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Megan Poe
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My name is Megan Poe and I’m an English (writing concentration) and Philosophy double major at Northern. My concurrent experience with being published in and interning for literary magazines has landed...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Academic Senate approves grad program


A report from the Graduate Programs Committee (GPC) approved a proposal to create a graduate program in the Math and Computer Science (MCS) department during Tuesday afternoon’s Academic Senate (AS) meeting.

MCS Department Head and Professor J. D. Phillips said the report is supported by research that shows the demand for math and computer science programs is outpacing available seats in Michigan programs. However, Spanish professor Michael Joy brought up concerns that NMU was not discussing their broader vision on graduate education. 

“Sometimes it seems like we’re throwing grad programs at a wall and hoping they stick. I like to say NMU is an undergraduate-focused institution. The more we add to the graduate side, as much as they add value, at some point we might not be able to say that,” Joy said. 

MSC professor Randy Appleton responded to Joy’s concerns, saying NMU will remain an undergraduate-focused department—and professors, not graduate students, will teach undergraduates. 

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“[Around] 14 of the 17 Michigan schools have a master’s degree in computer science. This isn’t throwing things at a wall. This is catching up. This is something we should be doing to be in the middle of the other schools,” Appleton said.  

Adding a graduate program would offer more opportunities to computer science undergrads, Appelton said. The proposal would create more courses for undergraduates that otherwise wouldn’t exist—thus, enriching the computer science undergraduate education, he said. 

The discussion was directed to the question: if there are copious graduate programs in the state already, is it necessary for NMU to catch up? 

Having studied other computer science graduate programs, Appelton said there’s a good market in the U.P. and he hopes to attract students from outside of the area. Engineering Technology Professor Deanna Pozega reinforced Phillips’ statement, and said based on the demand for computer programming in many areas, having the opportunity to focus on the additional opportunity for undergraduates could end up being a positive thing, as computer science is a collaborative field. 

“It would be hard to imagine a computer science master’s degree that didn’t collaborate with people and programs elsewhere on campus,” Phillips said. “A strong master’s degree program and a strong undergraduate program are not only mutually exclusive, but self-reinforcing.” 

The MCS department is working on a project in conjunction with the biology department, and Appleton mentioned how it would be favorable to have a graduate student, in lieu of an undergrad, to work on the project.  

But, Joy said NMU’s main selling point to honors recruits is having an undergraduate focus. 

Senior Outdoor Recreation & Leadership Management major and ASNMU President Paige Pucelik said the potential addition is great because NMU needs to have the push to retain students, as a lot of students leave for bigger schools that have grad programs. 

“Having an undergraduate focus gets freshman here and excited to learn, but I also think that if you have grad students teaching undergraduates, it facilitates that they’re probably more likely to go into grad school here,” Pucelik said. 

NMU and MCS alumnus Grantas Dapkus said the addition would strengthen undergraduate education and bring more people to the department.

“When I was an undergrad, I was looking into grad programs and would have gone to it if NMU would have offered it,” Dapkus said in a Facebook message. “Right now it would be very beneficial to go to grad school and have a further exposure to the material.”

Minor changes to the proposal were made, including the amendment to remove the class ‘CS 552 Automated Reasoning’ from the program requirements. It was sent to Provost Kerri Schuiling for further consideration.

Other topics discussed include the approval of voluntary psychological withdrawal. And, a bylaw amendment to remove the Library and Instructional Support Advisory Committee (LISAC) from being a senate committee was not passed. The next AS meeting will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday Feb. 4 in Peninsula Room II of the Northern Center.

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