George Mason University
Approved Minutes of the Executive Committee Meeting
September 5, 2002

Present: J. Bennett, P. Buchanan, M. DeNys, R. Coffinberger, E. Elstun, D. Kuebrich

Guests Present: Charlene Douglas, Karen Gentemann, John Miller, and Hugh Sockett (Task Force on Teacher/Course Evaluation members)

Chair Jim Bennett opened the meeting at 3:08 pm.

I. Approval of Minutes
Approval of the minutes of the August 21st Executive Committee meeting was tabled until the new Executive Committee members have a chance to review them.

II. Task Force on Teacher/Course Evaluation Year-end Report
The Task Force members and the Executive Committee discussed follow-up to the year-end Report. It was agreed that the Teacher/Course Evaluation is being used incorrectly as a tool to qualitatively rank teachers, when it is really only an instrument to measure students’ satisfaction with their courses. The evaluation is good at “weeding out” the poorest teachers, but it should not be used as the only tool to determine teacher quality. As is, however, the evaluation forms are too minimal and too open for misinterpretation to be used alone. Since it would be politically impossible to eliminate the evaluation, it was determined that other tools in addition to the Teacher/Course Evaluations should be used. The School of Nursing’s evaluation process was described as a possible model, with evaluations given twice a quarter (instead of only once), and more emphasis being placed on the students’ written statements.

It was mentioned that there needs to be a more coherent University policy that encourages or requires units to administer their own evaluations. Since the academic units are all very different in teaching methods, worldview, etc., it is very difficult to use one standard tool to evaluate all of the units fairly and equally.

It was agreed that the Task Force will rewrite their recommendations as declarative statements concerning policy and responsibility issues. The Academic Policies Committee will then convert these recommendations to motions for submission to the entire Faculty Senate. The Senate will work with the Provost to develop new evaluation procedures and policies to strengthen the existing process.

John Miller, Chair of the Task Force, will present the report to the full Senate on September 25th. The Executive Committee hopes to have motions completed by that date to be submitted to the Senate in conjunction with Dr. Miller’s presentation.

III. Issues to be Discussed at Dinner with President Merten
The new Executive Committee has been invited to dinner with President Merten on September 11, 2002 at 5:00 pm in D1 Mason Hall. The major issues to be discussed will be the Administrative budget cuts, the Faculty Rewards & Incentives Committee report, and the unresponsiveness of the GMU Foundation in answering requests for information. The faculty feels strongly that the Administration must be subject to comparable budget cuts to the faculty in areas of support staff, travel, supplies, etc., and be held accountable that these cuts are being made.

IV. CAS Elections
Maria Dworzecka will serve as a CAS representative for a one-year term in the Senate.

V. Executive Committee Meeting Schedule
The members of the Executive Committee were asked to let the Senate office know their teaching and office-hour schedules so that weekly Executive Committee meetings can be planned for a set day and time. The next Executive Committee meeting will be held on September 9, 2002 at 3:00 pm in D109 Mason Hall. Provost Stearns and Dr. Henessey will be attending at 3:30 pm.

VI. Additional Topics
Faculty Rewards and Incentives Committee Report

The Faculty Rewards and Incentives Committee Report has been put back on the table since the President’s Council meeting in August. Martin DeNys, Esther Elstun, and Robert Smith were suggested as speakers on the issue at the September 19th Faculty and Academic Standards Committee meeting. Esther Elstun will draft a letter to be sent from Jim Bennett to Rector Meese clarifying that the faculty representatives will be attending the meeting solely for an exchange of information, not to give official input on the issue. The letter will also state that the Senate must receive official notification of any proposed changes to the Faculty Handbook on September 25 and be given three weeks to respond.

Request for Information Regarding Student Quality
The Senate has received the requested information from the Office of the Registrar concerning GMU students’ academic backgrounds and test scores for review. These data will be compiled and analyzed, and a report will be submitted to the Senate.

Provost’s Budget Committee
Richard Coffinberger will be the Senate Executive Committee’s liaison to the Provost’s Budget Committee.

Executive Committee Manifesto
Dr. Bennett distributed copies of a draft manifesto containing broad, guiding principles to be adopted by the Executive Committee. Changes were presented at the meeting that will be incorporated. The Committee decided to further review the document before the next meeting and send any additional changes or comments to Dr. Bennett. He will then submit a final draft for approval at the next meeting. Once approved, the manifesto will be distributed to the entire faculty.

Resolution of Thanks to Visitors
Dave Kuebrich will write a resolution to submit to the Senate thanking the Board of Visitors members who have given generously to the University.

Invitation to Judy Jobbitts
The Committee will invite Ms. Jobbitts of the GMU Foundation to a future Executive Committee meeting to discuss the Foundation’s role in supporting GMU during the current state budget crisis.

VII. Adjournment
The meeting adjourned at 4:28 pm.

Respectfully submitted,
Lorraine Brown
Secretary, Faculty Senate

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