Thursday, August 25, 2011, 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.

University Hall, room 3300


Senators Present:  Doris Bitler, Janette Muir, Star Muir, Peter Pober, Suzanne Slayden, Susan Trencher.

Visitors Present:  Corey Jackson, Assistant to the President/Director, Equity and Diversity Services; Linda Schwartzstein, Vice Provost, Academic Affairs/Vice President, Enrollment Services; Brian Walther, Senior Associate University Counsel, Office of University Counsel.


I.  Approval of Minutes of April 18, 2011:  The minutes were approved as distributed.


II.  Announcements

New Senator Orientation will take place on Wednesday, August 31, 2011 – 3:00 p.m., Robinson B113.  The Faculty Senate Office is now located in University Hall 3501.


Chair Peter Pober announced that the Faculty Senate Officers  for AY11-12 will be  Parliamentarian – Star Muir; Sergeants-at-Arms – Linda Monson and Sheryl Beach; Chair Pro Tempore – Suzanne Slayden and thanked them for their continued service.  Suzanne Slayden will chair the Faculty Senate Meeting on December 7th as Peter will be in Beijing.


Discussion:  In the absence of Provost Stearns,  Linda Schwartzstein answered questions from the list of issues for AY 11-12 he will present at the next Faculty Senate meeting. (Attachment A).


Research Misconduct:  As some procedures are very cumbersome, to look at the policy to clarify and possibly change steps to make it more user-friendly.  In response to a observation that steps mandated by federal rules, Brian Walther confirmed that we have to follow (federal) rules; procedure fills in some gaps.  If  federal funding is not involved, there is more flexibility.  Faculty played a large role in this policy; very important have substantial faculty representation on the committee. 


Balance: "Jobs":  Perceptions from the legislature, the public, and a little bit from the BOV, that education  lead only to a job, to balance with the humanities and liberal arts.


Transitions: Searches – Admissions:  Will there be a search immediately for new dean of Admissions?  The Vice President for Acasdemic Management will be  responsible for Admissions, Financial Aid, and Continuing Professional Education.  The search committee led by  Michelle Marks (Associate Provost for Graduate Education). This will impact Linda Schwartstein's position as part of her responsibilities includes Enrollment Services. Transition also impacts the Office of Financial Aid as its former director (Jevita deFreitas) left.   They are looking for a new director of Financial Aid. 

Concerns were expressed about where funding for a new, very senior position is coming from, and we will request a copy of the job description from Michelle Marks. 


Distributed Campuses and Continuing Education:   Current sites include developments in Loudoun and Tysons, hopes for a donation of land at Belmont Bay, money from the state at issue.  A consulting contract by Admissions will look at graduate programs in Loudoun, just in its first phase of study.  There are also a couple of programs located in DC including the new Decorative Arts and Arts Management programs.


Educational Enhancement - "Segue":  A program started under Rick Davis (Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education) looks at courses with high (numbers of) D, F grades.  Funding will be applied next year for departments to submit GenEd  proposals for course redesign to enhance students' passing the course. 


SACS:  To sign a transmittal letter for our response to the on-site team which gave us two compliance recommendations.  1) The Board (BOV) dismissal policy is a matter of state law, per the Office of the University Counsel.  2) Faculty Credential Issue in one unit in CEHD:  the unit has done a lot to fix issues there.  The other (four) recommendations involved QEP. 


Budget:  Enrollment Investments:  As the BOV wanted, GMU had a relatively low tuition increase.  A collection of Visitors, some more intense than others, but a vocal segment,  believes we should keep tuition as low as possible.  Cuts in state funding have occured over a long period of time.  How much will Virginia provide for enrollment growth?  Now the state is trying to figure out how little they can fund us; to give incentive for growth?  We need about $6K from the state (per student) to make us whole for in-state students.


Discussion:  Consensual  Sexual Relationships Policy (Attachments B and C)

Chair Pober welcomed Corey Jackson and Brian Walther, appreciated their willingness to attend this meeting to discuss the policy and answer questions.  A report from Ohio State University,"Task Force Examining the Policy on Consensual Relationships:  Report and Recommendations:  July 11,2005" was also distributed in advance to Executive Committee members.  Brian Walther drafted the proposed policy, which has been endorsed by the Student Senate, Staff Senate and GMU Administration.  The genesis of the policy concerns preventing abuse of power relationships with students. 


Some concerns expressed included:  How to address practical question of favoritism not just between two individuals, but other students’ perception of relationship?  Favoritism questions also apply to student/employee relationships.  How to address relationships in dissimilar disciplines?  What is the impact upon perceptions of department/program and the university’s reputation?  Situation may occur in which a student is dissuaded from enrolling in a class but does so anyway.  Or after relationship ends, student still taking the course.  Who is responsible for holding student responsible?  Retaliation against faculty also occurs.


Does University Life have procedures in place to deal with these issues?  To sit down with student and faculty member?  The Executive Committee supported this approach.  Policies and practices also need to be included in the Faculty Handbook; Human Resources should not be handling faculty issues.  Who is responsible for adjudicating this?   If there is not a formal legal process, some not comfortable with Human Resources handling this.  Others do not see exclusivity.  Policy applies to all employees, including administration and staff.  Concerns were expressed by several members of the committee that the wording is all over the place.  Are we forbidden or not?  Do not disagree with it, but need to have policy statement/procedures and practices.


Brian Walther and Corey Jackson plan to reorganize the document; to move policy statement to the beginning. In a perfect world, when relationship disclosed, there is a way we can move people to another classroom, evaluation by someone else, practically we can make some things happen.  Even if you do tell folks not to do it, it will happen, need to recognize this happens.  Cannot regulate everything, there are too many permutations, variables.  To handle on a case-by-case basis; has to have some flexibility. 


Referencing page 5 of Ohio State Report, suggestion made to  include coaches and counselors also.  You also need to be clear about the need to make immediate and alternative arrangements.  This may be a  tough road to hoe through Faculty Senate, faculty will have wordsmithing suggsetions.  The policy is very much focused on the students, there are also power relationships among employees too,  The Conflict of Interest Policy exists in HR for employees.  Also there are many situations and variations such as mentors, "including but not limited to" – willing to put it back in. 


The Faculty Matters Committee has looked at this several times.  We want to see suggested changes reflected in policy as discussed today.  The language should be the same for both faculty and students.  Brian Walther will check with Pam Patterson to find out whether these issues are already covered in the Student Honor Code, or in student judicial policy.  Important to have similar language for student (code) and policy. 


Executive Committee members will send Corey and Brian their individual concerns about the  proposed policy.  We will invite them to our next Executive Committee Meeting (in late Sept.) to prepare for the October 5th Faculty Senate meeting agenda.


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


A.  Academic Policies – Janette Muir

·         Updates (if any): AP/IB Credits/ Guest Matriculations:  We had a useful conversation in May, issues continue.  Questions include whether there should be formal limits to the number of credits students are allowed to bring in.  We will also discuss what level (e.g. 100 or 400 level) courses should be.  Dean of Admissions Andrew Flagel has left GMU; pending his replacement, foresee small changes.     Honor Code Changes – working with Graduate Council.

·         New issue:  with the possibility of a new Korea campus, seeming implications for students who take courses from us as well as other institutions present on the Korean campus, and obtaining credits from us?  What limits/rigor/requirements for credits to be granted?  Provost Stearns, Anne Schiller, and Peter Pober will travel to Korea in October.


B.  Budget and Resources – June Tangney:  As June is away, she emailed the following report:

Extramural Funding Study:

This has turned into a bit of a morass.  Last year, we met with Morrie and Gil regarding the list of questions we had submitted.  Data are not available to answer many of the questions (including the most important ones concerning variances in practices and policy across colleges and departments).  Gil and Morrie did provide a sea of data – most at the university level -- which we plodded through last semester.  The task for the new Budget and Resources committee this year will be to determine whether (a) there are any specific questions we wish to pursue, and (b) whether a formal report would be useful at this point, given the data in hand.  


A more immediate concern related to extramural funding emerged this summer.  CHSS now has a policy requiring PIs to include 10% AY salary for each month summer salary requested.  Essentially, CHSS is requiring extramurally funded faculty to cover a significant portion of their AY research time, whereas unfunded faculty receive this time gratis. 


BPT Meetings:

Members of the committee regularly attend the BPT meetings.  The process is very helpful to observe.  Nothing new to report, other than much work behind the scenes was done by administration to make the end-of-the-summer raise happen in a way that would be politically prudent.


Survey of faculty work in independent study/directed readings/dissertations acknowledge by departments in evaluation/promotion/tenure process:

We finally received from the registrar a comprehensive list independent study/ directed readings/dissertation credits by college and department.  The data file requires some serious editing because data are clearly not complete for earlier years (e.g., 2006-07).  So we’ll focus on the past three years.  The EC decided it would be best to send out the survey with cleaned up data early in the Fall semester (as opposed to this summer).  This will be our first task of the semester.


Summary of Summer Salary Concerns – Provost’s response/follow-up:


I’m sorry not to be there in person to discuss this complex situation.  The committee received just a few specific complaints in response to our inquiries of department chairs and a request for feedback from senate members.  Most departments don’t have concerns because most faculty don’t want to teach summer school classes. 


I met with the Provost and his summer school staff (Renate Guilford, Cathy Evans) late last semester.  They noted a number of inaccuracies in our report and offered to send suggested revisions to more accurately reflect the complex administration of summer revenues, which is now centered at the unit level.  (I haven’t yet received the suggested corrections. Just prodded them again)  They also addressed the few specific concerns voiced to the committee (e.g., sociology), providing some data which I can share at the next EC meeting. 


In brief, essentially their position is that enough money is allocated to units to cover summer salaries if managed properly (e.g., cutting low enrollment classes).  If a Chair comes up short in trying to meet faculty requests for summer courses, he/she can appeal to the Dean/Director.  If the Dean/Director can’t cover the shortfall, he/she can appeal to the Provost.  No such appeals have been made to the Provost. 


It would be good to discuss this at greater length at the next EC meeting.  Again, apologies for not being on hand today.


(In a brief discussion, the committee will ask for more information about the distribution of summer funding).


Faculty Salary Peer Group Revision (SCHEV):

Yea!  After an awful lot of work behind the scenes, we now have a new peer group with a substantially higher average salary, so GMU is now at a much lower percentile.  This translates into greater clout when arguing for COLAs etc. with the State legislature.


(The new peer group is posted on IR&R website at  http://irr.gmu.edu/PeerList/peerlist2011.cfm .  As is a link to the previous peer group:  http://irr.gmu.edu/PeerList/peerlist2007.cfm .  )


Additional Items:


·        ORP and VRS Impact on Summer Salaries:  I’ve met several times with Linda Harber about the impact of the VRS 5% increase on summer salary.  She put together a very useful spreadsheet that shows the accumulated impact on VRS and non-VRS employees.  (The variance is surprisingly small, but it is a ridiculously complex situation that is apt to concern faculty.)  Linda kept me informed as she reached out to UVA and a few other state universities to see if they wanted to build a coalition to press for reforms at the State level.  The other universities were surprisingly unconcerned about this issue.  (They’re more concerned that the state might try to phase out TIAA-CREF.)  So it didn’t seem prudent for GMU to try to fight this alone.  Linda is happy to provide a briefing on the VRS impact on faculty summer salaries at a senate meeting if you wish.  I think it would be helpful to allay concerns.  I think on the face of it, it sounds as if the 5% VRS increase would make a much bigger difference than it does in fact.  We  will invite Linda Harber to answer questions at the next Faculty Senate meeting.


C.  Faculty Matters  – Doris Bitler

Faculty Evaluation of Administrators Survey:  The Committee is preparing a summary of comments received.

Review of Consensual Sexual Relationships Policy:  as discussed above. 

Faculty Enrollment in Courses without Stipulating Admission:  Registrar Susan Jones is receptive to working with us to make the process easier/more understandable; situation more complicated than it seems. 

Transition for Faculty Denied Tenure Final Year “workload”:  faculty member directed to the Provost Office.


D.  Nominations – Suzanne Slayden

 The nominee slates for the Faculty Senate Standing Committees and  University Standing Committees are just about done, still some holes to plug.  General Education and the Athletic Concil are two very popular committees.  As Chair of the General Education Committee, Rick Davis likes to have the same people coming back.  We will send a request to O&O to change the length of faculty members' terms on the committee from two to three years, staggering them so that no more than three of the eight elected members to the 12 member group would rotate each year to provide the continuity the committee needs. The Minority and Diversity Issues and Non-Traditional, Interdisciplinary, and Adult Learning Committees are also popular. 


Rick Coffinberger has resigned from the Faculty Handbook Revision Committee, so a new member is needed.  The charge of the present committee will be distributed for review.  We will ask O&O to consider making it a Standing (not ad hoc) Committee.  Some faculty objected to a standing committee as implying changes to the Faculty Handbook every year.  Others saw the committee as a place to collect ideas and suggestions for future changes to the Faculty Handbook.  As there were delays in the BOV's consideration of proposed changes to the Faculty Handbook in 2011, a Special Faculty Senate  Meeting to consider changes to the Faculty Handbook has been scheduled for February 15, 2012. 


E.  Organization and Operations – Star Muir

Continuing issues from last year are Faculty Enrolling as Students, the Free Speech Code (still in progress) and AB/IB Credits. 


FS Election Results 2011-12 pending election of COS Senator replacing Senator leaving GMU.


IV.  Other Committees/Faculty Representatives

Faculty Handbook Revisions 2011 were approved by the BOV, effective July 1, 2011.


The Presidential Task Force on Relationship between the University Police and the University Community issued its report 1 ½ - 2 months ago to President Merten and Morrie Scherrens.  There is also a separate study on the specific incident (conducted by an outside firm).  Chief of Police Lynch has also sent his report to them.  Morrie Scherrens will provide his own report upon review of the two reports soon.   The reports will be released by University Relations. 


BOV Faculty Representatives: Three of the four faculty representatives attended the August BOV meeting, one was unable to attend due to a family emergency.  The new representatives are very interested in meeting regularly and developing a document to provide updates/reports to apprise the faculty of their work and the BOV of faculty concerns.  The Chair of the Faculty Senate also reports to the BOV at its meetings.  


June Tangney (CHSS) and Linda Monson (CVPA) were elected Faculty Representatives to the Presidential Search Committee;  Senate Chair Peter Pober also serves as a full voting member of the Presidential Search Committee.  The work of the committee is well underway.  Committee members signed confidentiality agreements.  No more than two committee members may discuss business at one time, without the meeting becoming public, a typical practice for boards. A faculty forum will be announced. 


V.  Agenda Items for September 7, 2011


VI.  New Business, Updates,  and Discussion

Faculty Representation to potential Martinsville campus working group:  President Merten formally announced there will be no bid for the campus.


The GMU AAUP chapter would like to co-sponsor another BOV reception – ideally earlier than December so as to meet the incoming BOV members before their perceptions of faculty have “coalesced.”  I informally asked Peter Stearns if he’d be willing to help support this event again, and he said “yes.” The EXC will ask Tom Hennessey and Kathy Cagle whether the BOV is willing for us to do this.


QEP:  Kim Eby and Bethany Usher wish  to discuss funding for faculty initiatives.  We will ask them  to send us information about resources available/deadlines for  distribution to Faculty Senators.  If there are questions, we will invite them to a future Faculty Senate meeting to answer them.


A search announcement to fill the vacancy of Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education will be posted on Monday August 29th.  A review of applications begins September 21st.


Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Faculty Senate clerk






ATTACHMENT A – from Provost Stearns

2011–12 Issues – For Faculty Senate



1.   Budget


Tuition and BOV

Enrollment Investments?

Research Funding – Strategies

Tech Transfer


2.   Transitions

Searches – Admissions


Provost Office Structure


3.   Distributed campuses and continuing education

Main Centers

New Sites


4.   Korea  & Global Strategies directions


5.   Educational Enhancement

Students as Scholars


PhD Programs

Distance / Summer



Phi Kappa Phi


6.   Retention and Growth

6-Year Plan

State Relations


7.   Research Misconduct; Dissertations; Human Subjects


8.   Balance



Critical Thinking


Consensual Sexual Relationship Policy


Sexual relationships between employees and students have the effect of undermining the atmosphere of trust on which the educational process depends.  Positions of authority inherently carry the element of power in their relationships with students.  It is imperative that those in authority neither abuse, nor appear to abuse, this power entrusted to them.  The respect and trust accorded a professor or other employee by a student, as well as the power exercised in giving praise or blame, grades, recommendations for further study and/or future employment, can greatly diminish should sexual activity be included in the relationship. 


Sexual relationships that might be appropriate in other circumstances are always inappropriate when they occur between employees, including faculty members, and students over whom they have a professional power relationship. Because such relationships involve an abuse of power, an employee may be subject to sanctions if he or she has engaged in such unprofessional behavior.


Examples of a professional power relationship include but are not limited to relationships where an employee:

1.      is in a position to make administrative or educational decisions about a student;

2.      participates in an educational experience in which such employee has the authority to assign grades;

3.      has any input into the evaluation of the student’s academic performance;

4.      actually or potentially serves in, or influences, matters of admission with respect to the student;

5.      serves on scholarship awards committees;

6.      has a managerial position over the student;

7.      has an official academic advising relationship to the student, including as a thesis or dissertation advisor.


An employee who has a professional power relationship over a student must avoid any sexual relationships with the student.  If such an employee becomes involved in a sexual relationship with a student, or has had a past sexual relationship with the student, the employee must immediately notify his or her supervisor, and the supervisor will determine whether the employee must recuse himself or herself from exercising any further authority over the student.  Depending on the circumstances, the employee may still be subject to discipline even if the employee notifies his or her supervisor. Supervisors can seek additional guidance from HR, OEDS and/or University Counsel.


For purposes of this policy, it is irrelevant whether both the employee and the student consent to the relationship. The respect and trust accorded an employee by a student, as well as the power exercised by an employee in an academic, non-academic or evaluative role, make voluntary consent by the student suspect.  An employee who enters into a sexual relationship with a student where a professional power relationship exists must realize that if a charge of sexual harassment is subsequently lodged, a claim of mutual consent may not be a successful defense.




Rationale For the Policy

George Mason University is committed to a campus environment based upon collegial respect and trust.  The integrity of academic and work relationships is a foundation of the University’s mission.  People in positions of authority within the University must be aware of and sensitive to the potential conflict of interest, ethical concerns, and issues of sexual harassment that may occur in consensual relationships. The power differential inherent in any such relationship causes apparent consent to be questionable.  Relationships that are mutual and consensual are often viewed by others as exploitative, and may adversely affect the learning and/or work environment.  Specifically, the parties to a consensual relationship must be aware that such relationships can create in co-workers and students, perceived and real, conflicts of interest and an environment of fear of unfair treatment in terms of promotions, grades, professional and/or educational opportunities, etc. Additionally, consenting relationships may result in complaints of sexual harassment and/or sexual favoritism.  (See University Policy 1202: Sexual Harassment) 

Message to Mason Students

We care about your safety and well being as a member of our campus community. We want you to be able to trust our faculty, staff and student employees.  Although we will not go so far as to attempt to forbid you to engage in a consensual relationship (as defined in the policy) with an University employee, should you decide to do so, you should be aware of University resources available to you.  .  If at any point in the relationship you feel taken advantage of in any way (e.g. sexually, physically, emotionally, academically, etc.), you are encouraged to tell someone you trust right away. Some departments on campus that will know how to help you in this situation would be Counseling  & Psychological Services, University Police, Sexual Assault Services, Provost’s Office, Women & Gender Studies Center, the Office of the Dean of Students, and the Office of Equity and Diversity Services. You may also choose to tell your resident advisor, coach, or a professor. What is most important is that you tell someone, so that you can find assistance to continue your academic journey at Mason. 


Message to Mason Faculty

AAUP position on consensual relationships between faculty and students:

Sexual relations between students and faculty members with whom they also have an academic or evaluative relationship are fraught with the potential for exploitation. The respect and trust accorded a professor by a student, as well as the power exercised by the professor in an academic or evaluative role, make voluntary consent by the student suspect.  In their relationships with students, members of the faculty are expected to be aware of their professional responsibilities and to avoid apparent or actual conflict of interest, favoritism, or bias. When a sexual relationship exists, effective steps should be taken to ensure unbiased evaluation or supervision of the student.