George Mason University
Approved Minutes of the Executive Committee Meeting
January 22, 2003
Present: J. Bennett, L. Brown, P. Buchanan, R. Coffinberger, D. Kuebrich
Chair Jim Bennett opened the meeting at 12:02 pm.
I. Approval of Minutes
The Minutes of the January 15, 2003 Executive Committee meeting were approved as distributed.
II. Old Business
There was no old business.
III. Special Discussion on Facilities, Support Services, and Library Committee
The Chair noted that having power in an organization comes through having power in the budget process since money drives everything. To have real shared governance at George Mason University, the faculty must have input at every stage of the budget process. Having an ad hoc committee on budget issues signals to the administration that the committee will eventually go away once the budget crisis is over. In light of this, the Chair recommended that the “Facilities and Support Services, and Library Committee” be renamed the “Budget and Resources Committee.” He also proposed that the number one function of this committee be to maintain oversight of the budget process and allocation of resources at the University, and keep the faculty informed on budget issues.
It was agreed that the idea should be pursued. There was discussion concerning who should chair the committee, how hard it would be to find people with expertise to serve on the committee, and the workload the committee would have. The Chair noted that it would be helpful to have expertise but the key factor is the idea of accountability and transparency. It was questioned whether an individual (such as Mike Ferri serving as the faculty representative on the GMU Foundation Board) or a committee could accomplish the oversight task best. It was decided that a committee would be better, since the workload could then be shared and a committee carries more weight than just an individual.
Since a Bylaws Revision Committee is currently in session, it was recommended that they include this issue in any revisions that they present to the Senate. It was suggested that the committee might only need three members, and that other Faculty Standing Committees (except Faculty Matters and Academic Policies) could also be pared down to three members. The bylaws will be checked for the required Faculty Standing Committee membership, to see if that also needs to be changed.
It was mentioned that President Merten should present his ideas on shared governance, and that all of those involved in higher education need to see budget as part of the equation of shared governance—not just personnel and curriculum matters.
The idea was introduced to create a whole new committee rather than retool an old one. There was discussion concerning a new committee versus a modified one. The sense of the meeting and consensus of the participants was that the best solution was to dissolve the Facilities and Support Services and Library Committee and create a new Budget and Resources Committee that would incorporate some of the old committee’s functions and add new ones. The discussion was tabled until the next Executive Committee meeting on January 29, 2003 to get input from the absent committee members. Once the matter is determined, a proposed bylaw change will be submitted to the Bylaws Revision Committee.
IV. New Business
It was mentioned that there hasn’t been a faculty ombudsman for quite a long time and it is an important position in the faculty grievance process. The Faculty Senate will be voting today on an Ombudsman position vis-à-vis the Board of Visitors, and the students have an Ombudsman, so everyone agreed a faculty Ombudsman is a good idea. A resolution will be drafted concerning the details of election of the Ombudsman, his/her role in the grievance process, and it will note that the Ombudsman will report to the Senate, not the President or Provost.
The meeting adjourned at 1:00 pm.
Clerk, Faculty Senate
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