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Torgersen discusses issues with Faculty Senate members

By John Ashby

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 14 - December 5, 1996

President Paul Torgersen met with members of the Faculty Senate at the November meeting, and discussed several items of current interest on campus, while Associate Provost Pat Hyer briefed senators on severe-sanctions discussions in the Commission on Faculty Affairs (CFA).

Torgersen said problems with the university's athletic programs this year concerned him because this [the recently reported indictments stemming from a fight in August allegedly involving several football players] "is the last of a series of incidents dating back more than a year." Torgersen said the cases involving football players will probably be tried next spring, and he reminded the senators that the players not had their day in court.

Torgersen said he had received "six or seven letters" on the issue, and "most people have been supportive" of the actions taken in the matter. He said that campus judicial action (including expulsion) could be taken against students found guilty of the criminal charges. "Certainly, felony is a serious matter," he said.

When asked if coaches should be held responsible for the actions of the athletes, Torgersen said, "I haven't thought about that. I know the coaches feel very bad about the problem."

Torgersen briefly discussed the global community in Northern Virginia which news reports have linked to the university. "We were approached two-and-a-half years ago by a group which wanted to build a high-tech global village with Virginia Tech as a hub." The condition for Tech's inclusion in the planning was that the plan be kept secret, Torgersen said. "We're still not sure it's going to happen. We don't expect it to take away any money from the university. I wasn't comfortable with the secrecy, but I didn't want us to lose out to another university."

Torgersen said he expected to continue spending a lot of time fund raising and working with state legislators in support of the university. In the longer term, he said he would like to see Virginia Tech positioned as the model land-grant university, "with a more practical education-our graduates using the university as a ladder for upward mobility."

In other business, Hyer said the CFA was looking at a severe-sanctions policy, "starting from scratch," and separate from the post-tenure-review policy. Senators expressed concern over whether faculty members would determine what the sanctions would be, and whether they would be imposed. The need for such a policy was questioned, as was the status of a policy in regard to existing state and federal laws and regulations. Hyer said the senate's concerns would be communicated to the CFA in its ongoing discussion of a severe-sanctions policy.