JANUARY 23, 2006

Mason Hall, room 107; 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.


Present:  Jim Bennett, Lorraine Brown, Rick Coffinberger, Dave Kuebrich, Jim Sanford, Peter Stearns, Cliff Sutton, Susan Trencher


Absent:  Rei Berroa


I.  Approval of Minutes:  The minutes of our November 21, 2005 meeting were approved as amended:  II. Reports from the Chairs of Senate Standing Committees regarding action items for the next Faculty Senate Meeting (November 30, 2005) -  Faculty Matters: replace the phrase "the current one-year plan" with  "a terminal study leave" so that corrected sentence reads:  "Three tentative options were presented; a two-year phased retirement, a four-year phased retirement, or a terminal study leave."  IV. Topics for General Discussion - Spring 2006 and Beyond -  Senate Review of Administrative Contracts:  Change from "To compare" to "A comparison of" and the addition of "is underway" so that the corrected sentence reads: "A comparison of administrative salaries to salaries of senior professors in the schools in which the administrators were originally hired is underway in order to illustrate disparities between administrative and faculty salaries."


II.  Reports from the Chairs of Senate Standing Committees regarding action items for the next Faculty Senate Meeting (February 1, 2006)


Academic Policies:  Cliff Sutton reported that the only issue at this time is the academic calendar.  He will lay out three possible changes and request input; for now it remains an open question.  The committee has not yet met this semester.  Provost Stearns recommended the proposals also be submitted to the Admissions Office and Yehuda Lukacs, (Associate Provost for International Program and Director, Center of Global Education).  He recalled problems with returning earlier in the winter term which may have impacted international and General Studies students a few years ago..  Cliff responded that Linda Schwartzstein (Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Vice President for Enrollment Services) and Susan Jones (Registrar) did not identify this as a area of concern.


Budget and Resources:  Rick Coffinberger reported that Provost Stearns and VP Maurice Scherrens have agreed to make a brief report on the distribution of E&G funds to the Schools and answer questions.  Bob Smith will also attend the meeting.  Rick will also make a brief report on highlights of the Summer School 2005 report and provide an update on December, 2005 salary data which we hope will be posted soon.


Faculty Matters:  Jim Sanford reported that there are no action items.  Richard Carver is looking into the possible reduction of parking fees for adjunct faculty. The discussion on copyright policy continues; Tamara Maddox (an attorney and instructor in Computer Science) has reviewed the draft policy; Linda Harber (Asst. VP for Human Resources and Payroll) will relay her feedback to Barry Stevens (attorney-consultant to the copyright policy committee).  Work has not yet begun on the 2005-2006 Faculty Evaluation of Administrators; the committee will discuss whether to add a second questionnaire.


Late last Friday afternoon the issue regarding criminal background checks for newly hired employees reappeared.  The statement "As a condition of continued employment ...an employee must inform ...supervisor if charged with a crime" was added to the draft policy.  How broadly does one define a crime?  To include traffic violations, as this may apply to employees driving university vans?  Tamara Maddox pointed out that the state of Virginia differentiates between crimes and infractions; violations are often not considered crimes.  She will discuss this with Linda Harber.  It should not be difficult to provide a form to be filled out by employees who drive university vans.  It is disturbing that the Faculty Senate is not a signatory to this policy, since with the crime-reporting mandate, it now affects all faculty, not only new hires.  The earlier version required background checks applicable only to new hires in sensitive areas such as child care, biodefense, financial records, etc. including those moving from one organization to another.  In response to a question raised, the data would be stored separately from personnel files.


Nominations:  Jim Bennett reported that Larry Rockwood has been nominated to the COS Dean Search Committee; Mark Houck nominated as the faculty representative to the Faculty/Staff Housing Workgroup; and John Miller nominated to replace Mark Houck on the Salary Equity Study Committee. 


Organization and Operations:  The Motion to Amend the By-Laws of the Faculty Senate will be presented for a second view and vote at the next meeting.


IV.  New Business: Higher Education Advocacy Day/COLA/Proposed Letter Writing Campaign:

Dave Kuebrich attended Higher Education Advocacy Day in Richmond (January 12, 2006).  Training was provided on writing effective letters; mail (whether hand-written or email) is better than phone calls.  Dave visited as many legislators as possible, noting that many changed their schedules to accommodate visitors; many GMU students and their parents reside in their districts. 

A proposed faculty letter writing campaign in support of amendments introduced by Delegate Vince Callahan and Senator Charles Colgan (outlined in a letter from President Merten to Messrs. Callahan and Colgan of January 10, 2006) was discussed.  A sample draft letter (requesting the sender customize it to their particular situation), and lists of emails of the Northern Virginia delegation as well as members of key committees will also be included.  Senators will initially be asked to send letters as a test; then to distribute to the general faculty.  We will also request that faculty participating in the mailing email the Faculty Senate office the names of legislators they have contacted.  Members of legislative staffs Dave visited indicated that a phrase such as "not necessary to respond" be included in the letters. The importance of writing to one's own district delegate and representative was also stressed.  GMU email addresses may be used, but not GMU letterhead.  The brochure "Supporting Northern Virginia's Economy:  A George Mason University Compensation Adjustment" (http://www.gmu.edu/mlfacstaff/CompAdjust.pdf ) prepared by the GMU administration was commended.  An article in today's Washington Post (Jan. 23, 2000) contained a chart illustrating the higher cost of living in the DC area even when removing energy and other variable costs.  Dave would like to return to Richmond with a small delegation of faculty - a Saturday or Friday would seem the only likely days to arrange this; he will find out whether legislative offices in Richmond are open during the session on Saturdays. 


Department Visits Continue:  Rick Coffinberger and Susan Trencher will visit the Philosophy Department; a visit to Social Work is planned soon.  Dave Kuebrich and Jim Sanford will visit Communications.  Lloyd Griffiths has not yet responded to Cliff's request to visit the IT&E faculty meeting.  A general discussion considered the compilation of an executive summary of the highlights of Faculty Senate meetings in an easily readable, friendlier format to better inform faculty of the work of the Senate.


Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate