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October 19, 1993

  Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

   Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes

   Approved:  November 19, 1993

 

   October 19, 1993

   7:00 p.m.

   32 Pamplin Hall

 

   Senators Present:

     Anderson, Armstrong, Badinelli, Bambach, Beagle, Brown, Bunce, Carrig,

     Creamer, de Wolf, Dyck, Ficenec, Foy, Graham, Hardell, Howard, Hult,

     Jones, Lambur, Landgraf, McDaniel, Mullins, Norstedt, Olin, Pinder,

     Richardson, Riley, Sanzone, Scigaj, Shires, Shumsky, Sumichrast,

     Webb, Zink

 

   Absent

     Barbeau, Benson, Cramer, Fern, Giles, Greenberg, Gregoire, Holtzman,

     Martin, McKenna, O'Brien, Pierce, Rojiani, Sherman, Tze, Vinson,

     Williams, Zhang

 

   Guests

     John Ashby, Editor, Spectrum

     Ralph Byers, Director of Governmental Relations

     Brian Kelley, Reporter, Roanoke Times and World News

     Peggy Rasnick, Staff Senate Representative

     Tim Schell, President, Graduate Students Association

     Ronnie Stephenson, President, Student Government Association

 

 

   1. The meeting was called to order by President David de Wolf at 7:00

      p.m.  Visitors were welcomed and coverage of the meeting by a

      reporter from the Roanoke Times and World News was noted.

      President de Wolf stated that the press was allowed in on a

      probationary basis.

 

   2. The agenda was adopted after several modifications proposed by

      President de Wolf.

 

   3. Announcements:  President de Wolf made the following announcements

      related to activities of the Senate.

 

      The Senate sent "best wishes" to University President McComas on

      recovery from his illness and on his decision to retire from the

      University.

 

      Senate officers met with Virginia State Senator, Madison Marye

      recently to discussions which the university has received from

      various outside sources and to request advice during the current

      budget cutting climate.  State Senator Marye was sympathetic to

      the University's cause and suggested that it must do a better job

      publicizing its worthy activities.

 

      The Senate now has a professional secretary working afternoons in

      400C Burruss Hall.

 

      Senate members willing to serve on committees are required to fill

      vacancies.  This issue will be taken up during the new business

      portion of the meeting.

 

      There will be a brief meeting of the Committee on Committees after

      the Senate meeting.

 

      Senators are requested to pay dues of $5.00 to the Senate

      Treasurer.

 

 

   4. Program:  President de Wolf explained the format for the meeting

      program and allowed the candidates for the Twelfth District House

      of Delegates Seat to address the Senate.  By mutual agreement, Jim

      Shuler addressed the Senate first.

 

      Dr. Shuler outlined his background, emphasizing his ties to the

      area and especially his ties to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and

      State University.  He reviewed his qualifications including his

      service on the Blacksburg Town Council and his practice of

      listening to local citizens.  Then, Dr. Shuler addressed issues

      which he considers of primary importance.

 

      Dr. Shuler stated that Virginia is in relatively good financial

      shape when compared to other states.  He explained that Medicaid

      and prisons are responsible for consuming large and rapidly

      growing portions of the state budget.  He stated his position in

      favor of a system of universal health care and explained why he

      believes adoption of such a system will save money.  Dr. Shuler

      provided statistics to emphasize the cost of the current prison

      system and stated his desire to rely on more cost effective

      alternatives to incarceration.  He noted that he was not opposed

      to eliminating parole for violent offenses.  However, he stressed

      a link between social problems and crime and stated that there is

      not enough money "to simply lock up everybody".

 

      Dr. Shuler explained his belief in education as a long-term key

      to reducing problems such as crime.  He stressed his support of

      higher education and of Virginia Tech in particular.  He noted

      benefits to the state and local economies from Virginia Tech and

      higher education.

 

      Candidate Nick Rush then addressed the Senate.  Mr. Rush discussed

      his background including his ties to the area and his service on

      the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors.  Then, he explained

      his reason for entering the race for the Twelfth District House of

      Delegates Seat.  Mr. Rush said that he saw a lack of effective

      leadership within the New River Valley.

 

      Mr. Rush identified the economy as a top priority.  He spoke of

      the need for diversification in the state and local economies.  He

      spoke against excessive reliance on jobs related to the federal

      government and on the defense industry.  He provided examples of

      industries which located outside of Virginia because other areas

      were more willing to provide them with subsidies.

 

      Mr. Rush identified education as another of his priorities.  He

      informed the Senate of his experiences as a member of the

      Montgomery County Board of Supervisors during the past two years.

      He noted that the Board had increased educational funding by $1.4

      million without raising taxes.

 

      Three other issue positions were outlined by Mr. Rush.  He spoke

      of a need to reform the current welfare system with one that would

      not penalize family units.  He said that violent criminals must be

      locked up and said that the popular belief that the state "got

      tough on crime" during the 1980's was not correct.  Finally, Mr.

      Rush spoke of the need for greater regional cooperation and cited

      examples of his support for this concept during his term on the

      Board of Supervisors.

 

      At the conclusion of these opening statements, President de Wolf

      opened the floor to questions for the candidates.

 

      Question:  Senator Bambach stated that the federal government has

      mandated programs which cannot be cut and the state must balance

      its budget.  He asked why the state shouldn't continue to fund

      programs in which it has developed excellence and inform

      Virginians that a tax increase is needed because of additional

      costs required by the federal government?

 

      Answers:  Mr. Rush said it was because "the public won't buy it".

      He said that until the public sees that waste has been eliminated,

      it will not be possible to raise taxes.  Mr. Rush went on to

      stress his support for education.

 

      Dr. Shuler said that most people feel that a certain amount of

      taxes paid "goes down a rat's hole".  He said that if Virginians

      felt that every program was run as efficiently as possible, then

      they would support higher taxes.  Dr. Shuler went on to state

      that cutting waste is not going to fund all the needs of the

      state.  He said that a tax increase in the future was a

      possibility and suggested that the university publicize the

      beneficial activities of its faculty members.

 

      Question:  Senator Scigaj asked where, in view of the recent

      passage of the State's bond referendum by such a wide margin, do

      you get the information to support the claim that Virginians will

      not support a tax increase for higher education?

 

      Answers:  Dr. Shuler said the claim was his gut feeling.  He

      agreed that the suggestion may be correct and added that it was

      easier for Virginians to support the bond issue than to support a

      tax increase.

 

      Mr. Rush said that there is a perception of waste in government.

      He said this information comes from going door-to-door and talking

      with people.  He stated that it would be hard to raise taxes.

 

      Question:  Senator Shumsky noted that leadership from elected

      officials was another element to consider.  He said that elected

      officials have used higher education as a "whipping boy" rather

      than explaining why money is needed to provide a quality level of

      service.  He asked the candidates how they felt about his

      observation.

 

      Answers:  Dr. Shuler had "no problem" with the observation.  He

      stated that he has talked to a cross section of people through

      door-to-door campaigning and has determined that education is one

      of many people's major concerns.  However, many people have also

      expressed their inability to pay for a tax increase which might be

      used to better fund higher education.  Dr. Shuler characterized

      the decrease in state funding for higher education as "wrong",

      stated his belief that opportunities for further savings exist

      within the state and concluded that a tax increase is possible as

      soon as the public is convinced that the state is operating as

      efficiently as possible.

 

      Mr. Rush answered that he was in agreement with Jim Shuler.  Mr.

      Rush noted that education must be made a priority and stated that

      his record on the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors was

      evidence of his commitment to education.

 

      Question:  What is your position in relation to the redistribution

      of state funds for education from wealthy to poor areas and what

      is your position concerning a cap on tuition increases for

      institutions of higher education?

 

      Answers:  Mr. Rush stated his belief in a need for revising the

      formula which is used to distribute money to educational districts

      around the state.  However, he did not believe that every district

      should receive the same funding.

 

      Mr. Rush favors a cap on tuition increases based on inflation.  He

      stated that higher education is becoming so expensive that only

      the wealthy can afford it and that conflicts with his belief that

      it should be available to all.  Later, he stated that he views

      tuition increases as a form of tax increase applied to too small a

      number of people within the state.

 

      Dr. Shuler began by noting that all districts within the state

      already find education above the levels set by state formula.  He

      believes that the formula should be changed and that the formula

      proposed by the VEA is an appropriate alternative.

 

      Dr. Shuler stated his opposition to tuition caps since

      universities have so few means of raising needed funds.  He also

      stated his concern about the high levels of tuition and fees.

 

      Question:  Senator Bunce stated, "Mr.  Rush, it sounds like you

      are giving half an answer."  He then asked how education could be

      funded without tax increases.  He stated his skepticism of

      politicians who claim that this is possible.

 

      Answer:  Mr. Rush said that we have to deal with other problems

      before considering a tax increase.  Mr. Rush also noted that

      education must be a priority.

 

      Question:  Senator Badinelli asked how Mr. Rush could claim to

      hold educational funding as a high priority when the Montgomery

      County Board of Supervisors approved budgets for the last two

      years which included only a small fraction of the requested

      educational funding.

 

      Answer:  Mr. Rush stated that the original request for educational

      funding was unreasonable.  A doubling of the spending level was

      requested.

 

      Dr. Shuler then commented on the need for both the region and

      state to make K-12 and higher education a higher priority.  He

      also discussed the need to concentrate more on preventative

      measures.  He stated his belief that teachers should be required

      to spend less time on activities other than teaching.

 

      Question:  Senator Foy stated his astonishment on learning that it

      costs more to house an inmate than to educate a person through his

      doctorate.  He asked of there is any thought being given to making

      prisoners work.

 

      Answers:  Dr. Shuler stated that he agrees with the concept of

      requiring an offender to work.  He noted some specific programs

      consistent with his philosophy.  He also noted problems which have

      occurred in the past, such as escape and noted that the private

      sector must be protected from unfair competition.

 

      Senator Graham commented that one reason the well known program,

      CCC, was stopped, is that it was in competition with private

      enterprise.

 

      Mr. Rush commented that the best welfare system is a job.

 

      Question:  Senator Beagle asked the candidates if they were aware

      of the Blacksburg Electronic Village and its role as an economic

      stimulus to the region.  He also asked if they would support

      spending state funds to help develop this project.

 

      Answers:  Dr. Shuler discussed his knowledge of the project and

      its potential uses.  Dr. Shuler expressed confidence that the

      project will grow beyond the New River Valley.

 

      Mr. Rush responded that he understands the objectives of the

      Blacksburg Electronic Village and stated his support for

      investments in technology of this type.

 

      Question:  President de Wolf acknowledged the problems which a

      politician would have in asking for a tax increase to support

      higher education.  He then pointed out some of the difficulties

      which the University is experiencing as a result of the budget

      cuts and informed the candidates that the University was finding

      ways to do more with less.  President de Wolf asked for

      suggestions about what the University could do until the economy

      turns around.

 

      Answers:  Mr. Rush responded that the government must make

      education a top priority, He said that he had already done this in

      his role as a member of the Montgomery County Board of

      Supervisors.  He reviewed accomplishments which had been made

      while he was a member of the Board.

 

      Dr. Shuler answered that between now and March, the University

      must lobby for its cause.  He recommended cooperating with other

      universities within the state and demonstrating cost efficiency to

      the public.

 

      Question:  Everyone is for education.  However, I have the sense

      that you think of education as homogeneous.  Please clarify your

      opinions concerning the role of a research university.

 

      Answers:  Mr. Rush said that research is important.  He said that

      the questioner is correct in pointing out the different kinds of

      educational institutions which are sometimes not spoken of

      separately.  Mr. Rush stated that all kinds of educational

      institution are important.

 

      Dr. Shuler said that Virginia Tech is known for research.  He

      stated that he understands the importance and the value of

      research.  Dr. Shuler emphasized the value of all parts of the

      activities of Virginia Tech faculty including research, service

      and teaching.

 

      President de Wolf thanked the candidates for addressing the

      Faculty Senate.

 

      President de Wolf introduced Ronnie Stephenson, President of the

      Student Government Association and asked Mr. Stephenson to address

      the Senate.

 

      Mr. Stephenson spoke of his concern for the loss which the state

      is suffering as a result of the budget cuts.  He announced that

      the Student Government Association, in cooperation with other

      groups, is holding a rally on the drill field at noon on

      Wednesday, October 20.  He reported that his organization had

      received significant support from the Blacksburg town government

      and its merchants.  Mr. Stephenson asked faculty to attend the

      rally and to encourage students to attend it.  He also noted the

      results of contacts with various state officials and plans for

      more discussions with the candidates for governor.

 

      After a brief discussion period, the senate congratulated Mr.

      Stephenson for his efforts.

 

      Next, President de Wolf introduced Tim Schell, President of the

      Graduate Student Association and asked him to address the Senate.

 

      Mr. Schell reviewed a recent trip which he took to Richmond as a

      part of the student government organization.  Mr. Schell noted

      discussions which he had with state officials and reported that

      "our message is not getting across".  Mr. Schell asked faculty to

      attend the rally planned for October 20.

 

      Ralph Byers, Director of Governmental Relations, reported to the

      Senate on actions which the university and its alumni are

      currently undertaking to help inform the public and legislators of

      the position of higher education.

 

   5. Council, Commission, and Committee Reports had been distributed

      electronically.  A brief discussion period was held concerning

      these reports.

 

      Senator McDaniel, updated the Senate on one recent activity of the

      Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies.  He reported

      that a new committee, the Committee on Academic Support had been

      formed and stated that the Senate must appoint two members to it.

 

      Senator Graham reported that due to a change in membership

      requirements, he was no longer a member of the Equal Opportunity

      Affirmative Action committee and therefore could not report to the

      Senate on its activities.  He has already arranged for Senator

      Holtzman to replace him as the reporter to the Senate.

 

      President de Wolf reported that the University Advisory Council on

      Strategic Planning and Budgeting met at Mountain Lake last

      weekend.  The College Deans presented plans for how they would

      respond to the provost's request for each unit of the University

      to return 1.5% of its operating budget for new initiatives.

 

   6. Faculty Senate minutes of September 21, 1993 were approved with

      several minor corrections.  Cabinet minutes of September 17, 1993

      were accepted.

 

 

   7. New Business

 

      a. Committee and Commission Membership

 

      President de Wolf stated that representatives to the Faculty

      Ethics Committee were needed from the College of Agriculture and

      Life Sciences and from Extension.  He asked that nominations be

      forwarded to him.

 

      Senator Lambur was nominated and elected to serve on the

      Commission on Faculty Affairs.

 

      President de Wolf requested volunteers to serve on the 1994

      President's Awards for Excellence Committee and briefly discussed

      the role of the committee.  Senator Norstedt explained more of the

      functioning of the committee to the Senate and expressed

      satisfaction at her past work with the committee.  Senator Hult

      agreed to serve on the committee.

 

      b. President de Wolf presented a resolution to the Senate

      concerning the representation of Administrative and Professional

      faculty within committees of the University Governance system.  He

      explained the rationale for the suggested change and opened the

      floor to discussion.  Senator Lambur said that the wording of the

      resolution was confusing because it misrepresents the scope of

      representation in the applicable faculty association.  Senator

      Olin moved that the resolution be tabled until the language could

      be clarified.  The motion to table the resolution passed.

 

      c. President de Wolf presented a resolution calling for the

      abolition of the Advisory Council on Human Rights and Social

      Responsibility.  He noted that the functions of the Council had

      been taken over by other committees.  Senator Shumsky pointed out

      that the resolution had originated with the Council itself.  The

      motion to abolish the Council passed.

 

 

  8.  Adjournment

 

      There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:08

      p.m.

 

   Respectfully submitted,

 

   Robert T. Sumichrast

   Secretary, Faculty Senate

 

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