The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors met in university facilities throughout the National Capital Region for its quarterly meeting June 12-13.
The board approved a budget of $821 million for the 2005-06 fiscal year, an increase of seven percent from the original 2004-05 fiscal year. This increase is the result of several factors, including a state budget increase of $11 million (of which $4.9 million is for Base Budget Adequacy and $1.1 million for Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station Commonwealth Staffing Initiative); $9.5 million from increased tuition revenue; increased activities in the from university auxliaries; and $11 million from recent successes in the sponsored research awards.
“After a loss of $72 million in state funding earlier this decade, we are continuing to make progress in restoring key positions and programs. New funding will enable us to continue expanding and enhancing class sections, put more teachers in the classrooms, expand financial aid, and make progress toward faculty salary competitiveness, among other things. We also will put extension agents back in key positions throughout the state,” said university president, Charles W. Steger.
Following up on a provision of the recently passed higher education restructuring act, the board formally committed to the state goals for education in Virginia as enumerated in the restructuring act. This commitment allows the university to automatically assume certain authorities effective August 1 including retention of interest earnings on tuition and fee deposits and automatic retention of unspent fund balances at year’s end. The board’s action also enables the university to seek additional operating authorities through negotiation of a “management agreement” with the commonwealth. University leadership is working with state officials to develop the agreement to meet the legislative deadline of November 15.
A proposed Bachelor of Science degree program in agricultural sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences was approved and forwarded to the State Council for Higher Education for further review and approval. This interdisciplinary program, which had strong support from Virginia agriculture and agri-business, would assist students whose career objectives can be found in traditional agriculture and agricultural-related sales, teaching, industry training, administration, Extension and international work.
The board also passed a resolution that would allow part-time salaried faculty members (working half time or more for at least six months on a calendar-year appointment or one semester if on an academic-year appointment) to be eligible to participate in either the university’s defined contribution retirement program or the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) beginning August 10. Last spring, 49 faculty members were working in part-time salaried positions in the university’s instructional programs, auxiliary enterprises and sponsored research programs.
The board also approved amendments to the University Council constitution and by-laws to accommodate organizational and administrative changes of the university. As an advisory body to the university president, University Council consists of a broad representation of faculty, staff, and students. The council will now include all vice presidents, vice provosts and academic deans as ex officio members; as well as student and faculty representatives from the Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity and the faculty, undergraduate, and graduate representatives to the board of visitors.
The board also approved a campus and workplace violence prevention policy which supports a safe working and learning environment for all students, employees, and visitors at all university facilities and university-sponsored events. This comprehensive policy states the university’s lack of tolerance for acts or threats of violence, provides for risk assessment and prevention plans, allows for more consistent and appropriate handling of incidents of violence and defines the university’s authority. Provisions on prohibited conduct, potential sanctions, and authorized exceptions to prohibition on possession of firearms or weapons are included.
Six university professors—Thomas Gardner (English), Ray J. Geor (agriculture), Michael J. O’Brien (architecture), Saifur Rahman (electrical and computer engineering), Jeffery H. Reed (electrical and computer engineering), Karen A. Thole (mechanical engineering)—were recognized with endowed professorships. In addition, 13 professors were recognized with emeritus status.
Other resolutions approved by the board included those on the 2006-2012 capital outlay plan, the 2005-06 faculty compensation plan, and the 2005-06 budgets for the Virginia Tech/Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences and the university’s auxiliary enterprises.
The next meeting of the full Virginia Tech Board of Visitors will be held August 28-29 on the Blacksburg campus.
==> Please note: Board minutes, resolutions, and other background information may be found at the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors website, http://www.bov.vt.edu/.