2014-2015 Annual Report of the Graduate School

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

Alignment of Graduate School efforts with Plan for a New Horizon

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 focus on graduate enrollment, new innovative and globally relevant graduate programs, quality of existing graduate education including degree offerings, graduate education with professional development courses and activities, interdisciplinary and collaborative opportunities, strong, diverse and globally inclusive graduate community, and efficient and effective operations.

Graduate School specific priorities and goals for 2014-2015 were modified from the ’13-’14 report and included the following:

1.   Continue to implement and enhance Transformative Graduate Education (TGE) initiatives; specifically Academy for GTA Excellence, Global Perspectives program and career professional program

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

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

4.   Implement an assessment plan for graduate education

5.   Continue active support for office of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives (ORDI) and achieving an inclusive and globally diverse graduate community; develop initiatives for InclusiveVT

6.   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

7.   Continue to upgrade the use of technology in the Graduate School and for the graduate students (especially Web 2.0 technology; website, FaceBook, WordPress Blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram).

8.   Re-envision the organization of the Graduate School and redefine roles and responsibilities of GS staff. Continue work to enhance functionality and streamlined operations throughout the Graduate School

Overview

All Virginia Tech Graduate School units, under the direction of Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw, focused on the priorities and goals established for the 2014-15 academic year and made significant progress toward both long- and short-term objectives. Each associate dean and program director detailed accomplishments and goals in annual reports. These included Associate Deans Rosemary Blieszner, Muhammad Hajj, Amy Pruden (interdisciplinary graduate education) and Kenneth Wong (Northern Virginia Center and National Capital Region efforts); Graduate Admissions and Academic Progress;  Finance and Administration;  Office of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives, Graduate Student Services Office, the Office of Child Care Initiatives, and the Communications Office. Please review these reports for a more complete picture of the roles, responsibilities and the achievements in 2014-15 of the Graduate School.

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).

Graduate data

Metrics for graduate education are included with the Learning Scholarship Domain of the Scorecard for the University Strategic Plan. The most recent Scorecard can be found at the Provost’s website. The data for graduate education are summarized annually; see the most recent data at this site 2014-2015 and in the slides below. For more information about demographic data by year and trends, go to university governance where you can view the annual CGS&P progress report and presentation. (The Facts and Numbers page on the Graduate School website is currently being updated.)

enrollment trends
enrollment trend table

The Graduate Admissions and Academic Progress (GAAP) unit reported the Graduate School received 10,622 online applications (includes non-degree applications) during the 2014-15 academic year and accepted 3,930 graduate applicants. The Graduate School awarded 2,130 degrees and certificates. Additionally, GAAP processed 315 non-Virginia Tech tenure-track graduate program faculty requests.

International and immigration

Graduate Student Services Office (GSSO) saw a 1.2 percent increase in international admissions in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 and anticipates an approximately 8 percent boost in international enrollment in 2015-16. For larger view of tables, click tables VTGS annual report for 2014 to 2015.

 

Blacksburg

 

F 2009

 

F 2010

 

F 2011

 

F 2012

 

F 2013

 

F 2014

 

F 2015

International enrollment 1,644 1,664 1,614 1,695 1,738 1,759 1,898

International admissions and new international student enrollment both rose significantly on the Blacksburg campus.

Blacksburg

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Int’l admissions

963

749

(22% ↓)

825

(10% ↑)

885

(7% ↑)

945

(7% ↑)

1135

(20% ↑)

1521

(34% ↑)

Immigration forms issued  

511

436

(15% ↓)

424

(3% ↓)

465

(9% ↑)

481

(3% ↑)

467

(3% ↓)

631

(35% ↑)

New int’l student enrollment  

 

323

327

(1% ↑)

395

(20% ↑)

377

(5% ↓)

389

(3% ↑)

544

(40% ↑)

China (169, down from 178 last year), India (201, up from 128), Iran (24, down from 26), South Korea (21, up from 18) and Germany (15, down from 20) are the top countries represented among our new students. The new international students hail from 44 different countries, while our entire international graduate student population represents 90 countries.

Co-op applications increased by 24 percent over 2014, possibly due to a change in co-op procedures for 2014-15 that significantly reduced the cost of participation in the program:

 

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

Co-op participants

140

146

123

149

(21% ↑)

138

(8% ↓)

172

(24% ↑)

International students from 25 departments participated in the co-op program; 79 of them were master’s degree students and 93 were doctoral. The co-op program continues to be most popular among ECE, CSA, ME and ISE students.

What follows is a summation of progress and accomplishment made across units for each of the 2014-15 goals.

1. Continue to implement and expand Transformative Graduate Education (TGE) initiatives; specifically Academy for GTA Excellence, Global Perspectives program and career professional program

The Transformative Graduate Education (TGE) initiative continues to thrive and expand at VT.  In collaboration with Patty Raun, TGE now includes a permanent GRAD course on Communicating Science. The course (2 credits) is taught by Patty Raun and now incorporates speaking and writing components; in addition, Patty continues to provide “guest lectures” for GRAD 5104, the IGEP group and others around campus. We are pursuing affiliation for VT as a “Communicating Science” university. The course will be offered each semester starting Fall ’15. Another addition is the GRAD 5014 Ethics and Scholarly Integrity (1) course which was offered in Spring ’14 as a hybrid course and has been offered each semester since then.

As TGE program offerings and interest increase, sustainability becomes important. The Graduate Dean and each Associate Dean assume responsibility for one of the graduate courses (GRAD) – Rosemary Blieszner teaches GRAD 5204 (3) Citizen Scholar course and Associate Dean Muhammad Hajj teaches the GRAD 5304 (3) Career Professional course. The career professional “track” is becoming more fully developed as an option for our graduate students. The Graduate Dean teaches the GRAD 5214 (3) Diversity and Inclusion course in the Fall in addition to the GRAD 5104 (3) Future Professoriate course every semester. GRAD 5114 Contemporary Pedagogy (3) continues to be taught by Shelli Fowler every semester. Hundreds of graduate students enroll in the course and earn the graduate certificate.

The Future Professoriate: Global Perspectives Program (Switzerland) was held for the 10th year. This program is highly successful; interest in this program remains high. The partnership with the University of Basel (UniBasel) is solid and funding has been continued. We continue to hold successful events at the Swiss Embassy in June and published GPP manuals annually. I continue to provide a seminar at the annual Alumni event (November in Basel), the input seminar (March in Basel), and help coordinate the event at the Swiss Embassy. The Global Perspectives program (GPP) remains unique in the nation and is seen as a model for other graduate schools.

In November 2014, the Graduate Dean visited University of San Francisco de Quito to explore the expansion of the Future Professoriate Global Perspectives program to Ecuador. The trip was successful and we are continuing discussion with a trip with selected graduate students expected for November ’15 with the possibility of temporary or permanent faculty hires at USFQ and for the TGE educated students to help with faculty development at USFQ.

The Academy of GTA excellence (Academy) was established in Fall ’14 with eight founding members. In this first year, we inducted a total of 11 members, 10 associates and 14 Academy Faculty Scholars into the Academy. The faculty are members of Diggs Teaching Scholars or the Academy of Teaching Excellence (ATE).

The GTA Workshop (GRAD 5004) had enrollment of more than 850 students, with more than 650 students attending the Fall 2014 two-day workshop and 200 attending the Spring 2015 workshop, the first time the Graduate School has offered a spring semester workshop. Dr. Muhammad Hajj coordinated the GRAD 5004 workshop and seminars.

The Preparing the Future Career Professional (GRAD5304) class included guest speakers and a focus on entrepreneurship at the students’ request. The Graduate School also examined online resources for graduate students considering careers outside the academy and subscribed to Versatile PhD, an online networking resource for students and alumni, available in fall 2015.

The Graduate School provided 190 (up from 150 in 2013-14) assistantships to departments under various programs, including the Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program (IGEP), Dean’s Diversity Assistantships (DDA), Cunningham doctoral scholar awards and others. The GSSO managed more than 320 tuition awards and funding each semester, an increase of 70 over the prior year. More than 50 employment eligibility verifications for new graduate student employees were processed and the office managed 36 university fellowship/scholarships and seven external fellowships.

The Graduate School also recognized Citizen Scholars with awards of excellence during Graduate Education Week in spring 2015.

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

Interdisciplinary graduate education is an important focus area for VT.  In year 1, four IGEPs received year-1 funding (3 from the Provost’s office and 1 from Fralin). In year 2, four additional IGEPs were selected for first year funding for Fall ’12 although full funding was not forthcoming (one was funded from the Provost office and one from ICTAS).  The third year of IGEP proposal included the strongest proposals to date. After four years + of budget allocations, these programs are nearly completely funded. Enthusiasm remains high among the faculty and graduate students.

The Interdisciplinary Research Society (Iota Delta Rho) founded by VT graduate students successful held several events throughout the year and continues to mature. The Graduate Dean serves as the advisor to IDR.

In August 2014, Amy Pruden (Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering) assumed the position of 0.50 Associate Dean and Director of Interdisciplinary programs and assisted with the further development of the IGEPs as well as oversight of the individual interdisciplinary Ph.D. program. Pruden organized two social events for the IGEPs, administrators, faculty and students at the Graduate Life Center. Each event drew 150 to 170 attendees, including current and former IGEP GRAs.

The final highlight here was success in securing the ability of the Graduate School to offer an individualized interdisciplinary doctoral program. Enrollment in this program is likely to remain small but the proposals will be robust. Two proposals will be shared with the commission on Graduate Studies & Policy in the Fall ’15. I have been actively engaged throughout the process and will continue to work closely with the students and faculty who wish to pursue individualized interdisciplinary graduate education.

3. 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 ongoing and has assisted with the strategic planning process for graduate degrees. We regularly review new graduate certificates, new degree possibilities including those in NCR, and selectively consider new partnerships with international universities. Two international proposals approved last year have begun operations: one with University of Kent and another with Shandong University in China. The 3+2 accelerated program in Mechanical Engineering with Shandong University brought 10+ graduate students to VT in Fall ’14 and more recruited for Fall ’15.

The Graduate School continued its work streamlining the IPGE processes in fall 2014. Four degree proposals were considered via governance review:

  • MA in Data Analysis and Applied Statistics
  • MS and PhD in Learning Technologies (placed on hold by CLAHS)
  • MS in Instructional Design Technology (placed on hold by CLAHS)
  • PhD in Government, security, and Environmental Policy

In 2015 the Graduate School received 80 new or revised course, graduate certificate, or degree proposals. The Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies reviewed and approved a policy on graduate student continuous enrollment, including leaves of absence and in absentia status, for implementation in fall 2015.

Very significant efforts for the future of graduate education in the National Capital Region, especially the Northern Virginia Center continue. These efforts are led by Associate Dean Kenneth Wong. For detailed information, see the section on the National Capital Region and his unit report.

4. Implement an assessment plan for graduate education

To assist with the analysis of graduate education at VT, we initiated the task of collecting and preparing the data for interactive presentation on the Graduate School website identified as “By the Numbers”. The initial data were available in Fall ’12 and has expanded some since then. There is much improvement needed here which has been hampered by the departure of the staff member in charge over a year ago followed by the retirement of the person who assumed the position. As a result, little progress was made this year but we have hired a full time assessment coordinator with the expectation that our assessment efforts would significantly increase.

The Graduate School also continues to gather feedback from graduate students. This year we analyzed the data associated with the climate survey and child care needs survey and considered actions based upon the results. In addition, we have re-activated and revised the entry, mid-term and exit surveys for graduate students. Data were collected for students enrolling F’14 and graduating December ’14.  With the hiring of the new assessment coordinator, we will be able to resume administration of the entry and exit surveys in ’15-’16.

5. Continue active support for office of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives (ORDI) and achieving an inclusive and globally diverse graduate community; develop initiatives for InclusiveVT

Diversity and inclusion have been and remain critical components of a quality graduate education experience at VT and I have served and will continue to serve as a strong advocate for a welcoming and supportive environment for all. The Office of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives (ORDI) has developed and implemented new programs (e.g., Diversity Scholars) and is serving well the graduate student community.

The Office of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives supported a range of Graduate School goals in 2014-15 as it reached out to potential students across the United States and the globe, and sought to engage with underrepresented students and others from diverse backgrounds. ORDI coordinated 33 visits to college and university campuses and recruitment fairs to promote Virginia Tech Graduate programs.

The office continued training and engagement on the HOBSONS Connect System and Events Module, a key recruitment tool. There are more than 50 communication plans and triggered emails set up in the system to “touch” students and promote interest in the university’s programs. HOBSONS also handles the graduate school registration system. Additionally, ORDI manages an email account that averages 100 emails weekly from prospective students.

In addition to recruitment, ORDI hosted eight information sessions, “Graduate School 101,” for departments and visiting groups, which included undergraduates considering graduate education after earning their bachelor’s degrees. ORDI also provided small grants to departments (Computer Science, Counselor Education, Psychology, Mechanical Engineering) to support visits to the Virginia Tech campus by highly competitive students who had been admitted. ORDI also supports various offices around campus to provide services to prospective students, current students, and alumni. At least 14 centers, organizations and institutes collaborated with ORDI in 2014-15 regarding services for students.

ORDI continued via several assistantships and student funding opportunities to recruit underrepresented students. Such efforts included work with the College of Engineering to attract GEM and New Horizons Graduate Scholars; work with program directors to provide funds via the George W. Carver program, the VT IMSD/PREP program and other department sources. Additionally, eight students from a field of 25 applicants received Dean Diversity Assistantships. Two students from a field of 21 nominations received Powell Fellowships. One student from a field of three nominees received a McNair Assistantship. One Virginia Tech student is receiving support as a scholar through the Southern Regional Education Board and another was selected for funding through 2015-19 to complete a Ph.D.

ORDI managed several diversity initiatives in 2014-15 for the graduate school. These included hosting monthly Connect luncheons to provide networking, support, and community for nontraditional and underrepresented students. ORDI coordinated the third year of the Diversity Scholars program, choosing 22 scholars from 32 nominees. In 2013-14, there were 13 scholars chosen from 27 nominations. More information on the program can be found on the Diversity Scholars webpage.

ORDI also managed the inaugural year for Virginia Tech’s chapter of the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society, an invitation only organization founded by Howard and Yale universities. Seven members were inducted in the first year.

The Communications Office worked with ORDI on social media campaigns associated with the Graduate School’s InclusiveVT initiatives, with which we highlighting student responses to prompts on the GLC hall walls about inclusivity and diversity. Photos and posts ran on Twitter and Facebook.

6. 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

Building graduate community remains a key component of the mission of the Graduate School and is at the core of the Graduate Life Center (GLC).  This year, we continued an examination of the ways to enhance the “look and feel” of the GLC and enhance the graduate community. New furniture was purchased, refurbishing of the selected spaces occurred, ideas for landscaping is in progress, and the “outdoor” café space was created. Through the Graduate Student Services office (GSSO), we continue to expand and enhance the quality of the graduate education experiences for our graduate students, mostly in Blacksburg but also in the National Capital Region/Northern Virginia Center.

In 2014, with support from the President’s Office, the Graduate School hired a child care coordinator to oversee implementation of the child care initiatives. Finance and Administration (F&A) worked with the Child Care Coordinator and the university’s Office of Budget and Financial Planning, Capital Assets and Financial Management, University Legal Counsel, Real Estate Management, and Controller’s Office to successfully launch the Little Hokies Hangout, which is the Graduate School’s first auxiliary enterprise. The Little Hokies Hangout (co-op) opened in January and offered services through the summer. The staff included a playgroup director and two certified session leaders, one for each three-hour session offered daily at a monthly cost of $180 per child. During the 2014-15 academic year, the program provided childcare services to 18 graduate students and 1 faculty member.

The Graduate School has also launched a parent support group and created a vetted child- care service list. In addition, we are working closely with the community-university partnership efforts in securing quality and affordable child care. Our efforts for affordable graduate family housing continue as well.

The Work Life Grant Program continues its success since the program was started in 2003-2004.  The program provides six weeks of support, with 50 percent funding from the Graduate School and 50 percent from the student’s College. This past year, at least 20 grants (approximately $27,500) were allocated, the largest number to date. The program falls under the broad category of modified duties (similar to the faculty handbook), is available to qualified females and males and will likely expand into other needs beyond childbirth or adoption.

Graduate Student Services Office (GSSO) organized more than 70 events for students in 2014-15 and hosted the weekly GLC Café in the Graduate Life Center Reading room. The majority of events and activities were offered during: the fall and spring semester orientation weeks, the Fall GLC Open House, and Graduate Education Week in the spring. Events ranged from informal gatherings to informational and professional development events to personal development workshops. GSSO added two recurring weekly services: financial aid advising provided by the VT financial aid office, and a dissertation writing support group facilitated by GSSO staff. During the fall open house, GSSO and Office of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives (ORDI) staff also shared results of and provided opportunities to discuss the Graduate Student Climate Survey conducted in 2013. Students also were invited to showcase their research, or fun aspects of their fields during the open house. A wide range of students did so from across the colleges.

During Graduate Education Week, GSSO organized 19 events, 8 of which were co-sponsored by other campus organizations. The events drew more than 1,500 participants over the week. During the annual awards dinner, 24 students were recognized and received $14,500 in awards.

GSSO staff and the three GLC fellows offered a range of activities to support work-life balance and provide additional ways for graduate students to share their talents and information about themselves throughout the year. These included game and movie nights; the semi-annual photo and art contest; meals and social activities; and tours, workshops and information sessions on such topics as taxes and health care. A key collaboration was with Career Services, whose workshops drew 189 participants, up from 133 participants in 2013-14. Other weekly services provided included Cook Counseling Center, financial aid advising, immigration advising, LISA statistical consulting and writing assistance.

ORDI coordinated the third annual Little Hokies Clothes Swap, a collaboration of the Graduate School, the Graduate Student Assembly and the Women’s Center. The free event was held in the Graduate Life Center in November and drew more than 100 donations and more than 100 participants. This year staff members also were invited to receive items not taken by the students.

The Graduate School was approached by the chair of the LGBT Caucus to include LGBT as a box selection on the application. It was determined that the application was not the best location to gather this data so the ORDI created a supplemental survey to gather this data. The survey was emailed to all newly admitted students and about 800 students responded. The ORDI worked with various office (mentioned above) to share this information and send resources.

  • 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.

The Graduate School also advises and houses the Graduate Honor System, which reported 17 case referrals, a decrease of two compared to the prior year. Of those, 16 involved plagiarism charges and one was a cheating referral. 14 cases were resolved through facilitated discussion.

7. Continue to upgrade the use of technology in the Graduate School and for the graduate students (especially Web 2.0 technology; website, FaceBook, WordPress Blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram).

The VT Graduate School continues to lead graduate schools in the U.S. in our innovative and daily use of technology. Our portfolio of tools and social media (website, FaceBook, twitter, WordPress Blogs, LinkedIn and more) is broader than other graduate schools in the U.S.  As such, VT if frequently asked to provide workshop sessions at CGS meetings (December ’15, Summer workshop ’14) on technology, social media, and more. We have attempted to provide the virtual GLC as a platform for communication, but use had declined followed by the departure of the staff member responsible for the GLC and we have discontinued use at this point in time.

Selected 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 and Twitter with the Global Perspectives program (e.g., Global Perspectives, Switzerland, Interdisciplinary, Diversity and Inclusion, etc.), and launched a GPS element allowing followers to track the Global Perspectives students during their program.

This year we successfully implemented the next phase of the Electronic Signature System (ESS) and continue to improve our electronic processes.  Currently, we have implemented our new in-house application system, scheduling of preliminary examinations as well as scheduling of the final oral examination, final defense and ETD submission.

In August 2014, the Graduate School established a communications office to enhance connections and outreach with audiences within and outside the university, focusing primarily on prospective and current students. The Communications Manager, working with the Dean and unit directors, has expanded the Graduate School’s presence on Social Media platforms. These include:

  • Twitter, on which Dean DePauw has been a pioneer, live-tweeting events and engaging students, faculty and administrators. We increased followers on the Graduate School’s account (@VTGradCommunity) to a daily average of 1,339 as of July 2015 and built Twitter exchanges/relationships with departments, IGEPS, colleges, organizations across campus. We increased awareness of the Graduate School’s feed, and those of ORDI and the IGEPs and Dean Karen DePauw. We outpace many of our peer graduate schools in terms of activity and reach. Active aggregation and reposts helped expand the reach of Global Perspectives Program Twitter posts on Twitter. We also have helped to amplify the NCR Twitter feed. We also posted screen grabs (photos) of Dean DePauw’s Twitter posts on Facebook and LinkedIn to draw attention to the platform and engage a larger audience.
  • Facebook, on which we increased our average weekly reach from 90-100 to an average of more than 3,800 per week, with multiple spikes over the year. We have increased number of followers from 3,108 in August 2014 to 3779 in July 2015 (at 3870 at the end of August). We average an increase of more than 50 followers each week. We have developed reciprocal relationships with other university department, unit and organization Facebook pages, which has boosted the Graduate School’s visibility and demonstrated our connections across campus. We also cross-promoted the GLC and Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) Facebook posts, increasing visibility.
  • Flickr, on which we created a social media account focused on photo galleries that can be used across other social media platforms.
  • Linked In, with which we established a university LinkedIn page in September 2014. The Graduate School has more than 300 active followers.

