2011 Fall Regular Meeting Minutes

Thanks again Dee for recording the minutes.  We will not read these at the next meeting, so please read them now and make note of any changes you may have.  You may post changes in the comment section below if you like.  We will have an opportunity to discuss any changes at the fall meeting prior to approval.

Executive Meeting

AAC Board

September 23, 2011

11:00 a.m.

Blucher Conference Room

Attendees:  William Bernsen, Noela Garza, Ken Gold, Tim Alford, Jack Avis, Joanna Sanchez, Davey Edwards by phone, Keith McNease by phone, Dee Edgar, Recording Secretary

Absent:  Bradi Lowe (Wildfires hindered attendance)

Sheila Steffenson (ESRI business)

Brian Autio (Family Issues)

Mike Beavers

Dan Stone

Meeting was called to order at 11:18 a.m. by William (Billy) Bernsen.  Quorum declared.

Billy told the group that Michael Ouimet and Sterling Harris had resigned.  Discussion was held on replacements for these two former board members.  No action was taken but suggestions for replacement should be forward to Billy Bernsen so vote can be taken and replacements can be made by next board meeting in Spring.  The committee did agree that they want the membership to come up to a 15 member board.

A suggestion was made that a tour of the University should be made by the board at the next most convenient time with emphasis on visiting the lab and seeing what software is being used.

Discussion was held on revisions to the by-laws concerning the reappointment of officers emphasizing:

  1. Frequency of elections – particularly with having elections every year which most of the board agreed takes away from the continuity of the business.  A suggestion was made to go to 3 year terms with one re-election for a total of 6 consecutive year limit.
  2. Concerning the re-appointment of officers, do the by-laws need to be revised?  Billy asked that if you feel either of these items needs to be changed, please post on line.  A suggestion was made by Ken Gold that if an officer wants to seek re-appointment said person must notify the committee in writing.  If the committee has no objection, then the person can be reappointed for a term not to exceed 2 consecutive terms in any one position.

This discussion will be continued in open meeting time.

Closed meeting was adjourned at noon when faculty joined the Board for lunch.

Open Meeting

The open meeting was called to order at 12:32 p.m.  Joining the original committee group were the following:

Faculty & Adjuncts;  Dr. Gary Jeffress, Dr. Joseph Loon, Dr. Peter Kuntu-Mensah, Mr. Richard Smith, Mr. Donald Mulcare, Mr. Greg Hauger.

Arriving Late:  Dr. John Fernandez, Associate Director of the College of Engineering and Computing Sciences, Dr. Stacey Lyle

GISSO Members Joe Califa; President, Brach Lupher; Vice President, Heather McColgan; Secretary

ABET Coordinator:  Christine Allman

  1. Billy welcomed everyone and each person introduced themselves.
  2. Billy called for a motion to approve the minutes of the last meeting.  Motion to approve by Jack Avis, seconded by Noela Garza, No Discussion, Minutes approved.
  3. Joe Califa was called upon to report for GISSO.  He reported that this is the largest membership in many years with 41 current members.  The group expressed a need to have the 5 year program explained.  Dr. Jeffress, Program Coordinator, put an example on the projector and explained to the GISSO representatives the Combined plan.  (No longer called 5 year plan).  It was decided that Dr. Jeffress will make a presentation at the next GISSO meeting to answer any questions.

The representatives wanted to discuss the Internship class with the board and requested that the faculty be removed from the meeting.  After faculty left a brief discussion on the Internship class from the previous summer was held.  Dee Edgar informed everyone that this class was being restructured and the problems had been addressed by faculty and administration in hopes to come to a better course for all students.

When faculty returned, the representatives requested more upper level classes for surveying.  Dr. Jeffress then informed the reps that Field Camp II will now move to the same time as Field Camp I.  The problem in the past of holding both sessions at one time was equipment shortage.  Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Lyle, he is working on an agreement with Lycia to donate the equipment needed to meet this need.  Dr. Jeffress reported that Field Camp II will be changed in the Fall 2012 catalog to an Elective Course but moved back up to a 3 credit hour course.  Questions were asked if geomatic students will still take the course and Dr. Jeffress and the GISSO students said this course is well liked and students look forward to taking this beneficial course so no problems are anticipated.

