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The Dean's Weekly Updates to Graduate Students

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 4-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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