The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved a $1.6 billion university budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year (July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019) at its meeting in Blacksburg today.

The board also took action to extend the contract of university president Tim Sands through 2024.  

Next year’s budget represents a $34.5 million increase over this year’s university budget, or 2.3 percent, primarily driven by enrollment growth in the educational and general program. Also contributing to the increase are university plans to grow student financial aid and projected growth of auxiliary enterprise revenue.

The 2018-19 operating budget includes the integration of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, increases in student financial aid, funds to support a 2 percent merit program for faculty and university staff, resources needed to support continued quality education to meet enrollment demand, and support to help advance strategic goals.

The growth in the operating budget comes at a time when Virginia Tech’s state budget allocation was projected to remain generally flat for next fiscal year and as Virginia Tech once again limited tuition and fee increases to in-state students to 2.9 percent. It is projected that the state share (General Fund) of the total university operating budget next year will be 17.0 percent, compared to 17.4 percent this year.

The board approved a resolution to create a new bachelor of arts degree program and a bachelor of science degree program in science, technology, and society. The two new degree programs will help students develop new ways of understanding and intervening in the relationship of science and technology to society. Graduates will be sought by companies and organizations that seek workers who possess strong writing, research, critical thinking, and collaboration skills as well as advanced scientific or technological literacy.

Pending the approval of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the two new degree programs will begin next spring.

In other actions, the board approved spending $3.5 million to develop a plan to replace Slusher Hall. Because of its current condition, Virginia Tech has determined the facility, originally built in 1972, should be replaced rather than renovated. The university plans to first build and occupy a new residence hall near the existing Slusher Hall, then demolish and remove Slusher Hall, then build a second building on the site. The two new facilities will have a total student occupancy that will equal or exceed the existing 630 beds with the intent to maximize the number of beds to the extent practical.

Holden Hall rendering
Holden Hall rendering

The board also reviewed design plans for the approximately 101,000-gross-square-foot renovation and new construction of Holden Hall. The 1940s-era southern wing of the facility will be renovated, with two new wings replacing two existing wings, which will be demolished. The new facility will support the College of Engineering and create a showcase venue for the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering. Pending final approval from the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Bureau of Capital Outlay Management, construction should begin next summer with occupancy to take place in late 2021.

The board approved a resolution to discontinue the bachelor of science degree in environmental policy and planning effective the fall of 2021. With that change, the bachelor of arts degree in public and urban affairs will become the only degree offered by School of Public and International Affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. A new environmental policy and planning major will be offered under that degree.

Faculty promotion, tenure, and continued appointments for 2018 were approved by the board. The complete list is published on the Virginia Tech News website.

In addition, the board approved the appointment of Vinod Lohani as the W.S. “Pete” White Chair for Innovation in Engineering Education and honored four faculty members with emeritus status. Stories on each of these individuals as well as those reappointed to endowed professorships will be published on the Virginia Tech News website later this month.

During today’s afternoon session, Rector Dennis Treacy thanked board members for achieving a 100 percent giving rate to Virginia Tech. The rector stressed the importance of full board participation and the powerful sign of support it sends regarding the university’s vision and work.

Treacy, Sands, and other board members acknowledged the distinguished contributions of Wayne H. Robinson, Mehul P. Sanghani, Michael Quillen, and Horacio A. Valeiras, all of who will conclude four-year terms on June 30.

Undergraduate student representative Seyi Olusina, graduate student representative Brett Netto, and faculty representative Hans Robinson will conclude their one-year terms to the board on June 30. John Ferris, associate professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering, will replace Robinson as the faculty representative next year and Robert Sebek, who served as the staff representative this past year, will continue in that role for the 2018-19 year.

Rachel Iwicki, of Springfield, Virginia, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering and Russian language and literature in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, will succeed Olusina as the undergraduate student representative. Zo Amani, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, a doctoral candidate in the Public Administration and Public Affairs Program in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, will succeed Netto as the graduate student representative.

The board announced its rector and vice rector for the 2018-19 year. Treacy, the president of the Smithfield Foundation, will continue to serve as rector and Valeiras, chief executive officer and partner of Frontier Global Partners, will serve as vice rector contingent upon his reappointment to the board. Kim O’Rourke was re-elected to serve as secretary to the board.

The next scheduled meeting of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors will be held August 26-27 in Blacksburg. More information on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors may be found online.