Thesis Research Approval Memo

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TO: Deans and Department Heads


FROM: Anne Mayhew


DATE: October 24, 2001


The Graduate Council has adopted new Bylaws and Procedures for the Credentials Committee of the Council.These Bylaws and Procedures, which are attached to this memo, describe the ways in which approval to direct doctoral research will be granted.†† As the Graduate Catalog specifies only that the Council shall approve those who direct such research, and as the Council has now approved the attached set of procedures, they will be put in place immediately.Those faculty members who are participating in Cumulative Review this academic year, and who wish new or continued approval to direct dissertations, should follow the new guidelines for submitting material.


The goals of the revision have been three: (1) to recognize legitimate disciplinary differences; (2) to streamline the process of approval; (3) to maintain university-wide standards of expectation about the quality of supervision provided doctoral candidates.


At UT and elsewhere, new and probationary faculty members in the sciences and in engineering are expected to be ready to supervise doctoral research when they are hired. They are hired after having completed post-doctoral training and with the expectation that they will almost immediately build a research team of doctoral students.It is inappropriate to deny these faculty members the right to supervise doctoral research.In the humanities and social sciences, where post-doctoral research appointments are uncommon, and where scholarly activity is usually not done in teams, supervision of doctoral research typically begins much later in a faculty memberís career.††† The Bylaws and Procedures recognize these disciplinary differences by allowing probationary faculty to supervise doctoral work if the academic department so wishes.


The process of approval has been streamlined in three ways.For probationary faculty members all that will be required will be the filing of a letter with the Credentials Committee of the Graduate Council that documents departmental faculty and head approval.For those faculty members reviewed for promotion and tenure according to standard University procedure, satisfactory tenure and promotion reviews will also result in approval to direct doctoral research.For all others, review will take place in the same year as Cumulative Post-tenure Review.Although a vita (along with a list of theses and dissertations supervised and a letter from the department head) will have to be submitted to both the Cumulative Review committee and to the Credentials Committee, by having the two reviews occur in the same year, work for faculty and departments should be minimized.No special forms will be required for review by the Credentials Committee.


As noted in the Bylaws and Processes, the primary criterion to be used in review will be evidence of continued scholarly and creative activity.†† The consensus of the Graduate Council is that those faculty who supervise doctoral research should continue such activity and that the University has a responsibility to verify that a high standard is maintained across all units.It should be noted that faculty members who are not involved in oversight of doctoral research need not submit a request for approval to the Credentials Committee; this step is not a necessary part of Cumulative Post-tenure Review.


There are a number of transition issues that need to be addressed.To implement the new policies, a central data base showing date of hire on tenure-track, date of tenure and promotion to associate professorship, date of promotion to professorship, and dates of cumulative review will be used.From this database a list of those approved to direct doctoral research will be generated and used in the process of approval of committees.†† Copies of departmental lists will be sent to each academic department.†† During the several years that it will take to fully implement the new policies, the following guidelines will be used:


1) Those who have been granted unlimited approval to direct dissertations will retain this approval.


2) Those whose approval (whether 3-year, 5-year, or 10-year) will expire before the next scheduled date of promotion or post-tenure review will have approval extended until that next review date.


3) Those who have been tenured within the last five years, and who have not submitted an application for approval to direct dissertations will have automatic approval that will extend until the date of their next review, whether post-tenure or for promotion.


4) Where anomalies arise, they will be handled quickly and with the goal of serving the interests of the affected student and faculty.


The Credentials Committee and the Graduate Council have worked long to develop a policy that will serve the University without creating unnecessary work for faculty and staff.I hope that you will approve the results.If you have suggestions for clarifications or further streamlining, please pass them on.




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