Agenda for the Faculty Senate Meeting

March 5, 2008

Room B-113 Robinson Hall

3:00-4:15 p.m.



I.          Call to Order


Rector Ernst Volgenau


II.        Approval of the Minutes of January 23, 2008, February 5, 2008 and February 13, 2008


III.       Announcements


IV.       Unfinished Business

Motions from the Academic Policies Committee concerning incomplete grade policy

Attachment A

Motion to approve the concept proposal for a Faculty Practice Plan for GMU

Attachment B

V.        New Business - Committee Reports


               A.  Senate Standing Committees

Executive Committee                                                                                 


Academic Policies                                                                                       


Budget & Resources


Faculty Matters

Motion from the Committee:  Tenure Clock Extension for Serious Illness

Attachment C


Irene Bruno (IT&E) is nominated to fill a vacancy on the Writing Across the Curriculum Committee


Organization & Operations 


               B. Other Committees

   Ad hoc Task Force on Compensation Issues:  Motions from the Task Force

Attachment D


VI.       Other New Business


Eulogy for Egon Verheyen


VII.     Adjournment

ATTACHMENT A - Please refer to Faculty Senate Minutes February 13, 2008 discussion:


Motions from the Academic Policies Committee



Incomplete Grade Policies



Motion 1:  (Clarification on Earlier Incomplete Deadline)


To insert into the existing catalog statement the phrase “Unless the faculty member has specified an earlier deadline” so that the catalog would read:


“This grade may be given to students who are passing a course but who may be unable to complete scheduled course work for a cause beyond reasonable control.  Unless the faculty member has specified an earlier deadline, the student must then complete all the requirements by the end of the ninth week of the next semester, not including summer term, and the instructor must turn in the final grade by the end of the 10th week.  Unless an explicit written extension is filed with the Registrar’s Office by the faculty deadline, the grade of IN is changed by the registrar to an F.”


Motion 2: (Require Incomplete Grade Contract for Earlier Deadline Cases)


To add the sentence beneath the existing catalog copy:


Faculty members who opt for an earlier incomplete deadline will be required to file an Incomplete Grade Contract with the Registrar’s office, detailing the work that remains to be done, the general reason for the incomplete, and the student’s grade at the point of receiving the incomplete.




These motions originated from the Registrar’s Office, where concerns have been expressed about the lack of clarification regarding incomplete deadlines and expectations.  The lack of specific policy regarding earlier deadlines is difficult to defend when a student goes through a grade appeal process regarding an incomplete.  Additionally, there is an apparent lack of clarity on the part of students as to what work is due and when.  The Incomplete Grade Contract would allow for clarification of academic policy including an earlier deadline for graduating students.  It would also specify remaining work to be done in the event that a substitute evaluator must complete the grading process.    



An example of a contract is shown below.





George Mason University

Incomplete Grade Contract


Student’s Name  ___________________________________________________________________________

                                    Last                                         First                                        Middle Initial


GNumber___________________________________________  Day Phone  __________________________


Course # __________________ Section #_________  Title ________________________________________


Semester:       _____  Fall                  Year    ________

                        _____  Spring

                        _____  Summer         








Students submit work to instructor by end of the 9th week of next fall or spring semester


Instructor reports grade to Office of the Registrar

 one week later



 (no later than University Deadline)


Student submits work to instructor by:





Instructor reports grade to Office of the Registrar

 one week later


List the remaining requirements below:

1.      ____________________________________________

2.      ____________________________________________

3.      ____________________________________________

4.      ____________________________________________

Student’s Grade at this point:  ___________________


Other pertinent information which will be of help in accurately evaluating this student in absence of instructor:________________________________________________________________________________






Student____________________________   Date______________________________


Instructor__________________________    Date______________________________

ATTACHMENT B:  Please refer to Faculty Senate Minutes February 13, 2008 discussion:



George Mason University’s Faculty Practice Plan






The George Mason University Faculty Practice Plan (FPP) supports the educational mission of the University. The approved plan outlines policies that: (a) provide a professional practice structure, (b) describe mechanisms by which individual academic units (colleges, schools, and institutes) can link to the university practice plan, and (c) foster a sense of practice plan identity among all participating faculty members.




The FPP will provide formal support for ongoing education, training, and certification of faculty members and students. Additionally, the FPP enables the provision of professional services to address both unmet and specialized needs of the community Virginiavia collaborations, consultations, and coordination with other agencies and organizations. 




“Faculty practice” is any professional service provided by a faculty member within his or her scope of employment. Practice activities that are approved for participation in the FPP provide faculty members practical experiences essential to maintaining and enhancing their skills and knowledge in fulfillment of the education mission of the University. 


