FEBRUARY 7, 2005



Members Present:  Jim Bennett, Lorraine Brown, Esther Elstun, Michael Ferri, David Kuebrich, James Sanford, Peter Stearns, Cliff Sutton.


Member Absent:  Rick Coffinberger.


I.                   Call to Order:  Chair Jim Bennett called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m.


II.                Approval of Minutes: The minutes of the Executive Committee Meeting of January 19, 2005 were approved as distributed.


III.             Announcements


Michael Ferri reported that Parking Services has added five handicapped parking spaces behind Enterprise Hall.  The Faculty Senate’s discussion of the issue provided the catalyst supporting a more accommodative policy.


IV.       Old Business


A.            Proposed Revision of the Faculty Handbook

A discussion regarding the initial process to explore a proposed revision of the Faculty Handbook ensued.  The critical question of how extensive a revision may be needed was poised in the context of the amount of time needed to complete it.  Esther Elstun worked on the present (1994) edition as well as the previous edition (1985).  She has compiled notes and suggestions from various sources identifying areas in need of revision in her personal copy of the Handbook.  Issues such as the duties and responsibilities of term faculty are not addressed in the present edition, nor are burgeoning issues such as computer privacy.  The AAUP suggests a good workable edition of a faculty handbook has a lifespan of seven years.  Dave Kuebrich noted that much research will be needed – we will be on the cutting edge.  Jim Sanford observed that areas in need of revision may  also be identified in the Faculty Senate minutes; such as the review of three policies on scientific misconduct and a recommendation made by the Faculty Matters Committee (Faculty Senate Minutes April 7, 2004) to consider utilizing the OSP Policy on scientific misconduct as a resource the next time the Handbook is revised.


While Provost Peter Stearns does not disagree that all aspects of revision are minor ones, he expressed his concern that an estimate of two years’ duration for the revision process was excessive.  In a letter of January 31, 2005 to the Executive Committee (in lieu of a meeting with President Merten and Provost Stearns which was cancelled due to inclement weather) the Provost proposed a preliminary committee be established of three members appointed by the Senate and three members appointed by the Administration in order to canvass the Handbook to identify areas where revision seems particularly essential or complex; to sponsor appropriate hearings for Senators and the faculty at large to further the process of identification.. At today’s meeting he acknowledged that a committee chair could be appointed by the Senate to receive a one-course release to commence in the fall term of 2005-2006.  He will appoint David Rossell as his representative to the preliminary committee as well as the two remaining administrative members.  He suggested holding town meetings; particularly for the Prince William campus to facilitate responses from faculty located there.  In subsequent discussion of this topic, Lorraine Brown will clarify whether the chair will serve in addition to the three faculty appointed members of the preliminary committee and whether prospective members of a revision committee would also receive release time. Jim Bennett noted that President Merten said he would consider release time for members of this committee.   Esther Elstun recalled that no release time was granted for the 1994 edition nor for the previous one; this is not to say that release time should not be granted.  The group who performs this task has a very important responsibility.  Cliff Sutton and Jim Sanford suggested the possibility of summer stipends for a proposed chairperson is not without precedent. 


B.  Restructuring of the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Computational Sciences

Provost Stearns reported that a report is expected sometime next week regarding whether to go to a second level of study.   Jim Bennett responded that the Faculty Senate would schedule a special meeting to vote on the proposal.


V.  Reports from the Senate Standing Committee Chairs

As time constraints precluded further discussion, Jim Sanford, chair of the Faculty Matters Committee distributed updates regarding free field house access to faculty spouses and proposed criminal background checks for new employees to George Mason University to committee members for review.  Jim Bennett reported that he has received two responses so far to the fundraising study – one of which pointed out that deans also spend a lot of time on fundraising.


VI.              Adjournment:  The meeting adjourned at approximately 10:50 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,


Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate