Monday, March 28, 2011

Mason Hall, room D5; 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.


Present:  Jim Bennett, Doris Bitler, Janette Muir, Star Muir, Peter Pober, Peter Stearns, Susan Trencher, June Tangney.


I.  Approval of Minutes of February 21, 2011:  The minutes were approved as distributed. 


II.  Announcements:  President Merten will attend the next Senate meeting (April 6th).  Dean Jorge Haddock (SOM) and Dean Jack Censer (CHSS) will offer brief remarks.  Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education Rick Davis will make a brief presentation on General Education.  The Special Senate Meeting with Senator Chap Petersen and Delegate David Bulova will take place Wednesday, April 20th.  Chair Pober encouraged faculty to send questions to Professor Debbie Boehm-Davis, Chair of the Committee on External Academic Relations.  The Faculty Senate Office will move to University Hall, rooms 3501/3503 on June 2, 2011.


Provost Stearns announced that Dean Shirley Travis will step down as Dean of the College of Health and Human Services in 2012.  There is also an open search for a new dean for the Volgenau School of Engineering.  If we are going to handle Faculty Handbook revisions, we need to have book and verse by mid-April for the May BOV agenda. 


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


A.  Academic Policies – Janette Muir

AP/IB Credits/ Guest Matriculations:  There will be a meeting on Friday which will include the Registrar and representatives from COS.  Other schools do not allow this credit.

Academic Calendar:  Provost Stearns agreed that Janette should attend the next Deans and Directors meeting to discuss this.  Issues include science labs, global education programs during winter break, student complaints about losing a week of break.  APAC is looking at this from administrative side.  We will conduct a survey, distributed widely,  to get more feedback.

Honor Code:  Pending response from Juliet Blank-Godlove, Assistant Dean of Students.


Discussion:  What is the status of the block schedule proposal? Star Muir, a member of the Classroom Advisory Committee, reported that  the committee is looking at a variety of solutions.  This is  a complicated issue with many inputs and impacts.  The three co-chairs of the committee are Kathy Wolfe (Facilities), Susan Jones (Registrar), and Sharon Pitt (ITU).  Changes (yet to be determined) would not kick in until at least 2014 at the earliest and will be somewhat chaotic at first.  Co-curriculars such as atheltics and student employment also will be impacted. 


B.  Budget and Resources – June Tangney

Extramural Funding Study -  we are still slogging through the direct expenditures (data). We atttend BPT meetings twice monthly, not once monthly as reported in last year's Senate Survey of the President/Provost.  Survey of faculty work in independent study/directed readings/dissertations acknowledge by departments in evaluation/promotion/tenure process – pending data from the Registrar's Office.  Summer Salary Concerns (w. Faculty Matters):  To ask Deans/Directors to see whether sufficient funding available for all faculty who wish to teach. 


C.  Faculty Matters  – Doris Bitler

The  Faculty Evaluation of Administrators Survey 09-10 is out.  We have a meeting next week to confirm procedures (with Karen Gentemann) for 10-11 survey.  We received revisions of the Consensual Relationships Policy from Corey Jackson which look like the previous versions.   We await feedback from Linda Harber regarding other schools' practices on Faculty Retirement Transition Leave agreement not to Sue.  The Faculty Matters Committee will also work on removing the stipulation that faculty must apply for admission to register for a course. 


D.  Nominations – Jim Bennett

Faculty Representatives to the BOV Elections:  We put out a call for nominations which ended 2 ˝ weeks ago.  There is a discrepancy between the Faculty Handbook which says that representatives can only serve three (3) consecutive  two-year terms and the BOV By-Laws which do not contain this limitation.  We can serve 6,8,10 times if the BOV wants it this way.  Even if we go with the Faculty Handbook (adopted in January 2009), typically not to apply rules changes retroactively until after the group leaves office.  Subtext to this:  when he started as chair of the Faculty Senate we had no representatives to the BOV.  So if we go retroactively, we only have one candidate for two positions.  This is a problem.


