March 2004


  • Graduate Commencement will be held on May 14, at 3:00pm, in Cassell Coliseum. This year we will introduce some new features including recognition of the recipients of official graduate certificates, performance of an original musical composition celebrating commencement, and visual reflections on the year. Please encourage graduate students, faculty and staff to attend.
  • Northern Virginia Center Ceremony will be held May 15, at 8:00pm, at George Mason University. Please share this information with faculty, staff and students.
  • The next Dialogue with the Graduate Dean will be held on April 7, 2004 (place to be determined). The tentative topic is Balancing Work-Life in Graduate School.

Deadlines for International Students

The Fall 2004 deadline to accept international students residing outside the United States is May 15. Since the visa application process may take 3-4 months, we must allow sufficient time for students to make all their arrangements. International students are expected to arrive in Blacksburg no later than August 16 and participate in the mandatory international student orientation on August 19.

Departments may request an exception for specific individuals by contacting the immigration advisors (Zelma Harris or Ruth Athanson) in the Graduate School. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis after evaluating the applicant’s chances of getting the immigration paperwork and visa in time to arrive by August 16.

Reminder: Evaluation of the Progress of Graduate Students

The University Council approved a revision to the Annual Progress Review process (Presidential Policy #229). Please utilize this policy in developing and implementing departmental guidelines for conducting annual progress reviews for your graduate students. I also encourage you to incorporate the opportunity for graduate students to read, review and respond to these reviews. It is important that you conduct these reviews annually and share the results with the Graduate School. The Graduate School would like to have a copy of your guidelines – please send a copy to Roger Avery by July 1, 2004.

Work-Life Grants

The Graduate School in collaboration with the College Deans and the Provost has established a Work-Life grant program to provide temporary financial assistance to departments to continue support for female graduate students during pregnancy. This grant program is a result of conversations with concerned graduate students and recommendations from the ADVANCE Pipeline Element working group chaired by Nancy Love (CEE). A description of the program is attached.

Health Insurance Plan and Subsidy

We continue to work with Fred Weaver and GM-Southwest regarding the health insurance plan for graduate students. An open forum for graduate students with Jim Payne (GM-Southwest) will be held April (get information from GSA website)… Please encourage your graduate students to attend. The health insurance subsidy will increase for next year but the exact amount is not yet known.

Recent actions of the Commission on Graduate Study & Policies (CGS&P) & University Council

CGS&P approved the document entitled “Building Graduate Community: Expectations for Graduate Education at Virginia Tech” with editorial changes. The document has also received approval from CSA and the Faculty Senate. Commission of Research is currently reviewing the document. Once all input is received, the document will be made available on the Graduate School webpage.

Graduate School Efforts

  • CollegeNet update: The time to submit modifications to the supplementary forms is here. Letters have been sent, via email, to all departments asking for updates.
  • Decision posting on the web: Applicants can now see decisions about admissions via the web. This information is provided to better communicate with our applicants. The decision letters sent by post continue to be the official communication. This action is effective immediately.

Work-Life Grants: Maternity

During their time in Graduate School, students routinely face issues of balance among the demands of work (GA, GTA, GRA), graduate study and personal life. Potentially, one of the most important life issues faced by female graduate students is pregnancy. In demonstrating its commitment to be work-life friendly, Virginia Tech needs to provide a supportive environment for female graduate students (and partners) in their choice to give birth while simultaneously acknowledging the department’s need for continuation of the work being provided by the graduate student as a GTA, GRA, or GA.

To this end, the Graduate School has created a program entitled Work-Life Grants through which departments can request temporary financial assistance. Specifically, departments can request financial assistance equivalent to a stipend for 6 weeks. The Graduate School will provide ½ of the 6-week stipend and the College Dean will provide the other ½ of the 6-week stipend. This matching program, work-life grants can provide sufficient resources to the department to find a temporary solution/replacement for the work being conducted by the pregnant graduate student on assistantship (GA, GTA, GRA) while simultaneously continuing her assistantship.

As the situation arises, please submit your request in writing to the Dean of the Graduate School and copied to the College Dean. These requests will be acted upon immediately. The program is effective immediately.