Monday, February 1, 2010

Mason Hall, room D5,  3:30-5:00 pm.


Present:  Jim Bennett, Doris Bitler, Rick Coffinberger, David Kuebrich, Peter Pober, Janette Muir,Linda Schwartzstein.


I.  Approval of Minutes of January 13, 2010:  The minutes were approved as distributed.


II.  Announcements

·         William Reeder (CVPA) and Vikas Chandhoke (COS) will offer brief remarks at February 10th FS Mtg.

·         Budget Forum announced for February 10, 2010 at the JC Cinema 1:30-2:30 pm.


III.  Progress reports, business, and agenda items from Senate Standing Committees

A.  Academic Policies – Janette Muir

·         Cross-listing undergraduate/graduate courses:  a draft policy was distributed to Executive Committee members for comment. Motion may be ready for March Senate meeting. Feedback received thus far indicates need for such a policy for different reasons, including FTE issues. Once policy approved, SACS interested in its implementation. 

·         Registrar’s  proposal to shorten ADD period for classes:  Census period occurs two weeks into the semester, impossible to change to a week.  If no changes made to ADD period, need to make changes to DROP period.  The committee is still wading through issues.

Discussion:  Need for explicit statement advising students who ADD that they have missed work; otherwise unduly difficult for professors.  Would ADD date include two full weeks?  Financial aid money cannot be released unitl add period finished.  Some classes meet once weekly.  Some schools have “shopping period” in which students attend classes and decide which ones to keep.  Could we have language to say “this is viable if you’ve attended every class?” Proposal may be more suitable on campuses where many students live.  In some classrooms there are a finite number of chairs, especially in computer classrooms. 


B.  Budget and Resources – Rick Coffinberger

·         Furlough Options:  it is still unclear whether there will be a furlough day between now and June 30th.  If there is one, to make equitable for 12 month/9 month faculty, and to spread over two-three pay periods.  Suggest AAUP create a handout on topic for those faculty who wish to discuss topic during part of a class period, noting some faculty are uncomfortable about discussing this in class.

·         Budget Planning Team Meetings:  the next meeting takes place tomorrow.  Also meetings with Morrie Scherrens and Donna Kidd helpful, but not a lot of news (at this time). 

·         2010 Salary Data Posting:  The most recent (AY 2009-10) data is now posted.  To send announcement later this week. 


      C.  Faculty Matters – Doris Bitler

·         Procedure for Consideration of Faculty Handbook revisions:  referred to O&O Committee.

·         Furlough Options: - no news at this time.

·         Domestic Partner Benefits:  Michael Wolf-Branigin is working on this.

Discussion:  Ken Cuccinelli, newly elected VA Attorney General, has advised removal of proposed legislation ( includes payment of full fees for domestic partners).  As reported today in the Washington Post, Governor McDonnell has not issued a statement discouraging any kind of discrimination for public employees.  As Attorney General, McDonnell opposed any such statement about sexual orientation/discrimination.

·         Cost of recreation for faculty:  Jim Sanford has sent questionnaires to other Virginia and peer institutions.  

·         Bookstore Concerns:  Larry Rockwood is working on this.  I have heard no recent complaints this year. Discussion:  At another instituion, a student was not permitted to return an electronic book after dropping the course.   A faculty member requested a book but was not told it was out-of-print; students ultimately found copies elsewhere.  Many students buy books on Amazon.com..

·         Faculty Practice Plan (see V.  New Business/Discussion)

·         Teaching Contributions of Administrative Faculty:  Linda Schwartzstein will request this data.  It was noted that teaching load assumed by administrative faculty with no additional compensation would be a real boon morale-wise to instructional faculty.  Colleagues around the US are impressed that our central administrators also teach. 


      D.  Nominations – Jim Bennett

Faculty Committee to Evaluate the President:  The number of nominees equaled the number of vacancies, and the Committee will meet tomorrow. 

Discussion: When the Provost's contract was up for renewal, members of the Executive Committee who served were invited to a meeting and gave a report.  Suggestion made to standardize this practice for renewal of the President's contract also, as a good precedent.  The Committee to Evaluate the President will decide whether it will hold an open forum, as well as ways to receive faculty input. 


E.  Organization and Operations – Jim Bennett, on behalf of Susan Trencher

·         Second View:  Resolution To Ensure Faculty Senate By-Laws and Charter Consistency

·         Motion to establish an ad hoc committee to review the Senate Charter and ByLaws was referred to O&O at the end of the last Senate meeting.  Some committee members believe O&O should handle this, do not see need for a new committee.


IV.  Other Committees

A. Minority and Diversity Issues Committee –David Anderson, Chair

Motion:  Diversity Statement –see Dec. 17, 2009 email with background statement and Jan. 5, 2010 email from D. Anderson will be included on Feb. 10th meeting agenda.


B.   Athletic Council –  Linda Miller, Faculty Athletic Representative

Report on NCAA Cycle III Re-certification Process will be inclusion on Feb. 10th meeting agenda.


