University Council Minutes

April 6, 1998
3:00 p.m.

Present: Bob Bates, Cathryn Goree (for Landrum Cross), Peter Eyre, Leslie O'Brien (for Eileen Hitchingham), Janet Johnson, Paul Knox, Peggy Meszaros, Carole Nickerson, John Eaton (for Len Peters), Lisa Wilkes (for Minnis Ridenour), Ray Smoot, Hap Bonham (for Rich Sorensen), Janis Grubb (for Charles Steger), Jack Osborne (for Bill Stephenson), Andy Swiger, Tom Tillar, Robert Brown, Kelli Campbell (for Raphael Castillejo), Terry Herdman, Ben Poe, Cosby Rogers, Terry Swecker, Richard Bambach, Norm Marriott, Bruce Obenhaus (for Paul Metz), Rick Howard (for Kevin Pelzer), Eliza Tse, Frank Gwazdauskas, Bob Benoit, David de Wolf, John Seiler, Rosemary Goss, Bernard Feldman, Kay Burke, Tom Head, Terry Lawrence, Peggy Rasnick, Marilyn Norstedt, Nancy Phillips, Ningling Wang, Joel Donahue, Clyde Harris (for Jody Olson), Megan Logsdor (for Tekisha Everette), Aaron McClung (for Natalie Wilson), Drew Lichtenberger, Moya Toohey

Absent: Erv Blythe, Greg Brown, Elyzabeth Holford, Paul Torgersen, Sigrid Gustafson, Charles Lytton, Larry Shumsky, Deborah Mayo, John Randolph, James Yardley, Gerri Johns, Curtis Lynch, Rajiv Khosla

Guests: David Ford, Wanda Hankins Dean, Karen Torgersen

  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 March 2, 1998

    Dr. Meszaros noted that the minutes of the March 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.

  3. New Business

    First Reading, Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies Resolution 1997-98C - Expansion of Admissions Criteria for Students from Other than Accredited Schools

    Dr. Cosby Rogers presented the Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies Resolution 1997-98C, Expansion of Admissions Criteria for Students from Other than Accredited Schools for first reading. Dr. Rogers reported that the university has no criteria for accepting students who are home schooled unless they are participating in an accredited program. Karen Torgersen, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, addressed the group. Karen Torgersen explained that this is increasingly becoming an issue as more students are coming from home schools and small academies that are not or may not be accredited. On some occasions students are asked to take a GED; however, they must be 18 to do so. Sample copies of a transcript and a ledger of courses and grades were shared with members present. In situations like these, additional information regarding actual student accomplishments is needed. One possibility would be through SAT IIs. The university wants to be able to offer admission to students from Charter Schools that are not accredited. There was a concern expressed that international students would be put at a disadvantage. A suggestion was made to think about rewording the resolution to accommodate international students. A comment was made that all home schooled students are required to take the Iowa Standard or the Stanford Standard test to see that they did master the information. It was suggested that using this test score and the SAT II test score and then developing a body of data would tell you if a student is capable or not capable of performing. Ms. Torgersen said that SATs only capture English and Math. She also indicated that the Iowa and Stanford tests may not be required outside the state of Virginia. A comment was made that web sites where students have taken courses should be considered in addition to text books. It was also mentioned that there are many different kinds of tests, to which Ms. Torgersen replied that the SAT II is standard across the country. Ms. Torgersen commented that admissions decisions are based on the entire picture, not just individual scores. In response to a question, Ms. Torgersen confirmed that a student can get into Virginia Tech without writing an essay. Virginia Tech has an "optional personal statement," and has never had a requirement to submit an essay for admission to the university. The university is concerned more with the history of academic performance. In 99% of cases the essay does not make difference in the admission decision. A truly outstanding personal statement may be enough to counter a boarderline record. A question was raised concerning the potential of these students, to which Ms. Torgersen replied that there is no way to track these students. They are entered under artificial high school codes. Parents of home schooled students are more likely to talk with the admissions office early to determine what is needed so the student can be prepared. A comment was made that the idea is to accommodate a group of students that have not been accommodated in the past. It was suggested that we start tracking these students once they are admitted and revisit this issue after trying it for a couple of years. A comment was made that something in addition to SATs is needed.

    First Reading, Commission on Student Affairs Resolution 1997-98A - Revisions to the University Policies for Student Life Code of Conduct

    Ms. Kelli Campbell, Vice Chair of Commission on Student Affairs, presented the Commission on Student Affairs Resolution 1997-98A, Revisions to the University Policies for Student Life Code of Conduct for first reading. Ms. Campbell distributed a copy of the current Student Code of Conduct and a copy of the proposed resolution with suggested changes. Both refer to the "Abusive, Disorderly, or Obscene Conduct" policy. Dr. Cathryn Goree, Dean of Students and representative for Dr. Landrum Cross, shared with members that this resolution is the result of the Ebonics e-mail and other issues. Dr. Goree noted that following that incident, Dr. Torgersen had asked that the Student Code of Conduct be reviewed and made clearer. The committee elected on advice of Counsel to create three separate policies. The abusive conduct section had language that was constitutionally unenforceable. The disorderly conduct policy seems workable as it is. The obscene conduct part of the policy contained words that were unenforceable. Obscene and indecent are not the same thing and are used interchangeably. Proposed is a much more tightly worded "Abusive Conduct Policy" separate from the "Disorderly Conduct Policy," and the "Obscene Conduct Policy" became a "Public Nudity Policy." Dr. Goree noted that this has to be approved by the Board of Visitors and in order to get it into upcoming publication this summer it must go to the Board this month. Therefore, waiver of first reading was requested. Dr. Meszaros offered in summary the following: After review of University Policies for Student Life, the Code of Conduct was deemed to be in need of more structured language, as well as the various parts broken apart for greater understanding and clarity. Dr. Goree agreed. A question was asked as to whether or not the intent of some of these policies had been changed. Dr. Goree responded by giving an examples of wording that is not enforceable such as: "comfort," "intimidating," "individual," as opposed to a group. Only a threat against an individual, not a group, can be enforced. The proposed resolution uses wording that tracks state law and makes it more enforceable and more clear. In response to a question regarding the misuse of computer mail, Dr. Goree stated that there is a separate "Computer Misuse Policy" being considered by a different committee. It was noted that Kay Heidbreder, Associate General Counsel, sat on this task force and has approved this resolution. Cathryn Goree noted that it took four months to get information ready to present to University Council. A recommendation to alter wording would need to be reviewed with Kay Heidbreder, given the legal and constitutional implications. In response to a question regarding acts to one's self, Dr. Goree stated that attempted suicide is dealt with through detaining orders, and drug and alcohol addiction has never been handled through Dean of Students. Judicial referral is submitted to the Dean of Students and a hearing is held either by an administrative hearing officer or by a student judicial committee. Typically the request for an administrative hearing officer or a student judicial committee by the person who is charged is honored. This is not handled by the honor system. Concerns were also expressed regarding: 1) acts against one's self and 2) the possibility of charging someone with assault that is not really assault, 3) "ability" under the "Abusive Conduct: Assault."

    A formal motion was made and seconded to waive first reading. A roll call vote was requested. First reading in the Commission on Student Affairs involved a lot of discussion, second reading no discussion and passed unanimously. The motion to waive first reading appeared to have passed by a vote of 23 in favor and 17 opposed and was followed by passage of the resolution; at which point David deWolf reminded Council that bylaws require a majority vote of 2/3 of those present to successfully waive first reading. Carole Nickerson confirmed deWolf's procedural point, and the vote was declared moot. The resolution will be brought for second reading on April 20.

  4. Ongoing Business

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

      Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies, February 9, 1998, presented by Cosby Rogers.

      Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies, February 23, 1998, presented by Cosby Rogers. In regard to "accommodations for students with disabilities," it was noted that there is a recommendation that if a student elects not to have special accommodations, the faculty member should seek to have a written statement signed by the student that they have waived their right to special accommodations.

      Commission on Faculty Affairs, February 13, 1998, presented by Janet Johnson.

      Commission on Faculty Affairs, February 27, 1998, presented by Janet Johnson.

      Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies, February 18, 1998, presented by Robert Brown.

      Commission on Research , February 25, 1998, presented by Janet Johnson.

      In response to a question, it was noted that the course taught is out of biology, but is taught in the center.

      Commission on Student Affairs, February 19, 1998, presented by Kelli Campbell.

      A "thank you" was directed to Dr. Cross regarding his emphasis on the importance of attendance at these meetings, and it was noted that these comments should also be addressed to University Council members.

      Commission on Student Affairs, March 5, 1998, presented by Kelli Campbell.

      Commission on Student Affairs, March 19, 1998, presented by Kelli Campbell.

  5. For Information Only

    Minutes of University Advisory Council on Strategic Budgeting and Planning -- September 8, 1997 - October 9, 1997 - November 13, 1997 - January 8, 1998 - February 12, 1998.

    A question was raised regarding a quorum at the January 8 meeting. Several members responded that while the roll may not show it clearly, there was definitely a quorum present at that meeting. Dr. Meszaros noted that the attendance roll will be checked and minutes will be corrected accordingly.

  6. Announcements

    Dr. Meszaros reminded Council members of the Attorney General's Task Force on Alcohol on College Campuses. Dr. Torgersen, Dr. Cross and others are in a hearing session now. The public hearing tonight will be at 7:00 p.m. in Squires Student Center and all are encouraged to attend.

  7. Adjournment at 4:20 p.m.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Carole Nickerson
    Executive Assistant to the President


    Virginia Tech Governance Information

    URL: [