George Mason University
Minutes of the Faculty Senate
April 7, 2004
Senators Present: K. Avruch, J. Bennett, R. Berroa, D. Boehm-Davis, B. Brown, L. Brown, P. Buchanan, R. Carver, R. Coffinberger, M. DeNys, C. Douglas, E. Elstun, M. Ferri, H. Gortner, M. Houck, K. Johnsen-Neshati, C. Kaffenberger, D. Kuebrich, J. Mahler, B. Manchester, L. Monson, A. Motro, P. Moyer-Packenham, D. Polsby, P. Regan, L. Rockwood, E. Roman-Mendoza, J. Sanford, J. Scimecca, F. Shahrokhi, R. Smith, P. Stearns, C. Sutton, J. Tangney, S. Trencher, S. Zoltek.
Senators Absent: A. Berry, P. Black, S. Cobb, M. Deshmukh, J. Gorrell, M. Grady, L. Griffiths, K. Haynes, M. Kafatos, R. Klimoski, J. Kozlowski, C. Lerner, K. McCrohan, A. Merten, J. Metcalf, R. Nadeau, L. Pawloski, W. Reeder, S. Ruth, S. Slayden, C. Sluzki, D. Struppa, E. Sturtevant, P. Wiest, B. Willis, J. Zenelis.
Liaisons Present: L. Fauteux (Staff Senate).
Guests Present: R. Ailinger, N. Dickerson, D. Faxon, B. Fleming, R. Herron, C. Hill, S. Jones, E. Lehman.
I. Call to Order
Chair Jim Bennett called the meeting to order at 3:03 p.m.
II. Approval of Minutes
The minutes of March 24, 2004 were approved as distributed.
A. Death of Chris Herlihy, wife of Vice President Reid Herlihy
The Chair instructed the Secretary of the Senate to send a letter of condolence to Vice President Herlihy on behalf of the Faculty Senate. It was noted that Mrs. Herlihy had been a faculty member in the Psychology Department a number of years ago, and the Psychology Department also expressed their condolences at Mrs. Herlihy’s passing.
B. Faculty Senate’s 30th Anniversary (1974-2004)
This month marks the 30th anniversary of George Mason University’s Faculty Senate. The Chair thanked the Provost for providing two beautiful cakes and beverages in celebration of the anniversary.
C. AAUP/Faculty Senate Reception for Rector Meese (May 4)
The AAUP and the Faculty Senate will be hosting a reception for Rector Meese on May 4, 2004, at 4:00 p.m. in the Mason Hall Atrium. Rector Meese will finish his term as Rector of the University at the end of this academic year. The Chair noted that he was the first Rector to address the Faculty Senate, and was of great assistance in getting a faculty representative on the BOV’s Faculty & Academic Standards Committee.
D. President Merten’s Address to the Faculty Senate
Unfortunately, President Merten was called out of town to meet with key donors and, therefore, was unable to address the Faculty Senate as planned.
IV. Old Business
There was no old business.
V. Senate Committee Reports and Action Items
A. Executive Committee – Jim Bennett
B. Academic Policies – Esther Elstun
The Committee will meet on Wednesday, April 14th, at 11:00 a.m. in D109 Mason Hall to discuss the Student Senate’s resolution urging the Faculty senate to adopt a new policy that will allow students to drop courses later in the semester. The
Committee has received over fifty e-mails from faculty on this issue.
C. Budget & Resources – Rick Coffinberger
1. Proposed Charge for Salary Equity Study Committee
The Committee submitted the following motion to change the University Salary Equity Study Committee’s charge (revision in bold):
"To systematically study annually the distribution of faculty salaries at all ranks as identified in Sections 2.1 and 2.2 of the Faculty Handbook; to systematically study salaries by gender, by race/ethnic divisions, and by local academic unit; to examine frequencies of men/women and of members of different race/ethnic categories within LAUs; and additionally to investigate the potential for individual equity measures. The committee shall monitor the establishment and maintenance of a database of faculty compensation including all categories and ranks of faculty, and shall report its aggregate findings on salary and on the status of the database annually to the Faculty Senate and provide specific data to the Equity Office, the Provost, Deans and Directors, and to other LAU administrators."
It was questioned as to whether this was a small change or actually a large one. Elyse Lehman, the Chair of the Salary Equity Study Committee, explained that the Committee has been asked to investigate equity situations for individual faculty members, but cannot not do so because 1) its charge allows only broad review of the University’s equity policy, 2) it would entail a tremendous amount of time and resources, and 3) such investigations are the responsibility of the Provost and Equity offices.
Professor Lehman also explained that the wording “investigate the potential” was purposely vague because the Committee would only review department salary data for “outliers,” and then pass the data on to the Provost’s Office to make further determinations regarding the case. She clarified that the reviews would be for outliers within departments, not between units, since salary differences between units are normal at any university.
The motion passed with a divided vote.
2. Report on Faculty Salaries for the Period 2000-2004
An e-mail was sent to all faculty members yesterday informing them that the Faculty Senate has compiled salary reports for Administrative, Research, 9-month Instructional, and 12-month Instructional Faculty. In the 24-hour period following the announcement, he Faculty Senate office received over 350 requests for these reports, so the faculty was asked to be patient while waiting to receive them.
It was asked why the reports were not just posted on the Faculty Senate website, which would have been easier. Rick Coffinberger reminded the Senators that, in the resolution they passed concerning this matter, the salary reports were to be
placed on the website with access restricted to people with GMU “G” and pin numbers. However, Joy Hughes’ office and the ITU Department said they could not assist the Senate in setting up such a restricted page because priority was being given to implementation of the Banner system.
Another Senator asked if the salary data are being protected when sent by e-mail. Rick Coffinberger responded that the only safeguards are that the e-mail announcement was only addressed to faculty, and all of the reports have been sent to GMU e-mail addresses. Because of the Freedom of Information Act, however, the Faculty Senate office must give out the information to anyone who asks.
Professor Coffinberger also reported that although the Commonwealth did not
provide funding for faculty salary increments for the fiscal years 2001, 2002,
and 2003, a review of the University’s salary data reveals that 171 Instructional
Faculty (20%) and 185 Administrative Faculty (39%) received raises during that
time period. It was pointed out that a large portion of Instructional Faculty
raises were the result of promotion and tenure. It was also noted that 180 (20%)
of GMU’s 9-month Instructional Faculty currently earn less than $40,000
per academic year, which is below the starting salaries for public school teachers
with graduate degrees in the local school systems.
3. University Budget Committee
The Committee member has attended each of the monthly University Budget Committee meetings. In response to a question, the Committee agreed to determine the best way to share the information they learn from these meetings with the Senate.
D. Faculty Matters – Marty De Nys
1. Report on Accusations of Scientific Misconduct
On behalf of the Committee, Jim Sanford submitted the following report to the Senate:
Summary of GMU’s Policies on Scientific Misconduct
GMU has approved multiple and occasionally contradictory policies regarding scientific misconduct, including the Statement of Professional Ethics and Statement on Plagiarism of the AAUP (Appendix C of the Faculty Handbook), the Grievance Policy from the Faculty Handbook (Section 2.12.2), and the Policy on Scientific Misconduct on the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) Website approved by the Board of Visitors, March, 1990.
The AAUP statement (www.gmu.edu/facstaff/handbook/ac.html) suggests general policy concerning the necessity for every faculty member to be scrupulous in his or her work, for incidences of suspected plagiarism to be brought to light, and for each university and professional society to adopt clear guidelines regarding plagiarism. It includes the statement, “In the academic profession the individual institution of higher learning…should normally handle questions concerning propriety of conduct within its own framework by reference to a faculty group.”
Section 2.12.2 of the Faculty Handbook (www.gmu.edu/facstaff/handbook/c2/s12.html)
includes “(iii) charges of
unprofessional or unethical conduct brought by one faculty member against another” as one category of grievance. The Handbook is otherwise silent on policies and procedures related to scientific misconduct. If treated as a grievance and if the “petitioner [makes] a prima facie case to the [local academic unit grievance] committee,” the committee reports to the faculty of the college, school, or institute who then formally vote on the recommendation.
The OSP Policy on Scientific Misconduct (www.gmu.edu/pubs/osp/scimis.html) borrows heavily from reports of the Executive Council of the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Association of American Universities, National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges and Council of Graduate Schools. The policy is somewhat ambivalent about whether it concerns “research fraud” or the more general term “scientific misconduct.” The policy is entitled “Policy on Scientific Misconduct,” but the main body of the policy deals with “research fraud,” called a “form of scientific misconduct involving deception.” To quote from the website, research fraud “includes:
1. Falsification of Data – Ranging from fabrication to deceptively selective reporting, including the purposeful omission of conflicting data with the intent to falsify results.
2. Plagiarism – Representation of another’s work as one’s own.
3. Misappropriation of Others’ Ideas – The unauthorized use of privileged information (such as violation of confidentiality in peer review), however obtained.”
Later in the document, procedures described in the sections of the OSP Policy regarding the reporting, confidentiality, and inquiry processes use only the term “research fraud.” “Scientific misconduct” is not included. However, in the section entitled “Findings,” the OSP Policy states that “Investigations into allegations of fraud may result in various outcomes including:
1. a finding of fraud,
2. a findings [sic] of serious scientific misconduct,
3. a finding that no culpable conduct was committed.”
Thus, while the investigative aspects of the policy only refer to “research fraud,” the outcomes refer to the more general “scientific misconduct.” Furthermore, the adjective “serious” did not appear in previous sections of the policy statement and
is not defined in the text. The very next section of the OSP Policy (the Disposition section) states, “If the Investigative Committee concludes that fraud or scientific misconduct has taken place, the Provost or his/her designee….” Note that the word “serious” has now disappeared and that fraud and scientific misconduct are grouped together. Thus, the OSP Policy is inconsistent regarding whether it encompasses all types of scientific misconduct or only research fraud, and it is unclear about what constitutes “serious” misconduct.
Nevertheless, the Faculty Matters Committee has identified a number of ways in which a modified OSP Policy is superior to that described in Section 2.12.2 of the Faculty Handbook. First, it includes greater detail regarding what constitutes scientific misconduct. Second, it provides that the accuser must be identified to the accused “at least 14 days prior to the hearing.” Third, it specifies that “the confidentiality of the accused and the informant(s) must be maintained to the maximum extent possible.” Clearly, a grievance procedure, since the committee reports to the entire faculty of the college, school, or institute, is anything but confidential. Fourth, it includes provisions to deal with frivolous accusations.
Jim Sanford stated that the Committee, after reviewing these three policies and determining that the OSP was the best overall, recommends that this issue be considered the next time the Faculty Handbook is reviewed.
Three questions were raised: Does the OSP policy have jurisdiction over all scientific misconduct, or only over incidents involved in research? Does each Unit’s Handbook cover this issue adequately? Who will do the “wordsmithing” for the policy when the Faculty Handbook is revised? It was suggested that the policy, when written, be fairly general in order to cover all possibilities. A few Senators noted the importance of the AAUP’s focus on the faculty “keeping their own house in order” and encouraged retaining the idea of peer judgment in these cases. It was agreed that there is a need for creating one coherent university-wide policy that clearly outlines the procedures and due process in cases of scientific misconduct.
2. Faculty Evaluation of Administrators
Today is the due date for the return of the surveys for the Faculty Evaluation of Administrators. Senators were again urged to fill out and return their forms and to encourage other faculty members to do the same. The return rate so far is at a
very disappointing 21%, a much lower return than for this time last year. The Committee and the Provost expressed deep concern that fears that have been expressed by some faculty members that the surveys might not be fully confidential and that respondents might be subject to retribution. The Office of Institutional Assessment asked that basic demographic questions (rank and gender) be included in this year’s survey; however, since that information is no longer being used in the analysis, the Committee is willing to delete those questions next year. Marty De Nys emphasized that the Committee would prefer that respondents simply leave these two questions blank rather not responding at all. It was suggested that the existence of this fear itself might be considered as a type of negative judgment some faculty are making of the Administration.
E. Nominations – Lorraine Brown
The Committee submitted the nomination of Lorraine Brown as the faculty representative to the Staff Compensation Committee. The nomination was unanimously approved.
F. Organization & Operations – Phillip Buchanan
Letters have been sent to the Deans and Directors concerning Senate seat allocation for the 2004-2005 academic year. The schools need to submit the names of their 2004-2005 Senators to the Faculty Senate office by May 1, 2004.
V. New Business
There was no new business.
VI. Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty
Stanley Zoltek announced that three vendors who have submitted bids to supply spam filters for the University’s servers will be returning with more information.
Faculty members were encouraged to attend the open meetings with the candidates for the position of Vice President for University Life.
The meeting adjourned at 3:50 p.m.
Secretary, Faculty Senate
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