George Mason University
Approved Minutes of the Executive Committee Meeting
August 21, 2002

Present: J. Bennett, E. Blaisten-Barojas, L. Brown, R. Coffinberger, E. Elstun, S. Zoltek

Chair Jim Bennett opened the meeting at 9:35 am.

I. Approval of Minutes
The minutes of the Executive Committee meeting of 26 July 2002 were approved with the following correction: Line 47 was changed from “Debbie Boehm-Davis will replace Pat Wilkie” to “Debbie Boehm-Davis will be asked to replace Pat Wilkie.”

II. CAS Elections
There was unanimous agreement that CAS should hold an election for a three-year term Senator as soon as possible for the vacant CAS Senate seat.

III. Faculty Rewards and Incentives Committee Report
The Senate has submitted suggested changes to the Committee’s report, and the President’s office has stated that these changes were incorporated. However, the Senate has been unable to obtain a copy of the final report for review. The Executive Committee will send a memo to Tom Hennessey asking for the final report so that the Senate can vote on its acceptance.

IV. Task Force on Teaching Evaluation Year-End Report
The Executive Committee agreed that the Task Force’s report laid good groundwork for follow-up research and suggestions for changes. Issues such as confidentiality, “comparative courses,” ambiguity of evaluation questions, and interpretation and manipulation of resulting means and averages need further discussion and adjustment.

There are also critical questions that need to be answered: Should such a flawed instrument even be used? What are the alternatives? Who should take responsibility for coming up with alternatives (Provost office, Faculty Senate, Task Force)? It was also noted that there needs to be continuity in calling it “Teacher-Course Evaluation,” opposed to “Teacher Evaluation.”
John Miller, Chair of the Task Force, will present the report to the full Senate on September 25th. Dr. Miller and other Task Force members will be invited to the next Executive Committee meeting for further discussion before that presentation.

V. Faculty Parking Policies at Peer and Other Virginia Universities
The Executive Committee was presented with raw data concerning Faculty/Staff parking policies at GMU’s peer and other Virginia universities. The Facilities Committee will review the data and determine if any action needs to be taken.

VI. Review and Update of Senate By-laws and Faculty Handbook
An Ad Hoc Committee will be formed to update the By-laws in accordance with Article VI, Section 3 of the Senate By-laws. Review and update of the Faculty Handbook will be postponed until a later date due to the Senate’s full agenda this year. It was suggested that the Faculty Matters Committee review the issue of Research Faculty’s rights to due process since it is not addressed in the Handbook.

VII. Invitation to Julie Christensen to Speak on Honor Code Issues
At the Provost’s request, Julie Christensen will be invited to address honor code issues at an Executive Committee meeting. The Senate office will also research peer/Virginia universities’ policies on academic dishonesty and honor code violations. These data will be distributed to the Executive Committee and sent to the Academic Policies Committee for review.

VIII. New Senator Orientation
All members of the Executive Committee are slated to speak at the New Senator Orientation on 28 August 2002, 3-4:30 pm in D3A Mason Hall.

IX. Request for Information Regarding Student Quality
The Senate has requested information from the Office of the Registrar concerning GMU students’ academic backgrounds and test scores for review.

X. Additional Topics
Communication with Administrative Budget Committee
Richard Coffinberger will meet with the Administrative Budget Committee concerning cuts in OTPS, travel, personnel, supplies, etc.. The Executive Committee is also expecting a detailed report of cuts by office from the Budget Committee. It was emphasized that substantial reductions could be made in administrative offices to help during the current state budget crisis.

Jim Bennett will also attend the Deans and Directors’ meeting on August 29th to encourage open communication between the Administration and the Senate concerning budget matters.

Retirement/Pension Issue
The issue of retirement and pension plans was raised. How will the current state budget crisis affect these pensions, especially the state plans? Can the State unilaterally change its contract with state workers, decreasing benefits without their input? It was suggested that someone in the Law School might be able to research the legal issues associated with this matter. The Faculty Matters Committee will be asked to begin a systematic review and report on the facts and inequities of the current system.

Now that the fall General Faculty meeting has been changed to Fall Convocation, with all members of the GMU community invited to participate, what will be done if faculty business comes up at the fall meeting (i.e., a change to the Charter)? Also, does it violate the Charter’s charge that there must be a general faculty meeting each semester?

Next Meeting of the Executive Committee
The next Executive Committee meeting will be held on 5 September 2002 at 3:00 pm in D109A Mason Hall. Members of the Task Force on Teacher/Course Evaluation will be invited to attend.

The meeting adjourned at 11:10 am.

Respectfully submitted,
Lorraine Brown
Secretary, Faculty Senate

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