Faculty, staff senate presidents take seats on BOV
Serena Young brings the collective voice of the staff and 22 years of leadership experience to the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors. Robert Weiss has been at Virginia Tech for 10 years, rising through the ranks from assistant professor to professor.
Weiss and Young, as the elected presidents of faculty and staff senates, respectively, will serve as the faculty and staff representatives to the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors (BOV) over the next year.
To ensure a channel for more direct communication, the board established the faculty representative position in 1988, 14 years before the General Assembly required it. When the board added a staff representative in 2006, it was believed that Virginia Tech was the first public university in the state to do so.
Weiss is a professor of natural hazards in the College of Science’s Department of Geosciences. He develops computer models that help translate the impact of coastal hazards in the geologic past into numbers and assessments that help engineers and planners to create a more resilient future. He is also the director of the Center for Coastal Studies that is housed in the Fralin Life Sciences Institute.
Young is administrative assistant to Reese Ramos, director of the University Ombuds Office.
“I am honored to be the collective voice advocating for the staff here at Tech and I consider it a privilege,” Young said. “I am working alongside a phenomenal Staff Senate Executive Team, and I greatly appreciate each and every one of them for their service and dedication. They are truly exceptional at what they do in and out of Senate.”
“Being part of the team that represents over 2,600 faculty members is a great honor, but also a daunting task,” Weiss said. “Virginia Tech faculty members are incredibly creative and smart, care about our students, and have a vested interest in the success of Virginia Tech. I am excited about the new governance model that is being developed. Faculty Senate, as the representative body of the faculty, plays one of the key roles in the new model, and I look forward to working with the Board of Visitors in the coming year to advance our mission goals.”
Young brought eight years of governance experience to Tech in 2017. She worked for Cleveland State Community College in Cleveland, Tennessee, where she served as a senator for several years and as the president of Staff Senate before being asked to run one of the CSCC satellite campuses in Madisonville, Tennessee, where she stayed for almost two years before coming to Tech.
Young first worked in Student Engagement and Campus Life’s Event Services Office before assuming her new role in the University Ombuds Office in 2019 after hearing a presentation about the services of the office.
"It was wonderful getting to work with so many amazing students, faculty, and staff,” she said. “We really do have a Hokie Nation here and around the world!”
Weiss earned his Dr. rer. nat. (Ph.D.) at Westfalische–Wilhelms-University, Münster, Germany, in 2005; and his Diploma (M.S.) at Friedrich–Schiller-University, Jena, Germany, in 2002. He worked at the NOAA Center for Tsunami Research in Seattle from 2005 to 2008. In 2008, he joined the faculty of the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Texas A&M University before coming to Virginia Tech in 2011.
Weiss’ research involves creating quantitative methods and computational simulation tools, but also, he understands the importance of interdisciplinary work, and as a scholar, his goals are to develop fundamentally sound upper-division undergraduate students and educate graduate students who are broadly creative and rigorous in the application of quantitative methods in the geosciences.
“The new academic year is starting with a mix of excitements and concerns,” Weiss said.
“In this coming year when we are all trying to return to our new normal, know that myself and our Executive Team are working hard,” Young said. “I welcome any questions, concerns, or feedback. We have phenomenal staff here at Tech, and we’ve got a lot to accomplish this year.”