GLC fountain on a spring day

 

2013-2014 Annual Report of the Graduate School

Submitted by Karen P. DePauw, Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education

Priorities and goals for ’13-‘14 (general goals, units have identified specific goals as well)

The Graduate School has assumed a leadership position toward helping the university achieve the goals and aspirations for graduate education articulated in the Plan for a New Horizon 2012-2018.  As such, our efforts continue to be focused on:

  • Increasing graduate enrollment,
  • Developing new innovative and globally relevant graduate programs,
  • Maintaining the quality of existing graduate education including degree offerings,
  • Continuing to enhance and expand graduate education with professional development courses and activities,
  • Supporting and encouraging interdisciplinary and collaborative opportunities,
  • Enhancing a strong, diverse and globally inclusive graduate community, and
  • Improving efficient and effective operations.

 

Graduate School specific priorities and goals for ’13-’14 were:

1.   Initiate plan for increasing graduate enrollment over the next 6 years

2.   Continue to review and revise graduate education programs (degrees, certificates) portfolio especially for NCR and international partnerships

3.   Continue to implement a strong academic community and reconsider ways to provide programs and opportunities for graduate students

4.   Continue to implement and expand Transformative Graduate Education (TGE) initiatives

5.   Enhance interdisciplinary graduate education at VT (e.g., IGEP)

6.   Continue active support for office of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives

(ORDI) and achieving an inclusive and globally diverse graduate community

7.   Continue to enhance Graduate School operations through use of technology and human resources.

Significant progress has been made on these goals as well as the individual goals set by Associate Deans and Directors (Admissions & Academic Progress, Recruitment & Diversity Initiatives, Student Services, NVC) in the Graduate School.  The accomplishments of the Graduate School reflect the collective efforts of Graduate School employees especially the Directors and Associate Deans.  The reports are available and help indicate the extent of the effort.  Please review these for a more complete picture of the roles, responsibilities and achievements of the VT Graduate School.

As requested in the June 20, 2014 memo, the “progress against the metric in the university scorecard” is reported later in the annual report.  The diversity-related accomplishments are articulated primarily under priority #6. We have entered some information regarding administrative quality and improvement (AdQI) data – specifically two detailed reports (report 1, report 2) are provided.

The VT Graduate School continues to be a leader in innovation in graduate education especially with the Transformative Graduate Education (TGE) initiative, the unique and nationally award winning Graduate Life Center, global perspectives program and technology advancements for graduate education.  Our efforts have been recognized by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), graduate deans around the U.S and internationally through the European University Association (EUA).

Additional narrative and information is included in my Individual Annual Activity Report and my updated vita submitted previously.

1.   Initiate plan for increasing graduate enrollment over the next six years.

In response to the implementation plan, we worked closely with the college Deans to determine the actual growth numbers, percentages and degree programs.  The Five-Year Growth plan included 62% growth in PhDs and 62% in full time enrollment. Approximately 20% of the growth would be on line or outside of Blacksburg.  We estimated the funding needed for such and shared with the Provost office for consideration.

2.  Continue to review and revise graduate education programs (degrees, certificates) portfolio especially for NCR and international partnerships

The Institutional Plan for Graduate Education (IPGE) is updated regularly and incorporates new degrees, existing degrees to be extended to another location, new graduate certificates, and collaborative degrees with U.S. and International partner universities. This year, we continued the process of merging the undergraduate plan with the graduate plan for better coordination among the new degree proposals and degree management in general.  A copy of these plans was shared in the spring with senior academic leadership.  At the end of the year, it was determined that the call for proposals should be issued once a semester and this will be implemented for Fall ’14.  Relatedly the process for reviewing and approving international partnerships including the signing of MOUs was agreed upon for electronic implementation.

As part of the University’s strategic plan, we examined growth areas for graduate education and the general distribution of 75% doctoral students, 75% growth in STEM-H degrees (masters’ and doctoral), and 75% in Blacksburg contained within the Provost’s implementation plan.  Based upon the data from the Deans, the distribution was modified (see #1 above) and submitted to the Provost Office for consideration.

Dr. Kenneth Wong, the Director and Associate Dean in NCR assumed the leadership for and provided valuable input in the identification of growth areas in the National Capital Region.

3. Continue to implement a strong academic community and reconsider ways to provide programs and opportunities for graduate students

In addition to hosting the weekly GLC Café year-round, GSSO organized more than

50 events this year, with the majority offered during Welcome Week, in the first few weeks of each semester, as part of the GLC Open House, and during Graduate Education Week. These events ranged from informal gatherings such as welcome back socials and the Big Cook Out; to informational and professional development events such as the LinkedIn lab, effective reading workshop, and salary negotiation; to personal development workshops, such as how to make ends meet and how to navigate stress and uncertainty in graduate school.

Graduate Education Week 2014 in numbers:

  • 22 events
  • 109 entries in the art and photo contest
  • 1500+ participants
  • 9 co-sponsored events/activities

During the GLC Open House (held each year in mid-fall), we held our usual semi- annual photo and art contest, and expanded programming to draw in graduate coordinators and service organizations on campus who cater to graduate students. A housing design contest for graduate students engaged close to 50 graduate students working in teams to generate ideas for an off-campus graduate living community with amenities that would suit graduate students and their families.

The three GLC Fellows (jointly supervised and paid by the Graduate School and Residence Life) organized 15 events for the graduate student population. Their programs included trips to local hot spots, such as Joe's Tree Farm and the Cascades, movie and game nights, and "Tacos and Tie-Dye," which was a very popular event that challenged students’ creativity in decorating t-shirts and other clothing items. The fellows organized two GLC/Grad Student intramural teams, for soccer and softball respectively. Registration for the teams was advertised on the GLC weekly listserv, and both teams filled up immediately. The fellows also held several community-building events specifically for the GLC residents, including bi-weekly dinners, pancake night, and grilled-cheese night.

The Graduate School partnered with many different departments and local businesses to bring events to the GLC for graduate students. Tax workshops for international students, health insurance information sessions, and a tour of the new Center for the Arts building are just a couple of examples. We have also partnered with the library to contribute to their Open Access Week events and expand their offerings to graduate students.

The Cook Counseling Center, the Writing Center, the Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Analysis, Career Services, and as of February 2014, the Financial Aid office offer weekly walk-in services specifically geared toward graduate students. One of the most successful of these collaborations is with Career Services. During the 2013-2014 academic year, 133 participants attended their workshops in the GLC. Their weekly walk-in advising sessions also remain popular, with 47 students taking advantage of this opportunity in the fall (up from 39 in 2012-13) and 44 in the spring (up from 19 in 2012-13).

Another important component of the Graduate School operations is the Office of the Graduate Student Ombudsperson.  There is a dotted line connection between this office and the Graduate School to allow for some “distance” between the office and the Graduate School but the office is housed on the first floor of the Graduate School.  The Ombudsperson is actively engages with orientations and workshops throughout the year but perhaps the most important purpose of the office is availability and consultations with graduate students (225+ unique visitors in office, by phone and email) throughout the VT locations.

Visitors represented all colleges and came from the Blacksburg, NCR, and virtual campuses. International students represented about 1/3 of visitors, which is largely in line with graduate enrollment.  Women, however, were slightly overrepresented based on enrollment numbers, at approximately 1/2 of total visitors. Doctoral students were also overrepresented, at close to 1/2 of visitors.

The following general categories of issues were presented, in rank order:

  • Relationships with advisors or other faculty, staff, and peers (advisor conflicts were the number-one issue)
  • Communication difficulties
  • Academic progress
  • Incivility/bullying
  • Policies and procedures
  • Funding concerns (e.g., loss of funding)
  • Ethics

One additional note here.  Early in the Fall ‘12, the owners of First & Main approached the Graduate School to seek input about the creation of what they originally called the Blacksburg Intellectual Village. The intent was to build a graduate housing complex in proximity of campus and they wanted our assistance.  Throughout the year, we met frequently to discuss possibilities and held gatherings of graduate students to seek their input. In May, the actual location was revealed – rugby fields at First & Main for graduate housing complex with child care facility.  This project continues although they have experienced some delays.

4.  Continue to implement and expand Transformative Graduate Education (TGE) initiatives

During ’13-‘14, we continued to offer a full complement of GRAD courses and added some new GRAD courses as articulated below:

  • GRAD 5004 (1) GTA Workshop (Fall only); annual enrollment = 650+
  • GRAD 5014 (1) Academic Integrity & Plagiarism (Spring ’14) online
  • GRAD 5104 (3) Preparing the Future Professoriate (Fall & Spring) (taught by DePauw); annual enrollment = 110+
  • GRAD 5114 (3) Pedagogical Practices in Contemporary Contexts (Fall & Spring) (taught by Fowler); annual enrollment = 110+
  • GRAD 5204 (3) Citizen Scholar Seminar (Fall) (taught by Blieszner); annual enrollment = 20+
  • GRAD 5124 (2) Information Literacy (Fall & Spring) (taught by Library staff), available as online course which different sections for selected disciplines
  • GRAD 5304 (3) Preparing the Career Professional (Spring) (taught by Hajj); annual enrollment = 20+
  • GRAD 5314 (3) Preparing Scientist and Engineers for Industry (taught by R. Turner); annual enrollment = 15
  • GRAD 5984 (2) Communicating Science (Spring) (taught by Patty Raun) This will become a permanent course offering; annual enrollment = 16
  • GRAD 5214 (3) Global Diversity and Inclusion (Spring) taught by DePauw; annual enrollment 10-15
  • GRAD 5954 Study Abroad (May 2014) PFP: Global Perspectives seminar at CESA.  The course was taught by K. DePauw with 14 graduate students selected to participate.  This was the 9th year for this successful global perspectives experience which included the addition of global graduate student seminars with University of Basel students at UniBasel and CESA, UniBasel visit to the U.S. and global graduate education conference at the Swiss Embassy in Washington DC.

Annually, ~1200 students enroll in these classes with very positive feedback and significant student credit hours generated.  Enrollment comes from all 8 colleges. Approximately 10-12 students per year “apply” for the graduate certificate in the Future Professoriate.  More than 125 students have earned the graduate certificate to date.

The latest addition to the course offerings is the GRAD 5014 Academic Integrity and Plagiarism (1) on line course.  It was offered in Spring ’14 for the first time and will be offered every semester in the future.  This course is available to help satisfy the ethics requirement mandated for all graduate students entering Fall ’14.

5.  Enhance interdisciplinary graduate education at VT (e.g., IGEP)

The third (and final) year of the initial Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program (IGEP) proposal resulted in three additional IGEPs for Fall ’13. This brings the total to 13 IGEPs – details can be found on the interdisciplinary website.

  • Sustainable Nanotechnology
  • Translational Plant Science
  • Water INTERface: INTERdisciplinary Research Transcending Boundaries of Engineering Science, and Human Health (WATER)
  • Multi-Scale Transport in Environmental and Physiological Systems
  • (MultiSTEPS)
  • Genetics, Bioinformatics, & Computational Biology
  • Macromolecular Science and Engineering
  • Translational Obesity Research
  • Regenerative Medicine
  • Remote Sensing
  • Computational Tissue Engineering
  • Interfaces of Global Change
  • Bio-Inspired Buildings
  • Human Centered Design

The initial proposal called for each new IGEP to be awarded four GRA positions and funding for recruitment, operations, and administrative costs.  Full funding was provided by the Provost Office in year one and only partial funding for IGEPs in the years thereafter. Support from Fralin Institute, ICTAS and ISCE have provided for the two and1/2 additional IGEPs. The Graduate School has continued to provide temporary funding to the IGEPs until base funding can be secured in future years.  The IGEP program has been very successful to date. In August ‘13, Dr. Mauro Borrego (Associate Professor, Eng Ed.) assumes the position of .50 Associate Dean and Director of Interdisciplinary programs and assisted with the further development of the IGEP program as well as oversight of the individual interdisciplinary PhD program.