Discussion:  Before the 2009 Faculty Handbook was adopted, there was a two (2) consecutive two-term limit, so folks were grandfathered into a third term.  Chair Pober noted the proposed revisions to the Faculty Handbook were not voted upon at last week's Faculty Senate meeting (March 23rd) for lack of a quorum.   He asked Jim Bennett (who also serves as a member of the Handbook Committee) to ascertain whether the Faculty Handbook Committee would like to address this topic prior to next week's Faculty Senate Meeting, and if they approve the change, they could bring it to the floor for a vote.  The Faculty Handbook still conflicts with the BOV By-Laws.  Disagreements about Faculty Handbook interpretations are to be resolved by the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and the Provost.  We need to look at both documents.  If we have a situation where the Faculty Handbook lays out a strict and clear guideline, it would be extremely dangerous to let vague BOV policy supercede specific Faculty Handbook clause.  The intention may have been to allow more faculty the opportunity to run.  While sympathetic to electing good people, we could lose faculty control over governance without the Faculty Handbook Committee's recommendation.  The Faculty Handbook also specifies faculty representation on the ad hoc Presidential Search Committee.  Term limits can become problems when they are applied to some committees and not others, as you may have no candidates.  Why prevent people from voting for a candidate they prefer? Would it be useful to say that the Executive Committee supports this change as well?  Chair Pober responded that we have not done that with the rest of the Handbook revisions, not to usurp the Handbook Committee's function. 


E.  Organization and Operations – Star Muir


Election of Faculty Senators  2011-12:  ICAR and Krasnow share a Senate seat.  This year the elected seat was filled by Susan Hirsch of ICAR.  If it is Krasnow's turn to elect a Senator, then ICAR is welcome to send a (non-voting) representative, as anyone can attend Faculty Senate meetings.  There was also a question from SPP about the length of Jack Goldstone's term which he thought expired at the end of two years (2011), not three years as our records indicate.  SPP will inform us of their decision.  


Motion to Amend the Senate Evaluation of the President and Provost   (Attachment A) will be included on the April 6th meeting agenda, as will a Resolution  for Exception to Emeritus Status for Professor Jim McAuley (Communication).


EffectiveTeaching Committee – should a member be designated to serve on the (new) Distance Education Council? O&O will look at the charge.  It may not be necessary at this time, but may be needed in the future as distance education expands.


Review of Charter/By-Laws:  There are several clauses with redefinition of faculty titles; not a significant enough new set of issues to merit going over to change. 


IV.  Other Committees/Faculty Representatives

University Counsel's response to University Space and Expression Committee proposal on free speech code distributed to the Provost's Office and other interested parties:  Peter Pober (Chair of the Committee) will cull responses/concerns expressed and recall the committee to address this.


 A new Presidential Task Force whas been established to address a recent  police incident on campus, co-chaired by Peter Pober and Rose Pascarell. 


As noted above, the Faculty Handbook Revisions were not voted on for lack of a quorum at the March 23rd meeting.


Academic Initiatives Committee – Fall 2010 Report  (Attachment B) will be included on the April 6th meeting agenda. David Wilsford resigned from the committee this week, nominations will seek a replacement. 


V.  Agenda Items for April 6, 2011


VI.  New Business, Updates and Discussion


Provost Stearns reported we are actively considering the possibility of opening a branch campus in Martinsville, Virginia – decision still to be determined.  We will take it to the BOV in May for blessing, not definitive approval.  To work on more detailed operations over the summer and may go to the BOV in August or early Fall 2011.  The Provost wishes to have appropriate consultation with the Faculty Senate now and through the summer.  There is a “Pilgrims to Martinsville” group, constituted as an ad hoc committee.  The BOV did not take this up last week, although Visitor Chuck Mills knows about it, Rector Volgenau asked him to be conduit.  Hopefully Chuck Mills will re-engage topic at the upcoming BOV (Executive Committee) meeting on April 13th.  Do we create a structure with faculty elected to the loose coalition of people engaged in the Martinsville discussions?  If the initiative is approved in August, we need to consider this immediately, if appropriate.  The Provost responded whatever you feel is appropriate, open hearings will take place in the fall.  After some discussion, it was determined to ask one faculty representative from each of the BOV Committees to attend the April 13th BOV meeting.  Janette Muir (faculty representative to the APDUC Committee) agreed to go, and we will ask Mark Houck (faculty representative to the Finance and Land Use Committee) if he would serve in this capacity.


Provost Stearns asked the Executive Committee if they had questions on leadership transition issues.  Chair Pober reported there was some concern among faculty with Rector Volgenau's announcement of President Merten's retirement.  Provost Stearns responded that the ad hoc report (on the composition and process for the Presidential Search Committee) will go out on April 13th.  We need to get this done before the semester ends.  The composition of the full search committee will not occur until July, as BOV members change.  There were  political tensions years ago (during the last Presidential search in the mid 1990s).  The basic parameters of the search committee will be known by April, the membership not until July; the election of faculty representatives to the committee must take place before July.  A suggestion was made to elect alternates in addition to the faculty representatives, to which the Provost agreed.  This will be a nation-wide search.  The Provost ended that his contract goes until June 2013, at which time he will step down as Provost. 


A team from Phi Beta Kappa came at the end of February.  We hope that the committee will vote in our favor.  The Phi Beta Kappa Senate meets in December.  Provost Stearns and Professor Marion Deshmukh will attend the Phi Beta Kappa assembly during the summer of 2012.  Hence, the process will not be completed for another fifteen months or so.  Chair Peter Pober noted he had a very positive meeting with this group. 


VA Retirement Plan Concerns:  If employees participating in VRS received a 5% bonus and it is shifted to individual contributions, concern expressed that salaries raised by 5%, bifurcating system by which bonuses are given.  This also impacts summer salaries.  The Budget and Resources Committee has received an email from a collague which we will discuss with Morrie Scherrens. 


Suggested Criteria for Presidential Search will be sent to Rector Volgenau and Visitor Lovey Hammel, Chair of the Ad Hoc Presidential Search (procedures) committee. 


Faculty Representatives to the BOV identified two new issues:


The Huron Group has been brought in to conduct an efficiency study, as a way to identify waste.      Concern expressed that this will trickle through to the faculty side, such as low enrollment in some programs.  Two Visitors vehemently assert this this will not affect faculty directly, another Visitor says it will.  There needs to be faculty representation at the table.  The faculty have a strong advocate in Morrie Scherrns. 


The second issue involves a new board member who is looking at the quality of teaching and faculty evaluations.  We need to pay attention to this and suggest that a representative of the Effective Teaching Committee attend the May 4th APDUC meeting to hear the presentation.  Meg will contact the committee chair to ask if she would be interested in attending.


Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Faculty Senate clerk




This document consists of the following:

1) The text of the January 21, 2009 Senate Motion authorizing the Senate’s annual evaluation of the President and the Provost, as well as several proposed amendments (highlighted in yellow).

 I am requesting that these Amendments be proposed to the Senate at the first possible opportunity.

Also, if the process for evaluating the Pres & Prov for AY2010-11 has not begun, it should begin immediately.  And I hope the Executive Committee will follow the timeline and provisions suggested below.

2) The summary narrative evaluation for AY2009-2010.

.I. The original Resolution, plus the proposed amendments (in yellow). 

Introduction:  The Faculty Senate currently conducts an annual evaluation in which the Faculty assesses the performance of the President, the Provost, and the Deans and Directors. While this assessment should be continued, it would also be useful to have the Senate conduct its own evaluation. Therefore the Faculty Matters Committee proposes the following motion:

Resolution:  The elected members of the Faculty Senate will conduct an annual evaluation of how effectively the President and Provost have interacted with the Faculty Senate during the preceding academic year.  The results of this assessment will be summarized by the Executive Committee in narrative form and promptly sent to the General Faculty and to the Board of Visitors as a separate mailing.  The Senate Chair and the elected Faculty Representatives to the BOV will promptly discuss the report with the Board of Visitors and report back to the Senate.  If the Senate determines it would be salutary, it will charge the Senate Chair to summarize and send the Faculty representatives’ report to the General Faculty as a separate mailing. Otherwise, the Representatives report will go out only as part of the regular Minutes.

The following schedule will be observed:

March 1:  By this date or earlier, the Senate Chair will distribute evaluative questions to the chairs of the Senate Standing Committees and also to the chairs of the ad hoc and University Committees that report to the Senate.

March 10: The chairs will submit their written responses.

April Senate Meeting: The Executive Committee will present the final report to the Faculty Senate. The Senate Chair will also promptly send the report to the General Faculty and all Members of the Board of Visitors as a separate mailing. 

Next Meeting of the Board of Visitors: The Faculty Representatives to the BOV will discuss the Report with the Board of Visitors.

Next Meeting of the Faculty Senate: The Representatives will report back to the Senate. The Senate may decide to have a summary of this report promptly sent to the General Faculty as a separate mailing.  

Explanation: The Executive Committee will solicit input from the chairs of the Senate Standing Committees, as well as from ad hoc and University Committees that report to the Senate), and then compose a draft version of an annual assessment report of the President and the Provost.  This draft report will be presented for discussion, amendment, and approval by the elected members of the Senate at its April meeting.  The approved report will then be sent to the General Faculty and Board of Visitors as a separate mailing.

The assessment will include but not be limited to the following issues:

1) Have the Senate and its committees been provided access to the President, the Provost and their staffs in a timely manner?

2) Have the President, Provost and their staffs provided the Senate requested information in a timely manner?

3) In the case of joint Senate-Administration committees or task forces, have the President, Provost and/or their staffs participated in a collegial and effective manner?

4) Have the President, Provost and their staffs complied with the Faculty Handbook?

5) In policies involving the future of the University that have the potential to have significant impact upon the nature of the University or upon the Faculty and their work, has the Senate been included in the planning process in a significant way from the beginning?

Rationale:  Because the General Faculty “delegates to the Faculty Senate the responsibility for participation in governance at the university level” (Handbook, 1.3.1), the Senate interacts regularly with the President and Provost regarding “all governance issues not internal to any single school or college” (Handbook, 1.3.2).  Given this mandate, the Senate has both a unique need for effective relations with the chief administrative officers and a unique perspective upon how well these officers are collaborating with the Senate. Accordingly, it is appropriate that the Senate make a separate annual evaluation of how effectively the President, the Provost, and their staffs, have interacted with the Senate and that it share this information with the General Faculty, and with the members of the Board of Visitors.  The overall goal of this procedure is to ensure that both the General Faculty and the Board gain an understanding of the Faculty Senate’s perception of cooperation between the George Mason Central Administration and the Senate.

Rationale for the Proposed Amendments: It is important the process of evaluation be improved to guarantee that it is conducted in a timely manner and is effectively communicated to the General Faculty and the Board of Visitors.

II Annual Evaluation of the President and Provost’s Interaction with the Faculty Senate for AY2009-10

Executive Summary:  After assessing the quality of collaboration of President Merten and Provost Stearns and their staffs with the Faculty Senate during the preceding year, the Senate generally gives high marks to the Provost and the staffs of both the Provost and the President. However, the Senate has some serious concerns regarding the performance of the President. This brief report also makes several recommendations for developing a more productive working relationship between the Administration and the Faculty Senate.


Provost Stearns:  The Senate appreciates that the Provost regularly attends the meetings of both the Executive Committee and the full Senate. It is most helpful to have the Provost’s input during these deliberations. The Senate also appreciates that the Provost provided the full Senate (at its September, 2009 meeting) with an overview of the major issues he anticipated dealing with during the upcoming academic year. This type of advance notice is indispensable if the Senate is to play a meaningful role in shaping important University policies.  In addition, various Senate committees report that the Provost provides them with timely and helpful information and is responsive to their requests.

The Senate has also found the Provost’s staff to be consistently helpful. Committee reports gave special commendation to Associate Provosts Rick Davis, Renate Guilford and Michelle Marks; Assistant Provost Claudia Rector; Financial Aid Director Jevita Rogers; Registrar Susan Jones; and the Offices of Institutional Effectiveness and Research and Reporting.

President Merten:  The President necessarily has less interaction with the Senate than the Provost who serves as the University’s chief academic officer. However, the Senate notes with appreciation that the President makes a semesterly presentation to the Senate regarding such issues as long-term plans for the University, the annual budget, and other matters of significant import. Also, the Athletic Council, in particular praised the President for his consistently effective support.

 Dissatisfactions with the President’s performance included the following:

1)  Failure to post an annual report for use by faculty for the annual Faculty Evaluation of Administrators. This seems to show a casual indifference to the opinion of the Faculty.

2)  A seeming attempt to avoid a formal review by the Faculty, as explicitly called for in the Faculty Handbook, as part of the larger review process for reappointment by the Board of Visitors. The Senate’s stated concern about this violation of the Handbook was ignored until the Executive Committee discussed the matter with the Rector who called for compliance with the Handbook. The President then cooperated, but the delay resulted in ill-feeling and a rushed process.  

3)  A general perception that the President does not value the perspective of the Senate and is, therefore, not interested in informing the Senate about his activities and  agenda for the University..

The Senate found the President’s staff to be consistently helpful. Committees praised the responsiveness of Chief of Staff Tom Hennessey and office staffers Mary Roper and Sharon Cullen. Also, the Diversity Committee commended the consistent willingness of Corey Jackson, Director of Equity and Diversity Services, to assist them with their work. In a similar vein, the External Relations Committee stated that Government Relations Officer Betty Jolly provided useful information and expressed a desire to work more closely with the Committee.

Also notable was that requested data on administrative and faculty salaries was provided not only in a timely manner but also in a new format that greatly facilitated posting on the Senate website. Special commendation is given to Donna Kidd, Associate Vice President for Budget and Planning, and her staff.   We also wish to acknowledge the contributions of Linda Harber, Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Payroll, and her staff in addressing many questions throughout the year.


In an effort to further its collaboration with the Administration, the Senate respectfully makes the following suggestions:

1. As a general statement, the Senate asks that the Administration be more proactive in collaborating with the Senate Executive Committee and the various senate and university committees when the Administration is contemplating new policies that will have a significant impact upon the University and the professional work and lives of the faculty.

2. As a partial but important way of addressing the concern stated in point #1, the Senate asks that the Provost continue to provide (early in the fall semester) an overview of his agenda for the upcoming academic year. The Senate realizes that this agenda may be tentative, but it nevertheless provides the Senate with a helpful context for figuring out how it can add its perspective and best contribute to the shaping of new policies. In fact, it would be helpful if the Provost could provide a brief written outline of the agenda prior to the meeting as a basis for productive discussion.

3. It would be helpful to receive a similar type of tentative agenda from the President.

4. The Senate appreciates that the Provost seeks Senate/Faculty representation on various committees. Sometimes it would be helpful if the Senate were given more lead time for fulfilling these requests as well as a better understanding of what will be expected of the representatives.

5. The Budget and Resources Committee would find it helpful if one of its members could attend every meeting of the University Budget Planning Committee. (At present, the Committee is only invited to send a representative to some of the meetings.)

6. The Diversity Committee welcomes further collaboration with the Administration on various aspects of its work, including the development of benchmarks for monitoring progress on diversity and inclusion issues.

7. Finally, the Senate invites the Administration to suggest how the Senate might take steps to work more effectively.





Academic Initiatives Committee Senate Report for fall Semester 2010

Dear Fellow Colleagues of the GMU Faculty Senate:

The Senate Academic Initiatives Committee met with Provost Peter Stearnson October 27, 2010 toreview the university’s academic initiatives. The provost described a number of initiatives, some of which have been formalized and some of which are still in the talking stages.  Notes from this meeting are not available. Subsequently, on December 9, 2010 three members of the committee—Speller, Kiley, and Chong—met with Anne Schiller (then Interim Vice President for Global and International Strategies) who explained the organizational structure for the office; she noted that strategic planning goals and how to achieve them, including process flow, had not yet been developed. For an organization chart of Schiller’s office, see http://worldwide.gmu.edu/.


Two committee members, Tom Kiley and Thomas Speller, and guest Roman Polyak (invited by the committee chair) met with Mason’s Director of Russian Initiatives, Sergei Andronikovon October 18, 2010. Andronikov described the current state of Mason’s arrangement with Moscow State University. Students from Moscow State School of Economics, which includes their management department,can earn dual B.S. degrees in management and economics over a four-year duration. (Students in their fifth year can work in the U.S.) Currently, there are six students and, a rotation of Moscow State professors who each come to GMU to deliver a three week course teaching these students three hours per day five days a week. The classes are taught in Russian, but the intent sometime in the future is to teach in English and Russian. The students room together in an apartment and take courses in economics and management taught bythe Russian professors.  Mason pays the Russian educator for salary, room, and board,with the instructional rate set apparently below the Mason faculty rate structure, albeit Mason has many, diverse faculty salary structures. The Russian government pays for the flight costsof students and professors. The tuition and associated costs for a Russian student are approximately $30k per year. According to Andronikov, it can be difficult to recruit Russian students because of the high tuition.

It was not clear yet how this arrangement provides value to Mason. Andronikov mentioned that the breakeven point for GMU was nine students and currently there are six. There is no planned exchange program with the Moscow State University nor explanation why; he seemed unclear on the future direction for this Russian initiatives program. Kiley inquired about the courses and schedule for students, which Andronikov said he would send; however, he has not yet done so nor replied to Kiley’s email reminder.

As next steps, the committee plans to meet with Anne Schiller, who was named Vice President of Global and International Strategies in the near future. We also plan to review Mason’s academic initiatives in China and Korea.

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the GMU Academic Initiatives Committee,

Thomas Speller (Chair)