The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors held its quarterly meeting today and reviewed several items. The conceptual plan and design preview of a new multi-modal transit facility tentatively sited in what is now the Derring parking lot and the selection of the two 2011-2012 student representatives were among the items approved at the meeting.

At the full meeting of the board, Rector George Nolen announced that Matthew Banfield of Williamsburg, Va., a junior majoring in theatre arts in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, was named the undergraduate student representative. Michelle McLeese of Blacksburg, Va., a Ph.D student in the Department of Sociology in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, was named the graduate student representative.

The board discussed plans for a proposed 12,000-gross-square-foot multi-modal transit facility, an initiative of the university and the Town of Blacksburg, would include a conditioned rider waiting area with information services, a bike share/bike co-op, multi-use meeting space, public restrooms, and administrative space for transit operations. In addition, the current plan calls for 14 canopied bus loading/unloading bays grouped around a central green space. No date has been set for construction to begin.

Buildings and Grounds Committee also reviewed plan for the addition of solar panels to the roof of the new parking garage that would produce 13 percent of the estimated annual energy use of the facility. Once approved, construction on this project could begin this fall.

The Academic Affairs Committee heard a progress report on the university’s Diversity Strategic Plan from William T. Lewis, vice president for diversity and inclusion. Lewis provided updates on student, faculty, and staff access; campus climate and intergroup relations; education and scholarship; and institutional infrastructure. The 2010-2013 Virginia Tech Diversity Strategic Plan can be found at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion website.

The board passed a resolution to establish a new dual degree master of business administration program between Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business and the Naval Postgraduate School that will begin this fall.

In addition, resolutions to discontinue the Ed.D., Ph.D., and Ed.S. degree programs in administration and supervision of special education and the M.S.Ed. degree program in health and physical education were approved. These actions will be forwarded to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia for further review and approval.

The Finance and Audit Committee received a report on most recent restructuring plan of Virginia Cooperative Extension. In 2010 the Virginia General Assembly passed a law requiring a restructuring plan that would save costs and reorganize service delivery. Since 2007, Extension has faced budget reductions totally $10.3 million. $4.5 million of this reduction was to be imposed during the 2011-2012 fiscal year; however, the 2011 General Assembly restored $1.5 million of next year’s planned $4.5 million reduction.

Board members also received a report on the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011 that redefines and significantly impacts Virginia’s higher education goals and institutional relationships. The passage of the act strengthens the state’s commitment to higher education, and provides a framework for growth and support for the future. Details concerning funding models, performance metrics, and definitions of strategic goals have yet to be finalized. However, the university will continue to engage the statewide higher education community and the administration and legislature to ensure the needs of the institution are recognized and that the environment continues to foster success for the future.

The board also approved a resolution to discontinue annual reappointment letters for regular administrative and professional (AP) faculty following the recommendation put forth by the Task Force on Administrative and Professional Faculty. The change eliminates a duplication of effort for supervisors who write annual performance evaluations in the fall and annual reappointment letters in July.

To further promote regional transportation and accessibility initiatives to better serve the university and surrounding communities, the board approved a resolution to endorse the extension of passenger rail service to Roanoke and to the New River Valley.

The board also passed a resolution honoring the life of U.S. Navy Ensign Zachary Eckhart, a 2007 graduate of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and a 2008 graduate of Virginia tech, who lost his life last April when his T-39 training aircraft crashed in Georgia.

The board honored five current faculty members with appointments to endowed professorships, and it approved six resolutions honoring retired faculty and staff with emeritus status. Complete stories on each of the 11 individuals will appear in Virginia Tech News beginning Tuesday, March 29.

On Sunday, the Research Committee received a report on Virginia Tech Research Center – Arlington and how it will significantly support the university’s research agenda. The new center, which will open in June, will house facilities to support research on national security, biomedicine, decision analytics, energy, and policy informatics.

The board did not consider a resolution for 2011-2012 tuition and fees at this meeting and will do so at a special meeting of the Executive Committee later this spring.  Additional time is needed for the university to finalize its own budget and its potential impact on next year’s tuition and fees.

The next full Virginia Tech Board of Visitors meeting will be held June 5-6 on the Blacksburg campus. More information on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors may be found online.

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