6. Continue active support for office of Recruitment and Diversity (ORDI) initiatives and efforts of inclusion

The Graduate School’s commitment to diversity and inclusion remains quite strong. We have adopted an integrated approach throughout all of the Graduate School activities (full report is appended).  Thus, only a few are highlighted here:

  • Continued the expansion of programs to recruit and retain graduate students of diverse backgrounds including:
    • Campus visits
    • Open Houses & Tours
    • Monthly Connect gatherings, including Graduate Women’s Luncheon, American Indian Heritage Celebration luncheon, Black History Month Celebration, HBCU connect, Hispanic Latino Celebration Month, Jewish Awareness Month, LGBTQ, and more
    • Summer REU pizza gatherings
  • Sponsored or attended numerous graduate recruitment fairs and internal events
  • Sponsored or coordinated outreach events such as Black alumni reunion, Gay in Appalachia, McNair undergraduate research conference.
  • Revived and expanded the Coordinated School Visits Program
  • Assisted with the Graduate course, GRAD 5214, on Diversity and Inclusion in Global Society
  • Established strong collaborations with offices around campus such as Cranwell
  • Center, McNair Scholars, VT-PREP and IMSD, REU programs and more
  • Continued support for the Hispanic commencement, Lavender Graduation for
  • LGBT students, Ebony Affair, and Donning of the Kente

This third year of the Diversity Scholars program was a success. ORDI received 27 nominations and chose 13 Scholars to participate. There were 2 additional scholars this year who joined, one of who deferred from a previous year and the other who joined an existing Scholar. The Scholars represented 7colleges and the Medical School. The group accomplished the goal of increasing the awareness of diversity issues around campus and had their work acknowledged through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Advancing VT Conference, and VT News. Their projects can be viewed on the Graduate School website under Diversity.

The ORDI and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion worked together to write the report of the findings from the 2013 Graduate Student Climate Survey. It is published on the Graduate School website under Diversity. In the spring, a group of Masters students taking an assessment class with Dr. Martha Glass conducted focus groups and interviews with students who identified as having a disability, being over 30 years old, or having children.

This is the first year that we have officially participated in the National Name Exchange. This is a membership to which we get access to names of underrepresented, high achieving prospective graduate students. Last year we gained access to 7,400 names and this year there are over 8,400.

The College of Engineering (COE) continues to work with the ORDI to maximize efforts in recruiting underrepresented students into their programs through multiyear funding. The COE has named these students as New Horizon Graduate Scholars (NHGS). Many of these students are identified through the GEM Consortium membership. Other students are identified through purchased GRE names or faculty member relationships.

A major success this year was re-establishment of the relationship with GEM and our ability to accept and funding for GEM recommended students. The GEM relationship strengthened this year with the involvement of Associate Dean Jack Lesko.  He agreed to match funds with COE money, and to encourage graduate coordinators in his college to take more of a lead in the recruitment and admission of the GEM prospects.

In order to enhance our recruitment efforts, ORDI purchased HOBSONS Connect, a client management system.  The system took a team of Graduate School directors to build over the course of 6 months. In March 2013, the system was implemented and departments were trained. The system will help to manage the prospective students and applicants by department to include a VIP page per student and an individualized communication plan.

7. Continue to upgrade the use of technology in the Graduate School and for the graduate students, especially Web 2.0 technology (e.g., website, Facebook, vGLC, Twitter, Blogs using WordPress)

The VT Graduate School continues to be seen as a leader in technology among the graduate schools nationally and as such, we are frequently asked to provide sessions at regional and national conferences (e.g., CGS, VCGS, CSGS).  Some of the uses of technology are highlighted below:

  • “By the numbers” visualization
  • Recruitment efforts such as school visitation, open houses, and Hobsons for recruitment
  • Interactive Graduate School Catalog
  • Use of “card swipes” for event registration and GTA workshop
  • Use of WordPress blogging tool with Global Perspectives program (e.g., Global
  • Perspectives, Switzerland, Interdisciplinary, Diversity and Inclusion, etc.)
  • Continued program offerings through the virtual GLC (vGLC)
  • Enhanced communication with the graduate community via social media:
    • Graduate School Blog
    • Use of Graduate School Wiki
    • Graduate School Face Book with 3200+ “fans”
  • Twitter

The electronic signature system (ESS) verification for use in Graduate School processes was enhanced for final examination scheduling form and ETD submission process.  We secured university commitment and support to revise our application system which was built and implemented for Fall ’13.  The admission review process was enhanced throughout the year.