Membership: Rights and Obligations of Members:


Academic Unit Membership – Individual academic units (colleges, schools, and institutes) may participate in the FPP with the approval of the Dean or Director of the unit, the Practice Plan Governing Committee, and the President of the University. Each Academic Unit Faculty Practice Plan must be consistent with the goals of the academic unit and the University. Each Faculty Practice Plan must include:


     (1)        A description of the University policies and procedures pertaining to

                 faculty practice activities and related fees;

     (2)        Incorporation of faculty practice activities in the unit’s bylaws;

     (3)        A designated fund/account into which all faculty practice fees are to be

                 transferred, which shall be held and administered by the respective

                 Dean or Director of the academic unit;

     (4)        An operating budget prepared annually and recommended by the Dean

                 or Director of the academic unit and submitted to the Practice Plan

                 Governing Committee and the President of the University for review,

                 approval, and oversight.


Individual Participation - Any full time faculty member (term, tenured, or tenure-track) whose academic unit is a member of the Faculty Practice Plan is eligible to participate in the plan. Individual exceptions to the above criteria will be considered on a case by case basis by the Governing Committee.


Faculty Designation - A new faculty category called “Clinical faculty” shall be available for fulltime faculty who are employed by the University to support a unit practice plan. This group of faculty members is the clinical complement to the University designation of “Research Professor,” in which the individual is supported on income generated by research grants and contracts. In these cases, the Clinical Faculty member would be expected to support all or a significant portion of his or her income by clinical practice.


Regardless of the type of appointment, all individuals in a faculty practice plan are bound by the general employment requirements at George Mason University and by the practice conditions set forth in the bylaws of their respective academic units.


Collection and Disbursement of Funds


All professional fees for direct services generated by an individual unit’s practice plan are billed and collected by the University or an approved Billing Vendor on behalf of the FPP. All fees are billed through or on behalf of the FPP and all funds collected are deposited in a Faculty Practice Fund/Account in the University’s name. Disbursement of these funds is made to participating academic units according to an agreed upon revenue split between the academic unit and Central Administration based upon the approved unit practice plan.




The University FPP is administered by a Practice Plan Governing Committee and the University President, or his designee, on behalf of the Board of Visitors. This governing committee is responsible for reviewing and approving all unit proposals for participation in the FPP, monitoring unit adherence to all governing rules and policies associated with faculty practice at the University, and providing technical assistance and support to units that are developing new practice opportunities for their faculty members. 


Elected membership on the Governing Committee includes a member of the Faculty Senate, and one practicing faculty member from each participating academic unit.


Ex officio members of the Governing Committee include the Vice President for Research, the Vice President for Human Resources, the Senior Vice President of the University (or his designee), the Assistant Vice President/Chief Safety Officer, and the Dean or Director of each participating academic unit (or his or her designee, such as an Associate Dean or Director of Faculty Practice).  A Chair of the Governing Committee will elected by the members.


The FPP Governing Committee meets at least quarterly to review, monitor, and advise faculty practice activities, such as actual or proposed program components, quality and safety reports, and financial reports. Individual members also meet regularly with the governing bodies of the individual academic units to assure compliance with University policies and procedures and to


Committee Members

Shirley Travis, Dean, CHHS

Jim Olds, Director, Krasnow Institute

Beth Brock, Associate VP and Controller

Jose Cortina, Associate Professor, CHSS, Faculty Senate Representative

Lynn Gerber, Professor, CHHS

Linda Harber, Associate VP, Human Resources/Payroll

Matt Kluger, VP, Research & Economic Development

Christena Langley, Acting Associate Dean/Director, CHSS

James Maddux, Professor, CHSS

Goodlett McDaniel, Assoc Dean, CHHS

Ann McGuigan, Director, Research Development

Tom Moncure, University Counsel

Lynn Schrum, Professor, CEHD






Motion from the Faculty Matters Committee



Last year, the Faculty Senate approved a motion for Tenure Clock Extension for New Parents (May 2, 2007). At our January meeting we approved an extension of probationary period after being called up for Military Service. We now propose an extension of the probationary period (stoppage of tenure clock) for serious personal or family illness.



Extension of Probationary Period for Serious Illness


Extension of the probationary period for tenure track faculty member will be approved for circumstances that have a significant impact on the faculty member’s productivity, such as serious personal illness or a major illness of a member of the faculty member’s immediate family, under the following conditions and definitions. Serious personal illness or illness within the immediate family will be defined according to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), already used by the university. The FMLA act requires certification of the illness by a physician and is handled by Human Resources. Once certification of the illness has been approved by Human Resources, the faculty member can delay the tenure clock (extension of the probationary period) by notifying, in writing, the chair of the department or the dean/director of the college, school or institute in which the faculty member serves. The request must be made within three months of certification of sick or family leave by Human Resources. Probationary period extensions will be granted in one-year increments, with the maximum probationary period extension being a cumulative total of two years.  An extension beyond one year will require discussion with the appropriate department chair and Dean. At the time of tenure consideration, a faculty member will be considered using the same criteria as those applied to other faculty in the college school or institute. 






