Agenda for the Faculty Senate Meeting

March 7, 2007

Room B-113 Robinson Hall

3:00-4:15 p.m.



I.          Call to Order


II.        Approval of the Minutes


III.       Announcements


Rector Sidney Dewberry


            Report on the reorganization of the Krasnow Institute



IV.       Unfinished Business and General Orders


            Green Campus Committee Report                                                           Attachments A, B


            University Policy on Copyright                                                                 Attachment C


V.        New Business - Committee Reports


A.     Senate Standing Committees

         Executive Committee

         Academic Policies  -- Motion from committee                                       Attachment D

         Budget & Resources

         Faculty Matters -- Motion from committee                                            Attachment E

         Organization & Operations -- Senator apportionment 2007-2008   Attachment F

         Nominations -- Jose Cortina is nominated to serve on the ad hoc Provost's committee to explore a Mason Faculty Practice Plan



B. Other Committees



VI.       Other New Business



VII.     Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty


VIII.    Adjournment





President Merten's response to the Faculty Senate's "Green Motions" of Nov. 29, 2006





The Greening of Higher Education Facilities and Operations:

A Race to Sustainability

Retrieve the entire paper at


Faculty Senate Green Campus Task Force

March 7, 2006


Executive Summary.  Colleges and universities are suddenly racing to green their campuses.  Within the last few years, green buildings and renewable energy sources are sprouting on college campuses across the country.  Campus administrators are using them to grab media attention and promote their schools as “sustainability leaders” to attract students and funding. 


LEED certification has become the standard for green building.  The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, composed of building industry leaders dedicated to environmentally sound and sustainable buildings.  Twenty-one states (including Maryland but not Virginia) are considering initiatives, or already have policies, to require or encourage LEED certification for new public buildings.  Sixty-one municipalities, including Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle have adopted or are considering similar policies. In many cases the state policies apply to state schools, but many schools have independently adopted policies that require LEED certification for campus buildings.  


College and universities are also racing to reduce energy usage and switching to renewable energy.  Midwest colleges are building wind turbines, and solar panels proved power to more than 100 college campuses.  Other campuses are saving money and reducing carbon emission by converting fossil-fuel power plants to run on biomass.  Purchasing renewable energy is another ready alternative; students across the country have voted to increase their own fees to pay the premium clean energy may still require.  Some schools run on 100% clean energy.


Transportation is another key arena where colleges and universities are making changes in the direction of cleaner fuels and fewer cars on campus.  Car sharing programs, like “Zipcar” and “Flexcar,” are expanding across college campuses.  Campuses are working hard to integrate with local mass transit, promote carpooling, improve bicycling and pedestrian access, and provide better shuttle service.  Cleaning up the campus fleet of vehicles with fuel efficient vehicles and vehicles that run on lower emission fuels (like bio-diesel) can contribute significantly to overall campus sustainability. 


Those universities that have a comprehensive approach to integrating sustainable practices throughout the operation of the institution also have active programs in recycling, sustainable purchasing, and sustainable landscaping practices. 


Financial obstacles to greener campuses have not proved insurmountable.  Although some initiatives require up-front costs, saving energy and water also saves money.  Because greener campuses attract positive media attention, donors, and students; administrators have recognized that they can’t afford not to invest in a more sustainable future.





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.


As a result of further discussion, this latest version of the University Copyright Policy has the support of all parties to the discussion between the Research Administration and faculty,_2007_final.doc

Previous versions:  This document shows the changes in the draft that was posted prior to last month’s meeting and which were distributed at that meeting. 

Suggestions by faculty for revisions to the policy can be accessed at





Motion:   Modify the Absence for Religious Observances policy (which is on p. 35 of the 2006-2007 catalog) so that it will appear as shown below, adjusted to reflect faculty concerns about responsibilities and limitations, and so that it also covers absence for participation in university activities.

Absence for Religious Observances or Participation in University Activities

It is Mason's policy to encourage its faculty to make a reasonable effort to allow students to observe their religious holidays or to 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 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, consistent with class attendance policies stated in the syllabus, to make up the missed work. It is the obligation of students to provide faculty, within the first two weeks of the semester, with the dates of major religious holidays on which they will be absent, and the dates for which they are requesting an excused absence for participation in any university-sponsored activity scheduled prior to the start of the semester, and as soon as possible otherwise. Students requesting an excused absence for participation in a university-sponsored activity must provide their instructor with letter from a university official stating the dates and times that participation in the activity would result in the student missing class. Faculty are encouraged to take religious observances into consideration when constructing class schedules and syllabi.



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 requested that our attendence policy be modified to cover absences due to participation in university-sponsored activities.


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.




Motion from the Faculty Matters to approve this policy that will be incorporated into the revised Faculty Handbook:.


Employment of Family Member/Partner


Favoritism or the appearance of it can undermine the trust that members of the university community place in personnel decisions as well as the public interest which the university serves.  Thus, a personnel decision involving a family member or partner of another faculty member or administrator requires unique scrutiny and special safeguards.  In no case should a faculty member or administrator who might have a “personal interest” participate in the hiring, supervision, evaluation, or other personnel actions that involve a family member or partner.


If a faculty member or administrator might exercise or appear to exercise control over the employment or other personnel actions of a family member or partner, the supervisor of the faculty member or administrator must, at a minimum, designate a disinterested person to substitute for the individual who might have a personal interest.  Additional steps may also be required if colleagues or subordinates of the individual with a personal interest are involved in the employment activities.  “Appearance of exercising control” includes but is not limited to assigning responsibility for personnel actions or supervision to a colleague or subordinate.  If the personnel action involves a faculty member or administrator in a local academic unit, the faculty in that unit and all other interested parties must be fully apprised of both the family/partner relationship and the steps that have been taken to ensure that the individual with a personal interest is not involved in the personnel decision.


At least ten days prior to consideration of a personnel action involving a family member or partner of a faculty member or administrator by the Board of Visitors, the Board will be fully apprised of the relationship and the steps taken to ensure that the individual with a personal interest was not involved in the action.  Only after the Board is satisfied that the present policy was implemented and that safeguards were adequate should the personnel action be approved.