University Libraries Logo University Archives of Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech
Governance Minutes Archive

February 23, 1993 -- Forum with the President

      The following minutes were officially approved as corrected on
                               FACULTY SENATE
                          FORUM WITH THE PRESIDENT
                              23 February 1993
                              32 Pamplin Hall
     I.   The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM by President Leon
          Geyer.  Visitors were welcomed: Michael Little (Public
          Affairs), Darrel Martin (Assistant to the President), James
          McComas (University President), Peggy Rasnick (Staff Senate
     II.  The agenda was adopted with no changes.
     III. Roll call
          Senators present: Beagle, Brown, Bunce, Carrig, Clowes, Eng,
          Feret, Ficenec, Foy, Fuller, Geyer, Graham, Hardell, Heath-
          Camp (for Sherman), Holtzman, Howard, Hult, Jones, Lambur,
          Landgraf, McDaniels, Murray, Norstedt, O'Brien, Olin, Pierce,
          Rakes, Scigaj, Simmons, Sumichrast, Tideman, Vinson, Wang,
          Weaver, Webb, Wright.
          Senators absent: Armstrong, Barbeau, deWolf, Falkinham,
          Fern, Hasselman, Haugh, Martin, Miller, Mullins, Parsons,
          Shumsky, Snoke, Williams.
     IV.  Announcements
          President Geyer encouraged all senators to pay their dues to
          the secretary.
     V.   Program: James McComas, President, VPI&SU
          A.   President McComas began by praising Prof. Gerald Gibbs,
               who was honored as Virginia Scientist of the Year.  He
               then thanked the faculty for their support during the
               recent challenging times experienced by the university,
               and noted that student applications for admission are
               up and the student attitude is still quite upbeat.
          B.   The slide presentation that followed was a
               comprehensive report on the university's present
               situation and future plans.  What follows are a few of
               the President's comments:
               1.   General Assembly.  While the Extension restoration
                    should pass (139 of 140 legislators sponsored the
                    amendment), only $300,000 is in the budget for the
                    Equine Center.  Perhaps the needs of the center
                    need to be studied.
               2.   Staffing.  Although faculty and staff positions
                    have been restored, we have 60 fewer faculty
                    positions and 235 fewer staff/Extension positions
                    than before.  The custodial and clerical staff
                    have been particularly hard hit.
               3.   Criticisms of higher education.  The public fails
                    to understand that universities serve many
                    different functions.  The often-made comparison
                    with business is false; we did not lose our
                    consumers - the money was taken from us and given
                    to the state.
               4.   SCHEV report.  McComas is glad that the report did
                    not become a legislative issue; this gives time
                    for compromise plans to be worked out.
               5.   State spending per student.  Virginia spends
                    $3700/student for higher education; West Virginia
                    spends $8000.  Virginia ranks below Arkansas.
               6.   State-wide responses.  Faculty groups,
                    particularly at Tech and UVa, and the Presidents
                    Council are working in this area to spell out the
                    missions within the state system.  States
                    surrounding Virginia are experiencing a decline in
                    students; Virginia institutions might need to work
                    harder for Virginia students.
               7.   Internal responses.  We must show we are willing
                    to improve internally.  A capital campaign for
                    private funding is planned.  More teaching should
                    be done by administrators and department heads.
               8.   Progress.  Research is now at $132 million
                    annually.  We have a good relationship with
                    congressional and state legislators.  Tech
                    allocates a higher percentage of its budget to the
                    instructional program than any of the Virginia
                    doctoral-granting universities.
               9.   Challenges
                    a.   Reassert the state-wide public service
                         mission.  We cannot allow the universities to
                         be regionalized.
                    b.   Develop a master plan to educate the public,
                         the legislature, and our own undergraduates
                         on the importance of research.  Faculty
                         cooperation is important here.
                    c.   Sustain our credibility as a place of
                         responsible change.
                    d.   Merge, rather than eliminate, programs;
                         elimination is not productive.
                    e.   Emphasize the importance of students.  A
                         special teaching facility with state-of-the-
                         art technology could possibly be a focus in
                         this area.
          C.   President McComas concluded his remarks be expressing
               guarded optimism about the future.  Down-sizing
               probably is almost over, and legislative support is
               fairly good.  Virginia is somewhat ahead of other
               states in that it already has faced many of the major
               problems of public higher education.
          D.   Discussion
               1.   Retaining faculty.  Are there plans to address the
                    problem of new faculty coming in at higher
                    salaries than those already here?
                    It would help if the state could bring us up to
                    the 60th percentile.  We cannot hire new people at
                    less; we would be even further in the hole.
               2.   New Virginians.
                    This group has changed dramatically over the
                    years, from a glee club to a group of 40
                    performers and an equal number of support staff.
                    Each performance now costs about $4000, and the NV
                    traveled more than the basketball team.  The group
                    will not be disbanded; it will be downsized to
                    about 25 and the focus will be on musical
               3.   Roanoke conference center.  Will the faculty have
                    less of a planning role because the city is paying
                    for the center?
                    We will have all the benefits of the building
                    without having to pay for it.  The university will
                    have three members on the conference center
                    commission.  Donaldson-Brown will continue to
                    function as usual.  When it's to our advantage, we
                    will have groups here.  There is a problem with
                    upgrading the upper floors of the CEC.
               4.   Fee structure.  Has the university ever considered
                    having students pay by semester hour?
                    We are looking at several formulas regarding fees,
                    but no policies have been set.  We need to improve
                    our care for part-time students.
               5.   Proposed teaching facility.  Shouldn't all our
                    teaching facilities be in better condition?
                    This problem, and the problem of more students in
                    the same facilities as ten years ago, needs to be
                    addressed.  Students want to be taught by people,
                    not by television.  The pinch is in the Arts and
                    Sciences core courses.  Another problem is poor
                    attendance in large classes.
                    Is poor attendance a sign of the times?
                    We don't know.  What's bothersome is that these
                    are good students, many of whom are serious about
                    their careers, but they don't show up.
               6.   Graduate students.  It is difficult to recruit
                    because of the small amount of money available for
                    fee waivers.  This is keeping faculty from coming
                    here because we cannot guarantee them good
                    graduate students.
                    The dollars are coming from undergraduate tuition.
                    At UVa, graduate students are funded in large part
                    by the endowment.  We need to study the options
                    available; we need to have more faculty input on
                    this problem.
               7.   Need to educate legislators.
                    We have been successful in getting legislators to
                    come here and in trying to educate them, but the
                    state is more fractured by regionalism and the
                    General Assembly is becoming more populist.  Our
                    best-educated public is the corporate world.
               8.   Parking.
                    He knows nothing about a plan to double parking
                    fees.  There is a plan to build a parking garage
                    in conjunction with the town, but this is not
                    certain.  We probably should investigate the idea
                    of allowing monthly deductions for parking fees,
                    rather than collecting a yearly lump sum.  This
                    would not cost much and might make people happier.
          D.   In closing, the President noted that most faculty are
               student oriented, despite what the public seems to
               believe.  There are pockets of problems that need to be
               addressed, such as keeping reasonable office hours, but
               he gets a good deal of positive mail about faculty.
     VI.  Further announcements/urgent business
          A.   The CFA will look at the faculty grievance procedure
               one more time.  It will be brought to the Senate if
               there is a demand for further review.
          B.   The issue of students meeting exit requirements instead
               of entrance requirements is being considered by CUS.
               Comments should be given to Senator Murray.
          C.   Admission requirements are being reviewed by a
               committee that includes Senators Hult and Geyer, who
               will receive comments.
          D.   Senator Olin will discuss the document on misconduct in
               science with Senator deWolf (representing CFA).
          E.   All senators should read the Provost's Phase II
               document.  The Board of Visitors wants a report on
               implementation in August.  Although the committees
               formed for implementation consist only of
               administrators and department heads, they have been
               asked to seek faculty input.
          F.   Secretary of Education James Dyke will be on campus on
               18 March.  He wishes to meet with faculty from 3:00 to
               5:00 to discuss the SCHEV report and other issues.
               Senators should plan to attend if possible.  [Secretary
               Dyke's visit was postponed until 24 March.  A short
               summary of his meeting with faculty is appended to the
               Senate Cabinet minutes of 26 March.]
     VII. There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
                                        Respectfully submitted,
                                        Marilyn L. Norstedt

Current Virginia Tech Governance Minutes Archive

Return to Virginia Tech Governance Minutes Archive

VT History | Digital Library and Archives | Special Collections | University Archives

Send questions or comments to:

Tamara Kennelly, University Archivist
University Libraries
Virginia Tech
P.O. Box 90001
Blacksburg, VA, 24062-9001

Last modified on: Tuesday, 25-Sep-2001 13:56:15 EDT