possibility of attracting students looking for an “easy” degree. Dr. Walker would be interested in seeing some other models of similar programs at other institutions. Dr. Carter noted that Master of Professional Studies degrees seem to be on the rise. Dr. McClure stated that it is important to listen to the students and take into consideration their feedback but graduate coursework is a much higher intensity level than they might realize. Dr. Carter thanked the Council and will take all discussion into consideration when making a decision.


Dr. McClure announced that due to a scheduling conflict she will be unable to fulfill her duties on the Council for the Spring 2013 semester. Dr. Locke thanked her for her service to the Council. The Graduate School will contact her replacement and have them in place by the January meeting.

Meeting adjourned: 3:45 p.m.