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K-State Today

August 30, 2023

Graduate Council new membership and accomplishments

Submitted by Michael Young

The Graduate School welcomes the new graduate faculty members of the Graduate Council, as it is customary to do at the beginning of each academic year. The new members join the continuing members of the council to perform the duties of the Graduate Council, respectively to formulate, review and approve policies concerned with the conduct of graduate study at Kansas State University.

The new members of the Graduate Council are Adam Ahlers, horticulture and natural resources; Cydney Alexis, English; Marne Arthaud-Day, management; Susan Yelich Biniecki, educational leadership; Erika Geisbrecht, biochemistry and molecular biophysics; Shabina Kavimandan, curriculum and instruction; Behrooz Mirafzal, electrical and computer engineering; Mervi Pakaste, Art; Aleksey Sheshukov, biological and agricultural engineering; and Jonathan Ulmer, communications and agricultural education.

The Graduate School reflects on the work done last academic year that serves as the launch pad for the 2023-24 work of the Graduate Council.

During the 2022-2023 academic year, the Graduate Council approved eight new degree programs, 10 new certificates, 103 course changes, 28 curricular changes, 64 new courses and 60 graduate faculty memberships.

The Graduate Council is formed of four working committees. Each committee is approaching the mission of the council from a different area while trying to identify ways to streamline the governance process.

The Academic Affairs Committee made significant changes to streamline the governance process and its pace:

  • It released the first version of a proposal submission guidebook. This guidebook is a living document that includes templates, examples and checklists to minimize the likelihood of proposal returns due to shortcomings that can be easily identified in advance.
  • The committee proposals requiring minor modifications have a contingent approval process. This process is employed when the required edits are deemed sufficiently minor and can be addressed before consideration by the full council.
  • The committee released a new version of the graduate faculty nomination form along with guidance and a table to better educate department leaders regarding the types of graduate faculty membership and their associated variation in nomination procedures.

The Assessment and Review Committee launched two initiatives:

  • Proposals for new accelerated programs may choose to include the assessment plans for existing bachelor's and master's programs as the plan for the accelerated program.
  • A new program review process has been piloted with 13 graduate programs. This process is more data-informed and action-oriented and results in an outcome that prompts specific responses to evolving departmental metrics, both quantitative and qualitative. It is aligned with Academic Program Review and Revitalization, or APRR, and outside accreditation processes.

The Student Affairs Committee began a significant initiative examining graduate policies and procedures of peer institutions to serve as benchmarks for K-State's own policies. This work identified the need for clarity in transfer policies for graduate credit towards certificate programs, changes to the graduate course expiration timeline and the subsequent revalidation process, and credit transfer inconsistencies.

The Planning Committee leveraged the work of the Student Affairs Committee to update the Graduate Handbook where necessary. The committee also worked with the College of Education to incorporate changes that were necessary to include the Education Specialist degree into the handbook materials.

Finally, all four committee chairs continued to meet monthly with the dean of the graduate school and the Graduate School leadership team to ensure that their committees’ activities were well-coordinated and aligned with the needs of the graduate students and faculty.

In summary, the Graduate Council's work and initiatives adapted existing procedures, launched new programs and processes, and updated documentation to ensure that K-State provides high-quality graduate education that is responsive to the needs of students. The council's work demonstrates a commitment to continuously improve the graduate education experience and underscores K-State's leadership in this area.

For more information about the Graduate Council, a list of its members, and their meeting agendas and minutes, please visit the Graduate Council homepage. The Graduate School values their partnership and hopes that excellent faculty continue to volunteer for this critical service.