Skip to main content


1.0 History

West Virginia University originated in the Morrill Act of July 2, 1862, and in an act of the 1863 state legislature accepting the provisions of that act. West Virginia University, founded February 7, 1867, combines in a single institution the functions of a state university and a state land-grant university, functions commonly assigned to two or more institutions in other state settings. Hence, the range and variety of instructional, research, and service programs at West Virginia University is greater than that of most institutions its size.

At the time of its founding, a Board of Governors was vested, by law, with the authority to control and manage the University's educational, administrative, financial and business affairs. A primary mission of the University within the West Virginia system of higher education is to serve as the state's major center of professional and graduate training and research. The initial policies, regulations and programs relating to graduate study at West Virginia University were established by order of the Board of Governors in 1930 with the establishment of a Graduate School.

The Board of Governors decreed that the roots of the Graduate School should be: “implanted in all university undergraduate work, irrespective of colleges, schools, or departments. The graduate school is empowered: (1) to direct research and investigation with particular reference to problems of the state, and (2) to train and recommend to the Board of Governors candidates for such graduate degrees as shall have been authorized.”

It follows that the Graduate School was envisioned as distinct from other colleges and schools in that it was a university-wide institution, drawing together all of the faculty and students of the University concerned with graduate study. The Graduate School was empowered to establish policies and regulations covering the introduction of degree programs, degree, curricular, thesis, and dissertation requirements, standards of student scholarship, etc., which take precedence over the policies and rules of particular colleges, schools, and departments.

In an April 16, 1982, document entitled West Virginia University Administrative Organization, an organizational chart showed a “Standing Committee on Graduate Education” associated with the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research. Subsequently, an Ad Hoc Committee on Graduate Studies, whose mandate was to oversee the transition from central control by a Graduate School to a decentralized form of graduate education governance, recommended that the “Standing Committee” be called the “Graduate Council”, whose functions would be to (1) formulate and recommend policy for graduate study at West Virginia University and (2) assist in the oversight of graduate programs, including coordinating periodic reviews.

The above organization remained the guiding structure for governing graduate education at WVU until 1986 when the University Faculty Senate and the University Graduate Council jointly recommended to the Provost that an additional level of the organization be established. Each college/school offering a graduate degree would have an elected Committee on Graduate Studies, which, in turn, would select the college’s representatives to the Graduate Council at the university level.

The University Graduate Council thus consisted of graduate faculty representatives from the schools and colleges offering graduate programs and five ex-officio non-voting members representing the Provost, the Associate Provost for Graduate Academic Affairs, the Chancellor for Health Sciences, the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, and the Graduate and Professional Student Association. The Provost accepted this organization of governance.

An Office of Graduate Education was established within the Provost’s Office in 1992. The Director of the Office of Graduate Education, in conjunction with the University Graduate Council, oversaw the policies governing graduate education, monitored the quality of graduate programs, and set goals for enhancing graduate education at West Virginia University. The Director of Graduate Education reported to the Associate Provost for Curriculum and Instruction.

As a component of the West Virginia University 2010 Plan, the Office of the Provost established a Task Force on Graduate Education and the Graduate Student Experience, which recommended, among others, that there should be established a new administrative position to bring graduate education issues to the forefront of academic decision-making in the Provost’s Office. In 2007, the role of Associate Provost for Graduate Academic Affairs was created, reporting directly to the Provost. This position replaced the earlier Director of Graduate Education.

2.0 Authority

The University Graduate Council derives its authority from the faculty, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research, and the Vice President for Health Sciences, and it works in conjunction with the Associate Provost for Graduate Academic Affairs. The Graduate Council is a freestanding University committee, and its recommendations are advisory to the Provost or the Vice President for Health Sciences, as appropriate.

3.0 Functions

In practice, graduate advisors, departmental chairpersons, and college/school Deans responsible for particular programs conduct much of the day-to-day administration of graduate study. Colleges/schools are responsible for such functions as admitting students, conducting interviews when appropriate, keeping student records, certifying students for graduation, determining the level of participation in graduate education by individual faculty members, and the like.

