As it has for other popular events at Virginia Tech, COVID-19 has forced changes in the Graduate School’s 20th anniversary celebration of Graduate Education Week, slated to start March 23. Most of the public events have been canceled, including the awards dinner, alumni panel discussions, and the Friday cookout. Some activities have moved online, including workshops that can be conducted via Zoom. 

Organized for the first time in 2001 by Assistant Dean Martha J. Reifsnider, Graduate Education Week originally included recognition for outstanding dissertations, teaching and service, and one outstanding graduate student from each college. The week’s menu of events, activities and recognitions has grown, and over time the Graduate School has recognized almost 500 students with a variety of awards. Since 2017, the Graduate School also has honored one faculty member from each college with the outstanding graduate mentoring award. A searchable list of the award winners, from 2001-2019, can be found on this webpage

Virginia Tech is one of several universities across the nation to focus a week on the achievements of graduate students across programs, and organizers, led by Assistant Dean and Director of Graduate Student Services Monika Gibson, wanted to provide as many activities as possible, while abiding by the university’s actions associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

“Although most of this year’s Graduate Education Week that would have taken place from March 23 through the 27th has been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, we will move forward with some events that can be shared virtually,” Gibson said. “We will also extend the time period for some of the displays we were planning for the week and will create some digital alternatives that can be shared in a virtual environment.”

The Graduate Student Assembly Research Symposium and keynote address, originally scheduled for March 25 will be moved online. The photos and artwork submitted by graduate students for the Art and Photo Contest will remain on the GLC walls through October 2020. Posters featuring the stories of past award winners also will be placed throughout the GLC for an extended period. 

With the cancellation of the annual awards dinner, scheduled for March 26, Gibson said the Graduate School will decide at a later date how to celebrate the accomplishments of this year’s winners.

A complete list of events with details about cancellations or alternative arrangements can be found on the Graduate Education Week 2020 webpage. For more information, contact Graduate Student Services at 540-231-4558.

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