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Education seeking comments

By Sandy Broughton

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 2 - September 1, 1994

The university-level review of the College of Education restructuring plan began yesterday with an informational session attended by members of the University Advisory Council on Strategic Budget and Planning, four commissions identified as particularly relevant to the situation, and the College of Education's Planning Steering Committee.

Representatives of the commissions on Faculty Affairs, Staff Affairs, Undergraduate Studies and Policies, and Graduate Studies and Policies heard interim Dean Wayne Worner explain the restructuring plan, which fulfills the Phase II-mandated 20-percent reduction in the college's $8 million budget over the next three years, sharpens the college's focus, and addresses the challenges of education in the 21st century.

The initial informational session is to be followed by weekly meetings in which the Budget and Planning Commission will consider, among other things, written comments from any interested party. An open session for those who would like to hear details of the College of Education restructuring plan from Worner will be held Friday, Sept. 16 at 1 p.m. in Donaldson Brown Center conference room A.

Associate Provost Pat Hyer emphasized that "this is an information session, not a hearing. Written comments are encouraged and should be addressed to the Budget and Planning committee directly." Copies of the plan are available through the Provost's Office and can be requested by calling 1-6122 or via e-mail at HYERP@vt.edu. Written comments should be sent to the Budget and Planning Committee, c/o Pat Hyer, Provost's Office, mail code 0132. The deadline for written comments is September 23.

To accomplish the $1.6-million budget reduction by 1997, three strategies are outlined in the College of Education restructuring plan: elimination of five of the college's programs, reduction of administrative costs and personnel, and downsizing of most other programs.

According to Worner, necessary reductions in faculty and staff positions will not require involuntary termination procedures outlined in the RIF (reduction in force) policy. A 20-percent reduction in the existing 107 faculty positions would mean elimination of 22 positions. To date, 13 faculty members have either transferred within the university or taken positions elsewhere. Twenty-seven faculty members are interested in the university's ITO (individual transition option) plan. The restructuring plan is designed to free nearly 20 additional positions to allow the college the flexibility to redistribute resources according to newly defined priorities. To fill vacancies in faculty positions, Worner says the college will employ adjunct and temporary (short-term) hires until the program and staffing needs of the college are more clearly defined.

The mandated 20-percent budget reduction will translate into roughly 5.5 secretarial positions. Three positions have already been freed. Worner believes the college will likely lose the additional 2.5 positions through attrition over the three-year implementation period. Vacant positions will either be frozen or filled on a restricted basis to allow for maximum security of employees during restructuring.

The University Advisory Council on Strategic Budget and Planning is the coordinating body for reviewing proposals for reduction in force, according to a resolution passed last spring by the University Council. The university-level review process will culminate in a set of recommendations for the University Council not later than mid-October. President Paul Torgersen will appoint an ad-hoc committee to review rights, privileges, and interests of affected faculty members. The University Council will then vote on the recommendations and the ad-hoc committee will forward its recommendations to Torgersen. He will forward his recommendations to the Board of Visitors in February 1995.