George Mason University
Approved Minutes of the Executive Committee Meeting
December 4, 2002

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

Chair Jim Bennett opened the meeting at 12:02 pm.

I. Approval of Minutes
The Minutes of the November 20, 2002 Executive Committee meeting were approved as distributed.

II. Announcements
The Chair presented the announcements that will be made at the Faculty Senate meeting this afternoon.

Rick Coffinberger announced that the BOV discussed a proposal concerning the appointment of term faculty at their last meeting. Marty De Nys noted that the Faculty Matters Committee expected to receive the revised proposal for review before it was voted on by the BOV. The Provost said the President’s Office was supposed to have sent a copy to the Senate, and that he would follow up with Tom Hennessey. He explained that the proposal concerns the number of instructional term faculty who will be offered multi-year contracts. The Provost will meet with Deans and Directors to receive their input on this issue, but is thinking that the cap for multi-year contracts will fall in the 20-25% range. The ability to hire term faculty on multi-year contracts has the advantage of attracting more desirable instructors.

On a related issue, the Provost said that GMU’s full-time faculty is composed of 20% instructional term faculty, 13% research term faculty, and 67% tenure/tenure-track faculty. He concurred that an annual review will be done to guarantee that instructional term faculty does not exceed 20%. The Committee agreed that research term faculty needs more flexibility since research is a growing field.

The issue of adjunct faculty was raised. The Provost had no data with him on adjuncts, but said he would get those numbers for the Committee. He noted that more tenure-track faculty teaching the Freshman and Sophomore level classes would help reduce the University’s reliance on adjunct faculty. The Committee recommended that it would be more acceptable to tenure-track faculty if those classes included recitation sessions.

The Chair announced that he received a letter from the Speaker of the Student Senate asking for a meeting with him, and possibly a joint session of the two Senates in the spring.

III. Old Business
There was no old business.

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

The Committee will introduce a report on the C- grade issue. There are apparently very strong feelings among the faculty on this issue, so the Senators will be charged with finding out what their constituents think on this issue before a motion is actually submitted in January. The affect of the C- grade on students transferring in and out of the University was also discussed.

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

C. Faculty Matters
The Committee will introduce a Resolution on Administrative Activities Report at the Senate meeting this afternoon. Marty De Nys expressed his appreciation for the Provost’s feedback on this Resolution. The question was raised as to whether
the administrators could submit the reports in November instead of February, so they could be done at the same time as the administrators’ self-evaluations.

D. Nominations
The Committee will submit a slate of nominees for the Academic Standards Task Force this afternoon consisting of: Don Gantz, Yvonne Demory, Jim Sanford, and William Sutton. Sheryl Beach has been named the Provost’s Appointee to theTask Force.

E. Organization & Operations
No action items this week, but the Committee is in the process of changing the charge of the University Grievance Committee so that it can hear grievances from research faculty. The Committee is also re-evaluating the distribution of the Honor Code Task Forces’ recommendations for review and action.

F. Ad Hoc Budget Committee
Rick Coffinberger will be attending a briefing on December 23rd concerning the governor’s budget proposals for next fiscal year. The Administration and the BOV are working on tuition increase plans for the next fiscal year. A Task Force on the Socio-Economic Situation of Students is analyzing information concerning what level of tuition burden the student population can tolerate to determine how much will be needed of any tuition increase for financial aid. It appears that the families of students have few resources on which to draw from than was previously thought, possibly due to the region’s demographics and the increase of single-parent homes. In addition, the Administration has no firm plans for raises, but would hope to be able to give raises at least by the 2004-2005 fiscal year.

V. New Business
A. Class Size

There was a discussion concerning the average class size at the University. From 1999 through 2001 the average class size both overall and only undergraduate consistently decreased. In Fall 2002, however, it jumped from 27 to 29 overall and from 33 to 35 for undergraduate classes. Class size is predicted to further increase in Fall 2003 due to further budget cuts.

B. Honor Code Violations
The Chair mentioned the recent cheating scandal at UVA, where 48 students were expelled and three degrees were revoked. Dave Kuebrich noted he had seen a segment on a service used by British universities (and possibly by Fairfax high schools) called turnitin.com used to catch plagiarized papers. It was suggested that GMU might want to look into using such services. One Committee member stated he had reported six honor code violations in one class of sixty students this year. It was remarked that the students seem unaware of what constitutes an honor code violation in today’s computer age, and are very defensive when caught.

VI. Adjournment
The meeting adjourned at 1:03 pm.

Respectfully submitted,
Debi Siler
Clerk, Faculty Senate

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