May 2010 Archives

May 28, 2010

Dear Colleagues:

When Provost Sullivan issued his approval and comments on the graduate education restructuring work groups' final report on May 21, he directed me to begin the implementation process in collaboration with you. My staff and I have been working over the past weeks to lay the groundwork to expedite implementation of those changes outlined in the report.

This is the first outline of the work that we will undertake together across the University in the coming months. It is critical that we move forward immediately, beginning this summer. As a first step, I have written to college deans. I am now writing to all directors of graduate studies, department heads, DGS assistants, and graduate student leadership to inform you of pending changes and solicit your assistance as we accomplish the work of restructuring.

Our common goal is to further enhance the quality of graduate education and the graduate student experience across the University of Minnesota. The changes recommended by the work groups and approved by the Provost are designed to move primary authority and responsibility for graduate programs to the colleges, to digitize and streamline student processes, and to improve the University's ability to respond to the rapid development of knowledge and changing market forces in higher education.

The final report contains a total of 32 recommendations--20 from the Academic Issues Work Group, and 12 from the Student Administrative Processes Work Group. Many of the recommendations relate to one another. Please see the implementation of work group recommendations summary status report.

Actions and requests related to particular items will be communicated to our graduate education stakeholders in an ongoing process. A communications implementation team is forming to keep us all regularly informed in an open and transparent manner. Your input will be sought regularly and will be essential to our success. Updates will be posted and archived here,

As we continue with the restructuring process, I encourage your input, feedback, and any questions you may have. We seek your ideas. We will be sure to consult with you and other stakeholders as new processes, procedures, and structures are developed to accommodate the changes in graduate education. My staff and I look forward to working with you in the months ahead and to serve you in our role as convener, facilitator, and collaborator. Please do not hesitate to contact us.


Henning Schroeder
Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education


This message was emailed to Twin Cities, Duluth, and Rochester campus directors of graduate studies (DGSs) and DGS assistants, department heads and chairs, center directors, and leadership of the Council of Graduate Students (COGS) and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA), following a message to college deans and associate deans for graduate education.

Implementation of work group recommendations

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Graduate education update
May 28, 2010

Vice provost and dean of graduate education Henning Schroeder announced the beginning of the implementation process for the recommendations made by the two work groups on graduate education. The final report contains a total of 32 recommendations--20 from the Academic Issues Work Group, and 12 from the Student Administrative Processes Work Group. Many of the recommendations relate to one another. Here is a summary status report.

Note: A shorter version of this list was prepared to accompany an update for graduate students, sent in June.

Implementation of recommendations on student administrative processes

The 12 work group recommendations in this area are described on pp. 58-100 of the report and implementation is already underway.

Recommendations: (1) recruitment, (2) admissions, (3) student funding support processes, (4) orientation, (5) academic record information, (6) academic advising/progress to degree, (7) student services, (8) graduation, (9) career advising and placement, (10) alumni relations, (11) record retention, and (12) data management.

The Graduate School staff is collaborating with Academic Support Resources (ASR) to identify more than 100 business processes for analysis. Some processes are expected to move to ASR, some to the colleges, some will be located in other administrative homes, and some will be eliminated. An update about these 12 recommendations was posted on May 13. Implementation groups are forming now based on business processes. Implementation of the first phase of the changes and upgrades to PeopleSoft and the online admission system, ApplyYourself, will begin in summer 2010 to accommodate students admitted for fall 2011; current students would be moved to the new records structure beginning spring/summer 2011.

Contact: Frank Blalark, Academic Support Resources,

Implementation of recommendations on academic issues

The report's 20 recommendations in this area are described on pp. 9-57. A summary of current implementation plans is described here briefly for each of the recommendations.

Recommendation 1: Policies and standards for the addition of new graduate programs and substantive changes to existing programs; responsibility for accreditation

The new procedures for review and approval of all new and changed graduate programs are now available for your use. Graduate programs and their collegiate units will continue to be responsible for program accreditation, in consultation with the Provost's office and the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, as appropriate.

Recommendation 2: Proposals for new and changed graduate programs

Primary responsibility for initiating and developing new programs as well as changing, merging, or discontinuing existing programs now resides within the collegiate units. Upon request, the Graduate School will have a consultative role and will continue to be available to answer questions and assist faculty who are developing proposals. We will also continue to collaborate with faculty and collegiate deans in developing new interdisciplinary programs, or modifying existing ones, to ensure that such programs are innovative and sustainable. As dean of graduate education, I will also be actively involved with the new Graduate Education Council (see specifics below) in reviewing proposals for new and changed Ph.D. programs and major changes to established programs. The Graduate School will work closely with the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost to facilitate the timely review of these proposals.

Recommendation 3: Student administrative processes and cost-pool charges

In collaboration with Academic Support Resources (ASR), work is currently underway to analyze all student processes and build a new student records infrastructure. See also an outline of planned changes. The first changes will be made for students who apply for fall 2011 admission. Subsequent changes have an anticipated start date of fall 2011. Until new processes are in place, currently enrolled and newly admitted graduate students will continue to follow existing processes and procedures. In regard to the cost-pool charges, the Graduate School, the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, and the Office of Budget and Finance are working together in evaluating several options. The new cost-pool formula and the phase-in timeline are expected to be determined by spring 2011.

Recommendation 4: Graduate Education Council

This summer, I will extend invitations to faculty members representing a broad base of fields of study and several graduate students to serve on the provisional Graduate Education Council. The first meeting will be convened at the beginning of fall semester 2010. Details of the election process for the permanent council's seats will be one of the first items for the provisional team to act upon.

Recommendation 5: Faculty and director-of-graduate-studies appointment

The Graduate School will no longer maintain six categories of graduate faculty. Each collegiate unit will be responsible for determining its own policy and system for monitoring its faculty members' graduate-education responsibilities. An institutional database containing names of all faculty with graduate-education responsibilities will be maintained as a service to all faculty, staff, and students. By June 30, 2010, the current online Graduate School Faculty Appointment form will become a simple online data-collection form, without categories. Because of this change, responsibility for verifying faculty eligibility to serve in various roles (e.g. as a graduate student's adviser or as an outside committee member) will move to the colleges and Graduate School staff will no longer verify or approve eligibility. Most current student-service processes will stay in place during the transition year and Graduate School staff will be available for consultation as needed. Also, the names of Directors of Graduate Studies will be maintained in a central database, and a DGS list will be published on the Graduate School website as a service to faculty, staff, and students. College deans should expect to receive information shortly about how to provide DGS information.

Recommendation 6: Graduate and Professional Education Assembly

I will invite all members of the University of Minnesota community who are interested in graduate education issues to attend meetings of the new Graduate and Professional Education Assembly, which will meet periodically during the academic year. The first meeting will be convened during fall semester 2010.

Recommendation 7: Policy review and approval

With the help of the chair of the Senate Committee on Educational Policy (SCEP), a group representing faculty, students, and staff from the Graduate School, Academic Support Resources, and the Provost's Office has been formed and charged with the task of reviewing all existing policies related to graduate education. The team will recommend policy changes necessary to reflect the changes outlined in the work groups' final report. As the policies are revised, the final approved documents will be added to the University-wide Policy Library for easy access and transparency. This project is anticipated to take up to 18 months to complete.

Recommendation 8: Interdisciplinary programs

I will continue to engage in conversations with the collegiate deans, program administrators, faculty, and students to identify current obstacles in the establishment and maintenance of interdisciplinary programs. We will actively seek input from all affected units in developing templates for memoranda of agreement (MOAs) and memoranda of understanding (MOUs) that will be used to address the key issues and challenges for new interdisciplinary programs.

Recommendation 9: Program and center review

I will collaborate with the Graduate Education Council, collegiate deans, department heads, program directors, students, and other stakeholders in the development of a new program- and center-review process and relevant metrics with the aim of improving the overall quality of our graduate programs and centers. The Graduate and Professional Education Assembly will be a platform and forum for discussions of these important issues, gaining expert insights and experience toward evaluating and improving graduate education through a process that involves the active participation of faculty and students.

Recommendation 10: Program and curriculum approval system

The Graduate School staff is working closely with Academic Support Resources (ASR) and the Office of Information Technology (OIT) to modify PCAS (Program and Curriculum Approval System) and ECAS (Electronic Course Authorization System) to accommodate the restructuring of graduate education. We anticipate that the modifications will require 12 to 18 months to complete. Effective July 1, 2010, responsibility for reviewing and approving 8xxx-level courses--and select 5xxx-level courses in several interdisciplinary graduate programs--will be relocated to the colleges. Exempt from this immediate change are the pre-thesis credit (8666), thesis credit (8777 and 8888), and "full-time equivalent" (8333 and 8444) registrations, which will remain unchanged until a revised policy is approved by the Senate Committee on Educational Policy. Until ECAS can be modified, we are asking the colleges to notify the Graduate School at of new and changed courses you have approved; we will then submit the courses in ECAS without further review. This change should not affect the majority of colleges, as most colleges already approve 8xxx-level courses in ECAS before review at the Graduate School level. For these colleges, the change will speed the course-approval process. For colleges that do not currently review 8xxx-level courses, we will assist you, as appropriate, in developing review processes and criteria to accommodate this change.

Recommendations 11, 12,and 13: Graduate student advising

We will collaborate with collegiate deans and department heads to identify and implement initiatives for effective graduate student advising. This summer I will extend invitations to convene a group of faculty, graduate students, and representatives from the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Student Conflict Resolution Center to discuss and compile best practices and guidelines on effective advising. We will gather information and communicate with our peer institutions to share ideas and strategies on improving graduate advising.

Recommendations 14, 15, and 16: Funding and cost pool

We are working closely with the Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost and the Office of Budget and Finance to evaluate several options to address the financing issues and to determine a new cost-pool formula that will be implemented for FY12.

Recommendations 17, 18, 19, and 20: Metrics

The Graduate School will work closely with the collegiate deans, faculty, students, the Office of Planning and Analysis, and other field experts in developing relevant core metrics, with modifications for the different fields of study. We will take an active role in collecting meaningful and valuable data that will be used to measure the success and quality of our graduate programs. These data will also guide us in mapping the path for the future of graduate education for the University of Minnesota.


If you have questions, comments, or feedback, please contact us.
Student administrative processes: Frank Blalark, Academic Support Resources,
Student services issues: Karen Starry,
Program-related issues: Vicki Field,
Admission-related issues: Dean Tsantir,
All other requests: Dean's Office, 612-625-2809, or Henning Schroeder,

Provost accepts work-group recommendations

In the Provost's Academic Update dated May 20, he accepted and endorsed the Final Recommendations on Graduate Education, directing the vice provost and dean of graduate education to begin a careful, deliberative, and transparent process of implementation.

Systems review and analysis

While the Provost is reviewing the final recommendations from the graduate education work groups, he has asked Academic Support Resources (ASR) to work with Graduate School staff to lay the groundwork for changes to student administrative processes.

Purpose and scope of the preliminary work

Whatever shape the final changes may take, ASR's goal is to help facilitate changes to student administrative processes and systems so changes can be implemented efficiently and expeditiously.

ASR has begun working with staff in the Graduate School, colleges, and departments to more fully understand current processes related to student services and the administration of academic programs. ASR's role in this process will be to assist in the transformation of business processes and to facilitate the development or modification of automated systems.

The scope of ASR's work at this point is limited to processes and systems affected by the Student Administrative Processes Work Group recommendations.

How to stay up-to-date on changes to student administrative processes

ASR and the Graduate School will regularly post updates to the graduate education transformation webpage. Please check back frequently.

