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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Senate Achievements Noted

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 31 - May 22, 1997

April 29, 1997

Dear Senators:

Although we do not have a tradition of writing a formal annual report, I believe that your accomplishments during the past year are so remarkable that I want to acknowledge them in this letter. I do this in part to promote continuity in our future efforts and in part to let a variety of key actors both on and on campus know what we have collectively achieved. For space reasons and because to include is always to exclude, I have not attempted to name all the officers, cabinet members, working group heads and other leaders, and committee chairs who were the chief instruments of our success. I am grateful, as I know you all are, for their leadership.

Working Groups

Again this year, the greatest share of senate accomplishment came from the working groups we established in August. Here are the specifics.

The Working Group on Public Understanding and Legislative Support:

* sponsored a Media Relations Workshop, given by the University Relations Office, which was attended by more than 80 faculty and staff members and graduate students;

* secured the future services of a part-time information officer;

* made specific plans for and began implementation of a promotional flyer about Tech faculty members, a Faculty Speakers Bureau, widely distributed op-eds, and other mechanisms to inform our many publics about the work of the faculty;

* met with three members of the General Assembly to discuss issues of concern and receive advice about legislative relations;

* sponsored a meeting at the Hotel Roanoke with representatives from 14 Faculty Senates around the state, leading to subsequent planning sessions towards a collectively organized legislative presence for the faculty members of Virginia's public colleges and universities. Representatives from senior institutions, colleges, and community colleges were strong in their support of this Virginia Tech initiative, which has since been unanimously endorsed by the Faculty Senate of Virginia;

* sponsored a change in the senate by-laws to establish permanent senate committees on media relations and on legislative support.

The Working Group on Institutional Definition:

* wrote a letter which will be distributed to all incoming freshmen in the senate's name, welcoming them to campus, stating faculty expectations, and providing specific guidance on achieving academic success;

* began a videotape presentation of the same themes;

* made plans to involve and train faculty representatives to participate in recruitment events in strategically targeted high schools and community colleges.

The Working Group on Faculty Affairs:

* served as a sounding board and partner with the Commission on Faculty Affairs to develop a severe-sanctions policy providing a mid-ground disciplinary alternative in cases of Post Tenure Review

* identified for future study and action a specific list of concerns including policies for administrative appointment and review and for handling potential problems arising in sponsored research

Issues of Community Concern

The senate expressed its vigorous disapproval of violent and lawless actions on campus, particularly related to an embarrassing sequence of incidents involving student athletes, and its determination that the problem be solved. Subsequent university planning in which the senate president was an invited participant led to the development of new policies involving recruitment, education, counseling, and sanctions for violators.

The Senate also took positions on a variety of issues including library policies. Its voice was instrumental in devising an alternative faculty-staff ID. As a result of efforts begun in the 1995/96 senate, the University Council revised its bylaws so as to bring increased focus and direction to its efforts and to improve its communication with the wider university community.

Communications

The senate established an irregular Spectrum column for communicating senate news or discussing critical issues. Together with the Staff Senate, we sponsored open forums with four key university leaders. We held three breakfast discussions with the presidents of the faculty associations, one of which was a roundtable discussion of the elements of a successful faculty association, and another of which was a precursor to the Media Relations Workshop. The senate's home page was further developed. Past presidents of the senate were added to the listserv.

Other

The senate strengthened its practice of devoting the initial meeting to the establishment of a year-long agenda and the distribution of members into working groups charged to carry out the senate's work in focused areas. The bylaws were amended to stabilize senate size while maintaining appropriate representation among the colleges and to extend where necessary the term of the immediate past president by one year. The senate president and vice president served in numerous ex officio governance capacities, while numerous other senators and past senators served on committees and commissions throughout the governance structure.

The three committees which the senate appoints but whose charge extends outside senate business--Reconciliation, Review, and Faculty Ethics--handled a number of cases in a discrete, professional, and constructive manner, leading to positive outcomes. The Ethics Committee saw through the governance structure a change in the Faculty Ethics Policy which represented several years' work.

With the election of Skip Fuhrman, Sigrid Gustafson, and Kerry Redican as our officers, and with a strong slate of representatives to the Faculty Senate of Virginia, we are well-positioned to continue to strengthen the role of our faculty, to increase public understanding of and support for its efforts, and to make a wide range of contributions to our university and the public, which as our motto reminds us, it is our duty and privilege to serve. I thank you all sincerely for your efforts and accomplishments this past year.

Sincerely,

Paul Metz, president