Mason Hall, room D5, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.


Senators Present:  Star Muir, Earle Reybold, Jim Sanford, Suzanne Scott, Suzanne Slayden, Peter Stearns, June Tangney.


I.  Approval of Minutes of  April 16, 2012:  The minutes were approved as distributed.


II.  Announcements

·        Budget Forum – Monday, September 10, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Meese Conference Room , Mason Hall with Provost Stearns and  Beth Brock (Associate Vice President/Controller, Fiscal Services)

·         Sheryl Beach (COS) to serve on the Search Committee for Senior Vice President

·         Mark Houck (VSE) to serve as faculty (Senate) representative to the Provost Budget and Planning Team  

·         Susan Trencher (CHSS) to serve as faculty (Senate) representative to the Provost’s Summer Term

·         Johannes Rojahn (CHSS) to serve as faculty representative to the University Dining RFP Committee

·         Jane Flinn (CHSS) to serve as faculty representative to the Search Committee for Vice President for University Life

·         Ed Douthett (SOM) to serve as faculty representative to the BO V Audit Committee

·         Bob Smith (CHSS) to serve as faculty representative to the Space Advisory Committee

·         Michael Kelley (SPP) to serve as the faculty appointed Trustee to the Board of Trustees of the GMU Foundation.  It was noted that Professor Kelley was elected by the Faculty Senate at its April 25th meeting.  The Foundation accepted his nomination, but also requested we submit two more nominees in the future, as the Foundation looks for different types of nominees. They will let us know what kinds of expertise they would find useful.

Chair Tangney will attend each meeting and will check to see whether they will be available remotely.


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

A.  Academic Policies  Suzanne Scott, Chair

Proposed Changes to Catalog Copy:  Permission to Study Elsewhere:  We received a lengthy email from Professor Bill Sutton; issue continues from last year. 

Academic Calendar:  Because of changes in degree conferral dates, a proposal to start classes a week earlier in the fall was made by Susan Jones, who retired last month as University Registrar.  The AP Committee will begin discussion on this once duly constituted at the first Faculty Senate meeting (September 5th).   Several EXC members expressed concern about the proposal. We are also working on summer scheduling. 


B.  Budget and Resources – June Tangney, Chair

Independent Study Survey:  in process of analyzing data.

Cost of Proposed Family Leave policy:  $160K, to be added to FY 14 budget request.

GMU Foundation/Faculty Rep:  Faculty do not know much about the GMU Foundation, one of our major fundraising arms.   Suggestions made included inviting a GMUF member to make a brief presentation to the Faculty Senate and to ask the Faculty Representative to submit an annual report.


C.  Faculty Matters – Jim Sanford, Chair

Family Leave – the issue will be returned to the committee for discussion in view of the new budget information.  If funding not available until 2014, should we bring this up now or wait until 2014 budget?  Consensus emerged important Faculty Senate have opportunity to vote whether to endorse this. “Family Leave” designed for new parents to take a semester off from teaching, or teach half-time over a year. 

Faculty Evaluation of Administrators:  Meg is working with Institutional Assessment on the quantitative summaries.  In July faculty comments were distributed to committee members for summarization, due by the end of August.  We anticipate the report will be distributed in 3-4 weeks.

Distribution of Paper Copies of Faculty Evaluation of Administrators Surveys:  Paper copies of the surveys are sent to each Faculty Senator, the Board of Visitors and others (about 100 copies) and are posted on the Faculty Senate website.  Faculty must log-in to view the survey.  The Executive Committee agreed to distribute the surveys electronically to Faculty Senators.

Criminal Background Check (Attachment A)

About six or seven years ago, criminal background checks were required for employees in Human Resources, financial, and child care positions.  Now implemented as a policy, the difference is that every new employee or employees changing position will have to have a criminal background check.  Dave Kuebrich and I talked with Linda Harber (Associate VP/Human Resources/Payroll) and Jessica Cain (Employee Relations Specialist, Human Resources/Payroll).  While personally not sure why everybody needs to have one, satisfied that a lot of care is taken to keep the results private.  This action was not done as a result of any problems. Linda Harber has pushed for this for some time, not sure how much Penn State may have influenced it.  Virginia Tech also adopted a policy; Mason would have been one of a few institutions without a policy like this.  Clarification regarding employee changing positions who had a background check within the previous three years would not be required to have another.  What is the time frame?  Summer is a busy time with all the camps.  To include on Faculty Senate agenda as an information item.  A question was raised whether the results of the criminal background check appear on a job application sent to a department, or just kept only in Human Resources?  Could information be released once (application) disseminated?


D.  Nominations – Suzanne Slayden, Chair

Nominees to Faculty Senate Standing Committees and University Standing Committees:  the committee is proceeding apace, almost done. 

Nominees to Computer Privacy Task Force – pending charge for Task Force.


E.  Organization and Operations – Star Muir

Computer Privacy Task Force Charge – not in a position yet to have charge, to be an ad hoc Task Force.   We have a faculty member dedicated to issue.  Expectation of privacy of emails and conditions where it would take place.  There are a group of larger universities in the Commonwealth where they will abrogate privacy of emails only for police investigations.  Several EXC members noted that research data and records are also vulnerable.  With the advent of “spy” software, suggestion made to get policy where no one allowed to install spy software.  To make sure look at email and at data privacy issues and request report at the end of the year. Please send your suggestions to Star.

Videoconferencing Faculty Senate Meetings 2013-14:  Report distributed in June; issues not easily resolvable.  We cannot provide tables for 75 people in Research I room 163.  Events Management said they would send a student; we have had good tech support from ITU in Robinson B113.  Another subsidiary issue for videoconferencing:  what to do if you go into closed session; could be viewed.    If  a paper ballot is called for, will need sgts-at-arms at each location who report back privately voting results.  At least 3-4 major issues we have to deal with.  Not to put a lot of energy into this until we get a place where we can seat 75 people.  Senate meetings are public.  A suggestion was made to consider the Mason Inn, Star will look into this. 

Faculty Senators 2012-13 pending:  one CHSS; elected Senator from Krasnow Institute

Reminder:  If any committee has taken on new issues, make sure O&O is in the loop on that; please send O&O information.


IV.  Other Committees/Faculty Representatives


Instructions/Mandate to BOV Faculty Reps:  Our faculty representatives to the BOV do not really know what their mandate is.  Time for a good survey to find out what faculty concerns are.  Not clear that there is a clear line of reporting back to the Faculty Senate; to offer BOV faculty reps opportunity to summarize 3-4 minutes at Faculty Senate meetings?  Faculty representatives are elected by and from the general faculty.  They have opportunity to answer BOV questions, important they have good understanding of faculty concerns; but very broad (range of concerns). 


Do the faculty reps to the BOV represent concerns of the general faculty or is it  more that faculty reps attend BOV meeting and report back?  How does my perspective get back to the BOV?  This is not clear.  We need the faculty reps both to represent faculty concerns, and to report back to us


“Our” mandate:  Can we ask Faculty Reps for an annual report?  They don’t have to report.  The Senate chair is ex-officio representative to the BOV, appropriate to report to Faculty Senate, although she has to leave when BOV goes into closed session.  An Executive Committee member noted that all Faculty Senators in her area are frustrated to get information out to their college.  Without the Faculty Senate, there is no venue or mechanism for BOV faculty reps to report.  A mechanism need to be set forth.  Suggestions included requesting an annual report as well as brief appearances at FS meetings.  To continue discussion at the next Executive Committee meeting. 


FS Task Force to Examine Agreements Between GMU and Private Donors – will ask if they would like to give an update at the next meeting?


V.  Agenda Items for September 2012 first FS Meeting

·         Draft FS Minutes April 25th

·         Provost’s Remarks/List of Goals AY 12-13

·         Announcements:

    President Cabrera Town Hall Meetings with Faculty will take place in Fairfax (Wednesday, September 19th, 10:30 am – 12:00 p.m., Harris Theater); Prince William (Wednesday, September 19th,  1:30-3:00 p.m., Verizon Auditorium); and  Arlington:  (Thursday, September 20, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m., Theater Space) 

Budget Forum – Monday, September 10, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Meese Conference Room , Mason Hall with Provost Stearns and  Beth Brock (Associate Vice President/Controller, Fiscal Services)

   Phi Beta Kappa Chapter approved!!!


·         Sheryl Beach (COS) to serve on the Search Committee for Senior Vice President

·         Mark Houck (VSE) to serve as faculty (Senate) representative to the Provost Budget and Planning Team 

·         Susan Trencher (CHSS) to serve as faculty (Senate) representative to the Provost’s Summer Term

·         Johannes Rojahn (CHSS) to serve as faculty representative to the University Dining RFP Committee

·         Jane Flinn (CHSS) to serve as faculty representative to the Search Committee for Vice President for University Life  

·         Ed Douthett (SOM) to serve as faculty representative to the BO V Audit Committee

·         Bob Smith (CHSS) to serve as faculty representative to the Space Advisory Committee

·         Faculty Matters:  (1) Criminal Background Check Policy (Attachment A)

                        (2)  Faculty Evaluation of Administrators Update

·         Nominations:  Nominees to the Faculty Senate Standing Committees and University Standing Committees

·         Other New Business: 

   Conflict of Interest Policy Draft  for FS Review/Comment (Attachments C and D):  required by federal funding agencies, had to be sent forth by a certain date.  Provost was apologetic about the short term frame, asked Faculty Senate to review and if needed, to suggest amendments.  Faculty had a lot of input to the assorted research policies, made better by faculty input.  Very important to stress that faculty look at this.  

   Resolution of Appreciation for Marion Deshmukh (J. Bennett) (Attachment B)


VI.              New Business, Updates, and Discussion


Proposed Changes to P&T Appeals Process:  (Summary)  Provost Stearns distributed a handout. There was a misunderstanding in which the Faculty Handbook Committee had not received recent proposed revisions from Brian Walther (Sr. Associate University Counsel), as Provost Stearns was previously misinformed.  He will see Brian Walther tomorrow and ask him to get in touch with the Handbook Committee as soon as possible.  Several changes were discussed in April, but that was as far as they got.  A general discussion about proposed changes ensued.


Contractual and Non-Contractual Parts of Faculty Handbook:  We are at an impasse.  Frank Neville (Chief of Staff) would like to find a way around this without involving dueling lawyers.  Despite Rector Volgenau’s request, University Counsel will not say what is binding and what is not.  To find out what President’s Office has to say.


Development of New Strategic Plan:  Chair Tangney attended the BOV retreat.  Over the next six-seven months, President Cabrera wants to develop a new one page mission statement and a series of “GMU will…”statements with goal to develop a new Strategic Plan for 2014.  Eight different work areas will be created, with faculty and student representatives.


What relationship does the Faculty Senate have with the Strategic Plan?  Suzanne Slayden serves on a “New Strategic Plan Continuation Committee” which has been meeting for three years to develop a five year plan which may dovetail into this. There were only two faculty representatives on this committee, important to find faculty willing to attend meetings, concerned about administrative ideas/ need for faculty viewpoint.  Consensus to watch process very closely and think about faculty nominees to committees such as Fundraising and Global Initiatives (among other committees).  Also not to let administration select faculty membership to the respective committees. 


Provost Search Process :  To amend the Faculty Handbook re proportional representation on both President and Provost search  process, just to circulate ideas via email.  Suggested at least 50% faculty representation on each committee.  


Controversial Food Vendor::  Chik-Fil-A on campus; plans to open a second one.  Do we want to register our displeasure?  In a general discussion, consensus emerged that there are other issues, such as support for spousal benefits, which may better represent what faculty want. Perhaps to note at the next meeting under “For the Good of the General Faculty.”


Report from the Campus Police -Community Relations Advisory Council: will continue to pursue.


To continue Brief Remarks from Deans and Directors AY 12-13?  After some discussion, the committee agreed to suspend the practice this year, at least this fall, due to a very busy schedule.  General information is also available on college websites. 


Resolution of Appreciation for Marion Deshmukh  (J. Bennett) (Attachment B)


Course Release for Faculty Senate Executive Committee Members:  Suzanne Slayden will receive for this semester.  Once reconstituted, the new EXC can decide.  One course release assigned per semester.  Need to address this at next EXC again as departments need a  heads up soon to find replacement for spring course release.


VII.            Adjournment:  The meeting adjourned at 3:35 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Faculty Senate clerk




Criminal Background Check


George Mason University is modifying University Policy Number 2221 (Criminal Background Investigations).  The new policy will require all new employees and all current employees who change positions to undergo criminal background checks.  The old policy specified the employment categories and offices that require such checks.  They included all staff and most administrative faculty positions. Due to outside certification requirements, faculty teaching in the College of Health and Human Services and the College of Science were also subject to background checks.  The new policy will extend the check to all new faculty, staff, and admin faculty for whom a check has not been completed in the last three years, including those who leave the university and then are rehired.  Employees who are simply promoted in their present positions will not be required to have a background check completed.  Also, anyone who signed a contract with the university prior to June 25 is exempt from a check unless it was already part of their hiring process.


According to Linda Harber, Associate Vice President and CHRO of Human Resources and Payroll , all major universities in Virginia except Old Dominion University either presently have a policy like the new one being implemented or are in the process of implementing one.  The change in policy at Mason and some other institutions is, in part, the result of the recent incidents at Penn State.


The policy change was developed by Linda Harber and senior administrative staff.  The first major planning meeting occurred on April 5, 2012.  With the unfolding revelation of child molestation at Penn State, there was some urgency to complete the process quickly.  Faculty and staff were not invited to participate in the planning process.  Any concerns or feedback with the policy can be shared with Jessica Cain (jcain4@gmu.edu) in Employee Relations. 


The background check process occurs as follows.  As part of hiring or position-changing, the employee must agree to a criminal background check.  That action is a condition of employment or job change.  The university then uses the services of an online company named HireRight.  This company completes (a) a Social Security Trace which reveals the names and addresses associated with the social security number,  (b) a search of the Sex Offenders Registry and Prohibited Parties (terror watch) List, and (c) a criminal search that reveals felony and misdemeanor convictions (not arrests or accusations) within the last seven years.  Minor traffic violations are exempted.  Once the check is complete, results are kept in a locked file in HR, apart from the individual’s personnel file, and never shared with a third party under any circumstances.  Jessica Cain and Christine Harchick in HR Employee Relations are responsible for initiating the checks.


The cost to the university varies between about $42 and $70 per check, averaging about $50, and this is paid centrally, not from the budget of the hiring unit.  The total annual cost for completing this process is difficult to estimate.  According to Jessica Cain, the university had about 500 new hires last year, meaning the cost for this category of employee is about $25,000.  However, this number does not include present employees who changed positions and staff/volunteers associated with camps.


If the search results in the finding of a criminal conviction or other issue, the individual will have a confidential one-on-one meeting with a member of Employee Relations.  This meeting allows the employee the opportunity to verify the results and inform Employee Relations of any ongoing appeals.  Concerns can potentially be discussed with the position’s supervisor and, if deemed necessary by the department, with individuals higher on the employment chain and the university’s General Counsel’s Office.  A negative finding would not normally result in non-hiring or non-promotion.  Usually, unless the conviction occurred in an area that might compromise the ability to complete the individual’s assigned duties, the person would be hired or the job change would go through.


The change in the policy is not the result of any significant problems at Mason.  No faculty and only a small number of staff have been released or not hired as a result of criminal background checks.  The reason for most of those is that the individuals did not disclose their convictions.  Disclosure is required by both the old and new policies.  In addition, there have been no cases to date in which a successful candidate has refused to approve a check and therefore not been hired.







WHEREAS Phi Beta Kappa, the preeminent academic honorary society in the liberal arts, has approved the establishment of a chapter at George Mason University; and


WHEREAS the University, its Faculty, and, especially, Mason’s students benefit from this action; and


WHEREAS, Prof. Marion Deshmukh of the Department of History was primarily responsible for shepherding Mason’s application through a lengthy, detailed, and arduous process that required extensive time and effort;


THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Faculty Senate, on behalf of the General Faculty, expresses its gratitude to Prof. Deshmukh.



University Policy Number 4010

Subject: Financial Conflicts of Interest in Federally Funded Research

Posted on the Faculty Senate website at http://www.gmu.edu/resources/facstaff/senate/MINUTES_FS_2012-13/Policy_4010_Draft_061212.pdf


Appendix to Financial Conflicts of Interest in Federally-Funded Research

Policy Number 4010

Additional Requirements for Public Health Service

Funded Research

Posted on the Faculty Senate website at