September 2004

Welcome back! I look forward to another exciting year for graduate education at Virginia Tech.

This monthly memo will be a bit longer because I want to provide some reflections about our progress to date in addition to the regular policy/procedure changes, announcements, Graduate School updates, and reminders. I hope you will find this information helpful. Please share with faculty, staff and students in your department.


This academic year marks a significant milestone for graduate education at Virginia Tech. There is strong interest in and support for graduate education among the Board of Visitors, especially by the Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) that identified graduate education as one of its three priorities (faculty affairs and diversity are the other two). A business plan for graduate education has been shared with the AAC in which I outlined the steps for increasing PhD enrollment with attention to competitive offers to graduate students (assistantship stipend, tuition remission, health insurance) and building a strong graduate community (e.g., housing, child care). Within the university community, the Graduate School’s initiatives under the umbrella of Transformative Graduate Education (TGE) continue to be well received including the new Graduate Certificate in the Future Professoriate. The Institutional Plan for Graduate Degrees (IPGD) provides a roadmap for a systematic approach to developing new graduate degrees.

In the last two years, the Commission on Graduate Studies & Policies (CGS&P) has been very helpful in advancing the graduate education agenda. The Graduate Student Assembly and the Graduate School have worked closely to “build graduate community” among the graduate students and faculty by sponsoring academic and social events throughout the year. Another significant accomplishment is the distribution of the Building Graduate Community: Expectations for Graduate Education document to university constituents this fall. Numerous policies and procedures were changed to enhance the graduate education experience at Tech.

Priorities for this upcoming year include increasing graduate enrollment by 900 PhD students by 2010, developing a strategic recruitment effort, pilot testing the Graduate Program Review process, and implementing an “Imaging System” for digital processing within the Graduate School and ultimately throughout the university. We will continue to examine existing policies and procedures and recommend changes for increased efficiency and effectiveness. I welcome your comments and suggestions.


  • Recruitment workshop: September 29th from 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm, Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference Center auditorium
  • The first “Dialog with the Dean”: September 28, 5:30-7:00, 238 Squires.
  • GSA Graduate Professional School Day: September 28, 2004
  • Deadline for application for degree and certificate conferral for Fall 2004 graduates: October 1, 2004
  • Associate Dean of the Graduate School position vacancy.
  • We will notify you as soon as the Graduate Catalog (04-05) is online (anticipate Oct 2004)
  • Actions of the Commission on Graduate Study & Policies (CGS&P) & University Council (see Memorandums from the Dean)
  • Independent study courses are being set up at the department level and require no approval beyond the department. Independent Study courses will remain as a P/F graduate course and will carry the generic title of Independent Study. Independent study should be used as a supplement to the graded graduate courses required on a plan of study.
  • GRE scores will no longer be a requirement of the Graduate School. The decision to require GRE scores should reside with the faculty at the department or college level and the Graduate School will support your decision to use GREs (or GMATs, etc.).
  • 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.
  • Graduate certificate guidelines (Presidential Policy # 230) have been approved and are available for departments wishing to offer graduate certificates.
  • Changed the requirement of vita as required for ETD to optional
  • Approved guidelines for departments to offer a Bachelor’s/Master’s program option beyond that currently available for Honors students.
  • New wording for requirements for second Master’s degrees.
  • CGS&P approved the document entitled “Building Graduate Community: Expectations for Graduate Education at Virginia Tech
  • Doctoral candidates must have an advisory committee of at least four faculty members (change from 5 members to minimum of 4).
  • Minimum Master’s degree requirements have been changed.
  • Addition of description of the manuscript format for presenting thesis or dissertation.
  • For the Department of Accounting and Information Systems (ACIS), the current identification for graduate degrees were changed from General Business, Accounting (GBUA) to Business, Accounting and Information Systems (BACIS)
  • For the Department of Business Information Technology (BIT), the current identification for graduate degrees was changed from Business Management Science (BMSC) to Business, Business Information Technology (BBIT).

Reminder: Reviewing Applicant files and Requests for AA forms
The Graduate School will continue to implement a priority system for departmental requests for AA forms. Please know that you can request an AA form before the applicant’s file is complete, especially for those top candidates you wish to attract to Virginia Tech. But it is important that academic units screen applicants’ files and send us the names of the individuals you wish to recommend for admission. We will not be sending copies of the files because the information is available to you through Banner.

Recruitment Efforts
Recruitment of graduate students is high priority for Virginia Tech. On September 29th , 2-3:30 (DBHCC), the Graduate School will sponsor a session on recruitment. We will discuss the plan for increasing graduate enrollment and articulate effective recruitment strategies to reach our goal. In addition, I will be announcing a request for proposals (RFP) for funding of innovative recruitment efforts and a RFP for funding new assistantships for PhD students.

First Graduate Alumni Homecoming
The first graduate alumni homecoming was held on September 11, 2004 at the University Club. Over 100 graduate alumni joined Graduate School staff, Alumni Relations staff, and current graduate students for a brunch with music and conversation prior to the first home football game against Western Michigan University. WMU President, Dr. Judith Bailey, is a graduate alumna of Virginia Tech. She received her MS (1973) and EdD (1976) from Virginia Tech. By all accounts, the event was a success and plans are underway to hold an annual homecoming event for graduate alumni/ae. Graduate alumni received a flash drive as a gift from Graduate School and the Office of Research.

Building Graduate Community: Expectations for Graduate Education
Last spring, we finalized the document entitled Building Graduate Community: Expectations for Graduate Education at Virginia Tech in which we describe our commitment to, and identify our responsibilities for, quality graduate education. This was a collaborative effort of the Graduate Student Assembly, Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies (CGS&P), and the Graduate School. The document has been sent directly to all faculty and administrators. The copies for the graduate students were sent in bulk to each department. Please make sure that each graduate student receives a copy. Posters have also been sent to academic and administrative offices for posting.

Deadline to accept international students for Spring 2005 – November 1
The Spring 2005 deadline to accept international students residing outside the United States is November 1. Since the visa application process may take 2-3 months, we must allow sufficient time for students to make all their arrangements. International students are expected to arrive in Blacksburg no later than January 14 and participate in the mandatory international student orientation. Departments may request an exception for specific individuals by contacting the immigration advisors (Zelma Harris or Ruth Athanson at in the Graduate School.

Fellowship reception in The Grove
The second annual fellowship reception hosted by President Steger for graduate students holding prestigious fellowships and scholarships is scheduled for October 26. Invitations will be sent to students and their advisors in the next few weeks.