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Thomas O. Sitz

By Netta S. Eisler

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 27 - April 6, 1995

From the time students first enter the Department of Biochemistry and Anaerobic Microbiology throughout their time at Virginia Tech, Thomas Sitz is there with advice, help, and encouragement. The winner of this year's Alumni Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising has taught at Tech since 1982, and has served as academic advisor for his department since 1984.

Sitz coordinates all aspects of the undergraduate program. His work begins with summer orientation, where he meets with prospective students and parents. After students are enrolled, Sitz does transcript evaluations and advises them on how to best meet program requirements.

Former student Vincent T. Remcho, who went on for a Ph.D., credits Sitz with rescuing him from "an academic predicament" during his freshman year, challenging and assisting him to achieve his academic potential, and providing the motivation that allowed him to achieve academic and professional success.

Another former student, Robnet Kerns, refers to Sitz as "the standard by which I have measured my professors."

The department offers degrees in both the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Arts and Sciences. Keeping abreast of the requirements and changes in each program and informing faculty members and students of them is a challenge, but one that Sitz is said to consistently meet.

Sometimes, he says, common sense is all that is needed. He remembers a student standing in the hall several years ago, complaining that he could not get in to see his advisor. The student had become so upset that he had gone to see President James McComas, who sent him back for another try at seeing his advisor. Sitz simply asked, "Have you checked your advisor's office hours and called for an appointment?" The student had not. "It turned out that he had come by, without an appointment, several times when the advisor was in class. A phone call was all it took to set up an advising appointment."

Sitz is president elect of the Virginia Academy of Science, an organization of 1,300 members. As president, he plans to lobby in Richmond to head off budget cuts to science education and higher education.

Sitz received a B.S. in biology from Virginia Tech in 1967 and a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1971. He did post-doctoral studies and taught at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston from 1971-75, than taught chemistry at ODU from 1975-82.