Monday, April 19, 2010

Mason Hall, room D5,  3:30-5:00p.m.


Present:  Jim Bennett, Doris Bitler, Rick Coffinberger, David Kuebrich, Janette Muir, Peter Pober, Peter Stearns, Susan Trencher. Visitor:  Anne Schiller, Associate Provost for International Projects


I.  Approval of Minutes of March 26, 2010 – the minutes were approved as distributed.


II.  Announcements

Dean Vikas Chandhoke will offer brief remarks at the next meeting (April 28th).


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


A.  Academic Policies – Janette Muir

New Business: AP/IB Course Credits – a complicated issue, we will focus on this next year.


B.  Budget and Resources – Rick Coffinberger

We have a BPT meeting with Donna Kidd tomorrow; sometimes Provost Stearns and Morrie Scherrens join us.  The resolution of appreciation to the GMU administration about furloughs is in progress.


 C.  Faculty Matters – Doris Bitler

Mike Wolf-Branigin will present a brief report on domestic partner benefits at the next meeting.  Linda Schwartzstein has someone working on teaching contribution of administrative faculty.  Jim Sanford will report on cost of recreation for faculty at our next meeting.  The Faculty Evaluation of Administrators Survey continues.


Summer School:  Concerns remain about inadequate funding for summer school teaching per the Faculty Handbook.  Schedulers are frustrated. Enrollments are down.  Nor do central advertisements about summer school appear on the (main) GMU website as in the past, you have to dig into the website to find topic.  The Provost will ask Cathy Evans to address this.  Funding is allocated to big units on basis of enrollment targets, not on the basis of the number of professors who want to teach.  There are plans to close some CHSS classes with fewer than ten students, even if (tuition) revenue exceeds salary of professor.  Why would you cancel a course if tuition revenue exceeded cost of professor’s salary?  Money from cancelled classes goes back to college to renegotiate for classes with wait lists.  Sometimes classes cancelled in the first session may be rescheduled to the second or third sections.    Courses (in a school) overall must show a profit collectively, if not individually.  Would faculty consider teaching classes for less?  Some faculty also offer independent studies pro bono.  Clearly there are residual costs as well, such as the Registrar’s Office.  Should faculty be paid more to teach summer courses that are overenrolled?   Some issues need to be resolved at the college-level.  A suggestion was made to create an ad hoc committee in the fall to consider benefits and problems during summer 2010 term.


Faculty Practice Plan: We await additional feedback from a faculty member, who may be hesitant to continue the discussion.


Adjunct Faculty Contract Errors:  We met with the parties involved, recommending that the individuals go to their  Grievance Committee.  The broader policy issue involves being paid incorrectly.  Linda Harber has also provided feedback.  The issue is not close to resolution, but need to (pursue) process. 


Proposed Changes to Health Care Benefits:  More information pending from Human Resources.  Impact of Attorney General of Virginia’s lawsuit to deny state participation in Federal Health Care law unknown.


D.  Nominations – Jim Bennett

We are looking for a faculty member to serve on the Fenwick Fellows Review Board.


E.  Organization and Operations – Susan Trencher

Motion to Establish a University Standing Committee to Review Faculty Handbook will be included on next meeting agenda. The committee charge should specify membership, as well as administration selectees.  We will ask faculty who previously served on the Handbook Committee if they wish to serve.

Review of Charter and By-Laws: to work on next year, a long term project.

University Code of Ethics Proposal from Tom Hennessey:  we reviewed this and decided we were not the right group to review this.  The proposal will be sent to the Executive Committee for feedback.

Continuation of Faculty Presidential Review Committee – not to establish as a standing committee, but to constitute a new (ad hoc) committee in the future as needed.


IV.  Other Committees

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

Pending:  Salary Equity Study Committee. They did submit an annual report.


B.  Teaching Effectiveness Committee:  Report on On-Line Course Evaluations.   Kris Smith will continue discussion from April 7th FS Meeting.  Issues and questions discussed include:

·         Who has access to evaluation results, particularly qualitative results (comments)?  Since 1978, the Faculty Senate has supported limiting access to individual faculty member alone.  Concern expressed about impact on faculty with small classes, particularly if a few negative comments appear. Chairs should have a sense of how faculty are doing.  The Provost does not want to dispute the Faculty Senate itself, but feels we should continue changing it for two reasons:  What would student reaction be if they think the results (comments) are only seen by faculty member?  Need to have another pair of eyes to review, should recommendations need to be made.  Many students do not write any comments, only the happiest and deeply unhappy share things.  Some students may save up ammunition to write on evaluation.  The views of student government will be solicited.

·         Some faculty feel evaluation forms deeply flawed – most helpful comments often things like “this book is difficult.”  To ask Kris Smith about statistical deviance for students far off track.  Is the statistical formula a punitive one?  Should the highest and lowest 5% be dropped?

·         Recent discussion (in CHE) about how to motivate students to fill out evaluations.  If you threaten to withhold grades, they could “mash” professor, even if this is not individual professor’s policy.

·         Is evaluation data on peer institutions, as well as local institutions, available?

·         How much money is saved using on-line evaluations? 


C.  Committee on External Academic Relations: draft message circulated for review before distribution to all faculty distributed, based on motion presented at April 7, 2010 FS meeting.  After some discussion, the EXC committee recommended it be shortened, using links to the Senate website, as well as a catchy subject line.


 V.  Agenda Items for April 28, 2010


 VI.  New Business and Discussion

Proposed Korea initiative – Anne Schiller, Assoc. Provost for International Projects provided the following update –copied from the Annual/Spring 2010 report of the Academic Initiatives Committee:


A Mason delegation traveled to Korea in February, 2010 to join representatives of other Global University Alliance Institutions for meetings with IFEZ administrators, representatives of the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, and the Mayor of Incheon.  Among the issues discussed were schedules for facilities construction, various forms of support for Alliance Institutions, and general campus management.  A follow‑up letter sent on behalf of Alliance Institutions requested additional information relevant to the evaluation process.  Alliance Institutions are aware that personnel changes in IFEZ offices have delayed a full response and expect to learn more shortly.


While in Korea members of the Mason delegation carried out a focus group discussion and distributed questionnaires to students at a local high school.  Data collected were helpful to understanding some priorities of Korean students.  In early April, a RFP was circulated that will lead to selection of a professional research firm to conduct a market study on Mason’s behalf.  That study will focus on the relative popularity among Korean and Chinese high school students of the various academic programs that may be proposed by Mason.  Six proposals were received and are currently under evaluation.  The results of the market study will be useful in future curricula planning efforts.  Among the programs of interest are Economics, PIA, ES&P, Global Affairs, and ICAR. 


Significant progress has been made toward forming collaborations with universities in Korea that will serve as resources for Mason faculty and students.  These institutions include Korea University, Kyonggi University, and Seoul National University.


Next steps will include  informal faculty discussion groups that will help identify the opportunities and challenges that faculty envision with regard to their own participation in international teaching opportunities.  The first discussion group will be comprised of members of the Faculty Matters Subcommittee headed by Dr. Doris Bitler.


Courses will be taught in English.  In Korean culture, great importance placed on building good relationships with other institutions, particularly neighbors.  Faculty housing will be provided as well as student dorms – idea that an alliance institution would share this (cost). 


What is the financial incentive for GMU and individual participation?  Dr. Schiller:  We have a $1 million budget – part will pay for market survey, some used for student recruitment.  We need to know how much support is there. Korean students will also have opportunity to come here  - Global Affairs has an accelerated B.A. program.  Who pays faculty if they go there?  If they are our own faculty, they would be paid through GMU and reimbursement channeled from Korea. 

How would faculty access health care, etc?  As we go forward, will have that kind of information.  There are new hospital facilities (nearby).  Two GMU faculty who have taught in Korea found it a very positive experience, and are enthusiastic about it.

Consenting Sexual Relationships between Employees and Students – presented by Corey Jackson and Brian Walther at end of April 7, 2010 meeting.  There seemed to be a lot of concerns about it, to refer to Faculty Matters Committee.  Does this exclude same-sex couples? 


Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Clerk, Faculty Senate