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Engineering: Faculty/Staff Resources


Unified Ph.D. Program Bylaws

Approved by Graduate Faculty of the College via mail ballot, March 5, 2004

Organizational Structure

The general structure for the Unified Ph.D. Program in the College of Engineering as of March 5, 2004 is as shown below.

New Unified Phd
where “n” is the current total number of approved Fields and the descriptors “Field F1” through “Field Fn” in this structure are understood to refer individually to the names of all approved Fields.

A. General Functions of Structural Units

  1. The Director of Graduate Studies will function as a communications link for information flow between the Graduate College and the Ph.D. Fields within the Unified Ph.D. Program of the College of Engineering. The Director of Graduate Studies is the Chair of the Graduate Board of the Unified Ph.D. Program.
  2. The Graduate Board will act as a monitoring group and advisory body to the Engineering Dean and the College of Engineering on matters concerning the initiation and termination of Fields, and general quality of the Unified Ph.D. Program. The Graduate Board is the Graduate Committee of the Unified Ph.D. Program.
  3. The Fields are composed of disciplines and interdisciplinary areas which are staffed by faculty members with like research interests who act on questions of a student’s admission to the Unified Ph.D. Program in that Field and provide general guidance for research programs in that topical area.
  4. The Graduate Faculty of the College of Engineering will set the basic standards in regard, for example, to grade point average and Graduate Record Examination scores for students entering the Unified Ph.D. Program.

B. Formation and Composition of Structural Units

  1. The Graduate Board will be composed of the Field Chairpersons, each elected by the members of their Field. If they consider it appropriate, the members of a Field may elect two Co- Chairpersons instead of one Chairperson. In the case of such a Field with two Co-Chairpersons, the members of that Field will decide which of these Co-Chairpersons will exercise a vote on behalf of the Field. However, both Co-Chairpersons may serve as voting members of the Graduate Board in the case that a Department of the College that has voting members in at least one Field of the Unified Ph.D. Program would otherwise not have a vote on the Graduate Board. [Here, as elsewhere in this document, Department of the College is to be understood to refer to an academic administrative unit of the College, whether that academic unit may be labeled as a Department or a School or an Institute.] The Director of Graduate Studies will chair the Board as well as serving as a voting member. Any UNL Graduate Council Members from the Engineering College will serve as non-voting members. Except for the Director of Graduate Studies, the term of office for members of the Board shall be three years, with about one third of these Board members being elected each year. Only Graduate Faculty of the College of Engineering may serve on the Board; their appointments are subject to the approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies.
  2. The Dean of the College of Engineering will recommend, subject to confirmation by the Graduate Faculty of the College of Engineering, a Director of Graduate Studies to the Dean of Graduate Studies, who makes the appointment. The Director of Graduate Studies will have the primary responsibility for communication with the Graduate College, Field Chairpersons or Co-Chairpersons, and the Graduate Board. The Director of Graduate Studies will serve for two years and may succeed herself / himself.
  3. The Fields will be staffed by all Graduate Faculty members who submit a written declaration to the Chairperson or Co- Chairperson(s) of the Field that they wish to participate in its activities. Graduate Faculty may participate in more than one Field and may have voting privileges in up to two Fields on application to, and approval by, the College Graduate Board. A person who affiliates as a voting member with a Field must maintain this membership status in that Field for a period of at least one year, after which he / she may resign at any time. This person may also resign earlier if his / her request is approved by a simple majority of the voting members of the Field.

C. Duties and Specific Functions

1. The Director of Graduate Studies shall perform the following duties:
  a) The Director of Graduate Studies shall act as the central communication point for information flow between the Graduate College and the Graduate Faculty of the College of Engineering.

b)
The Director of Graduate Studies shall transmit applications for Ph.D. admission which meet basic standards immediately to the Chairperson or a Co- Chairperson of the appropriate Field(s).

c)
If merited, the Director of Graduate Studies shall transmit applications for Ph.D. admission which do not meet basic standards to the Graduate Board for review.

d)
The Director of Graduate Studies has the responsibility to call and serve as chairperson of meetings of the Board whenever there is business to discuss.

e)
The Director of Graduate Studies has the responsibility to maintain for each Field a roster listing the Chairperson or Co-Chairpersons, the voting members, and the non-voting members of each Field, and to ensure that Faculty affiliate as voting members with no more than two Fields.

2. The Graduate Board shall perform the following functions:

  a) The Board will call for reports of the activity and structure of the Fields at times just prior to the review of the Unified Ph.D. Program by the University Graduate Council and at a time approximately midway between these reviews.

b)
The Board is responsible for the report to be submitted at the time of the University Graduate Council review.

c)
The Board reviews proposals for the formation of new Fields in accordance with the standards outlined in section II.D and makes its recommendations to the Graduate Faculty of the College.

d)
The Board reviews the activity of Fields in accordance with the standards of section II.D and makes recommendations to the Graduate Faculty of the College to terminate a Field when it no longer demonstrates sufficient strength either by a low level of activity or loss of faculty members.

e)
The Board reviews and makes a preliminary decision on each application for Ph.D. admission that does not meet the basic standards of the College but is judged by the Director of Graduate Studies to merit review. If the application is accepted, it is then forwarded to the Field Chairperson or a Co-Chairperson for final recommendation on admission. If the application is rejected by the Board without the concurrence of the appropriate Field Chairperson or Co- Chairperson, the Field may appeal the rejection to the Board.

f)
The Board is responsible for the establishing and maintaining standards of quality in respect of admission and degree programs.


3. Fields

  a) The Chairperson or Co-Chairpersons of a Field is / are the official representative(s) of that Field on the Graduate Board. The Chairperson or a Co-Chairperson can choose to call a meeting of the members and must do so when petitioned to do so by three voting members of the Field when there is business to discuss.

b)
The Chairperson or a Co-Chairperson of a Field, in consultation with appropriate voting members of the Field, makes all final decisions on the admission of a student to the Ph.D. Program in that Field. This decision must be made within three weeks after all application materials are provided by the Director of Graduate Studies or within three weeks after any published target date or deadline date for receipt of all application materials, whichever is the later. If extenuating circumstances prevent the return of the application materials within the three-week limit, the Field shall notify the Director of Graduate Studies and specify when a decision will be reached. The Graduate Board may act by majority vote to change the period for decision on admissions by all Fields.

c)
The Major Advisor, together with the Chairperson or a Co- Chairperson of the Field, is responsible for recommendation of the Supervisory Committee for a student in that Field of the Ph.D. Program. Formation of this Committee is governed by the rules of the Graduate College.

d)
The Chairperson or a Co-Chairperson of a Field is responsible for ensuring that each new student is assigned a temporary adviser and is informed about the student’s rights and responsibilities in the Field and in the Ph.D. Program. To this end, the Chairperson or a Co-Chairperson of a Field must meet with each newly admitted student in order to provide that student with information about, and a statement of rights and responsibilities for participation in, the Field and the Ph.D. Program into which the student is admitted. If a newly admitted student does not have a Major Advisor already agreed at that time, it is the responsibility of the Chairperson or Co-Chairperson either to act as temporary advisor for the student in respect of courses and participation in the Field and Ph.D. Program or to ensure that another member of the Field will act instead as temporary advisor.

e)
In the case of a student admitted to the Ph.D. Program in one Field who subsequently wishes to change to a different Field at a time when that student is in good academic standing, that student may apply to the Chairperson or Co- Chairperson of a different Field by letter of application, accompanied by a current transcript. The prospective Field will consider these materials, in combination with the original application materials. The Chairperson or a Co- Chairperson of that Field will inform the student and the Director of Graduate Studies of the decision on the student’s application, but the Field is under no more obligation to accept that student applicant than to accept any other applicant.

4. Major Advisor
The Major Advisor of a student is generally the Graduate Faculty member with whom a graduate student has agreed to conduct research leading to the Ph.D. dissertation. If there is no such agreement for any reason, to ensure appropriate guidance on courses for example, the Major Advisor will be selected by the Chairperson or a Co-Chairperson of the Field with the approval of the members of that Field and the graduate student involved.

5. Student Financial Support
Decisions on Departmental financial support for a student will be made at the Departmental level. Decisions on financial support from contracts held by a Graduate Faculty member will be made by the Faculty member. All conditions of student financial support, including University, State and Federal Government, and all other external funding, including foundations, other countries, and industry, must conform to the Bylaws of the Graduate College and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and to all Nebraska and Federal law.

6. Supervisory Committee
The Major Advisor, together with the Chairperson or a Co- Chairperson of the Field, is responsible for recommendation of the Supervisory Committee for a student in that Field of the Ph.D. Program. The Chairperson or one of the Co-Chairpersons of the Supervisory Committee must hold an earned Ph.D. or its equivalent. Once a Supervisory Committee is appointed by the Graduate College, it will communicate directly with the Graduate College office. All rules and regulations of the Graduate College apply to its formation and functioning.

