Agenda for the Faculty Senate Meeting

April 7, 2010

Room B113, Robinson Hall

3:00 - 4:15 p m



I.                   Call to Order

II.                Approval of the Minutes of February 17,  2010 and March 3, 2010

III.             Announcements

President Alan Merten


IV.              New Business – Committee Reports

A.      Senate Standing Committees


Executive Committee

Motion on Non-Discrimination                                                                                    Attachment A


Academic Policies

Budget and Resources


Faculty Matters

Request for Faculty Senate recommendation to Emeritus/Emerita rank                       Attachment B




Organization and Operations


B.       Other Committees

            Teaching Effectiveness Committee

Report: On-Line Course Evaluations – Kris Smith                                          


Committee on External Academic Relations

Non-Discrimination Policies                                                                            Attachment C


Faculty Presidential Review Committee

Final Report:  Faculty Views of President Merten’s Request for Contract Extension 

Attachment D


V.                 Other New Business  

VI.              Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty

Update:  Faculty Lounge – Susan Trencher

VII.           Adjournment





Sponsored by the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate

Whereas the Graduate and Professional Student Association has unanimously adopted a Resolution to Support Non-Discrimination at George Mason University;

Whereas the Student Senate of George Mason University has unanimously passed a Bill to Support Non-Discrimination at George Mason University;

Whereas the Board of Visitors of George Mason University has adopted a resolution in which it remains deeply committed to equal treatment of all persons in their dealings with the university in any and all contexts;

Whereas the American Association of University Professors has vigorously advocated its support for non-discrimination policies, especially the Virginia Conference of the AAUP and the AAUP Committee on Sexual Diversity and Gender Identity;

Whereas the Faculty Senate of GMU continues to support University Policy 1201 that promotes a culture of inclusivity and non-discrimination;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Faculty Senate of George Mason University encourages the Virginia General Assembly to add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to Section 2.2-3900 B.1. of the Virginia Human Rights Act.



The Faculty Senate recommends conferral of the honorary rank of Emerita to Assistant Professor Lucille Boland as recommended by the Promotion and Tenure Review Committee and Dean Travis of the College of Health and Human Services.

October 15, 2009

Robin Remsburg, PhD, RN, FAAN
Associate Dean, School of Nursing

College of Health and Human Services
George Mason University
4400 University Drive, MS 3C4
Fairfax, VA 22030

Dear Dr. Remsburg:

This letter is written in support of the nomination of Assistant Professor M. Lucille Boland to the honorable title of Professor Emerita, College of Health and Human Services (CHHS), School of Nursing. 

For the past 30 years, Ms. Boland has supported the teaching mission of our College.  She is widely recognized as a compassionate and caring instructor who holds her students to high standards in the areas of critical thinking, patient safety, and ethical practice.  She has taught thousands of nursing students who now provide quality health care for individuals and families in the Northern Virginia community and around the globe.  While the full impact of her teaching effectiveness is difficult to measure, faculty members who have worked with her know her work has been a powerful force for the good.

In addition to her teaching role in classroom and hospital settings, Ms. Boland has advanced the quality of education in our School through her hard work and leadership in the developing the Toups Simulation Laboratory.  Beginning in 2002, she worked with designers to determine the best layout and equipment to create a state-of-the-art lab for students to practice nursing skills until they reached sufficient proficiency and confidence for actual patient care applications.  Her own experience in both teaching and clinical practice informed the excellent decisions she made in designing the lab that continues to serve the School well while technological advances in patient care change rapidly.  In addition to her foundational work for this facility, Ms. Boland has established an endowment for the Toups Simulation Laboratory to ensure that future students will be afforded the same level of excellent preparation for clinical practice that our current students have experienced.

Further, Ms.Boland has had a leadership role in the development of the Dimensions magazine, a periodical that showcases the achievements of the College.  In this effort, she has written original articles, collected and processed writings from College members, and worked with the University Creative Services to design a layout that appeals to a broad spectrum of target audiences including Alumni, Donors, Friends of the College, other Schools of Nursing, and participants at local, national, and international conferences.

In addition to all of her accomplishments in the School and College, Ms. Boland has been an outstanding member of our University community during her time here at Mason.  For the past four years she has been the faculty representative to the CHHS Alumni Chapter Board of the University Alumni Association.  In that role she has served as the liaison between faculty members and alumni.  As the faculty representative, she also sits on the Scholarship and Awards Committee that is responsible for selecting recipients of the Marie Gillman Scholarship Award and the CHHS Distinguished Alumni Award.  A testament to her excellent work on behalf of our alumni is a recent vote by the Board of the Alumni Chapter to award her Honorary Alumna status.  She will be one of only three people in the history of the College to receive this recognition.

Since 1996, Ms. Boland has served on the University Task Force for the Annual Health and Fitness Day.  Here she coordinated the participation of Nursing students and numerous community groups (e.g., Lion’s Club, Inova Blood Donor Services).  She also assisted with marketing and advertising for the event.  In addition, she has served as our faculty liaison to the Catholic Campus Ministry since 1988. 

Ms. Boland belongs to numerous professional organizations.  Most noteworthy are her contributions to the Association of Women’s Health Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses.  Since 1984, she has held a wide array of local, state, district and national offices in the organization.

In recognition of all of Ms. Boland’s outstanding contributions to the School, College and University, the Promotion, Tenure, and Reappointment Committee of the School of Nursing has unanimously voted to support the awarding of the title of Professor Emerita to M. Lucille Boland. 


Kathleen F. Gaffney, PhD, RN-CS, F/PNP - Chair, PTR Committee         

Charlene Douglas, PhD, RN - Member, PTR Committee

Pamela Cangelosi, PhD, RN, CNE -  Member, PTR Committee

Loretta Normile, PhD, RN - Member, PTR Committee      



To:                   Peter N. Stearns, Provost

                        Alan G. Merten, President

From:              Shirley S. Travis, Dean

                        College of Health and Human Services

Date:               December 16, 2009

I am pleased to recommend Ms. Lucile Boland, Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing, for Emeritus Status upon her resignation and retirement from George Mason University on February 1, 2010. Ms. Boland has been an important member of the Mason faculty for 30 years. She was here during the early days of developing the nursing program with Dr. Evelyn Cohelan, has been a steadfast supporter of the growth and expansion of what is now the College of Health and Human Services, and was Chairperson of the Naming Committee for the new college.

During her years at Mason, Ms. Boland interacted with hundreds of our future alumni. She is one of our most versatile faculty members who carries her passion for the profession into each and every class she teaches. The success of her students is her passion. In her decades at Mason, Ms. Boland has done more for community relations than most of us could ever hope to accomplish. She is trusted, valued, and sought after by community organizations and our own university operations. She delivers on promises and commitments. Our college alumni chapter is in the process of making her an honorary alumna in recognition of her many extraordinary contributions to the college alumni association.

We respectfully recommend the title of Professor Emerita of Nursing for Ms. Boland to be effective March 1, 2010.








TO:      Faculty Senate


FROM: Committee on External Academic Relations


DATE: March 30, 2010


RE:      Non-Discrimination Policies

This memorandum is in response to the issues surrounding non-discrimination language in Virginia code. After some discussion, the committee recommends three actions.

1. We recommend a resolution by the Faculty Senate supporting the BOV resolution that was sent to the legislature. The full text of the BOV resolution is contained at the end of this memo. Specifically, our resolution would read,

Whereas the Board of Visitors of George Mason University has issued a resolution on March 24, 2010 concerning discrimination against all persons in their dealings with the university; and

Whereas the Faculty of George Mason University believes that all employees and students of the Commonwealth deserve statutory protection against discrimination;


Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Faculty of George Mason University support the full resolution of the Board of Visitors of George Mason University in their deep commitment to equal treatment of all persons in their dealings with the university in any and all contexts.


2. We recommend that any faculty member who would like to do so sign the online petition developed by Equality Virginia (the most organized and powerful voice for non-discrimination in Virginia). A link to the online petition can be found at:

3. We recommend that faculty members write their senators and delegates in support of non-discrimination. A potential letter follows for your consideration. If you do not have the information for your senator/delegate, you can get information about who your senators and delegates are by going to Please note that letters should not be sent on university stationery; they should come from you as a private individual, although it is perfectly fine to indicate that you are a member of the faculty at George Mason (as in the suggested letter).


We should note that the committee recommends support of the BOV resolution rather than the development of an alternative resolution on the part of the Faculty Senate. The committee feels that support of the existing resolution provides a sense of unity within the University community. Further, the committee is concerned that explicitly including language regarding specific classes of individuals may dilute our message. A bill went before the legislature this year that explicitly contained language such as that which we believe will be proposed by the Executive Committee of the Senate. Although this bill passed in the Senate, it failed in the House. If we proposed this language again, some lawmakers may believe that we have not done our homework and don't realize the House of Delegates will not be supportive. We believe that even friendly delegates don't like to be asked to spearhead something that has little or no chance of success. Thus, we support the broader statement that may have more of a chance of influencing legislators.


The committee also wanted to pass along two additional pieces of information. The first is from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. AASCU has a general phrase in its mission statement regarding a commitment to access and opportunity. In 2009, the American Council on Education and The College Board drafted a statement on diversity. One section, on defining diversity seems germane and useful. It reads:

“An expanded definition of “diversity.” Federal legal issues associated with campus diversity tend to center on issues of race and ethnicity (with some corresponding focus on issues of gender, as well as on
policies affecting undocumented students). Coupled with the “social justice” access and diversity goals that have shaped the recent history of so many higher education institutions (where issues of race have
been predominant), the term “diversity” in campus dialogues has often served as a literal substitute for an institutional race/ethnicity focus — and mistakenly so. One of the few definitive bright lines to emerge from federal case law — that educational diversity cannot be limited to issues of race and ethnicity (or else, it is little more than racial balancing) — is an important principle for guiding higher education discussions about how institutions value and define diversity, with attention to the rich array of student backgrounds and characteristics that can (and should) shape the makeup of a robust learning environment. Thus, important conversations on campus should include not only a focus on the role of race and ethnic diversity as part of the educational enterprise, but also real attention to issues of socioeconomic status (with obvious implications for institutional financial aid policies), family educational background, geographic diversity, multicultural factors, sexual orientation, religious background, life experiences (e.g., military experience), unique skills and talents, and much more.”


The second is an editorial written by two faculty members in the Psychology Department. It was not accepted for publication, but you might find it helpful as background information.



Science Shows Cuccinelli’s Efforts Will Harm Virginia

By Eden B. King, Ph.D. and Jose M. Cortina, Ph.D.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s recently encouraged the leaders of Virgina’s public colleges and universities to remove discrimination protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (GLBT). Governor Bob McDonnell responded to criticism about Cuccinelli’s advice by stating that he would not tolerate bias toward gay workers. Unfortunately, such statements are hollow promises: without formal provisions for the protection of GLBT workers, McDonnell would have no standing to prevent such bias from occurring or to punish offenders.

The recommendations of Cucinelli and McDonnell are not only an affront to the spirit of public education, they are inconsistent with the science that these institutions of higher education produce. Indeed, our recent review of scientific evidence on this matter (in the journal Industrial Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice) shows that removing protection for GLBT individuals will have negative implications for the people of, and institutions of higher education in, Virginia.

Objections to GLBT non-discrimination policies typically take one of three forms. First, some argue that GLBT individuals do not need to be protected from discrimination because our society has moved beyond prejudice in the workplace. Research directly contradicts this argument by finding that GLBT workers are less likely to be hired, more likely to be fired, and less likely to be promoted than their heterosexual counterparts. As much as 66 percent of GLBT workers report that they have faced discrimination.

Second, some argue that GLBT individuals should not be protected from discrimination because the costs of maintaining such polices may be too high for organizations. While it is true that organizations, colleges, and universities may pay costs for initiatives such as benefits for same-sex partners, research has also shown that the costs of allowing discrimination to be maintained are substantial. Research from scientists across the country has shown that individuals who encounter discrimination report physical, stress-related symptoms and are at risk for depression. More directly related to the bottom-line, discrimination is associated with outcomes that affect worker productivity and organizational performance: decreased job satisfaction, decreased job commitment, and increased stress and turnover. Institutions that make employment decisions on the basis of sexual orientation will encounter problems not only with employee health and retention, but also with performance. Given that there is no evidence that GLBT workers perform any less well than heterosexual workers, personnel decisions made on the basis of sexual orientation will be inefficient and therefore costly for institutions.

A third objection to GLBT non-discrimination policies is based on a moral argument-- the idea that non-heterosexual people and behaviors are morally or ethically wrong. While we personally emphatically disagree with this belief, we endorse the ideals of academic freedom and welcome respectful debate about ideas and values in institutions of higher learning. In line with the goals of a comprehensive education, we ask students in our classes to think critically about multiple perspectives on given topics and to consider both sides of controversial issues. Science points to the importance of varied perspectives in such discussions- in the absence of diversity, people tend to talk about those things that everyone else is already talking about. It is human nature to conform to the opinions and behaviors of those around us. Policies that, implicitly or explicitly, promote discrimination toward any group suppress discussion of divergent ideas as these ideas might be perceived as socially unacceptable. The implication of discrimination toward GLBT individuals in institutions of higher learning, then, is that students will engage in less critical thinking and will ultimately be unprepared for the real world that awaits them upon graduation.

Academic institutions can't control discrimination in the business world, but we can try to open the eyes of our students to the reality and consequences of discrimination with the hope that those students won't perpetuate it. We can also try to provide a (temporary) home for our LGBT students safe from such discrimination. Indeed, we have a responsibility to do so.  Employer-based strategies, such as the ones Cuccinelli wishes to rescind and McDonnell refuses to formalize, are precisely the efforts that have been shown to improve the experiences of GLBT workers. The presence of such policies (particularly when paired with a supportive culture for GLBT workers) is associated with reductions in discrimination, and thus can help to avoid the negative outcomes described above. In the interest of academic freedom, student development, equality, and even the bottom-line, our university leaders and our legislators should recognize that scientific evidence clearly points to the inclusion of GLBT workers in non-discrimination policies.

Eden King and Jose Cortina are professors in the Department of Psychology at George Mason University. Dr. King’s research focuses on how businesses can manage equitable and diverse organizations.  Dr. Cortina’s research focuses on emotion management in the workplace.


Suggested Letter:




Dear Senator/Delegate ______:


I am writing to inform you that I support changing Virginia s laws to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees from discrimination in the workplace. Without anti-discrimination protections for its citizens, Virginia will lose many professors, students, citizens and businesses to other states that do not discriminate. Bigotry is not good for education, nor for business.




As a member of your district and a faculty member at George Mason University, I encourage you to support non-discrimination legislation that protects all of the Commonwealth’s employees.






