George Mason University
Approved Minutes of the Executive Committee Meeting
October 16, 2002

Present: J. Bennett, L. Brown, P. Buchanan, R. Coffinberger, E. Elstun, D. Kuebrich

Guest: L. Schwartzstein

Chair Jim Bennett opened the meeting at 12:08 pm.

I. Approval of Minutes
The Minutes of the October 9, 2002 Executive Committee meeting were approved as amended.

II. Announcement
It was stressed that faculty input concerning the budget cuts is important for morale, especially in light of larger classes, more students, and no pay raise.

III. Old Business
A. Resolution on Academic Standards & Integrity University Task Force
The major issue of discussion was whether “Standards” and “Integrity” should be dealt with together or separately. Grade inflation (Standards) is a faculty issue, while cheating (Integrity) is a student issue. Students carry the major responsibility for the Honor system per its set-up, and therefore need to be involved in the academic integrity issue. It was suggested that two Task Forces be created: an Academic Integrity Task Force with an equal number of student and faculty members, and an Academic Standards Task Force composed of faculty members and one student representative. Questions arose, such as: Is it possible to get enough volunteers to fill two committees? How will the committee set up by the Provost office interact with or overlap a University Task Force on this topic? How can an academic standard be set without interfering with professors’ academic freedom to control grading?

One major problem is when a range of grades is given among identical sessions taught by different professors. There needs to be a commonality of expectations across the board in that instance. It was also pointed out that grades tend to be higher in the upper level classes since most student attrition happens between the Freshmen and Sophomore years.

Other issues included student pressure on professors to change their grades, the effect of grade inflation and cheating on good students, diversity and language problems, and jobs receiving higher priority than school.

The Registrar has agreed to the idea that students should have to access a website detailing the Honor Code and answer three questions before they can register for classes every semester. The questions would be something to the effect of: Did you read the Honor Code? Do you understand the Honor Code? Do you agree to abide by the Honor Code? This will eliminate many of the excuses used by students when caught violating the Honor Code.

Dr. Girard Mulherin will be invited to the next Executive Committee meeting to add his insight and expertise before the issue is brought before the full Senate. David Kuebrich and Phil Buchanan will rewrite the resolution(s) to be discussed next week.

IV. Reports from Senate Standing Committee Chairs
A. Academic Policies

The Committee will introduce a motion concerning changes to the catalogue statement on attendance.

B. Facilities & Support Services & Library
No action items.

C. Faculty Matters
The Committee will introduce a motion on cross-listed courses.

D. Ad Hoc Budget Committee
Dr. Coffinberger distributed the SOM Budget Reduction Plan. It was recommended that all schools be asked to submit similar reports, which can then be compiled and distributed to the Senators.

III. New Business
There was no new business.

IV. Adjournment
The meeting adjourned at 1:12 pm.

Respectfully submitted,
Debi Siler
Clerk, Faculty Senate

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