Research faculty members at Virginia Tech have a new channel to take part in university governance.

University Council passed a resolution allowing the Virginia Tech Commission on Research to include three new representatives — two research faculty members and a postdoctoral associate.

About 1,600 tenured and teaching faculty members are represented on the commission, which is headed by the Office of the Vice President for Research and comprises faculty members, deans, department administrators, and others.

With the resolution, an additional 750 faculty members — researchers who strictly focus on creating knowledge, solving problems, and fulfilling research contracts — will be able to nominate and elect two representatives.

Postdoctoral associates will be able to nominate and elect a single representative.

With increasingly heightened recruitment of research faculty and postdoctoral associates, representation is important, officials said.

“The numbers of our postdoctoral associates and research faculty members must increase in order for Virginia Tech to grow its research expenditures from $496.2 million to its goal of $680 million,” said Jesus M. de la Garza, the Vecellio Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who chairs the Commission on Research and introduced the resolution to the University Council. “We need to make sure we include their representation in governance, and a logical place is with the Commission on Research.”

The action accomplishes a goal recommended in 2012 by a special research faculty task force that Robert W. Walters, vice president for research, formed to enhance opportunities and quality of life for research faculty members, while also ensuring that research adheres to federal, state, and university policies.

“It is essential to tap into the talent and expertise of our research faculty and postdoctoral associates as Virginia Tech shapes its research mission,” Walters said. “As the No. 1 academic research institution in Virginia, our opportunities and challenges are rapidly growing. Adding diverse viewpoints keeps us accountable, helps us make good decisions, and strengthens our ability to serve the people of Virginia and the world.”

The postdoctoral associate representative will be seated for a three-year term starting in the 2014-2015 academic year.

Research faculty representatives will be seated in staggered, three-year terms. The first will start in the 2014-15 academic year, with the second coming aboard a year later.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.


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