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The Dean's Weekly Updates to Graduate Students

December 2022

December 9, 2022
Dear Graduate students,

Summary:

1.      Winter break and January hours for Graduate Life Center and Graduate School
2.      Student speakers at Graduate Commencement in Blacksburg, December 16
3.      The 2022 Graduate Alumni Achievement Award winner
4.      Celebrating fall 2022 graduates in Northern Virginia

We are well into the crescendo of the semester when we reach a peak of frenzied activity only to crash during the holidays. One of the great (and awful) things of being an academic is that this cycle happens over and over again. Time is linear, passing in constant, regular, measurable steps, inexorably ticking on. When we think of time as linear it becomes something that can be spent wisely or poorly. We berate ourselves for wasting time when we are not doing something.  On the other hand, if we see time as cyclical, we have the opportunity to use that cyclicality. The seasonal nature of the academic calendar means that there will inevitably be slow times during the year. You can use that knowledge to deliberately plan for “moments of stillness” as Jim Bruce advocates for in his "Be Still" blog (https://er.educause.edu/blogs/2018/5/be-still#fn2).  "[Be] still to give your brain some downtime," Bruce says, "You'll see an overall energy increase, more results, and no overall loss in productivity." There is also cyclicality in our brains and our bodies, called the circadian rhythm, and you can take advantage of that by working on hard things during your best periods and resting when you are in a down cycle. 
There is science to back up the assertion that you can take breaks without a loss of productivity; some of it cited in the Bruce blog. By resting you are in fact assuring that you can do your best later, rather than working in a linear fashion which will blunt out your highest peaks. 
If you really hate that I’m framing this all in a “get the most out of yourself” kind of capitalist framework, you might think of “Rest as resistance” and take a look at the great work of the founder of the Nap Ministry, (https://thenapministry.wordpress.com), Tricia Hersey. The followers of the Ministry believe that “rest is a form of resistance and name(s) sleep deprivation as a racial and social justice issue.” 
However you wish to think of it, find some time to rest and do nothing in the coming weeks. I know I will. This is my last weekly update of the semester. I’ll start up again in mid-January. Happy holidays!


1.     Winter break and January hours for Graduate Life Center and Graduate School

The Graduate Life Center and Graduate School offices will be closed December 23-January 2, as will all university offices. We will reopen on Tuesday, January 3. During the weeks before the first semester begins, the Graduate School offices will be open during our regular hours: 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. Please note we will be closed on January 16 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but offices will be open as usual when the semester begins on January 17.

2.      Student speakers at Graduate Commencement in Blacksburg, December 16

Three doctoral students will be the speakers at Virginia Tech’s Graduate Commencement ceremonies on Friday, December 16 at 2:30 p.m. in Cassell Coliseum on the Blacksburg campus (https://vt.edu/commencement.html). The ceremony does not require tickets for admission, so those who are not graduating are welcome to attend and cheer on the graduates. The speakers’ short remarks are modeled on the Nutshell Games created by the Center for Communicating Science. The students are: Ariel Heminger, Ph.D., plant and environmental sciences; Abdulaziz Alenezi, Ph.D., educational research and policy studies; and Steve Gerus, Ph.D., sociology. All three will be hooded and will receive their doctoral degrees during the ceremony.

3.      The 2022 Graduate Alumni Achievement Award winner

During the Blacksburg December 16 Graduate Commencement ceremony, Dr. Karey Sutton (Ph.D, 2010), will receive this year’s Graduate Alumni Achievement Award. Sutton is the Health Equity Research Scientific Director for MedStar Health Research Institute in Washington, D.C., where she is responsible for strategy and growth in health equity research and for building partnerships and community relations to foster such research. She earned her doctoral and master’s degrees in Science and Technology Studies at Virginia Tech and two bachelor’s degrees from Howard University. Her research explored the neglect of African-American and Latinx communities in genetic testing and research. Since completing her degrees, she has been recognized as a leader in health equity research and advocacy. During her time at Virginia Tech, Dr. Sutton was active in the Black Graduate Student Organization, the Graduate Student Assembly (now the Graduate and Professional Student Senate), and was a Minority Academic Opportunities Program (MAOP) scholar. We congratulate Dr. Sutton!

4.      Celebrating fall 2022 graduates in Northern Virginia

A reminder that there will be a celebration for December graduates in the Washington, D.C. area on Monday, December 12, at 6 p.m. at the Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington. The event is not an official commencement at which degrees are conferred, but names will be read, graduates will walk across a stage to receive their diploma covers, and there will be refreshments and opportunities for photos. See this page for more information: (https://www.nvc.vt.edu/Current-Students/dc-commencement.html).

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter.

Aimée M. Surprenant
Dean of the Graduate School
Virginia Tech
Graduate Life Center Rm. 235
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540.231.7581

Dear Graduate students,

Summary:
1.      Meet Ringo the Virginia Tech Patrol Pony at the GLC
2.      Newman Library brings back Cheesy Nights for Finals Week
3.      Free Ramen on Reading Day in Blacksburg and Northern Virginia
4.      Diversity Scholar Nomination Deadline Extended     
5.      A reminder about Commencement, December 16

Today I want to talk to you about something called the “hedonic treadmill.” It turns out that people are rarely satisfied with what they have, even if they have more now than they did in the past. It’s as if for every level of achievement (money, recognition, etc.), the treadmill just moves faster, so we stay in the same place. We think that we’ll finally be happy when we get to the next great thing and so on. One explanation for this is adaptation—although we’re happy to have achieved something at first, we eventually get used to it and go back to a neutral state. Another explanation is that, when thinking about how things could be different, we seem to have a natural bias to think of how they can be better. One study showed that, “when people imagine how things could be different, they almost always imagine how things could be better and seldom reflect on how they could be worse (Mastroianni & Ludwin-Peery, 2022).” This even holds for things that we really like—we still automatically think of how they could be even better.

There are some interesting suggestions of techniques to keep this from happening.  Mastroianni writes about some of them in his blog (https://experimentalhistory.substack.com/p/the-five-tools-of-hedonic-design). These include a change of pace (interrupting a pleasant experience), stopping something pleasant before you can adapt (all good things come to an end), alternating pleasant experiences, and imagining how things could be worse.

As Eeyore put it: “Could be worse. Not sure how, but it could be.”

Mastroianni, A., & Ludwin-Peery, E. (2022, November 14). Things could be better. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/2uxwk

1.     Meet Ringo the Virginia Tech Patrol Pony at the GLC

If you have not yet met Ringo the Patrol Pony, the latest member of the Virginia Tech Police Department, come to the Graduate Life Center on December 8 at 4 p.m. for coffee, cookies and a chance to see this adorable denizen of good cheer and chat with our campus’s police officers. You can read more about Ringo here: (https://www.kplctv.com/2022/11/18/virginia-police-department-adds-pony-its-force/).

2.      Newman Library brings back Cheesy Nights for Finals Week

Students on the Blacksburg campus can stop by Newman Library December 8, 9, and 11, and get a hot, crispy grilled cheese sandwich (gluten-free bread and nondairy cheese available), fruit, cookies, and a hot beverage to help you make it through your hours of studying, writing, researching, and grading exams and papers. Dubbed Cheesy Nights, the free meals are made possible by cheerful library staff and a host of volunteers, as well as several organizations on campus that provide funding to make this event happen. Learn more about the program here: (https://lib.vt.edu/magazine/spring-2020/scholarship/cheesy-nights.html).

3.      Free Ramen on Reading Day in Blacksburg and Northern Virginia

Students in Blacksburg can stop by the Asian Cultural Center, room 140 in the Squires Student Center, and pick up a free cup of ramen on Thursday, December 8, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
 Hot water will be supplied by Au Bon Pain. While there, you can learn a bit more about the center and its programs. In the Washington, D.C. area, visit the Northern Virginia Center lobby in Falls Church for ramen with toppings and tea from 2-4:30 p.m. on December 8. There will be mac-and-cheese available, too!

4.       Diversity Scholar Nomination Deadline Extended

The Graduate School has extended the nomination deadline for those interested in becoming Diversity Scholars in the Spring 2023 semester. Diversity Scholars are graduate students who specialize in and advocate for the awareness, knowledge, and skills associated with diversity and inclusion in the Graduate School and greater community. The application process and timeline are listed at (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/diversity/diversity-scholars.html). Nominations (self or by others) are due by December 9 and applications are due by December 16. For questions or additional information, please email Dr. Shernita Lee at shernita@vt.edu.

5.     Reminder: Graduate Commencement in Cassell Coliseum on December 16

Virginia Tech’s commencement ceremonies are fast approaching. The fall 2022 ceremony for graduate students will be Friday, December 16 at 2:30 p.m. in Cassell Coliseum on the Blacksburg campus (https://vt.edu/commencement.html). The ceremony does not require tickets for admission, so those who are not graduating are welcome to attend and cheer on the graduates. See the commencement page for further details regarding attending commencement as Cassell Coliseum has policies governing what you can carry into the facility. Also see the Graduate School’s What You Need to Graduate page for more information about dates and deadlines: (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/academics/what-you-need-to-graduate/deadlines-for-academic-progress.html).

There will be a celebration for December graduates in the Washington, D.C. area on Monday, December 12, at 6 p.m. at the Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington. The event is not an official commencement at which degrees are conferred, but names will be read, graduates will walk across a stage to receive their diploma covers, and there will be refreshments and opportunities for photos. See this page for more information: (https://www.nvc.vt.edu/Current-Students/dc-commencement.html).

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter.

Aimée M. Surprenant
Dean of the Graduate School
Virginia Tech
Graduate Life Center Rm. 235
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540.231.7581

November 2022

Dear Graduate students, I was asked to put the summary first, so you can skip to what is interesting below. Let me know how you like it (link to google form at the bottom).

Summary:
1.      GPSS Research Development Program accepting applications
2.      Graduate School is accepting nominations for the 2023 Diversity Scholars Program
3.      Undergraduate Student Mentorship Workshop
4.      TLOS: Gradescope offers faculty, instructors flexible options to grade assignments
5.      Nomination period now open for the Bouchet Graduate Student Honor Society
6.      Graduate Commencement in Cassell Coliseum on December 16
7.      Graduating Students’ Exit Survey is Live

Today I want to talk about writing in an academic setting (creative writing feels different to me, but I’m not experienced in that so I may be very wrong!). There is this myth that you are either a natural writer or someone who struggles with writing. In my experience, almost everyone has difficulty from time to time and almost everyone has times when the words come naturally. Your task is to figure out how to put yourself in the latter position more often than not. In academic writing the main reason people experience “writer’s block” is because they are not clear on what they want to say. If you are unsure about your argument or your purpose in writing something, it is impossible to make progress and you often get stuck at the very beginning. Rather than writer’s block, it is really “thinker’s block.”  For me, what gets me out of that state is to outline my thoughts and arguments, talk them through with a colleague, or even sometimes draw a picture of how these go together. Another strategy is to write an annotated bibliography (examples here: https://gs.vt.edu/14) and work to form a coherent logical thread to make an argument.

The good news is that there are lots of places to get advice on how to write fluently and productively (try the awesome series of videos by Dr. Cecile Badenhorst, (https://www.youtube.com/@cecilebadenhorst4997) –she even has great advice for faculty on providing feedback). The bad news is that not all advice works for everyone. Some people respond very well to writing boot camps or scheduled writing times while others prefer what is called “snack writing”—writing in little pieces. Some find it easy to write without editing and go back later while some prefer to micromanage as they go along. Even more discouraging, what works for you in one particular situation (e.g., writing a research or scholarly paper from scratch), might not work for you when another situation arises (e.g., writing a grant proposal or revising an article). You need to find what works for you and ignore the rest.

Finally, we often think about writing as a solitary exercise, and it largely is. But, talking about your ideas, working through how to explain concepts to others, trying out arguments, or just hearing someone else’s point of view is a part of academic writing—it is a form of communication and disseminating ideas so in essence it really is a conversation among colleagues.

I won’t be doing an update next week so please have a great break and I’ll talk to you in December! 

1.      GPSS Research Development Program accepting applications
The Graduate and Professional Student Senate is now accepting applications for the senate’s Graduate Research Development Program. The application deadline is January 19, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Master’s or doctoral students are eligible to receive up to $850. Funds may be requested for travel, lab analyses, supplies and other expenses incurred for degree-contingent research. $10,000 will be distributed. Application materials and full instructions can be found here: (https://gpss.vt.edu/programs/grdp.html). Please e-mail Cissy Ming at cissym@vt.edu with any questions.

2.      Graduate School is accepting nominations for the 2023 Diversity Scholars Program
Diversity scholars are graduate students who specialize in and advocate for the awareness, knowledge, and skills associated with diversity and inclusion in the Graduate School and greater community. If interested, the application process and timeline is listed at (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/diversity/diversity-scholars.html). Nominations (self or by others) are due by December 2 and applications are due by December 16. For questions or additional information, please email Dr. Shernita Lee at shernita@vt.edu.

3.      Undergraduate Research: Faculty invited to take part in Student Mentorship Workshop
The Office of Undergraduate Research, HHMI Inclusive Excellence in the Sciences at Virginia Tech, and the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs invites faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students to participate in the Mentoring Undergraduates Workshop on Wednesday, January 11 in 2420 North End Center. Registration is required: (https://gs.vt.edu/12).

4.      TLOS: Gradescope offers faculty, instructors flexible options to grade assignments
Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies (TLOS) has secured a one-year license for Gradescope, a Canvas-integrated grading platform offering flexible options for grading paper-based, digital, and bubble-sheet quizzes, exams, and homework assignments. The license will allow Virginia Tech to pilot the platform beginning in spring 2023, when it will become available for use in all Canvas course sites. (https://gs.vt.edu/13)

5.      Nomination period now open for the Bouchet Graduate Student Honor Society
The Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honor Society (Bouchet Society) recognizes outstanding scholarly achievement and promotes a diversity and excellence in doctoral education and the professoriate. The Bouchet Society seeks to develop a network of preeminent scholars who serve as examples of the five pillars: scholarship, leadership, character, service, and advocacy for students and postdoctoral researchers who have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy. The deadline for department nominations is December 9, 2022. You may learn more here: (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/diversity/bouchet-society.html)  Questions? Please contact Dr. Shernita Lee at shernita@vt.edu.

6.      Graduate Commencement in Cassell Coliseum on December 16
Virginia Tech’s commencement ceremonies are fast approaching. The fall 2022 ceremony for graduate students will be Friday, December 16 at 2:30 p.m. in Cassell Coliseum on the Blacksburg campus (https://vt.edu/commencement.html). The ceremony does not require tickets for admission, so those who are not graduating are welcome to attend and cheer on the graduates. See the commencement page for further details regarding attending commencements as Cassell Coliseum has policies governing what you can carry into the facility. Also see the Graduate School’s What You Need to Graduate page for more information about dates and deadlines: (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/academics/what-you-need-to-graduate/deadlines-for-academic-progress.html)

7.      Graduating Students’ Exit Survey is Live
After a brief hiatus for revisions, the graduate student exit survey is now live and available to all graduating students and can be found on the graduation checklist in HokieSpa. This survey should be completed as close to graduation as possible to ensure accurate reporting related to your post-graduation plans. The survey captures graduate student experiences related to assistantships, advising, and student services. It also asks about students’ career plans after graduating and how prepared they feel for the future. These results help the Graduate School, colleges, and departments better serve graduate students in the future. Your experience and feedback are important to us!

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter.

Aimée M. Surprenant
Dean of the Graduate School
Virginia Tech
Graduate Life Center Rm. 235
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540.231.7581

Dear Graduate students,

Research and scholarly ethics and integrity are part of a continually changing landscape as our understanding of various issues evolves and we are made aware of potential harms our work can do. I recently came across the Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings (https://www.globalcodeofconduct.org). This code “is a resource for all research stakeholders who want to ensure that research is carried out ethically in lower income settings and without ‘ethics dumping’ and ‘helicopter research.’” In 2018 the European Commission adopted the code as a mandatory reference document for Horizon 2020—their main funding mechanism. The fundamental values espoused in that code and adopted by the researchers include: fairness, respect, care, and honesty. Each of those are further broken down into specific guidance for all disciplines. You can find lots of in-depth information and case studies to use as guides on their website.

This is a wonderful resource as it recognizes that, “Research that is not relevant in the location where it is undertaken imposes burdens without benefits.” Understanding the broader impact of our work is a critical part of ethical behavior. There are many great examples of research communities innovating in the research and scholarly ethics space. For example, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador created and adopted a policy on research involving indigenous groups which recognizes that, “the conduct of research that impacts indigenous communities, cultures, and lands must be grounded in ethical conduct and respectful, ongoing engagement with indigenous groups (https://gs.vt.edu/z).

At Virginia Tech, resources for exploring these issues can be found in the office of Scholarly Integrity & Research Compliance (SIRC) (https://www.research.vt.edu/sirc.html). They have a seminar series, engage in consultations, and provide other tools that you can access. I encourage you to explore their resources and to think deeply about your work and how it affects others.

Summary:
1.      Little Hokie Hand-Me-Down Shopping Days
2.      Reminder: Diversity Scholars Information Session on November 15
3.      Still time to apply to be a Graduate Student Tour Guide
4.      Thanksgiving Lunches
5.      Board of Visitors: Quarterly Meeting to be held November 13-14 in Blacksburg
6.      CETL: Faculty, Instructors invited to attend December Course Design Clinic
7.      Reminder: Town Hall about Additional Services for Graduate Students

1.      Little Hokie Hand-Me-Down Shopping Days
The Little Hokie Hand-Me-Down offers graduate students and staff with children an opportunity to shop for gently used clothing and other items available at NO cost. This year’s shopping days are November 15 and 16 in the multipurpose room of the Graduate Life Center on the Blacksburg campus at 155 Otey St. Graduate students, staff, and others can shop for free items at the event. November 15, from noon until 5 p.m., is for graduate students only. November 16, from 8 a.m. until noon, staff, other students, and graduate students are welcome to shop for donated items. For more information, visit the Women’s Center website, (womenscenter.vt.edu).

2.      Reminder: Diversity Scholars Information Session on November 15
Learn more about the Graduate School’s Diversity Scholars program and the application process during a virtual information session at 2 p.m. EST on Tuesday, November 15. Register at: (https://virginiatech.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwodu2rqDMiGt2FoXq79BtjH60xSxE8u-Z8  For questions or additional information, please email the Office of Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion at ordi@vt.edu.

3.      Still time to apply to be a Graduate Student Tour Guide
The Graduate School is still accepting applications from graduate students interested in serving as tour guides to prospective graduate students for the Spring 2023 semester. Applicants must have good communication skills, an eagerness to share VT with others, familiarity with their campus location, and be willing to conduct 2-5 tours a semester. Tours are typically 1.5 hours. Applicants must also have a current, valid driver's license, though walking tours will also be offered. Tour guides will be provided with training and will receive a small stipend at the end of the semester. Interested students are asked to complete the following survey to apply for a graduate student tour guide position: (https://forms.gle/fS5X9JsPUV8uSbvf6).  Interviews for these positions will take place in late November. Contact grads@vt.edu if you have questions.

