April 2007

4.16.07 will remain fixed in our minds as a day of tragedy for Virginia Tech. As the facts unfold, we have learned of the undergraduates, graduate students, graduate assistants, instructors and faculty who were among the victims of this horrific crime. Some are deceased and others wounded. Some remain hospitalized, some are recovering. And we are all deeply impacted by the incidents and the aftermath. This is a very difficult time for all of us at Virginia Tech. I encourage you to engage in dialogue and seek support/counsel from and within our various communities.

A strong sense of community is an important component of graduate education at Virginia Tech. Our VT graduate community is indeed a global community. The tragic events of Monday April 16th have stressed our community in many ways that we might not even realize. Some in our community are feeling additional tension and stress for a variety of reasons. We must reach out to all graduate students and their families – to understand and to respect the differing ways in which the incidents affects our lives. I am personally and professionally committed to rebuilding our global community and making it even stronger. Many graduate students have already expressed their dismay and sadness over the events and have volunteered to help during this time of crisis (language translation, general assistance and more). Let us choose "random acts of kindness" as our purpose.

To begin, the GLC Multipurpose Room will be available for the rest of the week from 7:30am to 10:30 pm as a gathering place for the graduate community. Visit the Multipurpose room to offer reflections (poems, photos, statements, or other), comments to help us prepare action steps for a positive future, seek answers to questions you might have, or have a quiet moment. Please stop by to give or receive some comfort and share in the sense of community. The Graduate School staff are also available to answer questions and address concerns as they arise. The National Capital Region Community may visit the Northern Virginia Center (room 205) as well as the other sites in the area and offer condolences in a book or on poster on behalf of the Graduate Student Assembly in the National Capital Region.

The Graduate School website has been modified to include a section that honors the victims of 4.16.07 and provide answers to questions you might have about policies and procedures to address the concerns and issues that arise. I will address some of these in this memo but please check the website for updates.

The university administration has decided to award posthumous degrees for the students who died as a result of the tragic shootings on April 16, 2007. The graduate degrees will be awarded during Graduate Commencement on May 11. The Graduate School will prepare the documentation needed for such action.

The deceased faculty members can remain as advisors and on thesis/dissertation committees and as advisors for all graduate students graduating in May through Summer II, 2007. The Graduate School will work with the departments on each case.

Master’s students planning to graduate in May or during the summer can participate in Commencement. The deadline for the completion of all requirements (including ETD approval) for doctoral students will be extended to May 2.

We know that there might be graduate students who do not wish to return to Virginia Tech and we will honor their wishes. We will work with them and departments to facilitate transfer to other universities as might be appropriate. There might also be incoming graduate students having concerns for safety at VT. If you let me know of these cases, I will personally interact with these individuals to assure them of our commitment to establishing a safe and nurturing community for graduate students.

Thank you all for your efforts in helping us maintain a quality graduate education experience for our students.

Karen P. DePauw, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Graduate Studies
and Dean of the Graduate School