Motions from the Task Force on Compensation Issues



Motion 1. The Faculty Senate requests the creation of a Committee for Consolidation and Compensation (CCC).  Its charge will be to develop a four-year plan, effective as of July 1, 2008, for eliminating the longstanding disparity (in terms of real purchasing power) between the salaries of GMU faculty and staff and their counterparts in other colleges and universities in the Commonwealth. This plan will include aggressive efforts to persuade the General Assembly to address our need for COLA funding, but it will place primary emphasis on the reallocation of existing GMU resources as well as increases in student tuition and/or fees. The Committee will consist of 2 representatives from the Board of Visitors, 2 representatives from the Central Administration, and 3 tenured Faculty elected by the Faculty Senate.  Classified Staff will be invited to elect 2 non-voting members.


Explanation:  It has now been 7 years since the Senate raised the issue of low faculty salaries and the need for a COLA. Since that time, faculty and staff earning power has decreased, and present prospects for significant state-based assistance in addressing low salaries and a COLA are unlikely in light of a projected budget shortfall for FY2009-2010 and a temporary freeze on the salaries of public employees.


Throughout this time, GMU has continued to grow, creating new campuses and programs and allowing for a marked increase in student enrollment, despite low per-student funding from the State.  It is now time for the University to enter a new stage in which it dramatically slows growth, consolidates its existing programs, and addresses the salary needs of its employees.


Raising tuition is an unpleasant but justifiable necessity in light of the failure of the state to improve faculty and staff salaries. The additional tuition monies will be used to fund need-based scholarships as well as to improve faculty and staff salaries. GMU students also have the option of reducing the cost of higher education by choosing to attend NOVA for their freshman and sophomore years.  It should also be noted that compared to most students of national research universities, GMU students graduate with a relatively low amount of debt. 


Recently, it has been the State’s policy to provide a small but significant financial contribution to colleges and universities if they agree to not raise tuition above a specified amount.  If this State policy is proposed for the upcoming fiscal year, it should be a top priority of GMU’s lobbying efforts to convince the Legislature that the need for a cost-of-living-adjustment for GMU employees should make GMU an exception: GMU should be allowed to receive its full share of public funding and also raise tuition as it sees fit.


The composition of the Consolidation and Compensation Committee is meant to provide adequate representation from the Board, Administration, and Faculty as well as representation from the Staff if it so chooses.


If passed, this Resolution will be sent by the Senate Chair to the Rector of the Board of Visitors and to President Merten with a request for immediate action.



Motion 2.  The Consolidation and Compensation Committee shall also consider lesser but important steps that can be taken to improve Faculty and Staff employment conditions. For instance, to speak to the case of the Faculty: in recent years there has been serious discussion of expanding the Faculty Study Leave Program and implementing a policy for phased retirements. It seems that these improvements, which would be greatly appreciated by the Faculty, could be implemented at a relatively small cost to the University. This motion asks that these and similar possibilities that may be proposed be given immediate consideration by the Central Administration and the BOV. The Staff Senate should also be asked to propose ways to improve Staff working conditions and benefits.


Explanation:  It should also be noted that the benefits to Faculty that are suggested in this motion would improve the University’s ability to recruit and retain Faculty.


If passed, this Resolution will be sent by the Senate Chair to the Rector of the Board of Visitors and to President Merten with a request for immediate action.



Motion 3. The Faculty Senate requests that the Board of Visitors create, in consultation with the Faculty Senate and the Central Administration, a new merit- based, transparent performance evaluation policy for academic administrators at the level of Assistant Dean and above. The policy should articulate clearly defined annual performance criteria as well as transparent procedures for evaluating progress toward these criteria. This policy should be developed with significant input from the Faculty Senate and be implemented in conjunction with the next annual evaluation so that future salary increments for these academic administrators are clearly merit-based.


Explanation:  As a public institution receiving significant funding from tax-payers, George Mason University should conduct itself in accordance with “best practices” in order to maintain the optimal good will and support of the public. At present there are clearly defined criteria (teaching, research and service) for faculty raises. These raises (often quite small) are subject to careful evaluation at the level of the local academic unit, usually by both a salary committee and a chair, and they undergo subsequent review by the appropriate Dean as well as the Provost.  Information about both the salaries and the annual raises of Faculty are easily accessible to all Administrative and Instructional Faculty. Furthermore, Faculty receive standard benefit packages.  While perhaps not a perfect system, these carefully developed measures insure a significant degree of integrity and fairness which is supportive of Faculty morale and the well-being of the institution.


The practice for determining the raises and benefits of the President, Provost, Deans and Directors, as well as their upper-level staffs, is seemingly quite different—seemingly because in many cases there is insufficient information to know.  Because of this lack of transparency about performance standards, salaries and other forms of compensation, it is understandable that many Faculty question whether best practices are being employed and whether performance standards comparable to those used for the Faculty also apply to upper-level Administrators.  Faculty concern about these matters and the attendant erosion of Faculty morale has become acute in recent years as the average raises of the Faculty have been quite small and those of the upper-level Administration relatively large (often surprisingly so).  The Faculty, the larger University, and the Public would be well served if this problem were addressed.


If passed, this Resolution will be sent by the Senate Chair to the Rector of the Board of Visitors and to President Merten with a request for immediate action.



Motion 4. The Faculty Senate shall conduct annual evaluations of how effectively the President and Provost as well as their immediate staffs have collaborated with the Faculty Senate in matters pertaining to joint governance of the University.  The results of the evaluations will be sent to the Board of Visitors and the General Faculty.  In addition, representatives from the Senate Executive Committee and the Faculty Representatives to the Board of Visitors will arrange to discuss the report with the Board of Visitors as deemed necessary.  These evaluations should be one important factor in determining the annual raises of the President, Provost and other Administrators discussed in the reports. They should also be given careful consideration when these officers apply for renewal or extension of their contracts.  The first evaluation will occur in Spring 2008.


Explanation:  The Faculty Senate currently conducts an annual evaluation in which the Faculty assess the performance of the President and Provost (as well as the Deans and Directors). While this assessment is helpful and should be continued, it would also be useful to have the Senate, given its unique relationship to the Central Administration, conduct its own evaluation. The General Faculty delegates to the Faculty Senate “the responsibility for participation in governance at the university level” (Handbook, 1.3.1), and the Senate interacts regularly with the President and Provost regarding “all governance issues not internal to any single school or college” (Handbook, 1.3.2).  Given this mandate, the Senate has both a special need for effective relations with the chief administrative officers, as well as their immediate staffs, and a unique perspective upon how well these officers are collaborating with the Senate to promote joint governance and sound university policies. Accordingly, it is appropriate that the Senate conduct its own annual evaluation of the President, Provost and members of their staffs (with whom they have had significant working relations within the preceding year) and that it share this information with the General Faculty, which it serves, and with the Board of Visitors, so the Visitors may have a better understanding of the degree of faculty satisfaction with the performance of the chief administrative officers of the University.     


Process: The Executive Committee in consultation with the Senate Committees and Faculty Representatives to the BOV will compose a draft version of the assessment to be presented for discussion and approval by the full Senate no later than April.  The approved report will then promptly be sent to the Board of Visitors the General Faculty and the President and Provost.


The assessment will be a narrative report, and it will include, but not be limited to, the performance of the President and Provost, as well as their immediate staffs, in the following areas:


--The inclusion of the Senate from the beginning in discussion of new or altered university-wide policies that have the potential to significantly affect the future direction, definition, and operation of the University;

--The demonstration of a knowledge of and respect for the Faculty Handbook;

--The willingness to meet with the Senate (and its various committees and task forces) in a timely manner;

--The timely provision of information the Senate needs to operate effectively.


In Fall, 2008 the Senate will review this process and make needed changes.


If passed, this Resolution will be sent by the Senate Chair to the Rector of the Board of Visitors and to President Merten with a request for immediate action.



Motion 5. The Faculty Senate Task Force on Compensation Issuess shall make a special effort to bring these Senate Motions to the attention of the GMU Faculty and Staff. The Task Force will work with the Senate Clerk to arrange for digital copies of these motions to be sent to all Faculty and for hard copies to be placed in Faculty mailboxes. Faculty will be invited to submit to the Senate Clerk an indication of their support or objection to these motions. Copies of the Motions will also be sent to the Officers of the Staff Senate with a request that they be distributed to all Staff. In addition, the Task Force on Compensation Issues is encouraged, to the extent its time allows, to arrange for these Motions to be discussed in various University fora such as meetings of the colleges, of local academic units, and of the AAUP. All Faculty are encouraged to help with this process. 


Explanation:  The content of the Motions is of great importance and interest to the Faculty and Staff.  Accordingly, it is essential that the Senate take reasonable measures, and sometimes even extraordinary steps, to call these Motions to their attention. To assist in this process, all Senate members will be asked to volunteer to help with such matters as distributing the hard copies to the Faculty and arranging for these Resolutions to be discussed in their local academic units.



Motion 6. The GMU Chapter of the AAUP shall be asked to endorse the above motions and assist in disseminating information about them.


Explanation:  These motions are consistent with the mission of the AAUP, and the proposed collaboration promises to be beneficial to both parties.