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Provost lauds governance system

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 26 - April 4, 1996

Speaking on governance to the Research and Graduate Studies Staff Association, Senior Vice President and Provost Peggy Meszaros said that when she arrived at Virginia Tech she was impressed "to see a governance system that was inclusive." But, she said, there needs to be more attention paid to responsibility and to full discussion at the University Council.

She praised the university's governance system, pointing out, "faculty, staff, and students have defined roles; the commissions address the issues; and, there is conversation between groups. The system allows us all to have a voice."

The two keys to making the governance system work, she said, are voice and responsibility.

Responsibility includes taking the time to read the minutes, bringing the appropriate issues to the appropriate commissions, and participating, the provost said. "I'm aware of the time issue-we all feel that we have more than enough to do," but she urged the RGS group to see their jobs as including seeing that the governance system works.

She also chided those who sit on the University Council for quickly approving minutes, and passing policies and resolutions on first and second reading.

"I'd feel better if there were more discussion, were questions raised and comments made-people feeling that they can continue to have a voice at that level," Meszaros said.

But, in general, she praised the governance system at Virginia Tech.

Meszaros reported that "The people at the National Association of Land-Grant Colleges and Universities tell me there's a great deal of interest in university governance systems. And if they are asked where it works well, they direct people to Virginia Tech.

"Our current system has been in place only about two years. It's probably not perfect yet...but it's a good foundation...recognizing that an academic community has many players."

Meszaros also praised the partnerships at Virginia Tech.

"I believe strongly in the partnership we see at Virginia Tech. In the partnership between faculty and staff, I see good support of one another.

"I've never been on a campus that has so many people who are so well prepared. You don't realize how good you are."

She suggested the university's sense of community may have begun in the 1960s. "You had to build yourselves. That allowed us to do some things together. Departments and colleges collaborate in ways that are not possible at other places where people are turf bound instead of pulling together."

"Our final goal is student success," Meszaros said. "If we are together in working for student success, from the entering freshmen through the Ph.D. graduate, everything else will work out," she said. "Students tell me consistently about individual staff members who are helpful. They know your names; they sing your praises."

When Meszaros asked the RGS group "If you could change one thing to make your life easier, what would it be?" the number one answer was "more staff." Comments were made that technology improves communication with staff members, but that technology is not an instant solution. It requires scarce time to learn and to create programs to carry out various tasks.

Asked what they found most satisfying, answers included the positive feedback about the university received from people who have been served, such as research clients, and the life-time friendships formed at the university.

Meszaros said that her satisfaction comes when she sees people and programs group and development, and that even with another 5-percent reduction just past, she does see progress.

She concluded, "I do believe that the administration is here to serve, and I'm glad to be serving you."