Mason Hall D205F, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.


Senators Present:  Jim Bennett, Charlene Douglas, Star Muir, Peter Pober, Joe Scimecca, Suzanne Scott, Susan Trencher.

Visitor Present:  Cody Edwards, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education.


I.  Approval of Minutes of  September 30, 2013 and October 28, 2013:  The minutes were approved as distributed.


II.  Announcements

Chair Douglas thanked Cody Edwards, Associate Provost for Graduate Education for coming to discuss Graduate Council proposal to establish nine-year limit on PhD programs and other questions. (See also V.  New Business, Updates and Discussion)


Janette Muir, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, will discuss General Education issues at the December 4 Faculty Senate meeting.


INTO:  Provost Stearns reported that INTO and the Strategic Plan will be presented for approval at the BOV meeting next week.  (See also V. New Business, Updates and Discussion)


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


A.  Academic Policies – Suzanne Scott, Chair

A proposal to change the residency requirement for Bachelor’s Degrees from Janette Muir, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, was distributed. The proposal outlined reasons for proposed increase of maximum number of credits earned in non-degree status from 18 to 30 credits.  After some discussion, the Executive Committee agreed to include it on the December 4th meeting agenda. 


B.  Budget and Resources – Susan Trencher, Chair

We are waiting to receive the salary data from Human Resources.  As the data was in place earlier (last spring) than usual (fall), we hope to receive it sooner.


C.  Faculty Matters – Joe Scimecca, Chair

The Faculty Matters and Budget and Resources Committee jointly sent a follow-up letter November 7, 2013 to full-time instructional faculty asking if faculty who requested to teach during summer 2014 (initial announcement from the Provost Office sent September 17, 2013) were allowed to do so.  We received only three responses, one not full-time, one not germane.  Once the contracts come out, to ask if departments who went over allocated budget were forced to give back funding from their E&G budgets.  When there is a shortfall, does the funding come from the Provost Office or from the Dean’s Office?

Discussion:  Sometimes faculty members do not submit requests to teach summer courses by the deadline.  Sometimes classes are cancelled due to lack of enrollment.  A department which allowed full time faculty to teach (per the Faculty Handbook requirement) and spent over budget, was asked to pay $18,000 from department funds when their enrollment brought in excess of $100,000 to the University.  In the past when summer school was run centrally, enrollment may have been a little under the limit but earned more than salary costs. 


D.  Nominations – Jim Bennett, Chair      

New Senator:  Frank Allen Philpot (SOM) elected to replace Yvonne Demory.

Frank Allen Philpot (SOM) is nominated to fill a vacancy on the Academic Policies Committee


E.  Organization and Operations – Star Muir, Chair

Revisions to General Education Charge will be included on the December 4th FS meeting agenda. See Attachment A.          Flexibility about opportunities to take a capstone experience within a major was noted.  At a recent Deans and Directors meeting, some departments found offering capstone courses to be enormously burdensome to staff without a lot of additional funding.  Some departments already have capstone courses. Clarification made that this change is for the General Education Committee charge, not a change in General Education requirements. In response to a question about whether the BOV could impose this requirement, all general education requirements would have to go through the Faculty Senate at a minimum. 


Review of University Committee Charges:  We are also looking at External Academic Relations, Admissions, Non-Traditional, Interdisciplinary, and Adult Learning (NIAL), and Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) Committee charges by reviewing the last four years of their reports//charges, and will ask/meet with their membership to discuss changes.  Some committees have requested their own web space.  Should the Admissions Committee, for example, be more proactive or just continue to receive a report from the Admissions Office?  Should some committees be better integrated into processes of university administration, evolution of institutional history?

Discussion:  A member of the Budget and Resources Committee serves as faculty representative to the University Budget Committee, much information of importance to faculty is discussed there.  The Nominations Committee is sensitive to this, complaining that service to the university counts for nothing.


University Standing Committee Chairs Elected: External Academic Relations:  Alok Berry (VSE) and Dave Kuebrich (CHSS), co-chairs; Salary Equity Study:  Margret Hjalmarson (CEHD).  University Standing Committee Chairs election pending:  Academic Initiatives, UPTRAC.


IV.  Other Committees/Faculty Representatives

Faculty Handbook Committee:  Proposed revisions will be considered during the spring semester.


V.   New Business, Updates, and Discussion

Graduate Council/Nine-Year Limit on PhD programs/Communication Issues

Cody Edwards, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, appreciated your invitation to facilitate communication between the Faculty Senate and the Graduate Council. Responses from Cody Edwards appear in italics:

Nine Year Limit on PhD programs begins at admission

·         Part-time students might use a lot of time in coursework, suggestion to impose time limit once student admitted to PhD candidacy.  Many full-time workers in the system may need additional time.  No objection to time limit for full-time students.

·         Original proposal had time limit to advance to candidacy and a second limit from candidacy to completion – problematic for schools which do not take a lot of time to advance to candidacy, research is much longer, for field work.

·         Do not dissertations always involve research?  Problems with access to lab space.

·         Objection to one-size-fits-all policy in a university with lots of colleges, lots of projects for dissertations. 

·         Another suggestion modeled on University of Texas with a clear trifurcation for different academic units/colleges with different timelines; longer timelines given to those in sciences to fund research, a third area encompassed Fine Arts.  If you reached the time limit, not complete elimination of candidacy, but required to take additional coursework and credits.

·         How cumbersome or problematic is it for colleges to determine their own time limits?

·         All colleges have option to give a one year extension, with no mandates for additional coursework. 

·         Precedents of stopping the tenure clock, recommends flexibility in the system.   


Process and Communication Issues, Role of the Graduate Council

·         Some Department Chairs in CHSS, the largest single unit on campus, upon learning of this new policy in Fall 2013 were told that it was a “done deal”, approved last spring.  Acknowledged this was responsibility of new director/advisor, not communicated within school.  This policy harms many in our college.  We get little funding from the university.  Department chairs asked issue be brought to the Faculty Senate.  Where does the Graduate Council get the authority to do this without Faculty Senate input?  It is a curriculum issue, contravention of the Faculty Handbook.  Who is eligible to serve on the Graduate Council?

·         All the colleges have representatives on the Graduate Council.  They are responsible for disseminating information to their respective colleges.  Some colleges indicated their approval of the time limit.  What do you suggest?

·         The Graduate Council should directly notify deans, chairs, and directors.  There is a need for better communication down in the units. 

·         Cody Edwards will attend future Academic Policies Committee meetings, and Dominique Banville, a member of the Academic Policies Committee, will attend Graduate Council meetings in the future. 

·         Offers to talk to the Faculty Senate at any time; noting the nine-year policy is already in the catalog for 2014. 

·         How does the process work in the Graduate Council?

·         Each school’s representatives to the Graduate Council may bring up proposal.

·         CHHS faculty was informed of the progress of the proposal by our units. 

·         Why was the proposal not brought to the Faculty Senate before decision was made?  Who becomes responsible for this decision?  We do not elect representatives to the Graduate Council.  Their by-laws state those elected to committee must be part of graduate faculty; one member currently is not.  Are the colleges or the Graduate Council responsible to fill qualifications for representatives to this committee?

·         Immediate process issues:  The Graduate Council needs to take more responsibility for communication across the university broadly those issues which affect more than one unit.  Problem that we could not get access to text of policy.  Could the Graduate Council web page have links to policy separate from the Graduate Council minutes?  If there are reasons for exceptions, such as illness, we need to know specific language.  Also concerned students could get short shrift, even if chair supports a student’s request for extension.  Beyond changing it unit-by-unit for folks to hammer it out and then send on to Graduate Council, it might take a year or two to wend its way there.  If issues go beyond one unit, the Associate Provost for Graduate Education should present this – before decision made – to the Faculty Senate.  There were at least a couple forums on this issue, did not hear about forum regarding the nine-year limit; the administration did not receive resistant feedback on it.


INTO:  Chair Douglas noted ELI faculty have asked to come to the Faculty Senate meeting to address their concerns.  After some discussion, the committee agreed to ask them to identify their specific concerns/submit documentation to the Chair of the Faculty Senate to send to the appropriate committee for study (Faculty Matters Committee).  Results of committee review may include recommendations for policy changes/Faculty Handbook changes etc.  There will also be an early December information forum on INTO (December 17, 2013).  The ELI faculty may not be aware of the process, not to belittle their concerns.  Although they are now under University Life, (they do not have a dean) University Life also comes under the Provost Office.  Encourage them to submit specific issues because so much is co-curricular in its orientation.  This is their second year under the Provost Office, previously would have gone to Senior Vice President, not an academic unit. 


Just a reminder to ask Provost Stearns informally at the beginning of each Faculty Senate meeting to say anything he wants to say.


Course Release:  Star Muir will have the course release for Spring 2014. 


VI .  Agenda Items for December 4,  2013 FS Meeting


VII.    Adjournment:  The meeting adjourned at 2:42 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Faculty Senate clerk






General Education Mason Core Committee

(Charge as revised and approved by the Faculty Senate – April 1, 2009, composition of membership amended September 7, 2011)



The membership of the Committee comprises 14 voting members:

A. Eight elected from the Faculty Senate for staggered three year terms ensuring that most academic units are represented, one at least should be a senator;

B. Four faculty appointed by the Provost;

C. The Associate Provost for General Undergraduate Education;

D. A representative from the Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence (ex officio)

E. A representative from the Office of Institutional Assessment (ex officio)


D. One student elected by the Student Senate.



A. The Committee will work in cooperation with the Associate Provost for General Undergraduate Education on all matters concerning the Mason Core (formerly general education).

B. For all foundation, core, and synthesis capstone experience general educationMason Core requirements, the Committee will approve courses to fulfill these requirements. The Committee will develop procedures for the measurement of "satisfactory skills in oral and written presentations" for the synthesis capstone experience requirement, and work with the Office of the Provost to develop procedures for the demonstration of these skills.

C. The Committee will approve and monitor, through periodic review, the proficiency examinations related to the general educationMason Core requirements, the competency tests, and any other alternatives proposed to fulfill the requirements.

D. The Committee will maintain a file of all proficiency examinations and will approve policies related to their administration.

E. The Committee will confer with the Faculty Senate Committee on Academic Policies when changes to General EducationMason Core requirements impact the entire university and/or would be a change to the university catalog.

F. The Committee will provide an annual report to the Faculty Senate. The report shall include:

a) The number of students taking and passing proficiency examinations;

b) Changes in the criteria for general educationthe Mason Core;

More frequent reports to the Faculty Senate might take place as adjustments to the general educationMason Core program may warrant.