February 1, 2012

Robinson Hall B113, 3:00 – 4:15 p.m..

I.                   Call to Order


II.        Approval of the Minutes of December 7, 2011


III.       Announcements

Dean Vikas Chandhoke, College of Science

Dean William Reeder, College of Visual and Performing Arts

Special Faculty Senate Meeting to Address the Presidential Search Process – February 8, 2012

Special Faculty Senate Meeting to Consider Proposed Changes to the Faculty Handbook – February 15, 2012


IV.       New Business – Committee Reports

A.     Senate Standing Committees

Executive Committee

Academic Policies

Budget & Resources

Summary of Summer Salary Inquiry                                                        ATTACHMENT A


Faculty Matters


Dan Joyce (CVPA) is nominated to fill a vacancy on the Organization and Operations

  Committee for Spring, 2012 

Organization & Operations


             B. Other Committees 

Report from the Academic Initiatives Committee Fall 2011                   ATTACHMENT B

Report from the Faculty Handbook Revision Committee                        ATTACHMENT C



V.        Other New Business

            VRS Update – Linda Harber, Vice President for Human Resources             ATTACHMENT D

Endorsement for BOV  Consideration of Emeritus Status for Thomas Hennessey



VI.       Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty


VII.     Adjournment





Summary of Summer Salary Inquiry

Conducted by the Budget and Resources Committee of the Faculty Senate


Funding for summer term is now part of the annual academic budget allocated to units. The summer instructional budgets moved to the academic units (FY) 2010/11 and are part of the transition to move the university to an annualized model. Deans and Directors now have the flexibility of managing all funds to meet annualized targets. Similar to fall and spring, if an academic unit exceeds its target the unit is compensated for the additional FTEs generated. If an academic unit does not meet its established target, the unit is required to return a portion of funding centrally.

The primary disconnect seems to be that units do not uniformly receive sufficient funding from the Provost’s office to allow full-time faculty to teach one summer course at 10% of their base salary, as required by the Faculty Handbook.  In the past, the allocation was made assuming that 70% of summer classes would be taught by full-time faculty at 10% of their base salary, but this approach has changed over the years.  As mentioned earlier, the academic units now manage all funding related to summer term. According to the Provost’s office, each unit’s budget for summer is set based on historical data and a varied set of factors distinctive to each unit. The use of a full-time/part-time ratio was based on the historical use of each at the university during summer term. If an allocated budget does not meet the instructional costs associated with building and offering courses that meet the needs of students and faculty, chairs may submit requests to deans. The dean determines a course of action and, if necessary, contacts the Summer Term Office for collaboration.  No dean did so for summer 2011, according to the Provost’s office. 

In some units (e.g., Psychology, SOM), relatively few full time faculty request summer courses and thus the funds allocated are sufficient to meet and even exceed the requirements of the Faculty Handbook.  In other units (e.g., Sociology) the funds allocated are not sufficient to meet this Faculty Handbook requirement.  Chairs must overspend their summer allocations to provide summer teaching opportunities to full-time faculty and must take money from other parts of their budgets which are already very tight to make up the difference.  It was noted that some departments implicitly discourage full-time faculty from teaching summer school courses by the number, nature, and/or scheduling of summer school courses. Electrical and Computer Engineering, for example, has reduced its summer school offerings by approximately 60%. 

Summer courses are important to both Mason students and potentially for a significant portion of Mason’s faculty members.   Most Mason students work a significant number of hours each week while completing their degree requirements.  As a result of the time these students spend working and commuting, they want to complete coursework during the summer in order to finish their degree requirements in a timely manner.  Summer salary is potentially important to many Mason faculty, especially because Mason faculty have received a single average 2.25% raise in the past five years and because Mason faculty salaries now rank at the 3rd percentile vis-à-vis SCHEV defined peer, adjusted for cost of living.

According to the Provost’s office, all tuition revenue generated during the summer is part of the annual budget model that is based on annualized FTE which forecasts total revenues generated from tuition and then expenses against it to determine the annual tuition increase. The model showing generation of $3 for every $1 invested in the summer is based on summer FTE only against costs for instructional salaries and therefore erroneously depicts a surplus. That said, the summer session is likely to be a source of additional revenue for units and the University given the number of courses taught by adjuncts.


