University Council Minutes

December 7, 1998

Present: Myra Gordon (for Bob Bates), A. H. Moore (for Erv Blythe), Greg Brown, Ben Dixon, John C. Lee (for Peter Eyre), Janet Johnson, Paul Knox, Peggy Meszaros, Carole Nickerson, E. F. Brown (for Len Peters), Laurie Coble (for Minnis Ridenour), Rich Sorensen, Bill Stephenson, Tom Tillar, Richard Bambach, Jim Burger, Cindy Harrison, Pat Hyer (for Charles Lytton), Jay Sullivan (for Robert Tracy), Muzzo Uysal, Nicolaus Tideman, Terry Swecker, Bruce Obenhaus (for Paul Metz), Kevin Pelzer, Bob Benoit, David de Wolf, Bernard Feldman, Rosemary Goss, Frank Gwazdauskas, Shep Zedaker (for John Seiler), Pete Martens, Nancy Phillips, Ben Poe, Joel Donahue, Jody Olson, Duncan Neasham, Kathleen Knight, Laurie Steneck, Sean Blackburn, Landrum Cross

Absent: Eileen Hitchingham, Elyzabeth Holford, Ray Smoot, Charles Steger, Andy Swiger, Paul Torgersen, Clyde Harris, Wayne Durham, Skip Fuhrman, Norm Marriott, Deborah Mayo, Eliza Tse, Sam Hicks, John Randolph, Jamaa Bickley-King, Donna Cassell, Anita Haney, Curtis Lynch, Peggy Rasnick, Aashish Jain, Paul Wagner

Guests: Dixon Hanna, Larry Hincker, Bill Tranter

  1. Call to Order

    Dr. Peggy Meszaros called the meeting to order at 3:00 p.m. and announced that a quorum was present.

  2. Adoption of Agenda

    A motion was made and seconded to adopt the agenda. The motion passed.

  3. Announcement of approval and posting of Council Minutes of November 2, 1998

    Dr. Meszaros noted that the minutes from the November 2, 1998, University Council meeting have been voted on and approved electronically. Once voted upon, University Council minutes can be publicly accessed on the Governance Information System on the WEB.

  4. First Reading, Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies Resolution 1998-99B, Resolution Regarding Offering of a Masters Degree in Information Technology

    Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies Chair Jim Burger presented Resolution 1998-99B for first reading. In response to a question regarding the starting date of fall 1998 as indicated in the resolution, Dr. Burger noted that the last sentence of the resolution will be removed and an edited resolution will be forthcoming.

    Bill Tranter gave an overview of this resolution. Information has been distributed via a web page and open houses for potential students have been held which 122 students attended. Instructions for applying to the program are on the web page. Once a student applies, the faculty looks at the application and makes a judgement. A number of faculty members from Blacksburg and Northern Virginia in the three units that are developing the program are involved in this process. This is a non-thesis degree. The program grew from a number of studies that were performed in Northern Virginia and elsewhere indicating the need for more activity in the area of information technology. The Blueprint for Virginia and a number of SCHEV reports spoke to the need for this program.

    The basic characteristics of the program: designed for the practicing professional, it has a degree and non-degree component. The program is developed into a number of modules, which students can take for continuing education credit or they can combine a number of modules and apply for a masters degree in information technology. It is a joint program operated under engineering, arts and sciences, and business. Day to day operations are conducted through a steering committee with approximately 3 members from each of the 3 units that have been involved in the program for approximately 18 months. Bill Tranter chairs the steering committee. There is representation from electrical and computer engineering, computer science, and business. The entire group meets every Thursday. The program consists of six modules: communications, networking, computer engineering - courses are contributed by electrical and computer engineering department; software development - courses are contributed by computer science; business information systems, decision support systems - courses are contributed by Pamplin College of Business.

    In most cases, background work is needed before students can enter the technical material that constitutes the modules. There are six hours of foundation work that can be tailored to the student depending upon the modules that that student wishes to pursue for that degree. To obtain a degree in this program students complete 3 of the modules of 7 1/2 semester units each for a total of 22 1/2 semester units. They combine with this 6 1/2 units of foundation work for a total of 28 1/2. The last course is 1 1/2 semester units that is tailored to the specific student and could be a series of seminars, a paper, a special project, or an individual investigation.

