February 2009 Monthly Memo

Associate Dean search

The Graduate School seeks innovative and energetic tenured faculty members who wish to assist with transforming graduate education at Virginia Tech.  Two .50 Associate Dean positions will be available starting August 2009.  Information regarding the vacancies is available through the Graduate School and on line through www.jobs.vt.edu.  Screening begins March 20 and will remain open until filled.

2nd Annual Ethics Bowl – March 17
Please encourage your students to participate in this program that promotes personal and professional ethics; enhances communication and critical thinking skills that enable students to consider, discuss, and resolve ethical dilemmas and justify their resolution; and allows students and faculty to work in groups within and across academic departments to tackle case studies from various disciplines.
Students may sign up at "https://survey.vt.edu/survey/entry.jsp?id=1234970960238"

Graduate Education Week 2009–March 23-27
Through a series of events, Graduate Education Week highlights the importance of graduate education, celebrates graduate students’ achievements, and increases the university community’s awareness of the contributions of graduate students to teaching, research, and service. Events will include:
– Student Appreciation Luncheon – Monday, March 23
– Student Art and Photo Contest – all week
– GSA Research Symposium and Expo – Wednesday, March 25
– Awards Banquet – Thursday, March 26
– Big Cook Out – Friday, March 27
Details will be posted shortly on the Graduate School’s website. We ask that departments find ways to participate in celebrating Graduate Education Week with us, or through their own departmental events.

Graduate Student Diversity Initiatives (GSDI)
As most of you know by now, Marilyn Kershaw’s last day in office is drawing near. The responsibilities carried by the Director of Recruiting (Marylin’s title) will be absorbed by the Office of GSDI. This office will have 2 new positions. Jane Rorrer will become Recruitment Coordinator and will continue doing similar duties as she did under Marylin’s supervision. In addition, and funded by the Implementation Taskforce on Race and the Institution, we will have a new position open in the office. In the upcoming days we will announce officially a search for an Assistant Director of the Office of GSDI. The Assistant Director will perform executive duties in support of the operation of the office. More information about this position will be made public in the upcoming weeks. The position begins in August 2009.

We held an HBCU Connect Meeting on February 11th. We are holding a similar event for Latino graduate students and Faculty on February 23rd. A Women’s event will be held on March 30, 2009. More activities are planned for April, be on the lookout for the March Monthly memo for more information.

CGS&P updates and clarifications

Changes in the Defending Student Status (DSS) were discussed and approved by the CGS&P at its February 18th meeting.  The proposed change in PPM 97 would include allow students who have completed all requirements to be enrolled for DSS if they can "schedule and receive confirmation from the graduate school" of their scheduled examination  within the first three weeks of the semester.  The proposed changes will be submitted to University Council for review and approval.  Once approved, the policy would be effective for Fall ’09.

Clarification regarding 4984/5984 for Fall ’09 – In conjunction with the change in policy regarding 4000 level courses effective Fall ’09, 4984 will be among the courses available for use on a graduate student’s plan of study.  4974 Independent Study will not be allowed.  A maximum of 6 credits of 4000 level coursework is allowed. 

Graduate Program Director/Faculty Meeting on Advising

This meeting will be held on Thursday March 19, 1:00-2:30 pm in Rm. F of the GLC.  An update on lasts year’s annual reviews across the University will be presented and discussion will focus on advising strategies for encouraging and maintaining graduate student degree progress. A few experienced faculty will be asked to start the discussion by suggesting effective strategies for graduate advising.  Please invite faculty in your departments, especially those new to service on graduate committees, to attend.  We will try a new sign up procedure as a number of GPDs have indicated they have trouble keeping track of these meetings. You will be sent an email request to accept or reject our invitation to the meeting and if you sign up, a meeting reminder will follow in a timely manner.  Please encourage faculty other than GPDs to let Anne McNabb (happy@vt.edu) know if they will attend. Suggestions about specific topics that you feel should be covered are welcomed.

Annual Reviews of Graduate Student Progress

This is a reminder that these reviews are due in the Graduate School by the end of Spring semester each year (end of May is fine). Please send the reviews as a package for the department as a whole and attach a summary of the results for your grad program(s). If the name of your department/program isn’t currently listed on your review sheet, please update that. In cases where students are not making satisfactory progress, please include clear information about the nature of the problems and the constructive guidance that has been given to them by their Advisory Committees. It is recommended that students sign their evaluation forms acknowledging that the results of the review have been shared with them. Many departments have students compile the information about progress and do a self evaluation as a first step prior to the Advisory Committee review. This seems to be a very good approach for promoting student investment in graduate degree progress.  If you want to save paper, we are happy to receive evaluations on a CD.  If anyone has questions about these reviews or would like help with setting up a new process or revising a continuing one, please contact Anne McNabb (happy@vt.edu).


 Assessing Graduate Student Learning

The Office of Academic Assessment recently presented a workshop on "Graduate Program Assessment" and offered guidance on developing and measuring graduate student learning outcomes. The workshop provided an overview of the assessment process and related benefits, types of direct and indirect measures for assessing graduate education and examples of graduate student learning outcomes that have been developed by various graduate programs at Virginia Tech. The session also included a brief discussion of a document developed by the Commission on Graduate Studies and Policy (CGS&P) through the workgroup on Degree Requirement Standards Criteria and Academic Policy (DRSCAP) entitled Student Learning Outcomes for Graduate Degrees at Virginia Tech, which outlines a set of potential, foundational graduate student learning outcomes and measures for assessing these outcomes. For a copy of this document or to request assessment-related workshops for your department you may contact Ray VanDyke (rvandyke@vt.edu) or Steve Culver (sculver@vt.edu) in the Office of Academic Assessment.