MINUTES OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
OF THE FACULTY SENATE

FEBRUARY 13, 2006

MASON HALL, rm. D5, 1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

 

Present:  Jim Bennett, Dave Kuebrich, Jim Sanford, Peter Stearns, Cliff Sutton, Susan Trencher

 

Absent:  Rei Berroa, Rick Coffinberger

 

I.  Approval of Minutes:  The minutes of our previous meeting on January 23, 2006 are not yet completed and will be submitted for approval at our next meeting.

 

II.  Reports of the Senate Standing Committee Chairs regarding action items for the next Faculty Senate meeting (February 22, 2006)

 

Academic Policies:  Cliff Sutton reported that two new requests were received. 

1.  The Academic Procedures Advisory Committee (APAC), a group of Assistant/Associate Deans and administrators chaired by Susan Jones (Registrar), recommended that the Faculty Senate clarify the sanctions for suspended non-degree undergraduate students.  Currently, the GMU catalog contains no specific information regarding such students.  Specifically, the APAC recommended that suspended non-degree undergraduate students not be granted the specified rights of return for suspended degree-seeking undergraduate students.  (Degree-seeking undergraduates have the right to resume their studies after serving specified periods of suspension, with the length of the suspension dependent on whether it is a first or second suspension).  Non-degree students, who do not face the same admissions standards as degree-seeking students, shoudll be reevaluated before being able to register for additional classes, and should not be automatically allowed second and thrid chances based on their original acceptance as a non-degree student.  The following motion is proposed:

 

On page 38 of the 2005 catalog, under "Periods of Academic Suspension," replace "Students" with "Students in degree status" at the beginning of the first sentence.  Also include the following additional paragraph under the same header:

 

Non-degree undergraduate students placed on suspension have no specified rights of return to the university.  Non-degree students who have been suspended and who wish to resume their studies after a period of absence must qualify for readmission through the Office of Admissions. 

 

2.  The second request, handled by Bob Ehrlich, concerns General Education equivalency transfer except for synthesis for community colleges outside the Virginia community college system.  Responses are currently pending from Andrew Flagel, Director of Admissions, Susan Jones, and Marilyn Mobley, Associate Provost for Education Programs. 

 

3.  Calendar Revision Update:  Cliff provided the following update on his website.  On February 2, the Student Senate voted on a resolution, while worded differently, pertains to the three proposed changes.  The students approved of the proposed change involving Labor Day by a vote of 22 - 4; and approved of the two proposed changes involving the starting dates of the semesters by votes of 24 - 2.  So the Student Senate not only favors all three proposed changes, but they do so by a strong majority.  The URL to this information will be included in the Agenda for ease of reference. 

 

In a recent visit with faculty of the Department of Psychology, Susan Trencher and Jim Sanford discussed the calendar proposals. This generated a number of emails against changes sent to the Faculty Senate.  Susan expressed concern about the need to better communicate with faculty.  Many do not read the minutes.  In CAS, some departments have Senators  and some do not, Senators do not represent specific departmental constituencies.  Should we have a straw vote?  Cliff supported this idea.  We could also send an email to our mailing list of chairs/deans/directors requesting them to forward information to their faculty.  The Staff Senate is opposed to any change in January which would shorten the break time as well as working on Labor Day.  Other state universities (University of  Virginia, Virginia Tech, William and Mary, and James Madison among them) have classes on Labor Day.  Shaking his head, the Provost remarked that you cannot have a full day of classes without staff and inquired whether universities operating on Labor Day offered other compensation for staff?  The calendar in northern Virginia revolves around federal holidays; although it was noted there are classes on President's Day.  The Kings' Dominion  rule applies only to Kindergarten - Grade 12. 

 

Budget and Resources:  In Rick's absence, Meg reported that she will meet with Kirsten DeLashmutt, Web Portal Manager, on Thursday, February 16th to deliver the updated December 2005 salary data for posting.  Once it has been tested, a letter (already prepared) will be sent to announce its availablity on the website. The link (access restricted only to faculty) will be moved to the first page of the website for easier access.  Suzanne Slayden will chair the Faculty Handbook Revision Committee in Rick's absence this afternoon.  We are scheduled to review chapters 2 and 3 this afternoon to identify areas in need of revision as well as discuss the first Open Forum held last week.  The minutes of the committee will be posted on the Faculty Senate website in a manner similar to the Faculty Senate minutes archive.  Minutes of the Open Forums will also be posted. 

 

Faculty Matters:  Jim Sanford reported there are no action items.  There are no real updates on copyright policy.   We continue to meet about “Terminal Leave” (no longer called “Phased Retirement”).  At present there are three different proposals relative to years of service.  The criminal background check issue is in limbo for now.  Jim commended Tamara Maddox (an attorney and an instructor in Computer Science) as invaluable in clarifiying things non-attorneys would not see; she has performed yeoman service for the committee.  A discussion ensued about the benefit of having an informal committee of those with particular expertise committee members may draw upon as needed.  Is there an opportunity to talk with nationally known experts in their respective fields?  No formal procedure to do this exists at this time.

 

Nominations:  Jim Bennett reported the nominations of John Crockett and Cynthia Lont to replace Linda Samuels and Sheryl Friedley (who are both on Leave this semester) on the Grievance Committee.  A grievance has been filed.  Chair Joe Reid has been instructed to proceed pending approval of the nominations by the Faculty Senate as decisions must be made; also should any new business for the committee occur. 

 

Organization and Operations:  Cliff inquired whether Rei has continued the practice of logging items into a bookkeeping system as has been done in the past.

 

IV.  New Business

 

Course designations for the new College of Liberal Arts and Human Studies (CLAHS):  As only four letters may be used to designate courses in the catalog, LAHS will be used to designate courses in future catalogs. 

 

Administrative vs. Faculty Raises:  Chair Dave Kuebrich initiated a discussion expressing serious concern within the Executive Committee and the Faculty Senate in general regarding some of the larger raises received by administrative faculty.  While not wanting to personalize the issue and in hopes of pursuing a productive discussion, Dave noted that there are many professors who would have to work for twenty years to achieve some raises received by administrative faculty.  The Provost responded that he sympathized with the concern to a point, noting that we are collecting data on administrative raises at other institutions.  We have found that hiring administrative faculty from the outside bumps up salaries.  The Provost does not want to justify individual cases. 

What has happened to administrative salaries relative to average faculty salaries at various ranks?  The morale issue among faculty is becoming very serious.  The AAUP has examined presidential salary data.  Having agreed that there is a concern, the Provost added market forces are also an issue.  Another member of the Executive Committee noted that years ago, there were gender inequity issues (now resolved).  Today the issue is one of class, divided into upper, middle, lower and underclass levels.  Faculty have moved from one unit to another to earn more money because the receiving unit has more money.  There are no standards for salaries.  Why not let everyone at a certain level start at a base salary?  An example was cited of a newly hired Assistant Professor who earns $15,000 more than an Associate Professor; the latter will never catch up.  There are faculty who cannot afford to retire after thirty years' service; a statement the Provost challenged as inaccurate.  We cannot do much about market disparities among salaries within units - some are historical accidents.  While acknowledging that we do bring in faculty at higher (salary) levels, we have also tried to use increments to bring faculty salaries up to level.  The Provost does not believe we have systemic gaps between high performing faculty and new faculty and suggested that the Salary Equity Study Committee examine this question.  We have done a number of major faculty raises in the past two years to bring faculty up to higher levels.   How does one define high-performing faculty in comparison to high performing administrators?  The issue of service absent from adjunct and term faculty contracts was discussed.  Overall, the Provost responded, the ratio of full-time to adjunct faculty has improved, including those who teach four classes as full-time.  The Provost does not find departmental decisions to exclude full-time faculty from service defensible.  Several members of the Executive Committee noted that (term?) faculty contracts recognize teaching only, to which the Provost retorted that we hire term faculty with teaching responsibility exclusively and not for research.  We do not hire full-time faculty with some sort of contractual obligation NOT to perform service.  As chair of the Nominations Committee, Jim Bennett stressed that very little credit or recognition is given to service activities across the board, describing his role in filling committee slots to an impress gang leader. The Provost further noted that state stipulations on raises are 4% for administrators and 5.5% for faculty.  In absolute numbers, Dave responded, the gap is increasing.

 

Support for Professional Activities:  A discussion regarding the need for a minimal level of financial support for professional activities ensued.  There are many variations in levels of support between departments and within schools.  The Provost responded that he has never seem these figures per student FTE basis and questioned whether the figures included salaries.  Decisions are made by deans in a decentralized budget process; market forces also come into play. 

 

The suggestion was made that each faculty member be allotted a $1,000 budget for professional activities.  We do not wish to micromanage this, as some departments do.  Faculty in probationary status who may have more disposable income (inheritance, working spouse, etc) have an advantage over other probationary faculty with lower household incomes.  Some faculty must act as a franchise in order to raise funds to support their research.  There are also unit disparities between Ledger 1 and Ledger 9 funds.  Should there be more statutory intervention in a dean's management of funds?  The downside concerns central decisions made remote from individual situations at hand.  Within some departments, a strong perception that the central administration does not care exists.  The Provost responded that should a discussion to identify things a professional faculty should have become too grandiose, not enough money would be available to fund it and it would also effect salary increments.  He also wanted to avoid too much system regulation as it would deprive chairs of certain discretionary items they should have, such as rewarding good faculty.    The Executive Committee views this not as an issue of overregulation, rather one of baselines and transparency; to see where funds are going.  In the absence of transparency, folks always assume the worst.  The question of how such a blanket sum would be administered would also need to be addressed.  Let us ask faculty to identify minimum services they would like to have without defining a specific amount of money in a survey.  Dave has requested the AAUP to send average salary data by rank since 1980; the data is available in five year increments. 

 

Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate