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Faculty forum to address critical issues in state higher education

By Louis Gwin

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 04 - September 18, 1997

An October 2 public forum on critical issues facing higher education in Virginia will feature one or more of the state's major gubernatorial candidates, state legislators, business leaders, faculty members and administrators from Virginia's two- and four-year colleges and universities.

The all-day forum, to be held at the Hotel Roanoke, is sponsored by the Faculty Senate of Virginia and the faculty senates of several Virginia colleges and universities, including Virginia Tech and Virginia Commonwealth University. The program will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Former Virginia Governor Gerald Baliles will give the luncheon address. The registration fee is $20, which includes the cost of the luncheon; cost for students is $10.

Lt. Gov. Don Beyer, the Democratic candidate for governor, has accepted an invitation to speak at the forum and former state Attorney General Jim Gilmore, the Republican candidate, has also been invited.

In the afternoon, there will be a panel discussion that will feature State Council of Higher Education Chair Elizabeth McClanahan, State Senator John Chichester of Fredericksburg, State Senator Emily Couric of Charlottesville, and Delegate Ted Bennett of Halifax.

Virginia Tech President Paul Torgersen and Piedmont Community College President Deborah DiCroce will open the conference program. Don Finley, executive director of the Business Higher Education Council, will also speak.

The theme for the forum is "Higher Education: Critical Issues for Virginia's Next Generation." Participants will address a variety of issues that will affect the future of higher education in Virginia, including funding, teaching and learning, research, and the value of a college/university education.

The forum is not a gubernatorial debate. It is described as an open and candid discussion to define and express issues affecting the future of higher education in Virginia with opportunity for questions and comments from the audience. Participants are expected to identify issues they see as most important to address in the future as well as the role higher education will play to prepare Virginia's youth for the 21st century.

"This is a critical time for higher education in Virginia," said Tom Sherman, professor of education at Virginia Tech and president of the Faculty Senate of Virginia, which is composed of representatives from institutions of higher education throughout the state.

"This election will have great impact on higher education," Sherman said. "We think it is both timely and appropriate to create an environment where the issues affecting Virginia's colleges and universities can be productively discussed."

To register for the forum, contact Brenda Husser at 1-6878 or bhusser@vt.edu on or before September 25.