Minutes of the Faculty Handbook Revision Committee

January 30, 2006

Mason Hall, room D5, 3:00 – 4:10 p.m.


Present:  Rick Coffinberger, Associate Professor of Business and Legal Studies, School of Management, Chair; Kevin Avruch, Professor of Conflict Resolution and Anthropology, ICAR; Lorraine Brown, Professor of English (CAS) and President of the AAUP Chapter of George Mason University; Martin Ford, Senior Associate Dean, College of Education and Human Development; Dave Harr, Senior Associate Dean, School of Management; Marilyn Mobley, Associate Provost for Education Programs; David Rossell, Associate Provost for Personnel and Budget, ex officio; Suzanne Slayden, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry.


Approval of Minutes of January 18, 2006:  The minutes of our previous meeting, January 18, 2006 were approved; they will be made generally available soon.


Scheduling of Open Forums:  The Fairfax Open Forum has been scheduled for Monday, February 6, 2006 from 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. in Mason Hall, room D3.  An announcement will be emailed tomorrow from the Faculty Senate.  As David Rossell will be traveling in mid-late February, the forum for the Arlington campus will take place Monday, March 6th from 10:00 - 11:30 am in room 251, Original Building.   The Prince William campus forum will take place on Wednesday, March 8th from 10:00 – 11:30 am, location to be determined.  Rick Coffinberger and David Rossell will attend each forum and encouraged committee members to attend as their schedules permit, with the hope that at least two additional committee members attend each forum.  Later forums may also be scheduled as work progresses. David Rossell suggested that light refreshments be served; Meg will coordinate details with Kim Ford, his assistant.   It was suggested that a special email be sent to Laurie Fathe, Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence and Associate Provost for Educational Improvement and Innovation, asking her to contact new faculty and encourage them to attend and learn about the role of the Faculty Handbook.  Forums in conjunction with other entities (both on and off-campus), such as the AAUP, may also be scheduled as well as addressing smaller groups upon request. 


Faculty Feedback Received:  Suggestions received so far include concise "whistleblower" protections (which may partially exist in some documents), and the inclusion of benefits/privileges provided to emeritus faculty.  Rick will meet soon with another faculty member to hear his suggestions.


Review of the Preamble and Chapter One: University Organization:  As discussed at the previous meeting, it was decided to review each section to determine whether changes need to be made. 


Preamble: The Mission of George Mason University:  Rick looked at the statements in the catalog and GMU website and did not find any changes to the mission statement as written in 1991.  David Rossell recalls seeing something done for publications.  In any case, any changes to the mission statement would have been approved by the Board; it is not within the charge of this committee to revise them. 


Chapter One:  University Organization:  Section 1.1. The Rector and Board of Visitors:

Paragraph One:  No changes recommended.


Paragraph Two:  The recent election of five non-voting faculty members to five BOV Committees needs to be incorporated.  Limitation of faculty representatives to individual committees rather than liaisons at-large was noted.  The previous faculty liaisons regularly reported to the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate, but to the full Senate only as needed.  Although the Nominations Committee of the Faculty Senate conducted the recent election, the newly elected representatives were elected by the faculty and not directly by the Senate; hence faculty liaisons are still needed to report to the Faculty Senate.


1.2  Administrative Organization:  David Rossell suggested that this section be changed to comply with the same section of the Administrative Faculty Handbook which was recently revised.


1.2.1  The President:   Text identical to the Administrative Faculty Handbook, no changes necessary.


1.2.2  The Provost:  The Administrative Faculty Handbook uses “Provost” only.  The Provost’s title as written in his offer letter is “Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost.”   The use of the title “Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs” defines his place in central administration.  Both titles are often used at other universities.  It was decided to retain the use of both titles, using Provost as future abbreviation, as is currently written in the Faculty Handbook.


1.2.3 Other Members of the Central Administration and 1.2.4 Academic Deans and Members of the Central Administration:  Both sections will be replaced by text in Administrative Faculty Handbook for consistency.


1.2.5 Faculty Participation in the Selection of Certain Members of the Central Administration:  in need of revision because it lacks sufficient detail regarding the number of members of committees, whether elected or appointed.  This section should also apply to Dean’s Search Committee membership.


1.3 Faculty Organization:  in need of revision as it describes the role faculty plays in certain types of decisions; need to add the important role which faculty plays in a number of other issues.


1.3.1_The General Faculty:  in need of revision in view of varying practices among schools regarding voting rights of term faculty in their own colleges.  A precise definition is needed.


1.3.2_The Faculty Senate:  not addressed at this time.


1.3.3_Colleges and Schools: in need of revision.  Should institutes be included as well as the wording of Institutes is very similar? Discussion followed about “Institute” as a reserved term as defined in 1.3.9 Reserved Terms.  Does an institute function as a college?   Nomenclature in use of “centers” varies.   Some centers were on the verge of granting degrees and developing into schools.  An attempt was made under Provost Potter (1996-1999) to clarify institutes as non-schools or colleges but as degree granting entities.   The BOV made an exception for its usage in the Kellar Institute.   A list of exceptions granted by the BOV was requested.  The suggestion was made to add a paragraph to this section to discuss institutes where there are still faculty and graduate students.  Because this is a contractual document, the term should not disappear from the Faculty Handbook.


1.3.4_Definition of Academic Units:  in need of revision.  Locus of tenure memo will be provided by David Rossell.  Issue of primary affiliations vs. four or five affiliations noted. Schools and Colleges Without Departments:  in need of revision. Institutes:  in need of revision. Academic Departments:  should the Faculty Handbook have a minimal statement about the broadening of voting rights (proposed by the BOV and implemented) which now permits adjunct faculty to vote in elections for Faculty Senators?  In some colleges, schools, and departments adjunct faculty may not vote in faculty meetings, although they are eligible to run for the Faculty Senate.  Some departments contain adjunct faculty who are full time employees, who do not teach and who serve at the pleasure of the department chair; hence they do not participate in department votes.  “All politics is local.”  The consensus emerged that voting rights should continue to be determined at the local level.


1.3.5_Graduate Faculties: to revisit.  Is this section necessary?  Some term faculty have credentials which preclude them from teaching at the graduate level.  Other faculty are hired and expected to teach at both levels and conduct research.  Some faculty with PhDs teach at less than 1.0 FTE. Council:  in need of revision.  Conflict between the roles of the Graduate Council and the Academic Policies Committee of the Faculty Senate needs to be addressed. 


1.3.6_Program Faculties:  in need of revision.  Some colleges, such as College of Visual and Performing Arts, have program faculties and program directors.  The College of Education and Human Development has Program Coordinators and Program Directors, with its own internal meaning.  The Women’s Studies Program elects a director, but the faculty may have more than one primary affiliation and courses range across units.  ICAR has a group of certificate programs.   BIS and MAIS are examples of programs not part of a department, college, or school.


1.3.7_Centers:  in need of revision.  There is a chartering and rechartering process for centers for fixed terms between 2-5 years.  A similar procedure applies to the center director.  The use of the term “normally” opens to the door to distinctions between academic programs operating outside departments etc., but not in a center.  Reserved terms have escaped the reservation. 


1.3.8_Institutional Evolution and 1.3.9 Reserved Terms:  both in need of revision. 


For our next meeting, Monday, February 13, 2006 from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. in Mason Hall, room D5:

The Committee tentatively decided to review Chapter Three and then Chapter Two to identify areas in need of change.   Chapter Two is a critical chapter impacting everyone; including issues such as severance and exclusion from the classroom. 


Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate