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Holford addresses Faculty, Staff senates

By John Ashby

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 23 - March 5, 1998

Elizabeth Holford, director of the Equal Opportunity--Affirmative Action Office on campus, described to senators the Workgroup on Campus Climate she is chairing at the February meeting of the Faculty Senate.
Holford said the main objective of the group is to assess the climate for women and minority groups on campus. The three main assessment areas, she said, are status indicators, programs, and policy review. Assessing status indicators involves compiling information already available; program assessment will examine programs established to affect the campus climate and their effectiveness; and policy review will involve surveying members of the campus community to assess the current climate for women and minority members.
Holford said President Paul Torgersen and Provost Peggy Meszaros have asked for an initial report by the end of June.
In other business, SGA President Steve Schneider described the student organization's faculty evaluations on the internet. The evaluations, which include comments on individual faculty members, were criticized by senators who felt the comments were unduly personal.
Schneider said, "Comments on professors and courses enable students to make course decisions. Students who use the evaluation service are cautioned not to make slanderous remarks, Schneider said, "but we do not screen the comments."
Also speaking at the meeting was Cathy Jacobs who described the services offered by Tech's Office of Family Support, which is part of Personnel Services.
Following discussion of the current library policy limiting the amount of time faculty members may keep a book in their possession, senators voted to ask for a minimum of 270 days during which faculty members could keep a book
By Jill Elswick

January's Staff Senate meeting was canceled due to severe weather. At February's meeting, the Staff Senate heard three guest speakers.
Linda Woodard, director of personnel services, announced that Columbia hospitals Montgomery Regional and Pulaski Community have been confirmed as participants in Trigon's KeyCare network through the summer of 1999. Lewis-Gale Medical Center will be available to Trigon customers through July 31, 1998. Questions should be directed to the Student Health Insurance Office at 1-6226.
Woodard also announced that Representative Jim Shuler has put forth two bills to the state legislature, one proposing a health plan for graduate students and one proposing a health plan for part-time state-agency employees.
Doug Martin, human resources manager, reported on a Senate bill to establish sick leave, family and personal leave, and short-term and long-term disability for staff and faculty members enrolled in the Virginia Retirement System. Martin said the plan would not affect annual leave.
Elyzabeth Holford, director of EOAA, spoke about the Workgroup on Campus Climate, which consists of eight people appointed by President Paul Torgersen to analyze campus-climate issues. The workgroup will send a survey regarding climate to all faculty and staff members this month. Results of the workgroup's research, which includes an examination of campus policies and programs, will be compared to a peer group of other universities. Questions may be addressed to holford@vt.edu.
It was also announced at the Staff Senate meeting that nominations for vacancies on councils, commissions, and committees for 1998-99 will be taken at the March meeting. Also, the McComas Leadership Seminar date was announced to be held April 16; the title of the seminar will be "Roots to the Future: Staff Senate and Shared Governance: 1988, 1998, 2008."