The Communications office published 22 stories about the Graduate School, graduate students and programs and GLC activities in University News, and worked with the Roanoke Times, WVTF and WSLS on stories about our ethics requirements, and child care initiatives.

8. Re-envision the organization of the Graduate School and redefine roles and responsibilities of GS staff.  Continue work to enhance functionality and streamlined operations throughout the Graduate School

Graduate Schools must re-invigorate (and re-invent) themselves to be viable entities for the 21st leading transformational change. We have continued to make progress with our plan to streamline operations through technology, especially with the implementation of Hobsons, the expansion of technology to admissions, examinations and ETD submissions (initially the Electronic Signature system), and the in-development assistantship contract initiative. Specific examples of our efforts to enhance operations include the following:

  • F&A conducted an internal review of the award process for the Graduate Student Assembly’s Graduate Research Development Program and Travel Fund Program to improve the timeliness of the awards payments and to reduce labor costs associated with processing the awards.
  • F&A also led the process of scoping a website redesign project for the Graduate School, and in February 2015 selected the company, New City, to redesign the webpages to enhance efficiency, effectiveness and support for potential and current students as well as faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni who visit the site.
  • GAAP began electronic scheduling of doctoral preliminary examinations in ESS in August 2014. That unit also began the process to add the immigration status form to the online application portal, improving access and efficiency for students. GAAP launched phase three of DDMS and WORKFLOW, which allowed for scanning immigration documents and processing them from electronic rather than paper formats.
  • GSSO took initial steps toward accepting supporting immigration and financial information documents electronically, with hopes that admission cycle applicants will have an online interface as part of their admission application in 2016-17.
  • Due to the anticipated increase in new international student enrollment, GSSO instituted a new, streamlined process for international student check-in, requiring students register for designated time slots during a three-week period. This increased predictability of daily workload for the immigration advisors, and greatly reduced wait time for students.

New employees in 2014-15

Amy Pruden (Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering) was hired in August 2014 as half-time Associate Dean and Director of Interdisciplinary programs.

Cathy Grimes was hired in August 2014 as Communications Manager for the Graduate School.

Marilynn King was hired as executive assistant to the Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education in January 2015

GSSO hired Anam Pasha in January 2015 as a new immigration advisor.

GAAP hired Jenn Walters as an advisor on the Blacksburg campus in March 2015 to replace Jodi Vandervort, who resigned to pursue other career opportunities.

GAAP also hired Corinne Julien as a new advisor in the National Capital Region (NCR) in August 2014 to replace Linda Falcon, who also resigned to pursue other interests.

Hiring in process or after July 2015 includes the Graduate Student Ombudsperson, Diversity Recruiter, Data Reporting and Assessment coordinator, and fellowship coordinator.

Ongoing and additional administrative responsibilities of Vice President and Dean, Associate Deans, Directors, staff (representative and not exhaustive). (detail provided in individual unit 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 Graduate Alumni Homecoming, attended by more than 75 people in September 2014

• 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) and supervisor to GSA GA (Gibson). 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 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

Goals and aspirations ’15-‘16

For the upcoming year, we will continue efforts in these eight goals and continue to focus on global-related initiatives, enhancement of the Academy for GTA excellence, expansion of TGE especially career professional development efforts, child care and graduate family housing, assessment, and inclusion and diversity. We will continue our ongoing diversity efforts as well as actively implement the Graduate School’s  InclusiveVT initiatives: holistic admissions, creating affirming environment (anti-bullying), and inclusive GLC.  A major focus for the upcoming year is to rebuild our web presence and to communicate the broader mission of the Graduate School.