At its quarterly meeting held today, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved tuition and fees for the 2021-22 academic year and bestowed the university’s highest faculty honor, the Ut Prosim Scholar Award, on two distinguished researchers.

Following two years of a tuition freeze that held the in-state undergraduate tuition rate level for three years in a row, the board approved a 2.9 percent increase in tuition for resident and non-resident undergraduate students for 2021-22.

The complete story on 2021-22 tuition and fees may be found on Virginia Tech News.

Carla Finkelstein, director of the Molecular Biology Diagnostics Lab at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and associate professor of biological sciences in the College of Science, and Linsey Marr, the Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering, were the recipients of the Ut Prosim Scholar Award.

Finkelstein was honored for her work to anticipate the limitations of existing methods for testing the novel coronavirus and enlisted a team to develop an innovative method that would more accurately, reliably, and rapidly detect the virus and help mitigate its spread. Marr, one of fewer than 12 experts worldwide on the aerosol transmission of viruses, has published more than 100 journal articles and completed over 35 sponsored research projects as part of her interdisciplinary approach to science.

As part of the award, Finkielstein and Marr will each receive $250,000 in funding over five years to support their scholarship. Read the individual stories on Finkelstein and Marr.

The board also approved the university’s updated Climate Action Commitment. A comprehensive story on this plan, which was first conceived in 2009 and updated in 2013, will be published in Virginia Tech News later this week.

The board also approved four new University Distinguished Professor appointments. France Belanger, the R. B. Pamplin Professor and Tom and Daisy Byrd Senior Faculty Fellow in the Pamplin College of Business; Martha Ann Bell, professor of psychology and a Faculty Fellow in the College of Science; Amy Pruden, W. Thomas Rice Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering; and Jake Tu, professor in biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, received the honor.

Individual stories on each honoree will be published in Virginia Tech News.

The board also approved a resolution on compensation for graduate assistants for the 2021-22 academic year. Virginia Tech will advance the stipend scale for graduate assistants by providing a base stipend increase of 5 percent, effective Aug. 10, 2021. Graduate assistants will also receive tuition remission, a stipend supplement of $458 to help mitigate university assigned costs, and the university will pay 88 percent of the annual premium cost of the basic health insurance plan.

The financial plan to close the budget gap caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was also approved by the board. The financial impact of the pandemic was uneven across campus and primarily affected self-generated revenue activities in auxiliary enterprises because of the university’s response to ensure the safety and well-being of the campus community.

Revenue losses to auxiliary enterprises exceeded $91 million, but expense and cost-savings measures resulted in a $63.2 million budget shortfall. New one-time funds, including federal and state support, savings from the debt restructuring, savings that resulted from the commonwealth’s health insurance holiday, relief from indirect cost assessments, and additional cost controls, were used to close the one-time budget shortfall.

The board also approved the resolution that will allow Virginia Tech to provide one semester of relief to students in the form of not having to pay the mandatory transportation fee for the Spring 2021 semester. Full-time students enrolled in Blacksburg currently pay $96 per semester for this fee.

During the Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting, the board received a design review of the new 300-bed Upper Quad Residence Hall. Construction on the approximately $40 million project, to be located on the site currently occupied by Femoyer Hall, is scheduled to begin later this year and to be completed by the summer of 2023.

A resolution to approve the constitution and bylaws of the new Administrative and Professional Faculty Senate was also passed on Monday.

The board received several reports on various topics over the two-day meeting. On Sunday, Lance Collins, vice president and executive director of the Innovation Campus, provided the board an update on his work, and Rachel Holloway, vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs, gave an overview of the Pathways to General Education program.

On Monday, several board members toured the Creativity and Innovation District Living Learning Center, a new campus facility that will be completed by the start of the 2021 fall semester. Also on Monday, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean Alan Grant updated the board on current agricultural facilities planning and construction, including the new Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center project, currently being built in Hampton Roads, Virginia, and scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

At the full board session Monday, the board announced the selection of the 2021-22 student representatives. Paolo Fermin, a rising senior majoring in computer engineering in the College of Engineering, will be the undergraduate student representative. Phil Miskovic, a graduate student in the Public Administration and Public Affairs program in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, will be the graduate student representative.

Fermin and Miskovic will serve one-year terms beginning July 1. An article introducing the new student representatives will be published in Virginia Tech News.

The board approved resolutions appointing 11 faculty members to endowed professorships or fellowships, and six individuals were honored with emerita or emeritus status. Stories on each of these appointments and honors will be published in Virginia Tech News.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors will be June 6-7 in Blacksburg. More information on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors may be found online.

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