GMU Faculty Senate Executive Committee Minutes - December 10, 2008


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Johnson Center, 3rd floor, Assembly Room E;  3:00 - 5:00 p.m.


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


I. Approval of the Minutes of November 10, 2008:  The minutes were approved as distributed.


II.  Progress Reports:  Senate Standing Committee Chairs


A.  Academic Policies - Janette Muir

The Committee continues its work on a motion for the repeat policy for inclusion in the agenda for the next Senate meeting (January 21, 2009).


B.  Budget and Resources - Phil Buchanan

Indirect Costs:  June Tangney is conducting a survey of some of our peer schools to see how they allocate indirect costs.  There is university and state policy regarding the allocation of indirect costs.  The amount allocated to E&G is fixed by state policy at about 30%; the amount allocated to the Provost for research support is about 1/3, which pays for buildings, research assistants, faculty study leaves, etc.  About 1/3 is allocated to the PI's dean, department and the PI (8%).  In addition, there are substantial restrictions on the nature of expenditures the PI can make. It is incumbent for PI to negotiate with dean/department head for additional expenditures out of their portion of the overhead where the restrictions are less constrained.

Phased Retirement:  The Committee will prepare a motion recommending approval of the proposed policy for inclusion in the agenda for the next Senate meeting (January 21, 2009).

Budget Base Adequacy:  Donna Kidd (Associate Vice President, Budget and Planning) wishes to discuss issue with the Committee, but it is not yet ready for presentation to the full Senate.


C.  Faculty Matters - Larry Rockwood

Free Speech/Demonstration Policy:  The Committee will consult with Professor (and former Senator) Jim Kozlowski of the School of Recreation, Health and Tourism in CEHD, as well as two other external organizations to develop a draft policy. 


Phi Beta Kappa:  In response to a question raised, the status of Phi Beta Kappa approval process is unknown.  Upfront costs of the approval process may be around $10,000. A member of the Executive Committee will send suggestions to the Provost, recommending GMU also (re-)establish chapters in two other honorary societies.


D.  Nominations - Jim Bennett:  No report.


E.  Organization and Operations - Susan Trencher

General Education:  Discussions with Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education Rick Davis about changes to the charge of the General Education Committee continue.  A disconnection between committee charge and actions of the General Education Committee, particularly with regard to synthesis courses, exists. In some disciplines, synthesis courses are required for accreditation. Distinction made between synthesis courses to satisfy General Ed. requirements from synthesis courses required by subject majors. We have requested a side-by-side comparison for discussion at our January meeting – O&O will again ask for a report on the number of students taking proficiency exams.


Two current members of the (Faculty Senate) Executive Committee who served on a committee for the last revision of General Education requirements noted the General Education Committee is a University committee, even though the Provost appointed its chair. Is there a need for an additional faculty panel?  The question will be examined by the Academic Policies Committee.


Grievance Committee:  To re-examine committee charge in light of changes to the Faculty Handbook just approved by the BOV last week.


Dining Services:  We continue to forward suggestions received to Sodexho.  Mark Houck is working on a special deal at CIAO Hall to facilitate students/faculty dining together.


Task Force on Satellite Campuses:  Report just received from 2007 to be forwarded to the Senate clerk.  Charge may be changed to "International and Domestic Campuses".  Only a handful of students are enrolled as management and biology majors at the RAK campus.  The Task Force has repeatedly requested a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) but has never received it.  All workers on the campus are GMU employees.  Prospective RAK faculty credentials reviewed and may be turned down by GMU faculty in U.S.  Originally the same standards for courses at GMU and at the RAK campus apply. (see also New Business (D).) 


III.  Announcements/New Business

A.  The BOV Audit Committee has received, but not yet acted on, two resumes from qualified faculty to serve as the faculty representatives to the committee.


B.  A request by the Chair to Provost Stearns and Senior Vice Present Morrie Scherrens for a faculty representative to attend all (University-level) Budget and Planning Committee meetings was approved for the three remaining meetings in December and presumably into 2009.  Phil Buchanan will attend the December 9th and 18th meetings; Rick Coffinberger will attend the December 16th meeting.  In the past a representative from the Budget and Resources Committee was invited to attend a meeting once a month; no minutes were apparently taken, and sometimes faculty representatives were asked to leave before the meeting concluded.  Some topics discussed confidentially.  Concern was also expressed that many (9 month) faculty would not be around by December 18th; suggesting a mid-or late January date as more conducive to faculty attendance.  Web pages maintained by the offices of the Sr. Vice President and the Provost contain budget information; please send the URLs to the Senate clerk.  A question regarding FOIA and open meeting “sunshine” law in Virginia was raised.


C.  Rumors about budget issues include cuts in funding for Study Leaves and summer school funding. As faculty representative to the BOV Finance and Resource Development Committee, Rick Coffinberger volunteered to present issues regarding summer school to the BOV. 


D. The Provost suggested the formation of a standing committee on global education,  analogous to the Technology Policy Committee, to help channel faculty concerns, assessments, and ideas.  Tentative charge:  As Mason becomes steadily more involved in global initiatives while maintaining a strong commitment to global education on campus, a faculty committee to work with the various international offices is a vital means of providing faculty input and oversight.  A committee would also avoid the need for special appointments to participate in each new initiative, providing more consistent and informed contributions.  The committee would ultimately work with the Vice President for International Affairs (an office not yet established by in planning) and with the Provost and other relevant officials.  Discussion deferred to next Executive Committee meeting (January 12, 2009). 


E.  A petition from 15 Faculty Senators was circulated to call a Special Meeting during the spring term to which the GMU-area Virginia General Assembly Delegate and State Senator will be invited.  The meeting will provide to a structured way to raise faculty issues and concerns. In preparation, the External Academic Relations Committee will plan a meeting with the petitioners, Provost Stearns, and Betty Jolly, who was hired this fall as GMU's Director for State Government Relations.


F. COLA working group update:  Morrie Scherrens has constituted a new group in which GMU, Univ. of Mary Washington, James Madison University, ODU, Longwood, Germana CC and NOVA have pooled resources to hire Segeal Company, an independent consulting firm, to study COLA issues in Northern Virginia.  The Chair of the Faculty Senate was invited to participate. Analysis has shown a cost of living differential does exist between Richmond and northern Virginia areas (100%, 110%).  It was also shown that JMU has a lower cost of living.    The analysis is not yet concluded, but at this time it appears that average GMU salaries are at 42% of our peers at the 60th percentile.   The increase may be only about 7% - when adjusted for peer group, we are almost in the middle.  Statistical compression problem in which differences appear among units and average (salaries) among all ranks, although data breakdown by rank will be included in final report.  At GMU, full professor salaries better than peers, assistant and associate professor salaries are much less in comparison to peers. The working group will hold one more meeting before the final report is received from Segeal.  The report will be used internally and for discussions with SCHEV in support of COLA increase.


In US News and World Report study under "Faculty Resources among 256 National Research Universities", GMU falls between 215-220.  Faculty salaries form a significant part of this data.  How do UVA, William and Mary, and Virginia Tech do in this area?    


G.  A general discussion about new initiatives emanating from the Provost Office, such as the Honors College, took place.  Who is responsible for oversight?  Two Senators serve on the Cross-College Curriculum Committee (CCCC) concerned about resources and oversight provided by the Admissions Office.  When students are admitted with an associates' degree in an applied science, they need to take General Education and specialty area courses as a minor.  Once approved by the CCCC, overall approval of degree comes from somewhere else, not the (departmental) faculty.  The Academic Policies Committee will request more information from Linda Schwartzstein (Vice Provost, Academic Affairs/VP, Enrollment Services).  Concern was expressed about precedents set as "administrative re-alignment" without Senate approval. 


IV.  Adjournment:  The meeting adjourned at 5:00 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate