George Mason University
Approved Minutes of the Faculty Senate
October 23, 2002
Senators Present: J. Bennett, P. Black, D. Boileau, B. Brown, L. Brown, P. Buchanan,
R. Coffinberger, S. deMonsabert, M. De Nys, M. Dworzecka, E. Elstun, H. Gortner, J.
High, D. Holisky, H.W. Jeong, C. Kaffenberger, R. Klimoski, D. Kuebrich, W. Kurkul,
B. Manchester, J. Metcalf, L. Monson, J. Moore, R. Nadeau, L. Pawloski, P. Regan, L.
Rockwood, S. Ruth, J. Sanford, S. Slayden, A. Sofer, P. Stearns, E. Sturtevant, C. Sutton,
S. Trencher, I. Vaisman, J. Zenelis, S. Zoltek.
Senators Absent: K. Avruch, A. Berry, E. Blaisten-Barojas, D. Boehm-Davis, Y. D.
Chung, S. Cobb, M. Deshmukh, R. Diecchio, M. Ferri, T. Friesz, J. Gorrell, M. Grady, L.
Griffiths, K. Haynes, M. Kafatos, J. Kozlowski, C. Lerner, P.J. Maddox, C. Mattusch, A.
Merten, W. Reeder, J. Scimecca, F. Shahrokhi, R. Smith, D. Sprague, M. Stearns.
Liaisons Present: E. Brown (Staff Senate), C. Poland (Student Senate).
Guests Present: A. Baraniecki, D. Bitler, S. Collins, D. Fox, S. Greenfeld, D. Haines, R.
Herron, S. Jones, J. Mulherin, W. Rankin.
I. Call to Order
Chair Jim Bennett called the meeting to order at 3:00 p.m. The Minutes of the October 9, 2002 Faculty Senate meeting were approved.
The Chair announced a new on-going item for future meeting agendas called “Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty.” At the end of each Senate meeting, time permitting, there will be opportunity for informal remarks from the floor that Senators feel are important to share with the faculty.
There will be an AAUP Meeting with Rector Meese on October 29, 2002 at 2:00 p.m. in the SUB II Ballroom. Everyone is invited to attend.
The Chair presented data provided by Institutional Research and Reporting concerning “Percentage of Management Standards Met” and “Research and Public Service Expenditures per Full-Time Faculty.” By a show of hands, the Senate voted that the entire IRR report be sent to the faculty.
III. Old Business
Dean Mulherin called attention to the fact that two Task Forces, one on academic integrity and one on the Honor Committee, have submitted forty recommendations concerning academic integrity; and he encourages the Faculty Senate to review and act upon these recommendations. Dean Mulherin stated that the Honor Committee—made up of 30-40 students—cannot assume sole responsibility for insuring academic integrity at George Mason. The university community as a whole needs to be engaged in this task.
Dean Mulherin acknowledged that the Honor Committee needs to develop a more efficient process and to improve communication—especially with faculty who file complaints. He is currently helping to revise the Committee’s procedures so that faculty who bring cases to it will be informed about hearings, judicial procedures, and sanctions in a more timely manner. The Committee is also taking steps to insure more consistency in applying sanctions.
Contrary to the common opinion that students are judged leniently by the Honor Committee, Dean Mulherin pointed out that 98% of the students are found guilty.
Dean Mulherin mentioned several reasons why faculty members should report violations instead of dealing with them personally: 1) there could be serial cheaters who are not identified because each professor is dealing with the student individually; 2) the Honor Committee needs to maintain accurate and comprehensive records about instances of academic dishonesty and how they are handled; 3) routing cases through the Committee provides legal protection for the faculty and the University.
In subsequent discussion, it was pointed out that an Honor System works best in schools that create a culture supportive of academic integrity. It was also noted that there used to be Honor Code posters in every GMU classroom but many have disappeared. Dean Mulherin said he would, to the extent possible under current budget constraints, replace the missing posters.
The Chair announced that Dean Mulherin will be invited back in April to report on the progress being made on improving the honor system. The Senate O&O Committee is also given the task of reviewing the forty proposed recommendations and then assigning them as action items to appropriate committees. O&O will also inquire about the status of those recommendations that were given to various administrative offices.
IV. Committee Reports and Action Items
Academic Policies – Esther Elstun
Jim Metcalf introduced the following motion (friendly amendment accepted by the Committee is in boldface type):
In the face of increasing class absenteeism, and in response to a request from the Provost, the Academic Policies Committee MOVES that the statement on attendance policy in the current University Catalog be changed to read as follows:
“Students are expected to attend the class periods of the courses for which they register. In-class participation is important to the individual student and to the class as a whole. Because class participation may be a factor in grading, instructors may use absence, tardiness, or early departure as de facto evidence of non participation. Students who miss an exam without an acceptable excuse may be penalized according to the individual instructor's grading policy, as stated in the course syllabus.”
The statement in the current University Catalog reads as follows: "Students are expected to attend the class periods of the courses for which they register. Although absence alone is not a reason for lowering a grade, students are not relieved of the obligation to fulfill course assignments, including those that can only be fulfilled in class. Students who fail to participate (because of absences) in a course in which participation is a factor in evaluation, or students who miss an exam without an excuse, may be penalized according to the weighted value of the missed work as stated in the course syllabus."
The motion passed unanimously.
The Committee also announced that its next meeting is on November 1, 2002, at 2:00 p.m. in D109 Mason Hall. They will be discussing the residency requirement/taking courses elsewhere, the C- Grade, and the proposed 3-year calendar. Anyone interested in these topics is welcome to attend.
Facilities & Support Services & Library – Lorraine Brown
During the summer, the Committee requested information on GMU Reserved Parking policies from Ken Bumgarner, Associate Vice President of University Services. The Senate Clerk then compiled that information, along with data on the Parking Policies at GMU’s peer universities and other Virginia universities. The Senate Chair noted that parking at GMU compares very favorably with that of the other institutions in both cost and availability of parking places. The Committee will distribute its findings (now available on the Senate website) to the entire faculty.
Faculty Matters – Marty De Nys
Larry Rockwood introduced the following motion:
“Faculty who teach cross-listed courses should be informed of all cross-listed section numbers at the time of course assignment. This applies to both academic year and summer teaching assignments.”
The motion passed with one nay and one abstention.
Marty De Nys stated that the Committee is revising the evaluation instrument used by faculty to assess the Administration. One new feature will be to ask administrators to submit activities reports, just as faculty currently present reports of their activities.
Organization & Operations – Phil Buchanan
No new business.
Nominations – Rick Coffinberger
The Committee nominated Chris Thaiss to serve on the University External Relations Committee. The nomination passed unanimously.
Ad Hoc Budget Committee – Rick Coffinberger
Rick Coffinberger reported on the President and Provost’s budget briefings that were held last Thursday and Friday. He stated that the newest budget reduction applies to the remainder of AY 2003-04 and totals $10.3M (for a total AY 2003-04 of over $27 million), and that each Dean/Director has been allocated a target reduction for their school/college/institute. The budget reduction plan will be presented to the GMU BOV at a special meeting on Thursday for their consideration and approval. The BOV will consider a tuition surcharge in the range of $200 per full-time student for the spring 2003 semester and will begin discussions to develop a long-range plan for tuition adjustments over the next several years. Dr. Coffinberger commended the President, the Provost, and the VP of Finance for holding open budget meetings and for their willingness to discuss budget issues with the representatives from all of GMU's stakeholders.
The SOM budget reduction plan was presented to the Faculty Senate as a model for other units to follow. Dr. Coffinberger announced that he will be sending the plan to the other Deans by e-mail and will request that they each submit a similar report so that the information can be compiled and distributed to the all Senators as well as the GMU faculty at large. He also commended the Deans for their efforts to meet their budget reduction targets while simultaneously protecting their instructional budgets. He noted that the Senate expects to increase the participation of faculty in the planning and implementation of budgets in the future. Dr. Coffinberger again applauded President Merten's commitment to principle of shared governance between the GMU Faculty and administration and stated that he is optimistic that the Deans and Directors will take the lead in implementing this principle in broad and meaningful ways.
V. Other New Business
A. Report by Doris Bitler, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, CAS
Dr. Bitler briefly explained the mission and some of the operating procedures and other activities of the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs. Its main responsibility is to consider requests for exceptions to academic policies (adds, withdrawals, suspensions, study abroad, etc.). The Office also conducts assessments to identify academic issues that
most affect students, inform academic policy review and revisions, and track its own performance with regard to the decisions they make. The three Deans in the Office also run programs for CAS students (APEX, Suspension, new majors), teach courses, undertake scholarship, advise university honor societies, and do college and university service and outreach.
Dr. Bitler emphasized that it is the students, not well-meaning parents or professors, who must make requests for exceptions to academic policies. The students are also required to provide documentation (medical, psychological, employment-related, etc.) to support their requests. Once a request and accompanying documentation are received, the Deans consider the student’s case on an individual basis, while keeping in mind the letter and spirit of University policy. Approximately 60% of the requests for exception are granted.
The amount of work for the Office is growing. Incoming communications have jumped from 9,443 in AY2000-2001 to 10,759 in AY2001-2. Dr. Bitler emphasized that the best way faculty can help the Office and the students is to give good advice and accurate referrals.
VI. Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty
Robert Nadeau called attention to two important matters under consideration by the BOV that will strongly impact faculty: the issues of “term” professors and dual-track tenure.
Jim Metcalf, Senate representative on the Quality of Work Life Task Force, gave a report on the last QWL meeting. In his opinion, much of the discussion was “out of touch with reality” in light of recent cuts in travel, furloughs, copying, telephones, etc. Professor Metcalf noted, for instance, that the QWL Task force is currently considering conducting another survey of faculty morale. This seems unnecessary, given the widespread recognition that morale is obviously low as a result of no raises, larger classes, and inadequate operating expenses. Professor Metcalf welcomes suggestions for him to bring to the Task Force.
Stan Zoltek reported on a budget cut meeting that the University Technology Policy Committee held with Dr. Joy Hughes earlier in the day.
The Senate Clerk, liaison to the Staff Senate, reported on the October Staff Senate meeting. Much of the meeting was a Q&A session with Steve LaNasa, Assistant Director of Human Resources, concerning the new electronic timesheets. The Staff Senate is worried about how the budget cuts will affect not only their jobs but also the work of the Senate itself. In addition, the Senate is preparing a report to address their concerns about the process used to evaluate staff.
A motion to adjourn was requested, and it was so moved and seconded. The meeting adjourned at 4:20 p.m.
Secretary, Faculty Senate
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