GMU Faculty Senate Agenda - October 18, 2006

Agenda for the Faculty Senate Meeting
October 18, 2006
Room B-113 Robinson Hall
3:00-4:15 p.m.

I.     Call to Order

II.   Approval of the Minutes of Sept. 6, 2006 and Sept. 13, 2006

III.   Announcements

 IV.  Unfinished Business


V.    New Business - Committee Reports

A.    Senate Standing Committees

            Executive Committee

            Academic Policies

            Budget & Resources

            Faculty Matters             Attachment A


                        June Tangney is nominated to a vacant position on the O&O Committee

            Organization & Operations

B.      Other Committees

            External Relations Committee/Faculty Senate of Virginia

            Faculty/Staff Housing Task Force

            Task Force on Salary Issues: Policy Recommendations            Attachment B

VI.    Other New Business

Policy on Use of Public Space      Attachment C

Resolution on Student Diversity and the Classroom Educational Experience       Attachment D

Resolution on Satellite Campuses      Attachment E

VII.   Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty

VIII.   Adjournment


Report and Motion from the Faculty Matters Committee

The Faculty Matters Committee was requested to examine parking decal costs, particularly from the perspective of a reduced rate for adjunct faculty. The Committee took the opportunity to look into a number of aspects regarding the policies and operations of the Parking Services Office. Committee members would like to thank Mr. Josh Cantor, Director of Parking Services, for meeting with the Committee on September 18 and October 4, 2006.

The Committee first presents a summary of its findings and concludes with a motion.

Motion: The Faculty Matters Committee moves that the Faculty Senate elect a faculty member to serve on the Parking Services Advisory Committee and that the elected faculty member report to the Senate at least annually on issues that are important to faculty, e.g., adjunct faculty and senior citizen parking rates.




Motions from the Ad Hoc Task Force on Salary Issues

 The Faculty Senate’s Ad Hoc Task Force on Salary Issues was charged to review the University’s existing policies regarding the salaries paid to instructional and administrative faculty and to recommend as it deems appropriate changes in existing policies and/or new policies to enhance equity and transparency in the University’s salaries. The Task Force is not charged to consider the salary policies as they impact the support staff but has concluded that the support staff’s salaries are also in need of improvement especially in regard to the high cost of living in Northern Virginia.

The Task Force has concluded that the University’s leadership must address the lack of cost of living adjustments to counter the high cost of living in Northern Virginia; the low benchmark for evaluating the appropriate level for instructional faculty salaries compared to the benchmark utilized for the salaries of some senior administrators; and the lack of transparency or meaningful involvement by peer-elected instructional faculty in some of the salient policies regarding salaries. The Task Force continues to meet and discuss these issues and may introduce additional motions for the Senate’s consideration at its November 1 st meeting.

For now, the Task Force moves adoption by the Faculty Senate of the following proposals which, if adopted, will be forwarded to the President, the Rector of the University’s Board of Visitors and the Provost for their consideration:

1. The President and Rector of the University’s Board of Visitors publicly announce that significantly improving instructional faculty salaries in relationship to relevant benchmarks (e.g., the 80 th percentile for public universities offering doctorates as reported by the American Association of University Professors), taking into account the cost of living in Northern Virginia, is the university’s highest budget priority over the next five years.

2. The President and Rector of the University’s Board of Visitors be invited by the Senate Chair to speak to the Faculty Senate* as soon as feasible to endorse and publicize the goal of significantly improving instructional faculty salaries as well as to share their ideas on how it may be achieved.

3. The President and Rector of the University’s Board of Visitors, in concert with peer-elected instructional faculty representatives and representatives of other key groups (e.g., the University’s lobbyists, students, Alumni/ae, and other supporters), develop and implement a detailed plan for persuading the Virginia General Assembly to provide financial support for significantly improving instructional faculty salaries.

4. The President provide the Board of Visitors and the Faculty Senate annual reports on the university’s progress toward the goal of improving instructional faculty salaries.

5. The President commit to limiting the annual salary increments for top administrators who are at or above the 80 th percentile with respect to their peers in comparable institutions (as reported by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources) to one percent until the salaries paid to instructional faculty reach the 80 th percentile with respect to their relative peers (as reported by the American Association of University Professors) has been achieved.

6. The Provost fully disclose to the Salary Issues Task Force the terms of the existing contracts of administrative faculty who report to him.**

7. The Faculty Task Force on Salary Issues be authorized to continue its work until it has completed the tasks assigned to it by the Senate in March 2006.

  *The President is schedule to speak to the Senate at the November 1 st, 2006 meeting and the Rector is scheduled to speak to the Senate at the March, 2007 meeting.

**The Provost recently provided this report to the Task Force.




Policy on Use of Public Space

In the Fall of 2005, President Merten established a University Policy Review Taskforce to consider how George Mason University manages the use of its public space. His charge gave the Taskforce three responsibilities:

The Report is now available to the Faculty Senate and General Faculty for review and comment. The next step in the process is revision of the existing policies as recommended by the Task Force by the end of Fall Semester. The revised policies also will be reviewed by the Faculty Senate and the General Faculty.

Please read the entire report at

Most of the policies that are referred to in the Report may be found at

If you have comments or suggestions on the Report or the policies that are to be revised, you may submit them directly to Tom Hennessey, Office of the President, MSN 3A1 ( or to Suzanne Slayden, Chair of the Faculty Senate, MSN 3E2 ( for anonymous incorporation into a response from the Senate Executive Committee.



Sponsored by Senator Jim Bennett, CHSS


WHEREAS Mason is often cited as being “Number 1 in Student Diversity” among U.S. Colleges and Universities, and

WHEREAS Mason’s Office of Institutional Assessment has reported that “Of the Fall 2005 incoming freshmen class, ... 20% were born outside the U.S. compared to 9% of freshmen at public universities nationally,” and

WHEREAS a “diverse” student body can affect the quality of the educational experience if students of foreign origin have difficulties with oral or written communication or are not adequately informed about the cultural milieu and the institutional arrangements in the U.S.,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE FACULTY SENATE that the Committee on Effective Teaching is instructed to collect and analyze data and information regarding how a diverse student body affects the quality of the educational experience in the classroom and, if warranted, how class sizes should be reduced to compensate for diversity. Recommendations should be made to the Senate no later than at the April 2007 meeting.


The Central Administration frequently emphasizes that George Mason University has the most diverse student body in the nation. As all faculty who have taught students from abroad are keenly aware, many of these students have less than ideal written and oral language skills and have a limited understanding of the contemporary cultural environment and institutional arrangements in the U.S. As examples, the vast majority of U.S. students easily comprehend the term “Catch-22" and appreciate the historical role and significance of, say, the automobile industry in the U.S. economy. The same cannot be said for many foreign students. A heterogeneous or diverse student body thus causes unique challenges for the professor both in and outside the classroom that would not be present if the class were homogeneous. Thus, diversity may well negatively affect the learning experience of all Mason students unless these problems are identified and addressed.

With regard to class size, U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of colleges and universities notes that among Mason’s cohort institutions in the “Third Tier,” 72 percent have fewer large classes than Mason, and 86 percent have more small classes than Mason. Thus, to meet the challenges posed in the classroom by diversity, many more smaller classes and many fewer large classes may be needed.




Sponsored by Senator Rick Coffinberger, SOM


WHEREAS the Central Administration has established a campus of George Mason University in the United Arab Emirates from which students may earn GMU degrees; and

WHEREAS similar operations may be established at other locations outside Virginia and, indeed, outside the U.S.; and

WHEREAS Faculty should have the primary role in decisions regarding curriculum and personnel matters;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Faculty Senate establish a Task Force on Satellite Operations to review the content of academic course offerings, to assess the qualifications of the Faculty, and to monitor any and all aspects of the programs, especially financial commitments and enrollments, offered at all satellite campuses. The Task Force shall consist of three GMU Faculty members in Virginia from programs offering degrees or certificates at satellite operations. This Task Force shall report to the Faculty Senate at least once each semester.