GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
APPROVED MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE
March 4, 1998
Senators present: P. Black, D. Boileau, L. Bowen, R. Conti, M. Deshmukh, S. Eagle, E. Elstun, D. Gantz, J. Hale, D. Kaplan, J. Metcalf, S. Muir, D. Rine, R. Ruhling, J. Sanford, J. Scimecca, A. Sofer, C. Thomas, E. Thorp, T. Travis, P. Wilkie, S. Zoltek
Senators absent: A. Berry, E. Blaisten-Barojas, R. Carty, K. Clements, J. Crockett, M. De Nys, T. Domzal, C. Fuchs, G. Galluzzo, M. Grady, L. Griffiths, A. Merten, L. Miller, J. O'Connor, E. O'Hara, A. Palkovich, W. Perry, D. Potter, J. Reid, D. Struppa, J. Tangney, A. Taylor, K. Vaughn, J. Walsh, S. Weinberger
Guests present: J. Barnhart (English/Communication), K. Bernard (Student Senate), J. Bronchtein (Football Task Force), G. DelMonte (Communication), H. DeRoner (Communication), A. DeSalvo (FOCS), L. Irvine (Provost's Office), S. Jones (Registrar's Office), D. Moore (Communication), M. Ryan (Communication), P. Saleh (FOCS), M. Silverman (Student Government)
I. Call to Order
Chair Esther Elstun called the meeting to order at 3:05pm.
E. Elstun announced the recent death of both parents of Professor Martin De Nys. May our thoughts and prayers be with him during this difficult time.
E. Elstun also announced that on March 25 the Board of Visitors Meeting will be dealing with the issue of football at GMU. She urged all Senators who are able to attend to do so, to show the BOV that the 'eyes of the faculty' are on them.
Additionally, the Final Reports from both the Football Task Force and Carr Sports Associates are available on reserve in the Johnson Center Library. A limited number of copies are also available in the Faculty Senate Office for pick-up. The Reports in the library are reserved under Professor Esther Elstun's name with a class designation of Faculty Senate.
S. Eagle announced that his recent e-mail distribution to Senators was a clarification that Law Professor Michael Krauss had no intention of undercutting GMU state funding by the criticisms included in the Virginia Association of Scholars report. Professor Eagle stated that the report contains valid criticism that we should not ignore. And, that Professor Krauss should be given the opportunity to address the Senate to explain and/or defend his position rather than being criticized without being heard.
III. New Business
On behalf of the Executive Committee, D. Boileau presented the following Resolution on football for consideration.
WHEREAS George Mason University has pressing academic needs that are currently unmet, and an infrastructure that is urgently in need of improvement; and
WHEREAS a significant increase in student fees to fund the introduction of NCAA I-AA football is inconsistent with the Commonwealth's recently adopted long-term tuition freeze; and
WHEREAS the recent random telephone survey of undergraduates found that only a quarter of the respondents are willing to pay the projected $120 per semester increase in student fees to fund an NCAA I-AA football program; and
WHEREAS 30% of full-time faculty responded to the recent WEB survey and only 13% of the respondents favored the introduction of NCAA I-AA football, while 59% opposed it;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Faculty Senate of George Mason University opposes the introduction of NCAA I-AA football at this time, and until such time as the aforementioned needs and considerations are adequately addressed.
of the resolution immediately followed the formal reading. C.
Thomas asked for some insight into the conflicting reports of student support
for football between the resolutions of the Student Government and the Faculty
Senate. D. Kaplan, a member of the Task Force, stated
that the Student Government conducted a survey in the Fall which showed student
interest and support. However, the
survey was conducted at a time when specific information regarding the severity
of student fee increases was unavailable. Furthermore,
the more recent telephone survey conducted by the Task Force reflects the
accurate fee increase. Based on the
telephone survey, a majority of students contacted favored the introduction
of football at GMU but only about 25% of students approved of paying the $120
per semester increase.
Rine asked for an explanation of the second 'whereas' as stated in the Senate
Resolution. D. Boileau responded that while increases in student fees did
not technically contradict the statewide tuition freeze, they did add considerable
cost to Virginia public higher education that ranks in the top five most expensive
nationwide. Further, the political
rhetoric in the past gubernatorial race argued heavily on keeping higher education
costs constant rather than allowing continued increases. And
in that context a fee hike is perceived as a tuition increase by students
T. Travis expressed support for the resolution
and cited a Fairfax Journal article which examined GMU sports. T.
Travis said that the support for basketball at GMU should be considered in
trying to evaluate the potential backing for football. The
Journal article compared attendance figures for Washington
area collegiate basketball, GMU averaged just over 3,000 attendees -- the
third lowest attendance of the universities examined. The article also examined
the difficulty in establishing and maintaining a fan-base for GMU basketball.
Muir asked whether or not the Task Force had considered the issue of basketball
support in comparison to football. D.
Kaplan responded that the Task Force, as well as Carr Sports Associates, did
look at attendance claims for football in light of the low attendance figures
for basketball in the course of their study. The
results were not very positive.
Eagle commended the Executive Committee on the resolution, and addressed two
points. First, consultants hired to do studies like
the one Carr Sports Associates performed are usually procured by people needing
a quick response and the results usually reflect the positive opinion and
outlook of those people. Second, the
student interest in football at GMU must take into consideration the extremely
diverse student base including the large number of part-time students, those
students with families and jobs and those seeking the best education for their
dollar as well as the core group of "traditional" students who seek
participation and community spirit. This
underscores the significance of only 25% of students being willing to pay
the costs of football.
Black asked for clarification regarding the first 'whereas' and inquired as
to the connection between academic and infrastructure needs and football costs. D. Boileau answered the query by stating that Carr Sports Associates
estimated that costs for football would probably be more than expected, and
that the BOV has already been informed of this. Boileau continued, saying that fundraising for
the university's infrastructure and academic needs would most likely compete
with fundraising for football. His
experience at Central Michigan University was that when they upgraded their
football program many donors switched their giving from academic programs
to athletics. Given that GMU already
has staff and support shortages, the addition of football will increase the
support personnel necessary for athletics and directly take away from the
potential support for other needs.
R. Conti commented that members of the College
of Nursing and Health Science met and agreed that the infrastructure shortcomings
at GMU must be a priority. The possibility of football should be examined
more thoroughly and in conjunction with strategies to first address the infrastructure
R. Ruhling summarized the concerns of several
professors when identifying M. Spikell's e-mail which enumerated the decreasing
amount of scholarship assistance given to academic scholarships in light of
the proposed increases in athletic scholarships. The point was made that GMU should be competing
with other Virginia schools in academics first and foremost, and in athletics
secondarily. The concern for dwindling
available financial assistance for the best and brightest students led to
the question how could GMU even be considering the addition of football with
The next point of discussion centered on football
as a generator of 'big money.' The concern of several Senators was that the contributions from large
donors would not help the academic needs of GMU. Football may bring large donors to GMU but they
will most likely donate to GMU football, not GMU academics. From this point, it was explained that the $120
per semester increase in student fees is a first year estimate and that it
would increase beyond that annually.
J. Metcalf identified that the primary rationalization
for football seems to be increased community involvement and spirit. The
problem, according to Metcalf, is that there has been no mention of any sort
of education based rationalization for football. The
Senate Staff Secretary reported that during the two days that the resolution
had been available to faculty and other interested parties there had been
between 20 and 25 e-mail responses from faculty supporting the resolution. In
that same time, there had been no responses opposing the resolution.
Muir asked if the Senate was intending to just pass the resolution or will
it take on an advocacy role since Senators have spoken so strongly. If
the meeting was to present a position to the BOV, how should the Senate proceed
to make sure that the Faculty voice is heard?It was suggested that if the
resolution were to pass that a motion from the floor instruct the Recording
Secretary D. Gantz to forward the resolution to the Rector before the March
25 BOV Meeting.
Discussion turned to the accuracy of the resolution
and the numerical data contained within it. D. Kaplan stated that the WEB survey of faculty
and staff was statistically invalid, in contrast to the telephone surveys
of alumni, students, and Patriot Club members. However, it was pointed out that 30% of full-time
faculty responded and were in strong agreement in their opposition to football;
this large a segment of the faculty cannot be ignored. The percentage in 'whereas'
number four is around 34% rather than the stated 30%.
J. Scimecca asked if division I-A was not an option because the resolution only addressed the idea of division I-AA football at GMU. D. Kaplan responded that NCAA I-AA football seems the best option because it allows GMU to play traditional rivals. Additionally, the cost of division I-A football would far exceed the already large estimates being debated for division I-AA. For this reason, division I-A football is not really an option for GMU. S. Jones, another Task Force Member, stated that the NCAA does not allow a new football program to start at division I-A. The program would have to start at division I-AA and move up to I-A through NCAA guidelines.
It was moved that a vote be taken on the approval of the resolution of the Executive Committee to the Faculty Senate as amended. The resolution passed unanimously.
S. Eagle moved that the Executive Committee deliver the resolution to each member of the Board of Visitors and request the opportunity to make an oral presentation about it at the March BOV Meeting. The motion was approved. The BOV Meeting is scheduled for March 25, however, the Student Affairs Committee Meeting will meet the evening of March 24.
The meeting was adjourned at 3:55pm.