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Board of visitors approves 2011-2012 budget, new degree program in meteorology

BLACKSBURG, Va., June 6, 2011 – At its quarterly meeting held today in Blacksburg, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved several resolutions including one on the 2011-2012 university budget and one to establish a new bachelor’s degree program in meteorology effective the 2012 spring semester.

In the coming year, Virginia Tech will adopt an approximately $1.14 billion budget for all of its programs, slightly more than the previous year. In the coming fiscal year, the university absorbs the full impact of the state’s Fiscal Year 2010-2012 biennial budget reductions and the loss of federal stimulus money.  Because tuition increases partially offset losses of state and federal monies, the instructional division funding remains flat.  However, Agency 229 (VCE/VAES) funding will be down by about eight percent.  The auxiliary and research programs are budgeted to grow.

The Bachelor of Science degree in meteorology, to be based in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, will be the first offered in the Commonwealth of Virginia. A significant focus on geospatial information technology and its ability to unite data from both the natural and human environments will be prominent in the degree requirements, and graduates will be prepared for careers in forecasting and modeling weather events.

The board also approved a resolution on the 2011-2012 compensation for graduate assistants. Virginia Tech will advance next year’s stipend scale by providing a 1 percent increase and will further enhance the stipend scale by overlaying a $200 academic year supplement to help offset university assigned costs such as the health fee. In addition, the university will increase its support for the graduate health insurance program from 87.5 percent to 90 percent, fulfilling the planned goal of the university’s graduate health insurance benefit.

The board also approved a resolution to create the Department of Population Health Sciences in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. With the recent State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) approval of the Master of Public Health degree, the new department will oversee the public health program and the growing research and outreach initiatives related to human and animal health. It will be comprised of four current and two future faculty members who will facilitate application for professional accreditation to the Council on Education for Public Health, provide clear lines of communication and accountability for the public health program, and facilitate anticipated collaborations with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

Buildings and Grounds Committee also received a report on the status of a new 460 Bypass Interchange near Southgate Drive as it relates to the Virginia department of Transportation (VDOT) 2012-2017 Six-year Improvement Program. The VDOT program calls for the creation of a grade separated interchange from the 460 Bypass south of the current Southgate Drive to access campus, the airport, and the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.  The university and Town of Blacksburg say they hope to incorporate improvements to the Huckleberry Trail near this proposed entrance. After completion, the western terminus of Southgate Drive will be eliminated. Work on this project may begin as soon as 2013.  

A resolution was passed to create the Staff Career Achievement Award to formally honor retiring staff members who have distinguished themselves through their exemplary performance during their Virginia Tech career. The program will begin in 2012.

The board passed a resolution to revise the pass/fail policy for undergraduate students. Under the new policy, for students enrolled in four-year program the maximum allowable credits for pass/fail cannot exceed 12 credit hours, exclusive of courses offered only pass/fail. For students in five-year programs, the total maximum allowable credits for pass/fail cannot exceed 12 semester hours, exclusive of courses offered only pass/fail, or10 percent of the required hours for graduation completed at Virginia Tech, whichever is greater.

The board honored six current and future faculty members with appointments to endowed professorships, and it approved four resolutions honoring retired faculty with emeritus status. Complete stories on each of the 10 individuals honored will appear in Virginia Tech News beginning Tuesday, June 7.

On Sunday, the Research Committee received a report on industrial affiliate programs and a report on the university’s international research agenda coordinated by the Office of International Research, Education, and Development.

The next full Virginia Tech Board of Visitors meeting will be held Aug. 28-29 at the new Virginia Tech Research Center – Arlington. More information on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors may be found online.