February 27, 2006

Mason Hall, room D5; 1:30 –2:30 p.m.


Present:  Jim Bennett, Rei Berroa, Rick Coffinberger, Esther Elstun, Dave Kuebrich, Jim Sanford, Peter Stearns, Cliff Sutton, Susan Trencher.


Reports of the Senate Standing Committees

Academic Policies – Cliff Sutton:  A proposal to exempt non-Virginia community colleges from General Education requirements has been sent to the General Education Committee for comment.


Academic Calendar:  Staff are very concerned about the issue of Labor Day.  Linda Harber is looking into practices at other Virginia schools in which it is a normal workday.  To offer the option of a different day off in lieu of Labor Day may be an attractive option to some.  It is unknown whether a person may choose to take Labor Day off at other institutions.  In a general discussion which followed, it was noted that rarely does the Staff Senate respond so strongly.  For staff to take a vacation day off it must be approved by a supervisor; in some departments the employee may be the only person there.   The last time calendar changes were made, the Senate was adamant that it did not further erode the length of the semester.  Reading days also have a serious downside as well as some students will procrastinate and cram at the end.  Labor Day is also observed here in northern Virginia, unlike in other areas of the state.  Staff may need the time to help prepare their families for school.  It was decided to propose alternatives and see what the response will be.  Although we do not need to vote at the next meeting, the vote must take place this semester to be included in the three-year calendar.


Registrar Susan Jones is also thinking about making a slight change to the exam schedule for Fall 2006 moving the first exam times from Monday 4:30-7:30 p.m. to Tuesday 7:30 a.m.


Budget and Resources – Rick Coffinberger

Retirement Options:  In a meeting with Linda Harber and David Rossell, Jim Sanford, Dave Kuebrich and I presented a proposal for some retirement options to share with President Merten, Provost Stearns, and Vice President Maurice Scherrens.  Another meeting is scheduled for this Thursday.  In all of these discussions, there are two goals:  first to recognize and reward loyalty to GMU as measured by many years of service and to limit ad hoc retirement agreements that have been pervasive at Mason.


There is a service award for instructional faculty for significant contributions at the university level, which includes a plaque and $500.00.  We will work with Ilse Riddick of Human Resources to publicize this.  A summary  of Special Needs Salary Adjustments will be provided at the next Senate meeting.   


John Zenelis, University Librarian, has asked the committee to develop a motion in response to the  President’s Library Task Force Report and Recommendations (April 2005) which we will present at our April meeting.


The University Budget Planning Committee will look at the question of basic support for all full-time instructional faculty. 


Faculty Matters – Jim Sanford:  No action items for the next meeting.  A specific rewording of the new copyright policy has been distributed to the Faculty Matters Committee.  Response received so far indicate it looks good.


Nominations – Jim Bennett:  Four resumes have been sent to the BOV Audit Committee for review.   It was determined it would not be appropriate to have an election as the BOV will choose the candidate; to be included in the agenda under “Announcements”.


Organization and Operations – Rei Berroa:  A motion to amend the charges of the Faculty Matters and Nominations Committees was distributed for inclusion at our next meeting.


New Business  A motion for the evaluation of the new Faculty Evaluation form will be proposed by Susan Trencher.   She does not intend to step on the toes of the Effective Teaching Committee, but given the divided vote (22-15) on the adoption of the form, she feels an ad hoc committee should review it.  Would the ad hoc committee report to the Effective Teaching Committee?


A motion to establish a Task Force to study Faculty Salaries will be presented by the Executive Committee.  The task force will be composed of five faculty members from different units.  A proposed slate of nominees will be contacted by Jim Bennett to see if they are willing to serve; nominations will also be accepted from the floor.


Questions for Provost Stearns:


There is a renewed inquiry into the possibility of having a football team because the Colonial Athletic Association is expanding.  Nothing has been submitted to the BOV to his knowledge.


The transition from CAS to CLAHS and COS is proceding very well as far as he knows.  There are still budget decisions to clarify for COS.  The central stuff is OK; nothing had been done about unit interactions, but it is now back on track.  Two new undergraduate science programs:  Neuroscience and Global/Environmental Sciences will be presented for review.


The Provost praised Cliff for his superb job in presenting calendar options; a compliment seconded by all members of the Executive Committee.  The Provost does not have a strong opinion on the changes.  More incidents of sexual abuse are reported over the long Labor Day weekend.   Effects upon laboratory schedules were also noted.  Cliff has not yet heard from the Housing Office.  In the past they have insisted on a full two weeks between the end of summer term to the beginning of the fall term to get rooms ready.


Budget news from the state is awaited.  Many are disappointed by the refusal of the COLA.  Rector Dewberry, Tom Hennessey, and President Merten all went down to Richmond.  The northern Virginia delegation has become less effective; less united.  It is hoped that the BOV would become more active in this area in the future.  We will get a better budget than last year, others schools did better with their more effective state delegations.  If the Senate budget passes and holds, the biennium will be excellent:  $6,000,000 less for the first year, but $24,000,000 more for the second year. 


Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate