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Governance Minutes Archive

December 16, 1993

        Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

                           Staff Senate


                   Minutes of the Regular Meeting

                    Thursday, December 16, 1993

               Room 102 - Phase II - Veterinary Medicine



  Senators Present:  Bill Aliff, Carolyn Alls, Pat Ballard, Janet

  Bryant, David Carper, Joann Craven, Marge Dellers, Patrick

  Donohoe, Jamie Evans, Spencer Foster, Leslie Graham, Betty Greene,

  Patty Hall, Mary Holliman, Diane Kaufman, Julia King, Don Massie,

  Sherilyn McConnell, Margie Murray, Valerie Myers, Diane Patty,

  Mary Pennington, Carlile Price, Rocky Price, Peggy Rasnick, Wyatt

  Sasser, Lynne Schaefermeyer, Widget Shannon, Chuck Shorter,

  Charlie Stott, Lorrie Sumpter, Tony Sutphin, Deb Williams


  Alternates Present:  Netta Eisler for Richard Lovegrove, Nancy

  Looney for Lisa Jansen



  Call to Order


  The meeting was called to order at 5:33 PM.



  Guest Speaker


  President McConnell introduced Virginia Tech's 14th President,

  Paul Torgersen.


  Torgersen addressed the Senate as follows:


  Staff Senate is the first on-campus group that he has addressed.

  He is excited about the opportunity to serve as president.  He

  read a couple of paragraphs from a humorous geological report

  about Virginia Tech, published in the year 1881.  The article had

  lines such as " it is now a question whether or not it

  would be advisable for the state to consider the propriety of

  turning this college into an asylum."  One point that President

  Torgersen pointed out was that, even back in 1881, there were

  people who knew very little about agriculture who were trying to

  give advice.


  Torgersen stated that the university is subject to some criticism right

  now.  There are a lot of people who don't know the inner workings

  of the university but like to give advice.  The criticisms that

  have appeared in the general press concern research, undergraduates

  supposedly getting short-changed, increases in tuition, and concern

  that college faculty members don't teach.


  Tuition is increasing much more rapidly than inflation.  In-state

  tuition has increased over the last four years from $2,200 to

  $3,300, and out-of-state tuition has increased from $5,000 to

  $9,500.  The state has backed off from its commitment to higher

  education, thus we are receiving much less funding that we were

  four years ago.


  President Torgersen doesn't believe that we have done a very good job

  explaining to public and legislators what faculty members do.  As an

  institute we have not been cultivating legislators as we should. As a

  result, he has set an itinerary to visit legislators.  Legislators have

  different concerns depending on their area and constituency.  They

  believe that higher education in Virginia is better than in many other

  states, and they are proud of that fact. They hold Virginia Tech in

  very high esteem. He thinks legislators will continue to support higher



  He is concerned about the General Assembly coming into session.

  We do have a lot of friends in the General Assembly and among alumni.

  On the other hand, he feels that part of his responsibility is to get

  back into the university and tell faculty, staff, and students that the

  world is not what it used to be.  Economic conditions are not all that

  bright.  He believes that Virginia Tech will make it.  He stated

  that he will do all that he can to argue for a positive budget for

  this institution.


  He invited questions from the floor.  Questions and responses follow:


  We have fewer staff, and work has not reduced, but resources have.

  How are we going to continue?

  President Torgersen - There is no simple answer.  We are going to

  have to work smarter.  We are doing some things we don't need to

  do.  There will be some things that we won't do as well as we have

  in the past.  Other organizations have faced these same issues.  What

  we need to try to do is to maintain the integrity of the organization

  with fewer resources.  We might even be a better institution. He

  added that this applies to faculty also.


  Do you support a classified governance system and would you make

  any improvements?

  President Torgersen - He doesn't know enough about it.  He has to think

  about it.  He thinks it is fine.  He will be glad to listen to advice.


  We keep hearing that enrollment is skyrocketing and that over the

  next few years there will be a large influx of students.

  How will we prepare or deal with this influx?

  President Torgersen - He does not know what enrollment is going to look

  like.  The Board of Visitors is concerned about any influx in students.

  There is another surge of students coming along and we will  have to

  accommodate our share.  He would like to see us do a better job of

  articulating our relationship with community colleges, where they could

  take students through the first two years, and we do more with the

  third and fourth year.  That is a more efficient use of our resources.

  He would rather be in a position where there is more demand, not less.

  Keeping the same enrollment would be his first choice.


  There is a space deficit of at least 500,000 square feet.  If more

  students are coming in, what can be done to meet the additional

  space needed to accommodate increased enrollment?

  President Torgersen - We do have a space deficit, but have you walked

  the halls and checked classroom utilization at 3:00 PM? There are a lot

  of classrooms not being used.  Legislators ask why more late afternoon

  or Saturday classes aren't being taught.  We could balance and use

  classes and laboratories better throughout the day.


  As we try to build our relationship with Roanoke, one thing that this

  university has to do is to better utilize our facilities in the

  evening.  There are people who would like to take classes but work a

  full-time, 8-5 job.  They can't take their lunch hour and attend

  classes.  They also can't stand in line outside a faculty member's door

  during the day and compete with students for a few minutes of a

  professor's time.

  President Torgersen - We have almost always been a residential campus.

  A lot of other universities in the state teach classes in the evening.

  Most students don't want to go to class in the evening, and most of our

  faculty don't want to teach in the evening.


  We are going to need to connect better to Roanoke.  He has sensed some

  resentment in the New River Valley that we are linking up with Roanoke,

  almost as if we are divorcing the New River Valley and marrying

  Roanoke. We have to be careful about that because people in Pulaski,

  Radford, Christiansburg, etc. are very important to us also.



  President McConnell - Have you had an opportunity to meet with

  presidents of other institutions and has the group worked on a

  plan for addressing the issues?


  President Torgersen - He has known the other presidents for some

  time.  There is more talk than practice, but each president is

  sort of an entrepreneur on his own.


  The colleges at this university seem to work independently and are

  sort of "chopped up." The right hand doesn't know what the

  left hand is doing.  What can we do to make the university work

  together as a whole?


  President Torgersen - He was a dean in engineering from 1970 to 1990

  and he was the most independent dean on this campus. Now he has to

  change.  There are some advantages and disadvantages to giving colleges

  free rein to be the best that they can be, but there are other times

  when we have to cooperate.  He is striving for central administration.


  He closed his presentation with the following story:  He has to

  introduce the commencement speaker from Ireland.  All people he

  has encountered from Ireland have a great gift of speaking.  He

  is going to introduce the speaker by telling the following story.

  About twenty years ago there was a commencement exercise here and

  there was a father  who lived in Norfolk who was coming

  up to attend graduation.  At that time, Norfolk and Western was

  running train service.  He got on the train and it was an

  overnight train ride.  He told the conductor that he wanted to be

  sure that he got off the train in Christiansburg at 6:30 in the

  morning because he was going to his son's graduation. The

  conductor said that he would be sure to wake him and get him off

  the train.  The man wanted to be sure that the conductor

  understood and explained that he was very difficult to get out of

  bed in the morning and the conductor was going to have to be sure

  that he was awake and dressed and off the train by 6:30.  The

  conductor said that it was no problem.  So the guy slept very

  soundly and woke up at 7:30 and the train had long since gone

  through Christiansburg.  He got up, checked his watch, dressed

  quickly and headed down the aisle just as the train was pulling

  into some small town in West Virginia.  He thought he would get

  off the train and try to work his way back to Blacksburg.  He met

  the conductor and the conductor from the next car

  and he told the conductor exactly what he thought of him and his

  ancestors and what he thought of the train.  Then he got off the

  train.  The second conductor said to the first conductor, "I don't

  think I've ever seen a man that angry before."  The first

  conductor said "Oh, I don't know, that man I did put off the train

  in Christiansburg was pretty angry."



  Approval of Minutes


  Minutes of November 18, 1993 minutes were approved with the

  following additions and corrections.  Page one, under Senators

  Present, Lorie Sumpter should be corrected to Lorrie Sumpter.


  University Councils, Commissions, Committee Reports


  Communications Committee did not meet.


  Elections and Nominations did not meet.  Senator Massie

  distributed ballots for election of a representative to

  Administrative and Professional Faculty Committee.  The nominees

  were David Carper and Jamie Evans.  They stood and gave a brief

  summary of their university experience.


  Policies and Issues distributed a listing of issues that the committee

  is putting together to put in manuals for association use.

  Corrections, suggestions, and additions should be sent to Senator

  Murray at user ID Protocol. The manuals are going to be distributed to

  associations the end of January.


  President McConnell called attention to the new policy on Use of

  University Meeting Rooms by State Employee Associations, which were

  available at the front of the room or may be obtained from

  President McConnell.


  Senator Stott announced that Classified Staff Commission started

  looking at either upward or reverse peer evaluations.  They wanted

  to know how widespread the use of this is across the university.



  Old Business


  The staff survey is still being modified so that it will be a

  valuable instrument.  It is hoped that it will be ready for

  distribution in January.


  Personnel Services was invited to the December meeting to discuss

  the concerns about the performance evaluation process.  We also

  asked them to provide statistics in advance, but they were unable

  to get those statistics together.  We have invited them to attend

  the January meeting, provided that the statistics are available.


  New Business


  Senator Stott stated that he got two changes from Key Advantage,

  effective last July 1.  He questioned why it took five months for the

  information to be disseminated.  President McConnell questioned if the

  changes had perhaps just been made, but were made retroactive to

  July 1. Senator Sutphin will check with appropriate people as to why

  the changes were announced five months later and what the changes

  actually mean.


  Senator Murray stated that the Benefits Office has a complete

  manual on the Key Advantage program, but you must request a copy; it is

  not automatically sent to employees.


  President McConnell reviewed the snow policy that senate had discussed

  last year.  Notice would go on-line to senators by 4 p.m. if the senate

  meeting was going to be cancelled due to inclement weather.  Senator

  Rasnick noted that some staff work flex-time hours and would have

  already left their offices by 4 p.m.  She requested that the time be

  changed to 3:45.


  The new House of Delegates representative from this district will

  be forming three advisory committees; one on higher and secondary

  education, one on health issues, and one on business and industry.

  Staff will be on all three of those advisory committees.

  Dr. Beverly Sgro has been nominated for Secretary of Education.


  The new dean of the College of Arts & Sciences is Dr. Robert C. Bates.


  Senator Rasnick expressed concern about the Personnel Services

  Survey.  Some of the people in her area were upset that they did

  not receive the survey and they would like to have responded to

  those questions.  She questioned how many senators received the

  survey or had even seen it.


  Senator Foster replied that it was a random sampling survey, and

  was sent to a certain number in each grade.


  Question was raised as to what was on the survey.  President

  McConnell read the list of questions aloud to the senate. Senator

  Murray expressed concern that a large number of staff would

  probably like to give input on several of the questions.

  President McConnell stated that several of the same questions will

  appear on the Staff Senate survey.


  Senator Schaefermeyer expressed concern that the survey was not

  done on opscan forms.  She stated that this is a technical

  institution and that we need to utilize the resources available.


  President McConnell suggested that we bring this up when Personnel

  Services addresses us next month.


  Senator Massie announced that David Carper was elected to be the senate

  representative to the Commission on Administrative and Professional



  With no further business to be discussed, the meeting was

  adjourned at 6:48 PM.

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