MINUTES OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
OF THE FACULTY SENATE
OCTOBER 3, 2005
1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Members Present: Jim Bennett, Rei Berroa, Lorraine Brown, Rick Coffinberger, Dave Kuebrich, Jim Sanford, Peter Stearns, Cliff Sutton, Susan Trencher
Proposed co-deanship of the College of Science: Concerns continue to be expressed by the Executive Committee about the co-deanship proposal as well as questions regarding its duration. While the Provost believes a two-year time frame would be sufficient, a number of faculty as well as the two individuals involved have urgently requested a three-year period. The Provost will consider the three-year request with some reluctance, noting that the report of the committee he appointed to study the issue is due later in October. In response to the question of the financial impact of the co-deanship’s salary costs, the Provost responded that although there are changes in the ways administrators are renumerated, the contracts of the two individuals involved antedate this change and estimated a savings of $20,000. The Provost knows of no other co-deanship arrangements since his arrival here, and conceded that it is an unusual arrangement. How would policy decisions be managed should the co-deans disagree? Once the arrangement is resolved the possibility exists of producing a written document to address this contingency, noting also that input from faculty in relevant units must be taken seriously. The faculty of the School of Computational Sciences voted to approve the three-year co-deanship; the vote was advisory and strong in its approval, however it was not unanimous. The argument was raised whether it would be better to bring in a new person from outside the unit once the units are together? The Provost responded that he is comfortable with the two-year period; the operation needs to be up and running first; a search would yield inferior candidates if done too early.
Other concerns expressed about the remainder of CAS (College of Liberal Arts and Human Studies) – will it be business as usual, only smaller? The Provost anticipates a much more effective internal constitution; there will be more participation than in the past. The next step will be to select a new dean. There will be ample opportunity for discussion.
One member of the committee expressed use of “hijacking” phraseology among some faculty who may be overly skeptical of the new College of Science. The Provost finds this deeply offensive although he understands there is anxiety and urges that the proposal be kept in balance.
An email to the campus community from the Provost was sent out earlier today, which is quoted below in its entirety:
“To the campus community:
An incident occurred last Thursday in the Johnson Center which involves the University’s commitment to the freedom of speech and the related freedom of nonviolent protest. A student protesting the war in Iraq was allegedly stripped of a protest sign, was asked to leave the building, and was later arrested.
George Mason University reiterates its deep commitment to the freedom of speech. We must work to avoid attacks on expressions of free speech, including destruction of signs and other written statements.
Disagreements about exactly what occurred are inevitable, and the University is not currently in a position to establish responsibilities. Pending further inquiry, including into police behavior, we will commit to review Johnson Center and other relevant policies, to make sure they are compatible with freedom of speech, and we will work to identify those individuals responsible for any alleged violations. We reiterate our position in principle, and at the same time seek to learn from the incident how better to maintain this principle in practice.
Peter N. Stearns
At a rally today, the presence of police on rooftops with cameras was noted. The Chief of the University Police may be invited to discuss the incident at a future Faculty Senate meeting. Regulations against leafleting within the crowded confines of the Johnson Center may address the imposition of unwanted materials upon those inside – vs. open spaces outside – as well as a way to control litter of unwanted materials within the building. Did safety concerns warrant the calling of the University Police? Some witnesses believe the danger of escalation of pushing and shoving warranted their presence. Chair Dave Kuebrich will express the deep concern of the Faculty Senate about these events; Jim Bennett plans to draft a resolution to present at next week’s meeting.
The Provost also noted that the federal government is pursuing universities to change their computer systems in order to facilitate monitoring of email. He awaits more information from Joy Hughes on these developments; she is away this week. Related concerns about the Patriot Act were also discussed.
Joint Meeting with the AAUP Proposed to Address Issues of Tolerance: Dave Kuebrich and Rick Coffinberger met last week with representatives of the AAUP who are writing a position paper on free speech, academic freedom, and political campaigns partially in response to the Michael Moore incident. Criticism of Israel viewed as anti-Semitism seems to be the single most repressive issue identified by the AAUP. Nor do we have a Women’s Center (safe zone) which is also identified as an issue of concern by the AAUP.
Calendar Issue: Cliff and Peter Pober met with student government representatives last week – they requested almost a week (four days) of reading time; it may be more realistic to try to get two days. Cliff will ask for additional input at the next Faculty Senate meeting.
University Curriculum Committee – suggested by Bob Ehrlich – would affect undergraduate-level courses only. Cliff cited an example of a biostatistics program initially proposed by the College of Nursing and Health Science which did not include professional statisticians among its faculty. The biostatistics program proposal was further developed with input from the Department of Applied and Engineering Statistics and became a joint program of CNHS and AES. Deans and directors were asked for input – some are supportive, others oppose it (including IT&E). Some deans are not against oversight, rather expressed concern that the committee might become a stumbling block. Individual departments also have curriculum committees to vet proposed courses. Only inter-unit courses are not vetted.
Discussion of presentation by Laurie Fathe at next week’s meeting for the Pilot Course Evaluation Form and the proposed Faculty Course Self Evaluation Form: should they be presented and voted upon at our next meeting or discussed next week and voted upon at our subsequent (November 2, 2005) meeting? Both Professor Egon Verheyen and Laurie Fathe will attend the next meeting.
Salary data are just about ready to be updated on the website. Information on stipends will be included. A report on Summer School financial data has been requested from Donna Kidd. A report on OTPS, similar to last year’s report on travel, has also been requested.
The B&R Committee has begun to follow up and periodically (augment? audit?) the agreement to monitor the salaries of administrative faculty returning to instructional faculty in which they would no longer retain administrative salaries.
Does GMU have internal controls to avoid a situation as has occurred at American University? It was also noted that the GMU Foundation monies are not public – are they subject to internal controls?
Changing of terminology from “equity raises” to “special needs raises”: recall May 2005 motion passed by the Faculty Senate requesting report from the Provost’s Office on distribution of equity raises. The Provost responded that .5% of the salary pool will be held back (same as last year); some situations involve equity; some involve equity and merit; yet others involve merit alone – not a straight equity situation. The Provost will check on this further. A motion proposed by Bob Smith requesting how E&G funds are distributed will be presented at a future Faculty Senate meeting as he will not be able to attend our meeting on October 12th.
The Faculty Evaluation of Administrators Survey was mailed last week. No feedback has been received to date. In the future, should it be posted on the website instead of mailed to full time instructional faculty, deans, and directors? Should multiple-year surveys be posted on the website for comparison? Could it have password protection similar to course evaluation access – only those on campus may access it? Printing of the report costs approximately $1,800; another $200 for initial survey printing and envelope costs. Should the survey results be emailed instead? Some feel it is less likely to be looked at. The response rate of 41.2% is higher than the norm – about 30% response rate for mail surveys is typical. We may develop a procedure to address the small minority of faculty who do not wish to sign the response envelope by announcing that a member of the Faculty Matters Committee will accept surveys in person upon presentation of a faculty ID card in a venue such as the Faculty Lounge. It was noted that the Provost’s email encouraging faculty to return the surveys also contributed to a higher response rate than the previous year. We also hope to reformat so that survey data may be directly transferred into the report by the Office of Institutional Assessment. Are the survey results used in the evaluation of deans, particularly with regard to salary? The Provost responded that it remains a factor, but must also take into account the percentage of respondents ratio to the total faculty in each unit. Three previous areas of concern identified by the 2003-2004 survey were discussed with the respective deans. It was also recommended that the 2005-2006 evaluations should be mailed directly to each Visitor with a cover letter from the Chair, rather than included in the packets regularly mailed by the President’s Office.
Members of the Faculty Matters Committee, an intellectual property expert from the School of Law, and several other faculty members have reviewed a draft document regarding the revision of copyright policy. The discussion will be limited to copyright policy, not all intellectual property; it will provide a template for future reference. It was also generally noted that including the expertise of various individuals involved in preparation of reports to the Senate also enhances consultation among those most directly concerned.
An email soliciting nominations for the proposed Faculty Handbook Committee was mailed last week. The Nominations Committee developed the following criteria: candidates first, must be tenured; second, length of service at GMU; third, have previous Senate experience; and finally; the dispersal of nominees among academic units. Therefore the following slate of nominees are proposed: Kevin Avruch – ICAR formerly a Senator; Lorraine Brown – CAS – English formerly a Senator, Rick Coffinberger – SOM currently a Senator; and Suzanne Slayden – CAS – Chemistry (to become part of the new College of Science) also currently a Senator. Nominations may also come from the floor as well.
The committee will review the current by-laws of the Senate. It was noted that a similar review was undertaken several years ago; no changes were recommended at that time. Rick Coffinberger suggested that eligibility to serve in the Senate be reviewed, as well as eligibility to vote in the various units, as this may vary from unit to unit – his concern involves approximately nine hundred adjunct faculty. At the present time research faculty are not eligible to be Senators but may serve on University Standing Committees. Whether research faculty may wish to serve given the absence of a service requirement is unknown, but unlikely.
The meeting adjourned at approximately 2:20 p.m. Our next meeting will be held Tuesday, October 11, 2005 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. in Mason Hall, room D7.
Clerk, Faculty Senate