MONDAY, AUGUST 19, 2013 

Johnson Center room 244, 1:30 – 3:00 p.m.


Present:  Jim Bennett, Lisa Billingham, Charlene Douglas, Star Muir, Peter Pober, Peter Stearns, Susan Trencher.


I.  Approval of Minutes of  March 25th and April 15, 2013:  The minutes were approved as distributed.


II.  Announcements

Chair Charlene Douglas welcomed everyone to her first Executive Committee meeting.  Lisa Billingham attended the meeting as representative from the Faculty Matters Committee. Suzanne Slayden will serve as Parliamentarian this year.  Linda Monson and Kathryn Jacobsen will serve as Sergeants-at-Arms; pending response on Chair pro tem.  New Senator Orientation will take place Wednesday, August 28th from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. in Robinson Hall B113.  President Cabrera will address the Senate on October 9, 2013 and April 2, 2014.  We await Rector Clemente’s response to our invitation to address the Faculty Senate for the fall and spring terms. 


Charlene recently had lunch with Frank Neville to discuss the Thunderbird situation.  Concerns were expressed about involvement between firm which bought Thunderbird.  President Cabrera previously served as President of the Thunderbird School of Management before becoming President of Mason (effective July 1, 2012).


Report from Provost Stearns:  Provost Stearns will offer remarks and his annual list of goals for AY 13-14 at the September 4th Faculty Senate meeting.    (Attachment A).  He also provided updates about two sets of negotiations involving the university in a for-profit entity and requested faculty representatives. The EXC is strongly interested in FS representation as these negotiations go forward. Chair Douglas will ask Provost Stearns for more detailed information about the committee/group to be assembled, how many faculty representatives are needed.  A committee member remarked that Georgetown University recently lowered tuition for on-line courses, and feels GMU is way behind on this issue. 


INTO”: One of three possible marketing partners, a United Kingdom-based unit which recruits international students.  Profits split in half for the first year (students pay out-of-state tuition), and they take 7% of profits the second year (also out-of-state tuition?).  At Oregon State University, there has been a significant increase of international students, bringing in a lot of additional revenue.  Additional revenues at Oregon State University allowed hiring of additional 175 – 200 tenured/tenure-track faculty.  Concept well worth pursuing.   He requested one or more faculty representatives to participate in serious negotiations beginning in mid-September.  Goal for decision December 2013 in order to begin with entering class Fall 2014.  Provost Stearns also noted some nervousness among ELI staff regarding negotiations.  Other candidates are Pearson, deLoriat, and Blackboard.  All have some distinctive advantages and disadvantages.

Discussion:  Concern expressed about Access Program enrollment (changes) and the need for investment in back-end capacity.  Provost Stearns agreed.  They would do the marketing and at some level they would have internal structure. In response to a question raised, Provost Stearns responded that we would collaboratively run the SISA program. Mason would be entirely responsible for academic side - hiring of faculty, vetting of courses, standards, etc.  The length of the contract (35 years)! other universities’ expectations unfulfilled, and its impact upon current 2:1:1 programs with China and enrollment at the Songdo campus were also stressed.  The English Language Institute (ELI) now falls under University Life/Office of the Provost, an improvement from its previous position under CHSS.


Marketing On-Line Education:  Negotiations may occur with one of several for-profit entities for marketing some components of on-line education, such as 24/7 basis, they can do things we simply cannot.  Charlene Douglas volunteered to serve as a faculty representative. Perhaps to also ask Goodlett Mc Daniel (Associate Provost for Distance Education) to attend an Executive Committee or Faculty Senate meeting to bring us up to speed on this.  Important to include non-traditional students in on-line marketing.


Benefits for same sex couples:  The Executive Committee agreed to work on a resolution for the October 9th Faculty Senate meeting.  Suggestions included consultation with Human Resources on present policy in the state of Virginia (which does not recognize same sex marriages), as well as Sr. Vice President J.J. Davis.  Important to create an environment where this issue can be discussed.  Several committee members recalled resolutions approved by the BOV, Faculty Senate, and Staff Senate in the spring of 2010 to change Virginia law to prohibit discrimination on basis of sexual orientation in response to actions taken by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli at that time.  Some believe same sex professors will flee Virginia if Attorney General Cuccinelli is elected governor this November.  We will discuss this further at luncheon on the 30th.  


Finklestein Grievance:  Original grievance decided, but no feedback received from President Cabrera (per annual report of the Grievance Committee April 2013), need for procedural response.   


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

A.  Academic Policies –  no report.


B.  Budget and Resources – Susan Trencher

Some responses for the summer school teaching survey were lost in email transition, still have about 80 left.  To discuss in the future problem of units not complying with Faculty Handbook provided it meets (enrollment) requirements.  Example of minimum enrollments in CHSS of 12 students for undergraduate courses, 10 students for graduate students.  SOM has summer classes with 100 undergraduate students, cutting the number of faculty to pay.  Under the old system, as long as faculty salary paid, you can have the class.  Policies vary across units under present decentralized system.  


C.  Faculty Matters no report.


D.  Nominations – Jim Bennett

All the nominations to the Faculty Senate Standing Committees and University Standing Committees are filled.  Some terms were staggered as needed. 


E.  Organization and Operations – Star Muir

Chair Muir distributed the O&O log for 2012-2013.  Two carry over issues remain:  Review of standing committee charges and request from the Registrar’s office about different calendar term lengths in SOM-MBA program.  SOL has its own academic calendar. 


To continue search for alternate venues for Faculty Senate meetings?  Present venue does not allow us to teleconference.   Venue at Mason Inn expensive, involves subcontractors, and no technical support.  Does not know what pressure there is to teleconference FS meetings, needs a sense of group whether or not to put energy and time into this.  Facilities available in Arlington and Prince William campuses to do this, not large enough facilities in Fairfax.  The Executive Committee agreed not to pursue this issue further due to lack of venue in Fairfax. 


Discussion:  To ask Faculty Senators to serve as ambassadors to departments/units without one?  In the past Senators have visited departments to explain what Faculty Senate does.   Some Senators willing to be ambassadors but not willing to be a target for complaints about the university.  To establish a newsletter to highlight important issues – “FS Digest/Highlights”.  To ask Provost Stearns for funding to hire a graduate students, also to link into Monday e-file university announcements.  With less content than FS Minutes, but clearer format.


IV.  Other Committees/Faculty Representatives


BOV Faculty Representatives’ reports to the Senate:  We will ask them to routinely report to the Faculty Senate and check the dates of their previous reports. As the BOV Committees will not meet until October 2nd, no updates from APDUC for next FS meeting. 


University Food Committee:  Increase from $5.25 TO $6.00 for meals at Bistro.  It costs the university $8.95 per meal, effectively underwritten for years. 


V.  Agenda Items for September 2013 first FS Meeting


VI.             New Business, Updates, and Discussion


Board of Visitors:  There have been discussions between the Board, Renate Guilford and Brian Walther about BOV concerns about references to shared governance in the Faculty Handbook.  Provost Stearns does not know their current status.  The portions under discussion were quite limited.  The Executive Committee will ask Suzanne Slayden (Chair of the Faculty Handbook Revision Committee) to provide an update, also to determine whether appropriate to report to the Senate at our next meeting.  Chair Douglas also noted there have been changes in BOV Membership, and new Visitors would not have known about this.


Enrollment:  Provost Stearns also reported enrollment is good, freshman class is good. 


Provost Search Committee:  The composition of the Provost Search Committee will be finalized very soon.  Adding that he is not part of the process, Provost Stearns suggested Senate chair Charlene Douglas ask Frank Neville (Chief of Staff) about its progress.  Three faculty members were elected to serve on the committee last summer.  The committee chair will be a faculty member.  There will be four additional faculty appointees.  Several Executive Committee members complained about the timing of the summer ballot.  It should have been distributed before the end of the academic year.  Mode of on-campus mail voting supplemented by sending ballots via US Mail, need to address electronic voting.


Task Force on Textbook Affordability:  Star Muir serves on this Task Force and believes the Provost Office will create subgroups, including a committee with faculty, to address this issue.  The whole market is being turned upside down; students can buy textbooks on line more cheaply than in the bookstore.  Other options include “bundling” course materials by faculty, and e-books.  The university receives revenues from textbook sales at the bookstore; at present Barnes and Noble cannot have another entity selling textbooks.  Star volunteered to serve as a faculty representative on a future committee, and appreciates any suggestions you may have. 


Respectfully submitted,

Meg Caniano

Faculty Senate clerk



Issues for consideration for Academic Year 2013 – 2014

September 4, 2013

Peter N. Stearns, Provost and Executive Vice President


·         Dean recruitment


·         Major efforts: Songdo; INTO; Mason Online, Executive Education


·         Strategic plan


·         Budget focus


·         Retention and recruitment at all levels


·         Research (medical education)


·         Global planning consortium


·         Balance; Provost transition