December 2003

This Monthly Memo from the Graduate School is the outcome of our discussions concerning enhanced communications about graduate education at Tech. Based upon your feedback, I will send the Monthly Memos via email to Department Heads, Graduate Program Directors and Graduate Secretaries and post the memo and all pertinent documents on the Graduate School webpage. Your additional feedback and suggestions are always welcomed.

I’m looking forward to the upcoming December Commencement and encourage each of you to attend and bring other faculty members with you. Commencement is a very special time for our graduates and their family and I hope you will join your colleagues in recognizing our graduates and celebrating their accomplishments. See you there!

Graduate Admissions Guidelines (addendum 1)

As you are aware, a review of race-conscious programs has been underway for the past several months. Several “programs” housed within the Graduate School came under scrutiny: graduate admissions, fee waiver for minority and McNair Scholars, Graduate Preview Weekend, and the ABD Fellows Program. During the summer, I was asked by the Provost to articulate graduate admissions guidelines for the university – those guidelines are attached.

Please note that the graduate admissions guidelines include the factors typically utilized by faculty in making their recommendations for admissions, reinforcing the portfolio approach in identifying those applicants to be admitted to the graduate programs at Virginia Tech. I have been asked to inform you that it is the policy of the university that graduate admissions cannot be based solely upon race/ethnicity. Please use the graduate admissions guidelines in evaluating and recommending admissions.

Cunningham Awards (addendum 2)

The Graduate School has reviewed the existing Cunningham fellows program and solicited your feedback. I am pleased to announce the establishment of the Cunningham Doctoral Scholar Awards. This program is designed to recruit academically well-qualified doctoral students to Virginia Tech. The details are contained in the Cunningham Doctoral Scholar Awards document. I hope you will utilize the scholar awards as part of your recruitment strategy.

eProgress to degree

An important function of the Graduate School is to provide graduate students with information about the milestones in their progress to degree. To this end, we are developing electronic communication strategies between the Graduate School and graduate students and departments. Effective immediately, when the application for degree completion (AFD) is submitted electronically, graduate students will be notified electronically of their individual To-Do List as a progress check. Departments will also be able to check on the progress of their graduate students. In the near future, students will receive regular email messages from the Graduate School. Please encourage your graduate students to apply for degree by the published deadlines. We will provide detailed information on the webpage. You may also contact

Angie Webb via email.

Featured Graduate Student on the Web

Each month the Graduate School will feature a graduate student on our website. The purpose is to allow graduate students to share their insights and stories from a personal perspective. We will maintain an archive of these. Please send us nominations of students you would like to see featured. To read the first interview, visit Featured Graduates.

Deferral and Reconsideration requests

In the past, the Graduate School has allowed applicants to request deferral or reconsideration routinely. This has resulted in numerous requests that involve a great deal of department and Graduate School staff time to process. Effective November 7, 2003, requests for deferral or reconsideration of admissions must come from and be supported by departments. It is my intent to make sure that departmental faculty who wish to defer or reconsider the individuals before reprocessing the applications.

Gentle reminder:

It has been brought to my attention that some departments are sending multiple copies of documents or contacting the Graduate School multiple times for a single request. Please help us out by sending only one copy or making one phone call. We will be able to better serve you if we don’t have to deal with unnecessary duplicates. Thanks.

Banner related items

  • Don’t forget to run pending reports as we approach decision-making time for graduate admissions (Banner Report SYRA951)
  • You can now print degrees pending and degrees awarded reports (Banner Report SYRB672)
  • Nominations for student awards are requested by January 30, 2004. More information about awards and nomination process.

Addendum 1

Graduate Admissions Guidelines

Admission to graduate study is based upon a review by the faculty in the degree-granting unit and is focused on the best fit of the applicant’s ability and interests with the department’s academic programs and faculty. Factors used in the decision-making process can include the following: baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution, undergraduate gpa, undergraduate major, letters of recommendations, academic interest area and match with departmental offerings, availability of faculty advisor, availability of graduate assistantships or fellowships, TOEFL scores for non-native English speakers, GRE or other standardized test scores, relevant previous experiences and social cultural diversity.

Addendum 2

Cunningham Doctoral Scholar Awards

The Cunningham Doctoral Scholar Awards program is designed to recruit academically well-qualified doctoral students to Virginia Tech.


  • Be accepted into a doctoral program at Virginia Tech (preferably from a non-VT master’s or bachelor’s program)
  • Have an outstanding academic record and strong academic potential for successful completion of a doctoral degree
  • Be nominated by an academic department
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Matching commitment from academic department


  • Competitive assistantship stipend for GRA or GTA position (flexible, related to qualifications and academic discipline; work responsibilities defined by department; 9 or 12-month appointments available)
  • Tuition scholarship


  • Up to two years from Graduate School, with minimum departmental matching support equivalent to Graduate School’s commitment

Nomination/Application procedures:

  • Academic department submits nomination to the Vice Provost for Graduate
    Studies & Dean of the Graduate School as soon as candidate is identified
  • Nominations should include the following information about the student:
    o Name of applicant, VT degree sought, previous university
    o Recommendation letter from department addressing eligibility requirements
  • The Graduate School makes decisions about nominees within 2-3 weeks of receiving the nomination. Number of available fellowships is dependent on resources.
  • Fifty percent of the awards are expected to be made by February 1; remaining funds are expected to be awarded by March 1.