BOV Resolution

Resolution of the Board of Visitors of George Mason University


Whereas, a diverse and inclusive learning environment that respects and enhances the potential of all members of our community is vitally important to the mission of George Mason University to achieve excellence in teaching, research, and service; and


Whereas, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender faculty, students, administrators and staff make outstanding contributions to the accomplishment of the university mission; and


Whereas, the Governor of the Commonwealth has affirmed that discrimination based upon factors such as one’s sexual orientation or parental status violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution; and


Whereas, all employees and students of the Commonwealth deserve statutory protection against discrimination;


Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Board of Visitors of George Mason University that it remains deeply committed to equal treatment of all persons in their dealings with the university in any and all contexts.


Adopted:  March 24, 2010







Faculty  Views

of President Merten’s Request for Contract Extension


Faculty Presidential Review Committee (FPRC)

to the Chair of the Faculty Senate


George Mason University

February 20 2010



Members        David Wilsford (CHSS), Chair

                        James Carroll (CVPA)

                        Robert Dudley (CHSS)

                        Mark Goodale (ICAR)

                        June Tangney (CHSS)




I.        The  committee’s charge

II.      The process

III.   Findings of the questionnaire – quantitative and qualitative

IV.   Annual evaluations of the president

V.      Fundraising record

VI.   Views from the deans and directors

VII. The committee’s private meeting with the president

VIII.          Committee statement

IX.    Conclusion

X.      Appendices – A. Questionnaire Data + B. Fundraising Record




I.  The committee’s charge


President Alan Merten has requested that the Board of Visitors (BOV) extend his contract for an additional two years – from June 30 2011 to June 30 2013. The Faculty Handbook, in Section 1.2.5 [“Faculty Participation in the Selection of Certain

Members of the Central Administration”], states that:


“The faculty plays a vital role in the appointment and reappointment of senior academic administrators and other leadership positions related to the academic mission of the university. The Board of Visitors provides for participation on presidential search and reappointment committees by faculty who are elected by the General Faculty. The search and selection process must include opportunities for the General Faculty to meet with candidates who are finalists for the presidency.”


Therefore, through its Nominations Committee, the Faculty Senate sought nominees from the general faculty to comprise a five-person committee that would solicit and assess faculty views on the extension of President Merten’s contract.  This Faculty Presidential Review Committee (FPRC) was charged with reporting to the Chair of the Faculty Senate, who sits, ex officio, on the Board of Visitors and who is to present the committee’s findings to the Rector of the Board.



II.  The process


As noted in Section I of this report (above), the Faculty Presidential Review Committee (FPRC), was established by the Faculty Senate in view of Section 1.2.5 of the Faculty Handbook, in the circumstance of President Merten's request to the Board of Visitors (BOV) for a contract extension. The committee is composed of David Wilsford, FPRC Chair (CHSS,) James Carroll (CVPA), Robert Dudley (CHSS), Mark Goodale (ICAR), and June Tangney (CHSS). 


The committee was charged by the Senate with soliciting and assessing input from the general faculty and presenting its report to Dr. Peter Pober, Chair of the Faculty Senate.  In order to carry out its charge – within very narrow time constraints (3 weeks) – the committee:  (a) designed and administered an email survey of all general faculty through a confidentiality-protected, specially created e-mail in-box and listserv, (b) met with President Merten, and c) conducted a series of individual meetings with most deans and directors.  Data and comments were retrieved and collated (names removed) from the email surveys, as well as from (d) the “Faculty Evaluation of Administrators” reports from 2002-2009.  In addition, the fundraising record was provided to the general faculty, as well as the annual reports of the president to the Faculty Senate, and (e) these records were also reviewed by the committee.


The committee proceeded by consensus vote and its findings and this report are adopted and approved unanimously.



III. Findings of the questionnaire – quantitative and qualitative


As a means of assessing the views of the faculty, the committee created a brief four-question instrument.  This questionnaire was sent to all tenure track faculty, research faculty, and term appointments.  The committee did not sample the faculty; instead, it polled the entire population (census).  Still, it should be noted that only 124 faculty members respond to all or any portion of the questionnaire (out of nearly 1200 addressees).


Faculty were invited to complete the questionnaire and email it to a confidentiality- protected mailbox established for this purpose. (Some faculty chose to send the message to a member of the committee.  In that case, the committee member forwarded these messages to the confidential mailbox.)  Messages in the mailbox were combined into a data base that included all of the responses minus identifying information.  Thus, the data base used in the analysis is devoid of any identifying information.


1. Desired Qualities of a University President. 


As part of the committee’s effort to gauge faculty views we asked the faculty to describe the qualities that they look for in a university president.   This question was open-ended (i.e., specific possibilities were not presented).  One hundred and one respondents provided an inventory of qualities that they look for in a university president. 


Respondents provided a multitude of answers, but common themes emerged. Half of those responding specifically mentioned that one of the qualities they looked for was leadership.  Almost half cited the ability to raise funds.  More than a quarter specifically mentioned that they expected a university president to possess a vision for the university.  A similar number expect the president to be an advocate for the university outside the university community.  Just under 20% expect a university president to be accessible to the university community.  Ten percent mentioned management skills. 


2. Degree to Which President Merten Fulfills the Identified Qualities. 


The survey then asked each respondent to rate on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (very well) the degree to which President Merten lived up to the qualities that they themselves looked for in a university president.


Although there is a bi-modal divergence of views on his job performance (i.e, many scores on both extreme ends of the scale), President Merten scored an average 3.3 across all responses on the 5 point scale.  A little over 30 percent (the mode)  of the respondents rated the president’s performance a 5 (very well), while 15.5 percent felt that his accomplishments deserved only 1 (poor) on the scale. 


Those who rated the president low were most likely to express concern about his perceived inability to raise funds.  That is not to say that everyone who thinks fundraising important rates him low.  But it does reveal that the most frequent objection to his performance is the respondent’s perception of a poor fundraising record. 


The president’s perceived accessibility to the University community (or rather the perceived lack of accessibility) was also a common justification for a low rating.  However, again, many respondents who gave the president a high rating mentioned their view that he was indeed accessible to the university community. 


As for those who rate the President’s job performance highly, most comments attributed Mason’s growth—physically and in terms of its national reputation—to the leadership provided by the president.  He is often described in these views as energetic and successful in promoting Mason, and in the process, he is credited for turning Mason from a regional university into a university with an international reputation.


3. Should President Merten’s Term be Extended Two Years?


Question 3 of the survey simply asked if the president’s term should be extended for two years – from June 30 2011 to June 20 2013.  Respondents were asked to reply either Yes or No.  Of the 124 who responded to the question, 61 percent answered Yes, 39 percent answered No.


4. Reasons for Supporting or Rejecting the President’s Request for a Contract Extension.   


The reasons for supporting or rejecting an extension of the President’s contract are varied.  Many of those rejecting the extension cited what they consider a poor job of fundraising.  Indeed a perceived lack of successful fundraising is the modal response of those who object to a contract extension, but it is one of only many issues raised by respondents.  Many of those not supporting the extension point to what they see as an unresponsive and remote president. Some cited his initial failure to meet with the general faculty over this matter.


Comments from those who supported the extension were more varied.  Some were as simple as, “GMU thrives under Merten,.” or “He’s brilliant.”    Others were much more nuanced:  mini-essays that weighed the president’s strengths and weaknesses and concluded that the former outweighed the latter. A few respondents stressed that this was a bad time to be looking for a new president, especially in view of hard financial times in the general economy.



IV.  Annual evaluations of the president 


The annual evaluations of the president are highly consistent with the results of the contract extension survey just described.


Data on the Faculty’s annual evaluation of President Merten were available for the past six academic years – 2002-2003 through 2008-2009.  The faculty’s overall evaluation of the President’s job performance has remained fairly consistent over the past six years, with means ranging from 3.21 to 3.63 on a 5-point scale, and considerable variance.  There were no obvious trends across time.  President Merten’s overall job performance rating for 2008-2009 was 3.33, slightly above the midpoint signifying “adequate.”


In the president’s two areas identified in these surveys as weakness, fundraising and faculty relations, faculty ratings were similarly stable across time.  On a 4-point scale, faculty rated “Effectively obtains resources from the Commonwealth” between 2.6 and 2.83. (The past year was 2.63).  Faculty rated “Effectively obtains funding and other resources from non-state sources ” between 2.5 and 2.76.   (Last year’s item was worded “Effectively obtains funding from private sources” was rated 2.46).  Faculty rated “Effectively addresses the concerns of faculty” between 2.52 and 2.73. (Last year was 2.52.)


The president’s areas of greatest strength were captured by the item “Effectively develops relationships between the university and the larger community including political and business groups and university alumni,” with ratings between 3.01 and 3.34. (The past year was 3.01). 



V.   Fundraising record


The weakest element of President Merten’s record seems to be fundraising, which many parties make explicit note of and which comes through rather clearly in the attached appendix reporting this record, using data from the GMU Foundation and the Chronicle of Higher Education.   Taking into account the recent economic crisis that has adversely affected university endowments (closely tied to the stock market), as well as people’s willingness to make charitable contributions, we focused on fundraising data overall from the first 11 years of President Merten’s tenure:  mid 1996-2007.  (See sources for data cited below in the appendix: The fundraising record.)


GMU Foundation contributions from 1997 (President Merten’s first full year in office) to 2007 ranged from $8,324,684 (in 2000) to $26,979,537 (in 2006).  These figures are far below fundraising efforts of other state university presidents, according to data presented in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  When President Merten arrived on July 1, 1996, the GMU endowment was $17,890,000, according to the Chronicle.  From 1996-2007, the endowment grew to $54,720,000, an increase of $36,830,000 total, with an average of $3,348,000 per year.  The GMU endowment is the lowest by far of GMU’s new SCHEV-Approved Peer Group.  As of 2007, other SCHEV-Approved Peer Group endowments range from a low of $97,684,000 (Georgia State University) to a high of $1,556,853,000 (Indiana University).

