Southern Illinois University Graduate Council discusses enrollment numbers
The Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Graduate Council met Sept. 1 to discuss enrollment numbers.
Here are the meeting's minutes, as provided by the council:
2016 GRADUATE COUNCIL
September 1, 2016
Dean of Graduate School, Dr Lee called the meeting to order at 8:00 a.m. and handed over
to Professor Velasco, Chair of the Graduate Council.
Members Present: Sue Rimmer, Constantine Hatziadoniu, Norman Carver, Wesley Calvert,
Lahiri Sajal, Ras Michael Brown, Trish McCubbin, Dianah McGreehan, Sheena Hart, Justin
Simpson, Jonathan Howard, Johnathan Flowers, Zhao Wanli, Cynthia Sims, Cinzia Padovani,
Joseph Shapiro, Richard McKinnies, Julie Partridge, Kenneth Stikkers, Rachel Whaley,
Jennifer Smith, Ratna Sinha, Tomas Velasco, Howard Motyl, Clay Nielsen, Paula Roa, Buffy
Members Absent: Greg Rose, Cynthia Sims, Richard Bradley.
Proxies: Saran Donahoo for Cynthia Sims.
Ex-Officio Members Present: Brad Colwell, Yueh-Ting Lee, Meera Komarraju.
Ex-Officio Members Absent: Randy Dunn, Susan Ford, James Allen, James Garvey.
Proxies: Dave DiLalla for Susan Ford, Randy Burnside for James Allen.
Consideration of minutes
The minutes of the May meeting of the previous Graduate Council were passed without
The minutes of the May meeting of the current Graduate Council were passed with a friendly
amendment – J. Smith on page 1 of the minutes should have been R. Whaley.
Remarks – Interim Chancellor, Dr Colwell
Expressed gratitude to the SIU community for assisting students during Fall Move-In. He
stated that he had received letters from parents thanking the university for a positive
experience. He also noted that the New Student Convocation went well and that the
Chamber of Commerce and other local businesses were pleased. Dr Colwell also mentioned
that the SIU Day at the Du Quoin State Fair was a success, a point underscored by Dean
Meera Komarraju, who added that the event served many purposes and that people at the
fair asked for SIU brochures.
Dr Colwell also spoke about safety issues within the community. He commented that recent
tragic news about shootings and a fire reported in the local media do not involve the
University. He explained that the number of incidents that occur within the university is
small compared to other similar universities. However, the local media generally conflate
the university with the City of Carbondale and create hype. The news, he added, has
negatively impacted the University with at least two students withdrawing citing safety
concerns. Chancellor Colwell emphasized that, although SIU students are not involved in the
incidents, the University takes issues of safety seriously and that he has had meetings with
the City Manager and the Mayor to find solutions. The incidents, explained Dr Colwell,
impact the ongoing recruitment efforts for Fall 2017.
Dr Colwell also commented about enrollment numbers noting that the official numbers will
be released at a press conference on September 6. He also stated that the numbers are
unsurprisingly down and that steps have been taken to address the impact on the budget
and to aggressively recruit students.
Dr Colwell also reported about budget issues. He explained that the University received a
second stopgap appropriation that will be released to the university in installments over the
next months. The problem, he explained, is that the money is counted toward FY17. On the
books it looks like SIU has already been paid a half-year’s budget but, like all universities
except the University of Illinois, SIU paid the FY16 bills. Dr Colwell stressed that there are
no unpaid vendors for FY16 and that SIU’s books are clean. Money left over was carried
over into the current fiscal year. Dr Colwell was hopeful that the university may still get the
other 50% for the rest of this fiscal year, which means the university would only receive a
50% State allocation for this year. He undertook to continue to be transparent about
In addition, Dr Colwell reported that starting in January SIU will work to raise $75 million
through private donations. The fund-raising campaign will conclude during the 150th
Dr Colwell also announced that on September 21, he will be offering the State of the
University Address to lay out the various initiatives and goals.
W. Calvert asked about the private funding campaign, the target and what the money will
fund. Dr Colwell responded that the money will fund scholarships for students and other
student-related initiatives, including some faculty-related activities.
M. Komarraju added that the funding will predominantly benefit students in the form of
scholarships, internships, and travel assistance, whereas it will support things like travel for
Y. Lee commented that the Graduate School has also submitted a plan to raise
approximately $300,000 for student support in the form of fellowships and travel, as well as
to support diversity recruitment.
C. Padovani wanted to know about the availability of information regarding safety in
Carbondale and whether that information is communicated (to the media and parents). Dr
Colwell responded that SIU can only report Clery data, which is reported monthly and only
contains campus-related information.
R. Burnside commented that small market media report differently. In other small college
towns, the media are friendly toward the university and keep the university out of town
news, which is not the case in Carbondale, where SIU is tied to the town in media reports.
He also states that media have the numbers but do not use them in news reports. The
numbers tell a different story than the media reports.
Dr Colwell also added that he has met and continues to communicate with the Publisher of
B. Ellsworth suggested that SIU should consider providing information with statistics that
compare the University with similar universities. Dr Colwell explained that SIU has a number
of information packs that provide highlights about the campus and there is work underway
to produce a fact sheet for people to click on and get more information online.
S. Hart asked about the university’s relationship with the news stations. Dr Colwell
responded that SIU tries very hard to communicate and to be available for interviews but
news stations (e.g. News 3) still lead with negative stories.
D. DiLalla added that, although SIU tries very had to maintain good relations with the
media, the University can control only part of the relationship.
Remarks – Acting Provost, Dr Ford (Report presented by Dave DiLalla)
Reported that Fall enrollment will be down. He also stated that the downward trend will
impact SIU’s reports to the IBHE with respect to low-producing academic programs. He
thanked the Academic Program Prioritization Task Force on behalf of Interim Provost Ford
for its work. The Task Force is expected to share recommendations with Interim Provost
Ford later in September.
Dr DiLalla commented that the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) requires member
institutions to undertake a Quality Initiative in years seven and eight of the accreditation
cycle. SIU is in its seventh year of the accreditation cycle. He also explained that the
Provost has asked Dr Laurie Achenbach, Dean of the College of Science, to head a Quality
Task Force on Student Retention and Degree Completion, which will influence both the
undergraduate and graduate programs. The goal of the Task Force is to report to the HLC
after having gathered data on current initiatives for student recruitment and student
success including UCOL, University College, Education Advisory Board’s Student Success
Collaborative. Following this initial exercise, the Task Force will develop recommendations
on how the approaches are working in assisting students.
Finally, Dr DiLalla reported about ongoing searches for Deans. He stated that for the Library
Affairs Dean, the advertisement has been posted. Regarding the search for the Interim
Dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts (MCMA) he stated that there is
an internal search process underway. He added that searches for Interim Deans are rare
and that the search for the Interim Dean of MCMA is being conducted as guided by the
MCMA Operating Paper, which identifies the composition of the search committee.
K. Stikkers asked whether there is a way SIU can challenge the IBHE metrics since the
IBHE seems to focus primarily on numbers rather than all the efforts necessary to educate
students. Dr DiLalla responded that there has been a lot of push-back and the university will
continue to challenge the IBHE. R. Burnside added that the push-back is evident in the
Doctoral programs. He explained that the IBHE previously insisted on three graduates per
year. However, the number has been reduced to two graduates per year. He also mentioned
that there are other adjustments that the IBHE has made to the metrics following objections
by the university. Dr DiLalla also commented that the Academic Prioritization Program will
also have a say on what the university can do in order to support excellent programs.
T. Velasco asked what would happen to a program that does not fulfil the IBHE
requirements. Dr DiLalla explained that the university can attempt to make a case for an
exception. However, he added, the IBHE can also close down the program.
R. Burnside explained that the university has to send a report to the IBHE every year in
June to address why certain programs are not producing. SIU has been defending programs
and thus far the IBHE has accepted the explanations. He added that it is better to
proactively manage the process rather than wait for the IBHE to use the numbers as a
reason to close programs.
J. Smith commented that Dr Allen has, in the past, explained that once a program has
been flagged, the academic unit has 18 months to turn it around, which means that closing
the program is not immediate.
T. Velasco commented that the Office of the Associate Provost has already flagged
programs that are in trouble.
B. Colwell also added that the numbers are based on three-year rolling averages.
R. Whaley spoke about the importance of ensuring that the numbers are correct. Dr DiLalla
encouraged members of the Council to notify their Chairs if there are discrepancies in
M. Komarraju commented that members of the IBHE are appointed by the Governor and
are not necessarily from higher education, which means that they do not know much about
university priorities. She explained that the IBHE has two arms – one responsible for
regulation and the other responsible for advocacy. Dr Komarraju added that this past
summer, she represented the SIUC Faculty Senate, as the alternate rep to the Faculty
Advisory Council (FAC) to the IBHE. During the summer meeting of the FAC with the IBHE,
she met with some IBHE members and invited them to visit SIUC and to address the
Senate. Some of the IBHE members indicated interest in visiting SIUC. She suggested that
the Graduate Council should consider inviting the IBHE members for a more detailed
conversation about the University in order to strengthen relations.
C. Padovani asked about the relevance of the work of the Program Prioritization Task Force
if programs have already been flagged. Dr Velasco responded that the work of the Joint
Task Force on Program Prioritization is almost done and a final report should be ready by
mid-September. He also mentioned that there are two sets of criteria: the quantitative and
the qualitative. The quantitative criteria are going to be analyzed by the Institutional
Research Office and the qualitative criteria are going to be based on reports to be produced
by every department on campus. He added that the goal is to share the report with
N. Carver asked if the Graduate Council will have a chance to review the report since the
Chairperson had said the Report will be presented to the Provost by mid-September, which
is before the Council meets in October. He also added that his department was dissatisfied
with the report and had submitted a number of amendments, which were not considered by
the Chair of the Joint Task Force.
The issue of including concerns from the Council was discussed at length with Council
members talking about their concerns being excluded in the report. It emerged that
dissatisfaction about the report had prompted some Council members to arrange meetings
with the Provost. Dr Velasco undertook to share the issues raised when the Joint Task Force
meets the following week and propose that the Joint Task Force should first report to the
Faculty Senate and the Graduate Council before submitting the report to the Provost.
D. DiLalla clarified that the Provost has not set a mid-September deadline and that the
Provost will consider a wide variety of inputs rather than just the recommendations of the
Joint Task Force.
Remarks – Graduate School, Dean Lee
Reported that in June he visited several universities in China to recruit prospective graduate
students and will continue with recruitment efforts until the beginning of November.
Dr Lee also reported that there are approximately 3 130 graduate students, with 2 100
masters level students and 900 doctoral students. The total number (3 130) represents a
decrease of about 400 graduate students.
He also reported that the Contracts Office processed 2,000 contracts, which means students
will be paid on time. However, about 300 graduate students had some delays on their
paperwork and those will be paid during the supplementary payroll run on September 15.
He also stated that the tuition waiver has been posted.
Dr Lee also reported during the summer he worked with Drs Allen and Burnside, plus
Registrar Tamara Workman to develop and propose guidelines for accelerated
undergraduate and graduate entry programs. The aim is to enhance academic quality and
uniformity on campus. The proposal has been submitted to the Education Policies
Committee of the Graduate Council.
The Graduate School has sent a memo to Graduate Directors and Chairs communicating the
availability of funds to support 40 graduate students for research purposes, including travel
support. The Graduate School will also post information about the Willis Swartz Scholarship
Award to support graduate students who do research in Materials Technology.
He also reported that the Graduate School is establishing an external advisory board to
assist with enrollment, academic excellence, reconnect with alumni and increase external
resources to support graduate education. The advisory board will also help with fundraising
efforts for the graduate school. The graduate school has a goal to raise $300, 000.
The Fall issue of Graduate Saluki Stories has been published and focuses on graduate
research and discovery, pays tribute to the previous Graduate Council and welcomes the
new Council members. The next issue will focus on issues of academic excellence, diversity
Dr Lee also said that approximately 277 graduate students were cleared for the summer
graduation. Also, the Graduate School found about 615 applications with no decision.
R. Whaley commented that the orientation program for new graduate students conflicted
with the orientation organized by the Center for Teaching Excellence. Dr Lee responded that
the orientation was arranged by the New Programs Office and that he has spoken to the
offices to ensure better coordination in the future.
S. Lahiri suggested that the events be included in the university calendar.
Remarks – Associate Provost for Academic Programs, Dr Allen (Report presented
by Randy Burnside)
Encouraged council members who may have questions about the IBHE Low-Producing
Metrics to contact Dr Allen or him. He also reminded the Graduate Council that catalog
changes are due October 3, and that changes that come in after the deadline will not be
published in the 2017-2018 catalog. He also stated that syllabi are past due and should be
submitted promptly by faculty who did not submit by the deadline. He explained that the
syllabi function is part of recruitment since potential students look at what the university
offers when making decisions.
Dr Burnside also mentioned that the final exam policy will continue to be strictly enforced.
All assessment reports are due November 18, he said. He explained that, consistent with
the University cycle of program reviews, one center, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute
and two programs will undergo internal reviews. He explained there have been slight
modifications to program reviews and that only internal reviews will be done because of
budgetary issues and also because there are only three programs. Besides the Paul Simon
Public Policy Institute, two centers, only the Plant and Soil Science and Foreign Languages
and Literatures will undergo review.
S. Lahiri asked about digitizing the catalog and whether a digitized catalogue will mean
that deadlines will be flexible. Dr Burnside responded that in the future deadlines may be
flexible; adding that the catalog has not yet been digitized. Once digitized, changes can be
made on a rolling basis and acted upon more quickly.
S. Lahiri also wanted to know why the review cannot be skipped altogether. Dr Burnside
responded that there is value in going through program review; both for the programs and
the University. He explained that the University is required by the IBHE and the HLC to do
J. Smith asked Dr Burnside to explain the program review process and whether there is a
relationship between the internal program review and programs with low-producing metrics.
Dr Burnside explained that the review process will be the same except without external
Report – Council Chair, Professor Velasco
Started by introducing Chairpersons of Graduate Council Committees.
Regarding the Joint Task Force on Program Prioritization, Professor Velasco stated that his
intention is to ensure that the Report is given to members of the Council for examination as
part of the process. Although the protocol has not been worked out, the intention is for the
Council and the Senate to have a say to ensure that all members are happy about the
T. McCubbin asked about committee assignments. Professor Velasco responded that the
assignments have already been sent out via email.
Report – Deans Council, Dr Komarraju
Reported that the Deans lobbied the Provost to offer graduate assistantship contracts early
as part of an effort to recruit and keep graduate students. There are fewer assistantships
that were given and some colleges chose to prioritize TAs over RAs.
Over summer break, staff ranging from Associate Deans to Chancellor level went through
diversity training and to work through issues of inclusiveness, one of the issues raised by
Dr Komarraju also reported that Deans will encourage faculty to seek grants and other
alternate sources of funding so as to support graduate students and generate more
graduate assistantship. She mentioned that there are some departments that actively seek
graduate assistant opportunities from organizations in the community by placing graduate
students with certain agencies. The agency provides the stipend and the tuition waiver is
provided through the University.
Dr Komarraju encouraged Council members to share news from the Graduate Council with
their departments and colleges and to bring to the Council questions/issues that are
generated by departments and colleges.
Report – Faculty Senate, Professor Motyl
Reported that the Faculty Senate will send a letter of protest to the Governor about the
nomination of John Bambenek to the IBHE.
M. Komarraju commented that the Faculty Advisory Council has protested the nomination
to the Faculty-designated (Faculty Representative) seat on the IBHE made by the
Governor’s office and the response from the Governor’s office acknowledged the protest but
confirmed that the appointment stands.
GPSC Report, J. Flowers
Reported that the GPSC budget is down 20 percent but added that GPSC will continue to
provide funding for graduate student ,research awards ($1,000 each) and career
development awards ($150 for presenting at a conference and $75 if attending only). He
also clarified that the freeze on travel funding does not affect GPSC funding for student
He stated that GPSC is displeased with the conduct of the Academic Prioritization Program
Committee, were not given sufficient time to gather graduate student feedback. He
explained that the issue will be discussed further on September 6 after which a complete
report will be forwarded to the office of the Provost.
GPSC has taken over the approval and administration of graduate student RSOs. This is to
ease the burden of student involvement and to enable graduate student RSOs to operate
autonomously from the USG approval process. Previously, RSOs had to go through
Undergraduate Student Government for approval.
He reported that GPSC has concerns about the Diversity Council. The University has not
been as proactive as it could be. The recently adopted initiative fails to grasp the significant
issues raised by students of color and all underrepresented student groups.
J. Flowers mentioned that GPSC has four primary goals for the current academic year:
student affairs reform, student fees, State budget, and diversity.
GPSC has new offices still at the Student Center. J. Flowers also stated that GPSC will
continue its advocacy with regard to the budget.
J. Flowers also did a first reading of a Graduate Council Resolution on the Importance
of student involvement in Diversity Policy
W. Calvert asked J. Flowers to clarify how GPSC will know whether the Administration has
done the things stated in the resolution. J. Flowers responded that GPSC will know by
examining the composition of committees. If GPSC is not represented on a committee or a
council that has an impact on graduate students that will mean the Administration has not
done the things stated in the resolution. He also added that GPSC has not received letters
requesting participation in search committees for the MCMA and the Library Affairs Dean
C. Padovani commented that the MCMA faculty do not know about a search committee for
the Interim Dean position. Dr DiLalla explained that they are following the MCMA operating
paper, which specifies who should be included. The paper specifies that a graduate student
from MCMA be included but does not specify that a representative from GPSC should be
Dr DiLalla later corrected the comment noting that in addition to following the MCMA
operating paper the hiring office will invite representatives from the Faculty Association, NTT
Faculty Association and Graduate Assistants United consistent with the approach taken in
the 2012 search for an Interim Dean in MCMA.
J. Partridge asked whether GPSC would like to have a GPSC representative or whether an
inclusion of a graduate student on a search committee is sufficient. J. Flowers responded
that the preference is for a representative from GPSC but added that if there is graduate
student on the committee that would be acceptable to GPSC as long as the student is
reminded to communicate the ongoing process to GPSC. He endeavored to check the
D. DiLalla stated that he was under the impression that an invitation was sent to GPSC for
the Library search and undertook to check on what may have happened.
Dr DiLalla later corrected the error noting that an invitation to GPSC and USC to nominate
representatives to the search committee had not yet been sent out.
Nominations to Committees/Announcements – Council Vice Chair, Dr Partridge
? Search for Dean of Library Affairs name required by September 16.
? University Level Early Career faculty and Staff Excellence Award name required by
? Diversity Council is looking for a representative by September 29.
? Honorary Degree and Distinguished Service Award Committee requires a person to
serve a four-year term.
? University Joint Benefits Committee requires a person to serve until 2018.
Standing Committee Reports
New Programs Committee Report – Dr McKinnies
Reviewing three RMEs. No report.
Program Review Committee Report, Dr Rimmer
One program is being reviewed; The MA in Foreign Languages and Literatures. The
committee will be looking for someone to serve on that committee.
Research Committee Report, Dr Lahiri
Education Policies Committee Report, Dr Carver
At its next meeting the committee will discuss the final exam schedule and a new policy on
accelerated entry MS Programs.
The meeting was adjourned at 09:57.