March 2007


  • Graduate Education Week: At the request of Virginia Tech, Governor Kaine officially proclaimed March 26-30, 2007 as Graduate Education Week in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia Tech celebrated the week with numerous events in Blacksburg and the National Capital Region.
  • Spring 2007 Commencement:
    The Graduate Commencement in Blacksburg will be held at 3:00pm in Cassell Coliseum on Friday, May 11, 2007. The commencement speaker will be Dr. Alberto Bustani, President of the Monterrey Metropolitan campus of the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, known as ITESM, the largest multicampus university system in Latin America. ITESM is also a frequent collaborator in various science, engineering and student exchange programs with Virginia Tech.
  • Astronaut Charles J. Camarda with the NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center’s Engineering and Safety Center, will receive the Graduate Alumni Achievement Award.
  • National Capital Region Commencement, Center for the Arts, 2:30 P.M., Sunday, May 13, 2007. More information may be obtained at or from the Graduate Student Services Office at the Northern Virginia Center, 703-538-8327/
  • An email will be going out to all graduate students who have indicated that they intend to graduate this spring. The email will provide more specifics about the date, time, and location of both ceremonies.

Actions of the Board of Visitors
At its March 26, 2007 meeting, the Board of Visitors approved three new graduate degrees: MA in Foreign Languages, Cultures & Literatures for Blacksburg; MS in Biomedical Technology & Development for the National Capital Region; and the PhD in STEM Education: Engineering for Blacksburg. The proposals will be forwarded to SCHEV for final review and approval

The BOV also approved a tuition increase for graduate students and the new compensation plan for graduate students. Improvements were made in the health insurance coverage as well as increasing the premium percentage provided by the university to 80%. Details will be available on the Graduate School website.

Clarification and communication
As you are aware, changes in operating procedures have been underway for some months now in the Graduate School. As with any change, confusion and communication can result. The focus of this section of the Monthly Memo is to communicate about some of the issues and concerns.

Duplicate IDs: In the fall the problem of duplicate IDs for the same person was identified. As a result, the Graduate School worked with the Registrar’s office and Administrative Information Systems (AIS) to identify these situations and to have them corrected. A systematic check for duplicate IDs was conducted and 90% of these cases were corrected by AIS and the Graduate School. When additional duplicate IDs are identified, the Graduate School works to immediately reconcile the records and to notify AIS to remove the duplicate. As we review incomplete files, we also check documents for duplicate IDs. Please notify Jacqueline Nottingham if you identify duplicate IDs and we will work with you to resolve them. Our staff have been retrained to address these issues.

Inaccurate data in Banner: Several months ago, it was brought to our attention that CollegeNet data downloaded using the "old" format generating inaccurate data in Banner. CollegeNet was contacted and the problem was corrected. Please be assured that we are in constant contact with CollegeNet about the online applications and supplemental forms. If you have concerns, please contact Jacqueline Nottingham.

Supporting documents for Plans of Study: As we approach the re-accreditation of the university by Southern Association of Schools & Colleges (SACS), it is imperative that we have accurate records of the faculty members who serve on graduate student committees. SACS will be reviewing the qualifications of those who serve and thus, it is important that we gather the supporting documents for each committee. The supporting documents will still be needed for those who are not full-time, tenured or tenure track faculty. We need to have information on file for part-time faculty, visiting faculty, adjuncts, research faculty and those from outside of Virginia Tech who are requested to serve on committees at the time of filing the Plan of Study. If we don’t have the information about those who have already been approved for committee service, we have been asking for this information at the time of prelims or final defense. If the POS is already approved, we will not delay an examination and will honor the existing committee configuration but we will need the supporting documents. Thank you for helping us accomplish this task.

Delays in responding to emails: Earlier this spring, we had a tremendous backlog in the emails sent to the gradappl address creating unacceptable delays in responding to your emails. This has been addressed by the addition of another email account for use within VT. It has taken us some time to catch up but a response should be received within a 48 hour (during the work week) time frame.

Response time for requesting information or admissions letters: Currently the response time for requesting information or letters of applications is less than one week. Depending upon our workload, the response is much shorter. Our procedures are such that we "look up" official scores, transcripts, etc. from departmental requests on a daily basis. Please know that departments can also look up this information on Banner as well.

In an attempt to improve the efficiency in the transition of applications to departments for review, we discovered a flaw in the logic of the workflow. This led to many of the departmental recommendations being stopped rather than forwarded to the process of generating admission letters. Although it is likely that delays resulted from this, the problem was recently addressed and should no longer occur. If you have questions, please contact Jacqueline Nottingham

Current Course listings: While we are in the process of "going digital" with our catalog, you can find a complete listing of graduate courses by department on the Graduate School website via Degrees & Academic Programs, Degrees Offered by college, department or extended campus location and then clicking on current courses. All courses approved for graduate credit will be displayed. The problem of finding a complete listing of courses will disappear once the Graduate Catalog is on-line.