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December 8, 1992

 

      The following minutes were officially approved on January 19, 1993.

                               FACULTY SENATE

                                  Minutes

 

                              8 December 1992

                              32 Pamplin Hall

 

 

     I.   The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM by President Leon

          Geyer.  Visitors were introduced: Tom Head (Media Services)

          Barney Holtzman (Senator Holtzman's son), Peggy Rasnick

          (Staff Senate Liaison), Doug Martin (Benefits Program

          Manager), Pat Scanlon (Faculty Senate of Virginia).  James

          I. Robertson, Jr. (History) and Mrs. Robertson joined the

          group later in the meeting.

 

     II.  The agenda was adopted with two additions to new business:

          parking and the academic calendar.

 

     III. Roll call

 

          Senators present: Armstrong, Barbeau, Baumgartner (for

          Snoke), Beagle, Bunce, Carrig, Clowes, Collins (for Wright),

          deWolf, Fern, Ficenec, Foy, Fuller, Geyer, Graham, Hanson

          (substitute), Hardell, Hasselman, Haugh, Heath-Camp (for

          Sherman), Holtzman, Jacobson (for Howard), Jones, Lambur,

          Landgraf, Martin, McDaniels, Miller, Murray, Norstedt,

          O'Brien, Pienkowski (for Mullins), Pierce, Rakes, Scigaj,

          Simmons, Sumichrast, Vinson, Wang, Weaver, Webb.

 

          Senators absent: Brown, Eng, Falkinham, Feret, Hult, Olin,

          Parsons, Shumsky, Tideman, Williams.

 

     IV.  Announcements

 

          President Geyer announced that there have been student

          complaints about faculty office hours.  He urged that all

          faculty ascertain that office hours are adequate for meeting

          student needs.

 

     V.   Program A: Benefits (Doug Martin, Benefits Programs Manager)

 

          Martin emphasized the need for everyone, no matter what

          their age, to be aware of the pension plans, which can vary

          greatly in certain circumstances.  New faculty have a

          choice: they may select the state plan (VRS) or an optional

          plan.

 

          The VRS benefits are based on a formula: length of service

          multiplied by the three highest salaried years.  So long as

          this formula remains the same, this benefit is guaranteed by

          the state.

 

          There are five optional plan choices, one of which is TIAA-

          CREF.   Formerly, the state placed the same amount of

          money in  each plan.  The percentages now are 10.4% in

          optional, 8.9% in VRS. In Martin's opinion, there are almost no

          reasons for a new faculty member to select VRS - it is too

          inflexible because of the longevity base.  VRS, however,

          does have a built-in 3% inflation benefit after

          retirement, while any of the optional choices stay level.

 

          Some trends and other interesting points:

 

          A.   Virginia Tech is an aging campus.  The tenured faculty,

               as a group, is getting older.

 

          B.   Research faculty members work longer than instructional

               faculty.  Optional plan holders retire about two years

               later than VRS members, possibly because they gain more

               from working longer.

 

          C.   Spouses are not really covered if early retirement (age

               50-60) is taken.  Retirement between 60 and 65 gives

               spouses half coverage; coverage is full after 65.

 

          In response to questions, Martin made the following

          comments:

 

          A.   No matter which plan is selected, the benefits are

               lifetime.  You cannot use up your money.

 

          B.   Most people will have more money at retirement than

               they think.  It is a good idea to talk with the

               Benefits Office and ask pointed questions about

               investments.  The duty of the office is to protect the

               individual.  Do not rely on rumors.

 

          C.   He agreed that it would be helpful for his office to

               issue all this information in simplified, summary form,

               possibly in Spectrum.

 

          D.   As to whether a member should drop VRS and switch to an

               optional plan, much depends on age.  If you are over

               50, stay with VRS; if under 40, take the option.  The

               intermediate years are a gray area.  If you intend to

               move, get out of VRS.

 

          E.   VRS basic guarantees do not change; in fact, retirees

               sometimes have better protection - they received a 4%

               raise last year.  But we need to watch that the formula

               is not tampered with.  Guarantees with the optional

               plans need to be watched with more attention because

               varying degrees of risk area built in.  TIAA, however,

               is one of the best companies in the business.

 

          F.   In the past, one had to live sixty days from the date

               of application for disability retirement, no matter how

               near death.  This is no longer true.  Death in service,

               however, is considered "early retirement," not

               disability.

 

          G.   The state contribution for the optional plans can be

               changed.  There is a schedule for review.

 

          H.   In regard to tax sheltered annuities, a faculty member

               with less than fifteen years of service can shelter up

               to 20% of salary, but not to exceed $9500.  Over

               fifteen years, the amount rises to $12,500.  This is

               worth investigating, as it can be an important

               component of retirement.

 

          President Geyer thanked Martin for his informative and

          entertaining presentation.

 

     VI.  Approval of minutes

 

          Senate minutes of 10 November 1992 were approved.

 

     VII. Council, commission, and committee reports

 

          A.   Advisory Council on Budgeting and Planning

 

               Geyer reported that there has been a definite reduction

               in the number of out-of-state students.

 

          B.   Commission on Student Affairs

 

               Miller said the commission has been discussing parking

               for graduate students.

 

          C.   Athletic Committee

 

               Referring to the minutes of 10 November, Baumgartner

               noted that there has been an improvement in academic

               standards for athletes.

 

     VIII.  New business (A)

 

          A.   Senator Hardell volunteered to be the faculty

               representative to the CommonHealth program.

 

          B.   Board of Visitors meeting and other activity

 

               President Geyer reported that the question of four-year

               graduation was raised at the BOV meeting.  He informed

               the board that, although the 120-hour base is not

               correct for this university, a student who takes 15-16

               hours per semester can graduate in four years.

               President Geyer also met with state legislators during

               the weekend of the Virginia game and considered the

               discussions were worthwhile.

 

          C.   Parking

 

               The Senate Cabinet met with Richard Alvarez to discuss

               parking problems, among them the possibility of

               extending the hours for faculty-staff parking in

               selected areas.  The Senate asked that the Parking and

               Traffic Committee be requested to look into this

               matter.  It was also suggested that parking payment

               through a monthly paycheck deduction might be helpful.

 

          D.   Calendar

 

               Baumgartner noted that draft calendars for 1994-1996

               have provision for a single summer session.  He

               expressed concerns with dropping the teaching

               opportunity offered by two summer sessions and with the

               change in the academic drop policy - students do not do

               as well when courses are made up in the fall term.  He

               also pointed out that the single session reduces summer

               school at a time when SCHEV has asked that it be

               expanded.

 

               In the discussion that followed, the following

               observations were made:

 

               1.   The students are concerned with the total number

                    of hours that can be taken.  The new proposal

                    would allow only nine hours as opposed to the

                    present eighteen hours.

 

               2.   The primary concern should be with the quality of

                    instruction.  It is difficult to do a quality job

                    in five weeks.  Summer courses often have to be

                    "different."

 

               3.   The proposal gives us a hybrid nine-week session.

                    Why not a full semester in the summer?  At

                    present, some departments don't even attempt to

                    offer advanced courses in the summer.

 

               4.   It is important to look at the mix of GTAs and

                    faculty teaching in the summer session.

 

               Senator Carrig pointed out that the calendar report was

               generated by a subcommittee of the Scheduling and

               Registration Committee and will be discussed further at

               the committee's 20 January meeting.  Nothing is in

               place; feedback would be helpful to the committee.

               President Geyer asked that senators discuss the matter

               with the college representatives to the committee and

               that the calendar question be allowed to continue

               through the governance system.

 

     IX.  Program (B): Higher education and SCHEV (James I. Robertson,

          Jr., Virginia Tech representative to SCHEV's General

          Professional Advisory Committee)

 

          President Geyer introduced Robertson and quoted from some of

          the sections of the SCHEV report and from other state

          reports that impinged on higher education.  He emphasized

          the university's concern with present situation.

 

          Robertson spoke of the reality of SCHEV's actions.  The

          council was mandated by the legislature to "streamline"

          higher education.  SCHEV named fifteen faculty to an

          advisory committee and paid no attention to the advice

          received.  In his view, the faculty committee was treated

          very badly, especially by members of the legislative staff.

 

          Robertson summarized the points made in the report:

 

          A.   The legislature and SCHEV seem to believe that teaching

               is teaching, no matter the level; that there is no

               difference between university professors and community

               college instructors.  The entire emphasis is on

               teaching, and teaching larger classes.  Technological

               applications are expected to solve problems in this

               area.

 

          B.   There is no opposition to sponsored research, but

               department research is discouraged.

 

          C.   Service is completely ignored.  In fact, faculty

               committee service is discouraged.

 

          D.   The idea of self-contained campuses is a good one.

               This could lead to more local control in a presently

               cumbersome system.

 

          E.   In-house review of university administrations, as

               proposed, might also be a helpful exercise.

 

          F.   SCHEV will investigate duplication of courses.  There

               will be a moratorium on new programs.  Small graduate

               departments are possibly in trouble.

 

          G.   There are plans to go into a trimester system, making

               the summer term a full semester.

 

          Robertson has reported regularly to President McComas on the

          work of the advisory committee.  The president shares

          Robertson's concerns over the report; both believe we have

          to do something, or something will be done to us.

 

          Responding to questions, Robertson made the following

          observations:

 

          A.   The legislature does not believe there will be an

               exodus from the Virginia system if the report is

               implemented.

 

          B.   To motivate faculty, SCHEV may initiate more awards for

               teaching, etc.

 

          C.   It is highly unlikely that the state will raise income

               taxes on the wealthy.  Some states have raised certain

               taxes and earmarked the increase for education.

 

          D.   If the moratorium on the curriculum goes through, it

               means that nothing new can be added without something

               being cut.

 

          E.   The report ignores graduate education.

 

          F.   SCHEV is doing what the legislature has mandated it to

               do.  The legislature will never set up an outside

               committee to study higher education.

 

          Both Robertson and President Geyer pointed out that there is

          much going on behind the scenes.  The university presidents

          are working on the problems raised by the report, the

          Faculty Senate of Virginia may get involved, and Tech and

          UVa graduates in the legislature are a promising source of

          support.

 

     X.   New business (B): Public perception of faculty; answering

          our critics

 

          This discussion centered on publicizing the university, its

          faculty, and the importance of its research contribution.

 

          It was suggested that more publicity through newspaper

          columns, through publicizing the success stories of our

          graduates, and through emphasizing the monetary

          contributions that university research makes to the state

          would help.  The legislature seems unaware that research

          overhead is supporting a good deal of the university's

          infrastructure.  Sponsored research, however, is not in

          danger; we need to change the perception that research keeps

          faculty from having time for students.  Perhaps the public

          we need to influence is our alumni, which we can do through

          alumni magazines, etc.  Extension did a good job of selling

          itself; could its plan be used as a guide?

 

          At the same time, there is a need to make changes in higher

          education.  Not all the criticisms can be ignored; we know

          that improvements can be made.

 

          Scanlon spoke of the difficulties the Faculty Senate of

          Virginia has in addressing the problem.  Their meetings with

          SCHEV and state officials are usually unfocused.  There is

          no formal lobbying structure for higher education, as there

          is for K-12.  Our lobbyists are the institution presidents.

          We need to turn students into our supporters; we need to

          talk about scholarship rather than research.

 

          In summarizing, President Geyer encouraged all senators to

          talk with colleagues about the problem.  He emphasized the

          need to publicize our accomplishments, both to the general

          public and to students, and the need to keep apprised of

          developments in the current situation.

 

     XI.  There being no further business, the Senate adjourned at

          9:58 PM.

 

                                        Respectfully submitted,

 

                                        Marilyn L. Norstedt

                                        Secretary

 

 

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