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Graduate Assembly Minutes

Graduate Student Assembly
March 26, 2008: 12:15-2:15
Location: Nicholson 135

Welcome

Bernadette Longo and Greg Schneider welcomed the students and faculty in attendance and handed out the agenda.

Faculty Reports

Department Chair

Bernadette reported on the results of the voting for the Department Chair for the next three years. Don Ross, Laura Gurak, and Bernadette were on the ballot, which asked faculty to vote by ranking the candidates by first choice, second, and third. Don and Laura tied for first place, but Don had more second place choices. His name was put forward to the CLA Dean who will make the final decision. Discussion took place. Concerns regarding Don’s commitment to our graduate programs were
discussed.

New Faculty Hires

Bernadette informed the group that the department is working on several new faculty hire possibilities. CLA recently announced that they were committed to hiring six new faculty that will be labeled as interdisciplinary hires. Four of these spots have been filled, but the faculty will be applying for the remaining two. One will be under a visual and digital literacy heading and the other under a health and society description. In addition, the department is seeking to replace faculty who are moving to another department (3) and to replace Vickie Mikelonois’ spot. There will at least 1 or 2 search committees and one graduate student will serve on each committee.

Graduate Curriculum

Bernadette discussed the graduate curriculum. She assured everyone that nothing in the current curriculum is changing at this point. The graduate programs operate through the Graduate School and a change in departments (name or otherwise) need not change that graduate program. She said discussion has taken place supporting the idea of adding more graduate faculty from other departments. This might support more research opportunities for our students. There will naturally be more research opportunities in the new Writing Studies department in the areas of composition and writing pedagogy.


Faculty Leaving

Art Walzer reported on faculty who are leaving the department . He and Alan Gross will go to Communication Studies and Dan Philippon will go to English. He assured everyone that he will continue to advise and be on the committees, as can Alan and Dan because they will continue to be RSTC graduate faculty. The change will be that as of fall semester they will not be able to vote in the governance of the program.

Exam changes

John reported on the work of the committee to change graduate student exams. The committee consisted of John, Bernadette, Greg, and Liz. T. The committee consisted of John, Bernadette, Greg, and Liz. They looked at other programs both within and outside the U and came up with the following suggestions:

  • Three sets of book lists; one for Rhetorical Theory; one for S&TC; and one in the student’s outside area. All should be approximately 25 books long.
  • The written exams will all be open-book, and 24 hours long. The exams will be offered at three set times per year. Mary suggested that an additional set time be added to include the oral exam as well.
  • There will be one “window? each semester, including the summer.

John will submit these proposals to the departmental faculty. Once approved, they can be implemented.

Students may stay with the plan they came in under or opt for the new structure.

Undergraduate Curriculum

Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch gave an update on the undergraduate degree. She said that the undergraduate committee has decided to stay with the B.S. degree for now and to bring the number of required credits in line with most of the other CLA majors (mid-30’s). There will be some changes in the required and elective courses. In the near future the committee will work on a new B.A. in Writing Studies which will probably begin as a minor and, over time, develop into a full B.A., depending on the response and other changes in the department.

First Year Writing (FYW)

Tom Reynolds reported on the First Year Writing Program. He thanked everyone for their hard work and cooperation. He also discussed training opportunities for beginning and returning graduate students. The FYW program employs students in our department as well as English, American Studies, and C&I.

Graduate Proposals

Teachers Teaching Teachers (TTT) and Cooperatives

Matt Williams and Paul Anheier shared their thoughts on ways to work together to support the graduate student’s teaching efforts. A lengthy discussion took place. Concerns were expressed about overlapping events, and the time needed to attend these meetings. It was determined that Paul and Matt should keep moving forward on organizing this.

Representation

Marnie Henderson talked about the need to include as many students as possible in the governance and committee work of the department. She stressed the need for fair, open committee member selection for the graduate students. She distributed a handout that summarized the opportunities for graduate student representation. The question of a grievance committee was raised. John said that the committee has not been called to work on an issue this school year, but if it is a graduate student will be asked to participate.

Kim Schultz raised the question about tech fees. Do we still get them from CLA like we did from CFANS? She will look into it.

Matt Kaplan talked about the various committees he’s on and noted that he would be happy to share information about the things he’s learning as well as to relay graduate student’s concerns to the committees.

Kim raised the issue of the failings of the Thin Client computer system in 201. Because the server goes down frequently they are not meeting the needs of the graduate students who use them. Previous complaints to the departmental administration has not resulted in any action. John said that the students need to let the faculty know about this.

P&A courses

Erin expressed frustration at the variety of courses that P& A instructors are teaching for the department, when an advanced graduate student might be qualified and eager to teach some of these courses. At this time, the process is not clear and it should be. Erin, Liz, and Kim Thomas will draft a proposal for the April meeting.

Curriculum and Discipline

Kenny talked about the need to revise the graduate curriculum to better prepare students for the job market and the field. This includes developing a basic tech comm course akin to the history of rhetoric courses. Curriculum decisions will be on the agenda in April and revisions will begin in earnest in the fall.

Parlor

Greg introduced changes to the "Parlor". Scheduling and content were discussed. John Logie mentioned that the most important step would be to clear a time where no one would teach. Greg will pursue this with Barb Jensen. A preference for biweekly over weekly meetings was raised discussed. This item will be on the agenda for the April meeting.

Other Business

The Assembly discussed the chair decision. No action will be taken at this time.

Comments

Hi all,

Sorry to be distanced from this all at the moment. The dissertation writing is keeping me busy. While I might not be there in person, I just wanted to say that I support the initiatives you all are taking. It is exciting to hear about the various proposed changes and to see the building blocks for a strong graduate student community being put in place. Nice work!
:),
Salma

"Kim Schultz raised the question about tech fees. Do we still get them from CLA like we did from CFANS? She will look into it."

We don't actually get your money like we used to, but if you want to buy something, you can apply for a grant from CLA. Shannon D. and I are working on some for a new laptop for St. Paul, and a video camera and projector.

http://infotechfees.cla.umn.edu/faculty/smallgrantproposal.php