January 2009 Monthly Memo

Happy New Year!  We look forward to working with you to enhance graduate education throughout 2009.  Thanks for your efforts.


Reminders:  The Spring gathering of the Graduate Program Directors will be held from 3:00-5:00 on January 27, 2009 in the Multipurpose Room.  We will make this available to locations in the NCR.  Please advise us of your participation.  Topics to be discussed include on line graduate catalog, copyright/fair use guidelines for ETD, admissions letters and processing using web 2.0 technology, updates on 4000 level courses, GTA qualifications and culture for graduate education (in preparation, please see articles, "Grad Students Think Twice About Jobs in Academe" from the January 15 Chronicle of Higher Education and "Rejecting the academic fast track" from the January 15 issue of InsideHigherEd.   Hope to see you there.

The Institutional Plan for Graduate Degree is currently in development.  Please submit all proposals no later than February 1.  For more information, see October Monthly Memo.

Cunningham Doctoral Scholars Program

The Cunningham Doctoral Scholar Awards program is accepting nominations to recruit academically well-qualified doctoral students to Virginia Tech. Nominees should be accepted into a doctoral program at Virginia Tech (preferably from a non-VT master’s or bachelor’s program), with an outstanding academic record and strong academic potential for successful completion of a doctoral degree. Nominees should be U.S. citizens.  An academic department nomination is required and should include the following information about the student: name of applicant, VT degree sought, previous university, recommendation letter from department addressing eligibility requirements. A competitive GTA or GRA stipend will be awarded up to two years, with matching commitment from the academic department.  The first round of decisions will be made following the February 1st deadline.  Submissions will be accepted until March 1st.

Connect Lunch

In February, the Office of Graduate Student Diversity Initiatives will be hosting two activities in our Connect series. The first is the HBCU Connect lunch. This gathering was established years ago and continues to be a focal meeting point for Faculty, Graduate Students, and Staff with connections to HBCU. The goal of the informal lunch meeting is to identify problems & opportunities and to brainstorm on how to improve VT’s relationship with HBCU’s and members of that community.

A second lunch will be held in February, this one focusing on Faculty, Graduate students, and Staff with connections to Latin America. If you have Latino heritage, or have a project with a university in Latin America, or simply are interested in establishing working relationship with researchers there, come join us.

Date and information for RSVP will be announced in the February monthly memo and email announcements will be sent to several campus listservs, including the Black Caucus and the Hispanic/Latino Caucus.

Graduate School 2008-09 Awards: 

Friday, February 6, 2009 at 4:00 PM is the deadline for the following 2008-09 Graduate School award nominations:

  • Outstanding Graduate Alumni Achievement Award
  • Outstanding Dissertation in math, sciences and engineering–$1000 award
  • Outstanding Dissertation in social sciences, business, and humanities–$1000 award
  • Graduate Student Service Excellence–$1000 award
  • Graduate Student Teaching Excellence–$1000 award
  • Graduate Man and Woman of the Year– $500 award each
  • Outstanding Graduate Student by college at the (a) master’s and (b) doctoral level–$500 award each
  • Outstanding Graduate Student in Interdisciplinary Programs (doctoral)–$500 award
  • Graduate Man and Woman of the Year–$500 award each  
  • Outstanding Graduate Alumni Achievement Award — presented during the 2009 Spring Commencement ceremony.

Additional information on the specifics and requirements for each nomination can be found at the following Graduate School web address:


We encourage departments and faculty to nominate all qualified candidates as soon as possible.  Thanks for your cooperation.

Probation letters for students whose GPA dropped below a 3.0 at the end of fall semester were emailed on January 10, 2009. Students have one semester to remedy their GPA deficiency and departments should work closely with these students to help them succeed in raising their GPAs.  Copies of the letters were distributed to departments at the same time.

Letters indicating probationary status have been sent to students who have GPAs of <3.0. These students fall into several categories:

  • New students who entered in fall semester on Regular Status. These students have one semester to raise their GPA to 3.0. They may be allowed an additional probationary semester, on departmental request, if they are making good progress toward reaching a 3.0.
  • New students who entered in fall semester on Provisional Status. These students were required to attain a 3.0 GPA in their first semester.  These students may have one probationary semester. However, departments can deny these students a probationary semester if the first semester performance was so poor that they believe the student cannot succeed in the program.
  • Continuing students who have probationary averages either for the first time or on a sustained basis.  The university indicated that no student could be put on probation beginning in spring 2007 because of the tragic events of April 16 so students who had GPAs below 3.0 will not have “probation” designated on their transcript for that semester.  There also are students who were continued on probation for a variety of other reasons. We are writing to departments about the sustained probation cases because they typically need special attention.

Note that students may remain on assistantship for only one semester of probation.
A graduate student transcript will show Probation for each semester the student has a GPA of <3.0.  This is a change from the past designation of “Satisfactory Progress” that used to appear on the unofficial transcript on Hokie Spa of any student who was qualified to enroll in the subsequent semester, even if they were on probation. This “old” type of designation caused a lot of confusion about what was satisfactory progress for graduate students.

Progress to Degree: For students planning to graduate this semester, it is vital that they are aware of the following important forms and deadlines:

  • Application for Degree: The deadline to submit the Application for Degree for students intending to graduate in spring 2009 is March 1, 2009. Please direct your students to Hokie Spa for completion of this online form. Students must submit this form by the deadline to insure that their name will be listed in the Commencement Bulletin for the May ceremony.
  • Final Exam Request: Must be received by the Graduate School at least 2 weeks prior to the intended exam date. PhD and EdD candidates who intend to participate in the May ceremony must defend no later than April 3, 2009.
  • More information can be found at http://www.graduateschool.vt.edu/academics/dates_deadlines/commencement_deadlines.html