GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
Minutes of the Faculty Senate
April 12, 1995
Members Present: Albanese Alligood Boileau Censer Crockett Dinan Gantz Hamburger Hammond Jensen Lont Metcalf Rosenzweig Rossini Sanford Sofer Spikell Tabak Taylor Thomas Tongren Torzilli Travis Wriqht Wood Zoltek
Members Absent: Blainsten-Barojas Buckley Carty Chang Conti Elstun Fulmer Fuchs Hurt Johnson Krauss Manne Mellander Mitchell Oates Potter Rosenblum Ruth Sage Todd
Guests Present: J. Fletcher B. Jacob S. Jones J. McCall C. McKalip A. Oglesby S. Richardson S. Stewart
I. Call to Order.
The Chair, Anita Taylor, called the meeting to order at 3:04 P.M.
II. Approval of Minutes
The minutes of the March 8, 1995 meeting were approved with the following changes. Under report of the Academic Policies Committee, the words "and vote" and "when the AP Committee could produce the specific motion under consideration" in lines 6 and 7 were deleted. Under report of the Nominations Committee, "and Mr. Tongren" was added after "Ms. Elstun" and "was" was changed to "were" in line one.
Ms. Taylor introduced Officers McCall and Oglesby of the Campus Police who discussed campus security. Computer thefts are increasing. Faculty should report all suspicious activities, secure all keys, be aware of the content of their offices and always lock offices when they are empty. Even if there is little danger of theft at the time, people may be taking opportunities to examine unlocked offices for possible later theft. Campus Police are encouraging campus offices to purchase the LightGard Protection System. It uses fiber optics to alert security and has had a high degree of success in crime prevention. A copy of the LightGard brochure is available in the Faculty Senate Office.
The next General Faculty Meeting/Town Meeting will be held on April 20, at 3:00 P.M. in the SUB II ballroom.
IV. Unfinished Busines
There was no unfinished business.
V. New Business
A. Senate Committee Reports
1. Executive Committee
Ms. Taylor reported that the Faculty Senate of Virginia has endorsed a modified version of the resolution of the GMU Senate Executive Committee on behalf of the Faculty Senate regarding funding of higher education. Candidates for election will be requested to support the resolution during their campaigns. Procedures for ensuring that faculty concerns are presented to Northern Virginia candidates were discussed. Any action would be taken outside of Senate structure.
2. Academic Policies Committee
Ms. Travis reported that the Committee is continuing discussion of a proposal to permit students to retake courses in which they earned grades of C.
Ms. Travis reminded Senators that no motion regarding changes in attendance policy was on the floor. Mr. Jensen MOVED and it was SECONDED to amend the current catalog statement regarding attendance to read:
Students are expected to attend the class periods of the courses for which they register. Faculty may also specify that absences in their class may result in a lower grade. In any case, students are not relieved of the obligation to fulfill course assignments, including those that can only be fulfilled in class. In particular, a student who misses an exam without an excuse may have the course grade lowered. Students who fail to participate (by virtue of extensive absences) in a course in which participation is a factor in evaluation may have the grade lowered.
Discussion centered around differences in philosophy of education under the proposed and current policies; academic freedom for faculty, flexibility under the two policies and potential problems in enforcement, and the resulting increase in grade appeals. Mr. Tongren CALLED the question. The motion FAILED by a vote of 10 in favor and 16 opposed.
3. Faculty Matters Committee
Mr. Wood reported that the President is currently reviewing the draft of the administrative faculty handbook and that a review of salaries based on gender is underway in the Equity Office. The Equity Office also reports that procedures to review sexual harassment cases are fully implemented. Co-chairs have been chosen and announcements concerning a referral network will be posted soon. Mr. Wood will also send a follow-up letter to faculty reminding them to submit their evaluations of administrators.
4. Organization and Operations Committee
Mr. Gantz reported that Senate allocations by school, college and institute cluster have been determined and reported to the Senate Secretary.
5. Facilities and Support Services Committee
Mr. Spikell reported that new steps to augment campus security were being taken. Also a few rooms in Robinson Hall will be reconfigured by removing tablet chairs and replacing them with tables. Faculty should contact him with other requests to modify classroom space.
6. Nominations Committee
On behalf of the Committee, Mr. Rosenzweig nom inated Stephen Saperstone (MATH), David Kuebrich (ENGL) and James Vail (NURS) to serve on the University Task Force on Multi-Year Contracts. Mr. Saperstone and Mr. Vail were elected. Two additional members will be appointed by the Provost, and the final member will be chosen by the other Task Force members.
VI. Other New Business
A. Mr. Gantz reported that the averages presented on the course evaluation report were computed from total number of responses; they were not weighted by class size.
B. Mr. Censer reported that he had submitted a proposal to implement a plus-minus grading system and questioned its disposition. Ms. Travis replied that the Academic Policies Committee had discussed the proposal extensively but had not been able to come to consensus on whether to support it. It was to be introduced on the floor without recommendation. Mr. Censer MOVED and it was SECONDED to implement a system which included grades of A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D and F. Extended discussion followed concerning issues of accuracy and fairness in grade assignment, grade inflation and grade appeal, and lack of differentiation in graduate courses under the present system. Ms. Lont indicated that the Academic Policies Committee had surveyed other universities which have implemented a plus-minus system, and opinion on its value was split. It was MOVED and SECONDED that the motion be TABLED. This motion FAILED by a vote of 11 in favor and 12 against. The main motion PASSED by a vote of 12 in favor and 10 against. After the vote, Senators were reminded that many of the details of implementation, including effects on programs that require a 2.00 average in their courses, remained to be worked out.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:20 P.M.
James F. Sanford
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