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Board of visitors approves new degree programs in nuclear engineering; continues discussion on long range plan


BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 7, 2011 – At its quarterly meeting held on campus today, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved resolutions on new master’s and doctoral degree programs in nuclear engineering. 

If approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the new degrees will be offered beginning spring term of 2013. A complete story on the College of Engineering's nuclear engineering program and the new degrees will appear Thursday in Virginia Tech News.

In other business, the board continued its conversation on strategic planning issues. On Sunday, board members received a report on progress made on the University Strategic Plan 2006-2012 and a report on the ongoing development of the Long Range Plan. Among the topics included in the long term plan discussion were university governance, admissions considerations for both undergraduate and graduate students, instructional space needs and costs, and capital projects.

Also on Sunday, the board received a report on compliance and finances in the Athletic Department which has an overall annual operating budget of $38.6 million. It also received an update on Grow by Degrees, an initiative started by the Virginia Business Higher Education Council in 2009 to build broad-based, bipartisan support for Virginia’s colleges and universities.

Following the full-board information session on Sunday, the Research Committee met and received an extensive report on the many energy-related research initiatives occurring at Virginia Tech. Currently, university researchers are engaged in projects involving coal, nuclear, bioenergy, and solar energy, as well as others related to building energy efficiency and energy use in transportation.

On Monday, the Finance and Audit Committee received an annual report on the university’s student financial aid program. Though state support for higher education as steadily declined over the past decade, Virginia Tech continues to increase the total amount of aid available to students. In the past two years, financial aid for students has grown from $342.2 million in Fiscal Year 2008-2009 to $390 million in Fiscal Year 2010-2011. The amount of aid coming from grants, scholarships, and waivers has grown from $134.2 million to $174.2 million over the same period of time.

Finance and Audit also received a report on overall administrative costs of the university which indicated Virginia Tech’s costs are below average as compared to peer institutions, other Virginia schools, or national research universities. A full story on this report will appear Wednesday in Virginia Tech News.

Also on Monday, the Buildings and Grounds Committee received a report on efflorescence cleaning of campus buildings. Efflorescence — which produces a white stain that appears on Hokie Stone and pre-cast concrete on 15 affected building on campus — can be effectively mitigated using an environmentally-friendly garnet abrasive blasting solution. A long term plan will be developed to clean affected buildings.

In addition, the board also approved a resolution to allow the university to hold a public hearing as it considers Montgomery County’s request to join the Blacksburg-Christiansburg-VPI Water Authority. The authority was created in 1954 to construct, operate, and maintain a dependable water supply system to the three founding partners.

The board reaffirmed existing university policies on acceptance of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Cambridge Advanced examinations in order to remain fully compliant with Virginia code.

The board also approved a resolution to discontinue the executive master’s degree in information security assurance. The program, which was created in 2010 and was to be administered in the National Capital Region, was discontinued to support George Mason University’s efforts to begin a similar program.

The board honored three current faculty members with appointments to endowed professorships, and it approved one resolution honoring Z. Scott Hurst with emeritus status. Complete stories on each of the four individuals honored will appear in Virginia Tech News beginning Tuesday, Nov. 8.

The next full Virginia Tech Board of Visitors meeting will be held March 25-26, 2012, in Blacksburg. More information on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors may be found online.