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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

Education observes anniversary

By Sandy Broughton

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 20 - February 16, 1995

The College of Education marked the one-year anniversary of its restructuring mandate Friday, Feb. 3, with a state-of-the-college address by interim Dean Wayne Worner, a review of the year's events, and a discussion of the work to come.

"We have come a long way in a year," said Worner. "We have a long way to go if we are to realize the potential of a `College for the 21st Century.' It is one thing to support change as a condition for survival, quite another to implement change in the absence of such an imperative. I believe we have little choice."

It was one year ago, Feb. 1, 1994, that then-Provost E. Fred Carlisle informed the college that it was to cut 20 percent of its $8-million budget over three years. Eight months later the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors unanimously approved the College of Education's restructuring plan.

The college is ahead of schedule in making the transition from four divisions to two interim departments, officially effective in August, 1995. It is anticipated that the college can continue to move at an accelerated pace toward a program-based structure, which will eliminate an entire level of administration.

Twenty-four tenured faculty members of the College of Education have elected to take the university's Individual Transition Option (ITO). Seven others have been transferred to the College of Human Resources, three have taken positions elsewhere in the university, and three have taken positions at other universities, enabling the college to restructure without involuntary separation. "No one is going to lose his or her job because of what happened last February," said Worner, though he pointed out that the need to "hire behind" to meet existing program obligations will create major program challenges.

At the start of restructuring, an agreement was reached to protect the college from further university wide cuts up to 5 percent. On Jan. 17, 1995, the Provost's Office informed the college that it would be subject to an additional 1-percent reversion immediately. "Depending on the impact of future reversions and other unanticipated budget problems, we many have to seek restructuring of our payback schedule," Worner said.

A plan to privatize the productive Adult Education program based in Northern Virginia was rejected by the Board of Visitors. The program will be closed effective March 1. Students currently enrolled who wish to complete their studies will have until July 1, 1998, to finish their research and dissertations.

A committee of six faculty members--three each from the College of Education and the College of Human Resources--continues to discuss closer connections between the two colleges. The committee will issue a report in March on joint efforts already in place as well as possibilities for future collaboration. Both Provost Peggy Meszaros (former dean of the College of Human Resources) and Worner have emphasized that the discussions are focussed on collaboration rather than merger. "Our discussion with folks in the College of Human Resources is not designed to accomplish a merger; it is intended to identify opportunities and barriers to our closer working relationship," Worner wrote in a briefing paper distributed prior to the February 3 meeting. He said discussions of mutually beneficial connections also are under way with the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Business.

"Our primary goal is to help our public schools get better. We are committed to work directly with public-school practitioners and our colleagues in higher education to assist schools in improvement initiatives," said Worner. "Internally, our challenge is to create an environment in which we stimulate change rather than block it, and make cooperation between units much more advantageous than competition."