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Staff Senate elects VP

By Netta S. Smith

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 10 - October 26, 1995

Valerie Myers, program support technician in the Department of Dairy Science, was elected vice president of the Staff Senate at the group's October meeting.

Myers replaces Wyatt Sasser, who assumed the presidency when former president Fred Phillips left his classified staff job. She previously served as Staff Senate secretary for two years, has served on college-level committees and commissions, and currently serves on the Senate Communications Committee and the University Council. As vice president, Myers will chair the Commission on Classified Staff Affairs.

Larry Moore spoke to the senate about the university governance system. He said the current system grew out of a self study in 1989. At that time, the classified staff was not included in university governance.

"We have developed a system that makes classified staff members full partners in university governance," Moore said. Staff members serve on commissions and committees and on the Advisory Council on Strategic Budgeting and Planning.

"If it wasn't for serving on those commissions and committees, and getting information about what they're doing out to staff members that way, we'd still be learning about things through Spectrum instead of being there," Moore said.

Moore reminded the Staff Senate that it is "equal to the Faculty Senate. You need to be the watchdogs of the university," he said. As Virginia Tech is becoming more and more independent and more self-regulating, shared governance becomes more important, he said.

Minutes of all commissions and committees must be approved through the system. "This means no groups are out there free-wheeling any more," Moore said. All matters of academic policy must go through a number of steps in the forms of a resolution, so "something can't slip through the system any more," he added.

Ultimately, Moore said, the "president has absolute control. But I've never known a president in my 31 years here who didn't accept what the University Council voted for."

Moore reminded Staff Senate that it is relatively new, having been officially recognized in 1992. "That's why we must keep it strong," he said. He praised senators for their meeting time-5:30 p.m. "I notice that you don't (meet) during regular work hours-you do it after work. I think that's commendable," he said.

Senator Widget Shannon asked at what point the president could decide he wanted to make a policy that only requires a decision from him. Moore responded, "I don't think a president would make a decision on academic policy that way."

When asked what academic policy is, Moore said, "It's those matters of concern to the university community that directly affect us in matters related to our mission of teaching, research, and public service."

Senator Tony Sutphin said the same people seem to be involved in staff governance, while those not involved "are the ones complaining. How can we get more people involved?"

Moore said that the key is to sell the system to the supervisors, then sell the idea to classified staff and students. "One-on-one interaction is important, as well as the persuasion of deans and the president." He added that he would "encourage academic and administrative unit leaders to support it."

He added that getting information out is very important, and that "Spectrum has been actively involved in the process of taking everything that's going on in governance and getting the information out."

Finally, Moore reminded the senate to focus on a few things it can accomplish, and get those things done.

In other business, Sasser told the senate that he has received a copy of the restructuring update report.

Sasser also reported that the Advisory Council on Strategic Budget and Planning had met. The rector of the Board of Visitors has told University President Paul Torgersen that "he wants the restructuring plan revisited by the end of his term," which is up this year. Sasser said the restructuring plan "will have an impact on how we proceed" in the future.