President Merten has cited two factors to explain this fundraising record.  First, in his address to the Senate (Nov. 28, 2007) (and in his private meeting with our committee), President Merten observed that GMU fundraising is hampered by its relative “youth” as an institution.  Without an extensive, mature, and financially well-off alumni, fundraising is adversely affect.  He stated that GMU is doing well in comparison to other similar young universities. 

However, data gathered from the Chronicle of Higher Education shortly after his 2007 address do not support this claim.  A survey of institutions established in Florida and California after GMU was established in 1957 shows that only one (Florida Institute of Technology, established in 1958) had a smaller endowment ($42,916,000) than GMU in 2007.  Endowments of other “young” universities are typically much larger than GMU’s by several orders of magnitude.  For example, the 2007 endowment of the University of South Florida (established in 1960) was $388,516,000; the endowment of UC, Irvine (established in 1965) was $234,024,000; the endowment of the University of Central Florida (established in 1968) was $116,291,000; the endowment of Cal State Fullerton (established in 1959) was $96,228,000.  Each of these institutions in Florida and California are located in less wealthy communities than Northern Virginia, which is among the most wealthy regions in the nation.

Second, in his private meeting with our committee, President Merten also asserted that fundraising in the National Capital Area is complicated by the fact that many corporations serve as contractors to the Federal Government.  Such corporations would jeopardize their relations with Federal Agencies, President Merten explained, if they were to make substantial contributions to GMU, thus signaling substantial profits made from Federal Contracts.  However, other universities in the National Capital Area have had markedly greater success in fundraising and endowment growth, relative to GMU. 

The committee notes that a very substantial amount of fundraising at GMU comes not from central administration efforts, but rather from faculty research and direct contributions from the faculty.  For example, in 2007, the “Faculty and Research” category accounted for more than half of the total (51 percent) in gifts and pledges to GMU.  Of the $22.5 million in gifts and pledges in 2007, this category accounted for $11.478 million



VI.  Views from the deans and directors


The Deans and Directors (DD) of George Mason University are, in general, very supportive of President Merten’s request for a two-year contract extension. Their reasons vary as does the degree to which the DDs feel enthusiasm for President Merten’s performance in relation to what they believe are the ideal characteristics for a president of this university during a time in which the economics and politics of higher education are undergoing rapid changes.


One DD emphasized that the faculty and department heads in his unit were satisfied with the President’s performance and that there is no significant dissident view on this matter within the college. In particular, they appreciated the autonomy the President grants them in research and teaching, without micromanaging the affairs of the college or of the faculty.   This DD also made the point that the timing is not right now to begin a search for a new president because of the many projects that need to be completed. In addition, this DD noted that the President is very good with the local community.  

This DD’s two concerns about the President were that his imprint on academics was not very strong and that he could be more effective in representing the university’s interests in Richmond.

Two other DDs were even more supportive of President Merten’s tenure at the university.  They stated that he is an excellent and effective president and that his contract should “definitely” be extended. They stressed the autonomy he gave the DDs in contrast to the tight reins of the previous administration. They both felt that the cooperation that exists between units in the university was a direct consequence of the President’s management style and vision for the university. A criticism shared by both these DDs was that they felt the President could do a better job in fundraising.


One of these two DDs also had very high praise for President Merten, although he had some very specific comments regarding fundraising. He emphasized that the President should be encouraged to ask for the large, university-wide donations so that the DDs could continue to focus on the unit-level fundraising.


Two other DDs emphasized both the strengths and weaknesses in President Merten’s record, but on balance were positive in their overall assessment. Like other DDs, both expressed appreciation for the autonomy afforded DDs under President Merten’s administration.  They feel that although President Merten may appear to be somewhat distant and uninvolved at times, that this is actually a positive feature of the President’s management style when compared to the possibility of a meddling and intrusive president.  Both felt that the President did a good job representing the university to wider publics. Both emphasized that the President was genuinely enthusiastic about the university and has a talent for communicating the spirit and uniqueness of the institution. Both DDs expressed disappointment with President Merten’s fundraising record, but noted that it could have been worse.


Another DD noted the fact that President Merten had served for 14 years, which was the outer range of what is common among university presidents in the US. He emphasized that the university’s physical plant had been transformed under the President’s leadership and that the reputation of the university has improved significantly. He supported an extension of the President’s contract for two more years, yet felt that the university as a community should begin to plan for what will be an across-the-board change in senior leadership in 2013. This DD appreciated the way President Merten showed support for innovative and new knowledge areas at the university and was willing to let a thousand flowers bloom. This DD would like to see the President more visible around campus and more explicit in articulating his vision for the university.


Finally, another DD grounded his comments about President Merten, and his request for a two-year contract extension, in terms of a broader analysis of the changing nature of higher education in the US and the particular challenges George Mason University will continue to face as state funding declines faster than the university’s alumni can coalesce into a significant source of fundraising. This DD supports a contract extension for President Merten but, like other DDs, emphasizes the fact that senior leadership at the university will undergo major changes in 2013. Although he supports a two-year contract extension for the President, this DD believes that the university community should think clearly about how to best proceed with a change in leadership at the end of this extension.



