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November 10, 1992

      The following minutes were officially approved on Dec. 8, 1992

 

                               FACULTY SENATE

                                  Minutes

 

                              10 November 1992

                              32 Pamplin Hall

 

 

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

          Geyer.  Visitors were introduced: John Ashby (Spectrum),

          Valerie Myers (alternate Staff Senate Liaison), Senator

          Frank Nolan (24th District), Delegate Creigh Dees (18th

          District).

 

          Senators present: Barbeau, Beagle, Brown, Bunce, Carrig,

          deWolf, Eng, Fern, Ficenec, Foy, Fuller, Geyer, Gordon (for

          Lambur), Graham, Hardell, Hasselman, Haugh, Heath-Camp (for

          Sherman), Holtzman, Hult, Jones, Landgraf, McDaniels,

          Miller, Mullins, Murray, Norstedt, Pierce, Rossi (for Olin),

          Scigaj, Shumsky, Snoke, Sumichrast, Vinson, Wang, Weaver,

          Webb, Williams.

 

          Senators absent: Armstrong, Clowes, Feret, Howard, Martin,

          O'Brien, Parsons, Rakes, Simmons, Tidemen, Wright.

 

 

     II.  Higher education and state government (Senator Nolan,

          Delegate Dees)

 

          President Geyer introduced the speakers, noting that Senator

          Nolan is a Virginia Tech alumnus with long Senate service

          and that Delegate Dees is relatively new to the General

          Assembly.

 

          Senator Nolan expressed disappointment that the state cannot

          support Tech as it should, but it is difficult for his

          constituents to understand the university's role.  Their

          perception is that the state still puts too much money into

          Tech, and that the school is too expensive.  Part of the

          problem is that the voters do not understand research, and

          the university is not marketing the importance of research.

          He is also concerned about the percentage of students who do

          not graduate in four years; this creates an added expense

          for the state because a certain amount of student support

          comes from the taxpayers.  Nolan praised the faculty for

          staying on at Tech during adverse economic times.

 

          Delegate Dees believes that money will dominate the thinking

          in the next session of the General Assembly.  Like Nolan, he

          sorry that the university found it necessary to raise

          tuition, but he will not vote for a tax increase.  He spoke

          of constituents who could not understand why there was a

          need for a bond issue when professors only taught one course

          and earned high salaries.  He, too, emphasized the need to

          explain research to the voters.

 

          Public service/Extension

 

          Question:  What do you believe the public service role of a

          university should be?

 

          Answer:  Nolan, who is very familiar with Extension, would

          like to see the public service role expanded to business and

          engineering, particularly to serve small business and

          industry.  Most of his constituents support agricultural

          extension, but he received many complaints when it became

          necessary to charge for formerly free services.  Dees's

          experience with public service has been only with Extension

          and 4-H, both of which he praised, emphasizing the work done

          in the non-rural areas.  In neither legislator's

          constituency are all Extension employees seen as

          representing Virginia Tech - it depends on the individuals.

          The combining of some agency offices has been an efficiency.

 

          Observation:  Tech is not a totally undergraduate, resident

          institution.  People all over the state take in-service

          courses offered by Tech.  Also, our master's programs are

          offered throughout the commonwealth.  Do your constituents

          really think that nothing happens outside Blacksburg?

 

          Answer (Nolan):  There is great support for Tech from those

          who take the courses, but 80% of the jobs opening up only

          require a high school education.  Most of our constituents

          are those who will find themselves in those jobs.

 

          Faculty workload/Research

 

          Question:  Will the legislature be mandating teaching hours?

 

          Answer (Nolan): Probably not, but the legislature might well

          put pressure on SCHEV to increase the instructional load,

          considering the pressure from the voters.

 

          Question:  What do your constituents think the instructional

          load should be?

 

          Answer:  They probably don't have any idea what it is or

          what it should be; they tend to compare it with high school

          teaching.  They do not understand the value of research; the

          faculty must help to educate them in this regard.

 

          Question:  For faculty to be more effective teachers, they

          must continue learning, to do research and keep well ahead

          of the students.  Teaching without research at the

          university level implies a static body of knowledge;

          students don't get value from a static course.  Can't this

          be imparted to the voters?

 

          Answer:  According to Nolan, the perception is, in some

          areas, that continuing education and research should be done

          after normal working hours.  Dees would not support any bill

          mandating teaching hours, but the legislation could get

          passed if it were worked into a budget bill.

 

          Observation:  You've pointed out that your constituents say

          we should be doing more teaching, and you say we should be

          doing more research that's important to Virginia.  Federal

          cutbacks have reduced funding for research, yet the research

          needs to be done for national reasons, not just for an

          individual state.

 

          Response:  Nolan considers this kind of research as an

          investment that should be treated as such, but it is hard to

          make decisions in this area.  Dees pointed to increasing

          efforts in the area of private-public partnerships.

 

          Citizen education

 

          Question:  How can faculty get involved in the citizen

          education process?

 

          Answer:  Get invited by speakers' bureaus that are used by

          civic clubs.  Work with alumni chapters.  Expand the news

          releases sent out by the university, and don't limit them to

          agriculture.

 

          Observation:  Why should we have to sell the university and

          higher education?  What is needed is legislative leadership;

          the legislators should be the advocates.

 

          Response:  Nolan indicated that the legislative supporters

          of higher education might get voted out - and then what do

          we have?  Dees pointed out that his people are more

          concerned about elementary and secondary education, although

          he is willing to get on the stump for higher education.

 

          Tuition increases/Budget cuts

 

          Observation:  Tuition is going up faster than the CPI;

          tuition is going up because we've lost state support.

 

          Response:  Nolan believes too much has been shifted to the

          students.  If the state cannot find more revenue, the

          universities will have to do more internal cutting to keep

          costs down.  The people in Richmond feel they are not

          getting the bang for the buck in higher education that was

          obtained formerly.

 

          Observations:  We've heard a lot about your constituents'

          perception of higher education spending.  The first budget

          cut, however, which hit the universities particularly hard,

          was a directive from the Wilder administration and had

          nothing to do with constituents.  The administration has led

          the onslaught against higher education, then the perceptions

          trickled down.

 

          Response:  Nolan pointed out that the cuts were a conscious

          decision to shift the costs to the students rather than to

          raise taxes.  He agrees that the perceptions might have come

          down from the administration rather than up from the voters,

          but Wilder will be remembered for balancing the budget in a

          recession, not for raising taxes.  Dees's constituents claim

          they cannot take another tax increase; all attempts to

          increase certain taxes during the last session failed.

 

          Question:  Can we anticipate that there will be no raises

          for the next two years?  What happens if the state loses the

          big lawsuits?  Would that bring another round of cuts?

 

          Answer:  Nolan observed that more money is coming in than

          was estimated, and some salary increases may be possible in

          July.  Although he does not think the state will lose the

          disparity suit, a loss would mean both further cuts and tax

          increases.

 

          Question:  Why does Virginia rank 42nd in general fund

          appropriations per full time equivalent student [referring

          to a chart distributed to the meeting]?  Other states

          apparently have not found it necessary to shift the costs to

          the students.

 

          Response:  Nolan could only speculate on why Virginia has

          less discretionary spending - perhaps because of defense

          cuts.  Neither he nor Dees had seen the figures before; both

          agreed that the situation was embarrassing and merited

          study.  But tax increases are not possible.

 

          Observation:  Perhaps a state income tax that was actually

          based on income would make it possible for the state to

          support students from low-income families.  The way things

          are going, only the well-off will be able to send their

          children to state institutions.

 

          Question:  What do you think of the idea of reduced or free

          tuition for dependents of university employees?  Some

          departments have lost faculty to states that give this

          benefit.

 

          Answer:  Nolan believes a fairness component is involved;

          what

          about employees who have no affected dependents?  Dees

          considered it not a bad idea, but his constituents believe

          the faculty are overpaid and probably wouldn't approve.

 

          Graduation rate

 

          Observations:  The problem of students taking more time to

          graduate has also affected graduate students.  Because of

          the budget cuts, faculty and graduate student positions have

          been lost, which means remaining personnel are spending more

          time teaching the same or greater numbers of undergraduates.

          The graduate students cannot complete their work as quickly

          as in the past.

               It is not possible to make generalizations about the

          graduation rate; there are too many variables, such as the

          necessity to work, health problems, financial restraints,

          etc.  Each case needs to be examined on its own merits.

 

          Response:  Nolan stated he is only concerned with full-time

          undergraduates taking more than four years to complete the

          degree.  State resources are being wasted on students who

          take just a few courses.  He needs to be convinced that

          students are not languishing at Tech.  In some state

          institutions, only 26% of the students graduate in four

          years.  Dees expressed concern at the percentage, but

          recalled that many of his classmates at Concord College

          found it necessary to work their way through school and took

          longer to graduate.  Nolan believes that a student who does

          not change majors and adheres to the requirements in the

          catalog under which he/she enrolls should graduate in four

          years.  There should be no question of not getting classes.

 

          In the discussion that followed, several senators defended

          Tech's rate and denied that large numbers of students were

          purposely prolonging their graduation.  At present, there

          are situations in which students cannot get into required

          classes, and one of the reasons goes back to the budget cuts

          - the courses cannot be offered with the frequency they were

          before. The catalog is based on the assumption of full

          staffing.  The statistics do not take into consideration the

          many legitimate exceptions to four-year graduation, such as

          co-op programs, demographics, and financial constraints.

          According to the Provost, Tech is second only to Cornell

          among land-grant institutions in its four-year graduation

          rate.

 

          Virginia Retirement System

 

          Question:  What is the status of VRS?

 

          Answer:  The system is one of the best in the country,

          according to Nolan.  The present concerns are not with

          investments but with the board - how it's appointed and how

          it's paid.  Money has not been lost on the real estate

          investments; Crystal City was a good example in this area.

          But VRS needs to be treated like any other state agency.

          Dees stressed the problem of Potomac Yards, which needs

          either to be developed or sold.

 

          In thanking the legislators, President Geyer summed up the

          discussion as open and honest, and expressed the senate's

          appreciation for the support both gave to the bond issues.

          He stressed the point that the faculty was always available

          to answer questions dealing with areas covered in the

          dialogue.

 

     III. Announcements

 

          A.   At their last meeting with the Provost, the Senate

               officers discussed implementation of governance,

               tuition waivers, and the late drop policy.

 

          B.   President Geyer met with the faculty association

               presidents.  Discussion centered on tuition waivers and

               child care benefits and department policies and

               procedures regarding governance.  Departments with

               policy/procedure documentation are encouraged to send

               the material to Ken McCleary in Human Resources.

 

          C.   President Geyer met with the chairs of the university

               commissions to discuss the relationship between the

               commissions and the reporting committees.

 

 

     IV.  The agenda was adopted without change.

 

 

     V.   Approval of minutes

          Senate minutes of 20 October 1992 were approved with the

          correction of a typographical error.

          Senate Cabinet minutes of 30 October 1992 were accepted.

 

 

     VI.  Council, Commission, and Committee reports

 

          A.   Communication Resources Committee

 

               Senator Snoke called attention to the fact that campus

               mail is not confidential.  Mail from the outside is

               considered delivered when it arrives at 24061.  [Added

               in proof: The above statement was in error.  See report

               from UCRC for 2 December 1992].

 

          B.   Virginia Tech Academic Advising Network

 

               Harking back to the discussion with the legislators,

               Senator Snoke pointed out that a full-time student

               taking 12 hours per semester to meet a 126-hour

               graduation requirement would require 10 1/2 semesters

               to graduate.  Also, the reference to the catalog of

               entry being the student's contract is incorrect.  The

               requirements in place at the time of graduation are

               those that must be met.  This is probably not the way

               it should be, but that is the statement in the catalog.

               Only one other school (Mississippi State) could be

               found that follows this same pattern.  The Tech

               regulation will probably be changed sometime this year.

               President Geyer noted that SCHEV is considering 120

               hours as the graduation requirement, which creates

               further confusion, because 126 hours is the lowest

               requirement of Tech.  Later in the meeting, Snoke asked

               if a more reliable graduation statistic than that

               produced by the legislators could be found.  Senator

               Murray indicated that the Advising Network had tried to

               impress on the administration the importance of

               obtaining detailed and accurate statistics in this

               regard.

 

          C.   Athletic Committee

 

               President Geyer asked if there was a way to find out if

               the athletes graduation rate was improving.  If so, the

               Senate should perhaps congratulate the athletic

               administration in the form of a resolution.  Senator

               Ficenec noted that there probably is improvement, but

               questioned the wisdom of a resolution at this time.

 

 

     VII. New business: Tuition relief for faculty dependents

 

          President Geyer gave the background to this issue, which was

          included in the Senate Cabinet minutes of 30 October.  He

          asked if the Senate was interested in pursuing the topic.

          Should it be approached with other faculty senate presidents

          and with our legislators?  This is an exploratory

          discussion.

 

          In the discussion that followed, concerns were raised about

          equity (unfair to faculty without dependents), the

          perception that tuition relief would be a trade for a raise,

          and the coverage of such a plan (would it be for faculty

          only?).  Senators suggested that it might be a good idea to

          find out how this is done elsewhere, and several contributed

          knowledge from their experiences at other institutions.

          Low- or no-interest loans and half-price breaks were also

          mentioned.  Geyer indicated he would continue the dialogue

          with Radford and other interested groups, such as the

          president's of other faculty senates.

 

 

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

          9:35 PM.

 

                                        Respectfully submitted,

 

                                        Marilyn L. Norstedt

                                        Secretary

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