The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved a $1.74 billion university budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year (July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022) at its meeting in Blacksburg on June 8.

In addition, the board approved a resolution to delegate authority to the university president to implement necessary health and safety measures based upon institutional needs and the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding community during the current and any future public health emergencies. With that authority, Virginia Tech President Tim Sands announced following the board meeting the university’s COVID-19 vaccination plan for the fall semester.

The 2021-22 operating budget is the largest in the university’s history. The Education and General portion of the budget, which includes the University Division and Virginia Cooperative Extension, totals $974 million, a 3.7 percent increase from a year before. In total, approximately 19 percent of the overall university budget is funded by state support.

Next year’s budget includes increases in student financial aid, a 5 percent merit and distinction compensation program for teaching/research faculty and administrative/professional faculty, a 5 percent university staff merit compensation program, a 5 percent classified staff compensation program, and a 5 percent stipend increase for graduate assistantships.

The board also approved a resolution to create a new School of Environmental Security within the College of Natural Resources and Environment, pending approval from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. The new school will draw upon multiple academic disciplines and professions to address threats to human safety and prosperity from global population growth, resource availability and access, and environmental shifts, including climate change.

A resolution to approve a new Bachelor of Science degree program in plant science and concurrently discontinuing Bachelor of Science degree programs in environmental sciences and horticulture was also approved by the board, pending SCHEV approval. The changes to these degree programs will better serve students by providing a unified, integrated curriculum with a wide breadth of subject material to better prepare students for careers in government agencies, agribusiness firms, and biotechnology companies.

On Monday, board members received an update on the Innovation Campus from Vice President and Executive Director Lance Collins. On Tuesday, board members received a design review of the Innovation Campus Academic I Building, a 299,733-gross-square-foot facility in Alexandria. The building, part of a 65-acre mixed-use development known as North Potomac Yards, will provide instruction, research, office, and support spaces primarily for graduate programs in computer science and computer engineering. Construction is expected to begin this September and substantial completion is targeted for early 2024.

Faculty promotion, tenure, and continued appointments for 2021 were approved by the board. The complete list is published on the VTx website.

Sharon Brickhouse Martin talks with other members of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors
Sharon Brickhouse Martin talks with other members of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors in open session. Photo by Ryan Young for Virginia Tech.

Over the course of the two-day meeting, board members received several reports and updates, including those on health sciences research, agricultural facilities planning and construction, sports wagering, diversity education, the future of work and talent development, and shared governance.

In addition, the board approved the appointment of a faculty member to an endowed professorship and seven faculty members were honored with emeritus status. Stories on each of these individuals will be published on the VTx website later this month.

Board Rector Horacio Valeiras, Sands, and other board members acknowledged the many contributions of current board members Anna James and Letitia A. Long, who will conclude four-year terms on June 30.

Undergraduate student representative Camellia Pastore, graduate student representative Sabrina Sturgeon, faculty representative Eric Kaufman, and staff representative Tamarah Smith will conclude their one-year terms to the board on June 30. Robert Weiss, professor of geosciences in the College of Science, will become the new faculty representative and Serena Young, administrative assistant in the University Ombuds Office, will serve as the new staff representative in the 2021-22 year.

Paolo Fermin, a rising senior studying computer engineering in the College of Engineering, will succeed Pastore as the undergraduate student representative. Phil Miskovic, a doctoral candidate in in public administration and policy in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, will succeed Sturgeon as the graduate student representative.

The board announced its rector and vice rector for the 2021-22 academic year. Letitia A. Long, chair of the board of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, will serve as rector, pending reappointment from Gov. Ralph Northam. Ed Baine, president of Dominion Energy Virginia, will serve as vice rector.

The next scheduled meeting of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors will be held Aug. 29-31. More information on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors may be found online.

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