VII.  FPRC private meeting with the president


As specified above, Section 1.2.5 of the Faculty Handbook, provides that an open meeting be held between the faculty and any candidate for appointment or reappointment to the presidency.  The Faculty Presidential Review Committee therefore requested of President Merten an open meeting with the general faculty. Through his chief of staff, the president declined, on the grounds that an extension of contract is not reappointment.  He agreed to meet with the FPRC privately.  While the meeting was private, therefore not open to the general faculty, there was no provision that it be “off-the-record”.


This meeting took place on Friday February 12 2010 with the president in his conference room and was a cordial exchange of full and frank views about his request to the Board of Visitors (BOV) for a two-year extension of his contract. 


In opening the meeting, the committee chair expressed regret that the president felt that he had to decline an open meeting with the general faculty.  The president then stated to the committee that of course he would agree to meet the full faculty, if the committee thought it important.


To lay out the framework for common discussion, the committee chair asked the president to address two specific areas:  What are the president’s goals, objectives and priorities for the university in the next three-to-five year timeframe?  What specific action steps does the president envision during this timeframe in order to accomplish the goals, objectives and priorities that he believes most important.


In response, the president began with his views of where Mason had been in 1996, when he had been named George Johnson’s successor, and how far it had come in the intervening 14 years. 


First, he noted that the most important needs facing the university in 1996 were to (a) boost the academic standards of faculty and students in both measurable and immeasurable ways, and (b) promote the school. (“Tell our story.”)  “The pride that others now have in George Mason is my favorite accomplishment,” he said.


The second imperative facing him in 1996, the president noted, was to “make the university more accountable” against the backdrop of a rather disorganized, deeply entrepreneurial culture.    After consolidating and reorganizing, he said, “We now have accountability.”  While an intellectual and academic entrepreneurial culture will always be important to the university, the necessity at the time was to tease and sift “order out of chaos.”


Committee members then turned the discussion toward matters of program development and why, in the words of one member, “we haven’t moved out of the third tier.”


In the last 14 years, the president said, decisions to develop Mason in certain areas have been more a function of targets of opportunity than of strategic planning. (cf, for example, bio-informatics).  The reason Mason has yet to move toward the first tier is that “we pay a price for our focus.  There are lots of things that we don’t do.”   Equally important, the president argued, are the deficiencies in the amount of external support and resources that Mason receives.


The president noted the low record in fundraising, arguing that Mason faces two obstacles on this score:  first, its geographic area is dominated by federal agencies and non-profits; these do not give.  Northern Virginia is poor in corporate largesse.  Most are federal contractors.   Mason has done better with private individuals, although it faces the handicap of being a “young university.”


The president also noted a lack of success in raising state appropriations for Mason vis-à-vis other large state universities in Virginia.  Along any index, Mason is still more poorly supported in its state funding than the other comparable institutions.


The committee chair then brought the discussion back to the president’s goals, objectives and priorities for the near and medium-term future.  The president identified three areas:  (a) to keep improving the quality of students and faculty, (b) to increase the level of federal contracts and grants, and c) the increase private fundraising and involving of the alumni. 


The president closed the meeting with a number of stories about how Mason has affected the lives of others and about how Mason and its community has affected his life in the 14 years that he has been president.  In explaining his desire for a two-year contract extension, the president stated that Mason had always “exceeded my expectations and is constantly a different place. . . . I want to do more and more to institutionalize that.”   Besides, he added, “our culture is unstable. Everything has to be reinforced every day.”



VIII.  Committee Statement


Faculty views of President Merten are mixed, but there is clearly substantial support for the president’s request for extension, alongside clear areas of disagreement.  Faculty hold a strong vision for GMU and are clearly invested in seeing GMU thrive as the world-class university it could one day become. 


The faculty take longstanding notions of shared governance  in the academy seriously.  This committee strongly urges a complete re-consideration and re-write of provisions in the Faculty Handbook that govern faculty participation in administrative appointments, reappointments, and extensions.  


Currently,  Section 1.2.5 is inadequate on two counts.  1.  The word-play of extension v. re-appointment needs to be taken out of play for the future. 2.  The language about addressing the faculty, applying also to the section on the Provost also, does not actually require that the incumbent in re-appointment come before the faculty. This provision could be interpreted  by some to apply only in cases of the initial hire.


Clearly, these provisions and the language embodiying them are unclear and ambiguous in important ways.   In any case where the administration and the faculty may be at odds on these points, the advantage goes to the administration.


Overall, appointments, reappointments and extensions are just one aspect – a very important one – of taking reasonable concepts of shared governance seriously in the university.


IX. Conclusion


Members of the Faculty Presidential Review Committee endorse and approve the contents and findings of this report, in all of their aspects, unanimously.


David Wilsford, Chair (CHSS)

James Carroll (CVPA)

Robert Dudley (CHSS)

Mark Goodale (ICAR)

June Tangney (CHSS)




X.  Appendices - 


A.  Questionnaire Data (graph of distribution of responses)

B. Fundraising Record


See following pages.


Appendix: X. A.

Questionnaire Data


Graph of Distribution of Responses


Appendix: X. B.




Source: Minutes of Faculty Senate meeting of February 6, 2008 (available at:


Note:  Data are presented through 2007.  Owing to cataclysmic economic events that have adversely affected university endowments (closely tied to the stock market) and people’s willingness to make charitable contributions, data from the past two years are non-representative and difficult to interpret.  Thus, we present data for the first 11 years of President Merten’s tenure:  mid 1996-2007.

 George Mason University Foundation Contributions by year, as of July 1:

 1996          $6,318,083      President Merten Arrives 1 July

1997          14,825,546     

1998          19,641,297     

1999            9,988,086    

2000            8,324,684    

2001          23,595,065     

2002          13,498,374      April 8, 2002: $110 Million Campaign Announced

2003          14,352,359     

2004          13,348,978     

2005          16,553,465      September 26: $142 Million Successful Campaign Concluded

2006          26,979,537     

2007          22,467,591      

 The sum of GMU Foundation contributions raised between 2002 ($110 Million Campaign Announced) and 2005 equals $57.752 million.  The sum of foundation contributions raised between 1996 (President Merten’s arrival) and 2001 (before the announcement of the $110 Million Campaign) equals $82.693 million.  Thus, the $142 million campaign requires us to include all funds raised since 1996 in the total.

George Mason University Foundation Endowment by year, as of July 1:

 1996              $17,890,000      President Merten Arrives July 1

1997                22,480,000

1998                27,090,000

1999                32,170,000

2000                33,400,000

2001                32,630,000

2002                30,410,000      April 8, 2002: $110 Million Campaign Announced

2003                32,570,000

2004                37,980,000

2005                40,820,000      September 26: $142 Million Successful Campaign Concluded

2006                46,520,000

2007                54,720,000

 Source: Dave Roe, President, GMU Foundation.

Total increase in University Endowment 1996-2007 = $36,830,000 or, on average $3,348,000 per year

Endowments of Florida and California Universities that are “young” like Mason (as of July 1, 2007)

In his address to the Senate (Nov. 28, 2007) President Merten compared GMU fundraising to other “like institutions” commenting that GMU is doing well in comparison to other young universities (universities similar in age to GMU).  Evidence to the contrary is presented below:

  Florida Universities





Opened for Classes



Current Enrollment



($ Millions)


U South Fla








U Central Fla








Fla Atlantic U








U North Fla








U West Fla








Fla Internat’l U








Fla Institute of Tech











California Universities





Opened for Classes


Current Enrollment



($ Millions)



UC - Irvine









UC - Riverside









Cal State - Northridge









Cal State - Fullerton

























 Source: Chronicle of Higher Education, February 1, 2008.

 There was only one university (Florida Institute of Technology) on this list of “young universities” with a smaller endowment than that of GMU.  The University of South Florida (endowment $388.516 million) is three years younger than GMU; the University of Central Florida (endowment $116.291 million) is eleven years younger than GMU.   California and Florida experienced a lot of growth in the late 1950’s – early 1960’s.  They provide a lot of evidence to demonstrate that young schools can have a decent endowment.  The median income of families in Fairfax County is over $100,000.  Loudoun County has the second-highest median income in the US.  

Endowments in GMU’s New SCHEV-Approved “Peer Group” July 1, 2007:  

(thousands of dollars)

 GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY               $57,720

 Georgia State Univ.                                        $97,684

Univ. of Nevada - Reno                                  240,328

Univ. of Memphis                                           206,976

Wayne State Univ.                                          236,659

Univ. of New Mexico                                     320,200

Univ. of Connecticut                                      337,945

Arizona State Univ.                                        478,385

Univ. of Houston                                            522,395

SUNY & Univ. of Buffalo                             566,362

Univ. of Louisville                                          796,812

Univ. of Maryland                                          810,374

Univ. of Arkansas                                           876,839

Univ. of Missouri                                         1,097,846

Univ. of Oklahoma                                      1,114,426

Univ. of Cincinnati                                      1,185,400          

Univ. of Kansas                                           1,238,695

Univ. of Nebraska                                        1,277,169

Indiana Univ.                                               1,556,853

 Source: Chronicle of Higher Education, February 1, 2008.

Faculty Involvement in Fundraising at GMU

Marc Broderick (Vice President for University Development and Alumni Affairs) gave the Board of Visitors a detailed report about fund-raising performance at the BOV’s meeting on January 30, 2008.  Seven broad categories of giving were shown: Annual Fund, Community/Public Services, Facilities (e.g., Arts Center in Manassas/Point of View), Students, and “Other”, along with two categories that are directly related to faculty: Faculty and Research. In 2007, the Faculty and Research category accounts for more than half of the total (51%) in gifts and pledges to GMU.  Of the $22.5 million in gifts and pledges in 2007 -- Faculty and Research account for $11.478 million, more than half the total (51.1%). Faculty members brought more than half the money to the Foundation in 2007.