4.      Thanksgiving Lunches
Join fellow students in Blacksburg or in the Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia area for a Thanksgiving meal and conversation. The annual Thanksgiving Potluck at the Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church is scheduled for noon on Thursday, November 17, in the NVC’s Community Café. All graduate students, faculty, and staff in the region are welcome to attend. The center provides the basic staples of a traditional Thanksgiving meal (turkey, gravy, dressing, and mashed potatoes). The NVC team asks faculty and staff to bring a dish to share, and students are also welcome to bring a dish if they would like to do so.
In Blacksburg, plan on gathering at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, November 22, in the Graduate Life Center’s multipurpose room for lunch. The Graduate School team will provide chili (meat, vegetarian/vegan/GF versions) and dessert. Please let the team know if you plan to attend by registering so they know how much food to prepare: (https://virginiatech.questionpro.com/tbreak).

5.      Board of Visitors: Quarterly Meeting to be held November 13-14 in Blacksburg   
The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors will hold its quarterly board meeting on Monday, November 14, at 1:15 p.m. in Room 2100 in Torgersen Hall (620 Drillfield Drive) on the Blacksburg campus. All other committee meetings held during the two-day session will be at The Inn at Virginia Tech (901 Prices Fork Road) in Blacksburg unless otherwise noted. On Sunday, November 13, at 2 p.m., all board members will meet in open session and attend an information session in Latham Ballroom A/B. (https://vtx.vt.edu/articles/2022/11/bov-meeting-november-2022.html)
A reminder that the Board of Visitors livestreams its full-board meetings. Information can be found in this VTX notice: https://vtx.vt.edu/articles/2022/08/bov-livestream-fall-2022.html.

6.      CETL: Faculty, Instructors invited to attend December Course Design Clinic
As faculty and instructors begin planning for their spring 2023 courses, join the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) for its December Course Design Clinic and leave with a course plan and syllabus for the spring 2023 semester. The clinic will take place December 19-20 at the North End Center, Training Room 2420. There is no cost to attend, but registration is required. (https://gs.vt.edu/11)

7.      Reminder: Town Hall about Additional Services for Graduate Students
The Graduate School will hold a virtual Town Hall at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 17 to share information about resources for graduate students across the university’s campuses. All graduate students are welcome to attend. Register here: (https://virginiatech.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_kLkAeYa_SUuAsAT8Rt7e5w)

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter.

Aimée M. Surprenant
Dean of the Graduate School
Virginia Tech
Graduate Life Center Rm. 235
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540.231.7581

Dean’s Weekly Update 11/04/2022

Dear Graduate students,

A while ago in this space I talked a bit about the importance of apologies—saying sorry is absolutely essential if we make a mistake or if we cause harm to someone else. However, sometimes we say “sorry” for things that don’t really require an apology. Life coaches argue that apologizing too much can destroy your confidence in yourself and cause others to see you as less competent.

In trying to determine if there are any empirical data to back up this assumption, I found a paper by Chaudhry and Loewenstein (2019) in which they discuss four forms of communication that give others information about credit or blame: thanking, apologizing, bragging, and blaming. All of these “introduce image-based costs and benefits for both the communicator and the recipient of communication: Each of the four communications involves a tradeoff between appearing competent and appearing warm” (p. 313). The authors also explored individual differences (women apologize more than men) and cultural expectations (women are expected to be warm) and how those might drive different types of behaviors.

A take home message is that if you apologize needlessly you could be showing yourself and others that you are questioning your competence. In her TED talk on this topic, psychologist Dr. Maja Jovanovic (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8sYv_6uyss) argues that if the answer to the question, “Why did you apologize?” is “I don’t know,” then just stop doing it. Instead of using apologetic phrases, try saying: “Excuse me,” or “Thank you for your patience,” or “I am unable to attend this meeting,” or “These are my initial thoughts,” etc. You can still be polite and respectful when talking and giving your opinions without apologizing for those thoughts or opinions.

Remember, giving apologies when warranted is absolutely important—just don’t do it when it is not justified!

Chaudhry, S. J., & Loewenstein, G. (2019). Thanking, apologizing, bragging, and blaming: Responsibility exchange theory and the currency of communication. Psychological Review, 126(3), 313–344. (https://doi-org.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu/10.1037/rev0000139.supp)

Summary:
1.      Reminder: Town Hall about Additional Services for Graduate Students
2.      International Graduate Education Week
3.      Graduate and Professional Student Senate Travel Fund Period Extended
4.      GPSS Graduate Housing Survey
5.      Little Hokie Hand-Me-Down
6.      Institutional Review Board (IRB) 101
7.      Interested in being a Graduate Student Tour Guide on the Blacksburg Campus?
8.      TLOS: Accessible Virginia Tech Branded Slide Presentation Template Available

1.      Town Hall about Additional Services for Graduate Students

The Graduate School will hold a virtual Town Hall at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 17, to share information about resources for graduate students. The Town Hall is in response to answers and questions we received from new graduate students who completed a survey about additional services. All graduate students are welcome to attend. Register here: (https://virginiatech.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_kLkAeYa_SUuAsAT8Rt7e5w)


2.      International Graduate Education Week

Virginia Tech will celebrate International Education Week November 10-14, 2022, with a series of events open to the entire university community. International Education Week (IEW) is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education that highlights the benefits of international education and mobility worldwide. A wide range of events have been planned, including a Keynote address, Global symposium, Intercultural learning workshop, International Student Perspectives Panel, and many more. To learn more, please visit the IEW website: (https://international.vt.edu/IEW.html)

3.       Graduate and Professional Student Senate Travel Fund Period Extended

The Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) has extended the period for the Winter 2023 travel fund program, which now covers in-person or virtual conferences with start dates from January 1 to April 30. Graduate students presenting research conducted at Virginia Tech are eligible to apply for grants of up to $750, which may be used to cover registration, lodging, meals, abstract fees and other items. Students from all disciplines are invited to apply, even if their conference abstract has not been officially accepted. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on November 15. E-mail cissym@vt.edu with any questions, and visit (https://gpss.vt.edu/programs/tfp.html)  for full details and instructions.

4.      GPSS Graduate Housing Survey

The Graduate and Professional Student Senate is conducting a Graduate Housing Survey in which they are interested in learning about graduate students’ current housing situations. Some questions also ask what types and kinds of housing students want. All responses will go towards providing aggregate statistics to help the GPSS and the Graduate and Professional Affordable Housing Working Group advocate for affordable housing for graduate and professional students. Participation in this survey is completely voluntary. There are no foreseeable risks associated with it; however, if students feel uncomfortable answering any questions, they can withdraw from the survey at any point.  Responses will be completely confidential. Four respondents will be randomly selected to receive tokens to the Blacksburg Farmers Market. For more information about the survey, or to ask questions, contact the Graduate and Professional Student Senate at gpss@vt.edu. Visit (https://virginiatech.questionpro.com/GPHousingSurvey22) for the survey.

5.      Little Hokie Hand-Me-Down

Every year, the Graduate School, Graduate and Professional Student Senate, and the Women’s Center hold Little Hokie Hand-Me-Down, an event that offers graduate students and staff with children an opportunity to “shop” for gently used clothing and other items. This year the Hand-Me-Down will be held on November 15 and 16 in the multipurpose room of the Graduate Life Center on the Blacksburg campus at 155 Otey St. Graduate students, staff, and others can shop for free items at the event. November 15, from noon until 5 p.m., is for graduate students only. November 16, from 8 a.m. until noon, staff, other students, and graduate students are welcome to shop for donated items. For more information, visit the Women’s Center website, (womenscenter.vt.edu).

6.      Institutional Review Board (IRB) 101

Graduate Student Services is offering a four-part series of presentations about the Institutional Review Board (IRB). The first is scheduled for Monday, November 7, at 2 p.m. on Zoom. This is a great opportunity to learn from the IRB team if you are new to IRB or just need a refresher course. The program will include a brief overview of the IRB, the IRB’s crucial role in conducting research at Virginia Tech, and how to get started working with the IRB. Register here: (https://virginiatech.questionpro.com/t/AWKvpZvKTc)

7.      Interested in being a Graduate Student Tour Guide on the Blacksburg Campus?

The Graduate School is seeking graduate students to serve as tour guides to prospective graduate students for the Spring 2023 semester. Applicants must have good communication skills, an eagerness to share VT with others, familiarity with the Blacksburg campus location, and be willing to conduct 2-5 tours a semester. Tours are typically 1.5 hours. Applicants must also have a current valid driver's license, though walking tours will also be offered. Tour guides will be provided with training and will receive a small stipend at the end of the semester. Interested students are asked to complete the following survey to apply for a graduate student tour guide position: (https://forms.gle/fS5X9JsPUV8uSbvf6).  Interviews for these positions will take place in late November. Contact grads@vt.edu if you have questions.

8.      TLOS: Accessible Virginia Tech Branded Slide Presentation Template Available

As part of the Choose Accessible Learning Materials (C.A.L.M.) campaign series, Keep C.A.L.M. and Simplify Slides encourages faculty and other presenters to develop their slides using best practices for digital accessibility. To assist Virginia Tech community members in creating accessible slides, a new template is now available through TLOS’ Accessible Technologies team. (https://vtx.vt.edu/notices/it-tlos-simplify-slides.html)


As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter.

Aimée M. Surprenant
Dean of the Graduate School
Virginia Tech
Graduate Life Center Rm. 235
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540.231.7581

If you have comments or recommendations for how we can improve the Dean's Weekly Update or suggestions for specific information and topics that should be shared with graduate students, please provide them through this Google Form: (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1nySotSbohDhGQcVDgAPu114_TUzllM8W8SCFwkyvlpY/edit?ts=6272bec2)

We archive these Weekly Updates on the Graduate School Website under the Dean’s Corner, (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/about/deanscorner/weekly-updates.html). For additional information, you will find the Provost’s weekly updates at this site: (https://www.provost.vt.edu/provost-weekly-updates.html); and the archive of the Graduate School’s weekly Monday emails to graduate students at this site: (https://webapps.graduateschool.vt.edu/glcweekly). Students in Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area also receive a weekly email on Fridays with information specific to your campuses and region.

October 2022

Dean’s Weekly Update 10/28/2022

Dear Graduate students,

We all know that many aspects of graduate school are challenging and that you need to spend long hours in the lab, the library, the field, and in front of your computer. Because of the many demands and critical tasks that you need to complete, putting a priority on sleep can be very difficult. However, it is vitally important and could be the single most important health behavior we engage in (Barber, et al, 2010). Without adequate sleep we are less equipped to regulate our behaviors and direct them towards our goals, which can make it impossible to complete tasks. Graduate students also need to be able to use all of their cognitive resources to think critically and absorb difficult material. Lack of sleep diminishes our limited cognitive resources (Deak & Stickgold, 2010). Good sleep improves performance on cognitive tasks (Barber & Munz, 2010): thus, lack of sleep is counterproductive.

Of course it is easy to say “prioritize sleep,” but actually doing that is not so simple. How do we go about getting enough sleep? First, you need to be a master time manager and specifically add sleep into your calendar. Second, try to get consistent sleep—Barber et al, 2010 show that consistent sleep patterns, particularly waking up at the same time every morning, leads to decreased psychological strain and increased processing power. Finally, if you are having trouble sleeping, there are lots of tools available (both pharmacological and behavioral) to help you find good sleep, depending on the root cause of the sleep difficulty. Talk to your doctor or your therapist for help. There are also lots of online resources, many of which can be found at the National Institute on Aging which has some great evidence-based resources to help: https://www.nia.nih.gov/scienceofsleep.

Thanks for reading and sweet dreams!

Barber, L. K., Munz, D. C, Bagsby, P. G., & Powell, E.D. (2010). Sleep consistency and sufficiency: Are both necessary for less psychological strain? Stress and Health, 186-193. https://doi.org/10.1002/smi.1292

Barber, L. K. & Munz, D. C. (2010). Consistent-sufficient sleep predicts improvements in self-regulatory performance and psychological strain https://doi.org/10.1002/smi.1364
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-stone-age-mind/201209/sleep-and-grad-school-how-important-is-it-students

Deak, M.C., Stickgold, R. (2010). Sleep and cognition. Wiley Interdisciplinary Review of Cognitive Science. 1(4):491-500. doi: 10.1002/wcs.52. Epub 2010 Feb 1. PMID: 26271496; PMCID: PMC5831725.

Summary:
1.      Town Hall about Additional Services for Graduate Students
2.      Starting Your ETD: Tips for Graduate Students
3.      DMV Connect at the Blacksburg Public Library
4.      Learn about some Great Faculty Mentors
5.      Election Day is November 8
6.      Virginia Tech’s inaugural Global Symposium begins on November 10

1.      Town Hall about Additional Services for Graduate Students

Every year, the Graduate School sends out a survey to new graduate students, asking them what services they are interested in or need. The Graduate School will hold a virtual Town Hall at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, November 17, to address survey responses and answer questions. All graduate students are welcome to attend. Register here: (https://virginiatech.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_kLkAeYa_SUuAsAT8Rt7e5w)

2.       Starting your ETD: Tips for Graduate Students

Graduate School staff will provide tips and advice and answer questions about the Electronic Thesis or Dissertation (ETD) process during a virtual webinar at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 7. This presentation is aimed at students in the early stages of writing their thesis or dissertation but is relevant to students at any stage of the process. Learn how to format and structure your Electronic Thesis or Dissertation so that you can submit it after your defense and best meet Graduate School formatting guidelines. (https://virginiatech.zoom.us/j/81734365548)

3.      DMV Connect at the Blacksburg Public Library

Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will bring its mobile customer service center, DMV Connect, to the Blacksburg Public Library on Monday, October 31. Hours will be from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., with a break from 12:30-1:30 p.m. for lunch. The mobile center offers REAL ID, drivers licenses, identification cards (adult and child), disabled parking placards, vehicle titles, Virginia vital records, address changes, vehicle registrations, E-Z Pass transponders, compliance summaries, transcripts, hunting and fishing licenses, and knowledge testing. Walk-ins only.

4.      Learn about some Great Faculty Mentors

Each month, the Graduate School honors a faculty member for outstanding mentorship. The “Mentors of the Month” are nominated by graduate students from across the university’s colleges, programs, and campuses. Learn about this month’s honoree and prior ones, and how to nominate a great mentor, here: (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/about/awards/outstanding-mentor-award/Mentor_of_the_Month.html)

5.      Election Day is November 8

I encourage all eligible voters to cast their ballots on Tuesday, November 8. Your voice and your vote matter. If you are voting by mail, please make sure you get your ballot in the mail so it can be counted. For those of you voting in Virginia, you can learn more about your polling place at (https://www.elections.virginia.gov).

6.      Virginia Tech’s inaugural Global Symposium begins on November 10.

The symposium will feature a keynote speaker, concurrent panel discussions, cultural events, and a variety of interactive workshops. All are welcome. (https://international.vt.edu/IEW/Program_2022.html)


As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter.

Aimée M. Surprenant
Dean of the Graduate School
Virginia Tech
Graduate Life Center Rm. 235
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540.231.7581

If you have comments or recommendations for how we can improve the Dean's Weekly Update or suggestions for specific information and topics that should be shared with graduate students, please provide them through this Google Form: (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1nySotSbohDhGQcVDgAPu114_TUzllM8W8SCFwkyvlpY/edit?ts=6272bec2)

We archive these Weekly Updates on the Graduate School Website under the Dean’s Corner, (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/about/deanscorner/weekly-updates.html). For additional information, you will find the Provost’s weekly updates at this site: (https://www.provost.vt.edu/provost-weekly-updates.html); and the archive of the Graduate School’s weekly Monday emails to graduate students at this site: (https://webapps.graduateschool.vt.edu/glcweekly). Students in Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area also receive a weekly email on Fridays with information specific to your campuses and region.

Dear Graduate students,

Today I want to talk about the importance of intentionally building a support network around yourself by creating what is called a mentoring map. We can all conjure up images of the tormented writer scribbling their heart out onto a piece of paper, tragically alone in a garret; the frenzied scientist in a dank, underground lab frantically pouring dark, steaming liquids from one beaker into another while suspicious-looking substances bubble behind them on a hot plate; or the lonely artist dabbing paint onto a canvas in a cheerless, unheated, bleak atelier. We may even think about the ivory tower as an isolating, solitary existence, devoid of feelings and color and focused entirely on research and scholarship. These images are often held up as the model of success in every field— these “(q)uasi-romantic, maybe even masochistic, ideals about hardship and individuality being the driving forces of good scholarship (Bengsten, 2017, p. 276).”

To the contrary, let me fill you in on a secret: You don’t have to do it alone. What is “it”? Everything: writing, research, presentations, teaching, proposals, everything. No one manages the journey in academia without the help of others. So, how do you get started? The Earth Science Women’s Network (www.ESWNonline.org) has a template you can use, and a wonderful summary of how to take ownership of your own mentoring was written by Dr. Mirjam S. Glessmer (https://mirjamglessmer.com/2018/08/22/taking-ownership-of-your-own-mentoring/) and described in more detail in the article below.

All successful scientists, scholars, and engineers rely on a network of others for support, sponsorship, ideas, opportunities, and more. Don’t let them tell you anything different.

References:

Glessmer, M.S., A. Adams, M.G. Hastings, R.T. Barnes (2015). Taking ownership of your own mentoring: Lessons learned from participating in the Earth Science Women’s Network, published in The Mentoring Continuum: From Graduate School Through Tenure, Syracuse University Graduate School Press, ed. Glenn Wright, 2015. https://gs.vt.edu/w

Bengtsen, S. S. (2017). An Exploration of Darkness within Doctoral Education: Creative Learning Approaches of Doctoral Students. In C. Zhou (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Creative Problem-Solving Skill Development in Higher Education (pp. 260-282). IGI Global. https://doi-org.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu/10.4018/978-1-5225-0643-0.ch012

Summary:
1. Important information for Ph.D. students regarding commencement
2. Graduate and Professional Student Senate Winter 2023 Travel Fund Program
3. GPSS call for Senators for 2022-2023 academic year
4. Diversity Scholars program information session
5. Risks, Policies, and Best Practices of Conducting Ethical Research Online
6. Graduate Student Research Notebook Accountability Group
7. “disAbilities at Work: Thriving in an Abled World”

1. Important information for Ph.D. students regarding commencement

Effective Fall 2022, doctoral students who want to participate in the Graduate School commencement ceremony must have their final examination card showing satisfactorily passing of the examination submitted to and finalized by the Graduate School seven days prior to the commencement ceremony in order to participate. All doctoral diplomas will be mailed directly to students from the diploma company; no diplomas will be distributed on stage. For Fall 2022 doctoral graduates, the final examination card must be submitted to and finalized by the Graduate School by Friday, December 9, 2022. If you wish to order a custom doctoral gown and hood, select your preferred supplier online, such as Oak Hall, GraduationAttire, Herff Jones, and others, allowing sufficient time for delivery.  More information can be found here: https://graduateschool.vt.edu/academics/what-you-need-to-graduate/commencement.html

2. Graduate and Professional Student Senate Winter 2023 Travel Fund Program

Graduate students presenting research conducted at Virginia Tech are eligible to apply for the Winter 2023 Travel Fund Program. Grants may cover registration, lodging, meals, abstract fees and other costs of presenting at an in-person or virtual conference with a start date from Jan. 1-March 31. Students from all disciplines are invited to apply, even if your conference abstract has not been officially accepted. Applications are due November 15, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. Please email cissym@vt.edu  with any questions, and visit: (gpss.vt.edu/programs/tfp)  for full details and information.

3. GPSS call for Senators for 2022-2023 academic year

The Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) is looking for graduates to serve as senators for the 22-23 academic year and also those looking to register their interest for the 23-24 academic year. As a senator, you would have to commit 2 1/2 hours every other Thursday from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. for senate meetings (the schedule can be found on the GPSS website: www.gpss.vt.edu). Senators would serve on an internal committee, external committee, or an external commission with the university. This typically averages out to 3 hours a month. Senators would also be asked to vote in senate meetings and send an email to the graduates in their program after those meetings to keep them up to date on the information in the senate. This is a great role for those interested in diversifying their CV, getting involved in policy, and improving the graduate experience here at VT! If you have any questions about the role of the senate, or further questions regarding student senators, please don't hesitate to reach out to the GPSS at gpps@vt.edu or to the GPSS Vice President, Chloe Robertson at chloerobertson@vt.edu.

4. Diversity Scholars program information session

Learn more about the Graduate School’s Diversity Scholars program at a virtual information session at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, November 15. Diversity Scholars are graduate students who specialize in and advocate for the awareness, knowledge, and skills associated with diversity and inclusion in the Graduate School and greater community. Diversity Scholars propose, design, and implement projects that enhance the quality of life at Virginia Tech in terms of equity, inclusion and diversity. The session will include information about the application process.  Register at https://virginiatech.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwodu2rqDMiGt2FoXq79BtjH60xSxE8u-Z8. For questions or additional information, please email the Office of Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion at ordi@vt.edu.

5. Risks, Policies, and Best Practices of Conducting Ethical Research Online

This virtual presentation from 12:30-1:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday, October 26 focuses on the evanescent nature of online research, which often is intimidating for researchers trained in offline practices. This talk by Alice Fox, a trained ethicist and Ph.D. candidate in Science, Technology, and Society, will discuss the current and emerging ethical landscape of conducting research online – the move from the field of research to the flow of inquiry. Options and models for digital hygiene to keep oneself and one's participants safe will be recommended and discussed. Register via this link: https://profdev.tlos.vt.edu/browse/researchdiscovery/courses/sirc34-102622.

6. Graduate Student Research Notebook Accountability Group

Maintaining good journal habits and sticking to organizational systems can be challenging in graduate school. However, it is important that graduate students, as researchers, have such systems to help stay focused on the path to success. Join the graduate student Research Journal Accountability Group. The group meets Mondays at 5:30 p.m. in Robeson Hall Room 112 and Thursdays at 5:00 p.m. in Robeson Hall Room 116 through November 16. Sign up via this link: https://forms.gle/3GSwy7Fm4TPVCKKW7.

7. “disAbilities at Work: Thriving in an Abled World”

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine recently hosted a presentation titled, “disAbilities at Work: Thriving in an Abled World,” as part of the school’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Series. October is recognized as National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and this presentation provided stories, tips, insights and more related to both thinking proactively about accessibility and personal stories about navigating the abled world when one has disabilities. Information about the presentation is available on this website, along with links to captioned videos of each speaker’s talk: https://medicine.vtc.vt.edu/past-events/20221011.html. The panelists were Mark Nichols, CPACC, Senior Director of Universal Design and Accessible Technologies; Dr. David Hartman, a psychiatrist and associate professor for the School of Medicine; and Carrie Knofp, CPACC, Services for Students with Disabilities liaison. Additionally, Nichols’ slide deck is available via this link: https://tinyurl.com/vtcat22. It includes links to resources and initiatives that his team is involved in at Virginia Tech.


As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter.

Aimée M. Surprenant
Dean of the Graduate School
Virginia Tech
Graduate Life Center Rm. 235
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540.231.7581

If you have comments or recommendations for how we can improve the Dean's Weekly Update or suggestions for specific information and topics that should be shared with graduate students, please provide them through this Google Form: (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1nySotSbohDhGQcVDgAPu114_TUzllM8W8SCFwkyvlpY/edit?ts=6272bec2)

We archive these Weekly Updates on the Graduate School Website under the Dean’s Corner, (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/about/deanscorner/weekly-updates.html). For additional information, you will find the Provost’s weekly updates at this site: (https://www.provost.vt.edu/provost-weekly-updates.html); and the archive of the Graduate School’s weekly Monday emails to graduate students at this site: (https://webapps.graduateschool.vt.edu/glcweekly). Students in Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area also receive a weekly email on Fridays with information specific to your campuses and region.

October 14, 2022 Weekly Update

Dear Graduate Students,

I thought today I’d talk a bit about how to find what is called your “academic voice”.  What is an academic voice, you might ask? It has many definitions but generally it is how you distinguish yourself from other scholars–your unique ideas and perspectives (Robbins, 2016). Although in academic writing you generally try to present the facts, you also have to take a stance or an opinion on an issue. You need to express your core argument clearly and unambiguously and lay out the evidence in favor of that view. It is important to realize that you may be wrong. This makes it risky and takes a bit of courage–particularly when you have to acknowledge that you were wrong!

I highly recommend a beautiful document put together by Dr. Amber Davis, the “Happy PhD” entitled “Finding your academic voice” https://amberdavis.nl/free-resources/. She writes lyrically and, in a poetic way, describes the academic journey. There’s a lot there but my favorite part is when she says: “Doing academic work is about asking the right questions and answering them the right way. It’s simple really. Just not easy. At all.”. You will need to ask her for the document as she would prefer that it not be shared without permission. It’s free, though!

You have something to say. Say it.

Have a great weekend!

Reference:

Susan P. Robbins (2016) Finding Your Voice as an Academic Writer (and Writing Clearly), Journal of Social Work Education, 52:2, 133-135, DOI: 10.1080/10437797.2016.1151267

Summary:
1. Pulitzer Prize winning science writer Ed Yong Lecture
2. Pursuing a Postdoc Proactively
3. Little Hokie Hand-me-down
4. VT Women’s Center Kids Night Out program
5. GPSS is accepting applications for its travel fund program
6. GLC Pumpkinpalooza returns!
7. Spooky Times & Tailgates Await...It's Hokie Halloween at the NVC
8. Policy and Governance: Tutorials on revised university shared governance system
9. New way to schedule lactation room; rooms now included on campus map

1. Pulitzer Prize winning science writer Ed Yong Lecture
Ed Yong, a prize-winning writer for The Atlantic, will present the annual Hugh and Ethel Kelly Lecture at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19, in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre in the Moss Arts Center. His talk, “The Art of Science Journalism,” will draw on his experience writing before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and exploring the ways that science is shaped by culture, social norms, and collective decisions. Registration is required for the event, and attendees are asked to wear masks. For the registration link and more information about Yong and his presentation, read the VTX story: https://vtx.vt.edu/articles/2022/10/ictas-kelly-lecture-2022-ed-yong.html

2. Pursuing a Postdoc Proactively
On Friday, Oct. 21, at 1 p.m. join Engineering Education Associate Professor David Knight as he discusses his recent paper, “U.S. postdoctoral careers in life sciences, physical sciences and engineering: Government, industry, and academia” (https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0263185). Dr. Knight will share data from his work on career trajectories and earnings for both life sciences and physical sciences and engineering graduates pursuing postdocs in academia, industry, and government. The second half of the session will review common options for postdocs outside academia, including at the National Laboratories, via government agencies, and in industry. The session will be in Graduate Life Center room F and on Zoom. Register here: https://virginiatech.questionpro.com/postdocpositions

3. Little Hokie Hand-Me-Down
The annual Little Hokie Hand-Me-Down returns to the Graduate Life Center Nov. 15 and 16. Organized by the Graduate School, the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, and the Women’s Center, the event provides graduate students, staff, and other students who have families with the opportunity to “shop” for gently used clothing and other child-related items, at no cost. The organizers will begin accepting donations Oct. 17. More information about donations and the dates of the event can be found in the VTX news story: https://vtx.vt.edu/notices/2022/10/gradschool_notice_annual_little_hokie_handmedown_seeks_donations.html

4. VT Women’s Center Kids Night Out returns
The VT Women’s Center has launched its Kids Night Out program for fall 2022 semester. Parents and guardians can enjoy a “kids-free evening” at no cost on Thursdays while their children, ages 2-10, enjoy fun and games and snacks at the center, 206 W. Washington St. in Blacksburg. Parents and guardians can sign up their children on Mondays for the Thursday evening program. Childcare is provided by volunteers from Chi Delta Alpha sorority. Organizers ask that children be potty trained. To sign up for the program and to learn more, visit the Women’s Center website, https://womenscenter.vt.edu.

5. Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) accepting applications for travel fund program
Graduate students presenting research conducted at Virginia Tech are eligible to apply for the Winter 2023 GPSS Travel Fund Program. Grants may cover registration, lodging, meals, abstract fees and other costs of presenting at an in-person or virtual conference with a start date from Jan. 1-March 31. Students from all disciplines may apply, even if their conference abstracts have not been officially accepted. Applications are due Nov. 15 at 11:59 p.m. Please e-mail cissym@vt.edu with any questions, and visit gpss.vt.edu/programs/tfp for full details and information.

6. GLC Pumpkinpalooza returns!
Get into the spirit of fall at Pumpkinpalooza, a special edition of the GLC Café on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 3-5 p.m. on the Graduate Life Center lawn.  We will have pumpkins to carve and paint, hot cider and fall snacks, lawn games, and more. Please RSVP so we can be sure to have enough pumpkins and snacks for everyone. Register here: https://forms.gle/ZqbALoRqkYJMsoYA8

7. Spooky Times & Tailgates Await...It's Hokie Halloween at the NVC
Please join the Graduate Student Services Office in Falls Church, NVC, for a Hokie Halloween on Thursday, October 27, 2022. We will be hosting a Halloween event full of ghouls, games and good laughs.  RSVP https://gs.vt.edu/u Deadline is Friday, October 22nd.We look forward to seeing you there!

8. Policy and Governance: Tutorials on revised university shared governance system
To assist faculty and staff in understanding Virginia Tech’s revised shared governance structure and how it serves stakeholders across the university, the Office of Policy and Governance has created a series of self-paced online tutorials that outline the history of and guiding principles for effective governance, and the role that faculty, staff and student representative bodies play in the process. https://governance.vt.edu/GovernanceTutorials

9. New way to schedule lactation room; rooms now included on campus map
Nursing mothers now have access to a Lactation Room Resources Google drive. The drive includes a folder where mothers may schedule the time(s) they need to use a particular lactation room, and a folder that will include flyers and resources with information valuable to families. Additionally, the location of dedicated lactation spaces on the Blacksburg, Roanoke, and greater Washington, D.C. metro area campuses are now available on the university’s interactive campus map, including space details and photos. https://gs.vt.edu/v

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter.

Aimée M. Surprenant
Dean of the Graduate School
Virginia Tech
Graduate Life Center Rm. 235
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540.231.7581

Dear Graduate students, 
This week the Nobel Prize committee announced that Dr. Carolyn Bertozzi, along with Morten Meldal and K. Barry Sharpless, won the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for the development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry.” I’ve loved watching Dr. Bertozzi’s joyful celebrations of the award—she popped champagne, danced, and broke the unwritten rule that we need to be restrained and decorous in celebrating our achievements. However, I am enjoying even more her continual recognition of the role that her graduate students played in this and other achievements and how the diversity of individuals in her lab created an environment in which innovation and excellence can thrive. In a video shared on Twitter (https://gs.vt.edu/t), she talks about the composition of her lab at the University of California, Berkeley, and describes the diversity of the individuals in that space. She says, “the diversity of people created an environment in which we felt that we didn’t have to play by the same old rules as scientists.” This culture allowed them to innovate in ways that led to outstanding discoveries, including the one that resulted in the Nobel Prize. She describes how she played a supportive role in her lab and let that diverse group of students find their voice, realize their curiosity, break the rules, and do impactful research. 
This is what I hope we can foster and support as a graduate community. Diversity and inclusion are about excellence and are about multiple worldviews contributing to break us out of narrowly defined boundaries and see situations from a different perspective. This is not as easy as it sounds, as it means we need to bring in people that we may disagree with. This inevitably creates some conflict, which most of us shy away from. Yet we cannot truly have excellence without inclusion. For more about inclusive excellence at VT see: (https://ie.vt.edu).
Have a great weekend everyone! 

Summary:
1. Faculty, instructors, and graduate students are invited to a showcase of next-generation teaching tools
2. VT GrATE seeks nominations for guests for a Graduate Life podcast
3. Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month
4. Graduate Research Funding Opportunities via the U.S. Department of Energy
5. Virginia Tech community will celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on October 10.

1. Faculty, instructors, and graduate students are invited to a showcase of next-generation teaching tools
Technology-Enhanced Learning and Online Strategies (TLOS) invites faculty, staff, and graduate students to attend a day of workshops on Friday, October 14 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in their University Mall offices at 801 University City Blvd., Suite 21 in Blacksburg. Provided through the Professional Development Network (PDN), these workshops will focus on the next generation of teaching tools and how they can help enhance teaching, research, accessibility, and everyday productivity. Refreshments will be provided throughout the day. This campus notice includes the schedule for the day: (https://vtx.vt.edu/notices/it-tlos-tool-showcase.html).

2. VT GrATE seeks nominations for guests for a Graduate Life Podcast
Virginia Tech Graduate Academy for Teaching Excellence (GrATE) is looking for members of the community who are excited to share their stories and entertain an honest conversation about education, graduate life, and pedagogy over their upcoming podcast. In addition to this being a great opportunity for public speaking, the inherent value of bringing your authentic thoughts and voices out to/in support of the rest of the community is recognized. Participants should have some teaching experience (e.g., instructor, TA, mentor, workshop speaker, etc.) and a passion for discussing graduate life topics and struggles. If this cause resonates with you, please fill out the form: (https://forms.gle/2KUzKnh3ZsVBGgRNA).  If you have questions, please contact Mohannad Elhamod at elhamod@vt.edu.

3. Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month
The university Office for Equity and Accessibility (OEA) invites all members of the Virginia Tech community to join them in celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) in October and the 32nd anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The celebration will be held on Friday, October 21, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Livestock Arena located at 500 Plantation Rd. in Blacksburg. It will explore the benefits of animal-assisted therapy. The event is free, but guests must register online: (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfpVA7rny0zeTQAVUcpJMZhr9QBCUQTcDAtGv4s9te1PAUX6A/viewform). Refreshments will be served. The theme for this year’s awareness month is “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation.” It recognizes the vital role people with disabilities play in making the nation’s workforce diverse and inclusive.

4.  Graduate Research Funding Opportunities via the U.S. Department of Energy
The U.S. Department of Energy offers multiple funding opportunities through its Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) program. Applications are due Wednesday, November 9 at 5 p.m. ET. The department is offering an application assistance workshop, “Q&A and Application Guidance,” on October 20 at 3 p.m. ET. Visit the SCGSR program webpage to learn more about the opportunities and the application process: https://science.osti.gov/wdts/scgsr/How-to-Apply

5. Virginia Tech community will celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on October 10. 
Join the Virginia Tech community in celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday, October 10. All are invited to collectively learn and celebrate the historical and contemporary contributions of Indigenous Peoples within our region, across the country, and the globe. For more information and event times, please see this article:  (https://vtx.vt.edu/notices/2022/10/20220930_notice_virginia_tech_community_will_celebrate_indigenous_peoples_day_monday_october_10th_1.html?utm_source=cmpgn_news&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=vtUnirelNewsDailyCMP_100722-fs)

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter. 

Aimée M. Surprenant
Dean of the Graduate School
Virginia Tech
Graduate Life Center Rm. 235
Blacksburg, VA 24061

September 2022

September 30, 2022 Weekly Update

Dear Graduate Students,

Happy Friday! It has been a busy week and I’m looking forward to the weekend. I was putting together my yearly report for the Provost and reflecting on the things that were accomplished in the Graduate School last year. We did lots of things, but I think what I’m most happy with are the relationships that were created and the connections that were fostered. There’s an old saying that “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” which means that no matter how great your strategy is, your plan will fail without an organizational culture that encourages people to implement it. So, understanding the culture and values of an organization and its members are key to making any significant change. The first step is to know the current culture, the second is to imagine the culture as we want it to be, and the third step is to make a plan to span the gap between those two things. Together, let’s imagine an inclusive, healthy culture for VT to strive for! 

Summary:
1. Fall ‘22 Grads: Borrow Your Cap and Gown from GPSS
2. Inclusion and Diversity Certificate Information Session
3. Hispanic/LatinX Graduate Student Luncheon
4. GAC (Graduate Arts Council) Kickoff
5. GLC Art and Photography Display
6. Celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October


1. Fall ‘22 Grads: Borrow Your Cap and Gown from GPSS
Are you graduating this fall? Planning on taking photos or walking at the in-person ceremonies, but need a cap and gown? GPSS has caps and gowns for students to borrow! Fill out the form by November 1 and we will try to make those memories happen while saving you money! If you do borrow from us, please note that you will need to return the gown dry cleaned, with receipt. Hoods are not included. You will be notified by Nov. 10 whether GPSS is available to accommodate your request. Please contact Cissy Ming (cissym@vt.edu) with any questions. Apply for a cap and gown loan here: (https://forms.gle/53RJRkTsAv2ucA5p8).

2. Inclusion and Diversity Certificate Information Session
Are you interested in an opportunity to stay competitive, build upon your existing skills, and learn  new ones that are valued by today’s employers? Join us via Zoom at 9 a.m. on October 6 for an information session about our graduate certificate for Inclusion and Diversity, the application process for current students, and its benefits. Register at:  (https://virginiatech.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMrdO-qpzgiGtelwsfiVWHvOrPcqmkgqrLy). If you have any questions, please contact ordi@vt.edu.

