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Self-study committee will examine Extension mission

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 32 - May 11, 1995

President Paul Torgersen and Provost Peggy Meszaros have appointed the Self-Study Review Committee for Experiment Station Research and Cooperative Extension.

The self study arose out of legislation adopted in the 1995 General Assembly. The specific language of the legislation emphasized a priority for programs and services comprised in the original mission, especially agricultural programs at the local level. The legislation also emphasized that information technology should be used in delivering programs.

While $12.1 million was restored to the Cooperative Extension and Agriculture Research and Extension Centers budgets, $2.3 million was not restored. The 1995 legislation directed that none of this reduction should be directed to Agriculture and Natural Resources, Home Economics and 4-H programs of Cooperative Extension. Full funding was restored to the Agriculture Research and Extension Centers.

The Self-Study Committee has met twice, with an organizational meeting on April 26, and a meeting on May 2 with Torgersen and Meszaros, who discussed the charge with the committee. The charge is comprised of four distinct areas for review: program and project content, program delivery, resources, and structure.

An advisory committee of external stakeholders will be formed to provide input and act as a sounding board as the Self-Study Committee proceeds with the task of collecting and analyzing information and producing a report. A preliminary report is due to Torgersen and Meszaros by August 1.

The committee expects its work will be publicized through the media and electronic networks. Meeting highlights will be placed on the VT Gopher and on the Extension networks. The committee is co-chaired by Judy Burtner, Extension specialist, Organization Development and John Randolph, professor, Urban Affairs and Planning. Other committee members include Erv Blythe, vice president, Information Systems; Richard Booker, assistant administrator, Programs; Jeanette Bowker, department head, HIDM; Beverly Butterfield, Extension agent, Home Economics; Harold Jerrell, unit director, Lee County Cooperative Extension Office; James Johnson, Extension specialist, Forest Biology; Robert Martin, director, Veterinary Teaching Hospital; Lester Myers, professor, Agricultural and Applied Economics; Wes Saxon, 4-H volunteer leader; Charlie Stott, public relations coordinator; and an additional member representing the Agricultural Experiment Station/Production Agriculture. Ralph Byers, director, Government Relations; Gerald Jubb, associate director, Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station; and Judith Jones, associate director, Field Operations and Administration will act as consultants to the committee.

The charge to the committee is:

To study the programs and project content, the delivery of the programs, and the administration of the Extension/Research Missions to recommend a restructuring plan for Extension and Research that reduces costs and fulfills the missions more effectively and efficiently. Specifically the restructuring should focus on the original mission; especially agricultural programs, home economics and 4-H at the local level, use information technology in delivery of programs, place more resources in the field, explore alternatives for increasing non-General-Fund revenues in Cooperative Extension and Agriculture Experiment Stations, and review administrative operations.