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Faculty Senate open meeting focuses on College of Education merger

By Netta S. Smith

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 13 - November 16, 1995

Questions about a proposal to move the College of Education into another academic college dominated last week's Faculty Senate "Meetings with..." program. President Paul Torgersen was the invited guest, answering questions posed by the more than 125 faculty and staff members in attendance.

In response to a question asking what was happening with the College of Education, the president said that he had sent a memo to faculty members last Wednesday, Nov. 8, (Please see text of memo on page 1) in which he "proposed that the administrative unit defined as the dean's office be dissolved and the entire college be moved" to another college.

When asked how the decision will be made, Torgersen said, "I'm going to explain to the College of Education my plan for an administrative change." He added that he "will ask them for ideas on how to implement it."

One questioner asked whether or not the Council on Strategic Budget and Planning was involved, and, if not, why not. The president responded, "They will be."

When asked for his opinion about the need for a public university in Roanoke, Torgersen said, "It's awkward to be opposed to a university, but I have said fairly often that we are not supportive of a public university in Roanoke." He added that he thought that support for such an institution was "fairly narrow in scope."

A faculty member described a recent trip to visit a research-grant sponsor. The professor stayed in the hotel recommended by his host, but was not compensated for the full amount of his bill because it exceeded the state maximum allowance. He asked the president about the "bean-counting" mentality that forces the university to conform to such state guidelines. "We have limitations," Torgersen replied. "There is no way it will be changed in the foreseeable future."

In response to a question about the place of university outreach in the evolving university plan, especially the phrase stating that we are going to be "a model land-grant university of the future," Torgersen said that he found two major flaws in the university plan from 1990-95. He said it was "written in very general terms" and was "in favor of everything." He was asked by the Board of Visitors to put together a plan for 1996-2000. "I met with the academic deans a few days ago to share impressions I had," he said. He also has spent time with Provost Peggy Meszaros. "She is in a sense more focused on outreach than I," he said. As far as the plan is concerned, "Extension is pretty much set," he said. The other areas of outreach, such as continuing education and the Hotel Roanoke Conference Center, "have not yet been addressed."

When asked what was his "best guess about additional funds from the General Assembly," Torgersen said he felt encouraged because funding for education was a campaign platform on which many legislators ran. He noted that we have a problem because "we've reached the end of the line in terms of tuition increases."

The president was asked whether the Campaign for Virginia Tech will hurt our chances of getting more funding from the General Assembly. "I would think they would think this is a positive step," Torgersen replied. "This school is generally held in high regard around the commonwealth. We have a reputation for treating our students well and going about our business."

A member of the College of Agriculture asked about the fact that, this year, the administration "singled out the Agricultural Experiment Stations and Extension for different types of budgets" and asked if the university planned to do anything about it. Torgersen said we were told by the state to do this, and that "there are issues that are worth contesting and issues not worth contesting. We can't contest them all."

Torgersen added that "we're looking at privatization" and that "we have received authorization to decentralize some of our activities."

In response to a question about the role of the Board of Visitors, Torgersen said "they are appointed by the governor and they are the governing body." He said that "each member of the board has great affection for this university." Their responsibility is in personnel matters, budget matters, salaries, and legal actions.