In sum, units do not uniformly receive sufficient funding from the Provost’s office to allow full-time faculty to teach one summer course at 10% of their base salary, as required by the Faculty Handbook.  Yet no dean contacted the Summer Term Office in 2011 for an adjustment to the summer allocation. An administrative procedure is needed to more flexibly meet the faculty requests for summer teaching assignments and associated salary.  One possibility would be to modify the procedure so that a specific deadline date be established for faculty to declare that they wanted a summer school course and that funding sufficient to cover all their salaries be put aside at that date.  The remaining money could be allocated to programs as done in the past. 


During the fall of 2011, the Budget and Resources Committee of the Faculty Senate sent a survey to Deans and Directors to get a clearer picture of the state of summer teaching by full time faculty.  Fifty seven (57) surveys were mailed and 53% (30) were returned with 27 completed by administrators who had been in their positions long enough to comment on summer teaching practices in their Unit. Eighty one percent (81%) of administrators routinely notified their faculty of summer teaching opportunities with one administrator noting that they only used adjuncts because tenure/tenure-track faculty use the summer for research writing. The same percentage of administrators was able to honor all faculty requests, and used adjuncts only when full-time faculty members were not interested.


However, 19% of administrators were unable to honor all full-time faculty requests for summer teaching when requests were made.  One Unit noted that their College and the Provost’s office encouraged the use of adjuncts for summer teaching whenever possible. Various types of rationing strategies were used to support summer teaching: one unit used only lower salaried faculty, another limited summer opportunities to graduate assistants and adjuncts and did not offer courses to faculty with outside funding streams such as grants or stipends, and another Unit offered a high salaried faculty the opportunity to teach a course other than the one requested, resulting in the faculty member declining to teach.

Additional funding requests, on the order of $30 - $100,000, were suggested by administrators in order to honor all full-time faculty requests for summer teaching. As an alternative to the 10% salary, support options included: encouraging faculty to apply for summer funding from the University or other outside sources, reliance on faculty summer grant funding, financing labs in natural science at the 6.7% rate instead of 10% (unless they are coordinating) and encouraging more oversight from the central administration.

At a subsequent meeting between the Chair of the Budget and Resources Committee and relevant members of the Provost’s staff (Cathy Evans and Renate Guilford), it was decided that each year in September, the Provost staff would work with the Chair of the Faculty Senate and the Provost to send out a call to faculty for requests for summer teaching, to be submitted to the Chair, Director, or Dean (depending on the unit).  In October, Chairs and Directors will submit to their Associate Deans a course schedule (without a budget).  Associate Deans will then communicate with the summer term office regarding funding required to cover courses with adequate enrollment.




The Fall 2011 report of the Academic Initiatives Committee is posted on the Senate website.





Report from the Faculty Handbook Revision Committee for the Faculty Senate meeting, February 1, 2012

The Faculty Handbook Revision Committee and appropriate administrators have approved the proposed revisions to the Faculty Handbook that appear in the Attachment. The Faculty Senate will convene in a Special Meeting on February 15, 2012 to vote on the revisions.

The Board of Visitors has requested that any approved changes be considered by them at their March 21, 2012 meeting (agenda deadline is March 5).

By this report, we hope to give Faculty Senators and the General Faculty ample time to read and discuss the proposals before the Special Meeting. If there are any questions or concerns, they can be voiced at the Faculty Senate meeting or communicated to the Committee. It is unlikely that the Committee will consider any wholly new proposals before the agenda deadline for the Special Meeting (Feb. 8).

When the agenda for the Special Meeting is circulated, the motion to approve the revisions will include the stipulation that there are to be no further revisions at the meeting other than those necessary to correct typographical or grammatical errors. This procedure is the same as used for consideration of the 2009 and 2011 revisions.

The Committee and administrators will meet at least three more times this semester to continue discussions of proposals that are not yet finalized, as well as to begin discussion of any new proposed revisions.


The full committee recommending these changes consists of the Faculty Handbook Revision Committee, whose faculty members are elected by the Faculty Senate, and representatives from the Administration:

Geoffrey Birchard               COS

Lloyd Cohen                        SOL               Faculty Senator

Richard Miller                      CEHD

Suzanne Slayden                  COS               Faculty Senator                 Chair


Deborah Boehm-Davis        Associate Dean, CHSS

Renate Guilford                   Associate Provost, Enrollment Planning & Administration

Michelle Lim                        Human Resources Faculty Business Partner

Brian Walther                       Senior Associate University Counsel


The proposed revisions to the Faculty Handbook 2012 are posted on the Senate website.



January 12, 2012

Dear Fellow State Employees:

It continues to be my great privilege to serve you as Virginia's 71st governor and to work alongside all of you everyday. Since my inauguration almost two years ago, I have encouraged and pursued collaborative efforts to reform state government to make it more efficient and effective, and to position our state government for success in a changing and uncertain world. Toward that effort, I was honored to host the second annual State Employee Town Hall meeting last month. Thirty of your colleagues joined me in Richmond, with several thousand more joining by phone, online, or via teleconference. We held a candid, productive conversation touching on a wide range of issues. The input you provided through the Town Hall, and through other venues, are informing and driving the policies we propose for the Commonwealth.

Today, I write you about two of those policies.

I want to share with you first, in advance of a public announcement later today, my proposal to reform the critically underfunded and structurally imbalanced Virginia Retirement System.

As you are aware, I have already proposed the largest employer contribution in history to our state retirement system; an investment of over $2.2 billion. I did so to ensure that the system you rely upon would be fiscally sound and secure for decades to come. This contribution does help. The state is stepping up to do its share. However, after continuing to review financial projections and meet with our advisors, the simple truth is our state retirement system cannot be stabilized absent increased contributions from both employer and employee. This is a matter of math. We are all in this together, and solving this problem will require contributions from both the employer and employee side of the equation. There is no other way to make the system work, and your retirement accounts are too important to let fail.

To ensure that your retirement is there for you when you need it, I am today proposing a number of reforms to the employee side of the system. These reforms will put our system more in line with private sector plans. And they will help transition our retirement system to one that can survive and grow in the 21st Century. For too many years we’ve all kicked the can on making the changes we know are necessary. We can’t do that any longer. We have to act now to ensure your retirement account is there, in full, for you when you retire.

My additional reform proposal includes changing the formula for cost of living adjustments (COLA), phasing in increases for employee contributions from the current 5 percent (established in the 2011 General Assembly and completely offset by the 5% pay raise you received at the same time) to 6 percent at 0.5 percent over the next two years and creating a new optional hybrid plan that will give employees a choice to move toward a defined contribution system as opposed to the current defined benefits program. Most of these reforms should not impact those employees close to retirement. It is my intent that the impact of the additional employee contribution of 1 percent will be more than offset in fiscal year 2013 by my proposed performance bonus of up to 3 percent. You have demonstrated an incredible ability to save and allow state government to work within its means, and I am confident you will be able to do that again this year.

I know these changes will not be easy. You are being asked to make additional contributions to help provide greater security to your retirement system. But we don’t have a choice. The math doesn’t add up. Your retirement accounts are in jeopardy unless we make our public pension system adapt to the financial realities of the 21st Century. To stand by and do nothing, and put your retirements at risk, is not an option. We know what the problem is. We know what the solutions are. Now, we have to act.

Through our joint efforts on both the employer and employee sides of the contribution equation, we will together guarantee the long term health and integrity of the system on which we all depend. We simply cannot ignore the unfunded liability of the current system, of which we are all well aware. To refuse, in the face of overwhelming empirical data, to take bold actions now to correct its negative trajectory would be a tremendous disservice to all state employees, present and future. We cannot pass these hard decisions on to later administrations or state employees. We can come together to fix our system now, and demonstrate a collective ability to identify a problem and solve it, proactively. That’s good for our future retirement accounts, the stability of our state finances, and the entire Commonwealth.

Second, I want to address the issue of employee leave. In November of 2010, my Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring recommended that the “employee leave program ... be reformed and simplified to reduce current multiple layers in order to make it more consistent and manageable.” This was one of many recommendations aimed at streamlining state government operations. Over the past year, many of you have expressed uncertainty and unease regarding that particular recommendation and the way that it would affect your previously earned leave balances.

Based on your concerns and outreach to my office and my Chief of Staff, I have decided to postpone this initiative and continue to explore means of simplifying the employee leave system over the weeks to come in a manner that is fair, easy to understand, and beneficial to all state employees. I want to specifically thank those of you who have served as part of the Department of Human Resource Management's Leave Employee Advisory Group and for all human resources staff across the Commonwealth who worked to generate a plan worthy of and useful to our state workforce.

Again, I thank you for your continued dedication and unwavering resolve as public servants working to better Virginia for all. I am honored to serve alongside you in state government.


Governor Bob McDonnell





Endorsement for BOV Consideration of Emeritus Status for Thomas Hennessey


In recognition of years of meritorious service to the University, the Faculty Senate recommends to the Board of Visitors that Thomas Hennessey be granted the title Chief of Staff Emeritus upon his retirement in May, 2012.