The Graduate Council


The Graduate School delegates certain powers and responsibilities, with respect to graduate education, to the Graduate Council.  The Graduate Council represents the Graduate School faculty and the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital senior administration in the consideration of policies and procedures that affect the academic environment, student services, and the direction of the Graduate School. The Graduate Council seeks to preserve and protect a Graduate School climate that promotes scholarship, innovation and discovery, and embraces the Mission, Values and Vision of the Graduate School.

Guiding Principles

  • Governance procedures are consistent with the requirements of the Graduate School, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC);
  • Governance procedures incorporate appropriate representation from the leadership and multiple disciplines at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital;
  • The governance process encourages continuous improvement;
  • Processes leading to decision-making are based on open discussion, transparency, shared governance, and iterative consensus development.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • The Graduate Council’s duties are to set policy for the Graduate School in accordance with the Operating Agreement. Such policy includes:
    • The review and approval of new or substantively revised graduate courses;
    • The review of, and recommendation to, the Board of Trustees of any new proposal for a graduate degree program, program track and/or graduate certificate program to ensure consistency with existing programs;
    • Periodically review the programs and their curricula to make appropriate recommendations for their revision, continuation, deactivation, or termination;
    • Establish general standards for graduate student admission and for the satisfactory completion of advanced degrees;
    • As it relates to graduate education, undertake other functions and responsibilities it may deem appropriate as formally requested by the Dean of the Graduate School.
  • At least once every two (2) years, the Graduate Council shall review each graduate degree  program in consultation with the Dean.  The aim of the review is to assess the effectiveness of the curriculum of each graduate degree program in achieving its goal, and to make recommendations for improvement.  A subcommittee of the Graduate Council, based on expertise in the subject matter, will be formed to conduct each review and each subcommittee can be expanded to include relevant graduate faculty as required.  Each degree program will be asked to prepare a report of their program’s progress, vision for the future, and student outcomes.  The subcommittee will summarize the reviews for the Graduate Council to discuss and make recommendations to the Dean regarding the changes envisioned for each degree program. The following checklist will be used as programs prepare for their Graduate Council reviews:
    1. Description of the degree program (from web or handbook)
    2. Brief statement of mission, goals and objectives
    3. Milestones of the program
    4. Syllabi for courses
    5. Results of student surveys including course evaluations
    6. Description of survey(s) and other tools utilized to solicit feedback
    7. Executive summary


The Graduate Council consists of thirteen (13) voting members and seven (7) ex-officio members.

  • Standing Members (8 total):  The Dean of the Graduate School, the President and Chief Executive Officer of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Executive Vice President and Scientific Director, the Executive Vice President and Chair of Global Pediatric Medicine, the Executive Vice President and Clinical Director, the PhD Program Associate Dean, the MSc Global Child Health (GCH) Program Associate Dean, and the MSc Clinical Investigations (CI) Program Associate Dean;
  • Rotating Members (5 total): Four (4) select Graduate School faculty and one (1) Graduate School student shall be rotating members of the Graduate Council.  The group of four (4) faculty comprises one (1) PhD faculty, one (1) MSc GCH faculty, one (1) MSc CI faculty, and one (1) faculty from any of the three programs. The President of the Graduate Student Association (GSA) is the student member;
    • The maximum term of membership of the Rotating Members of the Graduate Council shall be two (2) years. Terms will be staggered so that two Rotating Members are appointed each year.
    • The Graduate School faculty shall hold an election in the May faculty meeting preceding the academic year to select two (2) new Rotating Members. 
    • Consecutive terms are not allowed, but former Rotating Members can serve again after a two (2) year break.
    • The President of the GSA will rotate each year with the election of a new President.  The Vice President of the GSA will attend (and vote) if the President is unable to attend.
  • Ex-officio Members (7 total): The SVP/COO of the Graduate School, the Assistant Dean of the PhD program, the Assistant Dean of the MSc GCH program, the Assistant Dean of the MSc CI program, the Coordinator of Graduate School Operations (who records the minutes), the Registrar, and the Senior Counsel from the Office of Legal Services.  The Ex-Officio Members are non-voting members;
  • The Dean of the Graduate School will Chair the Graduate Council.  On an annual basis, the Chair will make a report to the Graduate Faculty of the school’s activities during the preceding year.  This report will first be reviewed and approved by the Graduate Council. 


  • Meetings shall be held monthly;
  • Meeting agendas (including date, time, and location) and any supporting materials shall be prepared by the Chair and distributed to the Graduate Council Members at least seven (7) business days in advance of the meeting. Any member of the Graduate Council may have an item placed on the agenda by submitting a written request to the Chair ten (10) business days in advance of the meeting;
  • Special Meetings may be called by the Chair or by petition of a majority of the members of the Graduate Council.  Notices of Special Meetings will be sent at least seven (7) business days prior to the event and will state the purpose of the meeting;
  • Meetings can only be attended by Graduate Council Members.  Guest participants will only be included with an invitation from the Chair;
  • A quorum is defined as having participation from at least 50% of the voting members.

Voting Privileges and Procedures

  • All Standing and Rotating Graduate Council Members, as defined above, are eligible to vote;
  • Votes may take place in-person, virtually, or electronically, during a meeting or as a stand-alone event;
  • A positive vote of more than half of present voting members is required to pass a measure;
  • Voting via proxy is not permitted.