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Week of June 27-July 1

2022

Reminder: Call for proposals for Destination Area 2.0 Planning and Development Grants

Virginia Tech is seeking proposals for the next phase of Destination Area (DA) projects that are aligned with the Beyond Boundaries vision and will achieve the strategic priorities in The Virginia Tech Difference: Advancing Beyond Boundaries. Proposals and the associated projects are designed to build upon the foundational work of existing DAs and their efforts to create and advance transdisciplinary communities of faculty who have connected across disciplinary boundaries.

The DA 2.0 proposals will target transdisciplinary discovery, learning and outreach efforts that yield solutions to complex problems that can advance the human condition and that have a high likelihood of Virginia Tech establishing or sustaining an international leadership position in the area of interest.

Planning and Development Grants of up to $50,000 will be awarded and are expected to support team and project development over an approximately six-month period. The deadline for Phase I proposals is September 30.

For more information on the current Destination Areas as well as the proposal criteria, expectations, and review process for the Planning and Development Grants, please email Catherine Amelink in the Office of the Executive Vice Provost. Information can also be found on the Destination Area website.

CETL Welcome Back Symposium: Teaching Strategies for Increased Student Engagement

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) invites faculty to join campus colleagues for the Welcome Back Symposium 2022: Teaching Strategies for Increased Student Engagement.

The symposium will be held on August 16 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (lunch provided) in 260 New Classroom Building.

This symposium is a one-day event focused on motivating and engaging students in courses to increase academic success. Throughout the day, participants will hear from Virginia Tech colleagues about their teaching strategies for fostering student engagement, as well from Saundra McGuire, director emerita of the Louisiana State University’s Center for Academic Success, who will present the opening keynote, “Increasing Student Motivation: Strategies that Work.”

The goal of the symposium is for teaching faculty members at Virginia Tech to gain information, inspiration, and ideas for strategies that they can implement in their teaching to increase student engagement.

Participation in Welcome Back Symposium 2022: Teaching Strategies for Increased Student Engagement is free, but space is limited and registration is required. All participants who attend the symposium will receive a complimentary copy of McGuire’s book, "Teach Students How to Learn: Strategies You Can Incorporate Into Any Course to Improve Student Metacognition, Study Skills, and Motivation."

For more information or if you have questions, please email the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning or visit the CETL website.

Research and Innovation and Division of IT: Scalable, secure environment for research data

The Office of Research and Innovation and the Division of Information Technology are partnering to give Virginia Tech researchers an accessible, scalable, supported space in the cloud for storing and sharing sensitive research data, balancing security and compliance with user-friendly features that enable collaboration. The new cloud research data platform currently in development is called VT SURE - the Virginia Tech Secure University Research Environment.

Researchers’ needs are at the forefront of required features, with the goal of building a cloud-based storage and analysis environment that meets researchers’ needs as well as sponsors’ data security requirements. The platform will balance ease of use with data protection through a well-ordered governance process.

With flexible and scalable spaces for storage and analysis of data, an intuitive user interface, robust support, and governance protocols to enable secure collaboration both within and beyond the university, the new infrastructure will advance scholarship and research capabilities for projects in all disciplines.

The VT SURE infrastructure is slated to go live in October 2022.

VT SURE will be a centrally supported and managed data lab designed to advance Virginia Tech research capabilities. The platform will provide an elastic and scalable technical infrastructure that can be customized to meet diverse requirements for collaboration, security, storage, data analysis, and support; with a user interface that is easy to learn and customize.

Beginning this summer, there will be opportunities for interested researchers to become early users of the platform. If you are interested in learning more about the possibilities of VT SURE, please email the VT SURE project team.

Human Resources: Update on new Commonwealth of Virginia telework policy

Virginia Tech has approximately 650 classified staff employees who were impacted by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s new telework policy, which went into effect May 5, 2022. Of the 170 classified university staff who had flexible work agreements, approximately 140 completed the required Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) Standard Telework Agreement form to continue teleworking.

The Division of Human Resources received an update from the state that all submitted agreements were approved and classified staff and their supervisor have received communications from the HR Service Center.

Going forward, classified staff who want to work remotely will need to continue following the Commonwealth of Virginia telework policy and submit the DHRM Standard Telework Agreement form to the HR service center by the 10th of each month. The service center will process and submit the forms to DHRM for approval monthly. If the telework agreements are approved, the HR service center will contact the employee and their supervisor. Commonwealth of Virginia telework agreements will be valid for one year from the approval date.

As a reminder, the new commonwealth policy does not apply to A/P faculty and university staff, because Virginia law authorizes colleges and universities to establish and follow their own personnel policies. These employees should continue to follow the current Virginia Tech policy and procedures for requesting flexible work options, including telework and alternate work agreements.

If classified staff or their supervisors have questions, they are encouraged to contact their HR representative or email the HR Service Center.

ICYMI: 2022 faculty, staff salary and merit increase approved

The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors and Commonwealth of Virginia have approved a five percent pool to increase the compensation of our valued employees.

Virginia Tech’s compensation program was approved by the Board of Visitors on June 14. The Commonwealth of Virginia budget, which includes the compensation program, was approved June 21.

Following these approvals, earned increases for calendar year faculty and university and classified staff are effective July 10, 2022, and employees will see any increase in their August 1 paycheck. Academic year faculty earned increases are effective August 10 and employees will see any increase in their September 1 paycheck.

To be eligible to receive merit pay:

  • Faculty must have been hired by December 10, 2021, to be eligible, and merit increases were informed by the content of their Faculty Activity Report.
  • University staff must have been hired by March 10, 2022 and have at least an “acceptable/developing” performance level on their most recent evaluation. University staff merit increases were based upon a review of performance evaluations.
  • Eligible classified staff received a base salary increase of five percent as these positions are governed by the state.

Employees who are receiving an increase will be notified prior to the increase effective date. In addition, the Commonwealth of Virginia budget includes a one-time $1,000 bonus to be paid to eligible full-time faculty and staff on December 1, 2022, as well as a compression adjustment for eligible sworn police officers. More information will be shared at a later date about these adjustments.

Please read this campus notice for more information and a table on how Virginia Tech’s compensation program will be implemented. If you have additional questions, please contact your supervisor or department’s HR representative.

Additional resource and information updates

If you have comments or recommendations for how we can improve the Weekly Communications Update or suggestions for specific information and topics that should be shared with faculty, staff, and academic program personnel, please provide them through this Google form or email Provost Communications.

Please visit VT Ready and the Provost’s website frequently for new and updated university information. All members of the campus community should also read their VTx Daily email for further important updates, notices, and resources.