The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved a $1.5 billion university budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year (July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018) at its meeting in Blacksburg today.

Next year’s budget represents a $33.6 million increase over this year’s budget, or 2.3 percent. The growth includes an increase of $18.9 million attributable to the educational and general program and $8.3 million of projected growth in auxiliary enterprises.

The 2017-18 operating budget includes funds to support compensation increases for faculty and staff and resources needed to support enrollment growth, as well as to invest in new academic initiatives and Destination Areas and Strategic Growth Areas, which build upon existing university strengths to help solve the world’s most complicated problems.

The growth in the operating budget comes at a time when Virginia Tech’s state budget allocation was reduced for next fiscal year and as Virginia Tech moved forward with its lowest increase in tuition and fees for instate undergraduate students — 2.9 percent — in the past 20 years. It is projected that the state share (General Fund) of the total university operating budget next year will be 17.4 percent, compared to 18.1 percent this year.

The board approved a resolution to create a new master of Science degree program in translational biology, medicine, and health. The new degree program, which will draw faculty from six colleges and three university-level institutes, will prepare graduates for careers in research and research-related positions in universities, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, health systems, hospitals and clinics, public health and other healthcare and human service agencies, and foundations, with a focus on interdisciplinary and translational research applications.

Pending State Council of Higher Education for Virginia approval, the new degree program will begin next fall.

The board also approved a resolution to complete renovations to 20,800 square feet of undergraduate student laboratories in Derring Hall and Hahn Hall North. When completed next year, the renovation project will add 168 new stations to the science instruction laboratory inventory needed for high demand course sections in biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, and microbiology.

On Sunday, the Research Committee received a report on the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and its Agricultural Research and Extension Centers from College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean Alan Grant and Associate Dean Saied Mostaghimi. Vice President for Research and Innovation Theresa Mayer followed with a presentation on research integrity and compliance.

Gary Downey, an internationally recognized scholar whose work makes significant contributions to the discipline of science and technology in society, was reappointed to his second 10-year term as an Alumni Distinguished Professor. In addition, the board honored Joan Hirt with emerita status and incoming faculty member Su Fang Ng with an endowed professorship. Complete stories on these three individuals will appear in Virginia Tech News later this month.

Faculty promotion, tenure, and continued appointments for 2017 were approved by the board. The complete list is published on the Virginia Tech News website.

During today’s full board meeting, President Tim Sands acknowledged the many contributions of three outgoing board members — Rector Jim Chapman, Tom Ryan, and Steve Sturgis — who will conclude their four-year terms on June 30.

The board also announced its new leadership team for the 2017-18 year; Dennis Treacy, president of the Smithfield Foundation, will serve as rector and Debbie Petrine, president and CEO of Commonwealth Care of Roanoke Inc., will serve as vice rector. Kim O’Rourke was re-elected to serve as secretary to the board.

In addition, the board introduced Robert Sebek, collections technology specialist at University Libraries, who will serve as the staff representative, and Hans Robinson, associate professor of physics in the College of Science, who will serve as the faculty representative in the coming year.

Also on Monday, the board acknowledged outgoing student representatives Gabe Cohen, the undergraduate student representative, and Tara Reel, the graduate student representative, as well as staff representative Alex Parrish and faculty representative Montasir Abbas for their service to the board over the past year.

The next scheduled full meeting of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors meeting will be Sept. 10-11 in Blacksburg. More information on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors may be found online.