MINUTES OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

OF THE FACULTY SENATE

Monday, February 3, 2009; Mason Hall D5, 3:00 – 4:20 p.m.

 

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

 

I.  Approval of Minutes of January 12, 2009:  The minutes were approved as distributed.

 

II.                Faculty Phased Retirement Plan

One of the faculty representatives who participated in phased retirement discussions during the 2005-06 academic year summarized the difference between the former and the present proposal for faculty with long-term service.   Under the former proposal, such faculty would be allowed up to two years phased retirement with no requirement to teach a course; the present proposal allows up to three semesters phased retirement with a requirement to teach a course.  Noting there are three options faculty may choose from; most faculty would be reasonably satisfied with the 2009 version.  (See http://www.gmu.edu/facstaff/senate/FS_MINUTES_1-21-09.htm for details of the proposed plans).

 

Question:  Why was requirement to teach a course during the last semester of final year included?

Provost Stearns:  One of our goals was to regularize framework for retirement.  Problematic if no work required for a year should state of Virginia learn of this.  Although not specified in policy, acknowledged some flexibility may be available with use of summer teaching.

 

Question:  Idea that this would always be a win-win situation, is it possible for faculty with less than fifteen years service at GMU to be eligible for retirement?

Provost Stearns:   While it is possible, we do not want to fall back into individual situations as in the past.  (Such instances) are a legitimate criticism of the former system.  He could foresee circumstances as part of an adjustment to a human situation. 

 

Question:  Under the old VRS system, when times were tough, additional years of service could be added on to reach eligibility.  A faculty member was informed by Human Resources that this is no longer possible.  Provost Stearns confirmed that this is no longer possible, nor is there funding available to do this. 

 

Question:  As written, policy is unclear about what constitutes “work”.  Could work be teaching or other things, such as serving in an administrative role or working on a special document?  Some faculty may define “work” as teaching.  A better definition of “compensation” under Options Chosen needs to be addressed.  Has the policy been vetted by the IRS?  Provost Stearns recommended that these concerns should be sent to Human Resources; he did not know whether the policy was vetted by the IRS.

 

Question:  Will faculty who choose a two-year phased retirement be eligible for a raise during the first year?  Provost Stearns:  They are eligible, to the best of my knowledge.  In the past (but no longer) we were able to offer bonuses to bump up to a particular level; the IRS really discourages this.

 

Members of the Executive Committee and the Faculty Matters Committee should send any additional comments to Jim Sanford, who will relay them to Human Resources.  

 

 

III.             Senate Standing Committees: progress reports, agenda, and business items

 

A.  Academic Policies – Janette Muir, Chair

 

·        Repeat Policy:  Motion to be included for March 4th meeting agenda; to develop procedure parallel to graduate level; not a university-wide policy as different areas have different ideas; also limitation of Banner system.

 

·        General Education Requirements/Procedures:  To meet soon with Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education Rick Davis (Chair of General Education Committee) to discuss establishment of clearer channels for approval of changes to General Education requirements.

 

·        Bachelor of Applied Sciences Update:  Message sent to Linda Schwartzstein (Vice Provost for Academic Affairs/Vice President, Enrollment Services) who serves as Chair of the Cross-College Curriculum Committee (CCCC).  While the Admissions Office is in charge of the degree, (candidates?) requirements must first be reviewed by the CCCC. 

 

B.  Budget and Resources – Rick Coffinberger, Chair

 

·        2009 Salary Data:  We anticipate receipt of salary data any day.

 

·        Budget and Planning Team (BPT) Meetings:  A faculty representative from the Budget and Resources Committee will continue to attend the first meeting of the month.  We will receive an Executive Summary, meeting agenda and minutes.  Mid-month discussion meetings with Senior Vice President Morrie Scherrens and Provost Stearns will also be scheduled.  Although it was not what we hoped for, it is a step in the right direction. 

 

In response to a question raised about why faculty representative from the Budget and Resources Committee was not permitted to attend all BPT meetings, the Provost responded that discussions of types of options would be very constrained (if someone were to report out).   To increase frequency of communication; items which may pop up (not part of agenda) will also be communicated if seen as important.

 

·        General discussion about budget issues:   Should GMU become sufficiently financially constrained and have to let instructional faculty go, how would decisions be made?  The Provost responded that some adjunct faculty have not been renewed, as well as some term faculty, adding that many term faculty have been renewed.  We always look at programs to see which may not be doing well, but some programs we would keep, such as religious studies.  Concern expressed about impact of favoritism on decisions not to renew term faculty contracts.  Need for general principles to be set forth when driven by financial exigency;  many faculty are fearful. Will there be a percentage cut across all units or higher cuts in units with more term faculty?  In response, the Provost noted there are two issues here.  At this time, we have no idea what the 2011 budget will be like.  It is difficult to come out with a policy based on so many unknown future contingencies.  To harm as few people as possible is a goal, but  we have no plans for 2011, and are still figuring out 2010.  No decision has been made yet regarding differential cut levels by unit; unknown should financial situation worsen.  In one school, the dean is doing all he can to protect term faculty positions.  In another school, there are term faculty in programs with no students; those in programs with students are being renewed, as well as situations in which enrollment levels in classes taught by term faculty may not be high enough.  Another example cited in a department/area with four term faculty and strong enrollment, how do you decide which one(s) not to renew?   In the new Faculty Handbook,  Section 2.9 Policies and Procedures Relating to Termination, 2.9.1 Financial Exigency addresses time in rank for tenured and tenure-track faculty; not term faculty. See (http://www.gmu.edu/facstaff/handbook/GMU_FACULTY_HANDBOOK_1-1-2009.pdf , pp.42-43).   Strong opinion expressed about need to develop criteria now for renewal of term faculty contracts should economic situation worsen.  Increase in class size impacts whole education process; guidelines are needed.  Programmatic complexity in which faculty are not interchangeable – some faculty can teach in one area but not another.  Strong opinion expressed that decisions be made at the local level (LAU/dept. chairs/deans), not the purview of the Faculty Senate.  Issue lacking in symmetry for term faculty; who serve by contract.  Some term faculty are really worried and pushing for multi-year contracts. 

 

C.  Faculty Matters – Larry Rockwood, Chair

 

·        Free Speech Policy:  The committee will meet with Professor Jim Kozlowski (former Faculty Senator from the School of Recreation, Health and Tourism) as it is his area of expertise.. 

 

·        Faculty Information Guide (FIG):  The committee will review the current guide to identify items in need of update/renewal as result of approval of revised Faculty Handbook. 

 

·        Faculty Evaluation of Administrators:  plan to make repeated announcements encouraging faculty to participate, meeting with Institutional Assessment earlier today to begin process. 

 

D.  Nominations – no report.

 

E.  Organization and Operations – Susan Trencher, Chair

 

·        Apportionment of Faculty Senators for 2009-10:  Ernie Barreto to prepare this, as he has in the past..

 

·        Update: Dining Services:  There is a University Dining Committee, on which Evans Mandes and I serve.  The Committee receives input and complaints.  Inquiry made by a faculty member about reducing student meal charge fees on Tuesday-Thursday in a particular dining hall to match rates charged to faculty in order to facilitate faculty and student sharing meals there. 

 

·        University Committee Charges Update:

Committee on External Academic Relations (CEAR):  to include GMU representative to the Faculty Senate of Virginia as a member of the committee.  Penny Earley serves in this role this year. 

Grievance Committee:  charge needs to change to be in conformance with the revised Faculty Handbook.

 

·        Proposal for new Global Committee:  The O&O Committee agrees that although some functions may overlap, some functions differ, and need two separate committees: the first for international campuses and participation in programs abroad; and the second for local (Virginia) campuses.

 

IV. Agenda Items for February 11, 2009 Meeting:

·        QEP update from Kim Eby

·        Provost to address the Faculty Senate at the beginning of the meeting and respond to questions as a way to enhance communication between the administration and the faculty.

 

V.  New Business/Additional Questions

 

Honors College/Administrative Positions in the Provost Office: Q&A

Will there be a new administration for the new Honors College?  Provost Stearns responded that a new position 'Dean of the Honors College' expands the role of the former director and includes additional responsibilities. 

How many of these positions with increased responsibilities are there?  The Provost replied the number of administrators may be potentially reduced by merging various honors programs, reducing the need for various centers of operation and referred further questions to Linda Schwartzstein.  Michelle Marks will become Associate Provost for Graduate Studies.  This position encompasses some of what David Rossell used to do; savings made from other rearrangements in the Provost's Office.  The Honors College would not be considered a separate unit because it is not a degree-granting program.  Therefore, it would not have representation in the Faculty Senate because no faculty are assigned to it. 

 

Academic Appeals Cases:  To the Provost's knowledge, there have been no academic appeals cases. 

 

Bookstore Problems:  A general consensus emerged that the bookstore situation is a mess.  The Provost has asked Larry Czarda (Vice President for Administration) to look into the issues.  Unknown whether the former Bookstore Committee continues to meet.  Lorraine Brown,  faculty liaison to the Bookstore Committee, recently retired. 

 

Fire Drills:  As discussed at a recent President's Council meeting, fire drills are now mandated at all state agencies.  Even if scheduled between class periods, laboratory courses would be disrupted.

 

V.                 New Business

 

Faculty Senate Evaluation of President and Provost:  Motion passed at last Faculty Senate meeting. See

http://www.gmu.edu/facstaff/senate/FS_MINUTES_1-21-09.htm .As noted above, the Provost will regularly address the Senate offering more opportunities for faculty to ask questions.  As the other members of the Executive Committee have many assigned tasks to complete soon, Jim Bennett was asked to draft an evaluation instrument.

 

President's Resolution Response:  to identify members of Budget and Resources and Executive Committees willing to schedule meeting.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate