At the foundation of supporting and promoting graduate student success is ensuring quality graduate programs. In addition to the critical role that the individual graduate program faculty play in the delivery of our high-quality programs, the University’s Graduate Council plays a critical governance role in the oversight, strategic direction, and advocacy for graduate education. As a committee of the Academic Senate, the charge of Graduate Council includes:
- Promote and support graduate education within the University and community;
- Formulate, review, and recommend to the Academic Senate graduate curricular policy;
- Review and evaluate proposals for graduate and post baccalaureate credential programs, graduate academic certificate programs, and courses of study based on approved criteria and procedures;
- Evaluate 7-year reviews of graduate and post baccalaureate credential programs, graduate academic certificate programs, and recommend continuation without modification, continuation with specified modifications, or discontinuance;
- Review plans for academic development of new graduate and post baccalaureate credential programs in both on- and off-campus/distance learning programs;
- Submit an annual report to the general faculty at the Spring General Faculty meeting;
- Maintain close liaison with the University Educational Policies Committee and consult with this body on policy issues of mutual interest, such as scheduling, grading, calendar preparation, registration, and resources; and
- Establish criteria, standards, and procedures for all aspects of graduate course offerings. Membership of the Graduate Council is broad and inclusive, ensuring all critical perspectives are considered in discussions and decisions regarding graduate education at Stanislaus State.
Voting members include the faculty chair and chair-elect, a representative from every department that has a master’s or doctoral program and from every college that has a college-wide graduate program, a student representative appointed by ASI, and the Executive Secretary (AVP for Academic Affairs). Non-voting ex-officio members include: the Speaker of the Faculty, the Dean of the Library, the Director of Research and Sponsored Programs, the four College Deans, and the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Non-voting standing guests include the Director of Enrollment Services and Registrar, the Faculty Fellow for Assessment, the Director of the Center for Excellence in Graduate Education, and the Curriculum Specialist (who serves as Recording Secretary).
The Graduate Council assures quality through several processes: course and program proposal review; review of individual program APRs; monitoring of administration and implementation of policies related to the graduate writing course requirement, the graduate research course requirement, and the culminating experience requirement; and assessment of graduate education at the institutional level, using program-level review as the foundation, as described in the Graduate Education Assessment Plan. As an advocate, Graduate Council developed an updated Graduate Education Action Plan approved by Academic Senate April 17, 2018 and the President May 17, 2018, facilitates its implementation, and monitors the University’s progress on the plan.
As part of Graduate Council’s advocacy for graduate education, the council intitiated the Academic Senate’s Resolution for the Reinstitution of a Graduate Dean, which was approved by Senate on September 12, 2017, and by President Junn on October 5, 2017, contingent upon availability of baseline budget for salary and operations. Since the elimination of a graduate dean in 2005, graduate education was left with no singular position responsible for support of and advocacy for graduate education. Since 2005, graduate student enrollment has declined, from 20.4% of the University’s enrollment to 12.3%, arguably, in part because of the absence of a graduate dean with responsibilities for the coordination of outreach and recruitment in response to a strategic enrollment plan for graduate education. The Resolution for the Reinstatement of a Graduate Dean outlined the following key responsibilities that a graduate dean would undertake: facilitating strategic planning for graduate education; representing the Graduate School as an equal member at Dean’s Council meetings, and in Strategic Planning meetings, thereby bringing visibility to graduate education that is not currently present in those forums; supporting marketing and recruitment of graduate programs; facilitating and supporting assessment of graduate education, including the oversight and support of graduate-level program reviews; assisting the campus in developing faculty capacity to engage in research and scholarly activity, which is important for all faculty but especially for those who teach at the graduate level; working with University Advancement and external agencies to solicit funding in support of graduate education; acting as an advocate within the larger community to encourage dialog and build support for the value of graduate education in the Central Valley; representing Stanislaus State at regional and national meetings of graduate deans; and, overall, fostering a campus-wide graduate culture.
Steps have been taken by the University to respond to concerns expressed by Graduate Council since the elimination of the graduate dean position in 2005, and since the distribution and integration of the Graduate School Office personnel into undergraduate counterpart offices (Enrollment Services and Admissions and Outreach Services) in 2011, which resulted in the elimination the Graduate School Office, leaving CEGE, with its specific focus, as the central office for graduate education. Some of the key steps taken by the University include the following. The University’s new strategic plan calls for an increase in graduate student enrollment to represent approximately 20%, with strategies identified to support that target. The Enrollment Management Committee, led by the Vice President for Strategic Planning, Enrollment Management, and Innovation, has included graduate education enrollment as a focus, and is ensuring that the Committee consider graduate education in the development of an overall strategic enrollment management plan, and that Graduate Council and other key stakeholders are engaged in that planning. Provost Greer has helped ensure continued funding for the CEGE Director position, and the AVP for Academic Affairs position was assigned specific graduate education responsibilities in the recruitment of that position in Summer 2016, which have evolved to meet needs as possible, as is outlined below in the description of graduate education infrastructure.