Although we live in times of unrest, Friday May 9 will be a cause for celebration for graduate students completing their master's and Ph.D. degrees at Virginia Tech. Spring Graduate Commencement will be held at 3 p.m. in Cassell Coliseum.

The keynote speaker for the Graduate School ceremony is Debra Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) in Washington, DC. CGS represents its member institutions (including Virginia Tech) nationally and internationally on issues that affect graduate education and research. It sets standards for graduate education, initiates reforms, and shapes policy. Currently, CGS is involved in hot topics such as taking action on visa delays for international students, calling on Congress to eliminate income tax on graduate fellowships and stipends, and urging the Supreme Court to act on the University of Michigan case.

Prior to her current role, Stewart was Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Graduate School at North Carolina> State University. During her tenure, she led the effort to adopt a "New Framework for Graduate Education" that resulted in an $11 million graduate student support plan to provide tuition and health insurance for more than 2,000 teaching assistants, research assistants, and fellowship recipients. At NCSU she enhanced the broad professional preparation of graduate students by developing new interdisciplinary degree programs, establishing professional development programs, and spearheading a successful research ethics initiative.

Throughout her administrative career, she has maintained a high research profile in political science, particularly in the area of administrative ethics. She is co-author of Organizational Behavior and Public Management, now in its third edition. In addition to her work with CGS, Stewart has chaired and served on many committees concerned with graduate education and research.

A graduate of Marquette University, Stewart received her MA in government from the University of Maryland and her doctorate in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Written by Julie Kane.