November 2005

Announcements & Deadlines

Call for Nominations/Applications for Graduate Student Awards
The Graduate School administers a number of awards that acknowledge the academic, teaching, research, and service contributions of graduate students. Nominations and applications are accepted for these awards until January 20, 2006. Awards will be given at the Graduate Student Awards Banquet on March 30, 2006.

Automation of Assistantship Agreement Issuance
We want to thank all of you who tested the online assistantship agreement.  On December 1, 2005, this application will go into production. On December 1, 2005, we will be clearing out all of the data in the database that was used to try and test the form functionality.

Effective January 1, 2006, all assistantship agreements must be submitted through the online process. An "electronic copy" will be retained by the Graduate School, and a paper copy will not have to be sent to the Graduate School. If you are interested, you can view a list of the feedback and responses. Please direct any additional feedback or concerns to .

Graduate Commencement will be on Friday, December 16, 2005 at Cassell Coliseum. Check in is between 1:30 and 2:30 for graduates and faculty, and the processional will begin at 2:45. The ceremony will begin at 3:00 and is expected to last approximately 2 hours.

Graduate Congressional Fellowship (Spring 2006)
The Graduate School is pleased to announce the availability of a Graduate Congressional Fellowship for students currently enrolled at Virginia Tech. The fellow will be able to participate in the everyday work of Congressman’s Boucher’s office. While specific duties will depend on the fellow’s experience and interests as well as the needs of Senator Boucher’s office, duties will likely include constituent services, special studies, and support of on-going office activities such telecommunications, science and technology, social issues, labor and education. 

The fellowship is open to master’s and doctoral students in all fields. Applicants must be currently enrolled in a graduate program at Virginia Tech and have completed at least 18 credits of graduate coursework. The ideal candidate should possess excellent writing skills. The successful applicant will receive a stipend and tuition scholarship up to $16,000.

Applicants should submit a 250 word statement of career goals, a current resume, and two letters of support, at least one of which must be from a Virginia Tech faculty member in the student’s graduate degree program. Please submit applications or nominations by December 15, 2005 to Karen P. DePauw, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate School, 100 Sandy Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061.

Examination Cards
The signed examination card is due back to the Graduate School immediately following the examination. 

New Fellowship
The David W. Francis and Lillian Francis Scholarship Fund was established to provide graduate fellowships in research emphasizing longer, safer and healthier lives.  The disciplines designated in the endowment include agriculture, engineering, bioinformatics, plant pathology, wood science and forest products, veterinary medicine and biotechnology. The Francis Research Fellowship includes a stipend of $18,000 plus tuition for one academic year. One research fellowship will be awarded each academic year.  PhD students whose research emphasizes “longer, safer and healthier lives” and are in their final year of research are eligible for the Francis Research Fellowship. Doctoral students should be nominated by their department. The nomination packet should include a letter of support from the academic unit, a letter from the faculty advisor(s), a description of the student’s academic work, and a synopsis of the student’s research and its relevance to promoting “longer, safer and healthier lives”. Nominations are due by February 1 and should be submitted to Karen P. DePauw, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies & Dean of the Graduate School. 

Internet based TOEFL
The Internet-based version of the TOEFL test (TOEFL iBT) has been introduced and will be phased in worldwide in 2006. Because of significant changes to the content of the test, there will be new scoring scales. Score reports will contain five scores: four section scores (Reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking), and one total score. Each section score will be on a 0-30 scale. The total score is the sum of the four scores.

For more information about comparing TOEFL iBT scores to the previous computer-based (CBT) and paper-based (PBT) versions, view the new publication, TOEFL Internet-based Test Score Comparison Tables.

Please note that the Test of Spoken English (TSE)will no longer be offered as a stand-alone test after June 2006, except in countries where TOEFL iBT has not yet been introduced. 

Imaging System Update
The Graduate School continues to work with Central IT on the Nolij document imaging and workflow implementation. It has been migrated to the develop instance of Banner. We are testing the Nolij software interaction with Banner 7 as well as our potential initial deployment environment. Once the Nolij software is in production, you will be able to view documents we have scanned by reviewing records via the Online Application Analysis. A web viewing application will follow. As the Nolij Corporation completes some enhancements to their software, the document imaging and workflow system will be deployed to graduate academic majors to begin testing. The Graduate School is in the final phases of testing the Nolij Transfer product. This product allows for importing data into Banner, such as ETS test scores. We are confident that this will introduce substantial efficiencies and better accuracy in getting applicant data to you.

Policies & Procedures Reminders/Updates

Academic units are encouraged to remind all students that they should enroll (themselves) in courses prior to the start of the semester and adhere to the drop/add deadlines set by the university. Only under unusual circumstances will graduate students be allowed to add or drop classes after the deadlines. Departments should not enroll students in courses — this practice has led to many problems that have had to be resolved by late withdrawals.

Instructors of record for graduate courses
Graduate School policy requires that graduate courses be taught by faculty members holding the appropriate terminal academic degree (e.g., PhD). Graduate students (including staff and A/P faculty working for graduate degrees) can teach undergraduate courses but are not authorized to teach graduate courses. Please note this requirement in planning course offerings in the future.

Defending student status
According to the President’s Policy Memorandum #97, graduate students who have “fulfilled all residency and course requirements” and have “completed the scheduling of one’s final examination prior to the beginning of the semester” are eligible for enrollment under defending student status.   The Graduate School has slightly modified this procedure effective Fall 2006*.  For those students who are enrolling for the sole purpose of taking their final examination scheduled within the first two weeks of the semester, they can qualify for special enrollment as Defending Student Status. The dates to defend under Defending Student Status are posted on our website. A minimum of 3 credit hours registration is required if one does not qualify for Defending Student Status.

In order to implement the new policy, it will be required that ETDs be filed within the semester the student defends. If the student doesn’t file within the deadline, he/she will need to register for DSS in the following semester.

*updated from memo originally sent via e-mail

Final Examinations
In the October 2005 Dean’s memo we reiterated Graduate School policy regarding the scheduling of final master’s and doctoral examinations as well as the new procedures regarding the examination cards. As stated, the final examinations (thesis and dissertation defense) are public events and open to the university community. Typically, members of the broader university community will attend and can participate in the question/answer session following an open seminar. The questioning of the candidate by the faculty committee is typically conducted in a closed door session as is any  meeting of the committee prior to the public defense.