7. College Graduate Faculty
The Graduate Faculty of the College of Engineering who are voting members of one or more Fields of the Unified Ph.D. program must meet and approve by vote the basic admission standards for the Engineering College Unified Ph.D. Program as recommended by the Graduate Board.

D. Formation and Termination of a Field

1. Formation Criteria
The Graduate Board must meet and make a recommendation concerning the subject of formation of a Field when
  a) five or more Full Graduate Faculty members of the College indicate their desire to be voting members of a new Field and petition the Board for its formation, and

b)
the potential members have collectively graduated at least one Ph.D. within the last two years, and

c)
the potential members have published (or have had accepted for publication) two or more articles in refereed journals related to the proposed Field within the last two years, and

d) the potential members have provided documentation of Formation Criteria a, b, and c and of all other factors which relate to the formation of the proposed Field including sources of grants or contract support and new needs within the State of Nebraska. The Graduate Board may also recommend the formation of a Field should it feel it is warranted. However, in no case will a new Field be established with fewer than five voting members.

2. Termination Criteria
The Graduate Board must meet and make a recommendation concerning the subject of termination of a Field
  a) when fewer than four voting members are associated with a Field,

b)
when four or more years pass without a Ph.D. being granted from a Field,

c)
when four or more years pass with no student registered in the Ph.D. Program within the Field, or

d)
when two or more years pass in which no publication in a refereed journal originates from the Field. The Board may also recommend the termination of a Field at the Board’s discretion when other evidence warrants this recommendation. Members of a Field must be notified immediately, and given full particulars, any time termination of their Field is proposed.

3. Procedures
  a) Recommendations for formation or termination of a Field may originate from the Graduate Board or any member or group of members of the Graduate Faculty of the College.

b)
The Graduate Board has the responsibility for studying these recommendations. In those cases where it feels further action is appropriate, the Board will draw up a proposal to submit to the Graduate Faculty of the College. If the situations as outlined in Sections II.D 1 and 2 above occur, the Board is required to report its recommendations to the Graduate Faculty of the College of Engineering. In all cases, all Graduate Faculty involved with a proposal to initiate or terminate a Field will be given a written copy of the Board’s recommendation at least two weeks prior to the presentation of the proposal at a meeting called to consider the question, or at least two weeks prior to a mail or electronic ballot, including an e-mail ballot. The Graduate Faculty of the College of Engineering who are voting members of one or more Fields of the Unified Ph.D. program will be called to such a meeting or will receive such ballots electronically. All these voting members must receive a written copy of the Board’s recommendation for their consideration with the ballot information or at least one week prior to the said meeting.

c)
For approval, all changes in Field designations require a two-thirds majority of the votes cast by secret ballot of the Graduate Faculty of the College of Engineering who are voting members of one or more Fields of the Unified Ph.D. Program, subject to a requirement that at least two-thirds of these members cast ballots. All such changes in Field designation shall become effective when approved by the UNL Graduate Council.

d)
All changes to the rules and procedures outlined in this document must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast by the Graduate Faculty of the College of Engineering who are voting members of one or more Fields of the Unified Ph.D. Program, subject to a requirement that at least two-thirds of these members cast ballots. All such changes in Field designation shall become effective when approved by the UNL Graduate Council.

e)
Ten working days will be allowed for votes to be cast in any ballot vote by the Graduate Faculty of the College, unless specifically changed by vote of the Graduate Faculty of the College.

E. Program Administration

1. Basic entry requirements for admission to a Field of the Ph.D. Program are at least a Bachelor of Science degree and satisfactory completion of all application requirements established by the Graduate College, the UNL Graduate Council, the Graduate Board and the appropriate individual Field. The members of the relevant Field will review the merit of the application as a whole in establishing whether to recommend admission of an applicant into that Field and into the Ph.D. Program.

2. A student in a UNL Master of Science program who wishes to continue for the Ph.D. degree should indicate his / her intentions to the Chairperson or a Co-Chairperson of the Field of interest either directly or through his / her current advisor. Admission to the Ph.D. Program then requires an application following the established procedures. It is not a requirement for admission to the Ph.D. Program that a Master’s degree thesis must at any time be presented and defended.

3. The applications of prospective students who have, or expect to receive, a Master of Science degree from another institution or from a department outside of the College of Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will be processed as follows: a) Applications received by the Graduate College are sent to the Director of Graduate Studies. b) The applications are reviewed as specified in Section II.C. Duties and Specific Functions.

4. It is recognized that all rules and regulations of the Graduate College apply to this Unified Ph.D. Program.