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Council kicks off new year

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 07 - October 5, 1995

University President Paul Torgersen began the University Council's first meeting of the 1995-96 academic year September 18 by introducing council members, including off-campus representative Kay Burke, Extension agent in Amelia who joins the council via teleconferencing equipment.

Ezra Brown, chairman of the Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies, presented Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies, Resolution 95-96A, Five Year Bachelor/Master's Degree, for first reading. Brown explained that this resolution was originated by the University Honors Program and the College of Arts and Sciences in collaboration with the Commission on Undergraduate Studies and Policies. It is designed to allow undergraduate students who meet specific requirements to earn their bachelor/master's degree in five years. After explaining the purpose of the resolution, Brown invited members to send inquiries about this resolution to either him or Jack Dudley, University Honors Program.

In the absence of Jim McKenna, chairman of the Commission on Student Affairs, Shiloh Bates, president of the Student Government Association, presented Commission on Student Affairs Resolution 1995-96A, Chairperson Election, for first reading. Bates explained that this resolution is designed to make a University Constitution and Bylaws change that would expand the group of people eligible for chairperson of the Commission on Student Affairs to include non-administrative faculty and staff and graduate and undergraduate student members.

Torgersen offered observations regarding events across the commonwealth and he expressed his pleasure at being invited by Tom Sherman, president of Faulty Senate, to speak to the Faculty Senate on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 1995.

Next, Torgersen gave a brief update on the formal capital campaign kickoff, Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Hotel Roanoke. He indicated that the kickoff event went very well, the goal of $250 million was announced, and that $150 million has already been received in pledges and gifts. Torgersen said the campaign will conclude in June 1998, and one of the long-term permanent effects of the campaign will be an increased "base of giving."

Sherman questioned what the money raised in the campaign would be used for. Charles Steger, vice president for development, responded by proposing to provide the University Case Statement, which sets forth the needs of each college, to each member of the University Council at the next meeting.

Steger also will bring copies of a newspaper supplement designed to maximize the impact of the campaign and Virginia Tech's position. This supplement was placed in 900,000 newspapers across Virginia. Also at the next meeting, he will present a 10-minute video designed to answer questions regarding the campaign and its goals.

Regarding the political scene in Virginia, Torgersen indicated that although it is very complicated, he feels optimistic about the initiatives being coordinated by the Business Higher Education Council. Torgersen feels that recent newspaper articles such as "Education emerging as a top issue" are an excellent indicator of public sentiment on the importance of higher education. He pointed out that the Business Higher Education Council, which includes the top 40 business leaders in Virginia, is taking a stand on support of higher education, and asking both incumbents and individuals seeking incumbency to take a pledge in support of higher education. Many are taking the pledge.

Torgersen concluded the meeting by saying that he continues to spend time visiting legislators and working toward helping a larger proportion of the electorate understand that higher education has undergone major restructuring, has not received funding, slipped to 42nd or 43rd place in per-student support, and that if we continue along this path, Virginia's higher education will begin to look like that of states we would not want to be compared with.