Personnel changes for ’13-‘14

Dr. Muhammad Hajj joined the Graduate School as .50 Associate Dean in January 2014, replacing Dr. Janet Rankin.

Ongoing and additional administrative responsibilities of Graduate School Dean, Associate Deans, Directors, staff (representative and not exhaustive). (please see individual reports)

  • Ongoing daily activities and operations of the Graduate School (recruitment, admissions, academic progress through alumni, international graduate students, development and fund raising, student support services, etc.)
  • Immigration services and advice for international graduate students (increase in enrollment of international graduate student)
  • Institutional Plan for Graduate Education (IPGE) was updated annually reflecting institutional priorities.
  • Ultimate responsibility for university-wide graduate education (VT: National Capitol Region and Commonwealth campuses)
  • Continued annual 2013 Graduate Alumni Homecoming attended by 75+ alumni
  • Continued positive working relationship with the Commission for Graduate
  • Studies & Policies (CGS&P)
  • Worked closely with other Commissions and university governance
  • Continued positive collaborations with Graduate Student Association (GSA). Served as Advisor to GSA (DePauw). Regularly assist with the transition from current officers to new officers and other leadership activities
  • Continued a positive working relationship with the Graduate Student Representative to the BOV.
  • Served as advisor to Interdisciplinary Research Society (IDR) and Alpha Epsilon Lambda (AEL) (DePauw); advisor to Graduate Honor system (Gibson)
  • Increased international collaborations with partner universities (with G. Ghosh)
  • Publications and presentations on graduate education (state, regional, national and international)
  • Presentations regarding VT graduate education for international and national visitors as well as to various constituency groups within VT (AdvanceVT, Commissions, Committees, Department Heads council, CARS/CAGS, etc.)
  • Served as PI, Co-PI and consultant to externally funded grants (e.g., NSF AGEP, CGS contract from NSF)
  • Serving on search committees – multiple individuals serving on multiple search committee at the Graduate School, college and university levels.

Priorities and goals for ’14-‘15 (general goals, units have identified specific goals as well)

The Graduate School has assumed a leadership position toward helping the university achieve the goals and aspirations for graduate education articulated in the Plan for a New Horizon 2012-2018.  As such, our efforts will be focused on:

  • Increasing graduate enrollment,
  • Developing new innovative and globally relevant graduate programs,
  • Maintaining the quality of existing graduate education including degree offerings,
  • Continuing to enhance and expand graduate education with professional development courses and activities,
  • Supporting and encouraging interdisciplinary and collaborative opportunities,
  • Enhancing a strong, diverse and globally inclusive graduate community, and
  • Improving efficient and effective operations.

Graduate School specific priorities and goals for ’14-’15 would include:

  1. Implement plan for increasing graduate enrollment over the next 5 years
  2. Continue to review and revise graduate education programs (degrees, certificates) portfolio especially for NCR and international partnerships
  3. Continue to implement a strong academic community and reconsider ways to provide programs and opportunities for graduate students; specifically child care initiatives, work life balance and graduate family housing
  4. Continue to implement and expand Transformative Graduate Education (TGE) initiatives; specifically Academy for GTA Excellence, Global Perspectives program and career professional program
  5. Enhance interdisciplinary graduate education at VT (e.g., IGEP)
  6. Continue active support for office of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives
  7. (ODRI) and achieving an inclusive and globally diverse graduate community
  8. Continue to enhance Graduate School operations through use of technology and human resources.