MCS GSAC Meeting Minutes
January 23, 2001

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January 23, 2001

In Attendance:
Ayse Celil (Biological Sciences)
Arindam Chowdhury (Chemistry)
Karen Zaiger (Chemistry)
Kathryn Trapp (Mathematical Sciences)
Alex Bodarenko (Mathematical Sciences)
Abhijit Brahme (Physics)
Marc Fasnacht (Physics)
David Owen (MCS Dean's Office)
Katya Malkin (MCS Dean's Office)

1999 - 2000 GSAC Minutes Archive
October 16, 2000
September 25, 2000
May 5, 2000
April 12, 2000
March 22, 2000
March 1, 2000
February 9, 2000
January 13, 2000


David Owen welcomed everyone back from the winter break and announced that due to a heavy workload this semester, Heather Weitzel will not be participating in GSAC. David will check with Heather to see if she would like to return next fall or not. If so, GSAC will ask Heather to find a temporary member from Biological Sciences to replace her. If Heather does not plan to return, David will consult with the department head to find a new member.

A list of tentative meeting dates was distributed so that members could confirm their availability. The following dates were suggested:

Date   Time   Location  
Tuesday, February 13   11:00 - 12:30   TBA
Tuesday, March 6   11:00 - 12:30   DH 1322
Tuesday, April 3   11:00 - 12:30   DH 1322

Lunch will be provided for all meetings.

Most members have confirmed their availability for these dates and times. Those who have not should contact Katya Malkin at x8-3750 or


The general consensus was that the students enjoyed the social event and poster session. Everyone thought that it would be a good idea to plan another one for next year. Several suggestions were made to improve the event:

GSAC members will begin communicating to their departments about presenting posters sooner, so as to give students more time to prepare. The mathematical sciences and biological sciences departments had a lower turnout, perhaps due to the fact that chemistry and physics students present posters more regularly and may have been able to existing posters.

Having the event in February or March might also increase the turnout of both guests and presenters. This time of year tends to be less busy and students have less work earlier in the semester. Also, posters generated for events in the fall semester could be re-used or modified for this event.

Karen Zaiger wrote a brief article to submit to the Graduate Student Times describing the event. Unless comments or suggestions are submitted to David within the next several days, the article will be submitted next week and run in the next issue of the Graduate Student Times.

Katya will put together a final copy of the budget for the event, along with a flyer and Karen's article. This can be used to make an argument to the Acting Dean for supporting an annual GSAC social event and poster session.


David distributed an updated copy of the draft policy on ombudspersons in MCS, including several changes that he made (shown in capital letters).

Since some of the departments do not feel the need for such a person, the idea of having one college-level ombudsperson was raised. However, it was decided that students are less likely to go to someone whom they do not know with a problem. This would mean that typically, students form outside the ombudsperson's department would not be likely to make use of the service. Members also felt that an ombudsperson should be familiar with the dynamics of the department in order to be best able to assist students with complaints or problems.

Ayse suggested that the ombudsperson could also perform other functions within the departments, such as taking on some of the responsibilities of the department head. The department of biological sciences is using this type of system and has found that it works well.

Any changes to the draft document should be submitted to David Owen within the next few days. He will present the document to the department heads. It will then go to College Council and if approved, will be added to the MCS Faculty Handbook.


David distributed a copy of the list of areas of expectations that was compiled last semester. Suggestions for additional areas of expectation were tuition rates and percentage of students paid by stipend, number of entering graduate students vs. number who complete their degrees, and publication rates for faculty members.

A subcommittee was formed to narrow down the areas of expectation that GSAC will focus on. The subcommittee consists of one member from each department:

Ayse Celil - Biological Sciences
Karen Zaiger - Chemistry
Alex Bondarenko - Mathematical Sciences
Abhijit Brahme - Physics

The subcommittee will rate the areas of interest and select the five most important. The graduate student survey, distributed both departmentally and university-wide might also be helpful in determining which areas of expectation are important.

The subcommittee can then begin gathering data from their departments. Keeping a central database to house this information for MCS would help to make the process of generating statistics for incoming and prospective students much more efficient. Katya will check to see if database space, maintained by Computing Services, is available for this type of project.

David also distributed lists of comparable university departments to use for benchmarking and a sample of output from the National Research Council Survey web site. This site allows the user to select and weight criteria for a particular type of program and generate data for a number of universities that offer the program. The site is


The group will determine whether the career seminars that John Woolford discussed last semester would be beneficial to their departments. Katya will redistribute the information that John presented at the GSAC meeting on 10/16/00. Members should come to the next meeting prepared to discuss their department's interest.