At its quarterly meeting held today, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved tuition and fees for the 2015-16 academic year, appointed a new University Distinguished Professor and reappointed two Alumni Distinguished Professors, and created a new doctor of philosophy degree in executive business research.

The board began its 1:15 p.m. meeting with a tribute and moment of silence for Virginia Tech President Emeritus Paul Torgersen who died last night at the age of 83 (related story).

The board approved a 3.9 percent increase in tuition and mandatory fees for both resident and non-resident undergraduate students. Tuition and mandatory fees for Virginia undergraduate students will increase $468, or $12,485 annually, and out-of-state students will pay an additional $1,081, or $29,129 annually.

Additional details on 2015-16 tuition and fees can be found on the Virginia Tech News website.

The board honored Karen Roberto, professor of human development, director of Center for Gerontology, and director of the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment, by naming her Virginia Tech's latest University Distinguished Professor. The university distinguished professorship is a pre-eminent faculty rank bestowed by the board upon members of the faculty whose scholarly attainments have attracted national and/or international recognition. The professorship is to be bestowed upon no more than one percent of the total full-time faculty at any time.

In addition, mathematics professor Ezra “Bud” Brown and psychology professor E. Scott Geller were both reappointed as Alumni Distinguished Professors. Complete stories on all three will appear Virginia Tech News starting Wednesday.

The board also approved a resolution to create a new doctor of philosophy degree program in executive business research. If approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the new degree program will be offered this fall and will provide doctoral students with the knowledge and skills to help business executives and business faculty make sense of the rapidly evolving data-intensive environment of business decision making.

The board also approved the final design of a project to convert part of Drillfield Drive near Alumni Mall into a two-way road to enhance safety and traffic around the Drillfield. The new roadway, scheduled to be completed before classes start this fall, will allow vehicles entering Drillfield Drive from Stanger Street and Alumni Mall to proceed south onto Kent Street. Currently, vehicles entering Drillfield Drive from those roads must travel around the entire Drillfield to access Kent Street.

A complete story on this project will be published Thursday in Virginia Tech News.

The board also approved a resolution to appropriate up to $4 million towards a project to improve wireless connectivity and access in campus residence halls. The project will address the changing needs of students who are increasingly using devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones that require Wi-Fi connection for use.

The board also authorized funds for a planning project for athletics facilities improvement. With the completion of the new Indoor Athletic Practice Facility expected in the calendar year, the university will address the need for a women’s softball hitting facility and to improve the indoor track and field programs housed in Rector Field House.

The board approved a resolution to establish compensation for graduate assistants for the 2015-16 academic year. Virginia Tech will again advance the stipend scale by providing a base stipend increase of 2 percent. The university will continue to pay 90 percent of the annual premium cost of the basic health insurance plan.

On Monday afternoon, the board announced the selection of the 2015-16 student representatives. Morgan Sykes of Winchester, Virginia, a senior majoring in history in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, will be the undergraduate student representative. Mohammed Seyam, a doctoral student in the computer science department, will be the graduate student representative. 

Sykes and Seyam will serve one-year terms beginning July 1, 2015. A full story on the two new board of visitor student representatives will be published in Virginia Tech News Wednesday.

At the Academic Affairs Committee meeting, board members received updates on institutional benchmarking studies and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Committee on Colleges five-year review process.

Also on Monday, the Student Affairs and Athletics Committee received several reports and presentations on topics including Title IX and campus sexual assault, support programs for student veterans, InclusiveVT initiatives within the Division of Student Affairs, and current and future initiatives in the university’s intercollegiate athletics program.

On Sunday, the Research Committee received a report from Bill Hopkins, professor of fish and wildlife conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment and a member of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute, on the university’s new Global Change Center. The new center’s objective will be to study large-scale environmental problems such as by engaging faculty from many disciplines in several university colleges.

The board approved resolutions appointing or reappointing three faculty members to endowed professorships and seven faculty members were honored with emeritus status. Individual stories on each of these appointments and honors will be published in Virginia Tech News beginning Wednesday, April 1.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors will be held May 31-June 1 in Blacksburg. More information on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors may be found online.

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