Agenda for the Faculty Senate Meeting

March 4, 2009

Room B-113 Robinson Hall

3:00-4:15 p.m.


I.                   Call to Order


Rector Volgenau


II.        Approval of the Minutes of February 11, 2009


III.       Announcements


IV.       New Business - Committee Reports


               A.  Senate Standing Committees


Executive Committee


Academic Policies

Motion from the committee                                                                        Attachment A


Budget & Resources


Faculty Matters




Organization & Operations

Motions from the committee                                                                      Attachment B

                                                                                                                  Attachment C                         


               B. Other Committees

Report on campus Bookstore


V.                 Other New Business



VI.       Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty

                        Mark Q. Broderick  Vice President for University Development and Alumni Affairs


VII.           Adjournment



Resolution: Statement of Academic Termination for Undergraduates at George Mason University


(to be inserted on page 40 of the University Catalog, following GPA Retention Levels)


Termination from the Major


Undergraduate students in any Retention Category may be reviewed for possible termination by their dean.  Termination from a major – or from all majors in a college -- may be imposed as a result of excessive repeating of required courses without achieving the minimum standard, and for other evidence of continued failure to make adequate progress toward completion of the major.  Students must be informed a semester in advance, and given a chance to meet the standard or appeal.  Once a termination decision has been made, a letter of termination is sent to the student by the dean or director of the school, college, or institute, and notification of termination from the major is affixed to the student’s academic record.  Students who are terminated are no longer eligible to take courses in the program, but may transfer to a different major within the University to complete their undergraduate degree.


Additional insertions for catalog clarity:


Catalog page 33:


For undergraduate classes not repeatable for credit, undergraduate degree students may repeat courses for which they seek a higher grade.  Different academic programs may restrict repeats of certain departmental or college courses in the major.  Excessive repeats may result in termination from the major by a student's dean. 

Catalog page 34:


Note that individual programs may disallow students from retaking certain high demand courses simply for the purpose of improving their grade.  Programs may also require departmental permission for students to repeat certain department, school or college courses.




In Fall of 2004, the current policy on repeating courses went into effect. Since that time students have opted to repeat classes mostly when they have needed to replace unsatisfactory grades for courses required by specific majors, or in some cases, when they have wanted to improve their overall GPA. In most units, there are currently no limits to repeating a class, but the most recent class taken is the one that counts for GPA requirements. 


The result of such a liberal repeat policy is that, in some cases, students have repeated a course multiple times to improve their grades.  In a small number of classes, these excessive repeats (well over 5 times), have continued to be met with little success in the class.  The consequences of the course repeat policy is that (1) students unable to pass a course continue to take seats away from those students who are trying to take the course for the first or second time; (2) students waste a great amount of time and money repeating courses that they are not well suited for; and (3) students are demoralized by continual failed attempts to achieve a minimum passing grade.


Individual units currently have the capacity to limit the amount of repeats for specific courses.  Indeed, this option is already happening in the College of Health and Human Development.  Most units on campus, however, do not have a mechanism in place to enable an honest discussion with a student regarding their aptitude for a specific degree path.  A termination policy for undergraduates, much like the current graduate-level policy, would enable an individual unit to more effectively counsel a student who may not be performing well, and insist that the student choose a different academic pathway at the University. 





Changes to the Charge of General Education Committee

Recommended by Faculty Senate Committee on Operations and Organization (0&0)


Original Charge

  1. For all foundation, core, and synthesis general education requirements, the Committee will approve courses to fulfill these requirements.  The Committee will develop procedures for the measurement of “satisfactory skills in oral and written presentations” for the synthesis requirement, and work with the Office of the Provost to develop procedures for the demonstration of these skills before a faculty panel.


0&0 recommendation:  delete “before a faculty panel.” 

Rationale:  Such panels are rarely convened.


  New Charge:

B.        For all foundation, core, and synthesis general education requirements, the Committee will approve courses to fulfill these requirements.  The Committee will develop procedures for the measurement of “satisfactory skills in oral and written presentations” for the synthesis requirement, and work with the Office of the Provost to develop procedures for the demonstration of these skills.


Change in Charge:

E. becomes F.


New Charge

E.              The Committee will confer with the Faculty Senate Committee on Academic Policies when changes to General Education requirements impact the entire university and/or would be a change to the university catalog.


Rationale:  Consistent with the role of faculty in matters of curriculum as set out in the Faculty Handbook , it is important for the General Education Committee to work in tandem with the Faculty Senate Committee on Academic Policies when major changes, for example, a change in university wide general education requirements, are proposed for implementation.



Original Charge

   E. The Committee will provide an annual report to the Faculty senate.  The report shall include:

      a.  the number of students taking and passing proficiency examinations

      b.  Changes in the criteria for general education

      c.  The process and timetable of implementation of the general education requirements. 

   More frequent reports to the Faculty Senate might take place as adjustments to the general education program may warrant.


Change in Charge under F

 delete  (c) The process and timetable of implementation of the general education requirements.


Rationale:  This charge was put in place when the formation of the current general education program was still in process.





Motion for a Faculty Senate Standing Committee to Review Curriculum and Faculty Matters in Current and Future Campuses, Academic Programs and Activities of George Mason University


Whereas George Mason University is continuing to support and expand learning centers and academic programs and activities beyond the Commonwealth of Virginia campuses in Fairfax, Prince William and Arlington; and


Whereas the Faculty Handbook of the University specifies that control over curriculum matters resides with the faculty of the University; and


Whereas the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities (SACS) requires a thorough evaluation of all branch campuses within the first six months of operation, yet there exists no internal process for ongoing faculty review of the curriculum, faculty hiring, progress or effectiveness of these campuses, academic programs or activities;


Be it resolved that the Faculty Senate should establish a Standing Committee to review critical aspects of the development and ongoing operations of George Mason University learning centers and academic programs and services beyond the primary campuses of Fairfax, Prince William and Arlington.




A.  To fulfill faculty responsibilities for curriculum oversight within the University:

1) Gather accurate information from the Provost’s Office to review

            a) Initial, current and projected course and program enrollment;

b)Any Memorandum of Understanding or similar governing document or contract specifying arrangements between George Mason University and the host government, state, or responsible organization;

c) Reports presented to any created governance structure such as a Board of Governors between George Mason University and any host government, state, or responsible organization;

d) Vetting and approval processes for faculty hiring and course offerings through Schools, Colleges and Departments and other local academic units, including negotiated “rights of refusal” and other practices directly affecting the curriculum offered on campuses beyond Fairfax, Arlington and Prince William;

e) Information about resources, pay scales and other financial information relevant to faculty support, faculty and staff hiring, and curriculum development.

2) Provide a regular report to the Faculty Senate every semester; should the above access not be granted, such resistance will be documented and included in the Committee’s regular report.


B.  Function as a liaison on related issues with global education academic programs and activities.

C.  Engage in the creation of any new campuses, academic programs and activities, and any processes for developing additional Memorandums of Understanding or similar governing documents or contracts, including access to information specified above in A-1.


D.  Create sub-committees as necessary within the Committee to ensure adequate attention is paid to the variety of satellite campus locations and opportunities.


E.  Committee representation of elected faculty from no less than five different academic units to serve staggered two-year terms.