APRIL 4, 2005


Members Present:  Jim Bennett, Lorraine Brown, Michael Ferri, Rick Coffinberger, David Kuebrich, Jim Sanford, Cliff Sutton


Guest Present:  Linda Schwartzstein, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs  (on behalf of Provost Stearns)


I.                   Call to Order:  The meeting was called to order at 9:32 a.m.


II.                Approval of Minutes:  The minutes of March 7, 2005 were approved as distributed.


III.             Announcements

A Town Hall meeting to discuss the proposed reorganization of the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Computational Sciences will take place Wednesday, April 20, 2005.  The meeting is jointly sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Faculty Senate. 


IV.              Old Business

The proposal to have a non-voting faculty member on the Board of Visitors will be voted on at its next meeting in May.  Rector Dewberry supports this measure.  If approved, the Faculty Senate would be involved in the selection process.  The term would start in the fall for the 2005-2006 academic year.  It was unclear whether the non-voting member would be in addition to faculty representative(s) on the Standing Committees of the Board of Visitors.


V.  Reports from the Senate Standing Committee Chairs

A.     Academic Policies – Cliff Sutton

Cliff expressed concern and some confusion among faculty regarding General Education Requirements in the event of a split in the College of Arts and Sciences.  Would university-level General Education requirements differ from those of CAS?  Due to budget constraints, it was not feasible to staff Synthesis courses in a way that they should have been.  The category of interim Synthesis courses expires in August.  Letters have been sent.  Cliff will pass on to Marilyn McKenzie (chair of the General Education Committee) that the Executive Committee looks forward to reading its annual report next month.


B.     Budget and Resources – Rick Coffinberger

The Task Force to Redefine the University Resolution to Protect Civil Liberties has met and has revised the resolution.  Rick will forward it for inclusion on the agenda at the Faculty Senate meeting April 13th.  He also noted that the Summer School funding has made things smoother for the School of Management.  The Fenwick Fellows application process begins.  The University Budget Planning Committee meets tomorrow. 


C.     Faculty Matters – Jim Sanford

Two hundred responses have been received so far of the Faculty Evaluation of Administrators survey.  A second mailing will go out later this week to those who have not responded  with a deadline of April 15th.   We should not expect a high rate of return from faculty who are new this year, as some have indicated they will not respond.  Jim does not agree with the Provost’s view that lack of participation denotes acquiescence.


D.  Nominations – Lorraine Brown –no report this month.


E.     Organizations and Operations – Michael Ferri

Allocation letters for the 2005-2006 academic year were mailed last week to the deans.  So far no responses have been received.


VI.  New Business:  Motion to Nullify the Agreement between George Mason University and The Arab American Institute of Technology, Syria


Jim Bennett received a call from a faculty member regarding the agreement.  The resolution not only calls for nullification of the agreement but also the formalizing of a consultative process with faculty.  As of last night, ninety-eight faculty members have co-signed the resolution.  The affected faculty in the college initially knew nothing about the agreement.  They feel their concerns about the previous agreement with the United Arab Emirates were ignored.   Provost Stearns has issued a retraction of the agreement between GMU and The Arab American Institute of Technology, Syria which effectively cancelled the agreement.  There have been some very negative reactions to the tenor of the retraction which were perceived by some as denigrating the concerns expressed by the faculty, although no doubt that was not his intention.  The announcement did not calm the situation; rather it elicited the opposite effect.


After some discussion, the Executive Committee decided to proceed with the resolution at the next meeting because it expresses legitimate concerns.  Changes in the text were made to reflect the Provost’s nullification of the agreement.  The importance of consultation with faculty in advance was stressed.  Many  agreements with foreign entities reached within individual academic units  are not controversial.  Presumably such agreements would come to the Faculty Senate only if more than one academic unit were involved.  Should the university enter into agreements with countries such as Syria, North Korea, and Iran who are listed as state sponsors of terrorism by the US State Department?  Would a for-profit undertaking exert considerable pressure on local faculty to satisfy students (as well as their parents) in situations where the student did not earn a passing grade?  There would also need to be some review of the hiring of local faculty as well as curriculum.  Would faculty be hired without the input of their peers as has occurred in the School of Management in the past?  Gender implications must also be considered.  Cliff Sutton noted that the Academic Policies committee is not equipped to handle tasks such as the validation of credentials.  Jim Bennett responded that their role would be to primarily define the process – that the same criteria should apply to faculty whether here or abroad and that it must be explicitly stated in order to avoid potential loopholes.


A general discussion regarding the recent Supreme Court decision regarding age discrimination took place.  It was suggested that questions be directed to Jeff Brandwine, University Counsel. 


VII.  Adjournment:  The meeting adjourned at 10:28 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,


Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate