Friday, March 26, 2010

Mason Hall, room D5,  3:00-4:30 p.m.


Present:  Jim Bennett, Doris Bitler, Janette Muir, Peter Pober, Peter Stearns, Susan Trencher


I.  Approval of Minutes of February 22, 2010:  The minutes were approved as distributed.


II.  Announcements


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

  1. Academic Policies – Janette Muir

Some faculty have expressed concerns about standards for credit for college courses credited for  AP/IB courses, forwarded to O&O. 


B.  Budget and Resources – no report.


      C.  Faculty Matters – Doris Bitler

Furlough Options :  There is no more official news at this time.  Domestic Partner Benefits – Mike Wolf-Branigin continues to look into this. 

Teaching Contributions of Administrative Faculty:  we have not yet received a response, will contact Linda Schwartzstein about this.

Cost of recreation for faculty – Jim Sanford has attended numerous meetings with the Staff Senate about this. Faculty subsidize costs not covered by student fees.  They have worked on comparisons to determine a fair price to charge – similar to fees charged by gyms to their employees.  Recreation is a self-supporting enterprise.  Could access be scaled, or plans for limited times (visits) to use?  Groups of at least five employees who join together may receive a $100 discount/year to use recreation facilities – the rates will soon rise to $325/year from $175/year – a big price increase.   Personal training discounts are also offered, but still have to pay yearly rate. 

Faculty Evaluation of Administrators Survey has been distributed electronically.  One complaint has been received about the inability of faculty who hold dual appointments to rate BOTH deans.  One objection was raised  about  use of Mason email password following your Mason email address to access survey.

Summer School questions continue.  Conflict between Faculty Handbook salary requirement of 10% of annual salary to teach a summer course and budget shortfalls – example cited about one department  $20,000 over budget.   The Prvoost responded that faculty have right to teach one course at 10% has not changed, given enrollment.  Tension between the number of faculty who want to teach and money (available) has not changed, and suggested detailed questions should be addressed to the respective dean.  Provost Stearns briefly addressed the issue is that summer school (reorganization) for 2010 is partially devolved – units have some responsibility.  COS and CHSS wanted to have some central fucntion.  The main goal here was to give units clearer reasons to (offer) summer courses, linked with academic year.  SPP and VSITE have complainted that summer courses would reduce their fall enrollment.  There are also enrollment targets for summer school.  CHSS has been interested in this all along, but other units have been less interested.  Where does the money (revenue) for summer school go?  The Provost responded that the historical pattern was that each unit had summer allotment, if units (coming in) under budget, they kept money or most of it.  Money earned goes into central budget and this remains true.  If a unit brings in 10FTE’s in summer and goes 10 FTEs over goal, they would get $50K - $5K/per FTE.


Faculty Practice Plan – We are hearing a lot of concerns from CHHS faculty about the FPP.  Nothing solidly in writing – one story here, others say not so, a lot of unhappiness exists about this.  The Provost is aware of this situation, noting that no one has to sign up for this; then there are other concerns.  He suggested Dean Travis discuss this with him and the Executive Committee at our next meeting.   Some faculty in the College of Health and Human Services continue to express concerns about job security,   how their careers will (be affected) if they go directly to the dean.  Mandatory meeting attendance during spring break was questioned by some CHHS faculty, as well as links between FPP and INOVA Hospital, of which Vice Rector Knox Singleton is President and CEO.  What is our next step?  Should we invite Dean Travis to respond in writing?  Even  tenured faculty are hesitant to go to their dean about this – not a good state of affairs. Can we suggest they come directly to you?   Provost Stearns responded that he would be happy to talk with them, we will try to help.  He added  that the FPP is trying to address something for faculty benefit, for those who do not have a research agenda.  If they choose to teach, that is their choice.


      D.  Nominations – Jim Bennett – no agenda items.  


E.  Organization and Operations – Susan Trencher

The committee will meet before April 7th, and will discuss ongoing issues at that time.  (1) Procedure for Consideration of Faculty Handbook revisions – suggestion made to create a University Standing Committee;  (2) Review of Charter and By-Laws; (3) University Code of Ethics Proposal from Tom Hennessey (4) Smoking Building Policy – to send to Campus Climate Committee. 


The chair sent a new issue to O&O about two adjunct faculty members who taught one credit courses and were paid for three credit courses.  Their contracts were torn up and they were asked to teach for free for the rest of the semester.  It was the university’s mistake in the way the contract was written. The amount overpaid was forgiven; however, contracts already signed were still torn up. This may be a grievance case. 


IV.  Other Committees


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

Pending:  Salary Equity Study Committee

B.  Teaching Effectiveness Committee:  Report on On-Line Course Evaluations.   Kris Smith will discuss findings and field initial questions on the pilot program in the College of Science.


 V.  Agenda Items for April 7, 2010


VI.             New Business and Discussion

Non-discrimination Statement:  Chair Peter Pober distributed resolutions passed by the BOV, Graduate and Professional Student Organization and the Student Senate of George Mason University.  The Executive Committee decided to draft a Faculty Senate resolution including references to the above resolutions already passed, including also AAUP’s recent actions in Virginia.  Peter has received 130 phone calls in support of a Faculty Senate resolution on the topic. This issue also affects faculty recruitment and retention – one faculty member has accepted an employment offer (outside Virginia)  in part because state law (prohibits) adoption by same sex couples.


Budget/Furlough:  The Provost added that we do not yet have a decision on the furlough issue.  The state says that we can compensate for the furlough, but has not told us how much money furlough will cost..  Most institutions in the state are not going to do the furlough, we have not decided. In response to a question raised about the budget outcome, the Provost responded that we were cut an additional $5M, the state seized interest on auxiliary funds – which is not fair and is really bad business.  The actual cut was relatively modest, not as bad as we expected. 


Korea Initiative:  Discussions have taken place about a new initiative. We do not know how much money the Koreans are willing to kick in.  A market study was to have been completed by the end of April.  We were told we had to bid contract, so we will not have results until early summer.  We would like to do something beginning in Fall 2011 – how to handle process?  The EXC will invite Anne Schiller (Associate Provost for International Projects)  and members of the Academic Initiatives Committee to attend the next EXC meeting to discuss the process.   Anne is now acting VP, official as of July 1 – not a budget based decision, position was not frozen. 


Report: Presentation of Faculty Presidential Review Committee's Report to the BOV:  Chair Peter Pober reported that the presentation went very well.  The Board was very receptive; they sat and listened after a very long day.  The BOV sees the proposed two year extension as a one time (finite) action, as a transition period (between President Merten and his successor)  Secondly, the BOV (recognizes) shared governance function. Not just Rector Volgenau, the Board has repeatedly asked for our input and continues to be receptive  Finally,  they support changes to the Faculty Handbook to correct temporary "out" regarding reappointment.

Discussion:  The EXC agreed to distribute the FPRC report to the faculty.  Chair Pober's excellent representation of the faculty to the BOV was applauded.  The Rector remarked in his last (March 3) visit to the Faculty Senate, that he was suprised at the tone and thoroughness of the Faculty Presidential Review Committee's report.  The faculty in general, the Faculty Senate, and particularly the members of FPRC, came across very, very well.  Support for  the continuation of the work of the ad hoc FPRC was expressed.   While the BOV is now very good, especially Rector Volgenau, in two years, its membership will be substantially replaced, especially with respect to the state government (now in office).  The BOV will choose the next university president.  Is it fair to current FPRC to extend their role, as they were elected to complete a finite task? 


Faculty Senate Evaluation of the President and Provost for AY 09-10 – per email, to be prepared by Dave Kuebrich. 


Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate