THURSDAY, May 1, 2008

Mason Hall, room D1; 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.


Present: 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. Suzanne Slayden, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Science.


Absent:  Kevin Avruch, Associate Director and Professor of Conflict Resolution, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution; Dave Harr, Senior Associate Dean, School of Management.


2.12.1 Academic Freedom and Civil Liberties – 2008 Revision


One of the vital activities of a university is the critical examination of ideologies and institutions. It is essential that faculty members have the right to express their views responsibly without fear of censorship or retaliation penalty. The University defines academic freedom as:

  1. the right to unrestricted exposition of subjects (including controversial questions) within one's field, both on and off the campus, in a professionally responsible manner; and
  2. the right to unrestricted scholarly research and publication in a professionally responsible manner within the limits imposed by the acknowledgment of teaching as a faculty member's obligation and the limits imposed by the resources of the institution.

The University is fully aware that faculty members must enjoy, in addition to academic freedom, the same civil liberties as other citizens. In the exercise of their civil liberties or academic freedom, faculty have an obligation to make clear that they are not representing the institution, its Board, or the Commonwealth of Virginia. All employees have an obligation to avoid any action which appears or purports to commit the institution to a position on any issue without appropriate approval.


Decisions in such Faculty personnel actions as, including initial appointment, reappointment, and promotion will not be affected by the exercise of academic freedom and civil liberties non-academic considerations. 


·        To check also AAUP language – to review copy of recent lawsuit on protection of free expression prepared by AAUP Counsel on behalf of faculty member at University of California at Irvine.

·        Personnel actions broader than hiring/firing/promotion; such as salaries.

·        To add “the exercise of academic freedom and civil liberties”.

·        To remove “non-academic considerations” as a non sequitur.


2.2.4 Professor – 2008 revision in progress

A professor must have met the university’s established criteria for advancement to the highest rank of the professoriate as specified in Sections (pending resolution).  continue to be an excellent teacher; have achieved a high external reputation nationally recognized position within the field of specialization or the profession at large, as documented by the quality of publications or by other indices appropriate to the discipline; and continue to participate significantly in the life of the University; or in the case of New appointees must have demonstrated equivalent qualifications which give reasonable assurance that the aforementioned criteria requirements will be prospectively met realized.


Section 2.2.4 Professor  - discussion continued from last meeting (April 24, 2008); incorporating segments from an email Martin Ford wrote to the Provost requesting his input. 

·        Need to clarify criteria for promotion to professor.  In Section 2.4 Criteria for Evaluation of Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty paragraph 5 segment “if in theoretical or applied scholarship, there should be evidence that the candidate's contributions have significant influence on colleagues at other institutions in this country, and where applicable, abroad.” more relevant (for promotion to) full professor than associate professor. 

·        Although service appears in the criteria for promotion, it should not be used as a substitute for other criteria.

·        With new rules for term (instructional) faculty suggestion made that criterion for promotion to the highest rank for this group of faculty be genuine excellence in teaching (high competence would only be sufficient for promotion to the Associate rank).

·        Should tenured faculty also have access to the full professor rank if they manifest genuine excellence in teaching but they have not achieved a nationally recognized position within the field of specialization or the profession at large, as documented by the quality of publications or by other indices appropriate to the discipline (assuming that the high competence in research threshold is met)?  In other words, if one group of faculty can become full professors without meeting the "national recognition in research" requirement, should all instructional faculty have this opportunity?

·        Suggested revision:  to restore phrase “have achieved a nationally recognized position within the field of specialization or the profession at large, as documented by the quality of publications or by other indices appropriate to the discipline; replacing “nationally recognized position” with “high external reputation”

·        High external reputation could be international or within certain key audiences not defined geographically

·        To also add to list of documentation other options that might be possible to include something more teaching-oriented, so that we can then explicitly say that “high external reputation” could be a result of either teaching or research-related accomplishments.

·        As presently written, national visibility for tenure-line faculty available only through research.  The Provost responded that external recognition necessary but does not have to come only from research, but rejected idea that you could be promoted to full professor without external reputation. 

·        Focus on research as one of the significant ways in which universities are changing – old model no longer adequate.

·        Noted that promotion for term (instructional) faculty to full professor originally required high competence (not genuine excellence) in teaching.

·        Other examples of promotion to full professor for administrative duties (such as deanship); winning an international prize and thus greatly enhancing reputation of GMU; past examples of distinguished service professor which required a special dispensation for extraordinary service to the community; irregular situations used as bargaining chips.  Moving standards, need for genuine excellence. Less traditional path also includes fundraising, influence of mega-donors (e.g. Bill Gates).  Standards in less traditional fields, such as the arts; need for legitimate flexibility.


2.4. Criteria for Evaluation of Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty

·        Further revision necessary, perhaps to use “external validation” in either teaching or research, doesn’t have to be in primary pathway. 

·        Not to evaluate tenure-track in the same way as tenured, variability needed. 

·        Martin Ford to work on new paragraph to clarify criteria for Associate Professor from Full Professor; to incorporate suggested language from the Provost “high external reputation in the field”. 


2.6 Annual Evaluations of Faculty and Administrators – 2008 Revision

Universities have a long tradition of self-examination and improvement from within. That process includes the annual evaluation of faculty and administrators.

·        Add “of Faculty and Administrators,” retain as separate section.


Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate