Februry 13, 2001
Present: Patricia Werhane, Robert Grainger, David Gies, Kathryn Neeley, Rebecca Kneedler, Houston Wood, III, Donald J. Innes, Jr., George Cohen, Michael Levenson, Julian Connolly, William Kehoe, Doris Glick, Peter Low
Guest: John T. Casteen III, President
Patricia Werhane, Chair of the Faculty Senate, called the meeting to order. Ms. Werhane introduced President Casteen.
Mr. Casteen gave the members of the Executive Council a General Assembly update. Mr. Casteen remarked that some issues before the legislature does not concern budget issues. One such issue is the percentage of in-state verses out-of-state students. A bill that was presented asked for a 25% cap on out-of-state students. This bill did not pass, Mr. Casteen said. The third year of the Governor's car tax reduction plan is an issue before the General Assembly, since State revenue is down from what it was projected to be. Also, Governor Gilmore has proposed the State reduce it contributions to optional faculty retirement plans from 10.4 to 9.24% for all Virginia colleges and universities. The plan would result in a savings to Virginia government of about $3.5 million, but it would also mean a substantial loss for faculty. Mr. Casteen gave an example: a 40-year old faculty member making $81,500, projecting an average raise of 4% per year, and 8% return on his/her retirement investment, by reaching 65, he/she will have $114,000 less in the retirement fund under the new ORP rate than under the current rate. Other state contribution rates are all over the map, Mr. Casteen said. Mr. Casteen suggested that University faculty contact their local legislators to voice their concerns regarding this substantial loss of retirement funds for faculty members. Other budget bills were discussed, and Mr. Casteen took questions. Mr. Casteen suggested Nancy Rivers, in the Budget Office, could be contacted if additional information is needed. Colette Capone, Vice President for Budget and Management, will give the Executive Council a written report when everything is shaped up, Mr. Casteen said.
Doris Glick, Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, gave the group an update on the work of that Committee. Ms. Glick distributed a proposal to create a one-time pilot effort to fund several projects that support teaching across disciplines. The goal is to evaluate the outcomes of these interdisciplinary collaborative efforts. There was a discussion of the proposal, and possible alternative usages for the remaining funds in the Teaching Initiative budget. Peter Low, Vice President and Provost, said there should be a criterion to measure the long-term effect of any cross-discipline teaching initiatives that may be funded. Ms. Glick will take the proposal and the suggestions made back to the Academic Affairs Committee for further discussion and revision, and a new document will be brought forward for the Executive Council for consideration. A proposal for an MA in Digital Humanities will be brought before the Senate for consideration at the upcoming Faculty Senate meeting on Wednesday, February 21, Ms. Glick said. The Senate meeting will be held in the Rotunda Dome Room, from 3:00-5:00 p.m.
William Kehoe, Chair of the Committee on Research and Scholarship, reported on the work of that Committee. There will be a ceremony to honor David Harrison Undergraduate Research Award recipients on Wednesday, February 28. The ceremony will be held in Alumni Hall, from 4:00-5:00 p.m. There are 43 Award recipients this year, Mr. Kehoe said. Peter Low reported that there have not been any nominations for the Cavalier Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching this year. Mr. Low suggested that members of the Executive Council speak to their deans to help promote nominations for this Award.
Julian Connolly reported on the Keyword initiative. Mr. Connolly has met with the University Registrar, and she is very supportive of the initiative. The Registrar's Office and the Office of Information Technology and Communication are working closely to improve COD listings and to create a search by "keyword" database for course offerings, Mr. Connolly said.
Robert Grainger, Chair-Elect of the Faculty Senate, reported on the Senate's work toward improving graduate student funding. Mr. Grainger said there is a Committee working on the issues. Michael Levenson suggested that the Committee meet with some graduate students, who could provide valuable input on the issues. Patricia Werhane spoke about the Honor System's revisions. This issue will be further discussed at the upcoming Faculty Senate meeting. Students and/or a few alumni may address the Senate regarding the revisions, Ms. Werhane said.
Another issue to be addressed at the Senate meeting is the Governor's proposal to reduce the optional retirement plan funding reductions. Letters will be sent to local legislators from the Senate and from other members of the faculty, voicing their concerns.
Ms. Werhane asked the members of the Executive Council to start thinking about possible nominations for the Forum and other Senate committees for the Year 2001/2002. The Forum director does not necessarily have to be a member of the Faculty Senate, Ms. Werhane said.
In closing, Peter Low suggested that the Executive Council work with Wayne Cozart and form an ad hoc committee on the Garden Room initiative. Barbara Nolan, Vice Provost, might be interested in serving on such a committee, Mr. Low said.
The meeting adjourned at 5:10 p.m.
Submitted by Michael J. Smith, Secretary of the Faculty Senate