STATE TO INVEST IN ACADEMIC RESEARCH
Noting that the commonwealth lags behind Maryland and North Carolina in academic research, Virginia Gov. Mark Warner announced plans for state investment of up to $255 million in several university-based research initiatives. Including the required institutional matching funds, the program could boost overall research and development funding at Virginia's colleges and universities by $554 million, the largest single investment in academic research in state history. At minimum, Virginia Tech will receive $44 million from the state in FY 07. A news release issued by the governor's office states that "The funding will increase the research capacity of Virginia's higher educational institutions by providing startup capital for research laboratories, recruiting top researchers and graduate students to Virginia universities, creating state-of-the-art research facilities, and funding cutting-edge research equipment. Most of the funding will be one-time." The full statement is available online at http://www.governor.virginia.gov/Press_Policy/Releases/2005/Dec05/1207.htm. For more information, go to http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/story.php?relyear=2005&itemno=1158
CAUS DEAN TO STEP DOWN
University Distinguished Professor Paul L. Knox, dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies (CAUS) at Virginia Tech, announced his plan to step down from his current position, effective July 1, 2006. After leading the college through eight innovative years of growth and building on the quality of two schools and three programs within the college, Knox has elected to return his professional focus to teaching and research. During Knox's tenure, the CAUS has realized major financial accomplishments--in spite of budgetary reversions and restrictions during the past several years--including an increase in the college's sponsored research funding from $2.1 million in 1997 to more than $9.3 million in 2004-05. The CAUS is now one of the top five colleges of its kind in the nation in terms of research funding. In addition, programs in architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, public administration, and urban and regional planning are now ranked in the top 10 nationally. "Paul continues to provide extraordinary leadership for the college and I will miss his leadership. I fully understand his desire to focus on new challenges and I wish we could have persuaded him to continue," said Provost Mark McNamee. A search for Knox's replacement will begin after the first of the year.
PROTECTING CHILDREN'S ONLINE PRIVACY
A team of Virginia Tech researchers has receive $450,000 from the National Science Foundation's Cyber Trust program to develop technology that better enables parents to protect their children's online privacy. The key to this protection lies in parental consent to the solicitation of information from the child, noted Janine Hiller, professor of business law in the Pamplin College of Business and spokesperson for the research team, which includes principal investigator Michael Hsiao, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering; France Belanger, associate professor of accounting and information systems; and Jung-Min Park, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. The team, Hiller said, has developed a concept for a reliable, easy-to-use, and cost-effective technology that obtains verifiable parental consent. Called POCKET--Parental Online Consent for Kids' Electronic Transactions--the concept will enable parents to protect their child's personal information during an online transaction without their direct supervision.