BLACKSBURG - Interim provost John Perry said Monday that Virginia Tech needs to recruit more minority faculty members and increase minority undergraduate enrollment.
In the Board of Visitors Academic Affairs Committee meeting, Perry said that the Virginia secretary of education and the director of the Council of Higher Education have requested that the university present a plan by Dec. 1 addressing the issues of the lack of black faculty and black undergraduate enrollment.
Perry said that it has been frustratingly slow in achieving success in these areas.
Perry outlined to the committee four steps that the university was taking to correct the problems.
Tech could reserve faculty positions for black faculty, concentrate on admitting black transfer students from community colleges, increase enrollment of black undergraduates and provide more financial aid to minority students.
Although the undergraduate enrollment of blacks has doubled in the past two years, Perry said that the black student enrollment of 4 percent is still too low.
Joyce Williams-Green, who supervises the Virginia Tech Academic Success Program, said the university is improving in its retention of minority students.
The attrition rate of minority students at Tech has been lowered to 18 percent, compared with a national average of 50 percent, Williams-Green said.
Perry said the university has also experienced difficulty in attracting women as senior faculty members, department heads and deans.
"We have been continually discouraged (about the situation). We haven't done well at all," Perry said.
The Academic Affairs Committee also discussed the new policy for ensuring the academic accountability of student-athletes.
Perry said the Provost's office has resisted putting a specific Scholastic Aptitude Test Score as a requirement because it was felt that motivation for success was a better gauge of the probability of academic success than test scores.
The new policy is designed to ensure that student-athletes complete their degree requirements within a reasonable period of time, Perry said.
"And a reasonable period of time is usually five years," Perry said.
Williams-Green, assistant to the provost, said that 541 percent of Tech undergraduates who complete their degree requirements do so within four years. The other 49 percent take more than that.
NCAA rules permit a student-athlete to be scholarship five academic years.
The new policy also creates an appeals procedure that leaves the final decision of admittance up to an appeals committee rather than the university president or the provost.
The appeals committee is composed of an associate or assistant dean, a faculty member-at-large, a Faculty Senate member, and a representative of the department requesting the appeal. The Director of Admissions will chair the committee but only votes in the case of a tie.
Both Perry and Williams-Green commended the work of the academic advisor for the athletic department, Dr. Jerry Via.
Since September, the academic advising of student-athletes has been transferred from the athletic department to the Provost's office.
The committee also brought up the issue of faculty representation on the Board of Visitors.
Because state law does not allow the board to appoint a faculty member to the board, the committee asked Perry and the president of the Faculty Senate, Joanne Eustis, to prepare one or two proposals for formal communication and to make a recommendation to the board at its January meeting.