Ruth H. Lytton, professor of agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of the financial planning program at Virginia Tech, has received the university's 2015 Alumni Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Academic Advising.

Established by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Academic Advising is presented annually by the Office of the Provost to a faculty member who has been particularly dedicated to and effective at advising undergraduate students. Recipients may be nominated by university colleagues or students, are selected by a committee of former award winners, receive a $2,000 prize, and are inducted into the university’s Academy of Advising Excellence.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1986, Lytton serves as the director of the financial planning program that includes students from both the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Pamplin College of Business.

She serves as an academic advisor for all financial planning students in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics and the de facto career advisor for all financial planning students.

The number of students in the financial planning program has grown from 60 in 2007 to 175 today.

“Despite her many responsibilities, Dr. Lytton’s responsiveness to advising demonstrates her commitment to students’ lives,” Dan Taylor, professor of agricultural and applied economics, wrote in his letter of nomination. “She does not limit student contact to office hours times for her convenience. Rather, she matches windows of time with them to identify the best times and schedules meetings accordingly. She maintains an open-door policy and encourages email conversations.”

She is a vocal advocate for her students, but Taylor also noted that she emphasizes personal responsibility with her students.

“She informs students about other academic opportunities on campus for developing minors and the many experiential learning and enrichment opportunities that are available with the financial planning program that could benefit them. She reminds them that they are ultimately accountable for their own academic decision-making and performance. She works to instill independence and to foster a faculty-to-student environment of collective decision-making and shared responsibility.”

Joey Loss, a 2014 graduate of Virginia Tech now employed as a paraplanner with Omega Wealth Management in Arlington, Virginia, wrote in support of Lytton’s nomination.

“I believe an advisor should be judged not by the best student they’ve advised, but rather one of the worst,” he wrote. “Dr. Lytton built a bridge for me from University Studies to a meaningful career. I was never a good college student. Her classes helped me realize how professional I could be when I put my mind and heart into the work. She never thinks twice about doing a little extra work to help a student, no matter how much or how little the student deserves her time. I can't imagine an advisor more deserving of positive recognition.”

Lytton has co-authored two financial planning textbooks that are used to prepare the next generation of financial planners. She has received various student association, university, and national professional association awards for her contributions as a teacher, researcher, and career/academic advisor, including the College of Human Resources Certificate of Teaching Excellence, College of Human Resources and Education Excellence in Undergraduate Student Advising Award, the Virginia Tech Award for Excellence in Career Advising, the Financial Planning Association of Central Virginia John H. Cecil Jr. Lifetime Service Award, and the national Financial Planning Association Heart of Financial Planning Award.

Lytton received her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and Ph.D. from Virginia Tech.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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