October 4, 1999
Present: Bob Bates, Greg Brown, Landrum Cross, Ben Dixon, Peter Eyre, Eileen Hitchingham, Jennie Reilly, Dianne Yardley (for Janet Johnson), Paul Knox, Peggy Meszaros, Carole Nickerson, John Eaton (for Len Peters), Lisa Wilkes (for Minnis Ridenour), Ray Smoot, Rich Sorensen, Charles Steger, Andy Swiger, Paul Torgersen, Cindy Harrison, Pat Hyer, Anne Zajac (for Mitzi Vernon), Julia Beamish, Irene Leech, Terry Herdman, Sean Blackburn, Butch Nunnally (for Jay Sullivan), Richard Bambach, Skip Fuhrman, Kamal Rojiani, Paul Metz, Tim Pratt, John Hillison, Rebecca Crittenden, Pat Devens, Suzanne Murrmann, John Seiler, Rodney Gaines, Pete Martens, Anita Haney, Aaron Hill, Delbert Jones, Kimberly DeGuise, Tomoya Ochinero, Mike Whipple, Shawn Breck, Drew Lichtenberger, Taj Mahon-Haft, Aaron McClung, Laurie Steneck, Peter Zippelius
Absent: Erv Blythe, Bill Stephenson, Tom Tillar, Deborah Mayo, Dan Connolly, John Randolph, Sam Hicks, Jovette Gadson, Donna Cassell, Bernard Feldman, Benjamin Poe,
A motion was made and seconded to adopt the agenda. The motion carried.
Dr. Torgersen noted that the minutes from the September 20, 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. (/)
Update on Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission - Ralph Byers, Director of Government Relations
Mr. Ralph Byers gave an update on the Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education. Governor Gilmore issued an executive order on January 17, 1998, for the establishment of this committee and appointed the committee on June 30, 1998. The committee met for the first time on August 25, 1998. There are 39 members. One member is a graduate of Virginia Tech - John Rocovich - who is on our Board of Visitors from Roanoke. Other members include Elizabeth McClanahan from Abingdon, two people from Roanoke, lawyers from the Richmond and Northern Virginia area, business people and assorted others.
The first item on the Commission's agenda was to study the funding of higher education. The first two or three meetings included a review of varying interpretations of how well higher education is funded in Virginia. An interim report was distributed on December 31 and included funding information: the presentation of data in that report is not wholly satisfactory to the colleges and universities. At the February meeting former SCHEV Director Bill Allen gave a presentation on general education. The Commission has also covered faculty productivity, tenure, faculty salaries, student outcomes, grade inflation, outcome measurement. The Commission met in May at William and Mary. This meeting included a panel of finance officers, and Minnis Ridenour was on the panel. Discussion included planning processes at different institutions. In July there was a two-day meeting in Charlottesville regarding funding formulas. Senator Chichester and Delegate Diamonstein, who chair the General Assembly Joint Committee on Higher Education Funding, attended this meeting. They stated that we need a new set of rational principles for distributing money in higher education. The General Assembly has hired an outside consultant to help develop a rational plan. Performance funding may be adopted where certain standards and measurements will have to meet.
The Commission met again on September 8, 1999, regarding governance and the responsibilities of the members of the Boards of Visitors. A meeting last week in Norfolk dealt with distance learning and student financial aid. Another meeting is scheduled in October to cover research. John Rocovich has been working to make sure the missions of the research universities get recognized by this Commission.
With a report due in January and the Governor's budget being put together now, it will probably be another year before a new system of funding can be implemented. Accountability, affordability, and quality will most likely be the key topics of the report.
Dr. Torgersen added that there is a perennial issue here concerning the status of universities - that is, whether they are to be treated solely as executive branch agencies. Governors tend to want to control higher education, while legislators believe that the institutions should have direct access to the General Assembly to some extent.
Regarding a statement about the reporting lines of the Board of Visitors, Ralph Byers noted that the statutes of virtually all the institutions, including Virginia Tech, state very clearly that the Boards of Visitors shall at all times be under the control of the General Assembly.
Steve Janosik in the Department of Teaching and Learning has a web page for the Education Policy Institute that includes agendas for these meetings and a number of the important documents.
In response to a question regarding the hiring of outside contractors, Ralph Byers noted that there has not been anything specific discussed by the Commission.
Ralph Byers expressed appreciation for the work Minnis Ridenour has done to help the Commission understand the complexity of higher education. The Commission's report will be more constructive in the end due to the hard work of Mr. Ridenour, Dwight Shelton, and their staff.
Richard Bambach complimented the Virginia Tech administration for their relationship with our Board of Visitors. Our BOV members are true supporters of Virginia Tech.
Dr. Torgersen adjourned the meeting at 3:40 p.m.
Executive Assistant to the President
Virginia Tech Governance Information URL: /uc9900/ucm99-10-14.html