University Council Minutes

February 2, 1998
3:00 p.m.

Present: Bob Bates, Greg Brown, Landrum Cross, Peter Eyre, Paul Metz (for Eileen Hitchingham), Elyzabeth Holford, Janet Johnson, Paul Knox, Peggy Meszaros, Carole Nickerson, Len Peters, Lisa Wilkes (for Minnis Ridenour), Ray Smoot, Hap Bonham (for Rich Sorensen), Bill Stephenson, Andy Swiger, Tom Tillar, Robert Brown, Kelli Campbell (for Raphael Castillejo), Sigrid Gustafson, Jim Burger (for Terry Herdman), Ben Poe, Cosby Rogers, Larry Shumsky, Terry Swecker, Deborah Mayo, Paul Metz, Kevin Pelzer, Frank Gwazdauskas, John Randolph, Bob Benoit, James Yardley, David de Wolf, Pat Scanlon, Rosemary Goss, Kay Burke, Tom Head, Marilyn Norstedt, Joel Donahue, Drew Lichtenberger, Jody Olson

Absent: Erv Blythe, Charles Steger, Paul Torgersen, Charles Lytton, Richard Bambach, Norm Marriott, Eliza Tse, Bernard Feldman, Gerri Johns, Terry Lawrence, Curtis Lynch, Peggy Rasnick, Nancy Phillips, Rajiv Khosla, Steve Schneider, Ningling Wang, Tekisha Everette, Moya Toohey, Natalie Wilson

Guests: Wanda Dean, David Ford, Kay Heidbreder, Pat Hyer, Rebecca Lovingood

  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 January 19, 1998

    Dr. Meszaros noted that the minutes from the January 19, 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.

  3. Comments by Dr. Meszaros

    Dr. Torgersen is testifying today in Richmond for the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.

  4. New Business

    First Reading - Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies - Resolution 1997-98B: Expansion of Admissions Criteria for Students Applying to the Corps of Cadets.

    Dr. Cosby Rogers presented the Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies, Resolution 1997-98B: Expansion of Admissions Criteria for Students Applying to the Corps of Cadets for first reading. Dr. Rogers shared with University Council members that this resolution does not technically change the way the university is currently functioning. It actually brings some recognition to the Corps of Cadets. In the process of recruiting, if they want to say that leadership is a criteria that is used, it could be used in that way. In actuality it does not change the admissions requirement.

    Dr. Meszaros commented that this is the first reading, and will come to the next meeting for a second reading and vote. She then opened the floor for questions.

    A question was raised as to why this resolution is needed when this is the kind of thing that is examined for all students who are trying to gain admission to this university. Dr. Rogers responded that the question was originally brought to CUS by Col. Schwabe. The intent and motivation behind it is that there is a drive to increase the enrollment in the Corps of Cadets and to meet goals such as 2000 students by the year 2000. They felt that in order to recognize leadership in ROTC they would like to have this criteria made explicit. Leadership is already understood to be a part of the admissions criteria that can be considered - it is not the first thing on the list. Dr. Rogers is not sure this is a necessary resolution, but CUS was responding to the request by the Corps of Cadets to make it more visible in their recruitment.

    A suggestion was made to change "may be considered" to "shall be considered" under "Therefore, ..." Dr. Rogers explained that after discussions with Col. Schwabe and Karen Torgersen that those criteria might not be examined unless there was some point at which a decision would have to be made in regard to accepting one student over another. So they may not look at all the criteria in the initial evaluation unless it comes down to deciding between two students to fill one slot. This criteria would not be considered in all cases.

    Dr. Lanny Cross commented that it is his understanding the Corps of Cadets does indeed need to pursue the criteria.

    A comment was made that if this resolution does have substance and is more than being candid about what our procedures already are, it needs to be further clarified when it comes forward to University Council at second reading.

    It was suggested that Karen Torgersen and/or Col. Schwabe address this issue for clarification at the next University Council meeting.

  5. Ongoing Business

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

    Dr. Cosby Rogers presented the Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies, Resolution 1997-98A: Virginia Tech Credits Required for the Awarding of a Degree for second reading. Dr. Rogers commented that this resolution is necessary in order to meet the criteria for the Self Study, SACS Review. It is not a substantive change, but a change in wording. The resolution says it affects both graduate and undergraduate students. Dr. Eaton says it would not affect graduate students. It should be amended to apply only to undergraduate students. A friendly amendment was made to modify the resolution to specify undergraduate throughout the resolution. The friendly amendment was accepted.

    Dr. Rogers made a motion to put the resolution on the floor for discussion. The motion was seconded.

    Wanda Dean, University Registrar, read the SACS requirements. For undergraduate degree completion at least 25 percent of credit semester hours must be earned through instruction by the institution awarding the degree. We have been in compliance for the past two years. Transfer students are most affected by any change. This university has always operated under the premise of 25 percent. Our language in the catalog and some of our printed material was not clear enough to support the 25 percent. We will not have the catalog ready for the committee in March, so an official copy of the resolution will be provided.

    A question was raised regarding how this resolution will be affected by the statement in the catalog which refers to the two year notification period for any change in graduation requirements. Do we need a formal process to waive this requirement? Wanda Dean assured the Council that no student will be unduly penalized by putting this in place. Dr. Meszaros summarized by saying we know we are putting it in place for the SACS requirement, and no student will be unduly penalized. Wanda Dean noted that this will be reflected in the minutes.

    The resolution with the friendly amendment specifying undergraduate degrees was voted upon and passed.

    Second 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 presented the Joint Resolution, Commission on Faculty Affairs and Commission on Administrative and Professional Faculty Affairs, Resolution 1997-98A: Imposition of Sanctions Other Than Dismissal for second reading. Dr. Gustafson briefly summarized the first reading discussion. This is an effort to put into policy what is already being done in practice. The summary included: the reduction-in-force language was moved to another section, severe sanctions were defined, matters to be investigated for severe sanctions being imposed are defined, matters it can be levied for are the same as for Dismissal for Cause, which is the AAUP guidelines. At the last meeting it was suggested that there be an amendment to 2.11.2 on page 4 of the resolution to make it clearer that in fact the faculty committee itself are the ones to determine whether or not the sanction should be imposed. Dr. Gustafson shared Dr. Mayo's suggested rewording. This wording has been cleared with University General Counsel and there is no problem with making this change. A friendly amendment was made to incorporate the changes made by Dr. Mayo. Dr. Gustafson summarized the amendment: At one point this read "adequate cause will be determined by." On recommendation of the Faculty Senate it was changed to read: "reason to consider the imposition of the severe sanction," so we would not get into a situation where someone such as the police were actually making the final determination of whether the sanction would occur or not. The process allows for a review committee of faculty, unless faculty committee were the ones who brought the charge in the first place. With the new language we have something that reaffirms that position. The faculty committee will refer the matter to the administration.

    Dr. Gustafson made a motion that the resolution be accepted as amended through the friendly amendment. The resolution was voted upon and passed.

    Second Reading - Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies Resolution 1997-98B: Resolution Regarding Offering a Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy Degrees in Computer Engineering.

    Dr. Robert Brown presented Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies Resolution 1997-98B: Resolution Regarding Offering a Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy Degrees in Computer Engineering for second reading. Dr. Brown stated that when the resolution was last brought to the floor we agreed to strike the word "electrical" and in turn would read "Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Computer Engineering." This has been done. Dr. Brown made a motion that this resolution be approved.

    Wanda Dean pointed out that the beginning date of January 1, 1999, should be changed to read Spring 1999. January 1, 1999, we would still be clearing for fall graduation and this has caused confusion in the past. Pat Hyer shared that this has to go through SCHEV and the earliest a degree could be awarded would be Spring 1999. Dr. Meszaros clarified that the request is to change "beginning January 1, 1999" to "effective Spring 1999." This is agreeable.

    The resolution was voted upon and passed.

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

  7. Announcements

    Academic Agenda
    Dr. Meszaros reminded the group of the Academic Agenda. She also noted that the book Leading Change has been distributed to the Strategic Budget and Planning Committee, Deans, Vice Provosts and Vice Presidents. Copies are available for loan through the Provost's office. It is a wonderful complement for our university in focusing on performance, targets, and missions related to our strategic directions. The book lays out a scheme to keep an academic agenda moving forward. There has been one brown bag reading session where thoughts were shared. Two others are scheduled and University Council members are welcome to attend.

  8. Discussion

    Dr. Meszaros noted that in the Academic Agenda is an item called "Teaching and Learning: A Land Grant Learning Community." As a part of that community we are interested in all participants and the diversity of those participants. There is an item in our Academic Agenda which speaks to establishing a task force to study and recommend needed policies and programs to create a more supportive learning and working environment for women and minorities. This task force has been appointed and Elyzabeth Holford is chair. Dr. Holford has been asked to share with us today where the task force is going, projects that are underway, when the work is expected to end, and the recommendations that will come out of that task force.

    Dr. Holford shared that the task force is called the "Work Group on Campus Climate." There is the necessity to collect data and we must be clear and careful in our collection of data. We have many examples of data collection such as: Self Study, Benchmarking Efforts, NCAA Certification as part of Self Study, University Planning, Core Values Process, In-State Out-of-State Student Status Study, SCHEV Performance Indicators, and the Perry Report that deals with admissions and retention issues. Other retention studies have been done such as summer school studies and student success studies that are on-going now. We pride ourselves on our ability to assess our situation and use that information in our planning. One area where this is not true in positioning ourselves for leadership, is in assessing a situation in terms of climate. It is imperative that before we suggest change in a situation, we have information to assess attitudes in our community right now, and to assess ideas about need for change and what that change might involve.

    The mission of the "Work Group on Campus Climate" comes from the University Plan. The purpose statement is: "To review the relevant policies and programs as well as the living and working environments that affect women and minorities at Virginia Tech." In practice, this includes all of us. This task is not exclusive to just women and minorities, but affects the working and living environment that affects all of us. We all have some ownership in what that environment looks like right now and what we want it to look like in the future.

    The charge is a four part analysis. We intend to conduct a Program Analysis, Climate Analysis, Policy Analysis, and to create a Database of Status Indicators.

    Program Analysis - Programs that have been designed specifically for women and minorities at Virginia Tech. Some are university-wide programs, some are specific to student organizations, some are specific to colleges, some are at the departmental level, some deal with retention. Within these areas are some programs that we have had in the past that perhaps we only have on paper now. There are also programs that are not officially funded or recognized within different organizations. This is an attempt to get a handle on the programs and assess their actual current status. We want to know about successful programs and possibly use them in other locations. There will be a web site questionnaire. There will be follow-up interviews specifically with programs that appear to be very successful to learn what the lessons are and use those lessons, techniques, and strategies in other situations across the university.

    Policy Analysis - Will look at university-wide policies, as well as policies that are specific to colleges and departments. Elements that are working, that make the environment better for all of us, we need to utilize to the fullest degree. Where policies are not working they should be analyzed. A question was raised regarding how data would be collected. Dr. Holford said that though she is not sure, she thinks it will take the form of a review. There will be an attempt to be thorough and efficient.

    Status Indicators - We already have much university information about who we are, what we are, what our diversity looks like, who left when. We do not have it all in a format which presents the clear picture that is both readable and understandable. We will be taking existing information and will put it in a format that provides a front piece for the rest of the information that will go into our report.

    Climate Analysis - Quite a few of our peer institutions have done climate surveys in the last five to seven years. In the surveys they have attempted to include all of the various groups on campus. We are working on a survey tailored more for Virginia Tech. We are relying on the Center for Survey Research to do the survey. Within the next few months a survey of all faculty, staff and a sampling of students will be done. It will be anonymous with no coding. It will be sensitive. Follow-up interview will also be conducted, and this will be voluntary. Several questions were raised regarding the ability to analyze this information at the department level. Statistics will be analyzed at the college level. It will not be possible to go to the department level and still protect anonymity.

    The preliminary report should be available by June 30, 1998.

    The information formulated by this work group will be used the way we use other information to plan our budgets in advance and to plan staffing needs. This is the kind of information needed to assess our situation and make rational and good management choices about our environment and how we can improve the working environment for everyone.

    Working Group includes: Elyzabeth Holford, Merle Flynn, Bob Leonard, Shelley Blumenthal, Delores Scott, Lanny Cross, Barbara Pendergrass, Pat Hyer. The task force was not formed based on wide representation, but involves people who work in these areas and have access to the information needed and also have a concept of what information we have not pulled together that we would like to acquire. We are also working with some graduate students and a research associate. As chair of the committee, Dr. Holford's intent is to be sure the committee is used as a leadership committee and as a directional committee. The actual work is being done by those with responsibility for certain areas of the study.

    Questions/suggestions should be sent to Elyzabeth Holford. It is hopeful that this will be a continuing effort to assess the success of what is being done to improve the environment.

    Concerns were raised in regard to the level of identification and how this will help and be effective to each department. Dr. Holford said that this may be true for the climate survey; however in the program analysis, we are looking at individual programs. They are identifiable. The program analysis is a separate analysis from the climate analysis. The program review is for programs set up specifically designed to affect and hopefully improve the environment.

    A concern was raised in regard to including those outside colleges and departments. How broad is data collection? Dr. Pat Hyer said that we could code these as senior management levels to cover the President's Office, Vice Presidential area, Cooperative Education, Experiment Station.

    A question was asked about whether this is part of the SACS Self Study. Dr. Meszaros responded that the SACS Self Study is completed in terms of its two parts, the IE Compliance part as well as the Focused Self Study. This is not a part of that. It is a part of our larger view of where the university is going. Both the strategic directions and the academic agenda are what it would more closely relate to.

    Do you have from other institutions guidelines about the ideal number of identifiers for where action is needed? There seems to be a tremendous amount of data that will be need to be analyzed. Dr. Hyer reported that the model we are using is from the University of California, LA, with some modifications from the University of Maryland, College Park. This will be modified in terms of where we ought to be. Dr. Hyer outlined some of the data we hope to get from this survey.

    What is the definition of minorities? Dr. Holford said that the attempt is to look as broadly as we can. Dr. Hyer noted that questions will be asked about nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation, and other affiliations. Religion will not be included. UCLA's data on religion was found not to be useful.

    Will hard copies of questionnaire be sent? Dr. Holford responded that there will be a hard copy of the climate survey which goes to all faculty, staff and a sampling of students. The program survey will be web page with follow up meetings.

    Several concerns were expressed regarding the sampling of students. Some felt it would not be accurate if all were not surveyed. Dr. Hyer reported that it would not be possible to survey all students. They probably select all students who are in the four protected minority groups, probably will over sample women, and will probably will do a one-in-ten sample of white men. Off campus students will be surveyed. All groups will be covered.

    There were concerns that the survey is already biased and would not reflect true data. Dr. Hyer stated that it is financially and feasibly impossible to survey all 25,000 students.

    Dr. Holford reported that the distribution of surveys will probably be early March.

    Dr. Meszaros suggested that Dr. Holford report findings to University Council in the early fall.

  9. Adjournment at 4:10 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,


Carole Nickerson
Executive Assistant to the President


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