C.     University Standing Committees continue to notify us of election of chairs.

Pending:  Salary Equity and Committee.  Deborah Boehm-Davis was elected chair of the Committee on External Academic Relations.


D.  Faculty Handbook Revision Committee – Rick Coffinberger, Chair

To discuss issue of faculty input into consideration of renewal or extension of President's contract with University Counsel.  Is this a question of semantics?  Do we need to tweak wording in Handbook?


 V.  Agenda Items for February 10, 2010

·         Dean Reeder and Dean Chandhoke

·         Second View  Resolution:  To Ensure Faculty Senate By-Laws and Charter Consistency (O&O)

·         Athletic Council Report

·         Endorsement of Minority and Diversity Issues Statement

·         Resolution of Appreciation to Rector Volgenau


 VI.  New Business and Discussion


Faculty Practice Plan: Recent reports among some term faculty in CHHS  indicate that they will be required to participate in the Faculty Practice Plan in the second year of their contracts, or face a 25% salary reduction in the final year of a three year contract.   To the best of his knowledge, Chair Peter Pober noted that no one in the Counsel's Office, Human Resources, or the Provost's Office approved this type of mandate.   The concerned faculty did not receive a response to their questions regarding whether they would receive a one-course reduction, or any reduction in committee responsibilites in the final year under this scenario. Four faculty have already resigned; several more faculty also contemplate resignation.  Because it is so difficult to find quality faculty for the School of Nursing, those who resign will (likely) find jobs in their fields.  A partnership with INOVA Hospital may provide more faculty.  Although the confusion focuses on one college, the FPP has been touted as a model for the Mason community. 


Chair Peter Pober summarized three big issues:

-1-  Are faculty compelled to sign or lose their jobs?  Will there be a 25% reduction in salary for additional year of contract?

-2- How are (teaching) assignments diseminated and differentiated?  Can you fill class with another faculty member?

-3-Is the Faculty Practice Plan a model for GMU, or is "something under the radar" really going on?


Linda Schwartzstein reported that Dean Travis and Pat Donini (Deputy Director of HR/Payroll) met with affected faculty, and heard that faculty felt better about the FPP after this meeting.  The FPP was originally discussed as a pilot program, providing an opportunity for faculty to participate if  wished to do so.  She added that Dean Travis must have received legal guidance.  (The FPP was first discussed by the Faculty Senate at its February 13, 2008 meeting, and subsequently approved by the Faculty Senate at its March 4, 2008 meeting.  Faculty may choose to participate in the FPP on a voluntary basis.)


The Executive Committee decided to invite Dean Travis, and representatives from the Human Resources and the University Counsel's Office to its next meeting (February 22, 2010) to discuss issues.  Additional questions include:  Does CHHS have documentation of the Plan?  Does the 25% reduction in salary appear in writing?  Other observations included perception of GMU as unreasonable, using "cliff" metaphor.  Does this impact accreditation?  In contrast to tenured/tenure-track faculty, term faculty contracts give departments more flexibility – it is within their contracts not to expect future employment.  This is not the way to treat term faculty who served GMU for a long time and have done well..  Some term faculty have gone through the promotion process, receiving promotions in rank.


Summer School:  Cathy Evans, Director of the Summer Term, will attend our next meeting to answer questions and will also attend the March 3rd Senate Meeting.  The Faculty Matters Committee will distribute a draft letter to the Executive Committee.


Resolution of Appreciation to Rector Volgenau:  Jim Bennett will distribute a draft resolution for inclusion on the Feb. 10th meeting agenda.


Faculty Course Evaluation Form:  GMU obviously continues to be moving to an on-line evaluation system.  The College of Science has used the on-line form, initial response rate no more than 5-7% lower, but still in early stages of testing.   A testing process will occur in the School of Management.  A lot of people are involved in the process, and understand the deep concerns.  On-line evaluations are much quicker and cheaper to distribute, nor do they consume class time.  Under the present system, faculty receive results about three weeks into the next semester. 


The key question is:  If the evaluations are on-line, would anybody have access to qualitative data?  At present, department chairs have access to data.  Although this does not seem to have occured, some faculty are concerned that students who do not go to class can provide evaluations on-line. Are students less likely to provide on-line evaluations outside the classroom?  Students have asked faculty whether they could receive extra credit for filling out evaluations; the answer is NO.  Some (colleges/schools) may offer incentives for departments which receive a certain amount (percentage) back.  We will contact Kris Smith (Associate Provost, Institutional Research & Reporting) for more information.


Teaching Loads:  Ken Hubble (Director, Internal Audit & Mgmt Services) is curious about  variances among teaching loads -  with respect to research buyouts as well as many types of work faculty do.  Eight years ago, the AAUP prepared a handout, "What do professors do?."  Now we spend even more time on email, and we need to communicate again increasing student loads.


VII.  Future Meeting Agenda Items:

·         Compensation Package – EXC Meeting Feb. 22 at request of Provost Stearns

·         Summer School – Cathy Evans to attend EXC Meeting Feb. 22.


Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate