Graduate Program Approves External Reviewer

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Graduate Faculty Committee approved to bring in an external reviewer that oversees the creation of new graduate programs in its monthly meeting on Monday.

The Graduate Faculty Committee is a body representative of the Graduate School Faculty. The committee is responsible for the formulation of policies concerning the graduate programs of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.Their representative body is comprised of 33 members; 30 faculty members as well as three graduate students.

An external reviewer will be brought in in the coming months.

Previously an external reviewer was required, but up until recently it is not. The committee has the choice to acquire an external reviewer or hire within the university.

Kristene Surerus, chair of the Graduate Faculty Committee, says it’s changing things.

“The UW System periodically reviews its policies and occasionally makes changes,” said Surerus. “When that happens, UWM reviews its related policies and adjusts as appropriate.”

The discussion was over whether or not the committee should hire an internal reviewer, someone with knowledge of UWM and its programs, or if they should reach out to someone outside of UWM, which would provide them an extra set of eyes to review proposed new programs.

The committee went ahead and approved to stick with an external reviewer.

“People were more confident on the external side,” said Surerus. “You can keep the quality with an external reviewer, but it is good on both sides.”

Although an outside source to overlook new programs does help, it can be expensive.

“Part of the documentation for a new program includes an estimate of new costs associated with the program,” said Surerus. “Some programs state there will be no new costs; others list new costs. It can vary considerably.”

Surerus said in the meeting that the ultimate difficulty in getting an external reviewer is in identifying people to do it.

“We have to convince someone to do it,” said Surerus.

Sarah Morgan, a member that represents the faculty of the Graduate Faculty Committee, says it is beneficial to keep an external reviewer.

Jon Welstead, a member representing the Music Department on the committee voted against having an external reviewer.

“It is not undesirable to have external reviewers,” said Welstead.

“One has to think to step back,” said Welstead. “The state system was not the same it was five years ago.”

Welstead wants UWM’s programs to be unique and that means keeping some confidentiality.

“If you have a really good program do you want to be publicly broadcasting that?” said Welstead. “We want our programs to be unique.”

The committee also discussed other issues:

They approved to form a working group made up of some members of the Graduate Faculty Committee.

“The working group is tasked with reviewing policies related to certificates and updating as needed,” said Surerus.

It also approved to move English as a Second Language to its own curricular area.

“Up to this time, English has managed the curricular area for English as a Second Language,” said Surerus.  “English as a Second Language is a separate program that functions independently of English and currently has the resources to manage its curricular area so it is being moved.”

Lastly, Secretary Susan Krieger has taken another position and her duties related to the Graduate Faculty Committee will be taken over by Vicky Everson temporarily.

Surerus said someone will be hired into the position Susan held but the hiring process takes time.