At the university level, responsibility for administrating the graduate faculty’s policies and regulations, resolving problems of interpretation of these rules, and recommending university-wide graduate academic standards is vested in the Office of Graduate Education and Life. The Graduate Council works with the Associate Provost for Graduate Academic Affairs to review proposals for new graduate programs (including college/school level graduate certificate programs), evaluate substantive revisions in graduate curricula (e.g., the establishment of a new major within a program, elimination of a major, program name change), coordinate periodic program reviews, recommend to the Provost the University minimal criteria for graduate faculty membership, and consider such other matters affecting graduate education as are brought to the council by an administrative officer of the University, a graduate faculty member, or a graduate student. The specific responsibilities of the Council are as follows:

3.1 Strategic Vision

In conjunction with the Associate Provost for Graduate Academic Affairs, the Graduate Council works together to contribute to the strategic vision and plan for graduate education at West Virginia University.

3.2 Review of Graduate Programs

The Graduate Council adopts procedures for the review of graduate academic programs (including master’s and doctoral degree programs and certificates). Such reviews are conducted on a five-year cycle established by the University Board of Governors. All graduate programs provide a self-study that includes an assessment of program strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. These self-studies are reviewed by Council, which may suggest measures to maintain or enhance acceptable levels of academic quality. To this end, the Council may recommend to the Provost or the Vice-President for Health Sciences several appropriate actions following completion of the review process, including (1) continuation of the program for five years with or without a request for follow-up information; (2) continuation of the program for shorter periods along with requested corrective actions; (3) program suspension; (4) program termination; etc.

3.3 Review of Curricula

The Council evaluates all proposed new graduate and certificate programs and makes its recommendations to the Office of the Provost. Changes in degree titles, addition/removal of areas of specialization or emphasis within a given degree, and substantive alterations in graduate degree curricular requirements are also under the Council's purview.

3.4 Jurisdiction

The Graduate Council is responsible for reviewing and evaluating proposals for establishing new graduate degrees, majors, and certificates. The Graduate Council does not evaluate changes in the curricula of accredited professional programs, such as those contained within the Schools of Dentistry, Law, Medicine, and Pharmacy. Evaluation of individual new courses, course drops, prerequisites, and course credit hour determination remain under the jurisdiction of the Curriculum Committee of the WVU Faculty Senate.

4.0 Membership

The University Graduate Council shall consist of: (1) voting members representing the graduate faculty of West Virginia University, and (2) nonvoting, ex officio members representing central administration and an appropriate graduate student organization.

4.1 Voting Members

There shall be 18 voting members who represent the graduate faculty in the colleges and schools as follows:

 College or School Number of Representatives
College of Applied Human Sciences 3
College of Creative Arts 1
College of Law 1
Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design 2
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences 4
John Chambers College of Business and Economics 1
Health Sciences (representing 5 schools) 3
Reed College of Media 1
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources 2

4.1.1 Eligibility

The minimal criteria required to qualify as a voting member of the University Graduate Council are as follows:

·         Must be a regular member of the graduate faculty (or a full-time faculty member in a unit that only provides graduate-level training);

·         Must not hold an administrative title above that of department chairperson.

4.1.2 Selection

Eligible faculty members may be selected for service as voting members of the University Graduate Council in one of the two following ways:

·         The college/school/Health Sciences graduate committee or Dean/designee may seek nominations and conduct an election with all regular and associate members of the graduate faculty eligible to vote.

·         The college/school/Health Sciences graduate committee or Dean/designee may select a regular or associate member of the graduate faculty to be the representative to the University Graduate Council.

At least one representative from each college/school must be a regular or ex-officio member of their college/school graduate committee.

4.1.3 Vacancies

Vacancies shall be filled for the remainder of the individual term by appointment from the Dean/designee. If a voting member is absent from the University for an extended period, such as during a sabbatical or extended medical leave, the Dean/designee may appoint a member pro tem to serve as the college’s representative.

4.1.4 Term Limits

Council members representing the colleges and schools shall serve terms of three years. Terms expire on August 15 of the final term year. The number of terms an individual member may serve will be at the discretion of the college/school that the individual represents.

4.1.5 Removal of a Voting Member

A voting member of the Graduate Council may be removed from the Council by a vote of two-thirds or more of the voting members whenever it is judged that the interests of the Council will be served thereby.

4.2 Ex-Officio Members

Ex officio, nonvoting members of the University Graduate Council shall consist of:

·         The Associate Provost for Graduate Academic Affairs

·         A representative of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee (who must be a regular or associate member of the graduate faculty)

·         A representative of the Office of the University Registrar

·         A representative of WVU Online

·         A representative from an appropriate graduate student organization

The principal purpose of having the above ex-officio members on the Council is to provide a rapid and readily available flow of information to and from important academic areas having significant responsibility for particular aspects of graduate education.

5.0 Officers of the University Graduate Council

The voting members of the Council shall elect a chair for the year by majority vote at the first Council meeting of the fall semester. To be eligible for election as chair, a member shall have at least one year of experience on the Council. Individuals may succeed themselves. The chair may designate an acting chair in the event of a required absence.

The Office of Graduate Education and Life shall provide a Council secretary in charge of keeping minutes, handling correspondence, maintaining Council files, etc.

The Associate Provost for Graduate Academic Affairs, as an ex-officio member of the Graduate Council, shall provide day-to-day management of the council's business, implement the council's decisions, and coordinate all council projects. In addition, the Associate Provost for Graduate Academic Affairs, in conjunction with the Graduate Council and the Office of the Provost, shall aid in developing a strategic vision for graduate program development at WVU, help establish and monitor graduate program policies, monitor compliance with institutional rules and regulations for assistantships, coordinate master’s/doctoral program reviews performed by the Graduate Council, coordinate the Board of Governors Graduate Program Review Reports, administer centrally controlled graduate fellowships and the tuition fee waiver program, coordinate the preparation of the Graduate Catalog, and interpret policies contained therein. It is expected that, in addition to working with the Graduate Council, the Associate Provost for Graduate Academic Affairs will also work closely with Deans, the Director of Admissions, the Registrar, and others responsible for aspects of graduate program administration.

6.0 Communications

Agendas and minutes of Graduate Council meetings shall be provided to all members of the Council, the Deans of the university colleges/schools, and the Faculty Senate President.

It is expected that, for information purposes, the representatives from the Faculty Senate serving on the Graduate Council will also, in cooperation with the Council chair and/or the Associate Provost for Graduate Academic Affairs, provide the Faculty Senate with an oral or written summary of Council deliberations and actions.

7.0 Quorum

A quorum of the University Graduate Council shall consist of seven voting members. The vote of these seven or more members will constitute a deciding official vote of the Council. Tie votes will be regarded as a failure of the motion. Proxy votes are not permitted. Upon request by any voting member, the Council shall vote using a secret ballot. The private ballot method will not be employed if no such request is indicated.

Meetings may be held if at most seven voting members are present, but no deciding votes may be taken. Business conducted during such a meeting must be approved by a majority of the voting members at a subsequent meeting.

8.0 Council Meetings

The Graduate Council shall meet monthly during the academic year. Special meetings may be called by the Council chair or at the request of seven voting members. Notice of all meetings shall be given in writing at least 7 days in advance to all voting and ex-officio members of Council.

The Council shall operate by all pertinent rules in “Robert’s Rules of Order.”

Any member of the University community may request, in advance, permission from the Council chair or the Associate Provost for Graduate Academic Affairs to attend a Council meeting.

9.0 Power to Amend

Suggestions to alter, amend, or repeal the by-laws, or to adopt new by-laws, are usually initiated by the voting members of the Graduate Council. Such an action may be taken at a regular or special meeting for which written notice of the purpose shall be given. The vote of a majority of the elected members is required to approve any recommended action. However, the ultimate authority to approve changes in the by-laws rests with the Provost.

Revised June 2023