At its quarterly meeting held today, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors voted to create two new academic degree programs.

The board approved a resolution to create a Bachelor of Science degree program in Systems Biology that will draw on ideas and methods from biological sciences, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and statistics that will improve our current understanding of the molecular machines and regulatory networks that make life possible at the cellular level. Students who pursue this degree will be better prepared for careers in biomedicine, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and agricultural production.

“Virginia Tech is in an excellent position to initiate a degree program in systems biology because we have a strong faculty base in the College of Science who are actively engaged in research in systems biology,” said Senior Vice President and Provost Mark G. McNamee. “They will be joined in this endeavor by faculty in the Department of Computer Science and senior research scientists in the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, as well as new faculty members across the university who are being hired into this new and rapidly expanding field.”

Pending approval from the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia, this new bachelor’s degree program will be the first of its kind in the state when it is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2015.

The board also approved a Master of Arts Degree in Women’s and Gender Studies. Students in this degree program will obtain critical thinking, research, and analytical skills that will prepare them for a variety of careers in which strategizing for gender equality, assessing gender stratification, and advocating for women and minorities is a concern. Pending SCHEV approval, the new degree program is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2015.

The board also voted to discontinue the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Humanities, Science and Environment effective the fall of 2017.

The Building and Grounds Committee received a design preview of the McBryde 100 Renovation project. The McBryde Hall 100 Auditorium, the most heavily used instructional auditorium on campus, is scheduled to be renovated next summer. The project will address deficiencies related to accessibility, room acoustical performance, replacement of technology, and interior finishes and seating that have reached the end of useful service.

The Finance and Audit committee received a report on how well the university utilizes student scholarship funds held by the Virginia Tech Foundation. Board members learned that the Office of University Scholarships and Financial Aid was able to provide students with 98.2 percent of the available endowed scholarship funds in the past fiscal year.

On Sunday, the Research Committee received an overview from William Devenport, professor of aerospace and ocean engineering in the College of Engineering , on the Center for Renewable Energy and Aerodynamic Testing. Faculty and researchers in the center focus on wind energy and related technical areas.

Four faculty members were honored with emerita or emeritus status, including the late Sam G. Riley, the professor of communication who died March 19. Stories on each of these individuals will appear in Virginia Tech News beginning Wednesday, Nov 12.

In addition, two current faculty members were named to an endowed professorship or fellowship. Stories on these two individuals will be published in Virginia Tech News beginning Monday, Nov. 17.

The next full Virginia Tech Board of Visitors meeting will be held March 29 and 30, 2015, in Blacksburg. More information on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors may be found online.

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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