Representatives then requested to have every class taught every year rather than having some, such as Hydrography, every other year.  Dr. Jeffress discussed the standards for enrollment with undergrad classes needing to meet a 10 person minimum and how hard it is to do so by offering every course every year.  Discussion then turned to adding a Hydrography emphasis to the current program.  Dr. Jeffress reported that the only way to do this would be to have industry fund a full time professor due to budget cuts across the State.  Also, the program needs help in attracting students where we could meet the minimum class size.  Part of our plan is to bring GIS into Engineering where there would be a broader base of students.

It was then asked by the GISSO reps to make sure the software is working before giving out assignments.  They stated it needed to be tested ahead of assignments so students do not lose time going back to the professor to get help with software that does not work.

The last item GISSO wanted to cover is within the 9 hours of electives, they would like to see more upper level classes.  Dr. Jeffress asked them to make suggestions of the type of courses they would like to see.

  1. Unfinished Business
    1. Officer Re-Appointment  Discussion was held on re-writing the reappointment based on the statement in the Closed Session.  Noela Garcia made motion to appoint Ken Gold to write this proposed revision, Tim Alford seconded.  No discussion, Motion Carried.
    2. Plan for Faculty Presentations which were postponed due to only online meeting last Spring, were brought up again.  Dr. Jeffress reported that all syllabi are now on the web for public viewing.  He also reported that the faculty are now using an “End of Course Memo” (ECM) to evaluate each individual course.  At this time Ms. Christine Allman, ABET Coordinator, gave a PowerPoint presentation overview of the ECM.
    3. ACTION: Discussion was held and a decision was made to have a presentation for the Spring AAC meeting.  In this presentation the Board requested that one course from each level give a 15 minute presentation showing the ECM, samples of student work, and then having students from each course attending so the Board could get input directly from the students.
    4. AAC requested to be informed when students present their projects in the Capstone or Senior Level courses.
    5. ACTION:  The Academic Advising Committee will be notified of student presentations and an evaluation sheet will be prepared by the faculty which will be a simple form so the AAC can give input to the students and professors.  This will be completed at the next AAC meeting in the Spring.
    6. Committee asked for update on the use of guest lectures and field trips:

Dr. Mensah took his students on a couple of field trips

Dr. Lyle invited lawyers to lecture in his Legal Aspects course

Dr. Jeffress & Dr. Lyle put on a mock trial with each professor participating in opposing views

Dr. Lyle took his students to the Hydrographic Society meeting

Richard Smith told committee of online podcasts featuring Faculty, Staff and Former Students

The student organization, GISSO, also had guests from the profession attend their regular meetings and make presentations.

Students reported that this process had been very helpful and very well received.

  1. New Business
    1. Officers were reappointed by Billy Bernsen.
    2. Dr. Jeffress reported that the University of Houston has 30 students who won’t be able to finish their GISC degrees since the program has now closed.  Rick Smith is working with them to work out details for putting our undergrad courses online so these students can finish.  The current difficulty is figuring out a way to handle the labs required in the surveying courses.  Ken Gold reported that he was told these students will be able to finish their degree but it will fall under construction management.  Rick also suggested that we go online first with our Certificate program which would draw in more students.  Again, the hurdle is working out the lab structure but the faculty is working out the details and will keep the Committee posted.
    3. Dr. Jeffress reported that with the resignation of Dr. Joseph Loon, as Endowed Chair for the Blucher Institute, the position is now empty.  Unfortunately, due to budget restraints, this position will not be filled at this time.  The University is now creating new standards for the appointment of Endowed Chairs and for their continued funding in the event a chair decides to step down.  It is a matter of a correct balance of funding sources.  With this said however, Dr. Jeffress asked the Committee to still consider what type of Chair they would like to see considered; one who would help the Program and Blucher grow.  He expressed a true need for someone with proven advanced research in concert with Academia.  He asked the Committee to consider several options:
      1. Someone with a background in Geospatial Computing due to the fact that soon there will be a Ph.D. program for the same.
      2. Someone with a background in Geodesy who can be looked to as a leader in Geodetic research since we already have a relationship with the National Geodetic Survey due to Donald Mulcare and now Dr. Dan Prouty, the State Advisory for NGS.
      3. Someone with a solid Hydrographic Science background as there is a shortage of expertise in this area and no undergraduate programs therein.  We do have a strong relationship also with NOAA which could help in this area.
      4. Dr. Jeffress also requested help in writing up the job description for this Endowed Chair’s position once the position is approved for hiring.  Please send any suggestions to Dr. Jeffress by email.
    4. The name change of the program was brought up again as in previous meetings but the Committee was told by Dr. Jeffress no change will take place as far as we can tell.
    5. Dee Edgar was asked to report on enrollment figures.  She reported currently the total enrollment stands at 61 undergraduates and 21 GSEN students.  This is an increase due to the efforts of Dr. Lyle and Rick Smith attending Orientations, Career Days, and by Dr. Lyle having a grant that provides 5 full-ride scholarships.   The Blucher Institute has also advertised twice in Arc User magazine at  a cost of $4,800 each to promote our Master’s program and we have had 2 persons call with interest after seeing the ad.
    6. Recently Michael Johnson, a recruiter from ESRI, visited our campus and spoke with our students at their Sept. 21 meeting in the Blucher Conference Room.  He said that they want to hire the type of student who has physics, math, and computer science backgrounds which is a hallmark of our student body.  Dr. Jeffress suggested to Mr. Johnson that ESRI associates give our Program some assistance in helping design some of our GIS courses and to get others involved in teaching modules or guest lecturing.
    7. Scholarship Update – Dr. Lyle reported that he had set up a new endowed scholarship under Dr. Jeffress name.  He, Dr. Jeffress and a former student have begun to place monies into the fund.  Once this fund reaches $10,000 then a scholarship can be given to students.  Dr. Lyle asked for all to support this scholarship if they so felt moved to do so.   Also reported is the fact that due to budget cuts the GSEN program lost its designated tuition fund from the University.  At the September 30th meeting of the Blucher Advising Board, Dr. Jeffress will ask for approval of an additional $10,000 from the Endowment to cover this loss.
    8. Ken Gold requested an update on a previous conversation concerning the changing of the Blucher funds to allow monies to be used not only for tuition and fees but also for other student needs such as room and board, computers, software, etc.  Dee Edgar reported that changes were made to allow the Blucher fund scholarships to be open for the students to decide how to use the funds.  While the scholarship funds still consider freshmen first, then other undergrads, it now is also available to graduate students if all funds are not used by undergrads.
    9. Core Curriculum – Dr. Jeffress reported that steps are still in progress to make our former GISC 1301 Physical Geography and Mapping a cross-listed course, GEOG 1301, a part of the Core Curriculum.  Seneca Holland, Rick Smith’s wife, has the qualifications to teach this course and once approved, will probably be the instructor.
    10. Combined Course – Dr. Jeffress gave the Committee an overview of what originally had been called the 5-Year Combined Plan.  The official title of this plan will be called, “The Combined Plan.”  This will allow Juniors to begin to take graduate courses towards obtaining their undergrad and graduate degree at the same time.  The first 3 years will be primarily undergrad courses; however in the 4th year students will be allowed to begin graduate courses.  A student must be approved by the coordinator of the program, have a 3.0 or better overall GPA and they must decide no later than their Junior year to apply.  Once on the Combined Plan the student may not use any master’s course as a substitute if they decide not to complete the Combined Plan and return to the Bachelor’s program.  This Combined course requires 113 credit hours with 36 graduate hours.  Questions were asked concerning how well the Committee thought students would be able to handle this plan and Dr. Jeffress replied that most of the eligible students will be known by the faculty beforehand.  Combined with the rules of approval, he feels there will be no problems.

Motion was made by Noela Garza to adjourn meeting, second by Ken Gold.  Meeting adjourned at 2:58 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Dee Edgar

Recording Secretary






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