University Council Minutes

February 15, 1999

Present: Greg Brown, Landrum Cross, Peter Eyre, Eileen Hitchingham, Janet Johnson, Paul Knox, Carole Nickerson, Lisa Wilkes (for Minnis Ridenour), Jean Eversole (for Ray Smoot), Rich Sorensen, Bill Stephenson, Andy Swiger, Paul Torgersen, Richard Bambach, Jim Burger, Madonna Mendoza, Cindy Harrison, Pat Hyer (for Charles Lytton), Robert Tracy, Muzzo Uysal, Nicolaus Tideman, Terry Swecker, Wayne Durham, Paul Metz, Kevin Pelzer, David de Wolf, Joann Boles (for Rosemary Goss), Frank Gwazdauskas, Carola Haas (for John Seiler), Donna Cassell, Anita Haney, Nancy Phillips, Ben Poe, Joel Donahue, Paul Wagner, Jody Olson, Duncan Neasham, Kathleen Knight, Natalie Wilson,

Absent: Bob Bates, Erv Blythe, Ben Dixon, Elyzabeth Holford, Peggy Meszaros, Len Peters, Charles Steger, Tom Tillar, Skip Fuhrman, Norm Marriott, Deborah Mayo, Eliza Tse, Bob Benoit, Bernard Feldman, Sam Hicks, John Randolph, Jamaa Bickley-King, Curtis Lynch, Pete Martens, Peggy Rasnick, Aashish Jain, Sean Blackburn

Guests: David Ford

  1. Call to Order

    Dr. Paul Torgersen 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 January 18, 1999

    Dr. Torgersen noted that the minutes from the January 18, 1999, 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 1998-99C, Resolution Regarding Committee Approval of Theses and Dissertations

    Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies Chair Jim Burger presented Resolution 1998-99C for first reading.

    Chair Burger shared that the resolution removes the option of a committee member to include a written dissenting opinion that is to be bound with the theses or dissertation. Marty Day, Chair of the Committee on Degree Requirements, Standards, Criteria and Academic Policies for the Commission, gave background on discussions regarding this resolution. This resolution changes the printed policy in the catalog that currently appears on page 26 of the Graduate Catalog. The first sentence states it requires unanimous approval and the last sentence states it does not require unanimous approval. The existing policy statement in the catalog will be changed. It also removes the provision that allows dissenting members of the theses or dissertation committees to have a letter bound with the theses or dissertation. This resolution will assure that the published copies of the students' theses or dissertations, both electronic and the copy on university microfilm, adequately record which faculty members approved and which might not have approved. The Graduate School has received in the past some inquiries about the policy of binding letters of dissent. There is no recollection of this being done before. Therefore the sub-committee was asked to consider the policy and decide if it is appropriate. The sub-committee's feeling is that the policy of binding letters of dissent is not appropriate. If a committee member has a concern about a student's thesis or dissertation work, it is hoped that this will be discussed with the student and the advisory committee at an early stage to resolve this constructively. There are times that a committee member has a concern that is not shared by the entire committee and the committee cannot convince their faculty colleague to share their view. This is the reason for the last two phrases of the resolution, to ensure that dissent is duly recorded and is visible to anyone who looks at copies of published theses or dissertations. The sub-committee did not feel, however, that the published dissertation or thesis is the place for the debate that took place within the committee. The only dissent recorded is with the signature. The Electronic Theses and Dissertation Committee is working on the actual technical recording of a signature. In response to a question regarding whether or not a letter of dissent would be available for viewing in the future, Dr. Day noted that nothing in the resolution resolves this issue. Dr. Bambach commented that the resolution is appropriate and that in published journals, dissenting reviewers' comments are not published with the paper, but are recorded as comments, and comments and replies are published. In response to a question regarding the policy of other universities, Dr. Day responded that of the universities reviewed, a vast majority has no written policy to allow the publishing of the dissenting comments with the theses or dissertations. In response to a question regarding having no dissenting votes, Dr. Day responded that this is not an issue with this resolution and the idea of no dissenting votes is just being pondered. It was noted that there are very few dissenting votes, possibly a couple out of hundreds, and not all of these are cases where the faculty member feels a need to bind a letter.

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

  6. For Information Only

    Dr. Torgersen noted that the minutes of the University Advisory Council on Strategic Budgeting and Planning for January 14, 1999 were distributed for information only.

  7. Announcements

    Dr. Torgersen shared with Council that he spent the last two weeks in Richmond and will be there this week as we near the end of the budget cycle. He also commented on an article in the Roanoke Times describing Dr. Covington's trip to Richmond. Both the House and Senate have recommended additional budget appropriations for a variety of state agencies including higher education and specifically colleges and universities including Radford and Virginia Tech. The House appoints six people, three republicans and three democrats, to a Conference Committee, the Senate does the same. The co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Republican John Chichester, is an alumnus of Virginia Tech. Dr. Torgersen met with ten of the twelve committee members and hopes to meet with the other two by the end of the week. Most of the surplus money has been spent. The House is hoping to see a bond bill approved that was passed in the House by an 81 to 18 vote. It includes a number of capital projects including fairly significant projects for Virginia Tech. If passed by the Senate, the Governor has to approve, and if approved it comes up for referendum in November. In the Senate some generally modest capital projects are called for, some for Virginia Tech. A newly appointed alumnus to the Appropriations Committee is Jack Rollison from Woodbridge. The Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee are important committees to the budget process. Dr. Torgersen commented on the difficulty of managing funding requests that are not central to our legislative agenda.

  8. Discussion (see Attachement for additional details.)

    The University Libraries in the Digital Age - Dr. Eileen Hitchingham Dr. Hitchingham distributed and reviewed with Council Members information about library access. White section - Data Points. Yellow section -Database Availability. Blue section - Subject Resource Guides and Library Contacts. Dr. Hitchingham reviewed a chart depicting the Virginia Tech library borrowing by type of user. The land-grant role is taken very seriously. Virginia Tech ranks in the top 50 research institutions. Virginia Tech's library ranks 79 out of 110 in total expenditures. We spend almost 50% of the dollars available to us on resources; our colleagues might spend a third for resources. Almost two years ago we were number 51 in overall spending for materials and number 41 in expenditures for serial journals type publications. We are 102 out of 110 in our staff size. The library web page ( is the best place to begin to locate Virginia Tech library information. The library catalog is now named Addison, named after the first Virginia Tech student. Addison and VTLS is the same. With our system as large as it is, it is important to make students feel comfortable with the system. Dr. Hitchingham reviewed the library web page with Council Members, and the importance of working with extended campus users. Dr. Hitchingham reviewed the available databases and meanings of symbols used with this information. Not only users, but also users such as those on America On Line can access these resources. An item on the agenda is funding for VIVA, the virtual Library of Virginia. With $10 million in resources, we buy as a consortium and make information and materials available through all the academic higher education institutions in the state. We also supplement this with materials that are unique to Virginia Tech. Associations Unlimited is a publication that lists more than 144,000 regional, state and national publications. The Encyclopaedia Britannica is called Britannica Online. With 2000 students in Northern Virginia, Abingdon and Hampton Rhodes, we need to move to digital resources. It was noted that each college has one or more college librarians. In closing Dr. Hitchingham noted that the Electronic Thesis is looked at with lots of interest and is the most highly hit upon web site.

  9. Adjournment

    The meeting was adjourned at 4:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Carole Nickerson
Executive Assistant to the President


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