    This project has come together over an 18 month period with collaboration of all three departments and three colleges involved. Completion of any one of the six modules will allow a student to get a certificate. There is no residency requirement for a master's degree. At this time the degree is only given at the Northern Virginia Center. This is done through the Commonwealth Campus. In response to a question, Dr. Pat Hyer explained that if approved, this matter will go to the Board of Visitors in February and then to SCHEV.

    Dr. Tranter noted that there is flexibility to add new modules. The steering committee is currently working on mechanisms by which departments who wish to propose additional modules may do so. An infrastructure would be set up by which students will be evaluated and determined appropriate or not appropriate to the program. Mechanisms are being developed where students can obtain the material and the foundation courses through web-based activities. The need to take background coursework before taking the modules will depend upon the background of the student.

    Dixon Hanna applauded the efforts of Dr. Tranter, the committee and the colleges involved for their efforts, noting that this is about the fastest that Virginia Tech has listened to the marketplace, put a fairly sophisticated program together, and brought it this far so quickly. Bill Stephenson commented that he feels this program is incredibly important for our presence in information technology. Rich Sorensen commented that this comes forward with the enthusiastic support of the Pamplin College faculty. Dr. Meszaros noted that this resolution will come back for second reading at the January 18 University Council Meeting with the editorial change.

  5. Council approved a packet of Commission minutes comprised of: Approval of the Collective Commission Minutes.

  6. For Information Only

    Dr. Meszaros noted that the minutes of the University Advisory Council on Strategic Budgeting and Planning for May 7, 1998, June 11, 1998, and August 13, 1998, were distributed for information only. A concern was raised in regard to the delay of these minutes reaching Council. Dr. Meszaros will address this at the next meeting of the University Advisory Council on Strategic Budgting and Planning and ask that the minutes be submitted in a more rapid fashion.

  7. Announcements

    There being no announcements, the meeting proceeded to the next item of business.

  8. Discussion

    Larry Hincker, Associate Vice President for University Relations, gave a presentation on the university's recent ad campaign and public response. This campaign grew from a need to help people understand the nature of a research university. It was felt that Virginia Tech's specific accomplishments need to be communicated, to demonstrate the value of faculty research, to share the impact of research on our community and society, then position Virginia Tech as a place that has real world impacts. The strategy was to reach key opinion leaders through an advertising campaign.

    Ads are being broadcast in the areas of Roanoke, Tidewater, Richmond and Washington, DC. By reaching these four television markets, we reach 91% of all Virginians. There was also time bought on ABC and NBC affiliates. A heavy campaign began the week of September 7, two weeks off, a light campaign began October 12, one week off, light campaign November 2, another heavy campaign during Thanksgiving week.

    The media goal with these ads is that 90% of the targeted audience would have seen the ads 5 times. Programming is very heavy in news, a little in prime time, and some sports. Advertising is done so there is complete control of the message and traditional gatekeepers (newspaper reporters, someone presenting information to key committees or councils, editorials in newspaper) can be bypassed.

    Advertising is an opportunity to distill extraordinarily complex topics in a simple easily understood manner. The creative approach is to identify three of seven cross cutting initiatives - information technology, biotechnology and learning communities. To communicate these 4 - 15 second television spots, they are shown by themselves or two back-to-back for a 30 second spot, or as bookends - 15 second Virginia Tech spot, 30 seconds for other ad and another 15 second Virginia Tech spot.

    There has been a very positive response. From a telephone poll 7 out of 10 people said they saw the ads. Summer Productions out of Alexandria produced the ads. In a 15 second ad every word had to count. $50,000 was spend on the production. The buy was $267,000. These ads were shown during televised Virginia Tech games this year. It was noted that these ads were seen in Kansas through ESPN. There are focus groups to determine if these ads should be shown during shows students watch.

  9. Adjournment

    Dr. Meszaros adjourned the meeting at 4:05 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Carole Nickerson
Executive Assistant to the President

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