George Mason University
Minutes of the Faculty Senate
December 3, 2003
Senators Present: K. Avruch, J. Bennett, R. Berroa, A. Berry, D. Boehm-Davis, B. Brown, L. Brown, P. Buchanan, R. Carver, R. Coffinberger, M. DeNys, C. Douglas, E. Elstun, M. Ferri, J. Gorrell, H. Gortner, M. Houck, K. Johnsen-Neshati, C. Kaffenberger, J. Kozlowski, D. Kuebrich, K. McCrohan, A. Merten, J. Metcalf, L. Monson, P. Moyer-Packenham, W. Reeder, E. Roman-Mendoza, S. Ruth, J. Sanford, J. Scimecca, F. Shahrokhi, S. Slayden, P. Stearns, C. Sutton, J. Tangney, S. Trencher, J. Zenelis, S. Zoltek.
Senators Absent: P. Black, S. Cobb, S. deMonsabert, M. Deshmukh, M. Grady, L. Griffiths, E. Gunn, K. Haynes, M. Kafatos, R. Klimoski, W. Kurkul, C. Lerner, J. Mahler, B. Manchester, R. Nadeau, L. Pawloski, D. Polsby, P. Regan, L. Rockwood, C. Sluzki, R. Smith, D. Struppa, E. Sturtevant, P. Wiest,.
Liaisons Present: L. Fauteux (Staff Senate).
Guests Present: B. Fleming, D. Haines, R. Herron, S. Jones, C. Lont, B. Rooney.
I. Call to Order
Chair Jim Bennett called the meeting to order at 3:04 p.m.
II. Approval of Minutes
The minutes of November 19, 2003 were approved as distributed.
A. Address to the Senate – President Alan Merten
President Merten announced that he is pleased that the process of reviewing the Provost is complete and that Provost Stearns has been renewed. He thanked Cindy Lont and the other members of the Review Committee for their excellent work. Dr. Merten also thanked Provost Stearns for agreeing to continue as Provost, and the Faculty Senate concurred with applause.
The President noted that the process has begun for creating the Academic Unit Profiles that he originally discussed with the Faculty Senate on October 1st. These profiles, which will be available on the web, will include financial data, demographics, and programmatic information. The Provost has asked the Deans and Directors to present status reports on their unit profiles on December 18, 2003, at 8:30 a.m. in Mason Hall. Any Senator who wishes to attend is asked to inform the Faculty Senate Office as soon as possible so a room of adequate size can be reserved.
President Merten also outlined the Administration’s legislative priorities for 2004:
1) Student Financial Aid: Request the Legislature increase financial aid to help offset the recent raises in tuition. GMU has contributed 10¢ to its financial aid program for every dollar of tuition increase, but the University still needs $1.4 million from the State to offset the tuition increases imposed upon students who qualify for financial assistance.
2) Faculty Salaries: Request raises sufficient to return salaries to at least the 60th percentile among our peer institutions.
3) Tuition Flexibility: Request the Legislature not impose tuition caps. Public universities must be able to raise tuition to achieve basic financial adequacy.
4) Enrollment Support: Request the necessary increase in state support for each additional student enrolled. Provost Stearns and Vice President Scherrens have developed a model that determines how much money per student is needed for George Mason to increase enrollment.
5) Maintenance and Operating Funds: Request additional funds to cover three new buildings (Prince William I, Prince William 3A, and Innovation Hall).
6) Support for Research: Request financial incentives for sponsored research. GMU’s sponsored research is growing, but the State imposes conditions—such as a 30% fee for indirect costs—that create disincentives for sponsored research.
As the final topic of his presentation, the President called attention to Governor Warner’s tax-reform initiative. The administrative leaders at GMU and the other state universities and colleges are actively supporting the general goals of the initiative. Their message to the legislators is to exercise political leadership by establishing revenues sufficient to meet the present and future needs of the Commonwealth. President Merten explained that GMU survived this year by cutting its budget, increasing tuition, and emptying discretionary funds. However, these financial measures are not sustainable. Unless the state provides additional revenues, our future will be “unbearably lean.”
In the ensuing dialogue, a Senator pointed to the need for more financial aid for graduate students. In response, the Provost stated that if the State were to rebate the 30% it currently requires from research projects, the funds would be used predominantly for financial aid to graduate students.
In reply to a question concerning the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), the President stated that the General Assembly voted to incrementally reduce funding to zero over the next 3-4 years in order to force CIT to become more entrepreneurial and to apply for more federal research funding. The CIT was created to be a small business development model for the high-tech industry, but its mission is currently evolving and the its future is unclear.
President Merten was also asked about the comprehensive campaign. He reminded the Senate that George Mason spent its first 25 years transforming itself into a full-fledged university. Therefore, it did not receive very much federal or private money during this time. However, this year the University will receive $70 million in federal funding. The first big push for private funding was the planned capital campaign of the late 1980s, but the concurrent real estate crash kept the University from launching it. In 1997, the University began organizing the present campaign, and it officially began in 2000. The campaign is projected to reach $110 million by the end of spring semester of 2004. However, most of the funds raised are designated for endowment or specific expenditures.
A second stage will begin soon, with the focus moving from a university-wide campaign to approximately ten smaller, focused campaigns conducted by individual academic units with support from the University. The Deans, Directors, and faculty will be much more involved in these campaigns, and “everyone will be a fund raiser.”
The Provost added that although the current campaign was not ambitious relative to those of many other universities, it was a major campaign for a new university. He noted two encouraging points: alumni giving is steadily increasing, and this campaign establishes a basis for larger future campaigns.
B. Sabbatical Policy – Associate Provost David Rossell
In response to a request by the Faculty Senate for an analysis of an enhanced study-leave program, the Provost agreed to conduct a feasibility study, and this was done by Associate Provost Rossell.
Dr. Rossell began by clarifying that faculty cannot be paid benefits during a sabbatical in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and so to avoid this problem, public universities refer to sabbaticals as “faculty study leaves.” He then gave an overview of the three Educational Leave-with-Pay Programs offered at George Mason.
Faculty Study Leaves--Open to tenured faculty with at least four years of service, these are centrally funded and are described in the Faculty Handbook. They are offered for one semester at full pay or one year at half pay and can be reapplied for after seven years.
Departmental Leaves, open to tenured faculty with at least
ten years of service, are funded by academic units and detailed in the Faculty
Information Guide. They are offered for one semester at ¾ pay or one
year at 3/8 pay and can be reapplied for after ten years.
Assistant Professor Tenure-Track Leaves were recently instituted to give tenure-track faculty a study leave for research toward tenure and are offered for one semester only with a 2-course release as compensation. Faculty are eligible only one time during their probationary appointment.
Dr. Rossell introduced a proposal for a fourth category of study leave for full or associate professors with at least ten years of service. These leaves would be competitive, centrally funded, and could be used for research or course development.
According to Dr. Rossell, 395 professors would be eligible if the leave becomes available. (GMU has 1,180 teaching and research faculty; of these, 560 are tenured; and 395 of these tenured faculty have 10 or more years of service.) The Administration is considering offering up to twenty of these leaves per academic year.
Concerning the funding of the study-leave program, Dr. Rossell pointed out
that the University awarded 24 Faculty Study Leaves in academic year 2002 and
27 in 2003. Each provided for two courses of released time at an approximate
cost of $7000. So an additional 20 leaves would cost around $140,000. At present,
the Administration is uncertain as to whether the proposed program should stand
alone or be integrated into the existing Study Leave program. Asked what percentage
of eligible faculty actually apply for study leaves, Dr. Rossell responded that
Regarding summer research grants for tenured faculty, Dr. Rossell reported that seven were given in 2002 and one in 2003. These grants fell within the $2,000-5,000 range. Fourteen Summer Research Awards were given to tenure-track faculty in 2002 and 15 in 2003.
A concern was raised about awarding study leaves to tenure-track faculty before their first renewal, because sometimes these faculty are terminated. The Provost replied that last year an unusually large number of probationary faculty were not reappointed, but that this was an exception to the usual pattern. The Provost feels that we should continue the present policy of allowing tenure-track faculty to choose when they will take their study leave.
The Chair requested a motion that the Faculty Senate accept Dr. Rossell’s report and encourage the Administration to implement the new faculty study leave policy as soon as possible. The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.
III. Old Business
There was no old business.
VI. Senate Committee Reports and Action Items
A. Executive Committee – Jim Bennett
B. Academic Policies – Esther Elstun
The Committee will meet on December 9th to hear reports from the Task Force on Midterm Grading and the Task Force on Academic Progress. Time permitting, the Committee will also discuss the issue of transfer students graduating with honors.
C. Budget & Resources – Rick Coffinberger
The Committee had its final meeting for the semester today and has set an ambitious agenda for the spring. The Committee is planning to post financial information concerning Summer School on the Faculty Senate website. It also plans to make salary data available digitally to upgrade from the hard copy that has traditionally been available in Fenwick Library. The information will only be accessible from on-campus computers.
D. Faculty Matters – Marty De Nys
The Faculty Evaluation of Administrators survey will be sent out in February this year.
E. Organization & Operations – Phil Buchanan
The Committee received very few items this year to be distributed to the other committees.
F. Nominations – Lorraine Brown
The Committee submitted a nominee, John Stanbury (SOM), as a replacement for Jim Heath on the University General Education Standing Committee. A unanimous ballot was cast approving the nominee.
V. New Business
There was no new business.
VI. Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty
Stanley Zoltek distributed a memo concerning the AAUP’s activities this fall and its plans for next semester. Details can be found at http://aaup.gmu.edu.
Senators remarked on this week’s frustrating e-mail service.
It was announced that the GMU Holiday Concert, including performances by the University’s symphony and chorus, will be this Sunday, December 7th, at 7:00 pm in the Concert Hall. Tickets are $15, but Dean Reeder noted that the concert is not sold out yet, so “cheap seats” (50% for faculty and staff) will likely be available this weekend.
The meeting adjourned at 4:00 p.m.
Secretary, Faculty Senate
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