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Task force examining Tech's outreach mission

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 4 - September 15, 1994

A task force of faculty members and administrators has been appointed to examine the university's outreach mission and to suggest ways to promote outreach within the university community.

Task force members were appointed by Provost Fred Carlisle, who said he wants it "to formulate a stronger conceptual and pragmatic rationale for outreach programs for Virginia Tech." He said he also wants the group "to assess the status of outreach programming; scan the challenges, opportunities, and trends affecting outreach programs; and define ways to eliminate barriers and constraints to faculty involvement in outreach activities."

Patrick R. Liverpool, vice provost for University Outreach and International Programs, said the work of the task force is expected "to lead to a sharper delineation and focus of the university's outreach efforts, a greater involvement by members of the university community in those efforts, and a revitalization of the university's commitment to economic development and service to the commonwealth and the world at large."

He said the appointment of the task force "is part of an ongoing process to advance outreach programs as an invaluable dimension of the university's mission."

Greg Brown, dean of the College of Forestry and Wildlife Resources, and John Randolph, professor of urban affairs and planning, co-chairs of the task force, said the group tentatively plans to organize subcommittees within the one larger task force to focus on respective aspects of outreach. The subcommittees will have hearings with faculty/staff/student groups within the university and will survey or meet with external groups--constituent groups and public-interest groups, for example.

The co-chairs said the task force will compile information from other major universities relative to their outreach efforts. This information, they said, will be used for benchmarking.

In an initial planning meeting September 6, the task force heard Frank Fear of Michigan State and Jeanne Markell of the University of Minnesota describe the processes they used to define the outreach mission at their respective universities. Fear told the group that the new emphasis on outreach "is part of a national movement." Michigan State, Minnesota, and Oregon State are recognized leaders in that movement.

Other members of the task force are Dave Barrett, director of 4-H Programs; Tony Distler, associate dean and alumni distinguished professor in the College of Arts and Sciences; Susan Eriksson, associate professor and head of the Museum of Geological Sciences; Larry French, professor of management and interim director of the Northern Virginia Graduate Center; Randy Grayson, professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science; Tom Johnson, professor of agricultural and applied economics; Bob Martin, hospital director in the College of Veterinary Medicine; Roberta Minish, associate dean in the College of Human Resources; Kent Murrman, associate professor of management; John Novak, endowed professor of civil engineering; and Daisy Stewart, division director of vocational and technical education. President Emeritus William E. Lavery serves as advisor.

The group will hold its next meeting on September 15.

University Outreach and International Programs is comprised of Public Service Programs, Continuing Education Programs, International Research and Development, and International Academic Programs. Public Service Programs, Continuing Education Programs, and International Research and Development comprise the outreach segment of the division.