October 2007

Announcements & Deadlines:

The Graduate Student Services Office (GSSO) in the National Capital Region encourages faculty staff and students to place suggestions in the drop box outside the room 200 at the Northern Virginia Center or to send an email to the gsso@nvc.vt.edu

The Graduate Student Services Office in the National Capital Region will hold a monthly open house for current graduate students on the last Thursday of the month between the hours of 6:00-7:00 at the Northern Virginia Center. For more information, please contact 703-538-8327 or email us at gsso@nvc.vt.edu

Call for Nominations for 2007-08 Graduate Student Awards
The Graduate School is requesting nominations for the following graduate student awards:
*          Outstanding Dissertation in (1) sciences and engineering (2) social sciences
*          Graduate Student Service Excellence
*          Graduate Student Teaching Excellence
*          Graduate Man and Woman of the Year
*          Outstanding Graduate Student by college at the (1) master’s and (2) doctoral level
Eligibility and nomination requirements vary for each award; please see attached table for details. Nominations must be submitted by February 1, 2008, unless otherwise stated. Award winners will be notified by letter. All awards include a monetary prize and a plaque or certificate. Winners and their advisors will be recognized at the awards banquet during Graduate Education Week in March 2008.

Change to Requirement to Pay Tuition for Students on Assistantship
Due to the fact that graduate tuition increased at a greater rate than stipends, it is necessary to update the tuition payment requirement. Accordingly, for students who are paid at Step 20 or below, departments must pay an in-state tuition, academic fee and engineering fee (if applicable) scholarship in an amount that is at least proportional to the assistantship appointment. Students who are paid at Step 21 or above may need to pay their tuition from their assistantship stipends. Departments are asked to apply these new rates for contracts issued for all future appointments. Departments must specify on the assistantship agreement whether or not tuition will be paid by the department or the student. Please contact Monika Gibson in the Graduate School (gibsonm@vt.edu) if you have any questions or concerns about this change.


New Graduate School Forms
On November 1, 2007, the Graduate School will release a new suite of forms.  These forms will replace any older versions previously used by the Graduate School or revised by departments for their own personal use.  While we understand that there will be older forms in the pipeline for a while, no old forms will be accepted as of January 14, 2008 which is the beginning of the spring 2008 semester.  If you have websites that direct students to our forms, please make sure that you check to ensure that the URL link is still accessible.  In addition, no departmental modifications will be allowed or accepted to the new version forms.

Application submission and decision deadlines
In an effort to help streamline the processes for departments, the Graduate School is establishing specific deadlines by which students can apply and when departments must make a final determination on an applicant.  For spring 2008, the online application will no longer be available after December 15, 2007.  Departments must make final decisions on all their applicants by Friday, December 28, 2007.  Term changes will be accepted for students who do not complete their application packets within established departmental deadlines.  Please contact the Graduate School directly if you would like to recommend a term change for application consideration.

Nominations for Cunningham Doctoral Scholars
As an integral part of our recruitment efforts to attract outstanding doctoral students to Virginia Tech, I am pleased to open the competition for the 2007 Cunningham Doctoral Scholars Program.  Please review the guidelines and timelines available on the Graduate School web site, http://www.graduateschool.vt.edu/financial/for_departments/gs_funding.html

Clare Boothe Luce Fellowship:  Announcement is attached.

Graduate Catalog
Graduate Course Listings
As a first step in rolling out the new Graduate Catalog you can now find an improved version of the graduate course listings. http://www.graduateschool.vt.edu/academics/programs

Graduate Catalog
College Deans will receive a note from the Graduate School next week with information on how we will begin populating information for each Graduate Program.  Look for more information within your College as Deans delegate update abilities.  As the updates begin we will offer some technical information sessions for those that may have difficulties adding content.


Graduate enrollments for fall 2007 reached an all time high of 6,496 university-wide.  This includes full-time and part time enrollments in Blacksburg, extended campuses, and beyond.  In fall 2007 the university also achieved its goal of getting 900 new PhD students, three years ahead of the targeted year, 2010. Today Doctoral students comprise 42% of graduate enrollments, compared to 30% in fall 1998, and 28% in fall 2002.


Institutional Plan for Graduate Degrees (IPGD) – Call for Proposals
The Institutional Plan for Graduate Degrees (IPGD) provides the overview of our academic plans for graduate education at Virginia Tech.  The IPGD is updated annually and in this regard, I’ve included the call for proposals below.  

CGS&P activities 
Mr. John Kane’s appointment as the 2007-2008 Chief Justice of the Graduate Honor System was ratified by the commission on September 19, 2007.

At the October 3rd meeting, the Graduate Student Assembly announced that there is a new, updated website for the GSA.   Information and deadlines on the Travel Fund (TFP) and Graduate Research and Development (GRDP) programs that provide money for graduate students to travel to conference and conduct research can be found on the website  

This past year the GSA, working with the commission, has acquired free statistical consulting for graduate students through the Statistics Department effective January 2008.

Policies & Procedures Reminders/Updates

Enrollment of graduate students working on their thesis/dissertation: graduate students who have been out of residence and return to work with their Advisor during their thesis/dissertation writing should be enrolled for a minimum of 3 credits of research (this presumes that all other coursework on the student’s Plan of Study has been completed). Faculty advisors and committee members should not agree to work with students who are not enrolled, i.e., a student who wishes to return to defend a thesis/dissertation needs to have a period of research enrollment for working with his/her advisor and committee prior to the defense.

Titles of departmental graduate personnel: The Graduate School has adopted the following terminology on our new forms and in the Policies and Procedures document. Graduate Program Director refers to the designated faculty member in the department who plays an academic supervisory role in directing the graduate program. If the Department Head wishes, the Graduate Program Director may sign graduate forms on behalf of the Head.  Graduate Coordinator refers to the staff member in the department who plays a managerial role in the handling of the graduate program. We are requesting that the Graduate Coordinator receive copies of all official paperwork for students prior to them being sent to the Graduate School. This should insure that if anything is lost in transition between units, that a copy of such paperwork is available.

Students defending before they are ready:  We need the help of Graduate Program Directors to insure that students aren’t being allowed to defend before they are ready to submit an ETD within two weeks following the defense. In the future, all members of a student’s Advisory Committee will be required to sign the request form for scheduling a defense. Their signature will verify that they have seen the thesis/dissertation and agree that it is ready for defense.  This new procedure is necessary because of the number of delays in filing of ETDs, some of which extend to months or years.

Defending Student Status: The 1 credit DSS Status was designed for students who had a completed thesis/dissertation ready for defense in one semester but could not arrange to schedule that defense until the beginning of the next semester (typically because of faculty schedules that are beyond the student’s control).  However, many of the DSS requests that come to the Graduate School are from students who are still working on their thesis/dissertation, so they do not fit within either the intent of the policy or the time at the beginning of the semester for scheduling a defense with only the 1 cr of DSS enrollment. If extenuating circumstances result in the Graduate Program Director and/or the student’s Advisor requesting an exception that allows DSS after the usual time, that request and the formal scheduling of the defense must be completed during the designated DSS period. 

Defenses or Preliminary Exams are not valid if they have not been formally scheduled.  For both adherence to policy and for everyone’s protection, formal scheduling of these examinations by the Graduate School is required before an examination should be held. Thus, the Advisor should have the examination card in hand before the exam.  Examinations held without prior scheduling will need to be rescheduled and conducted a second time.


Annual Call for Proposals
Institutional Plan for Graduate Degrees (IPGD)

The Graduate School issues its annual call for new degree proposal for inclusion on the Institutional Plan for Graduate Degrees (IPGD).  The current IPGD is comprised of a list of degree programs that are “approved for development” (pre-approved) and a wish list of degrees not yet pre approved.  Submissions will be considered for “pre-approval” of degrees to be implemented no later than fall 2011.

We anticipate that colleges will review and select from proposals generated by their academic units.  We would like to receive the college-approved proposals by February 1st so that we can finalize the ‘08’-’09 update to the IPGD by the end of the spring, 2008 semester.

Please provide the following information (in two pages or less) for degree programs you wish to have considered for inclusion on the plan:

  1. Need and Demand for the degree
  2. Target audience
  3. Faculty resources to be utilized
  4. Graduate courses (existing and proposed) underpinning the degree
  5. Conformity with the VT Strategic Plan particularly with regard to research emphasis and interdisciplinary nature
  6. Source of financial support
  7. Anticipated implementation date


The proposed degrees currently listed on the wish list will be considered for pre-approval in this review cycle.  Please review the current “wish list” and indicate those proposals that should be removed from consideration.   The current IPGD is attached.

Please send proposals to Karen P. DePauw in the Graduate School by February 1, 2008.