George Mason University
Approved Minutes of the Faculty Senate's Special Meeting
May 18, 2000

Call to order at 3:04.

The Chair reminded the Senate that this special meeting is called to consider actions taken at yesterday’s BOV meeting. He informed the Senate that the Executive Committee met this morning and slightly amended the motion to bring it up to date in light of yesterday’s BoV meeting.

The Chair noted that 31 Senators were in attendance; therefore there is a quorum.

The Chair called on A. Sofer to summarize yesterday’s BOV meeting. A. Sofer informed the Senate that she has seen a document from the Provost’s Office that summarizes the major changes in the general education proposals coming out of yesterday’s BOV meeting. Some of the onerous language A. Sofer thought would be there was, in fact, not there. She presented a slide of the major changes and continued to describe the lesser changes. Everything that was in the proposals previously is still there, but additions have been made by the BOV.

P. Stearns stated that the substance of the science requirement remains unchanged from what the faculty committee reported it wanted. A course would be developed for those students who were not getting any other science course.

The English 302 requirement was discussed and several Senators indicated their understanding of it. B. Sachs thought that the requirement could be satisfied within the major.

A. Sofer noted that the compulsory general education courses would have a severe impact on ITE. There was further discussion about ongoing BOV review of the details of general education proposals.

Senators who attended the BOV meeting reported that the BOV [Committee?] revised their previous meeting minutes to state that NCC is a program. This contradicts university advertising which refers to NCC as a college. Senators questioned whether the BOV’s actions have real implications concerning the marketing of NCC to prospective students.

The Chair asked D. Gantz to read the revised motion concerning censure. D. Gantz read the motion and spoke in favor of it.
P. Stearns spoke against the motion. He stated that, at the risk of sounding pollyannaish, he is delighted that the BOV accepted the bulk of the faculty committee’s recommendations although there were additions. We will have to implement a finite number of changes. Our cup can be viewed as half full or half empty. He is not sure that formal censure advances the program. He worries that throwing down the gauntlet encourages more BOV action. He is not sure what passing the motion at this point means. In particular, he is not sure what censure will gain us anything in the public opinion battles.

C. Jones suggested that the word ‘censure’ be replaced with something softer like ‘deplore.’ A discussion followed concerning the appropriateness of the word ‘censure.’

J. Censer suggested that the university should be pragmatic and work to implement the modified general education requirements. He argued that we do not need a wildly adversarial relationship with the BOV. He suggested that if the road stays rocky, there will be plenty of opportunity to react in the future and that we should hold off on censure for now.

The two Senators from the Law School stated their opposition to the motion even with the softened language.

Senators supporting the motion for censure stated that the fight goes beyond the recent general education issue. For over a year now, we have pulled back and appeased the BOV and attempted to please them, but this has not worked. Further, it is a matter of principle for the faculty to stand up for their responsibility in curricular matters. When the BOV changes are aimed at the way courses are taught, it is not the quantity of changes but the point of change at all that we must react to. The BOV waved a set of syllabi from a ‘reputable university’ at us. The issue is central to what faculty do. We do not expect the BOV to change in the future, so now is the time to use censure.

D. Strouppa stated that he cannot disagree with many of his colleagues’ statements, but he needs to know that censure will serve a purpose. He stated his belief that censure will make the job harder for him and the Provost. H. Gortner clarified that censure does not mean that we will not cooperate. There are various levels of protest and this is only a first step.

D. Kuebrich reminded Senators that last week he thought he did not want censure. He hoped that the BOV would come around. But he stated that he no longer thinks in those terms. He does not think that censure will result in a major change for the BOV, but he believes it will do some good. Compromise would make our future position worse. L. Bowen pointed out that what is going on here is being paralleled across the country, and this is the time to act. For over a year the BOV has been micromanaging and taking unilateral actions.

The Chair led a round of applause recognizing Mike McDermott for his appointment to Emeritus Status and his many years at GMU, in particular, his many years of bearing the University Mace at graduation ceremonies. and the History Department as they work over the next few months to implement the changes. There were additional statements of support and appreciation for the Provost, and expressions of the desire not to make his job harder.

Return to the Archives