3. Hispanic/LatinX Graduate Student Luncheon
Wednesday, October 5, 12-1pm, GLC Multipurpose Room
The Graduate School's Office of Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion invites all graduate community members for the Hispanic/LatinX Connect Lunch! Gather with various racial/ethnic minorities, sexual/gender minorities, and others to highlight the Hispanic and LatinX communities in graduate education. Student group leaders, faculty/staff mentors, and community allies are invited! Registration is required: (https://applyto.graduateschool.vt.edu/register/HispanicLatinX22). Questions? Please contact Shernita Lee, PhD at ordi@vt.edu.

4.         GAC (Graduate Arts Council) Kickoff
Wednesday, October 5, 6-7 pm, GLC Room B
Looking for a place to connect with other students with an interest in the arts? Then GAC is the organization for you! Stop by to learn more about GAC and how you can get involved. If you're already a member, we invite you to join us to learn about the events we have planned as well as to reconnect with your fellow GAC members.

5.      GLC Art and Photography Display
The Graduate School invites submissions of artwork and photography by graduate students for display during the fall semester and beyond. Have a favorite place in Blacksburg that brings you peace, joy or happiness? Have a photograph that captures your favorite moment in Blacksburg? Show us your favorite moment or spot in Blacksburg for this art and photography display. Submissions are limited to three pieces (art and/or photography) per graduate student.  More information can be found here: (https://graduatelifecenter.vt.edu/Programs/glc-art-and-photo-contest.html)
Deadline is October 13. For questions, email grads@vt.edu.

6.      Celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October
The Office for Equity and Accessibility (OEA) invites all members of the Virginia Tech community to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and the 32nd anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in October. (https://vtx.vt.edu/notices/2022/09/oea-ndeam-fall-2022.html)

September 23, 2022 Weekly Update

Dear Graduate students,

There has been a wave of protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, an Iranian woman who was arrested for having a loose head scarf and died in custody after being severely beaten. In the wake of the protests, mobile networks in Iran have been largely shut down and access to social media platforms has been restricted. Our Iranian students and community members are understandably deeply concerned about the safety of their friends and families and are under extreme stress and anxiety. Please help me spread the word that they are not alone and that the VT community is here for support and empathy–we can all lend an ear or a shoulder to cry on.

Along with the worrisome situation in Iran, my heart goes out to those in Puerto Rico, who are still experiencing power outages, and those in western Alaska and Pakistan who are seeing unprecedented flooding, those feeling earthquakes Mexico, and other places in the US and around the world who are experiencing manmade and natural disasters.

Although the effects of all of these events are not as widespread as the pandemic, large numbers of our students and community members are suffering and are having difficulty concentrating on their classes and research. I’d like to ask everyone to reach out to at least one person, to ask how they are doing with genuine curiosity, be present while listening, provide emotional support, share information on resources (below), and, if you are in a position to do so, offer flexibility on deadlines, expectations, or assignments.

We are a community–together we can make a difference.

Summary:
1. Resources for Graduate Students
2. How to report a physical barrier on campus
3. Cranwell International Center Programs and Workshops
4. Dining Etiquette offered in the GLC Multipurpose Room
5. TimelyCare available for all enrolled students
6. The Microsoft license has changed

1. Resources for Graduate Students
The Graduate School has compiled a list of resources for our students including community resources, professional development, and health and wellness links: (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/student-life.html). Cook Counseling resources for mental health and wellness can be found here: (https://ucc.vt.edu/).

2. How to report a physical barrier on campus
The Office for Equity and Accessibility works hard to maintain a campus that is accessible for all. If you encounter a physical barrier, an elevator that does not work, or anything else that impedes travel for all on campus, you are encouraged to report the barrier to the OEA: (https://www.vt.edu/accessibility.html).
 For more information, please see the article below. 
(https://vtx.vt.edu/notices/adm-evergreens/report-physical-barrier.html?utm_source=cmpgn_news&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=vtUnirelNewsDailyCMP_091622-fs)

3. Cranwell International Center Programs and Workshops
Please see the link below for events and workshops that are offered through Cranwell International Center. Some upcoming events are the Cross-Cultural Discussion Group on September 29 and F-1 Immigration Pathways on October 5.  (https://international.vt.edu/events-and-workshops.html)

4. Dining Etiquette offered in the GLC Multipurpose Room
Learn how to conduct yourself during a formal meal in a professional setting, whether it is part of an interview or other engagement. The program includes a presentation, helpful tips, and a free pizza meal. There will be time to network with other graduate students as well. Sign up here:
 (https://virginiatech.questionpro.com/dining).

5.      TimelyCare available for all enrolled students
Any enrolled Virginia Tech student can use TimelyCare (https://ucc.vt.edu/timelycare.html). Scheduled counseling is available wherever you are in the US, and Health Coaching and TalkNow services are available wherever you are around the world. Additionally, TimelyCare provides live translation for over 250 languages. We strongly encourage students to sign up for the service before they need it. It is a new process and it is possible that there will be some glitches in the system. Please let us know if there is an issue enrolling and we’ll work to take care of it.

6.      VT’s Microsoft License has changed
The Microsoft license at VT has changed:  (https://itpals.vt.edu/softwarelicensingcenter/studentsoftware/swbundles/gradmicrosoftbundle.html). Graduate students and non-degree seeking students are not required to purchase a Microsoft license but do have the option to do so as a one-time cost. With our new licensing agreement with Microsoft, there is no longer a free tier that allows access to only online tools.  There is no change for undergraduate students or for graduate students who have previously purchased the license. Graduate students who previously did not buy a license but did use the free tier are at risk of losing data they may have stored with Microsoft.

Dear Graduate students, 

Greetings everyone! Last week I shared a link to a calendar of cultural and religious observances that I thought would be helpful for instructors and GTAs because those dates might affect their students’ participation in classes. However, the link I sent was to an interfaith calendar that did not include Judaism or Islam among its religious observances and, instead, included a preponderance of Christian holidays. I am grateful to the individual who pointed out the error. I sincerely apologize for my carelessness in not properly curating my recommendation and promise to be more careful in the future. A more complete (although of course not exhaustive) list can be found here: https://www.diversityresources.com/interfaith-calendar-2022/.

This experience has been a humbling one and resulted in some reflection on my part about apologies: what they are for and why they are used. According to Devrupa Rakshit, Associate Editor at The Swaddle (a newsletter of health, gender, and culture in India), “People apologize when they have breached someone’s trust, or wronged them in any manner, with the objective of restoring their relationship. ... Moreover, by validating the feelings of the person one wronged, an apology also shows care.” I like that description as well as the pointer to the work done by Beverly Engle on the power of apology. It is important to acknowledge when we do something that is harmful to others to show that we care for their feelings and regret that they were hurt. This does not undo the harm, but it demonstrates an openness to try to avoid future injury. Of course, apologies can be overdone or insincere, but in general, they are a first step toward forgiveness. To bring this discussion full circle, many faiths set aside dedicated time for atonement and asking others for forgiveness including (but not only) Yom Kippur and Samvatsari.  In that spirit, please forgive me if I have hurt you through actions or words.

References:

Engel, Beverly. (2002). The Power of Apology: Healing Steps to Transform All Your Relationships. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons.

Rakshit, Devrupa (August 2020). Why Some People Over‑Apologize, And Others Never Do, The Swaddle, https://theswaddle.com/why-some-people-over-apologize-and-others-never-do/

Summary:

TimelyCare virtual health program available to all enrolled students

Reminder: Professional Development Opportunities via CIRTL

VT GrATE application period is open

Hispanic-Latinx Heritage Month and Hispanic/Latinx Student Luncheon

  1. TimelyCare virtual health program available to all enrolled students

TimelyCare is a virtual health and well-being platform available 24/7, 365 days a year, for Virginia Tech students. Any enrolled Virginia Tech student can use TimelyCare. Scheduled counseling is available wherever you are in the US, and Health Coaching and TalkNow services are available wherever you are around the world. Additionally, TimelyCare provides live translation for over 250 languages. https://ucc.vt.edu/timelycare.html

2. Reminder: Professional development opportunities via CIRTL

Virginia Tech is now a member of the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) network, and graduate students and postdoctoral associates/fellows at Virginia Tech can participate in CIRTL's professional development opportunities. Two of CIRTL's upcoming professional development opportunities (listed below) are currently open for registration. More information about each opportunity can be found at the links below.

●      Sept. 26 - Nov. 20: An Introduction to Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM Teaching, https://www.cirtl.net/courses/726

●      Thursdays, Oct. 27, Nov. 10 and Dec. 1. Exploring Careers in Teaching at a Community College, https://www.cirtl.net/events/series/61

To learn more about CIRTL, visit the network's website at https://www.cirtl.net/. If you have questions about CIRTL at Virginia Tech, email teaching@vt.edu.

    3. VT GrATE application period is open

Virginia Tech Graduate Academy for Teaching Excellence (GrATE) is opening the Fall 2022 application cycle. The Academy is inviting graduate students to become members and advance within its peer-mentoring program focused on best practices in teaching and learning. The application deadline is October 11, 2022, at midnight. Visit http://vtgrate.org  for information. To submit your application, click on the following link: https://forms.gle/5hc9jiAgW9mSVzp7A.  You can also follow the Academy on Twitter, @VT_GrATE, and on Facebook, at Graduate Academy of Teaching Excellence @VTGrATE.

    4. Hispanic-Latinx Heritage Month and Hispanic/Latinx Student Luncheon

Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month traditionally honors the cultures and contributions of both Hispanic and Latinx Americans as we celebrate heritage rooted in all Latin American countries and Spain. During this month El Centro and our partners, share history, heritage, and accomplishments of Hispanic and Latinx Americans of past and present (https://ccc.vt.edu/calendar/Hispanic-Latino_Heritage_Month.html).

As part of that celebration, the Graduate School's Office of Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion invites all graduate community members for the Hispanic/LatinX Connect Lunch! Gather with various racial/ethnic minorities, sexual/gender minorities, and others to highlight the Hispanic and LatinX communities in graduate education Wednesday, October 5, 12-1pm, GLC Multipurpose Room. Student group leaders, faculty/staff mentors, and community allies are invited! Registration is required: https://applyto.graduateschool.vt.edu/register/HispanicLatinX22. Questions? Please contact Shernita Lee, PhD at ordi@vt.edu

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter. 

Aimée M. Surprenant

Dean of the Graduate School

Virginia Tech

Graduate Life Center Rm. 235

Blacksburg, VA 24061

540.231.7581

September 9, 2022 Weekly Update

It is hard to believe we are already ending the third week of the semester—time flies when you are having fun! I’m going to use this space to encourage you all to take advantage of all the great opportunities that are outside of your academic or research programs—both at the university and within the community. Even after 30 years as a professor and administrator, I’m excited and energized by all the intellectual, social, and cultural activities that take place at universities and in their surrounding communities. Take the time to explore what is available, but also reach outside the university. This is an awesome time of year to find fresh produce and crafts at local farmers markets. We’ve provided some links below.  Of course we all have different definitions of what is fun or stimulating—find something that provides you joy and take the time to do it!  

Summary:

  1. Be mindful of religious/cultural observances
  2. Inclusion and Diversity Certificate information session
  3. Applications open for Graduate Student Ambassador program
  4. Panel Discussion: Enhancing a sense of belonging, featuring international students from Asia
  5. Reminder: Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning services
  6. Coffee and Conversation: Anti-bullying in graduate school
  7. Blacksburg, Roanoke, Salem, Falls Church, and Arlington Farmers Market

 

1. Be mindful of religious holidays

As a publicly funded institution, Virginia Tech does not officially recognize all religious holidays and celebrations, but we do recognize the importance of such events in the lives of our community members. In the spirit of inclusive excellence and our Principles of Community, faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to be aware of major religious and cultural observances when planning courses and campus events, and to be sensitive to potential deadlines you might place on that day. You will find more information about this on the Registrar’s website: https://www.registrar.vt.edu/dates-deadlines/religious-ethnic-holidays.html. You’ll find a calendar of religious holidays and celebrations here: http://www.interfaith-calendar.org/2023.html. That page includes a link to 2024, so you can plan ahead for spring semester.

2. Inclusion and Diversity Certificate information session

Are you interested in an opportunity to stay competitive, build upon your existing skills, and learn  new ones that are valued by today’s employers? Join us via Zoom at 9 a.m. on October 6 for an information session about our graduate certificate for Inclusion and Diversity, the application process for current students, and its benefits. Register at:  https://virginiatech.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMrdO-qpzgiGtelwsfiVWHvOrPcqmkgqrLy. If you have any questions, please contact ordi@vt.edu.

3. Applications open for Graduate Student Ambassador program

The Graduate Student Ambassador (GSAP) Program is an opportunity for graduate students to work in partnership with the Graduate School’s Support Hub of Inclusive Practices (SHIP), to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion events as well as to assist with recruiting and retaining underrepresented and minoritized students. Appointments are for one academic year (approximately 20 hours over that time) and provide exclusive opportunities for training, professional development, and engagement with university stakeholders. To apply, please visit: https://virginiatech.questionpro.com/GSAP22 Questions? Contact Shania Clinedinst @ ordi@vt.edu.

4. Panel Discussion: Enhancing a sense of belonging, featuring international students from Asia

Join us on Tuesday, September 13, 12-1:30 p.m. in Graduate Life Center room F for a panel discussion focused on enhancing international graduate students’ sense of belonging by listening to academic and social experiences, challenges, and hints from experienced international students. Free lunch will be provided. Please register https://bit.ly/SOB_Asia. Students, faculty, and staff are welcome to attend. If you have any questions, please contact ordi@vt.edu.

5. Reminder: Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Services

Throughout the 2022-23 academic year, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) is available to partner with faculty and instructors, including Graduate Teaching Assistants, to support the design, development, and implementation of learner-centered instruction. This partnership includes a variety of customized and confidential consulting services to support research-based teaching and learning design and strategies. Through these customized services, faculty and instructors work closely with CETL staff to set goals and action plans. Visit the website to learn more: https://teaching.vt.edu/

6. Coffee and Conversation: Anti-bullying in graduate school

Join us in the GLC multipurpose room on Friday, September 16, 3-4:30 p.m. for coffee and conversation on anti-bullying in graduate school. We will share resources and best practices for graduate students who have experienced peer-to-peer, mentor-to-mentee, advisor-to-student, and other forms of bullying in academia. Please register at https://bit.ly/ABGS22. Students, faculty, and staff are welcome to attend! If you have any questions, please contact ordi@vt.edu.

7. Blacksburg, Roanoke, Salem, Falls Church, and Arlington Farmers Markets

On Wednesdays and Saturdays now through December, those who live in the Blacksburg area can find fresh-from-the-farm produce and other locally made products at the Blacksburg Farmers Market. The market is walking distance from the Graduate Life Center, in the Market Square Park on Draper Road. Visit the market’s website for hours and to find out more about the local vendors who participate: https://blacksburgfarmersmarket.com/. Students living in Roanoke or Salem also can visit local farmers markets, as can students at our Northern Virginia campuses. The Roanoke City Farmers Market website is: https://www.downtownroanoke.org/explore/farmers-market. The City of Salem’s Farmers Market page is: https://market.salemva.gov/. Falls Church Farmers Market is: http://www.fallschurchva.gov/farmersmarket and Arlington is: https://www.freshfarm.org/markets/arlington.

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter. 

Aimée M. Surprenant

Dean of the Graduate School

Virginia Tech

Graduate Life Center Rm. 235

Blacksburg, VA 24061

540.231.7581

September 2, 2022 Weekly Update

Dear Graduate students, 

I hope the second week of your semester has gone well. The Graduate School and our partners are gearing up for a very productive semester on a great many initiatives. Watch this space for updates. A few weeks ago I promised to tell you about the research on what makes people discontented (in case you missed it, please see my July 29 installment on living a psychologically rich life). The research shows three major things that keep people from being fulfilled. First, envy. According to data collected by Mujcic and Oswald (2018), envy or jealousy is negatively correlated with current measures of a person's mental health, and “... envy today is a powerful predictor of worse mental health and well-being in the future (p. 103).” Second, boredom. Pfattheicher et al. (2021) manipulated boredom and found, in certain circumstances, that “boredom increases sadistic behavior across the board, even among individuals low in dispositional sadism (p. 573).”  Finally, lack of sleep: “(In)adequate sleep represents a significant influential force determining whether humans choose to help one another, observable across micro- and macroscopic levels of civilized interaction (Ben Simon, et al., 2022, abstract).”  

Bottom line, try not to compare yourself to others, keep busy, and go the heck to sleep!

References:

Ben Simon, E., Vallat, R., Rossi, A., & Walker, M.P. (2022).  Sleep loss leads to the withdrawal of human helping across individuals, groups, and large-scale societies. PLoS Biol 20(8): e3001733. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001733

Pfattheicher, S., Lazarević, L. B., Westgate, E. C., & Schindler, S. (2021). On the Relation of Boredom and Sadistic Aggression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 121, 573-600. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000335

Mujcic, R & Oswald, A. J. (2018). Is envy harmful to a society's psychological health and wellbeing? A longitudinal study of 18,000 adults. Social Science & Medicine, 198,103-111, ISSN 0277-9536.

Summary:

  1. Update on COVID testing and test kit availability
  2. Pathways newsletter with tips on teaching
  3. Arts@VirginiaTech
  4. The Moss Arts Center (MAC)
  5. GLC Wellness Room
  6. Coffee and Conversation: Anti-Bullying in Graduate School

 

1. Update on COVID testing and test kit availability

The university has discontinued voluntary testing for COVID-19 for faculty, staff, and students on the Blacksburg campus. The university will provide free at-home rapid tests to students through the Schiffert Health Center to those who cannot obtain an at-home test anywhere else. (https://vtx.vt.edu/notices/2022/08/hokie-wellness-covid-tests-fall2022.html?utm_source=cmpgn_news&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=vtUnirelNewsDailyCMP_090222-fs) Those outside of Blacksburg are encouraged to visit the Virginia Department of Health website for information on where to find free testing sites (https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/protect-yourself/covid-19-testing/covid-19-testing-sites/). Find out more about test information for the semester at (https://ready.vt.edu/testing.html).

2. Pathways newsletter for teachers

Twice each academic year, the Pathways program sends out newsletters to faculty who teach undergraduate students. The newsletters share tips on classroom management and other topics useful to teachers. The fall 2022 newsletter focuses on pedagogy. You’ll find it at (https://www.pathways.prov.vt.edu/news/newsletters/newsletter-fall-2022.html).

3. Arts@VirginiaTech

Tech may be a part of the university’s name, but the arts are an important part of its culture and educational opportunities. The Arts@VirginiaTech initiative is one of Provost Clarke’s priorities, with a focus on integrating arts throughout the university. Through the course of this academic year, programs across the university will highlight their connections to arts. Find out more about the initiative at (https//vt.edu/about/arts.html). The website offerings will grow, so check back often.

4. Moss Arts Center (MAC)

Virginia Tech’s Moss Arts Center offers an array of exhibits, programs, and performances throughout the academic year. To start the semester, MAC is offering a free concert with artist Cimafunk on the center’s lawn at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, September 7. There’s also an opportunity to meet other graduate students interested in arts at the “Meet @ the MAC” event at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 8. This event offers a tour of the center and an opportunity to learn about the center’s programs. You’ll find a schedule of events and more at the center’s website: (https://artscenter.vt.edu).

5. GLC Wellness Room

Did you know that the Graduate Life Center on the Blacksburg campus has a Wellness Room available to graduate students 24/7? Students must use their Hokie Passports to enter the room, which has a napping pod, light therapy lamp, yoga mats, comfortable seating, and more. 

6. Coffee and Conversation: Anti-Bullying in Graduate School

Join us for coffee and conversation on anti-bullying in graduate school on Friday, September 16th from 3:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. in the GLC Multipurpose Room. We will share resources and best practices for graduate students who have experienced peer-to-peer, mentor-to-mentee, advisor-to-student, and other forms of bullying in academia. Please register (https://bit.ly/ABGS22).  Students, faculty, and staff are welcome to attend! If you have any questions, please contact ordi@vt.edu

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter. 

Aimée M. Surprenant

Dean of the Graduate School

Virginia Tech

Graduate Life Center Rm. 235

Blacksburg, VA 24061

540.231.7581

August 2022

August 26, 2022 Weekly Update

Dear Graduate students, 

The first week of classes is finally over—whew! Hopefully, with the weekend on the horizon you can take a bit of time to relax and do something that brings you joy or contentment. One of the items listed in the update below is our program to recognize excellent mentors through our Mentor of the Month award. I think it is a great idea to celebrate those who do a good job mentoring. But, we should remember that very few of us are great mentors for everyone. Most of us are great mentors for some people and probably not so great mentors for others. In my mind, the reason is simply that it is a relationship, and relationships work differently with everyone. Some trainees relish hard challenges and independence, whereas some prefer more balance, structure, and oversight; some want a lot of meeting time, some want to be left alone; some wish for constant feedback, others find that intrusive. Sometimes we click immediately with another person, sometimes we just don’t. Most of the time we can manage to be productive in a relationship that is not perfect, but it does take a bit of work and clear communication on both sides. I also want to make sure you realize that you don’t have to limit yourself to a single mentor—you can cultivate multiple mentors who can guide you in different ways. I recommend looking at the Mentorship Map (https://eswnonline.org/mentor-mapping/) developed by the Earth Science Women’s Network, which lists out the types of support every scientist (and scholar!) needs. Take the time to deliberately find and nurture these sorts of relationships so you have a support network around you at all times. 

Summary:

  1. Do you know about the weekly GLC Café?
  2. SAFE at VT
  3. Virtual mental health counseling and wellness resources for students
  4. Welcome reception for new women colleagues
  5. VT Libraries to hold research tools workshops
  6. Graduate Honor System seeks student and faculty panelists
  7. Mentor of the Month Program
  8. Next Three Days web site

 

1. Do you know about the weekly GLC Café?

 

Every week, the Graduate School hosts the GLC Café in the Reading room of the Graduate Life Center. The event is an opportunity to enjoy coffee, tea, cookies and conversation with fellow graduate students from programs across the Blacksburg campus. The Café is free and open 3:30-5 p.m. every Thursday and the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. We ask that you bring your own mug, if you can. Regardless, come join your colleagues and enjoy a break from your week.

2. SAFE at VT launched

Virginia Tech has launched SAFE at VT (https://safe.vt.edu/), a website dedlicated to advancing the institution’s progress toward an environment that protects against sexual violence. The site provides clear, current, and comprehensive information and resources for survivors as well as community members who support them, and for those advocating for a safer environment. The site was developed in response to student recommendations and cross-department collaboration within the university’s Sexual Violence Culture and Climate work group (https://www.president.vt.edu/strategicinterests/TaskForces/SexualViolenceCultureandClimateWorkGroup.html). The site replaces the Stop Abuse website.

3. Virtual mental health counseling and wellness resources for students

TimelyCare services complement our existing mental health services and educational programming by giving students a robust and flexible way to use technology to seek out support 24/7. Mental health support needs are unique to each student, and by providing a variety of resources, we hope to encourage students to seek the support that best fits their needs. https://vtx.vt.edu/articles/2022/08/sa-081622-timelycare.html

4. Welcome reception for new women colleagues

Women faculty, staff members, and graduate students are invited to attend the 17th annual welcome reception for new women colleagues on Thursday, Sept. 8 at 4 p.m. in the Latham Ballroom at the Inn at Virginia Tech. The gathering is an informal opportunity to welcome

new folks, begin forging networks, and share information and resources. Register at this link no later than Wednesday, August 31. https://virginiatech.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0ptDPjJlzeiv4uW

5. Research tools for Graduate Students workshop series

There’s a lot to learn in graduate school, and the library can help! This fall, the library will offer a series of free workshops (offered live via Zoom) to help you develop the research skills you need to succeed in graduate school. Learn about literature reviews, database searching, citation management, data management, developing your scholarly presence, and more! For registration links, contact information, and detailed information about each workshop, visit guides.lib.vt.edu/gradworkshops.

6. Graduate Honor System

The Graduate Honor System, charged with reviewing potential academic integrity violations, seeks new student and faculty panelists for this academic year and beyond. Panelists review case documents and participate in hearings to determine whether a violation occurred and decide on appropriate penalties. To become a panelist, attend one of the hour-long training sessions scheduled for Thursday, September 1, 12-1 p.m. or Friday, September 2, 3-4 p.m. in Graduate Life Center Room D Please register at https://forms.gle/jicp54EDKnfSRbjv8 . An additional session will be offered on September 6 from 4-5 p.m. If you have any questions about these training sessions, email gibsonm@vt.edu Learn more about the Graduate Honor System panelists here: https://graduateschool.vt.edu/academics/expectations/graduate-honor-system/ghspanelists.html

7. Mentor of the Month Program

With the Faculty Mentor of the Month program, the Graduate School recognizes and highlights the important role faculty members play in supporting, encouraging, and promoting an affirmative, inclusive scholarly and teaching environment, while contributing to the professional and personal development of graduate students, and cultivating excellence in scholarship. Submit your nomination here: https://graduateschool.vt.edu/about/awards/outstanding-mentor-award/Mentor_of_the_Month.html

8. Next Three Days website

Looking for something to do in the community this weekend or next week? http://www.nextthreedays.com is a web resource that allows you to find lunch and dinner specials, music concerts, drink specials, sporting events, family friendly events, arts & theatre events and any other special event that is happening in the NRV within the next few days. NextThreeDays currently lists events in the New River Valley (Blacksburg, Radford, Christiansburg and Floyd, Giles and Pulaski).

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter. 

Aimée M. Surprenant

Dean of the Graduate School

Virginia Tech

Graduate Life Center Rm. 235

Blacksburg, VA 24061

540.231.7581

 

August 19, 2022 Weekly Update

Dear Graduate students,

Welcome to a new semester! For those of you who are new, the Graduate School works very hard to provide up to date information to you all, using a variety of communication methods. This weekly email update from me is intended to come out on Fridays and will include some items that you might not hear about elsewhere or that we think are so important that they should be emphasized. I also take the opportunity to preface the update with advice or observations or to reflect on interesting events in the world of graduate education or tell you about research findings on care and wellbeing for graduate students. So, stay tuned, I’ve promised an update on the research on what are the key things to avoid if you want to lead a fulfilling and satisfying life.

Good luck in your first few weeks of the semester and, as they say, Provehito in Altum!, or launch forth into the deep!

Summary:
1. Welcome and welcome back events
2. Update on managing COVID-19 for fall 2022 semester
3. Graduate student forms have been updated
4. New virtual mental health program now available
5. New Research and Development program series
6. Information session on the Mellon/American Council of Learned Society Graduate Fellowship
7. TLOS tools available
8. InclusiveVT: Recommendations, resources for faculty in establishing class ‘norm of inclusion’

1. Graduate School welcome and welcome back events

The Graduate School Student Services team has scheduled several welcome/welcome back events for students on the Blacksburg campus. You’ll find a list of the events that will take place during the first weeks of the semester on this webpage: (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/student-life/events.html). They include social events, information activities, and workshops. There are also two opportunities to have lunch with me and talk about graduate education. I’m happy to answer questions and share thoughts. Several of the events, including the meals, require registration, but all are free. Many also are available virtually so students on other campuses can participate. Students in the Washington D.C. metro area will find events in their area listed on the Northern Virginia Center website: (https://www.nvc.vt.edu/) and in the weekly newsletter mailed to students enrolled in programs in that region.

2. Update on managing COVID-19 for fall 2022 semester

Provost Cyril Clarke recently shared an update on the university’s fall 2022 semester COVID-19 management plans. The Provost noted, “Like the flu and other common illnesses, COVID-19 is now one illness among many that university employees and students manage on a regular basis. We will continue to monitor and inform our community on the guidance and resources available, but we believe that the time has come for us to stand down the daily emergency management of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases.” Please read the message, which includes guidelines for instructors, faculty members and other employees, students, and the university community at large. (https://vtx.vt.edu/articles/2022/08/provost-svpcbo-fall-2022.html)

3. Graduate Student forms have been updated

During the summer, we updated the forms graduate students use to make them more accessible and useful. They can be found on the Forms page (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/forms.html).

4.   New virtual mental health program now available

Virginia Tech students now have access to TimelyCare, a virtual mental health program, that will serve as an extension of Cook Counseling Center resources. Students can access TimelyCare at no cost on their phones or other devices 24/7 using the TimelyCare app or visiting (www.timelycare.com/virginiatech)  and select from a menu of virtual care options from licensed counselors and mental health providers. Students are encouraged to download the app and register themselves. You can read more about it in this VTX story (https://vtx.vt.edu/articles/2022/08/sa-081622-timelycare.html) and begin using the system now.

5. New Research and Development program series

The Office of Research and Innovation announced that its Research Development team will host a new series this fall. Upcoming series events include: Strategies for Winning National Institutes of Health Program Project/Center Grants; Resources and Training for Virginia Tech Researchers; National Science Foundation’s New Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships; and an Open House hosted by the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC. The calendar of events can be found here: (https://www.research.vt.edu/research-development/events/2022.html). If you are unfamiliar with the series, visit the archived event page and watch on demand here: (https://bit.ly/3CaLFL0).

6. Information session on the Mellon/American Council of Learned Society Graduate Fellowship

An information session about the Mellon/American Council of Learned Society graduate fellowship (Mellon/ACLS) will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, August. 25. The session will be on Zoom and requires advance registration: (https://virginiatech.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcoceiurDgiHNSSChYx3P8ttdICyE-sTqq4). The Mellon/ACLS fellowship supports doctoral students pursuing innovative research directions. The current application period is for fellowships that will be granted for the 2023-24 academic year. Applicants must be in a social science or humanities department and able to take a full year of sustained specialized research and training. They also must have completed at least two years and all required coursework for their Ph.D. programs in which they are currently enrolled. The fellowship includes a $40,000 stipend for 2023-24 and $8,000 for research expenses, as well as funding for external mentoring. Find more information and the application materials here: (https://www.acls.org/programs/mellon-acls-dissertation-innovation-fellowships/).

7. TLOS Tools Available

Create accessible learning materials
Proactively designing accessible PDFs and following the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines when creating course materials benefits all learners. The TLOS Accessible Technologies team offers tools and courses for instructors: (https://www.assist.vt.edu).

8. InclusiveVT: Recommendations, resources for faculty in establishing class ‘norm of inclusion’

Virginia Tech’s Office of Inclusion and Diversity (OID) (https://www.provost.vt.edu/who_we_are/inclusion_diversity.html)
has developed a resource document with recommendations for instructional faculty and GTAs to assist them in establishing a “norm of inclusion” in their classes beginning with the course syllabus and the first class meeting. (https://www.inclusive.vt.edu/content/dam/inclusive_vt_edu/docs/NormOfInclusion.pdf)



As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter.

Aimée M. Surprenant
Dean of the Graduate School
Virginia Tech
Graduate Life Center Rm. 235
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540.231.7581

July 2022

July 29, 2022 Weekly Update

Dear Graduate students, 

As we end the last week of July and look forward to August, I want to say thank you to everyone who made my first year here at Virginia Tech a stimulating, enriching experience. Although I was quite comfortable at my last university, comfort is not everything—I was ready for a new experience. I have been looking at the research on “What makes life good?” Some of us want a happy life, while others want a meaningful one. But still others want something else—an interesting, psychologically rich life. Oshi and Westgate (2022) argue that at least a third of us search for a psychologically rich life—or a life characterized by a variety of interesting and perspective-changing experiences. What’s different is, the “rich life” is not always filled with happiness or pleasure. Those negative experiences give us a broader frame of reference. The researchers find that those individuals who choose the unexpected over the safe and secure feel most fulfilled. A change in perspective is key. In my next Update, I’ll tell you about the enemies of happiness or fulfillment: Boredom and envy. Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Oishi, S., & Westgate, E. C. (2022). A Psychologically Rich Life: Beyond Happiness and Meaning. Psychological Review, 129(4), 790–811. (https://doi.org/10.1037/rev0000317)

Summary:

  1. TimelyMD: new telehealth and tele-mental health services for students
  2. Mental health resources
  3. Childcare subsidy extended for families
  4. Volunteer reviewers needed for Graduate Research Development Program
  5. Future Faculty Diversity Program is accepting applications
  6. Applications open for the GPSS Travel Fund
  7. August preview
  1. TimelyMD: new telehealth and tele-mental health services for students

Virginia Tech and two other state universities have partnered to provide telehealth and tele-mental health services to students beginning in the fall semester, free of charge, via TimelyMD, an entity that provides such services to more than 1 million college and university students. TimelyCare, the company’s mental health program, will serve as a virtual extension of Cook Counseling Center resources. Students can access TimelyCare on their phones or other devices 24/7 and select from a menu of virtual care options from licensed counselors and mental health providers, all at no cost. For more information about the program, read the VT News story (https://vtx.vt.edu/articles/2022/06/unirel-mental-health-support.html).

  1. Crisis Support Services

You have probably heard or read that the National Suicide Prevention Hotline now has a three-digit phone number: 988. This works on cell phones, phones at the university and other platforms. Other crisis support resources available to students include:

●      Raft, a free paraprofessional phone counseling service, available Monday through Friday, 4 p.m.-8 a.m. eastern time, and 24 hours on weekends. Call 540-961-8400.

●      Connect, a 24-hour referral and emergency evaluation service of Carilion Health Care. Call 800-284-8898.

●      In Blacksburg, ARC Mental health admittance and referral services of Montgomery Regional Hospital and Lewis Gale Hospital: 804-327-5191 or 877-886-7026.

●      Cook Counseling Center, Visit the website for a list of additional resources: (https://ucc.vt.edu/)

  1. Childcare subsidy for families extended

Virginia has extended the expanded eligibility for the state’s child care subsidy program through June 2024. If you have at least one child who has not yet started Kindergarten, you may qualify for the program. Read the VT News notice for more information: (https://vtx.vt.edu/notices/2022/07/child-care-subsidy-update072022.html) and visit the Child Care Subsidy Program site: (https://www.doe.virginia.gov/cc/parents/index.html?pageID=4).

  1. Volunteer reviewers needed for Graduate Research Development Program

Reviewers from humanities, social sciences, education and business are highly encouraged to apply. You must be a graduate student engaged in research at Virginia Tech and not a current applicant for the GRDP. Each proposal consists of an "extended abstract" describing the context, motivation, methods and impacts of an applicants' research, in addition to a budget and timeline for completion of proposed work. Minimum time commitment is two hours in August - including one hour-long training session (food provided) and review of at least two proposals. Volunteers may be assigned to review proposals within their general area of expertise or entirely outside of it. If interested, please fill out this Google Form: https://forms.gle/UTgkorBo1U3UpoWh6. Additional background on the GRDP: https://gpss.vt.edu/programs/grdp.html. Please contact Cissy Ming with questions at cissym@vt.edu.

  1. Future Faculty Diversity Program is accepting applications

The Office for Inclusion and Diversity at Virginia Tech is accepting applications for the 2022 Future Faculty Diversity Program (FFDP) which will occur in person October 2-5. This year the program is primarily seeking candidates in STEM fields. All costs for participants (travel, lodging, meals) will be covered by the Office of Inclusion and Diversity office. The program is designed to assist departments at Virginia Tech with identifying and recruiting talent from historically underrepresented minority populations such as African Americans, Hispanics/Latinx, American Indian/Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders and women in STEM. Ph.D. candidates who are seeking postdoc opportunities and have completed all requirements but their degree defense (ABD candidates) are encouraged to apply but must be graduating no later than May 2023. More information and a link to the application portal can be found here: (https://www.inclusive.vt.edu/Programs/FFDP.html). The application deadline is August 15, 2022. If you have questions, contact efcooper@vt.edu.

  1. Applications open for GPSS Travel Fund Program

Graduate students presenting research conducted at Virginia Tech are eligible to apply for the Fall 2022 Travel Fund Program, with up to $750 available. Grants may cover registration, lodging, meals, abstract fees and other costs of presenting at an in-person or virtual conference with a start date from Oct. 1-Dec. 31. Students from all disciplines are invited to apply, even if your conference abstract has not been officially accepted. Applications due August 22, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. Please email cissym@vt.edu with any questions, and visit (gpss.vt.edu/programs/tfp) for full details and information.

  1. August is just around the corner

It is hard to believe that the fall 2022 semester begins in four weeks. There are several programs and workshops scheduled during the week leading to the first day of classes, Monday, August 22. The GTA workshop is scheduled for August 16. The annual underrepresented/minoritized student luncheon (to which all graduate students are welcome) will be on August 24. The Graduate and Professional Student Senate’s welcome back barbecue will be on the GLC lawn on August 15. Read the weekly graduate school newsletter and check the graduate school website for updated information.

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter. 

Aimée M. Surprenant

Dean of the Graduate School

Virginia Tech

Graduate Life Center Rm. 235

Blacksburg, VA 24061

540.231.7581

If you have comments or recommendations for how we can improve the Dean's Weekly Update or suggestions for specific information and topics that should be shared with graduate students, please provide them through this Google Form: (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1nySotSbohDhGQcVDgAPu114_TUzllM8W8SCFwkyvlpY/edit?ts=6272bec2)

We archive these Weekly Updates on the Graduate School Website under the Dean’s Corner, (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/about/deanscorner/weekly-updates.html). For additional information, you will find the Provost’s weekly updates at this site: (https://www.provost.vt.edu/provost-weekly-updates.html); and the archive of the Graduate School’s weekly Monday emails to graduate students at this site: (https://webapps.graduateschool.vt.edu/glcweekly). Students in Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area also receive a weekly email on Fridays with information specific to your campuses and region.

June 2022

Dear Graduate Students,

For a long time I’ve deliberately practiced what is called “Realistic Optimism.” A realistic optimist develops an accurate assessment of reality and imagines probable outcomes--paying attention to both positive and negative futures. Although realistic optimists foresee obstacles, they work in a constructive way to find ways around them. They imagine what could become possible in the best scenario, and they work hard to make it a reality. I have to admit that current events are testing this optimism as it becomes increasingly difficult to imagine a positive future. However, I am lucky to be a part of a community that believes deeply in the power of education to spur on positive change. Our challenge is how we can shape such a positive future. We need to think deeply about how we will work together to make that happen. Rest up this summer—we’ve got lots of great plans for the fall and I’ll need your help.

Summary:
1. Stipend increase for GAs, GTAs, GRAs
2. 2022-23 tuition and fees
3. Gender-related and women’s issues
4. Fall research funds available from GPSS
5. Changes to the COVID-19 case management process

1. Stipend increase for GAs, GRAs, GTAs

The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors (BOV) approved a 5 percent stipend increase for graduate assistantships (GAs, GTAs, GRAs) at its April 3, 2022 meeting. The resolution can be found on this page.
The increase is reflected in the stipend table for 2022-23, effective August 22, 2022. The stipend table can be found on this webpage.
The BOV’s Executive Committee approved the university’s 2022-23 budget at its June 14, 2022 meeting in Richmond, and the stipend increase is reflected in the approved budget.

2. Tuition and fees for 2022-23

The Board of Visitors Executive Committee set tuition and fees for 2022-23 at its meeting in Richmond on June 14, 2022. The committee was delegated to do so by the full Board on June 7. The committee approved a 3 percent tuition increase for all undergraduate and graduate students. Tuition and fees for in-state graduate students will rise by $561, to $17,083. For out-of-state graduate students, the increase will be $990, raising tuition and mandatory fees to $32,433. The total cost for Virginia and Maryland veterinary students will rise $812, to $26,898. For out-of-state and non-Maryland veterinary students, the increase will be $1,682, to $57,369. Students enrolling in the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine this summer will see a total cost of $57,721. For more information, read the VTX news story.

3. Gender-related and women’s issues

The Women’s Center at Virginia Tech (https://www.womenscenter.vt.edu) has resources for all of our students. In addition students can access Schiffert Health Center Women’s Clinic, (https://healthcenter.vt.edu/ourservices/womens_clinic.html). Planned Parenthood and other local women’s clinics can be found here: (https://newriverabortionfund.org/clinics/).

4. Fall research funds available from the Graduate and Professional Student Senate

The GPSS Graduate Research Development Program (GRDP) is now taking applications until August 1 at 11:59 PM EST. Master's students are eligible to receive up to $1000 and doctoral students are eligible to receive up to $1500. Funds may be requested for travel, lab analyses, supplies and other expenses incurred for degree-contingent research. At least $16,000 will be distributed. Application materials and full instructions can be found here: (https://gpss.vt.edu/programs/grdp.html).

5. Changes to the COVID-19 case management process

The June 10, 2022 Provost Weekly Update noted that the university has made changes to its COVID-19 case management process, effective June 9, 2022. “Virginia Tech will transition its COVID-19 case management process. The university will continue to provide support to employees and supervisors through Human Resources and the Environmental Health and Safety Occupational Health team. There are currently no state or university employee reporting requirements for a positive COVID-19 test. However, employees should continue to follow the standard procedures for notifying their supervisor in the event of an absence and work with their supervisor regarding sick leave as necessary.”  Read more on the Ready Site page that details the changes: (https://vtx.vt.edu/notices/2022/06/oem-hr-case-management-june2022.html)

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter.

Aimée M. Surprenant
Dean of the Graduate School
Virginia Tech
Graduate Life Center Rm. 235
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540.231.7581

May 2022

May 27, 2022 Weekly Update

Dear Graduate students, 

It is a surreal feeling to be riding on a scenic train through the Alps from Basel to Riva San Vitale, gazing at the peaceful, pastoral countryside, the day after visiting the Council of Europe while, at home, gun violence and its inevitable aftermath of grief, finger pointing, and blame sweep across the land. As we learned yesterday, the Council of Europe serves as the guardian of human rights in Europe. Our guide emphasized fundamental human rights such as “freedom of expression and the media, freedom of assembly, equality, and the protection of minorities…(including)... campaigns on issues such as child protection, online hate speech, and the rights of the Roma, Europe’s largest minority. The Organisation helps member states fight corruption and terrorism and undertake necessary judicial reforms.” Of course our guide emphasized that those are aspirational goals, not reality, but, from an American perspective, it is astounding that these countries have formally aspired to these principles and signed onto an agreement to uphold them. 

I’m yet again in the position of asking all of you to take care of yourselves while encouraging you to continue to pretend that all is well and continue your studies and research–trying to ignore what is going on in the country and the world. Is this possible? Is this desirable? I guess the only thing I can do is to encourage you to monitor your feelings and realize when you need to step out, to grieve, to scream, to hide in a closet for a while–whatever works for you. Be well. 

Summary:

  1. Summer travel funds available from GPSS
  2.  New interactive climate survey results webpage
  3. Graduate Life Center summer hours and events
  4. Proposed changes for two colleges won’t affect programs
  5. A letter of appreciation from the Provost
  6.  Update on COVID-19 testing in Blacksburg during summer months

 

1.     Summer travel funds available from the Graduate and Professional Student Senate

There is still time to apply for the Graduate and Professional Student Senate’s summer travel fund program to cover travel expenses, registration and fees associated with presenting your research at an in-person or virtual conference from June 30-Sept. 30. Full-time graduate students may receive up to $750. The application is open until June 1 at 11:59 PM ET. Contact Cissy Ming at cissym@vt.edu with any questions. The application instructions can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Lv1hnFCKNDjP1RH7o4_-Smj_8uMN5Gmy/edit.

2.     New interactive climate survey results webpage

Three years’ worth of climate survey data are now available on the Graduate School’s website: https://graduateschool.vt.edu/numbers/climate-survey-home/climate_dash.html. We will be updating climate survey data pages throughout this summer, including new visualizations to make comparisons easier across years and demographic categories.

3.     Graduate Life Center summer hours and events

Summer Graduate School office hours are 9-4; GLC café will continue on Thursdays 3-5. Read the listserv for events and other activities. Graduate students have access to the GLC afterhours with their Hokie passports. University offices and the Graduate School will be closed on the following holidays: Memorial Day (May 30), Juneteenth (June 20), and Independence Day (July 4)

4.     Proposed changes for two colleges won’t affect programs

At its last meeting, the Board of Visitors approved changes for CLAHS and CAUS, including a name change for CAUS. The proposal now goes to the State Council on Higher Education for approval. The proposed changes will not affect the degree programs in the schools and departments that are expected to move from one college to the other. 

5.     A letter of appreciation from the Provost

Provost Clarke and Faculty Senate President Robert Weiss wrote a message of shared appreciation for the efforts and accomplishments of faculty, instructors, advisors, and academic staff, including Graduate Teaching Assistants, during the 2021-22 academic year. You can find the message here: https://www.provost.vt.edu/provost-messages/message-appreciation-may-12-2022.html  

6.     Update on COVID-19 testing in Blacksburg during summer months

Virginia Tech has also posted updated COVID-19 testing information (https://vtx.vt.edu/notices/2022/05/unirel_summer-covid-testing.html) for the Blacksburg campus for summer 2022. The voluntary PCR testing is available for employees and students who are non-symptomatic. Tests can be scheduled through VT Notify (https://vtnotify.students.vt.edu/index.php/patient/appointment) for the Blacksburg campus testing site. Testing appointments can also be scheduled at certain pharmacies and urgent care facilities throughout Virginia (COVID-19 in Virginia - Coronavirus) for employees and students. With an appointment, you may walk into the self-testing location on the Blacksburg campus during the hours of operation on your appointment date.

For more information on COVID-19 monitoring or testing information, please read this campus notice (https://vtx.vt.edu/notices/2022/05/unirel_summer-covid-testing.html).

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter. 

Aimée M. Surprenant

Dean of the Graduate School

Virginia Tech

Graduate Life Center Rm. 235

Blacksburg, VA 24061

540.231.7581

If you have comments or recommendations for how we can improve the Dean's Weekly Update or suggestions for specific information and topics that should be shared with graduate students, please provide them through this Google Form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1nySotSbohDhGQcVDgAPu114_TUzllM8W8SCFwkyvlpY/edit?ts=6272bec2

We archive these Weekly Updates on the Graduate School Website under the Dean’s Corner, (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/about/deanscorner/weekly-updates.html). For additional information, you will find the Provost’s weekly updates at this site: (https://www.provost.vt.edu/provost-weekly-updates.html); and the archive of the Graduate School’s weekly Monday emails to graduate students at this site: (https://webapps.graduateschool.vt.edu/glcweekly). Students in Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area also receive a weekly email on Fridays with information specific to your campuses and region.

Dear Graduate students,

Congratulations on the successful conclusion of the Spring semester!  Next week is commencement where I will congratulate the newly minted graduates and greet them as new colleagues. I encourage those of you who are graduating to find time to celebrate and savor your remarkable accomplishments. For those of you who are continuing, I hope you can balance your summer research and scholarship activities with time spent enjoying summer's slower pace, quiet campus, and beautiful natural areas.  Summer is a good time to replenish your reserves and get re-energized. The faculty and staff in the Graduate School will be around all summer as a resource and support for you all. Please stop by and say hi!

Summary:
1. Reminder for graduates to complete the exit survey
2. Plan of Study Experience Survey
3. Commencement ceremonies happen next week
4. CETL: Additional seats available for instructors to attend Summer/Fall Course Design Clinic
5. The Weekly Update will be monthly during the summer months
6. Feedback form now available

1. Reminder for graduates to complete the exit survey

Congratulations to all those who are graduating this semester! We are proud of and delighted for you. As you move through these final days before receiving your degrees and heading off to the next chapter of your lives, we ask that you please complete the Graduate School’s exit survey, which you will find on your graduate student checklist in HokieSpa. Thank you!

2. Plan of Study Experience Survey

To help the Graduate School provide a better experience for students, we invite you to participate in a survey focused on the Plan of Study. Your survey answers will help us better understand the needs and expectations of our graduate students, and you will help shape decisions about improving the Plan of Study experience. Your participation in the study is voluntary, and your responses will be completely confidential. We have fixed the previous campus error—thanks to those who pointed it out! More details and the survey link can be found here: (https://it.vt.edu/partnerships/university-wide-user-groups/ux-community/pos.html).

3. Commencement ceremonies happen next week!

I look forward to congratulating our new graduates at our two Commencement Ceremonies next week: one in Blacksburg at Lane Stadium at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11; and another in Northern Virginia at the George Mason University Center for the Performing Arts at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 15. No tickets are required. You can find details about the Blacksburg event at the University’s commencement website: (https://vt.edu/commencement.html). Find information about the Northern Virginia commencement ceremony here: (https://www.nvc.vt.edu/Current-Students/ncr-commencment.html). The ceremonies will be live-streamed at (https://vt.edu/commencement/2022/watch.html). The Graduate School will post on its website a bulletin listing all of the Spring 2022 graduates. The bulletin will be downloadable and there will be a link on the homepage, (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/).

4. CETL: Additional seats are available for instructors to attend the Summer/Fall Course Design Clinic

In preparation for summer and fall 2022, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) has opened additional spots for faculty and instructors interested in participating in the Summer/Fall Course Design Clinic (https://profdev.tlos.vt.edu/browse/teachingandlearning/courses/cetl11-051922). The in-person clinic will take place May 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and May 20 from 9:00 a.m. to noon in Library Classroom 207A.

5. For summer, I will switch to a monthly update.

For the next few months I will be sending monthly updates on the last Friday of May, June, and July. Of course if anything urgent comes up, I’ll inform you right away.

6.      Feedback form now available

We have created a Google form for you to give me feedback on this update. You can find the link below. Let me hear your thoughts!


As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter.

Aimée M. Surprenant
Dean of the Graduate School
Virginia Tech
Graduate Life Center Rm. 235
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540.231.7581

If you have comments or recommendations for how we can improve the Dean's Weekly Update or suggestions for specific information and topics that should be shared with graduate students, please provide them through this Google Form: this (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1nySotSbohDhGQcVDgAPu114_TUzllM8W8SCFwkyvlpY/edit?ts=6272bec2)

We archive these Weekly Updates on the Graduate School Website under the Dean’s Corner, (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/about/deanscorner/weekly-updates.html). For additional information, you will find the Provost’s weekly updates at this site: (https://www.provost.vt.edu/provost-weekly-updates.html); and the archive of the Graduate School’s weekly Monday emails to graduate students at this site: (https://webapps.graduateschool.vt.edu/glcweekly). Students in Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area also receive a weekly email on Fridays with information specific to your campuses and region.

April 2022

April 29, 2022 Weekly Update

Dear Graduate students, 

We are down to the last few weeks of the semester and everyone is running as fast as they can toward the finish line and making plans for an amazingly productive summer. On that note, I should reveal that these summer plans are like New Year’s resolutions—you start out with an ambitious plan and you seldom accomplish all of the things that you have promised yourself you would do. This is normal—please don’t be disappointed with yourself. In thinking about how best laid plans often go astray, I’m often reminded of a line by Douglas Adams in the book Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, in which Dirk had a “Zen form navigation, which was simply to find any car that looked as if it knew where it was going and follow it. The results were more often surprising than successful, but he felt it was worth it for the sake of the few occasions when it was both.” His lesson is that we rarely get to where we thought we were going but we usually end up where we should be. I’m not necessarily advocating for wholesale adoption of this method, but sometimes just going with the flow comes up with great outcomes. Anyway, below are some important items for you to note this week.  

Summary:

  1. New form for sharing news on the GLC weekly listserv

  2. Plan of Study Experience Survey

  3. Reminder about Cultural achievement ceremonies in Blacksburg

  4. Webinar on services available through the University Libraries

  5. Resources for preparing for summer course instruction

  6. 2022 Virginia Tech Transportation Survey: Share your feedback

1. New form for sharing news and events on the Graduate School weekly email

To improve and simplify the process of submitting information about news, events, and activities to the weekly email known as the GLC listserv, the Graduate Student Services office will now use a Google form submission process. If you have a posting to submit, please use this form now: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe2JYIsJWukV6cp6c28CU9vZ3DgGqi0z-pJVdv_KcDH1NjCQA/viewform  Also, please remember to submit your posting by the Friday before the Monday in which you want the information sent out.

2. Plan of Study Experience Survey 

The Graduate School is committed to providing a better experience for the graduate students. In order to improve our students’ experiences with the Plan of Study forms, we are conducting an experience study. When you volunteer to participate in our experience study, you will help us better understand the needs and expectations of our graduate students. The information you will provide will help inform decisions about improving your Plan of Study experience. Your participation in the study is voluntary, and your responses will be completely confidential. More details and the survey link can be found here: https://it.vt.edu/partnerships/university-wide-user-groups/ux-community/pos.html

3. Cultural Achievement Ceremonies

Eight cultural and other organizations will hold their annual achievement ceremonies May 11 and 12 in Blacksburg to celebrate this year’s graduates. You’ll find dates, times, and locations on the cultural achievement ceremony webpage: Cultural achievement ceremonies https://ccc.vt.edu/calendar/ceremonies.html

4. Webinar on services available from University Libraries

In support of teaching and research at Virginia Tech, University Libraries and LabConnect are hosting a webinar titled, "More than Books: An Overview of Services Available Through the University Libraries,” Tuesday, May 24 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.  The webinar will feature a presentation from Kiri DeBose, associate director of health sciences libraries and liaison to animal science. The event is free to attend and open to all members of the university, but registration is required. For more information and to register for the webinar, please read this campus notice (https://vtx.vt.edu/notices/2022/04/labconnect_notice_may_24_webinar_on_library_services.html). 

5. Resources for preparing for summer course instruction

For those who are starting to plan for summer course instruction, Section 9.6.1 (Syllabus and Performance Expectation) of the Faculty Handbook (https://faculty.vt.edu/faculty-handbook/chapter09.html.html#9.6.1)

offers guidance for providing students with course syllabi that effectively communicates information about course content, class schedules and attendance, grading scales and overall expectations of the instructor. Faculty and instructors should design their syllabi and other course documents as a useful means for clearly setting the tone of their courses. Syllabi requirements, per the Virginia Tech Faculty Handbook, include the following:

  •  
  • Academic Accommodations
  •  
  • Academic Integrity
  •  
  • Attendance
  •  
  • Course Objectives
  •  
  • Grading
  •  
  • Office Hours
  •  
  • Prerequisites
  •  
  • Topical Outline

 

While not required, faculty and instructors may also consider additional information in the syllabi such as promoting student success, inclusion and diversity, creating a sense of belonging, and clear communication regarding expectations (https://teaching.vt.edu/teachingresources/syllabi-and-learning-contracts/example-syllabus-statements.html). 

6. 2022 Virginia Tech Transportation Survey: Share your feedback

Survey on travel to/from campus, satisfaction with one’s commute, and experiences with campus transportation programs, infrastructure. https://vtx.vt.edu/notices/adm-evergreens/Transpo-parkingsurvey.html?utm_source=cmpgn_news&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=vtUnirelNewsDailyCMP_042222-fs

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter. 

Aimée M. Surprenant

Dean of the Graduate School

Virginia Tech

Graduate Life Center Rm. 235

Blacksburg, VA 24061

540.231.7581

April 22, 2022

Dear Graduate students,

As Commencement nears I’ve been spending a lot of time celebrating student, faculty, and staff accomplishments with awards ceremonies, research symposia, poster sessions, and more. It has been a great experience to learn more about the amazing things occurring at this university. The breadth and depth of scholarship and research is inspiring and uplifting. However, this frenzy of activity can mask the exhaustion people are feeling. I think we must rely on one another to acknowledge it and work together as a team to support one another as we speed toward the semester’s crescendo. Please look around and see where your supports might be as well as whether there are supports you can offer others.

Summary:
1. President’s office conducting community childcare needs survey
2. Survey regarding the needs of students with disabilities and accommodations 
3. Library funds and resources
4. Commencement reminder
5. Cultural achievement ceremonies will be held May 11 and 12 in Blacksburg
6. Diversity Scholar Spotlight event on April 28
7. The National Institutes of Social Sciences dissertation grants

1. President’s office conducting community childcare needs survey

The Early Childhood Education Initiatives team in the Office of the President wants to gauge the current use and needs regarding childcare across Virginia Tech’s communities and is conducting a survey about this issue. Graduate students are encouraged to participate. The survey will remain open until April 29, 2022, and all submissions are anonymous. Survey link: (https://virginiatech.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_7UQGw2BxWkVpsPk)

2. SSD Survey to assess needs

Services for Students with Disabilities would like all teaching faculty/instructors, including GTAs, to participate in this survey (https://baseline.campuslabs.com/vpiasu/ssdsurvey) to assist their office with collecting data to further their mission and goals. The aim is to improve access and service provision.

3. Library resources and funds

Virginia Tech Libraries have several resources and funds to assist faculty and graduate students. These include the Open Access Subvention fund (https://guides.lib.vt.edu/oasf) so you can use journals that require fees for access; the Library collaborative research grant (https://sites.google.com/vt.edu/lib-collab-grant); and the Affordable + Reusable Textbook initiative (https://sites.google.com/vt.edu/lib-textbook). Visit the web pages to learn more.

4. Graduate Commencement in Lane Stadium on May 11

Virginia Tech’s commencement ceremonies are fast approaching. The Spring 2022 University Commencement ceremony for Graduate Students will be Wednesday, May 11 at 3:30 p.m. in Lane Stadium (https://vt.edu/commencement.html). The Washington D.C. Area Commencement will be held on Sunday, May 15 at 1:00 p.m. at the George Mason University (GMU) Center for the Arts, for graduates of programs located in Northern Virginia. The Lane Stadium ceremony does not require tickets for admission, so those who are not graduating are welcome to attend and cheer on the graduates. See the Commencement page for further details regarding attending commencements as Lane Stadium has policies governing what you can carry into the facility.

5. Cultural Achievement Ceremonies

Eight cultural and other organizations will hold their annual achievement ceremonies May 11 and 12 to celebrate this year’s graduates. You’ll find dates, times, and locations on the cultural achievement ceremony webpage:(https://ccc.vt.edu/calendar/ceremonies.html)

6. Diversity Scholar Spotlight

The 2022 Diversity Scholars will present their projects in the Graduate Life Center multipurpose room at noon on Thursday, April 28. Learn about their work and the Diversity Scholars program. (https://vtx.vt.edu/articles/2022/04/2022-grad-diversity-scholars.html?utm_source=cmpgn_news&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=vtUnirelNewsDailyCMP_042222-fs)

7. The National Institutes of Social Sciences dissertation grants

Grants of $2,500-$5,000 are available to Ph.D. students in the social sciences. See guidelines, eligibility, and proposal requirements linked below. Please encourage eligible students to consider applying for financial support to pursue their research. Virginia Tech is limited to three nominations. Students interested in applying must submit a complete application by 9 am on April 28 to Associate Dean Tom Ewing (etewing@vt.edu). The three proposals selected by nomination will be confirmed by April 29, and the final proposals will be due on Monday, May 2. (https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.socialsciencesinstitute.org/2022-dissertation-grant-program&sa=D&source=docs&ust=1650640635140622&usg=AOvVaw0f5_BfzUQjApxFSp7hCEa5)

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter.

April 15, 2022 Weekly Update

Dear Graduate students, 

As I rode my bicycle to work today I said “Good morning!” to a herd of deer, a bunch of cows, a flock of sheep, a donkey, some horses (with babies!), geese, ducks, and a squirrel (and also the Provost as he was walking in). Sometimes we get so caught up in being task-oriented that we don’t even notice or acknowledge those around us (human and non-human) and our surroundings. Whether you live in Blacksburg, Northern Virginia, Roanoke, or elsewhere, take some time to appreciate your surroundings, soak up the atmosphere and, as the saying goes, stop and smell the roses. If you feel comfortable, say “hi” to a few people—you may not get a response (the sheep were very suspicious and the cows unimpressed) but you may end up making someone’s day!

Summary:

  1. New program to recognize faculty mentors nominated by students
  2. Sexual Violence Culture and Climate Work Group & Stipend Task Force
  3. We Remember: April 16 Day of Remembrance
  4. Commencement 2022
  5. Spring faculty and graduate student mixer set for April 28
  6. Climate Survey thank you and info
  7. Take a break for wellness

1.     New program to recognize faculty mentors

With the Faculty Mentor of the Month program, the Graduate School recognizes and highlights the important role faculty members play in supporting, encouraging, and promoting an affirmative, inclusive scholarly and teaching environment for graduate students. Graduate students are encouraged to nominate their faculty advisor, committee members, or other faculty members who have played a significant role in their graduate experience, either in a single noteworthy instance or through continued and consistent support: https://graduateschool.vt.edu/about/awards/outstanding-mentor-award/Mentor_of_the_Month.html. The Graduate School selects one faculty mentor a month to receive a certificate and a small token of our appreciation.

2.               Sexual Violence Culture and Climate Work Group & Stipend Task Force

The work group held its first meeting: https://vtx.vt.edu/articles/2021/11/unirel-work-group-meeting.html

The graduate student stipend task force will be announced next week!

3.               We Remember: April 16 Day of Remembrance

This weekend, the Virginia Tech family remembers the 32 students and faculty members who were tragically taken from their loved ones and our community on April 16, 2007. They ranged in age from 18 to 76 and represented a variety of academic areas, faiths, and ethnic groups. On this Day of Remembrance, members of our community are encouraged to pause and honor the 32 individuals who lost their lives on April 16, 2007, in a manner most meaningful to them. The We Remember website provides online resources, news and scheduled events, information about the April 16 Memorial, and an opportunity to reflect on the tremendous promise each of the students and faculty we lost embodied for our world with creativity, intelligence, humility, and humanity. https://www.weremember.vt.edu 

4.               Commencement 2022: Ceremony information, schedules for faculty and guests

The Spring 2022 University Commencement ceremony for Graduate Students will be Wednesday, May 11 at 3:30 p.m. in Lane Stadium https://vt.edu/commencement.html. The Washington D.C. Area Commencement will be held on Sunday, May 15 at 1:00 p.m. at the George Mason University (GMU) Center for the Arts, for graduates of programs located in northern Virginia. Approximately 400 post-graduate certificates, masters, and doctoral degrees will be conferred this spring in the D.C. area. https://www.nvc.vt.edu/Current-Students/ncr-commencment.html 

5.               Spring faculty and graduate student mixer set for April 28

The faculty and graduate student spring mixer will be held from 5-7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 28, at the Historic Smithfield Pavilion, 1000 Smithfield Plantation Road. Faculty and graduate students are invited to attend at no cost. Hors d'oeuvres and beverages will be served. https://vtx.vt.edu/notices/2022/04/gradschool_notice_spring_facultygraduate_student_mixer.html 

6.               Climate survey thank you and information on responses

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Graduate Student Climate Survey. We had a 26% response rate, which is our highest ever. While more analysis of these data will be conducted over the summer, many of the themes already apparent in this survey are in the process of being addressed: graduate student funding, assistantship and research demands, and inclusiveness. I am looking forward to learning more from this survey and to the conversations that will be happening in the fall surrounding those findings. View Response Rate and Representativeness at the following webpage: https://graduateschool.vt.edu/numbers/climate-survey-home/2022-survey/response-rate-2022.html

7.               Take a break for Wellness

Join fellow graduate students, faculty members, and staff in Blacksburg and the Greater Washington, D.C. metro area for a wellness workshop and walk on Thursday, April 21. The walk is scheduled for 12-1 p.m. in person at the Graduate Life Center lawn and the Northern Virginia Center lawn in Falls Church. The workshop, “Breaking up with stress,” will be from 4:30-5:30 p.m. in person at the Graduate Life Center and on Zoom. Light refreshments will be provided for those who attend in person. The registration deadline is April 19. Register via this link:  https://tinyurl.com/GradWalk22. If you have questions, contact ordi@vt.edu. 

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter. 

Aimée M. Surprenant

Dean of the Graduate School

Virginia Tech

Graduate Life Center Rm. 235

Blacksburg, VA 24061

540.231.7581

Dear Graduate students,

This week I’ve started most of my conversations and meetings with a request that the people in the room think of something that brings them joy in their academic and scholarly pursuits. We all are at a university because there is an aspect of it that brings us joy. It could be the joy of discovering something new, the joy of giving or experiencing a great lecture, the joy of seeing the “aha moment” when a student finally understands, or simply the delight of being able to endlessly debate a topic with others. Joy can be contagious— the philosopher Volf (2015, pp. 132–3, ref below) writes, “Joy is best experienced in community. Joy seeks company (‘come and rejoice with me’) and the company of those who rejoice feeds the joy of each." Try to seek out others and share your joy with them.

Summary:
1.BOV approved stipend increase for GAs, GTAs, and GRAs
2.BOV approved resolution on graduate student compensation
3.The 2022-23 BOV Graduate and Professional Student representative
4.Planned changes for Northern Virginia Center and where to send questions
5.Commencements are just over a month away (May 11 and 15)
6.Customized teaching and course design services available to faculty, instructors

1.BOV approves stipend increase for GAs, GTAs, and GRAs

     The Board of Visitors approved a 5 percent increase in stipends for graduate assistants for the 2022-23 academic year at its meeting on April 4. The stipend will go into effect Aug. 10, 2022. Graduate assistants will continue to receive tuition remission, a stipend supplement of $458 to help mitigate university assigned costs, and the university will pay 88 percent of the annual premium cost of the basic health insurance plan.

2.BOV approved resolution on graduate student compensation

     Resolution 2021-22D (Equitable and Cost-of-Living) was approved by the BOV on Monday and the task force is being formed. Hopefully we’ll be able to announce the composition of the task force by next week at the latest.

3.The 2022-23 BOV Graduate and Professional Student Representative

     The BOV announced the Graduate and Professional Student Representative for the 2022-23 year: Anna Buhle, a third-year medical student at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Congratulations to Anna.

4.Planned changes for Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church

     As you may have heard, in late 2024, the Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church will no longer house Virginia Tech academic or administrative programs.  This is part of a site realignment and the development of a Center for Smart Construction. The university has begun a process to find places for programs in other sites. Possible locations include the Innovation Campus building, The VT Research Center in Arlington, leased space in northern Virginia, and Blacksburg. Provost Cyril Clarke met with Northern Virginia graduate students and faculty on Thursday via Zoom to provide information and answer questions. He sent the following message to students after the session: 
“As we move forward, we look forward to engaging you and your fellow students in further discussions as we continue to serve and support your needs. I, along with college deans and department heads, welcome your comments and suggestions and will ensure your input is integrated into our development and implementation plans for the region. To that end, we have created an online form (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSehh89nRp-OvF-lK6Qsfdb6ZseYCu_UVgX2qQ5iCliaQPj5Fg/viewform) through which you can share additional feedback, ideas, questions, and concerns. We are also in the process of updating a website that will include background on the program alignment process, FAQs, and current information and resources.”

5.Commencement is just over a month away

     Mark your calendars for Graduate Commencement in Blacksburg at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11, in Lane Stadium, and in Northern Virginia at the George Mason University Center for the Arts at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 15.

6.Customized teaching and course design services available to faculty, instructors.

     The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) partners with faculty and instructors to support the design, development, and implementation of learner-centered instruction. This partnership includes a variety of customized and confidential consulting services to support research-based teaching and learning design and strategies. Through these customized services, faculty and instructors work closely with CETL staff to set goals and action plans. As faculty and instructors begin planning for the summer 2022 term, they are encouraged to partner with CETL for support and course design resources. For more information and additional programs and services, please visit the CETL website (teaching.vt.edu).

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter.

Aimée M. Surprenant
Dean of the Graduate School
Virginia Tech
Graduate Life Center Rm. 235
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540.231.7581
http://graduateschool.vt.edu/
@sgsdean

Volf, M. (2015). The crown of the good life: A hypothesis. In M. Volf & J. E. Crisp (Eds.), Joy and human flourishing: Essays on theology, culture, and the good life (pp. 127–135). Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

April 1, 2022 Weekly Update

Dear Graduate students, 

Spring is here and the plants and trees are starting to come out of their winter dormancy. Hope and anticipation are in the air. At the same time, local and world events continue to be of concern and a source of anxiety for many of us. I’m very lucky—my two goofy beagles (Abby and Lenny) can bring some joy into my life every day. I have promised myself that I will take a few minutes each day to delight in that joy. I’d like to ask you all to reflect on one thing that gives you joy and commit to finding a way of experiencing it in the near future. 

Summary:

  1. Reminder to fill out the climate survey
  2. Graduate Compensation Task Force
  3. Update on Northern Virginia Center at Falls Church
  4. GPSS cap and gown loan program still open
  5. The VT Academy for Graduate Teaching Assistant Excellence is continuing spring office hours

1. The Graduate School triannual climate survey closes April 5

The Graduate School’s triannual climate survey is still open for graduate students across the university’s programs and campuses. Students received email invitations to participate in the survey, which launched on March 15 and closes April 5. The survey measures students’ attitudes toward campus climate, department climate, advising, mentoring and inclusion and diversity. This survey will allow Virginia Tech's leaders to receive valuable input from students about their campus climate. For additional information please review the FAQs (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/numbers/climate-survey-home/2022-survey-information.html) or reach out to Kacy Lawrence at klawr5@vt.edu

2. Graduate Compensation Task Force

The Provost and I are working to finalize the membership on the Stipend Task Force. I’m excited about getting them started and looking forward to the multiple recommendations that will come out of that effort. I expect that the group will engage in a broad consultation exercise with multiple opportunities for the community to weigh in on the topic. Stay tuned; we’re only just getting started.

3. Update on Northern Virginia Center at Falls Church

Provost Clarke, Deans Ross and Belmonte and I traveled to Falls Church on Thursday to discuss the opportunities for institutional growth and a vision for the future of Virginia Tech in northern Virginia. As part of that vision, Provost Clarke informed the group that the process of program realignment around thematic areas of distinction that began in 2019 would continue and that the Falls Church site would no longer house academic programs or administrative areas as of Fall 2024. Further details will be forthcoming as we work through a consultative process to determine the timing for relocation of programs at the NVC . Graduate students and the Graduate School will be deeply involved in those discussions and we will work to make the move as smooth as possible.

4. GPSS Cap and Gown program

Do you need a cap and gown for Spring commencement ceremonies? The Graduate and Professional School Senate has a cap and gown program that loans students master’s and doctoral degree regalia at no cost. The program’s deadline is April 3, so you need to move quickly and fill out the form. Those who borrow gowns will need to have them dry cleaned and must present the dry-cleaning receipt upon returning the gown. You will be notified on April 4 whether GPSS is available to accommodate your request. If you have questions, contact Kayla Alward at kalward@vt.edu

5. VT GrATE still holding office hours

The Graduate Academy for Teaching Excellence (VT GrATE) is continuing its spring semester office hours on Zoom. The Academy fellows are available every Friday, 3-4 p.m., through the end of the semester to answer teaching-related questions and talk about teaching and learning, troubleshooting, and more. 

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter. 

Aimée M. Surprenant

Dean of the Graduate School

Virginia Tech

Graduate Life Center Rm. 235

Blacksburg, VA 24061

540.231.7581

http://graduateschool.vt.edu/

@sgsdean

We archive these Weekly Updates on the Graduate School Website under the Dean’s Corner, (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/about/deanscorner/weekly-updates.html). For additional information, you will find the Provost’s weekly updates at this site: (https://www.provost.vt.edu/provost-weekly-updates.html); and the archive of the Graduate School’s weekly Monday emails to graduate students at this site: (https://webapps.graduateschool.vt.edu/glcweekly). Students in Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area also receive a weekly email on Fridays with information specific to your campuses and region.

March 2022

Dear Graduate students,

     I have very much enjoyed the various Graduate Education Week events and seeing so many of you at the Graduate Life Center and around campus! Graduate Education Week celebrates you and the research, teaching, collaboration and community you create and belong to here at Virginia Tech.

Summary:

1. Congratulations to the Bouchet Graduate Honor Society scholars
2. Award winners celebrated for their achievements
3. Be sure to read the Provost’s message to faculty and staff regarding the university’s in-person mission
4. University Council approves CGPSP Resolution regarding living wages for graduate students with assistantships
5. Join your colleagues, classmates, and friends at the Big Cookout on the GLC Lawn


1.      Congratulations to the Bouchet Graduate Honor Society scholars

     On Wednesday, the Graduate School held a reception to honor the university’s 2022 Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society inductees: Isil Anatok, Gabriela Carrillo, Anaid Shaver, Michelle White, and Johnny Woods, Jr. University President Tim Sands, former Graduate School Dean Karen DePauw, and Chontrese Hayes, Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Academic Affairs and Student Success and a founding member of the honor society, congratulated the new members of the society. The five will be inducted via an online ceremony conducted at Yale University in April. The inductees were featured in a recent VTX article (https://vtx.vt.edu/articles/2022/03/2022-bouchet-scholars.html).

2.      Graduate School award winners celebrated

     The Graduate School held its annual awards ceremony on Thursday and honored outstanding doctoral and master’s students and faculty members from across the university.

3.      Be sure to read the Provost’s message to faculty and staff regarding the university’s in-person mission

     On Friday, Virginia Tech posted a message from Provost Cyril Clarke to all faculty and staff about the university’s “in-person” teaching, learning, and research mission. “To meet Virginia Tech’s commitment to Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), we anticipate integrating virtual work and online programming across educational, research, and outreach missions, but this must be implemented in accordance with the university’s strategic plan. … Virginia Tech has developed a reputation for excellence in the delivery of in-person programs and student engagement, and while we anticipate that virtual technologies will be used to strengthen program delivery in the future, our commitment to in-person work and instruction is unwavering.” Read the full message here: (https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/FMfcgzGmvfTwXmBmklTZhdrFLsRBgNfm).

4.      University Council approves CGPSP “Resolution for Equitable and Cost-of-Living-Responsive Graduate Student Compensation” for students on assistantships

     On March 21, the University Council approved the Commission on Graduate and Professional Studies and Policies’ resolution regarding compensation for graduate students on assistantships (https://governance.vt.edu/assets/2022321-03%20CGPSP%20Resolution%202021-22D.pdf). The resolution calls for a task force to draft a report and recommendations by December 31, 2022 for providing assistantship stipends and other financial support. The Graduate and Professional Student Senate developed the initial draft of the resolution, advocated for its adoption, and participated in negotiations to develop a final version.

5.      Join your colleagues, classmates, and friends at the Big Cookout on the GLC Lawn

     The Graduate School’s annual Big Cookout will begin at 4:30 p.m. today on the Graduate Life Center Lawn. Graduate students and their families are invited to enjoy food, music, and games.  Hethwood Market will provide meat and vegetarian options. The event lasts until 6:30 p.m. I hope to see you there!

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter.

Aimée M. Surprenant
Dean of the Graduate School
Virginia Tech
Graduate Life Center Rm. 235
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540.231.7581
http://graduateschool.vt.edu/
@sgsdean

We archive these Weekly Updates on the Graduate School Website under the Dean’s Corner, (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/about/deanscorner/weekly-updates.html). For additional information, you will find the Provost’s weekly updates at this site: (https://www.provost.vt.edu/provost-weekly-updates.html); and the archive of the Graduate School’s weekly Monday emails to graduate students at this site: (https://webapps.graduateschool.vt.edu/glcweekly). Students in Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area also receive a weekly email on Fridays with information specific to your campuses and region.

March 18, 2022 Weekly Update

Dear Graduate students, we are more than halfway through the semester, days are longer, and the weather is improving. Please take a second to take a deep breath, maybe open a window or get outside for a little while today. Remind yourself what is important and re-focus on those things. Easier said than done, of course! 

Summary:

1.     Resources available for those experiencing continued symptoms from COVID-19

2.     Mask mandate lifted

3.     Resources for classroom instruction re: masking

4.     COVID-19 Testing resources

5.     BOV public comment period

6.     Grad Ed Week

1.     Resources available for those experiencing continued symptoms from COVID-19

A growing number of people, including graduate students, are trying to manage long-term symptoms associated with recovery from COVID-19 and also juggle their classes, research, and other commitments. The Hokie Wellness team has compiled a list of resources for students, staff, faculty, and others who are experiencing such symptoms, which can be found here: https://hokiewellness.vt.edu/hwondemand/employee-wellness-on-demand/long-covid.html

Please take advantage of them, and share this information with others who may need it. The medical establishment is currently struggling with this issue and we will do our best to enhance supports as they become available.  

2.               Mask mandate lifted

On March 11, President Tim Sands announced that masks are no longer required in public indoor spaces in Roanoke and Blacksburg, but the university recommends wearing masks in classroom settings. Masks still are required on public transit and in health care settings. KN95 masks remain available for free at several locations across the university’s campuses. You can find more information on this on the university’s ready site, https://vt.edu/ready

3.               Resources for classroom instruction re: masking: Faculty guidance, resources on classroom conduct

With the announcement that masks are no longer required in public indoor settings (except for health care settings and on public transit), instructors may recommend but cannot mandate student masking in their classrooms and other indoor instructional spaces unless it is a prerequisite for participating in a specific lab or field activity/setting.

In the Faculty Handbook Section 9.9 (Classroom Conduct), face coverings are not associated with instructional conduct and masks cannot be considered “appropriate dress” in a classroom that can be required by an instructor. Also, a student’s choice to wear/not wear a mask is not considered “disruptive classroom conduct.”

Faculty, staff, and students may continue to protect themselves through the use of personal protective equipment such as KN95 or similar respirators-type masks in all instructional spaces. Free KN95 masks are available to all Virginia Tech faculty and students through University Procurement at several locations in Blacksburg and Roanoke.

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) has developed a number of helpful resources, guidance, and sample statements for instructors as they work to continue promoting and providing a positive classroom environment. https://teaching.vt.edu/OurServices/classbehavior.html

These resources offer steps for implementing and upholding positive classroom behaviors that include:

Setting clear and consistent expectations 

·        Use of health and safety sample syllabus statement (suggested/optional) 

·        Early and frequent communications with students 

·        Modeling behavior and planning for positive student interactions 

·        Holding students accountable for their actions

·        The Provost’s Office, through CETL and TLOS, has also developed a number of resources for faculty should they have students who may not be able to participate in in-person classes for health reasons or related university-approved accommodations.

For more information and additional instructional support resources, visit the CETL (https://teaching.vt.edu)

and Provost’s Office (https://www.provost.vt.edu/provost-weekly-updates.html)

websites.

4.               Voluntary COVID-19 testing 

Testing is still available at several sites on the Blacksburg campus throughout the rest of the spring semester. Please consult the Testing webpage, https://ready.vt.edu/testing.html, for more information. 

5.               BOV Public Comment Session

On March 22, the university’s Board of Visitors will hold a public comment session about tuition and fees for the 2022-23 academic year. The session will be at 1:45 p.m. in the Assembly Hall at the Holtzman Alumni Center, 901 Prices Fork Road on the Blacksburg campus. University officials will provide an overview of proposed tuition and fee ranges prior to the comment period. See the BOV website, https://bov.vt.edu,  for public comment session guidelines.  

6.               Graduate Education Week 

Graduate Education week begins on Monday, March 21. The week celebrates graduate education and you, our graduate students. There is a range of activities and events, including the Graduate and Professional Student Senate research symposium on Wednesday and the annual cook-out on Friday. You’ll find all the events listed on the Graduate Education Week website, 

https://graduateschool.vt.edu/student-life/graduate-education-week.html

I look forward to seeing you throughout the week!

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter. 

Aimée M. Surprenant

Dean of the Graduate School

Virginia Tech

Graduate Life Center Rm. 235

Blacksburg, VA 24061

540.231.7581

http://graduateschool.vt.edu/

@sgsdean

We archive these Weekly Updates on the Graduate School Website under the Dean’s Corner, (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/about/deanscorner/weekly-updates.html). For additional information, you will find the Provost’s weekly updates at this site: (https://www.provost.vt.edu/provost-weekly-updates.html); and the archive of the Graduate School’s weekly Monday emails to graduate students at this site: (https://webapps.graduateschool.vt.edu/glcweekly). Students in Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area also receive a weekly email on Fridays with information specific to your campuses and region.

Dear Graduate students,

     On March 4, President Tim Sands sent a message to the Virginia Tech community noting that mask mandates for the Blacksburg and Roanoke campuses are still in force. Masks are no longer required, but are highly recommended in indoor instructional spaces at campuses in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area and Richmond. “If current trends continue, we expect mask requirements for Blacksburg and Roanoke will be lifted soon. Masks are still required on public transit,” the president wrote. More information about updated protocols and resources are posted on the university’s Ready site.

               The Provost’s Office has developed resources for instructional staff who may have students who are unable to attend class in person. I recognize and appreciate how hard our faculty and graduate teaching assistants work to support the ongoing progress of our students.

Take advantage of the resources offered if needed:

               Please take the time, if you can, during spring break to rest, rejuvenate, and reinvigorate. I realize that not all of you can take significant time off. At the very least, try to get outside when the weather is nice to enjoy the sun. Research shows that even imagining you are outside improves cognitive functioning (to be fair, so does chocolate; https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/11/2800).

Please note that I will not be doing a weekly update next week.

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter.

Aimée M. Surprenant

Dean of the Graduate School

Virginia Tech

Graduate Life Center Rm. 235

Blacksburg, VA 24061

540.231.7581

http://graduateschool.vt.edu/

@sgsdean

We archive these Weekly Updates on the Graduate School Website under the Dean’s Corner, (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/about/deanscorner/weekly-updates.html). For additional information, you will find the Provost’s weekly updates at this site: (https://www.provost.vt.edu/provost-weekly-updates.html); and the archive of the Graduate School’s weekly Monday emails to graduate students at this site: (https://webapps.graduateschool.vt.edu/glcweekly). Students in Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area also receive a weekly email on Fridays with information specific to your campuses and region.

February 2022

Feb 28 2022 Dean’s Weekly Update

Dear Graduate Students,

Current world events, including war in the Ukraine, have added what might seem to be an unbearable burden after the past two years. I don’t have any great advice to give you other than to continue to connect with your community to both receive and provide support. The Dean of Students Office and the Graduate School are ready to offer you care and support – along with fulfilling requests for academic assistance if your attention will be elsewhere in the coming days or weeks. Know that offices like ours are deeply committed to assisting with what you may be feeling right now and the anxiety caused by being away from your own home country, family, or friends.

  • Tips for dealing with stress, class and research pressures, and relationships as we near the midway point of the semester, from Bryan Hanson (bryanh76@vt.edu), Graduate School Ombudsperson. Please reach out to Bryan if you’d like to learn more. 

  1. Reflect on the role various pressures we have within our place of work and/or study, our home, and our community affect us. 

  2. Identify where our support structures lie to help us manage the pressure that derives in each of these domains.

  3. Identify how our body responds when we find our stress levels start to reach the threshold of distress.

  4. Recognize when these responses are starting to occur.

  5. When we feel affected by high levels of stress, we need to take a mental timeout and do what we can in the moment to give presence to these feelings and respond in ways that can de-escalate the tension that accompanies these feelings.

  6. Reach out to those that we work or live with and ask for a bit of grace and the support that we need to cope with the stress.

  7. Take advantage of  the many resources and support structures available here at the University. 

  • The Office of Student Affairs has developed a website devoted to well-being resources for university students. The site includes a link to #VTBetterTogether. https://well-being.vt.edu/

  • New COVID-19 mitigation guidelines chart:

    • The  university has developed and launched a new COVID-19 mitigation guidelines chart (COVID-19 Mitigation Guidelines Chart) to help the university community and visitors to campuses understand and adhere to Virginia Tech health and safety protocols. The Provost shared information about the site, noting it “provides links to current information for the university community related to expectations for vaccinations, boosters, masking, and testing.” The COVID-19 Mitigation Guidelines Chart is aligned with and supports official university information provided through the university’s Ready website (https://ready.vt.edu/). The chart will be updated regularly. 

  • The GPSS Resolution on a living stipend will be reviewed and voted on during the March 21 University Council meeting. 

  • During spring break there are no University classes; therefore, students should also have no classwork assignments and no examinations held this week. We recognize that many graduate students play important roles in labs and lab work cannot always be abandoned for the week of spring break; however, we have asked that the faculty work with their lab students to the greatest extent possible to minimize student lab duties during the spring break week and if a student must work in the lab, provide opportunity to have equivalent break time in the weeks leading up to or just after spring break. 

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter. 

Aimée M. Surprenant
Dean of the Graduate School
Virginia Tech
Graduate Life Center Rm. 235
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540.231.7581
http://graduateschool.vt.edu/
@sgsdean

We archive these Weekly Updates on the Graduate School Website under the Dean’s Corner, https://graduateschool.vt.edu/about/deanscorner/weekly-updates.html. For additional information, you will find the Provost’s weekly updates at this site: https://www.provost.vt.edu/provost-weekly-updates.html; and the archive of the Graduate School’s weekly Monday emails to graduate students at this site: https://webapps.graduateschool.vt.edu/glcweekly. Students in Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area also receive a weekly email on Fridays with information specific to your campuses and region. 

February 18 Weekly Update

Dear Graduate students,

     On February 14, President Tim Sands sent a message to the Virginia Tech community noting that mask mandates may be lifted in coming weeks (https://vtx.vt.edu/articles/2022/02/president-message-021422.html). “As confidence grows that the omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has nearly passed, it appears that we will soon have the opportunity to eliminate the complications of required masks and distancing from our daily routines,” the president wrote. The university will post updates on the Virginia Tech Ready site (http://vt.edu/ready), so check it regularly. Please note that the masking mandate remains in effect for indoor spaces on all of Virginia Tech’s campuses.

     The university continues to offer voluntary testing for employees and students. Visit the Ready Testing information page to learn more about availability, locations, and how to schedule an appointment (https://ready.vt.edu/testing.html).

     At the February 21 University Council meeting, the Commission on Graduate and Professional Studies and Policies will present for second reading the Graduate and Professional Student Senate resolution aimed at ensuring graduate students on assistantships receive adequate compensation for their work.

     If you are instructing a class, or want to instruct a class, you should know that you can take advantage of all the resources available at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning: (https://teaching.vt.edu) and the University Library (https://lib.vt.edu/find-borrow/grad-student.html).

     As a reminder, during spring break there are no University classes; therefore, students should also have no classwork assignments and no examinations held this week. We recognize that many graduate students play important roles in labs and lab work cannot always be abandoned for the week of spring break; however, we do ask that the faculty work with their lab students to the greatest extent possible to minimize student lab duties during the spring break week and if a student must work in the lab, provide opportunity to have equivalent break time in the weeks leading up to or just after spring break.


     I want to end by noting that I know that this semester has not been easy. You may be feeling frustration, concern, anxiety, and stress--please know that you are not alone. I, too, have experienced many of these emotions recently. To cope, I continue to lean on family, friends and other resources when needed. I hope you will do the same.

     As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter.

Aimée M. Surprenant
Dean of the Graduate School
Virginia Tech
Graduate Life Center Rm. 235
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540.231.7581
http://graduateschool.vt.edu/
@sgsdean

We archive these Weekly Updates on the Graduate School Website under the Dean’s Corner, (https://graduateschool.vt.edu/about/deanscorner/weekly-updates.html). For additional information, you will find the Provost’s weekly updates at this site: (https://www.provost.vt.edu/provost-weekly-updates.html); and the archive of the Graduate School’s weekly Monday emails to graduate students at this site: (https://webapps.graduateschool.vt.edu/glcweekly). Students in Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area also receive a weekly email on Fridays with information specific to your campuses and region.

February 11, 2022

Dear Graduate students,

After the shooting that occurred in downtown Blacksburg last weekend, the Graduate and Professional Student Senate shared a useful list of mental health resources. I’m sharing that list and a few more resources below. These sorts of incidents can leave us feeling helpless and despairing. But, remember, you don’t have to do this alone. Reach out to your network of friends, family, and colleagues to share your feelings and comfort one another.

•       Cook counseling: 540-231-6557, ucc.vt.edu/clinical_services_students.html
•       Cook Emergency support services: ucc.vt.edu/clinical_services_students/emergency_services.html 
•       Dean of Students Office: 540-231-3787, dean.students@vt.edu
•       Hokie Wellness: 540-231-2233, hokiewellness@vt.edu
•       Hokie Wellness has a list of mental health resources on its website: https://hokiewellness.vt.edu/students/mentalhealth.html
•       Cook Counseling Center also has a list of resources external to the university on its website: https://ucc.vt.edu/index/coping-and-mental-health-during-covid-19-.html

While the COVID-19 vaccination mandate has been lifted, the university still requires the use of masks inside its buildings. Free masks are available at the following locations in Blacksburg and Roanoke:
•       Squires Student Center, at the information desk.
•       McComas Hall, at the university recreation check-in desk.
•       North End Center, in the main entrance lobby.
•       Newman Library, lobby of the Alumni Mall entrance.
•       Virginia Tech Police Department, at the first-floor security center desk through the double doors.
•       Student Services Building, in the Hokie Passport Services lobby.
•       Student Services Building, in the Hokie Passport Services lobby.
•       Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, in the café, Dock C, and VMIA entrance.
•       And in Roanoke:
•       Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, in the lobbies (reception desks) at 2 Riverside Circle and 4 Riverside Circle, Roanoke

Voluntary testing for COVID-19 also is available on the Blacksburg campus. Information can be found on the VT Ready site: https://ready.vt.edu/testing.html. Students in Northern Virginia can pick-upCOVID-19 mail-in PCR test kits in Falls Church or Arlington: https://app.acuityscheduling.com/schedule.php?owner=20170330&appointmentType=29318318

On February 7, the Commission on Graduate and Professional Studies and Policies presented for first reading the Graduate and Professional Student Senate resolution seeking a living wage for graduate assistants. Senate President Jack Leff and I presented the resolution and answered questions associated with it. The resolution will be considered for second reading at the February 21 University Council meeting. You are welcome to attend as observers.

Giving Day is Feb. 23-24. Please consider making a gift to the Graduate School to support programs and services, and to provide financial assistance to students. The Graduate School’s Giving Day website is https://givingday.vt.edu/graduateschool.

The provost’s office will highlight the following in its Weekly Update for February 11:
•       The message of appreciation for faculty and ongoing challenges sent February 7, https://www.provost.vt.edu/provost-messages/message-appreciation-february-2022.html.
•       A reminder to wear masks.
•       A note about attendance and student engagement strategies
•       A reminder of the Provost’s goals and priorities, https://www.provost.vt.edu/goals.html

We archive these Weekly Updates on the Graduate School Website under the Dean’s Corner, https://graduateschool.vt.edu/about/deanscorner/weekly-updates.html. For additional information, you will find the Provost’s weekly updates at this site: https://www.provost.vt.edu/provost-weekly-updates.html; and the archive of the Graduate School’s weekly Monday emails to graduate students at this site: https://webapps.graduateschool.vt.edu/glcweekly. Students in Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area also receive a weekly email on Fridays with information specific to your campuses and region. 

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter.

Aimée M. Surprenant
Dean of the Graduate School
Virginia Tech
Graduate Life Center Rm. 235
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540.231.7581
http://graduateschool.vt.edu/
@sgsdean

February 4, 2022

Dear Graduate Students,

Working with Graduate and Professional Student Senate Executive Team, we have decided to provide the graduate community with a weekly update on Fridays, sharing information from the Provost’s office and other university departments and resources that affect graduate students. Our first update is below.

COVID-19 information and updates:

  • Vaccines: On January 31, President Tim Sands sent a message to the Virginia Tech community stating that the university no longer requires all students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of enrollment or in-person instruction. This change was effective immediately and includes all campuses. To help the campus community stay up-to-date on revisions to university COVID-19 guidance, a new COVID-19 Mitigation Guidelines Chart has been developed as a quick reference resource to assist employees, students, and visitors in understanding and adhering to the university’s health and safety protocols.
  • Testing: Although the university is no longer is requiring mandatory testing for students, we encourage everyone across our campuses to get tested if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to the virus.
  • Masks: While the vaccine mandate has been discontinued, the university requirements to wear masks indoors and follow other public health guidelines, such as social/physical distance, remain in effect.
    • Pickup points for masks on the Blacksburg campus can be found here.
    • Masks can be picked up in the lobby of the NVC in Falls Church.
  • Information: The university will post any additional updates to protocols and requirements on the VT Ready site and will send information through the VT Daily email.
    • For the spring 2022 semester, Virginia Tech will operate a university helpline (540-231-7600) to help all members of the university community — student, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, and visitors — get information and answers on matters related to the university’s response to the continued COVID-19 pandemic. The helpline is and is staffed Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
    • The Graduate School also will make sure the latest information is posted on the Graduate School COVID-19 information webpage 
    • Employees and students in the Washington, D.C. area now have weekly access to take-home COVID-19 test kits for the 2022 spring semester.
    • If you test positive for COVID-19, or if a health care provider has directed you to isolate or quarantine, please report that information using this form. This includes all GAs, GTAs, and GRAs. As I have noted before, disclosing this information will not result in conduct action, nor will it lead to unnecessary inquiries. We are most concerned that you and your family and friends are safe. We want you to have a successful spring semester.

Other reminders:

  • Submit a program proposal for Women’s Month 2022: The Women’s Center at Virginia Tech invites members of the campus community to submit a program for Women’s Month 2022: The First 100 Years of Women at Virginia Tech.
  • Spring enrollment for Little Hokie Hangout is ongoing. The Little Hokie™ Hangout is a flexible, subsidized care program primarily for Graduate Student families.

We will keep you informed as we learn more. We also will archive these Weekly Updates on the Graduate School Website under the Dean’s Corner. For additional information, you will find the Provost’s weekly updates here, and the archive of the Graduate School’s weekly Monday emails to graduate students here. Students in Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. metro area also receive a weekly email on Fridays with information specific to your campuses and region. 

As always, please reach out if you need anything; we are here to support you. Your problems, your worries, your fears, and above all you matter. 

Aimée M. Surprenant
Dean of the Graduate School
Virginia Tech
Graduate Life Center Rm. 235
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540.231.7581
http://graduateschool.vt.edu/
@sgsdean

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