January 2006

Welcome back to the start of a new semester and a new year!


  • Proposals for the ’06-’07 Institutional Plan for Graduate Degrees (IPGD) are due February 15.
  • Graduate Education Week is scheduled for March 27 — 31.
  • Preview weekend is scheduled for February 24 — 25.
  • Graduate Student Awards — application/nomination deadline extended to Jan 27. Graduate students may apply or be nominated for the following awards: Outstanding Dissertation; Graduate Student Teaching Excellence; Graduate Student Service Excellence; Graduate Man and Graduate Woman of the Year. Nominations and applications are accepted until January 27, 2006. Notifications about the Outstanding Graduate Student by college must be submitted to the Graduate School by February 15, 2006. Awards will be given at the Graduate Student Awards Banquet on March 30, 2006. More information >>
  • Commencement Ceremony in the National Capital Region, Center for the Arts, Fairfax, Virginia, Sunday, May 14, 2006.

Commission on Graduate Studies & Policy (CGS&P)

The following programs have been approved by the commission and forwarded to University Council:

  • Ph.D. program in Geospatial and Environmental Analysis
  • English Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Writing
  • EDP Spin-Off Ph.D. Degree — Architecture and Design
  • EDP Spin-Off Ph.D. Degree — Planning Governance and Globalization
  • School of Construction

The commission accepted the changes proposed by the Degree Requirement Standards Criteria and Academic Policy (DRSCAP) committee and recommended the following modifications for inclusion in the Graduate School Policies and Procedures section of the Graduate Catalog:

(1) Incomplete grades
An incomplete (“I”) may be given when the requirements of a course have not been completed because of illness or extenuating circumstances. Grades of “I” remain on the transcript until they are replaced with a letter grade when the student has completed course requirements. A student may not graduate with an “I” in a course on the Plan of Study. Grades of “I” that remain on the transcript may indicate failure to make satisfactory academic progress and may affect eligibility for assistantships and continuation in a degree program.

(2) New section on withdrawal from courses. (This section would follow the section on incomplete grades.)

Withdrawal from Courses (to be designated as WG)
Until the drop deadline, students may withdraw from courses, but they must adhere to the terms of assistantships or other requirements about the minimum number of hours of enrollment, and they may need to add other courses as substitutes to meet the minimum. After the drop date, students may withdraw from courses with the approval of their advisor and the Graduate School. The course will remain on the transcript with the grade of W. If a student withdraws from all the courses in a semester, a notation on the transcript will indicate the date of withdrawal, but the course names will not appear.

(3) Grades of W on transcripts; repeated courses and NG, NR in GPA calculation
Grades of W will appear and remain on the official transcript. A statement about the transcript record will be added to the [policy] section on grading systems.

In addition to the above grades, the following grades may be issued: I (incomplete), P (taught on a Pass/Fail basis only), X (continuing courses), W (withdrawal after the add-drop period), NR (not reported), NG (no grade), and EQ (review or equivalent credit for research credit). Grades of NR, NG, and W are not calculated in computing the GPA, but they remain on the transcript. When courses are repeated, both course enrollments remain on the transcript, but only the second grade counts in the GPA. A notation on the transcript indicates that the first grade is not counted.

Course withdrawal policy for graduate students
The commission has forwarded a resolution to University Council which will establish a separate course withdrawal designation, “WG”, for graduate students based upon the approved recommendations above.

Personnel changes in the Graduate School

On January 17, Brian Mihalik, Professor in the Department of Hospitality & Tourism Management, joined the Graduate School as .50 Associate Dean. His primary responsibilities will include graduate curriculum & academic programs, awards, and working with the Transformative Graduate Education/Preparing the Future Career Professional initiative. He will also assist with daily operations in the Graduate School

Erika Golart will be leaving the Graduate School on February 3 to join her husband in Florida as they begin a new phase of their professional lives. Best wishes to Erika and her family! We thank her for all of her efforts!

Christina Dillon and Kathy Hale have departed the Graduate School for new professional opportunities. Thanks to Christina and Kathy for their years of dedicated service to the Graduate School! Their positions should be filled soon.

Monthly meeting of graduate secretaries and coordinators

The Graduate School will hold monthly meetings for graduate coordinators on the second Thursday of each month starting in February, from 1-2 pm in Room C of the GLC. The purpose of these meetings is to share information about ongoing or upcoming Graduate School initiatives, provide timely training and assistance with procedural matters, discuss problems and solutions related to day to day operations, and create a forum where concerns and practical ideas can be shared.

Imaging system update

We are now in production with the Nolij Transfer product. While not directly related to imaging and workflow, it is allowing us to better batch load data from our online application process. Soon, you will be able to see online applications in Banner within a business day. Nolij is on-site for the final full week of January to assist the Graduate School and Central IT with work on our workflow and scanning procedures. We anticipate that departments will begin to see some documents for their applicants via the OAA in the next month.

English proficiency and TOEFL scores

English proficiency is an important factor in admissions of international students. As you know, the primary way to demonstrate such proficiency is through the submission of TOEFL scores. In the past, the Graduate School has automatically rejected those with low TOEFL scores. We have modified this approach using our electronic AA form and will provide the TOEFL score data so that departments can make recommendations on all students.

Final oral examinations

It is fairly standard practice around the nation that at least a portion of the final oral defense is open to the public (faculty, students, family, community).  Some academic units ask the graduate students to make a public presentation with Q&A that is followed by a closed portion in which the committee asks questions. The discussion of student’s performance portion is always closed and limited to those who can vote on the candidate’s performance. It has come to my attention that some graduate students feel as if they should provide food at the examination. The final examination should be considered an academic event, not a social event. Because the practice of bringing food could create awkward situation, the Graduate School encourages departments to develop some guidelines for final oral examinations.


  • Spring semester deadlines for completing degrees are published on the web and in the handout available in Graduate School.
  • Faculty should not allow students to participate in their courses unless those students are registered in the course from the beginning of the semester. This applies to research, independent study, and project/report courses as well as formal A/F-graded courses. Late Adds are considered exceptions to policy and require the approval of the Graduate School under unusual circumstances.