2014 Fall Regular Meeting Minutes

As always, thanks to Dee for recording the minutes.  I appreciate the level of detail because it is very useful as an aide to remember past meetings while preparing for the next one.  We will not read these at the meeting. We covered a lot of ground at the least meeting and the committee is encouraged to read these in advance of the meeting, make a list, and come prepared with questions and comments.  If there are any additions or corrections to the minutes, please submit changes now in the comment form below, or come prepared with them at the meeting.  There will be opportunity at the meeting to discuss the minutes prior to approving them.

These minutes are for the meeting with this agenda:

2014 Fall Regular Meeting Agenda

The referenced Handouts can be found here:


2014 Fall Regular Meeting Minutes – September 26, 2014

Attendee Members: William (Billy) Bernsen, Chair, Noela Garza, Ken Gold, Keith McNease, Dan Stone, James Carr, Miguel Escobar and Chip Urban; Absent: Brandi Lowe, Vice Chair, Mike Beavers, Sheila Steffenson, Davey Edwards, Stephen Blaskey and Sonia Gover

11:00 Private Board Meeting:

  1. Introduction and member specialty (GIS v. Geomatics)
    Breakdown of GIS v. Geomatics are as follows: (primarily surveyors) Bernsen, Garza, Gold, McNease , Carr , Escobar, Urban, Edwards and  Blaskey; (primarily GIS) Stone, Lowe, Beavers, Steffenson and  Gover;
  2. Orientation
    Billy went over the purpose of the Academic Advising Committee which is primarily to serve in an advisory capacity to oversee what is being taught to the students and how well prepared they are to enter the workforce.  From time to time they are called on for specific advice by the faculty or they may review individual courses. Many times this advice is informal or it can be a formal procedure.
  3. Other
    1. Some discussion was held on whether or not a 15th member is needed.  This was tabled to the full meeting.
    2. Billy Bernsen also asked members to be considering a Spring face-to-face meeting.  It was decided that Billy will send out an email early next year to see if there is an interest
    3. Dr. Joseph Paiva, Adjunct Professor, was introduced to the Board since he has a class that begins at noon and will not be available for the afternoon meeting.  Dr. Paiva, who is teaching Plane Measurement 1, gave a brief description of his background as an RPLS, Academic Professor, and now a business partner in GeoLearn in Kansas City, Missouri.  He described how he is recording lectures for the course and has a Teaching Assistant, Christine Drysdale, one of our own Graduate students, who is helping in this course.  Dr. Paiva came to the University for the first week of class and is here this week for the first lab assignment.  His trips are covered by the Blucher Institute.

12:00-12:35 Lunch

12:35 Full Board Meeting

Full Meeting began with following faculty and guests as well as board members from earlier meeting: Dr. Richard Smith, Acting Program Coordinator, Dr. Gary Jeffress, Dr. Lucy Huang, Dr. Ruizhi Chen, Dr. Michael Starek, Dr. Jessica Song, Ms. Seneca Holland, Ms. Frances Jordan,  Academic Advisor, Mr. Dustin Pustejovsky, President of GISSO, Christopher Clary, Vice President of GISSO, and guest students Jake Berryhill and Luis Hernandez. Arriving later Ms. Karen Cullinan, Alumni Development Officer.

  1. Welcome: Meeting was called to order by William Bernsen at 12:35.  He welcomed new committee members Chip Urban, James Carr, and Miguel Escobar.  Introductions were held around the table.
  2. Unfinished Business: None
  3. Approval of the Fall 2013 minutes: Motion to approve by Noela Garza, Keith McNease 2nd.  Minutes approved.
  4. Member reappointments:
    1. Keith McNease, Stephen Blaskey, and William Bernsen agree to continue their appointments.
    2. Michael Parma has resigned.
  5. GISSO  Report:
    1. Dustin Pustejovsky reported that approximately 25 members are currently in GISSO.  While they have had only 2 meetings so far they are encouraged because many of the new members are freshmen and each meeting has had approximately 25 to 26 students.
    2. The students are preparing to attend the TSPS Annual Meeting in Houston, TX.  Dustin has been in contact with the organizers to volunteer the students to help.  The “Fundamentals of Surveying Course”, the prep course for those taking their SIT license, will be offered Saturday, October 4, here at the Blucher Institute.
    3. Students are also actively involved in recruitment by attending Island Days where not only prospective students come to campus but also their parents.  Along with faculty this has been very helpful in getting some students who are undecided to try the GISC program.
    4. Plans are currently underway for GIS Day which is in November.  Our students along with Del Mar and Texas A&M-Kingsville will be working together to highlight this event.
    5. At the current time, the students had only one request and that was to make sure that the person hired to teach the surveying courses be a RPLS so they could get the best training possible.
  6. Recruitment of new GIS member(s):
    1. Billy asked if the Committee felt the need for a 15th member and it was agreed that they did as more input would be advantageous and then all rotating groups would have five members.  He then asked for suggestions keeping in mind that currently there are more surveyors than GIS.  Dr. Jeffress suggested Donny Sosa from ESRI.  Being that it is sometimes difficult for those out of town to serve it was also mentioned that we could start using SKYPE to allow those who have the need to be part of the meeting using this software.
    2. Billy will talk with Donny Sosa and see if he is interested.  He will then let the entire committee know the decision.  Voting can be held by email if needed.
  7. University updates:
    1. Follow up on ABET:
      1. Dr. Jeffress reported that the GISC program had a glowing report for the ABET Evaluators and the program passed its accreditation.  Dr. Richard Smith, Acting Program Coordinator explained our efforts towards continuous improvement by using End of Course Memos.  He explained that this one page document helps the professor set a standard of learning by using a percentage measurement of Student Learning Outcomes, including what went well in the course and what needs improvement.  By having these documents at the end of each semester all faculty review them and changes are suggested and made.  In the event of someone changing the teaching of courses we will have these documents to pass on for review.
      2. Dr. Jeffress also stated that it is a possibility that our Master’s program will need external review.  He asked the Committee to consider if they would be interested in doing so.  This will be put on the agenda for a future meeting when more definite direction is given by TAMU-CC Graduate office.
    2. Follow up on status of online labs:
      1. Dr. Richard Smith, Acting Program Coordinator gave out Handout 1 [see separate post], “Online Course”.  This is taken from our website, http://gisc.tamucc.edu .  All courses, including surveying courses are now offered online or face-to-face.  Therefore the faculty have worked on this document to show the student that most of the responsibility for the online courses will be their responsibility.  Handout #2 [see separate post] is the document that students who are in online field labs have to have completed before they are allowed to register for the course.  Basically the student will be responsible for obtaining a RPLS that will be the mentor for the student and allow them to use the equipment necessary for the task.  The assignment will be sent to the student who sets up the time to use the equipment with the mentor supervising.  When the assignment is complete, it is sent to the professor by the student for grading.  All assignments are exactly the same as the face-to-face students and will be due at the same time.  Exceptions can be made if the mentor advises that the equipment needed is being used elsewhere but that will be an exception.  Handout #3 [see separate post] addresses the Secure Testing Policy and Procedures.  Students will have exams administered at a pre-approved secure test site with proctor supervision unless otherwise determined by the course faculty.  Students will be responsible for all costs associated with the use of the test site.  Also a new software program called “Examity” will be used by the University in Spring 2015.  This software allows students to take proctored exams online as well.  Again, online students are responsible for all cost regarding taking the exams.  An approximate cost is somewhere between $10 and $30 per exam and there are generally between 1 to 4 exams per semester.
      2. Dr. Jeffress was asked about the request to the Texas Board of Professional Land Surveyors about giving Continuing Education Units for the mentors for their service and expertise to the online students but Dr. Jeffress has not heard back from the board on this option.
    3. GISC credit hour reduction:
      As reported in previous meetings, the State Legislature is enforcing programs to be no more than 120 credit hours.  The purpose is to allow students to finish in four years with no summer courses.  Currently our program stands at 127 credit hours.  However, the Core Curriculum Committee is in the process of changing their core courses.  If this works out that some of our courses become part of the core, we will have to take no action.  However, this is yet to be determined and so we are still holding at 127 credit hours.
    4. Enrollment:
      1. Handout #4 [see separate post] shows a table of enrollment for Fall 2014 compared to Fall 2013.  The program has had a slight decline overall.  We did have 18 new students entering in Fall 2014 with the bulk of that number transfer students, however, we did have several of the Fall 2013 students change majors or choose GISC as a minor.   We graduated the largest group of Master student’s and several of our students who are working on their thesis did not register for this semester but will be back in Spring when they are ready to present.
      2. Miguel Escobar asked if stats were available for male/female ratio, ethnicity, and location.  Dee Edgar will work with Frances Jordan and Rick Smith in getting this info to the Committee.
    5. Faculty:
      1. Rick Smith reported that currently there is two open positions.  The first ongoing search is for a “Professional  Professor” and the committee headed by Dr. Jeffress has chosen four top candidates and will be proceeding with interviews as soon as possible.  The second position is a tenure track position which is awaiting approval by the Dean.  Rick explained that the tenure track position will include teaching, research, and service whereas the professional position will center primarily on teaching with some service required.
      2. When asked by Committee how the program was able to get two openings Rick told the group that the Geospatial Computing Science PhD has been approved by the Coordinating Board and should be finalized at their October meeting.  This would make Rick, Ruizhi, Mike and Lucy part of the core faculty which will mean they only will be teaching 2 courses.  Therefore to cover the classes they will no longer be teaching there needed to be professors to teach their classes.  The new PhD will consist of ½ courses in GIS and ½ courses in Computing Science.
    6. PhD proposal:
      This has been approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and will be formalized at their October meeting.  This was covered as part of faculty, see above.
    7. UAV’s and Surface Table:
      Dr. Smith gave a demonstration of the Surface Table and its capabilities.  Dr. Starek gave an overview of the UAV EBEE that he has been using and showed a short video of one of its flights.
    8. Other:
      Dr. Ruizhi Chen gave a short PowerPoint presentation showing his new established Geospatial Computing Lab.
  8. Final Thoughts and Comments:
    1. A question was posed by Miguel Escobar about how we are updating and maintaining the survey equipment.   Dr. Jeffress told the committee that we have hired a Graduate Assistant to help in maintaining the equipment, making sure it is returned in the shape it was in when used, and helping in letting us know when new supplies are needed.  Currently we have just ordered over $12,000 in equipment including a new total station, batteries, safety vests, etc.
    2. A question was posed as to Scholarship availability.  Dee Edgar reported that currently the program has funds from the Blucher Institute for $20,000 an academic year, two external long standing scholarships, the William Ball and Davidson scholarships, and the Josh Mazurek Memorial Scholarship.  Rick Smith announced that also one other memorial scholarship in formation at the current time but details have not been worked out at this time.
    3. A question was posed as to the status of getting a new building.  Discussion was held and Rick Smith told of plans to possibly move the program to a Life Science Building that the University is requesting funds from the State.  However, this would be a minimum of three years before this could take place.   Currently we are holding 3 courses which did not get a classroom assigned in the Blucher building.  We also have a shed behind Blucher that is air conditioned for the survey equipment.    Dr. Jeffress reported that in 2016 the National Resource Center next to Blucher which is currently a State building will revert to the University and at that time he hope we can all be moved to that building and then a new building could be built on the current Blucher site.
  9. Next Meeting Time and content:
    The Board decided to have William Bernsen send an email in January to poll the Committee to see if the need for a meeting is necessary and to suggest ideas for items to be covered at that time.
  10. Adjournment:
    Meeting was adjourned at 2:35 p.m.

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