Friday, February 1, 2008; 1:30 – 2:30 p.m., Mason Hall, room D1


Present:  James Bennett, Lorraine Brown, Phil Buchanan, Janette Muir, Larry Rockwood, Suzanne Slayden, Susan Trencher.

 I.  Approval of Minutes of January 11, 2008:  The minutes were approved as distributed.

II.  Announcements

At its last meeting (January 30, 2008), the BOV voted to approve a non-voting faculty representative to serve on the full board, in addition to the faculty representatives serving on various BOV committees.  The Chair of the Faculty Senate will serve as ex-officio representative to the BOV, starting at the next BOV meeting  (March 20, 2008).  The new ex-officio representative reinforces the need for more communication between the faculty and the BOV, as well as a direct communication link between the BOV and the Faculty Senate. Note the various faculty representatives to the BOV committees are not charged to report directly to the Senate, although they occasionally provide reports as circumstances warrant.


It was just discovered today that there are changes in the text of the Tenure Clock Extensions For New Parents approved by the BOV at its May 9, 2007 meeting compared with the text of the Tenure Clock Extension for New Parents as amended and approved by the Faculty Senate at its May 2, 2007 meeting.  The main change involves the notification period reduced from one year to three months in paragraph one.  There are wording changes in paragraph two as well.  Some committee members speculated there might have been legal reasons for changes in time period. Another committee member suggested we politely inform Rector Volgenau of the changes to the text.  Meg will compare the changes to the text and examine the minutes of the BOV Faculty and Academic Standards Committee meeting to ascertain whether explanation of changes appears there.  The Provost did not inform the Faculty Senate of changes to the text approved by the BOV.  


III.  Reports of Senate Standing Committee Chairs for inclusion in February 13th agenda


A.  Academic Policies – Janette Muir

Motions on Incomplete Grade Policies  Motion 1:  (Clarification on Earlier Incomplete Deadline)

To insert into the existing catalog statement the phrase “Unless the faculty member has specified an earlier deadline” so that the catalog would read:

 “This grade may be given to students who are passing a course but who may be unable to complete scheduled course work for a cause beyond reasonable control.  Unless the faculty member has specified an earlier deadline, the student must then complete all the requirements by the end of the ninth week of the next semester, not including summer term, and the instructor must turn in the final grade by the end of the 10th week.  Unless an explicit written extension is filed with the Registrar’s Office by the faculty deadline, the grade of IN is changed by the registrar to an F.”

Motion 2: (Require Incomplete Grade Contract for Earlier Deadline Cases) 

To add the sentence beneath the existing catalog copy:

 Faculty members who opt for an earlier incomplete deadline will be required to file an Incomplete Grade Contract with the Registrar’s office, detailing the work that remains to be done, the general reason for the incomplete, and the student’s grade at the point of receiving the incomplete.

These motions originated from the Registrar’s Office, where concerns have been expressed about the lack of clarification regarding incomplete deadlines and expectations.  The lack of specific policy regarding earlier deadlines is difficult to defend when a student goes through a grade appeal process regarding an incomplete.  Additionally, there is an apparent lack of clarity on the part of students as to what work is due and when.  The Incomplete Grade Contract would allow for clarification of academic policy including an earlier deadline for graduating students.  It would also specify remaining work to be done in the event that a substitute evaluator must complete the grading process. A sample contract, in use in New Century College, follows the explanation.


Discussion: Issue where adjunct faculty may give incomplete grades to students who are not passing (in violation of University policy).  If not made up by stated deadline, an incomplete grade automatically becomes an F, but can be changed up to 11 months after it was given.  Faculty may negotiate changes with the Dean's Office/Department over six months-one year period.  If change made to an incomplete grade after one year, the Provost Office must approve it.  Issues include handling at the local level, changes notion of faculty relationship with students, faculty autonomy.  Review at Deans' Office level may be conducted by staff person, not dean. Different colleges, different cultures, “the boat has sailed”.  Some departments already use contracts; issue where policies not understood among faculty.  Statistics about the number of INC's, F's, and grade changes substantial for the Registrar's Office.  Most recently 1,347 incomplete grades, of which 432 became F's, and 341 ended as F's.  CHSS, CHHS, SOM, and IT&E have a lot of INC grades.  Issue prompted by the number of grade appeals going to the Provost's Office.  To change catalog wording so that grade appeals go to college level, not the Provost's Office.  Decision can be appealed beyond the college level to the Provost anyway.  Is the number of grade appeals at such a high level, in such a messy state?  Once (appeals?) committee renders a decision, grade could go up or down.  Does contract create more work?  Contract to be used for earlier deadlines; in event that a different faculty member has to process without documentation, thus providing more accountability. Noted also that adjunct faculty paid very badly, may not wish to deal with hassles, students get caught up in this situation.  To clarify for all parties concerned by using a contract. 


B.  Budget and Resources – Phil Buchanan

We have not yet received the salary data from the Administration.  Will research dates when received in recent years (mid-January 2007, mid-December 2005 and 2006 just before winter break).


C.  Faculty Matters – Larry Rockwood

To redraft motions regarding tenure-clock extension for military service and illness in view of recent federal legislation.


D.  Nominations – Jim Bennett – no report.


E.  Organization and Operations – Lorraine Brown – no report.


IV.  Business for next Faculty Senate meeting agenda

l        Marc Broderick, Vice President of University Development and Alumni Affairs will address the Senate.

l        Motion from Math Department asking University – when new textbook editions are marketed, to see what else is available; exorbitant textbook costs.  To return to Math Department to ask: who will be the informant? Reviewer?

l        The Faculty Practice Plan – Provost Stearns wants faculty's recommendation before sent to the BOV for approval.  Jose Cortina (a Senator from Psychology Dept.) served as faculty representative to the committee that developed this plan. Intended for professional practice as part of scope of faculty member's responsibilities at GMU.  Need for further explanation before vote taken on this.

l        Emeritus status for term faculty – in proposed Faculty Handbook revision, “tenured” has already been removed as prerequisite for emeritus status – but procedure is the same in which recommendation would come from local academic unit to the Dean and then the Provost for approval, not handled by the Executive Committee.  The Chair will inform the Provost.


V.  New Business/Discussion

l        To send Post-Tenure Review Policy and Section Dismissal of Faculty for Cause now under consideration by Faculty Handbook Committee to Faculty Matters Committee for their input/review.


Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate