Mason Hall, room D1; 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.


Present: Kevin Avruch, Associate Director and Professor of Conflict Resolution, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution; Rick Coffinberger, Associate Professor of Business and Legal Studies, School of Management, Chair, Dave Harr, Senior Associate Dean, School of Management; Suzanne Slayden, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Science.


Absent:  Lorraine Brown, Professor of English, College of Humanities and Social Sciences; Martin Ford, Senior Associate Dean, College of Education and Human Development.


The minutes of our December 10, 2007 meeting were approved as amended below (in red text):

Revision: Policies Concerning Grievances

The university and each college, school and institute is required to have a standing committee charged to investigate hear grievances in a timely manner concerning (i) alleged violations of academic freedom; (ii) other conditions of employment, such as work assignments, salaries, facilities, and support services (exceptions are those types of cases treated in Sections and; and (iii) charges of unprofessional or unethical conduct brought by one faculty member against another. Each college, school and institute will establish, publish, and disseminate these their grievance procedures.  In all types of cases, procedures will reflect the fundamental principle of due process that prohibits people from sitting in judgment of their own actions, if those actions are challenged, i.e., grieved or appealed. These committees are particularly charged to be alert to instances of inequitable treatment and retaliation against colleagues who have filed grievances.   In cases alleging discrimination in violation of federal or state law or University regulations, the committee must consult the University Equity Office early in the process. The University Grievance Committee hears all grievances against administrators at or above the level of Deans and Directors. See Section (4-6).

In addition to hearing specific cases, the committees may initiate, as they deem necessary, discussions with appropriate administrators about any matters that fall within the committees' purview. In the course of such discussions, however, they may not commit the faculties of their units to changes in grievance policy unless specifically authorized to do so.

At their discretion, academic departments may also establish grievance committees. Their procedures should be similar to those of the collegiate committees.


The section on ‘Policies Concerning Grievances’ does not apply to the resolution of research and scholarship misconduct allegations, which is governed by University Policy 4007 –Misconduct in Research and Scholarship.  See Interpretation of December 3, 2007.


Discussion:  Multi-year Term Faculty draft document under consideration by SOM:

·        Term Faculty already brought into FH Committee discussions.

·        Range of options for term faculty members; to try to capture best practices whether term faculty member had to go up for promotion; e.g. instructors may be renewed for one-year contracts only.

·        To have three year or five year contracts?  Enabling vs. prescriptive, who gets three years? five years?

·        If promotion denied to term faculty member (example from another school), can you continue to be on multi-year contract if not promoted?

·        2003 Addendum to the Faculty Handbook (July 1, 2003) Procedures for Appointment and Reappointment of Term Faculty “green fields” approach – (may) renew from year to year for five years – now five year period ending – need procedures in place.  AY 2007-08 to be a transitional year, to continue for one more time to provide everybody seeking renewal for one more year if department wants them to continue. Practices may vary from college to college; driving decisions back to units because there are differences among units; as supported in FHC revisions. 


Discussion:  Enforcement of Provisions of New Policies Passed by the Faculty Senate to be included in revised Faculty Handbook: 

Awarding of Tenure at the time of Hiring in Competitive Searches – just passed by the Faculty Senate yesterday (January 23, 2008) in italics below:

Last year the Senate passed a motion requiring a “second level review” of direct hire candidates. Here we propose a second level review be required in all cases, including national competitive searches, where tenure is proposed to be granted at the time of hire.


In keeping with Section 1.3 of the Faculty Handbook that states, “In accordance with the best traditions of American universities, the faculty plays a primary role in…faculty personnel actions,” this policy applies to searches, (including competitive national searches), in which there is a proposal to award tenure at the time of hire. 

Procedures. Faculty in the Local Academic Unit (LAU) will review the credentials of any individual who is a candidate for hire. These include, at a minimum, the opportunity to examine a curriculum vitae, meet with the candidate, attend a job seminar or formal presentation by the candidate, and review letters of reference. The LAU faculty then vote to accept or reject the candidate and, in a separate vote, determine whether to hire the candidate with tenure. The hiring process moves forward only when a majority of the LAU faculty who are eligible to vote accept the candidate. 

If the candidate is nominated for tenure upon hiring, s/he must also be reviewed by the college- or school-level promotion and tenure committee. As stated above, the LAU review requires a majority positive vote by eligible faculty for tenure consideration. If the LAU faculty vote is positive and the chair recommends tenure of the candidate, the dossier is then sent to the college or school promotion and tenure committee. As with all tenure reviews, independent external letters from recognized experts in the candidate’s field must be obtained in a manner consistent with other tenure reviews, and candidates are held to the same standards as other candidates in that LAU. Since such hires may be made outside the normal annual promotion and tenure cycle, college and school promotion and tenure committees must develop procedures for reviewing candidates out of cycle.

Test case for hiring of administrative faculty member with tenure: verbal request made from Vice Provost to department chair, requesting a decision in two days; no one has mentioned college yet.  Department has not seen candidate yet; has returned to another state.  Looks strong, but with no mention of being tenured by the college; is an associate professor right now in a department different from the one in which tenure has been requested. No indication that Promotion and Tenure Committee has been alerted.  What is the rush?  Issue that instructional line not competitive re direct hire of administrative faculty.


New policies need to be posted on Provost Office website so readily available to (prospective hires).  Not to create more forms, but to highlight new procedures on Provost website in a clean, reasonable way.  New material in the Handbook (should) be referenced on Provost website as due diligence.


Discussion:  2.2.7 Emeritus Status – 2006 Revised Text 

Upon retirement from George Mason University, full-time Associate Professors and Professors with ten or more years of continuous academic service may be recommended to the Board of Visitors for election to the honorary rank of Emeritus/Emerita in recognition of outstanding dedication to the university. A letter reviewing the candidate's history of teaching, scholarship and service at GMU is normally initiated by the individual's LAU. The letter is forwarded to the LAU Dean, the Provost and the President for accompanying recommendations. 

As compared to 1994 Handbook Text:

Upon retirement from George Mason University, tenured associate professors and professors with ten or more years of service may be recommended for the rank of Emeritus. Recommendations for this honor are normally initiated by the individual's peer faculty and forwarded to the Board of Visitors like other faculty personnel matters, i.e., with accompanying recommendations from the local unit administrator, the dean, the Provost and the President.


Discussion:  Request made by Provost regarding granting of exception granting emeritus status to research faculty member recently retired. Request for emeritus status should be initiated at the department level, then to the dean. Recent exception granted to departing Professor Vernon Smith, Nobel Laureate, request for emeritus status originated in his department/college and motion requesting exception made to Faculty Senate because he is over 80 years old, but did not have ten years’ service at GMU.  The Faculty Senate approved the exception. 


In above revisions, “tenured” was removed, perhaps to address issue implicitly.  Dave Harr will write to the Provost about revisions proposed for new Handbook.


REPORT AND DISCUSSION OF JANUARY 3, 2008 MEETING between the Provost, Martin Ford, and Dave Harr:


Discussion:  2.4.1 Teaching (Section 2.4. Criteria for Evaluation of Faculty)

Effective teaching is demonstrated by the clarity, appropriateness, and efficacy of course materials, methods, and presentations, and successful learning outcomes. Contributions to teaching include the development and implementation of new courses and programs; the development of instructional materials, including applications of new technologies; the training and supervision of teaching assistants; mentoring graduate students; clinical and field supervision of students; and student advising

·        It was not the Provost’s intention to require documentation of learning outcomes in every case, but that it was important enough to include in various sources of evidence needed. 

·        For similar revision to Section 2.5.1 below, to add “learning outcomes,” that success is too high a burden, as outcomes may not be successful.


Discussion:  2.5.1 Teaching (Section 2.5. Procedures for Evaluation of Faculty)

Local academic units evaluate regularly the teaching effectiveness of their faculties. In doing so, they are expected to incorporate data from both peers and students. Whatever additional methods may be used to gather information from students, the process should provide for their anonymous participation in course evaluations and should allow for comparisons among faculty teaching similar courses. Peer evaluation is expected to include, at a minimum, data on the development and implementation of new courses and programs, the appropriateness of course materials currently used, and the level and quality of student advising, and learning outcomes.  Additional forms of peer evaluation are expected. These may include, but are not limited to, peer observation of classroom teaching, evaluations by mentors, assessments of teaching performance by colleagues, and teaching portfolios.


The evaluation process requires both quantitative and qualitative data. The methods by which such data are gathered and incorporated into the final evaluation should be well-defined and made available to those who are being evaluated, as well as to those who are using the evaluations in personnel decisions. Specific guidelines for the procedures to be used in the evaluation of teaching effectiveness will be those determined by the office of the Provost in consultation with the University Faculty Standing Committee on Effective Teaching.


Discussion:  2.8.4 Procedures for Promotion and Tenure – 3 of 3 Section F:

F.     All relevant materials are reviewed by the Provost. Before making a recommendation to the President on controversial or otherwise problematic cases, the Provost will consult with other academic administrators who have direct knowledge of one or more aspects of the candidate's professional performance. Notification of the Provost's recommendation is sent to the faculty who participated in deliberations at the local level and a copy of the accompanying justification is sent to the candidate and the local unit administrator (the latter copy to be retained in the candidate's permanent file).

·        Revisions reflect actual process in which the Provost only looks at ALL materials if the case is controversial or otherwise problematic, i.e., he looks at all relevant materials in the sense of relevance to making his decision.  The Provost also does not tend to consult with other academic administrators for clear-cut cases, i.e. when the internal and external faculty evaluations and Department Chair and Dean all agree, there is no need for consultation in most cases.  Such consultation does occur in controversial or otherwise problematic cases, but not in all cases.


Discussion: Eligibility for Reconsideration:

The reconsideration process for candidates not recommended for tenure in their sixth year of probationary appointment at George Mason University allows for consideration of new evidence not available to those who made the original negative recommendation. Candidates who have no new evidence to present, but who disagree with the evaluation of their record made during the tenure and promotion review process, may not seek reconsideration but are entitled to a re-examination of their case through the appeal procedure (see Section 2.9). Reconsideration, if requested, must precede appeal and must be completed before a candidate can file an appeal.


New evidence for a reconsideration must fall into one or more of the following categories:

  1. Scholarly work accepted for publication, or creative work exhibited, performed, or published, or other evidence of scholarly distinction which appeared after the tenure recommendations were made.
  2. Grants awarded after the tenure recommendations were made.
  3. Reviews of the candidate's scholarly or creative work which were published after the negative recommendation.
  4. Substantial evidence of significantly improved teaching.
  5. Substantial evidence of significantly increased and influential professional service.

The Provost wants to add language in noting reconsideration due to new evidence should be rare.   Reconsideration was intended to be something that occurred only when something very special happened in the months during the P&T process.  The deadlines involved in the process run from mid-January through final BOV approval in May.  Unknown how many requests for reconsideration are made.  Is reconsideration now not rare? Are conditions specified in the FH not strict enough?  As there are such clearly explicit conditions, does that not render reconsideration rare?  To discuss further with the Provost.

Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate