BLACKSBURG — The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved a $2.06 billion university budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year that runs July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024, at its June 6 quarterly meeting in Blacksburg.
The 2023-24 operating budget will be the largest in the university’s history and the first time it will exceed $2 billion. The Education and General portion of the budget, which includes the University Division and Virginia Cooperative Extension, totals $1.11 billion, a 5.8 percent increase from a year before.
In total, approximately 19 percent of the overall university budget is funded by state support.
Next year’s university budget will include a five percent merit and distinction compensation program for teaching/research faculty and administrative/professional faculty, a five percent university staff merit compensation program, a 5 percent classified staff compensation program, and a five percent stipend increase for graduate assistantships.
Because graduate assistants provide a valuable service to the university and contribute significantly to the advancement of the university’s strategic vision, the 2023-24 graduate assistant compensation plan approved by the board will raise the minimum stipend to $2,420 per month, or to what is the 12th step on the current pay scale, and is consistent with the top recommendation of the Graduate Student Assistantship Support Task Force made earlier this year. Graduate assistants will continue to receive tuition remission, and the university will pay 88 percent of the annual premium cost of the basic health insurance plan.
Successful recruitment and retention of high-quality graduate students requires the university to offer competitive compensation packages. The primary objective is to elevate individuals currently receiving the lowest level of compensation.
The new budget also will include significant increases in student financial aid, consistent with the university’s and the board’s commitment to the Virginia Tech Advantage initiative. At Monday’s information session, the Virginia Tech Advantage Steering Committee co-chairs Matt Holt and Menah Pratt led a discussion focused on financial strategies and aspects of the student experience that support access for both Pell-eligible and non Pell-elibigle students.
Board members approved a resolution to authorize the demolition of Randolph Hall and part of Hancock Hall. Because its age and size no longer support the teaching and research needs of the College of Engineering, Randolph will be razed to make room for the construction of Mitchell Hall. Hancock is currently connected to Randolph, and a portion of the building will be exposed because of the demolition of Randolph. Hancock will transition to a standalone building with a new building envelope on its east side.
A $19.5 million planning authorization to complete designs through preliminary drawings for Phase I of the Student Life Village also was approved by the board. In November, the board approved the Student Life Village Master Plan that identifies a potential path to increase residential capacity on the Blacksburg campus in three distinct phases over several years as needed. Phase I is projected to increase on-campus residential capacity from 10,500 to 11,120 students within the next five years.
The board also approved a resolution to allow the university to acquire 5.33 acres of land to support future research needs of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Sciences
In other action, the board approved resolutions to appoint William Devenport, the Kevin Crofton professor in Engineering in the College of Engineering, director of the Virginia Tech Stability Wind Tunnel, and director of the Center for Renewable Energy and Aero/hydrodynamic Technology, and Leo Piilonen, professor of physics in the College of Science, as Alumni Distinguished Professors. The Alumni Distinguished Professorship is a preeminent faculty appointment recognizing those who demonstrate extraordinary accomplishments across all three of Virginia Tech’s core mission areas of teaching, research or creative activity, and engagement. Those honored hold the Alumni Distinguished Professor title for a 10-year period.
The board also named Stefan Duma, the Harry C. Wyatt Professor of Engineering in the College of Engineering and executive director of the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Sciences, and Linsey Marr, the Charles P. Lunsford Professor in the College of Engineering, as University Distinguished Professors. The University Distinguished Professorship is Virginia Tech’s pre-eminent faculty rank and recognizes those whose research and scholarship have attracted international acclaim. Those honored hold the University Distinguished Professor title until resignation or retirement from the university.
Faculty promotion, tenure, and continued appointments for 2023 were approved by the board. The complete list is published on the Virginia Tech News website.
In addition, the board approved the appointment of six faculty members to endowed chairs or fellowships, and five faculty members were honored with emerita or emeritus status.
Rector Tish Long, President Tim Sands, and other board members acknowledged the many contributions of current board members Charles T. Hill, Sharon Brickhouse Martin, and Melissa Byrne Nelson, all of whom will conclude four-year terms on June 30. Hill is completing two consecutive terms and has served as chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee during his tenure with the board.
Shelley Butler Barlow, who has served a series of one-year terms on the board by virtue of her role as president of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, also was acknowledged for her many contributions.
Undergraduate student representative Jamal Ross and graduate and professional student representative Anna Buhle, who will conclude their one-year terms on June 30, were also recognized for their service to the board. William Storey, a rising senior majoring in environmental science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, will succeed Ross as the undergraduate student representative. Emily Tirrell, a graduate student working toward her Ph.D. in translational biology, medicine, and health, will succeed Buhle as the graduate and professional student representative.
Board members also acknowledged the contributions of faculty representative Robert Weiss, director of the Center for Coastal Studies, director of Disaster Resilience and Risk Management, and professor of geosciences in the College of Science; administrative and professional faculty representative Holli Drewry, digital content strategist for Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies; and staff representative Serena Young, administrative assistant to the University Ombuds, all of whom will also conclude their one-year terms on June 30.
Effective July 1, Joe Merola, professor of chemistry in the College of Science, will become the faculty representative; Janice Austin, assistant dean and director of admissions and academic progress in the Graduate School, will become the administrative and professional faculty representative; and LaTawnya Burleson, executive assistant to the vice president for information technology, will become the staff representative.
The board announced its rector and vice rector for the 2023-24 academic year. Effective July 1, Ed Baine, president of Dominion Energy Virginia, will serve as rector, and Sharon Brickhouse Martin, founder and president of Brickhouse-Martin Healthcare Engineering, will serve as vice rector, contingent upon her reappointment to the board. Baine was elected unanimously and will be the first Black rector at Virginia Tech.
The next scheduled meeting of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors will be held Aug. 27-29.
Submitted by Virginia Tech