Graduate Council Agenda

GraduateStudies Council Meeting

Tuesday, 20 September 2011 – 12:30-1:30 p.m. – TaylorHall 327 


1.     ENVS 500-levelprogramming proposal (by John Hausdoerfferand Jonathan Coop)

Background: At issue is whether the grad number of 510 is appropriate forsubmission by departments for individual graduate courses unconnected toapproved graduate programs. At present, the Grad Studies Council has onlyapproved requests for this number for the summer Teacher’s Institute and forthe MFA-related graduate CRWR 510 course for the summer writing conference,Writing the Rockies, but that was connected to the larger MFA program proposal.

Should 597 serve as a moreappropriate number?

Perhaps a bigger issue: Have we hadsufficient campus discussion to even approve use of 500-level proposals forsuch individual courses for credit at Western?

Here’s what the policy documentsays, approved by Faculty Senate, 2-11-2008:

“500-599Level Graduate Courses: Courses at this level are non-degree oriented andtypically intended for continuing education and professional development.Course formats include workshops and seminars and are primarilypractice-based.”


I’ve asked Allen Stork to join us for thisdiscussion as well, since he was part of the formative discussions by the GradStudies Council, serving as chair, during the initial two years of theCouncil’s meetings. Jess Young will sit on as well to advise and comment.(Layne Nelson, also affected, can’t make this date.)

2.     We need to reviewproposed language for what constitutes an earned graduate credit, to beadded to policy. Here’s what Academic Policies is considering for undergradcredit:


FederalCredit Hour Definition: Acredit hour is an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes andverified by evidence of student achievement that is aninstitutionally-established equivalency that reasonably approximates not lessthan: (1) one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum oftwo hours of out-of-class student work each week for approximately fifteenweeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks forone quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a differentamount of time; or (2) at least an equivalent amount of work as required inparagraph (1) of this definition for other activities as established by aninstitution, including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, andother academic work leading toward the award of credit hours.


3.     AdmissionPolicies for Grad Students.The MFA program feels that current grad admission policies need rewording togive a fair hearing to applicants who do not match the current criteria.

CurrentMFA admissions criteria currently calls for a 3.0 cum GPA for the applicant’sbachelor’s degree. But the demographic of students is largely old enough thatthis GPA is often a snapshot that is 20, 30, or even 40 years old – notrepresentative of the applicant at this stage in life. A survey of comparablelow-residency MFA programs reveal almost all do not state a GPA at all.

TheWestern MFA requests that the stipulated GPA be removed, together with reducingthe number of letters from three to two.

Currentgeneral grad policy language is as follows:

Studentsseeking admission to any of Western’s master’s programs must formally apply foradmission with the Associate Vice President for Graduate Studies. Formaladmission to a graduate degree program is based on multiple sources of evidenceand collegial, professional judgment of program faculty about the likelihood ofsuccess. The faculty members of each program consider undergraduate grade-pointaverage (minimum 2.750 on a 4.000 scale), graduate grade-point average (minimum3.000 on a 4.000 scale), prior professional experience, standardizedexaminations, portfolios, interviews, letters of reference, and otherindicators. Specific admission requirements, including application deadlines,vary depending upon the department offering the graduate degree.

Here is thecurrent criteria for Western MFA Admissions:

· an official transcript of the bachelor's degree, demonstratinga minimum GPA of 3.0 as well as  evidence of literary and/or filmstudies of at least four (4) undergraduate or graduate courses. Thebaccalaureate-granting institution must send the transcript directly tothe Western State College Extended Studies Graduate Office.

· 800 – 1,000-word personal statement describing writing experience andcommitment to writing. This statement should include the applicant's ownassessment justifying candidacy to Western's M.F.A. in Creative Writing for thechosen concentration;

· 20-30 page writing sample in the appropriate genre, double spaced andnumbered or properly formatted for the appropriate genre. The Poetryconcentration should include 20 pages of poetry and 10 pages of poetic analysisin prose;

· three letters of professional of recommendation from those capable ofassessing the applicant's preparation to succeed in low-residency M.F.A.program. All letters must be submitted on letter head, must be originals, lessthan a year old, and signed by the person giving the recommendation;

Such a policychange would begin with this Council but probably extend to a larger campusdiscussion...(?)

4.     Feedback requested on designationof graduate teachers for contracting (“lecturer” or “graduate teacher”)

Background: Outgoing VP of Academic Affairs, John Sowell, requested arecommendation from the Grad Studies Council on what we think is appropriate.In the interim, both designations  havebeen approved by the Board of Trustees for contracts, but we’ve been asked forinput on simplifying to only one of these terms.