University Council Minutes

January 19, 1998
3:00 p.m.

Present: Dave Stetler (for Bob Bates), Greg Brown, Landrum Cross, Peter Eyre, Don Kenney (for Eileen Hitchingham), Janet Johnson, Max Stephenson, Jr. (for Paul Knox), Peggy Meszaros, Carole Nickerson, Len Peters, Laurie Coble (for Minnis Ridenour), Jean Eversole (for Ray Smoot), Rich Sorensen, Charles Steger, Joe Tront (for Bill Stephenson), Andy Swiger, Tom Tillar, Paul Torgersen, Robert Brown, Sigrid Gustafson, Terry Herdman, Cosby Rogers, Larry Shumsky, Terry Swecker, Deborah Mayo, J.D. Jacobson (for Kevin Pelzer), Eliza Tse, Carl Polan (for Frank Gwazdauskas), John Randolph, David de Wolf, Rosemary Goss, Kay Burke, Tom Head, Terry Lawrence, Marilyn Norstedt, Nancy Phillips, Ningling Wang, Joel Donahue, Moya Toohey, Drew Lichtenberger,

Absent: Erv Blythe, Elyzabeth Holford, Raphael Castillejo, Charles Lytton, Ben Poe, Richard Bambach, Norm Marriott, Paul Metz, Bob Benoit, James Yardley, Pat Scanlon, Bernard Feldman, Gerri Johns, Curtis Lynch, Peggy Rasnick, Rajiv Khosla, Steve Schneider, Tekisha Everette, Jody Olsen, Natalie Wilson

Guests: Leonard Ferrari, David Ford, Pat Hyer, Jean Mottley, Deloris Scott

  1. Adoption of Agenda

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

  2. Announcement of approval and posting of Council Minutes of December 1, 1997

    Dr. Torgersen noted that the minutes from the December 1, 1997, 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.

  3. Introduction of Dave Ford

    Dr. Peggy Meszaros introduced Dr. David Ford as the new Vice Provost for Academic Affairs.

  4. Comments by Dr. Torgersen

    Dr. Torgersen shared information regarding the Legislative Session and General Assembly. Delegate Robert Bloxom introduced Dr. Torgersen at an agricultural gathering on the Eastern Shore, Accomack and Northampton Counties. Delegate Thomas W. Moss, Jr. was elected Speaker of the House. There will be significant Republican representation on all the key committees in the House of Delegates.

    The colleges and universities put together a "unified budget amendment" on behalf of all higher education rather than each university putting forward its own amendment. Within this plan is a certain amount of money for institutional amendments. There will be subset amendments offered on behalf of Virginia Tech, UVA, George Mason, etc. We will be working on the subset amendments. Dr. Torgersen attended the Inauguration to represent Virginia Tech. Delegate Richard Cranwell (an alum) played a key role in the Inauguration. There have been positive meetings with Governor Gilmore's people. The new Secretary of Education is Wilbert Bryant, who was the Deputy under Secretary Sgro. We have not heard anything about the Commissioner of Agriculture.

  5. New Business

    First Reading - Commission on Faculty Affairs and Commission on Administrative and Professional Faculty Affairs - Resolution 1997-98A: Imposition of Sanctions Other Than Dismissal.

    Dr. Sigrid Gustafson shared with University Council members via handout and overheads information to further explain the resolution that was mailed to each University Council member prior to January 19. There have been a number of cases in which people have committed acts that were egregious enough to lead to dismissal for cause. During the course of attorneys dealing with each other and court cases, there was negotiation such that the ultimate penalty was rolled back to what was known as severe sanction, which was very serious but not actual dismissal from the job. There has been no specific language in the Faculty Handbook to deal with that particular kind of situation. It has not been a wide-spread issue, affecting half-a-dozen or fewer people over the last ten years. [A flow chart was shared with University Council members outlining the process as proposed in the policy.] This kind of process has been undergone a number of times using the same kind of methods and procedures that are being proposed for this resolution at this point. The language and existence of the policy and the way it is formulated are consistent with the AAUP guidelines. Much of the language AAUP recommends is verbatim in this resolution. Dr. Gustafson then reviewed the flow chart with University Council members. A brief outline follows:

    No changes are proposed for the process desribed in the Dismissal for Cause policy.

    Section 2.11 of the Faculty Handbook currently contains policies related to termination for cause and reduction in force. The reduction in force policy will be moved to the subsequent section. Section 2.11 would be renamed "Imposition of a Severe Sanction or Dismissal for Cause."

    The Commission recommends that "willful violation of university and/or government policies" be added to the list of "adequate causes" for consideration of a severe sanction or dismissal for cause. In addition, "incompetence" would now be stated as "incompentence as determined through post-tenure review." In response to a question, Dr. Gustafson explained that ncompetence must now be determined through the post-tenure review, and that the language passed recently by the University Council and Board of Visitors is identical to that being considered here. That is, the definition and process for severe sanctions is the same, whether for post-tenure review or for reasons other than post-tenure review. Steps in the process for administering a severe sanction are the same as the steps for dismissal for cause, which is exactly what the AAUP recommends - that there should be as difficult a burden of proof to impose a severe sanction as to dismiss for cause.

    A concern was expressed in regard to the kind of environment that might be created with the severe sanction. Someone may go back to a department with a salary reduction and/or a rank reduction and would the faculty member end up hostile and unproductive under those circumstances? Might it not be better to dismiss for cause in most cases? Dr. Gustafson said that, although the Commission had not discussed this particular problem, severe sanctions were in fact already occurring. Provost Meszaros indicated that in one or two recent cases the faculty members appeared to be returning to the department with serious intent to improve their conduct.

    A concern was expressed regarding whether or not the document that is written reflects the flow chart. The concern has to do with Step 2, derived out of the change mentioned in regard to the statement "the matter was subsequently referred to the administration for sanctions or punitive action." A proposed change was offered to the text to read "having determined that in its opinion there is adequate cause for imposing a severe sanction, refers the matter to the administration." It was noted that this wording can be offered as a friendly amendment at second reading, once the resolution is on the floor.

    It was suggested that we should have a formal opinion by our legal counsel on the resolution that comes to vote in two weeks. Dr. Gustafson informed the group that the proposal has been approved by legal counsel. Any substitution will also need to be approved by legal counsel. Dr. Gustafson will take responsibility of talking with legal counsel before the next meeting.

    Dr. Pat Hyer shared with university council members that this proposal has a parallel piece for administrative and professional faculty. Reference page 8. The definition of severe sanction is identical or parallel, in this case it is reduction in title, responsibilities, and salary and/or suspension without pay for a period of time. A minor sanction is also defined. Dr. Hyer also defined the process for imposing a severe sanction as the dismissal for cause procedure for A/P faculty.

    Both will be voted on in two weeks.

    First Reading - Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies Resolution 97-98B: Resolution Regarding Offering a Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy Degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

    Dr. Robert Brown shared with University Council members that the recommendation needed to be changed to strike "Electrical and" to read "Doctor of Philosophy Degrees in Computer Engineering" beginning January 1, 1999. Electrical engineering will remain a separate degree. Computer Engineering is a fast growing field in engineering. We are losing a number of students because they seek a degree specifically designated "Computer Engineering" rather than the more general degree in "Electrical Engineering." A question was raised regarding SCHEV approval and timing and whether consolidating first and second reading at University Council would expedite matters. This does need to go to SCHEV and will take about one year for review and approval. Question: Can this change be accomplished within the present faculty and with no new resources being requested? Response: We do not know how fast the program will grow. It is argued that there will be 250,000 new jobs created in computer engineering across the country in the next five years. Within Virginia it is hard to estimate, but probably on the order of ten to fifteen thousand new jobs. Since this program is already an option in electrical engineering, we are only creating one new course. No new resources are needed to offer the degree program. Northern Virginia may need new resources, because enrollments may be higher in Northern Virginia than on campus. In Blacksburg we do not anticipate large numbers of new students. It may be that our enrollment is down in Northern Virginia because we are not offering computer engineering. The program will be subject to normal review. A comment was made that the proposal that goes to SCHEV will have to spell out any request for new resources. A question was raised that if the title was left as Electrical and Computer Engineering, would you have to go to SCHEV for approval? Answer: A separate degree is needed and that is what should be pursued. Dr. Torgersen asked if we should contact State Council asking them to start work on its review before BOV approval at the end of February? Pat Hyer's response was no -- Board approval was essential and the proposal was not ready to mail at this time in any case.

    First Reading - Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies - Resolution 1997-98A: Virginia Tech Credits Required for the Awarding of a Degree

    The resolution was introduced by Dr. Terry Swecker in Dr. Cosby Rogers absence. It was noted for clarification that the undergraduate catalog does have residency requirements that are consistent with this requirement. We do have a 27 credit requirement which is very close to a quarter of the 120 credit degree. It was noted that the resolution needs to be clarified in light of the policy in the catalog which says that "all academic program changes will have a two year notification." Dr. Torgersen said that we can discuss and debate this at the next University Council meeting. It was suggested that comments and questions be forwarded to Dr. Rogers.

  6. Council approved a packet of commission minutes comprised of:

  7. Announcements

    Diversity Summit - January 19, 1998 Dr. Lanny Cross shared with the University Council members that one of the academic agenda items in the University Strategic Planning process is to address the campus climate concerns. In that regard we had a summit this morning where there was good dialogue and a lot of listening. The format for the summit was a series of process groups, summarized thinking, and then reporting to a larger group. A particular feature used this morning was to put together tables of sub-segments of the University community that might have common interests or perspectives on diversity and asked them to join talking circles, which then reported to the larger group. This was an opportunity for the many sides of diversity to be heard, many perspectives to be heard, and I think we were successful. We concluded with a fairly long list of points made and ideas raised and those will be directed to a task force that is being chaired by Elyzabeth Holford. The task force is responsible for coming up with recommendations for action.

    Attorney General's Task Force On Alcohol Use and Abuse Among College Students

    Dr. Lanny Cross reported that this task force is moving along a little slowly. The task force has not yet met, however, it has been divided into four teams and each team has eight questions assigned by the Attorney General's Office to develop a narrative that would be presented to the task force when it meets, perhaps in mid-March. Dr. Torgersen has been appointed to the task force to serve as team leader for Team 2. Dr. Cross has been providing staffing work. Dr. Cross will assure that all eight questions are addressed. Dr. Cross plans for the team to meet in conjunction with the task force. Dr. Torgersen added that drinking on college campuses is a major, major problem. Multiple deaths have resulted >from college drinking. Our team has to deal with the extent to which drinking really begins in the high school. Some students bring alcohol problems with them when they enter as freshmen.

    Meeting With Commission Chairs

    Dr. Peggy Meszaros reported on a recent meeting with the Commission Chairs. This meeting was for the purpose of sharing issues that were being discussed and then make University Council members aware of these issues. This was done at the beginning of fall and again last week. There were some cross over issues and some similarities. Some issues of the Commissions are:

    Outreach -
    Definition of Outreach
    Awards Committee
    Involvement in Search for new Vice Provost

    Administrative and Professional Faculty -
    Concern with low student participation in Commission activities (this is a concern with other Commissions.) Student participation is encouraged.

    Severe Sanctions
    Administrative and professional faculty hours involved in instruction in order to clarify the instructional role of A/P faculty.
    Grievance procedure revisions.

    Classified Staff Affairs -
    Further decentralization and how they will be affected.
    Trigon Insurance Issue.
    Sponsored Programs Compliance and change in federal guidelines.

    Graduate Studies and Policies -
    Auditing changes as listed on transcripts.
    Handling of independent and special studies.
    Program review of graduate programs and residency requirements.

    Undergraduate Studies and Policies -
    Computer requirement task force.
    Academic eligibility policy and student status.

    Research -
    Review of university research centers, which is a regular process that takes place every five years for each center.
    Changes to the intellectual properties policy.

    NCAA Report
    Jean Eversole reported that the NCAA Self Study Report (600 pages) is complete. Anyone wanting a copy should send a note to EVERSOLE@VT.EDU.

    Report of the Athletic Committee
    A question was raised about the report of the Athletic Committee. Laurie Coble reported that she talked with the chair, who did not recall nor could he find a notation where this report is to be made to University Council. Dr. Meszaros reported that the Athletics Committee does make a regular report to the Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies and that may be the report in question. As a discussion topic in the spring, the Athletic Committee may want to report to Council on how we are coming with the compliance plan, as well as how we have integrated the academic efforts into all athletics.

  8. Adjournment at 4:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,


Carole Nickerson
Executive Assistant to the President


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