Agenda for the Faculty Senate Meeting

February 21, 2007

Room B-113 Robinson Hall

3:00-4:15 p.m.



I.       Call to Order


II.      Approval of the Minutes of January 24, 2007


III.    Announcements


IV.     Unfinished Business


V.      New Business - Committee Reports


A.    Senate Standing Committees

       Executive Committee

       Academic Policies--Motion from the committee        Attachment A

       Budget & Resources

       Faculty Matters--Motion from the committee             Attachment B

       Organization & Operations




B. Other Committees

       Task Force on Salary Issues--Motion from the committee

                                                                                      Attachment C

       Handbook Revision Committee


VI.     Other New Business

       Report on “Green Resolutions”

       University Policy on Copyright                                 Attachment D


VII.   Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty


VIII.  Adjournment




Motion: Modify the Absence for Religious Observances policy (which is on p. 35 of the 2006-2007 catalog) so that it also covers absence for participation in university activities by adding the parts shown in italics below and deleting the word religious in the second sentence of the current policy. (Note: In the proposed new second sentence the word these has replaced the word religious.)


Absence for Religious Observances or Participation in University Activities

It is Mason's policy to make every reasonable effort to allow members of the campus community to observe their religious holidays, or participate in University sponsored activities (e.g., Intercollegiate Athletics, Forensics Team, Dance Company, etc.) without academic penalty. Absence from classes or exams for these reasons does not relieve students from responsibility for any part of the course work required during the absence. Students who expect to miss classes, exams, or other assignments as a consequence of their religious observance or for participation in a university activity will be provided a reasonable alternative opportunity to complete their academic responsibilities. It is the obligation of students to provide faculty with reasonable notice of the dates of major religious holidays on which they will be absent. Faculty should take religious observances into consideration when constructing class schedules and syllabi. Students requesting an excused absence for participation in a University sponsored activity must provide documentation to the instructor prior to the scheduled absence when known in advance, and as soon as possible when not known in advance.



The Colonial Academic Alliance concluded that all member institutions should have similar policies regarding absences due to participation in university activities, and the Academic Integrity Committee of this university's Athletic Council proposed the policy stated above in order to make GMU have a policy in line with the policies of other members of the alliance. (The Academic Integrity Committee voted to approve the proposed policy on Jan. 31, 2007.)

While it has been observed that for the most part GMU faculty are reasonable with regard to not penalizing students who miss a class or exam due to participation in a recognized university activity, it has also been observed that some new faculty and adjunct faculty seem reluctant to make reasonable accommodations. Perhaps in some cases the reluctance is due to a desire to do things "by the book" and avoid making exceptions, and in such instances it may be the case that having an official policy regarding absence due to participation in university activities may be helpful.

It strikes some students and faculty members as odd that GMU has a policy regarding absence due to religious observance but not one covering absence due to participation in university activities.

It can be noted that the proposed policy does not specify what is meant by making a reasonable effort to accommodate students who will miss a class or exam, allowing individual faculty members to for the most part decide for themselves what is appropriate for their classes.




Draft of Noncompetitive (Waived Search) Hire Policy


Policy.  In keeping with Section 1.3 of the Faculty Handbook that states, “In accordance with the best traditions of American universities, the faculty plays a primary role in…faculty personnel actions,” the faculty role in noncompetitive hires is equal to that in competitive searches and hires.  This policy concerns all noncompetitive hires of instructional term, tenured, and tenure-line faculty.


Noncompetitive or direct hires are hires in which the search process is waived.  When hiring term, tenured and tenure-line faculty, competitive searches should be used except in very special circumstances.  These circumstances are normally limited to situations (a) when the candidate has already established a national/international reputation, the program has a unique opportunity to hire the targeted candidate, and the area of specialization complements those of faculty already in the program; (b) when the candidate is a close family member (spouse, parent, child, or sibling) of a candidate being hired through formal search procedures and the university is attempting to accommodate the family member; and (c) when an administrator is hired and is considered for acceptance in a specific local academic unit (LAU).  While an administrator is normally hired using a competitive process at the administrative level, this policy applies because s/he is not part of a competitive process at the level of the LAU.  Instructional term faculty may also be hired without a search when classes must be staffed immediately due to an unexpected resignation, death, or illness of a member of the teaching faculty.  Waiver of a search in this situation is usually only valid for up to one year.


Procedures.  Faculty in the LAU review the credentials of any individual who is a candidate for noncompetitive hire using the same procedures as review of competitive hire candidates.  These include at a minimum the opportunity to examine a curriculum vitae, meet with the candidate, attend a job seminar or formal presentation by the candidate, and review letters of reference.  The LAU faculty then vote to accept or reject the candidate.  The hiring process moves forward only when a majority of the LAU faculty who are eligible to vote accept the candidate.


If a candidate for noncompetitive hire is to be tenured upon hiring, s/he must be reviewed by both the LAU faculty and the college- or school-level promotion and tenure committee.  The LAU review requires a majority positive vote by eligible faculty for tenure in addition to the vote to accept the candidate into the program.  If the LAU faculty vote is positive and the chair approves of the candidate, the dossier is then sent to the college or school promotion and tenure committee.  As with all tenure reviews, independent external letters from recognized experts in the candidate’s field must be obtained in a manner consistent with other tenure reviews, and candidates are held to the same standards as other candidates in that LAU.  Since noncompetitive hires may be made outside the normal annual promotion and tenure cycle, college and school promotion and tenure committees must develop procedures for reviewing candidates out of cycle.




The Task Force on Salary Issues moves:

That the Vice-President for Human Resources promptly provide to the Task Force the administrative salary data from the College & University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) salary surveys to enable the Task Force to report to the Senate on issues related to the compensation of Mason’s administrative faculty.



Access to the CUPA salary survey data is by subscription only and subscriptions are only available to college and university human resource units.  George Mason’s Human Resources Office purchases an annual subscription to the CUPA salary survey data with university funding from the taxpayers of the Commonwealth.  CUPA officials have confirmed that Mason’s administration may share this data with the Task Force without violating its subscription agreement.  The Task Force on Salary Issues must have access to this data in order to perform its charge.




University Policy Number 4002 – Copyright in University Works is submitted by Matt Kluger, Vice President, Research & Economic Development, for review and approval by the Faculty Senate. The policy will be submitted to the Board of Visitors for its approval following the Senate’s consideration.


The principal purposes on the revised policy, as stated in the policy itself, are to –


  • Clarify rights of authorship and ownership in copyrighted works, affirming the university's commitment to the "traditional works" doctrine under which copyright in works created at the university by faculty and students is generally owned by the creators;


  • Provide for the equitable sharing of the financial benefit from university-owned copyrighted works;


  • Clarify roles and responsibilities for the implementation of the copyright policy, including the role of a faculty-based Intellectual Property Committee to resolve disputes; and


  • Conform the university’s copyright policy to Virginia law.


Please click the link to read the full text of the policy.