ASR would also like to share and gather information with colleges, departments, or administrative units that will be affected by these changes to student services and systems. If you have not yet been contacted by ASR but would like to be involved, please contact Frank Blalark.

Current task: Mapping a new academic data structure

Background: In the current academic data structure, Graduate School students and academic programs are all tied to one "college code" in the system: the Graduate School's college code. This centralized structure makes it difficult for individual colleges to access data about their specific graduate programs and students for reporting and other purposes.

Problem to solve: If colleges are ultimately going to take on additional accountability for graduate education, and if automated systems are to be built to accommodate a college-centered administrative structure, data must be structured and easily accessible by college.

Working solution: ASR would create a new structure for academic data by creating a separate graduate program code for each collegiate unit. Academic program and student data would be distributed accordingly.

Benefits: The new data structure will allow colleges to more easily access and have local control over many elements of their graduate program and student data. Ultimately, this data structure should allow colleges to more easily access the data they need to make informed decisions.

Considerations: This change will have significant ramifications on existing reports (especially including all Graduate School UM Reports) and all other systems. All of these will need to be analyzed, and many will need to be modified. The process for handling interdisciplinary program data within this new structure also needs to be determined.

Timeline: The new structure would need to be created by July 2010 for fall 2011 applicants only. Current students would be moved into the new data structure during spring/summer 2011.

Future projects: Automating graduate education processes

Read more about additional enterprise-wide system modifications and developments that were recommended by the Student Administrative Processes Work Group.

Future projects: Automating graduate education processes

The list of enterprise-wide system modifications and developments listed in the final draft of the graduate education work-group report is listed below, with some minor modifications.

Academic Support Resources (ASR) is currently gathering preliminary information and feedback related to these potential enterprise-wide developments, so that they can be of benefit to as many academic programs and students as possible. Future users of these systems (colleges, departments, and graduate students) will have opportunities to give feedback on these systems along the way.

Note: The development of these resources will ultimately depend on the Provost's recommendations, on available resources, and on further analysis.

Apply Yourself (AY)

Apply Yourself is the admission/recruiting software currently being used by the Graduate Admissions Office and some colleges. Future modifications will allow academic programs to customize the application in order to streamline the process for students and eliminate duplication. Several upgrades are scheduled to be implemented in summer 2010.

Academic Progress Audit System (APAS)

The APAS system monitors the academic progress of a student's degree program. Required courses and course options for a degree can be programmed into APAS. If course selection is student specific, exceptions to APAS must be entered student by student. Though labor intensive, use of APAS is likely less time-intensive than the current practice of manual review of degree programs against transcripts, and will increase accuracy and eliminate the need for duplicate review.

Graduation Planner

Graduation Planner is a planning tool for undergraduate students. This tool could be used in conjunction with APAS to create a degree progress tool for graduate students and advisers.

Program and Curriculum Approval System (PCAS)

This tool allows program (curriculum) data to be entered into a central location that captures information needed for PeopleSoft, catalog production, APAS, and Graduation Planner. It creates a workflow process so all areas of the University are notified and appropriate action can be taken. This tool allows for changes, discontinuation, and re-activation of degree programs.

Electronic Course Authorization System (ECAS)

ECAS allows for entry of new courses for approval. This system is used to update a course as well. Graduate School colleges and campuses currently use this system.

Electronic Course Scheduling (ECS)

ECS allows department and college schedulers to enter or update class schedule information for a specific term. This information is used to produce the Class Schedule.


WorkflowGen is a software package that was purchased by the Graduate School. WorkflowGen offers a full Web-based tool to design and monitor workflows automating many paper tasks and optimizing human to human processes. This tool could assist with many of the forms that may be required after a business process redesign occurs.


ImageNow is a document storage and retrieval system. This document imaging and management tool allows the user to capture, organize, and manage data. ImageNow allows one to scan, file, retrieve, print, fax, or distribute electronic objects. It allows indexed images to be retrieved simultaneously by different users on campus.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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