GMU Faculty Senate Executive Committee Minutes - November 10, 2008


Monday, November 10, 2008, 1:30 -2:30 p.m., Mason Hall, room D5


Present:  Jim Bennett, Rick Coffinberger, Dave Kuebrich, Janette Muir, Larry Rockwood, Suzanne Slayden, Peter Stearns, Susan Trencher.


I.  Approval of the Minutes of October 14, 2008:  The minutes were approved as distributed.


II. Reports of the Senate Standing Committee Chairs for inclusion in November 19th agenda and progress reports


A.  Academic Policies – Janette Muir:  No action items.  Professor Muir gave a  progress report on Repeat Policy data.  Registrar Susan Jones attended a recent meeting of the AP Committee and gave us a lot of data.  Initially the AP Committee was going to propose there be limited repeats, but learned from the Registrar that devising a procedure for limiting repeats is complicated.  The Registrar provided a list of the top ten courses repeated.  Data: Of 17,000 students only 29 who had A’s repeated a course. Mainly students with Ds and Fs are repeating courses.  Current record holder has 35 repeats – an outlier.


The ability to control the number of course repeats by a particular academic unit already exists in the catalog.  The academic unit may issue waivers to disallow a student to repeat a course at its discretion(?).  Some students have repeated the same course as many as ten times.  Recommendation made to adopt language similar to graduate catalog, in which deans have discretion to say “no” and suggest student choose another major.  In working on parallel language, to emphasize decision made at local academic unit level.  Three objectives:  (1) to clarify with departments where the biggest problems are; (2) to remind departments of present catalog language in which they can deny repeats; and (3) to recommend new language for undergraduate catalog parallel to graduate catalog. 


Discussion:  Very important to make sure students are forewarned there could be limits on the number of repeats allowed.  If a department puts a no-repeat limit on a particular course, the Registrar can prevent the course from being repeated – only the chair of the department would be able to override the limit. 


Students who can afford to do so can re-take a course to get a better grade. If a student takes a course twice, two grades appear on transcript, but only the most recent grade is counted toward GPA.  It is always a risk to retake a course where you may receive a lower grade. Another related question involves whether students should be able to cherry-pick among courses taken for a higher GPA. The Provost expressed concern about individual units allowing no repeat policy for gateway courses; does not favor policy of no repeats at all, especially for a course a student really needs.  The AP Committee expects to present a proposal at the January 21st Senate meeting.


Student appeals cases go to the Academic Appeals Committee only in instances where cases were not resolved at the college level; locus of decision making not at the Provost Office. 


B.  Budget and Resources – Rick Coffinberger:  See New Business. 


C.  Faculty Matters – Larry Rockwood

The Faculty Matters Committee attended a long meeting with Josh Cantor, Director of Parking and Transportation.  The master plan and progress on the north campus parking deck were discussed.  Gridlock fiascos occurred when high school graduations coincided with new student orientation. The Provost noted that orientation has priority over high school graduations.  The intersection of orientation scheduling with the last week of summer school session not only created a bad impression, some students were unable to arrive on campus in time to attend exams.  The new parking garage on the north side of campus should open before classes begin in the fall. 


Nominations – Jim Bennett:  Suzanne Smith (CHSS) is nominated to serve on a planning committee for  “INTO,” a U.K. company which recruits international students for several U.S. universities.  Dan Joyce (CVPA) is nominated to serve as faculty representative to a planning committee for a joint program between GMU and Moscow State University. 


E.  Organization and Operations – Susan Trencher:  No action items; working on changes to the charge of the General Education Committee with Rick Davis, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Chair of the General Education Committee.  Issues discussed include:

·        Should faculty panels for synthesis requirement be removed?  BOV set requirement that panels were put in, (not clear whether exist in each department, may lack resources).  Engineering departments have faculty panels; they are required for accreditation.  Rick Davis will contact the Provost to determine whether he wants language changed.  Potential SACS issue in cases where faculty panels do not exist in contrast to policy language.

·        General Ed website out –of-date; inconsistencies exist internally and with the Provost Office website. 

·        General Ed Committee cannot (unilaterally) change General Ed. requirements without approval of the Faculty Senate.  The General Ed Committee decides which courses are eligible for Synthesis requirement. 

·        Feedback loop problem where faculty are not notified of changes.

·        General Ed. Committee did not issue a report last year, suggestion made to report (at least) orally once a semester, or more often as needed, to the Faculty Senate. 


III.  Old Business for inclusion on agenda:  Approval of proposed university policy on Ownership and Maintenance of Research Records.


IV.  New Business for inclusion on agenda:

·        President Merten will address the Senate.

·        A “Resolution Seeking Solidarity and Shared Sacrifice between Faculty and the Central Administration During the Current Economic Crisis,” co-sponsored by the Budget and Resources Committee and the Task Force on Compensation Issues, was presented. After some discussion of the contents of the resolution, the sponsoring committees will determine whether it should be revised or an alternative resolution prepared for the agenda.  Those members of the Executive Committee who endorsed the resolution will be listed as co-sponsors. 

·        A second “Resolution on Orienting New Members of the Board of Visitors” co-sponsored by Senators who are also faculty representatives to the BOV committees [that also includes the chair], will be included on the agenda.

·        Donna Fox, Associate Dean for University Life, will talk about the Honor Code. 


V.  Other Old Business


What is the status of policy development regarding freedom of speech/expression?    Issue was discussed a few years ago, but no policy issued.  The Provost referred questions to Tom Hennessey.  Suggestion made to examine policies at other institutions for a good prototype policy.  Student organizations are very unhappy about  problems that have occurred among PETA demonstrators last year when the circus performed at the Patriot Center, and in other recent instances..


Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate