MINUTES OF THE FACULTY HANDBOOK REVISION COMMITTEE

Wednesday, April 25, 2007; Mason Hall, D5 – 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.

 

Present:  Kevin Avruch, Associate Director and Professor of Conflict Resolution, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution; Lorraine Brown, Professor of English, College of Humanities and Social Sciences; Rick Coffinberger, Associate Professor of Business and Legal Studies, School of Management, Chair; Martin Ford, Senior Associate Dean, College of Education and Human Development; David Rossell, Associate Provost for Personnel and Budget, ex-officio; Suzanne Slayden, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Science.

 

Absent: Dave Harr, Senior Associate Dean, School of Management; Marilyn Mobley, Associate Provost for Educational Programs and Associate Professor of English.

 

Report:  Arlington Forum – Monday, April 23, 2007

Kevin Avruch, Rick Coffinberger, and Marilyn Mobley attended the forum.  Three faculty members from the School of Law attended and offered useful suggestions.  They offered to distribute a future draft to several law school faculty for review as a contractual document.  Specific suggestions made are included in sections as appear in text. 

 

Report:  Fairfax Forum – Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lorraine Brown, Rick Coffinberger, Marilyn Mobley, and Suzanne Slayden attended the forum.

James Finkelstein, Sr. Associate Dean of the School of Public Policy, sent an email to Rick Coffinberger reiterating concerns he expressed at the meeting, which was distributed to the committee.  Linda Harber, Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Payroll, also attended the Fairfax Forum and offered to review sections as requested by the Committee.  Minutes will soon be posted on the Faculty Senate website.at http://www.gmu.edu/facstaff/senate/FHCPage.htm .

 

2.11.5 Faculty Availability:  Questions were raised about legality of faculty availability two weeks before classes begin/two weeks after classes end.  Some faculty objected to “availability,” a point also made at Arlington Forum by Law School faculty, who suggested we specify availability does not mean physical presence.. Suppose a dean hired a new faculty member requiring them to attend a meeting prior to the first day of classes?  Trust in professional integrity, vs. infringement on your time, underlying mistrust of central authorities.  Would this interfere with research activities?  When the state of Virginia went from semi-monthly to biweekly payroll, pay dates became August 25th/May 24th.  The Governor’s Consolidated Salary Authorization contractually states two weeks before classes begin/two weeks after classes end (paraphrase from meeting discussion). Virginia is a right-to-work state; some faculty members previously worked in a union environment.  Also noted that SOL faculty do not follow university calendar: they start earlier and end earlier, a student-friendly alignment with other schools regarding internships and job interviews. Do we need to specify dates in the Faculty Handbook?  Offer letter formats specify contractual dates.  Years ago thought to have dates specified in Faculty Handbook but did not include (due to SOL calendar).

 

 2.11.10 Temporary or Short-Term Relief of Faculty from Duties and Responsibilities (Non-Medical).  Need for emergency red flag; concern it takes so long to do anything as a way to give voice to concern regarding opposition to language which would preclude action, investigators (need) to have power to do the right thing quickly, solution not to make it difficult, to make it legalistic, to slow down, not plausible in today’s world.  Reference to shooting incidents last week at Virginia Tech.    Not whim or personal consideration; takes precedence over other communications; to preserve safety and well-being.  To add “Preserving the safety and well-being of students and faculty is a paramount concern.”

 

2.3.2 Procedures for Recruitment and Appointment of Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty – 2007 Revision (third paragraph) Before extending an offer of appointment, the local unit administrator must secure the concurrence of the unit’s faculty, relevant Dean or Director, the Provost, and the Office of Equity and Diversity Services. All written offers of appointment must include the elements specified in the appropriate offer letter template located on the Mason website. 

·        Does this give Equity and Diversity Services authority to veto? Need to remove and add sentence about their (consultative) role.  Suggested sentence:  “An offer cannot be extended until the Office of Equity and Diversity Services affirms the appropriateness of the search process and all academic approvals have been obtained.”

·        Exact text from offer letters everyone signs; you cannot make an offer until Equity and Diversity Services has approved search. 

·        If appointment includes tenure, also need to add additional sentence that must be approved by the BOV.

 

Primary affiliation:  need to specify, confusion about courtesy appointments, are they the same as affiliate appointments?  Concern that appointments sometimes come from dean with no faculty input.  There is a formal offer letter for affiliate appointments, subject to approval by the Provost.


What is a reasonable mechanism for enforcing the contract between the faculty and the Board of Visitors?  If the Handbook is an agreement between the BOV and faculty, what role does the administration have other than providing input to the BOV?  To encourage Provost appointees, ex-officio, to have every opportunity for input.  To make sure communication between Provost and appointees ongoing; feels we’re getting his feedback to the extent he wants to do so, to identify red flags as he sees them.  To invite faculty input by providing a penultimate draft.  If raise big issues, need to go back to earlier steps.  What about hypothetical proposal decided by a sizeable number of faculty but opposed by the Provost?  Suggestion made to have Handbook reviewed by the Virginia Attorney General’s Office.  Employees of Virginia Attorney General’s Office on loan to GMU –  Brian Walther (Senior University Counsel) is Associate Attorney General.

 

Need for ombudsman to assist faculty members when Handbook rules not followed.  Question asked in spirit of perception that some in administration may disregard duties in Faculty Handbook GMU is not a private institution – employment contract with the Commonwealth of Virginia.  There are five or six locations someone can go to with employee relations issues; however, perception that they work for management.  Need for neutral party to intervene. 

 

Need for clear statement either in Preamble or in Handbook, about the role of the Faculty Senate particularly with respect to initiatives, committees, policies (afoot) where the Senate finds outs about them once pretty far along. Noted that the Faculty Senate had representatives to committees such as Copyright Policy.  Concern that Deans did not send materials to the faculty, although requested to do so by Matt Kluger. Faculty have had a big role in these policies, although perception is otherwise.  Suggestion made to have an instructional faculty representative attend Deans and Directors meetings.  The chair of the Faculty Senate attends President’s Council meetings.  Perhaps the Provost or Deans/Directors should distribute a monthly email. 

 

Institutes:   Krasnow Institute will not offer academic degrees (at least not next year); Neuroscience will not offer a degree, but will be a department.  What is the role (mandatory or otherwise) of the Faculty Senate when organizational changes are made? 

 

Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate