GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE
MAY 3, 2000
Senators Present: K. Avruch, A. Berry, E. Blaisten-Barojas, D. Boileau, L. Bowen, B. Brown, L. Brown, J. Censer, S. Cheldelin, R. Coffinberger, J. Crockett, R. Davis, M. DeNys, R. Ehrlich, E. Elstun, J. Flinn, T. Friesz, K. Gaffney, D. Gantz, H. Gortner, L. Griffiths, E. Gunn, M. Holt, A. Kolker, D. Kuebrich, B. Manchester, J. Metcalf, J. Muir, L. Rikard, L. Rockwood, J. Sanford, J. Scimecca, L. Seligmann, P. So, A. Sofer, P. Stearns, D. Struppa, C. Sutton, C. Thomas, E. Thorp, H. Tongren, S. Weinberger, P. Wilkie, J. Zenelis, S. Zoltek
Senators Absent: K. Alligood, T. Brawley, R. Carty, S. deMonsabert, T. Domzal, G. Galluzzo, M. Grady, J. Hale, C. Jones, M. Krauss, M. LeBaron, L. Lederman, A. Merten, J. Reid, L. Rigsby, H. Williams
Guests Present: K. Ahrens (Student Government), J. Arnold (Student Government), J. Binnall, J. Choi, G. Cook (Elec. & Comp. Engineering), M. Heerschap, T. Kiley, J. Lin (Math), M. Orsinger, S. Perez, J. Sharif, K. Shiflett, H. Sockett, D. Walsh
I. Call to Order
Chair D. Boileau called the meeting to order at 3:05 pm.
II. Approval of Minutes
The Minutes of the April 26, 2000 Faculty Senate Meeting were approved as distributed.
D. Boileau announced that the General Education Report is an informational status report. The Executive Committee felt it important to provide Senators with what the BOV will consider at its May 17 meeting. The History Department was contacted about the proposed changes. Additionally, the Provost has advertised for the position of Vice Provost for General Education. The possible expansion and extension of the General Education Committee will be on the Agenda in September.
D. Boileau announced that the Senate would have a moment of silence for each of three recently deceased faculty members. L. Bowen was called upon to say a few words in the memory of Professor William Evans (Education). L. Bowen said that Professor Evans was a faculty member who was at George Mason in the 1970’s and retired in 1977. He was a wonderful person who died of a heart attack. He carried a single cigarette, but never smoked it. He was not married and had no descendants, but will be missed by those who knew him. A moment of silence was observed, and it was moved and seconded that the Chair of the Senate write the family of Professor Evans and notify them of the Senate’s action and condolences. The motion passed.
L. Bowen was then asked to say a few words in memory of Professor Larry Masat, who left GMU for a career in Special Education in Loudon County Schools. Professor Masat died of a heart attack following a long battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. A moment of silence was observed and it was moved and seconded that the Chair write the family of Professor Masat, notifying them of the Senate’s action and condolences. The motion passed.
D. Boileau called on L. Griffiths to speak briefly about recently deceased Professor Carl Harris. L. Griffiths indicated that Professor Harris touched many lives and that he died of a heart attack on April 25. Professor Harris was an Associate Dean, a strong friend, and a genuinely good person. A moment of silence was observed and it was moved and seconded that the Chair of the Senate write the family of Professor Harris and notify them of the Senate’s action and condolences. The motion passed.
D. Boileau announced that the Student Government would be hosting their Awards Ceremony and would include the “Faculty Member of the Year” award among others. The Student Government wished to invite all faculty to show their support, and thanks the Faculty Senate for the work it has done on behalf of the students of GMU. D. Boileau announced that the Student Senate recently passed a Sense of the Senate resolution regarding the use, reform and restructuring of the administration of student fee allocations. A copy of the resolution (Resolution 9 of the 1999-2000 Student Senate) is available in the Faculty Senate Office.
D. Boileau announced that the position of Senate Secretary is being sought for the 2000-2001 year, as D. Gantz has fulfilled the third year of service in the position, and cannot serve again. A motion was made and seconded to thank Don Gantz and to write a letter of appreciation to his Dean for his years of service. The motion passed.
IV. Unfinished Business
B. Motion to Add C- and A+ Grades to Undergraduate Grading Scale
R. Ehrlich introduced the motion to change the University’s grading scale as follows:
Therefore, be it resolved to add A+ and C- grades as follows: For undergraduate courses: Add A+ grade worth 4.0 grade points; Add C- grade worth 1.67 grade points; Regard C- grade as “satisfactory” if given by GMU or if C- grade is permitted to transfer to GMU. For graduate courses: Add A+ grade worth 4.00 grade points; add B- worth 2.67 grade points; Regard B- grade as “satisfactory” if given by GMU or if B- grade is permitted to transfer to GMU.
R. Ehrlich then spoke for the motion, summarizing the rationale originally provided with the April 5, 2000 Faculty Senate Agenda. He further indicated that the motion was silent on the issue of C- transfer credit, as a later motion considers that point. Discussion of the motion was opened to the floor. Several Senators questioned the 1.67 grade point value as a “satisfactory” grade. A question was raised about requirements within sequence courses that require a grade of C or better; it was stated that the department or college would still be able to make that decision. E. Elstun stated that the Senate’s Academic Policies Committee considered the issue and felt that the disadvantages outweighed the advantages of adding A+ and C-. E. Elstun stated that if they were only letter grades, there would be no problem, but because there is a specific point value assigned, there are issues. For example, a student who received all C- grades would be satisfactory in each course, but would receive a letter of academic warning and be limited to 13 credit hours by GPA standards. It was pointed out that GMU currently operates under two systems of grading, GPA and satisfactory/unsatisfactory (designated by letter grades) and that the incompatibility of the two necessitates this motion’s defeat, even if the entire grading system should be revisited in the future. It was noted that GMU is only in the second year of the +/- grading system, and that another change could have even greater impact on students.
A Senator in support of the motion stated that this addition was important at the graduate level, and that these grades at the undergraduate level can be used as motivational factors to indicate a student who is just getting by or one who is doing an exceptional job. Another Senator stated that the motion provides additional choices and grading options to faculty, allows for more accuracy in assigning grades, and is more consistent since the University adapted the other plus and minus grades. It was moved and seconded to close debate and consider the main motion, and the motion to close debate passed.
A point was raised that the Graduate Council voted unanimously to have all
grades, but decided not to drop “satisfactory” below a grade of
B (3.0 points). The question was then raised as to who has authority on the
issue, the Senate or the Graduate Council. The Chair ruled to reopen debate
based on the Graduate Council information.
It was moved and seconded to postpone the main motion, the motion to postpone failed by a 13-for, 24-against vote. It was asked whether the motion should be directed to the appropriate committee to investigate the issues raised in this debate, and it was pointed out that the issue had gone through committee and not been brought forward. It was moved and seconded that the motion be sent to the A.P. Committee, but that the entire grading system be reviewed, not just the A+/C- grades, and report by a specific date. The motion to refer to Committee failed, 13-for and 25-against.
Following a brief discussion, the question was called, and the main motion passed by a 26-for, 13-against and 1-abstention vote.
V. New Business
A. University Committee Reports
1. Athletic Council
G. Cook reported that the Athletic Council met four times this year and one of its major tasks was a reorganization that created four new subcommittees to better serve the Council and its constituencies. Beyond the organizational change, there were a few inadvertent self-reported rules violations, all of which were declared secondary by the NCAA and passed without penalty to GMU. G. Cook also reported on the academic performance by GMU student athletes during the Fall and reported that most departing student athletes feel they are getting a good education here and would choose GMU again if they had to make that decision. The complete written report is available in the Faculty Senate Office.
2. Effective Teaching Committee
H. Sockett reported that the Committee identified five areas in which it believes it could assist the Senate and the University, and could fulfill its charge. He indicated that the Committee met 3 times and would meet again next week. He indicated that the Committee’s agenda was discussed with the Provost and met with enthusiastic support.
The Committee proceeded as follows: a) for the evaluation of teaching, it has examined the policy implications and the management and design of proposed technological innovations in student evaluations of teaching. At its meeting on May 11, the Committee expects to complete a document for the Senate. It had not yet examined the Guidelines for Peer Review; b) the Committee expects to complete its review of the University system of Teaching Awards and to forward recommendations to the Provost and Senate; c) H. Sockett met with the Director of DOIIIT operation to discuss what it may do for the Senate, and the Chair of the Committee was invited to sit on the DOIIIT Advisory Board; d) the Vice-President for Operations was written about classroom conditions; e) the Committee needs to discuss the promotion of the Scholarship of Teaching. In summary, the Committee has made major progress in two areas and expects to continue the agenda into next year. The complete written report is available in the Faculty Senate Office.
3. Salary Equity Study Committee
A written report was submitted and is available in the Faculty Senate Office.
4. Minority and Diversity Issues Committee
J. Lin reported that the Committee met three times. Ms. A. Wright (Office of Minority Student Affairs) and Dr. D. Webster (Multicultural Research Center) attended the April meeting. In addition, there were four items that the Committee determined needed to be addressed: 1) the Committee should be restructured to receive business rather than seeking out business; 2) (Minority Student Affairs) the graduation rate of minority students needs to improve. Academic units should be the first guard. Graduation rates of minority students need to be evaluated on an annual basis; 3) (Counseling Services) cultural sensitivity training workshops should be available for faculty on an annual basis to improve awareness of different cultural backgrounds within classes; 4) (Academic Support and Advising Services) each ethnic and diversity student group should have a full-time faculty administrator that they can contact – several currently are needed, including Asian American, American Indian, and GLBT students. A written report was submitted and is available in the Faculty Senate Office.
B. Committee Reports
2. Academic Policies Committee
E. Elstun announced that the motion from the Academic Policies Committee (Attachment C to the Agenda) was withdrawn by the Committee.
It was moved and seconded to recess the meeting until 3:00 on May 9. The motion to recess passed. The meeting was recessed at 4:12 pm.
GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
CONTINUATION OF THE FACULTY SENATE MEETING
MAY 9, 2000
Senators Present: K. Avruch, A. Berry, E. Blaisten-Barojas, D. Boileau, B. Brown, L. Brown, J. Censer, S. Cheldelin, R. Coffinberger, R. Davis, S. deMonsabert, M. DeNys, R. Ehrlich, E. Elstun, D. Gantz, H. Gortner, L. Griffiths, M. Holt, C. Jones, D. Kuebrich, L. Lederman, B. Manchester, J. Muir, L. Rikard, L. Rockwood, J. Sanford, J. Scimecca, L. Seligmann, P. Stearns, C. Sutton, H. Tongren, J. Zenelis, S. Zoltek
Senators Absent: K. Alligood, L. Bowen, T. Brawley, R. Carty, J. Crockett, T. Domzal, J. Flinn, T. Friesz, K. Gaffney, G. Galluzzo, M. Grady, E. Gunn, J. Hale, A. Kolker, M. Krauss, M. LeBaron, A. Merten, J. Metcalf, J. Reid, L. Rigsby, P. So, A. Sofer, D. Struppa, C. Thomas, E. Thorp, S. Weinberger, P. Wilkie, H. Williams
Guests Present: C. Herberg (Registrar’s Office), S. Jones (Registrar’s Office), C. Secondo (University Relations)
I. Call To Order
D. Boileau called the continued meeting to order at 3:04 pm.
II. New Business
B. Senate Committee Reports
1. Executive Committee
D. Gantz read a friendly amendment to the motion, and introduced the motion from the Executive Committee as amended below:
Executive Committee Motion on Shared Governance
WHEREAS the Board of Visitors has the ultimate fiduciary responsibility for the institution, including its financial health and academic integrity; and
WHEREAS the responsible execution of fiduciary authority pivots on shared governance with constituencies holding primary expertise in specific areas; and
WHEREAS the preface of the Faculty Handbook (formally approved by the Board of Visitors, the Faculty Senate on behalf of the General Faculty, and the President of the University) declares it to be a contractual document; and
WHEREAS Section 1.3 of the Faculty Handbook states that “The faculty conducts its business and participates in institutional governance at the University level, the college or school level, and the level of the academic unit… In accordance with the best traditions of American universities, the faculty plays a primary role in two types of determinations: (i) the University’s academic offerings; and (ii) faculty personnel actions.”; and
WHEREAS the Faculty and Academic Standards Committee of the Board of Visitors
on 19 April 2000 violated Section 1.3 of the Faculty Handbook by adopting
a motion that preempts, and to the extent that it prescribes specific courses,
is incompatible with the general education model currently under development
by the Faculty Senate-elected University Committee on General Education; and
WHEREAS the Faculty Senate rejects the inherently contradictory contention of the Board of Visitor’s Faculty and Academic Standards Committee that it accepts both the general education plan currently under development by the University Committee on General Education and the core curriculum proposed by a member of the Board of Visitors;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Faculty Senate, as the body which represents the George Mason University Faculty in governance and decision-making at the university level, deplores the action of the Board of Visitors’ Faculty and Academic Standards Committee on 19 April 2000 and censures the Committee for taking that action; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Faculty Senate urges the Board of Visitors in the strongest possible terms to restore to the faculty its curricular authority, including the further elaboration of general education.
D. Gantz then spoke to the motion, stating that while General Education precipitated
this motion, the Board has made incursions on faculty primacy on several occasions
in the past two years. He stated that the BOV changed ROTC credit limits, ignored
the faculty charged committees and their recommendations, in particular they
ignored restructuring recommendations regarding NCC. He identified that the
BOV has the ultimate authority to do as it chooses, but the abuses of shared
governance cannot be allowed to persist, as the faculty has primacy in academic
areas and needs to make a stand at this time.
Provost P. Stearns thanked the Senate and the Executive Committee for allowing him to speak to the issue and he said that he respects the issues that motivated the motion, but he expressed two concerns: 1) what will the motion accomplish? He indicated that it will not reorient the Board, and will more likely make them more anti-Faculty Senate; 2) what affect will this have on General Education specifically? He indicated that the Board’s Faculty and Academic Standards Committee approved the faculty plan with a few (unfortunate but not catastrophic) revisions. These changes included the math requirement that cannot exist; the science non-lab possibility which was already being examined; the examination of ability in communication isn’t truly feasible; the American History and Western Civilization requirements. P. Stearns stated that the plan would not be too bad if these were the only changes, but he felt that if the Senate challenges the BOV at this point, the BOV might seek to spurn the faculty by amending the General Education plan further. He expressed his interest to see the current general education proposal approved without further changes, and his intent to discuss the parameters at the Board’s retreat and to identify the limits to the Board’s actions.
R. Ehrlich moved to postpone the question definitely until 3:00 pm on May 18, 2000, at a Special Called Meeting of the Faculty Senate after the Board had met. A motion to amend was made to postpone the issue to the first Senate meeting in the Fall after the Board’s retreat. Discussion on the motion to postpone ensued, and it was clarified that the motion on the floor was to postpone discussion and consideration of the Committee’s motion until May 18, not to pass the motion on May 18.
Debate over the merits of waiting or acting continued to be mixed with discussion of censure, and the Chair clarified that the amended motion to postpone was on the floor and discussion should pertain to that motion. The motion to amend failed by a 7-for, 14-against vote. Debate on the main motion to postpone to a Special Meeting continued and the motion passed by a 28-for, 1-abstention vote.
C. Motion of Reaffirmation
M. DeNys introduced the following motion of reaffirmation:
BE IT RESOLVED THAT: The Faculty Senate reaffirms the general education proposal of the University Committee on General Education, which the Senate approved at its meeting of 8 March 2000, and recommends that the Board of Visitors approve this proposal rather than any other, including the proposal approved on 19 April 2000 by the Faculty and Academic Standards Committee of the Board of Visitors.
The motion was made and seconded, and M. DeNys stated that
the motion addresses the University Committee’s framework versus the BOV
subcommittee’s framework on only one of the three main issues: 1) the
governance procedures which created the need for this statement; 2) the academic
content; 3) the resource implications of operationalizing the proposals. Again,
this reaffirmation is strictly based on the second issue, the academic content of
the proposals. He further explained that the University Committee’s plan
was the result of considerable time, work and study to entail all aspects of
a general education program. He stated that the academic nature of the subcommittee’s
proposal is inferior. Following some further discussion, the motion to reaffirm
passed by a 27-for, 1-opposed, 1-abstention vote.
II. Approval of Minutes
It was moved and seconded to approve the Minutes of the April 26, 2000 Faculty Senate Meeting. The motion passed and the Minutes were approved as distributed.
V. New Business
B. Committee Reports
3. Facilities & Support Services
S. Zoltek reported that a written report would be submitted. The report will be available in the Faculty Senate Office.
4. Faculty Matters Committee
J. Scimecca stated that a written report was submitted, the report if available in the Faculty Senate Office.
5. Nominations Committee
R. Ehrlich stated that the Committee had nothing to report.
6. Organization & Operations Committee
E. Blaisten-Barojas reported that the Committee had finished their review of committee workloads, Senate seat allocations, and the Charter modifications at the April 26 meeting. Additionally, the Committee will have the charge and composition of the Technology Policy Committee established by the end of June.
7. Senate Liaisons to the Board of Visitors
D. Boileau reported that since there has been no meeting since the last report, and the Board meets on May 17, there was nothing to report at this time.
8. Representatives of the Faculty Senate of Virginia
D. Boileau announced that Esther Elstun had been elected as Vice Chair. Also, Ann Cary had attended the Spring meeting last week. Patricia Palmiero was named as the liaison/contact person for GMU by Director C. Schilling.
9. Committee on External Academic Relations
There was nothing to report.
10. Board of Visitors Relations Committee
J. Censer reported that the Committee met with the President once and with the entire Board once. The faculty it was agreed has a primary role in general education, but the role is not being practiced. It was stated that the Committee should be renewed to exist for another year since it was invited to the Board of Visitors’ Retreat in the Summer and could report to the Senate in the Fall. It was moved and seconded to continue the Committee and to have the Committee report at the December meeting and at the end of the academic year (at which time the Committee’s existence could again be renewed if necessary). The motion was amended to include a report of the Committee at the September Faculty Senate Meeting following the Board Retreat. The motion passed by a voice vote.
VI. Other New Business
A. Election of Faculty Senate Chair
D. Boileau announced that nominees must be named from the floor, S. Zoltek nominated D. Boileau. D. Boileau asked that Chair Pro Tem H. Gortner take over as the Chair. H. Gortner asked if there were any other nominees, hearing none there was a motion to close nominations and cast a unanimous ballot for Don Boileau for the Faculty Senate Chair for the 2000-2001 Senate. The motion was seconded, and D. Boileau was re-elected as the Faculty Senate Chair.
B. Motion of Acclamation for Senator Hale Tongren
It was moved and seconded to recognize Senator H. Tongren who is retiring after 31 years of service to the University and faculty governance. The motion passed and there was an ovation to recognize Professor Tongren’s service.
C. Grade of C- as Accepted Transfer Grade
It was announced that the C- grade for transfer credit would carry over to next year as pending business. L. Lederman inquired whether the Law School could provide a report of its grading scale for the Fall semester for consideration in the grade discussion.
A motion was made and seconded to adjourn the meeting, and passed on a voice vote. The meeting was adjourned at 4:15 pm.
Donald T. Gantz, Secretary
GMU Faculty Senate
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