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University Council hears effects of proposed cuts

By Netta S. Eisler

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 17 - January 26, 1995

President Paul Torgersen and Executive Vice President Minnis Ridenour talked with the University Council about the effect proposed budget cuts would have on the university, as well as their efforts to persuade state legislators to restore funding to Virginia Tech programs.

"Securing restoration of that funding is not going to be easy," Torgersen said. "The governor has taken a stand that government needs to be reduced." He told the council that he, Ridenour, and Director of Government Relations Ralph Byers were meeting with each legislator to present Virginia Tech's case.

In addition to state budget cuts, Ridenour said, the university has experienced a $3.4-million short-fall over the past three years because fewer out-of-state students, who are required to pay 100 percent of their instructional costs, are attending Virginia Tech. "It takes three in-state students to make up for one out-of state student," Ridenour said. The current budget provided for half of those monies, but the university will impose an additional 1-percent budget reversion to recover the remaining $1.7 million.

The council heard the first reading of a Commission on Student Affairs resolution that called for more student participation in the design of forms used for faculty evaluation. The council referred the resolution to the originating commission with instructions to work with the appropriate commissions to move the idea forward.

The council also heard first reading of a resolution from the Commission on Student Affairs asking the university to re-evaluate the present academic calendar, which calls for new semesters to begin on Mondays. The students cited difficulty with making all the necessary preparations to start up that early in the week. The resolution was referred back to the commission for work with the appropriate commissions.

Council approved a Commission on Undergraduate Studies resolution calling for revision of the graduation requirement. The current statement, that "the requirements in effect at the time of graduation apply," would be replaced with "the approved requirements in effect for a student's graduation in a given calendar year apply, and that said requirements shall be approved two years prior to their effective graduation date."

Ridenour then discussed the recent six rounds of state budget reductions. He said that the cuts proposed by Gov. George Allen for Round 5 and 6 together exceed all previous rounds. "To implement Round 5, we have used all the flexibility we have," he said. In addition to stated cuts, Ridenour explained the governor's budget requires the university to cover the cost of proposed faculty and staff raises and benefit cost increases.

Ridenour also noted that funds for Extension and agricultural experiments could be reduced even further if proposed federal cuts are implemented as part of an effort to reduce the size of the Department of Agriculture. He said the university's primary focus is on restoration of cuts to research and Extension "because of the magnitude of cuts."