GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE
APRIL 13, 2005
Senators present: Jim Bennett, Rei Berroa, Alok Berry, Russ Brayley, Lorraine Brown, Phillip Buchanan, Richard Coffinberger, Warren Decker, Charlene Douglas, Bob Ehrlich, Esther Elstun, Lloyd Griffiths, Mark Houck, Kristen Johnsen-Neshati, Menas Kafatos, Jim Kozlowski, David Kuebrich, Julie Mahler, Jim Metcalf, Linda Monson, Peter Pober, Priscilla Regan, Larry Rockwood, James Sanford, Suzanne Slayden, Christine Smith, Peter Stearns, Clifton Sutton, June Tangney, Tojo Thatchenkery, Susan Trencher, Phil Wiest, Stanley Zoltek.
Senators absent: Kevin Avruch, Michelle Boardman, Deborah Boehm-Davis, Richard Carver, Sara Cobb, Martin De Nys, Michael Ferri, Jeff Gorrell, Kingsley Haynes, Bruce Johnsen, Dan Joyce, Rich Klimoski, Jane McDonald, Alan Merten, Jean Moore, Ami Motro, Patricia Moyer-Packenham, Robert Nadeau, Daniel Polsby, Jane Razeghi, William Reeder, Esperanza Roman-Mendoza, Joseph Scimecca, Daniele Struppa, Shirley Travis, Iosif Vaisman, John Zenelis.
Guests present: Sid Dewberry (Rector), Laurie Fathe (Provost’s Office), Tom Hennessey (Chief of Staff – President’s Office), Robin Herron (Creative Services), Susan Jones (Registrar), Marilyn McKenzie (Associate Provost), Bob Pasnak (CAS – Teaching Effectiveness Committee), Raj Sanyal (ACE Fellow, Provost’s Office), Bill Sutton (ECE), Mike Terry (Library).
I. Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 3:02 p.m.
II. Approval of Minutes: The minutes of March 23, 2005 were approved as distributed.
The Faculty Senate and the Office of the Provost will sponsor a joint Town Hall meeting on the proposed restructuring of the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Computational Sciences next Wednesday, April 20, 2005 from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. in Mason Hall, room D23.
Letters requesting the submission of annual reports by the Senate and University Standing Committees were mailed last week. The deadline for submission for inclusion on the agenda for our final meeting this year is April 25th.
Chair Jim Bennett welcomed Rector Dewberry who presented an overview of the role of the Board of Visitors. After praising the leadership of his predecessor, Edwin Meese, Mr. Dewberry explained that the Board has three primary responsibilities: 1) oversight - to ensure that the University complies with its own regulations and the State’s requirements for institutions of higher learning; 2) fiduciary matters - to guarantee that the University is responsive to all of its constituencies with respect to such financial matters as tuition rates, budgets, salaries, etc.; and 3) advocacy - on behalf of the University with the Legislature and public. Most of the sixteen members of the Board of Visitors are members of the business community and go out into their communities to generate support for the University.
Rector Dewberry has defined several new policies: that each Visitor adopt a school or unit to represent; that increased attention be given to promoting the success of GMU sports and athletic programs; and that for BOV meetings, the standing committees meet sequentially (with the full Board in attendance) in the morning, followed by the meeting of the full Board in the afternoon.
Rector Dewberry praised all who have participated in the formulation of the 2010 Plan. Final adoption of the Plan is anticipated at the May 2005 meeting of the Board of Visitors. The Board has selected eight items of the Plan for special attention: enhanced student selectivity and performance; an increase in bio- and nano-technology research; development of research and professional training in the health sciences; increased research funding; growth in the arts; an expansion of international activities; significant advances in the fields of law, economics, the social sciences, and policy studies; and growth in collaborative research and partnerships.
The Board is also exploring ways to generate significant new revenue resources to supplement the University’s budget. Rector Dewberry explained that this is necessary because the federal and state governments were more supportive of financial aid in the past. Also George Mason is a young university without the alumni resources of older institutions. However, tuition and fees can only be raised so much. Operating revenue derives from four sources: state appropriated funds, tuition and fees, sponsored research and private donations. The five-year capital campaign will be completed in June 2005. Its original goal was to raise $110,000,000; as of today $126,000,000 has been raised. Two or three focused campaigns are now beginning, e.g., fundraising for the construction of the Prince William campus arts center.
Regarding salary increases that will take effect in November 2005: faculty will receive a 5.5% average increase, of which 2% will be from the state, the remainder from the University. Some faculty will receive more and some less, as the LAUs and deans will determine individual increases. Classified staff will receive a 3% across-the-board increase plus $50 per year for each year beyond a minimum of five years of employment – for an average raise of 4.4%.
Rick Coffinberger, chairperson of the Task Force to Redefine the University Resolution to Protect Civil Liberties, noted that the feedback received so far has been positive. It was noted that much was taken out of the original text of the Resolution.
WHEREAS George Mason University is proud of its long-standing commitment to protecting the civil rights and liberties of its students, faculty and employees;
WHEREAS the University has a diverse population, including many foreign students and faculty, whose contributions are vital to the culture, character, and learning environment of our University;
WHEREAS the preservation of civil rights and liberties is essential to the well-being of a democratic society and an academic environment;
WHEREAS federal, state, local and campus governments should protect the public from terrorist attacks such as those that occurred on September 11, 2001, but should do so in a rational and deliberative fashion to ensure that any new security measure enhances public safety without impairing constitutional rights or infringing on civil liberties;
WHEREAS government security measures that undermine fundamental rights do damage to the institution of academia and the values that the students, faculty and employees of the University hold dear;
WHEREAS we believe that there is no inherent conflict between national security and the preservation of liberty -- we can be both safe and free;
WHEREAS federal policies adopted since September 11, 2001, including provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56) and related executive orders, regulations and actions threaten fundamental rights and liberties by:
(a) authorizing the indefinite incarceration of non-citizens based on suspicion, and the indefinite incarceration of citizens designated by the President as “enemy combatants” without access to counsel or recourse to the federal courts;
(b) limiting the traditional authority of federal courts to curb law enforcement abuse of electronic surveillance in anti-terrorism investigations and ordinary criminal investigations;
(c) expanding the authority of federal agents to conduct so-called “sneak and peek” or “black bag” searches, in which the subject of the search warrant is unaware that his/her property has been searched;
(d) granting law enforcement and intelligence agencies broad access to personal medical, financial, library and education records with little if any judicial oversight;
(e) limiting constitutionally protected speech through overbroad definitions of “terrorism”;
(f) permitting the FBI to conduct surveillance of religious services, Internet chat rooms, political demonstrations, and other public meetings of any kind without having any evidence that a crime has been or may be committed;
WHEREAS these new powers pose a particular threat to the civil rights and liberties of the members of our University community.
WHEREAS new proposed federal legislation seeks to further limit the civil liberties of our University community and further endanger the rights of our students, faculty and employees; and
WHEREAS many other cities and universities throughout the country have enacted resolutions reaffirming support for civil rights and civil liberties in the face of government policies that threaten these values and demanding accountability from law enforcement agencies regarding their use of these new powers;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE FACULTY SENATE AND LOCAL CHAPTER OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERISTY PROFESSORS OF GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY:
1. AFFIRM their strong support for fundamental constitutional rights and their opposition to federal measures that infringe on civil liberties and academic freedoms.
2. AFFIRM their strong support for the rights of all students, faculty and employees and oppose measures that single out individuals for legal scrutiny or enforcement activity based on their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age or country of origin.
3. URGE all libraries at the University to take steps to educate members of the University community that, under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56), records of the books and other materials borrowed from the libraries, and records of electronic communications and transactions may be obtained by federal agents, and that, if these records are sought under authorities granted under the USA PATRIOT Act, the library is prohibited from informing the members of the community.
4. URGE the Office of the Registrar to provide notice to individuals whose education records have been obtained by law enforcement agents pursuant to section 507 of the USA PATRIOT Act.
5. URGE all bookstores and other entities that maintain business records of purchases at the University to take steps to educate members of the University community that, under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56), records of the books and other materials purchased may be obtained by federal agents, and that, if these records are sought under authorities granted under the USA PATRIOT Act, the University is prohibited from informing the members of the community.
6. URGE all of the University’s computer laboratories and other centers with public computer terminals to take steps to educate members of the University community that, under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56), any emails sent or documents used on the computers or on the University Internet Service Provider may be monitored and/or obtained by federal agents, and that, if these records are sought under authorities granted under the USA PATRIOT Act, the University is prohibited from informing the members of the community.
7. URGE the University Administration to send a notice to all students, faculty and employees by mail and by email notifying them that all of their interaction on the University ISP, as well as their library records and their bookstore records and their student files can be monitored or obtained by Federal Agents. The Administration is further urged to include a copy of this Resolution with that notice.
8. URGE the University Administration to seek periodically from federal authorities information in a form that facilitates an assessment of the effect of federal anti-terrorism efforts on the students, faculty and employees of the University and to transmit summary of this information to the Faculty Senate every year.
9. DIRECT the Secretaries of the Faculty Senate and the GMU chapter of the AAUP to transmit a copy of this resolution to Senators John Warner and George Allen and Representatives Tom Davis, Frank Wolf and James Moran accompanied by a letter urging them to monitor federal anti-terrorism tactics and to ensure that state anti-terrorism laws and policies be implemented in a manner that does not infringe on civil liberties;
10. DIRECT the Secretaries of the Faculty Senate and the GMU chapter of the AAUP to transmit a copy of this resolution to Governor Warner, and appropriate members of the State Legislature, accompanied by a letter urging them to ensure that state anti-terrorism laws and policies be implemented in a manner that does not infringe on civil liberties as described in this resolution.
11. DIRECT the Secretaries of the Faculty Senate and the GMU chapter of the AAUP to transmit a copy of this resolution to President Bush and the U.S. Attorney General.
12. DIRECT the Secretaries of the Faculty Senate and the GMU chapter of the AAUP to transmit a copy of this resolution to the Faculty Senates and AAUP chapters of the other Virginia public universities, accompanied by a letter urging them to adopt similar resolutions.
A motion was made and seconded to vote on the adoption of the Resolution. The motion passed with one vote opposed.
Resolution on Agreements between George Mason University and Foreign Academic Institutions Arising from the Agreement between GMU and the Arab American University of Technology, Syria
Whereas the Provost of George Mason University (GMU), Peter Stearns and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for The Arab American University of Technology (AAUT), Khalid Al Khalifa signed an “academic agreement;”
Whereas the AAUT is based in Syria;
Whereas the agreement states that GMU “will provide supervision on curriculum offered by AAUT in areas of Information Technology and Business Administration. At later stage, both institutions will discuss new fields, such as Hospitality Management and Tourism;”
Whereas this agreement states that “GMU and AUUT will arrange for a GMU team of specialists to visit AAUT to check on the standard of Labs and equipments and provide suitable recommendations for improvements;”
Whereas this agreement states that a “GMU team will also check the academic standard of AAUT faculty;”
Whereas this agreements states that “GMU and AAUT will put forward a plan and a program to exchange students;”
Whereas the faculty of the School of Information Technology and Engineering and the faculty of the School of Management were not consulted on this agreement, nor was the Faculty Senate;
Whereas Syria is included on the Department of State's List of State Sponsors of Terrorism, and has been on the since the list's inception in 1979, because of its continuing support and safe haven for terrorist organizations.
Whereas the agreement violates the spirit and intent of the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003 which restricts the flow of resources from the US to Syria;
Whereas the agreement violates the Presidential Executive Order signed on May 11, 2004 implementing sanctions in accordance with the Syria Accountability Act. These sanctions prohibit the export to Syria of products of the United States other than food or medicine;
Whereas the US Department of State Consular Information Sheet for Syria provides numerous warnings to American citizens including:
Whereas the US Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2004, cites numerous violations of human rights in Syria sanctioned by the government. For example the penal code allows for the suspension of legal punishment for a rapist if he chooses to marry his victim, and provides leniency for so-called “honor” crimes, such as assault or killing of women by male relatives for alleged sexual misconduct. Punishment for adultery for women is twice that for men;
Whereas the US Department of State International Religious Freedom Report 2004, cites numerous violations of religious freedom sanctioned by the Syrian government;
Whereas GMU faculty would be subject to Syrian laws and policies that seriously impair their academic freedom as well as subject them to discrimination and deny their civil rights;
Whereas, although the agreement between AAUT and GMU has been nullified by the Provost, certain issues must be addressed, so
Be It Resolved That:
Esther Elstun proposed the following friendly amendments to the text of the resolution:
(1) The word “will” be substituted for “would” in the next to penultimate paragraph in the phrase “would require consultation with and the agreement of the faculty of the Academic Units to which the agreement would pertain”
(2) The word “will” be substituted for “would” in the penultimate paragraph in the phrase “would require an explicit guarantee of academic freedom for all GMU faculty consistent with the Section 2.12.1 “Academic Freedom and Civil Responsibilities,”
(3) The word “will” be substituted for “would” in the final paragraph in the phrase “would require an explicit guarantee of non-discrimination consistent with the university’s “Non-Discrimination Policy.”
A motion was made and seconded to vote on the amended resolution using paper ballots. The motion passed with 21 votes in favor, 11 votes opposed and 1 abstention.
Report on Operations of the Office of Sponsored Programs
Faculty Matters Committee
The Faculty Matters Committee was charged to review the operations of the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) and report its findings back to the Faculty Senate. In its review, individual committee members met informally with faculty from four different units and with Sandra Sanford, Assistant Director for Research Compliance. The Committee also met in formal session with Christopher Hill, Vice Provost for Research; and Ann McGuigan, Director of OSP. The Committee also reviewed the OSP Web site. This report focuses on OSP’s policies and practices regarding external funding and protection of human and animal subjects through the Human Subjects Review Board (HSRB) and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).
History and Mission. OSP’s mission is to support external funding at GMU by providing institutional oversight for externally sponsored projects and ensuring institutional compliance with laws and practices regarding use of human and animal subjects. Prior to Christopher Hill’s and Ann McGuigan’s appointments, the same individual supervised both proposal preparation and submission as well as compliance with research using human subjects and use of animals. At the time, a finding by the Office of Human Research Protections of the National Institutes for Health (NIH) that another university had created a possible conflict of interest using this organizational structure. Thus, a separate full-time position of Assistant Director of Research Compliance was established at GMU.
OSP has recently experienced a great deal of turnover. When the Faculty Matters Committee met with Hill and McGuigan less than two months ago, two Contracts Manager positions (one new and one existing) and the Sponsored Programs Administrative Manager (Team Leader) position were vacant. These positions have now been filled, but the Associate Director for Financial Management has accepted another position in the University, opening one vacancy, and the Research Compliance Coordinator has submitted her resignation, opening another. External funding has increased by almost 50% over the last four years and is expected to continue to increase this year. McGuigan reported that retention of personnel is difficult because of relatively low salaries and a competitive market. People, especially those in entry-level positions, after training in OSP, have left for positions both within local academic units of the University and external to GMU.
Most of the funding for OSP comes from Ledger 9 funds, not from state support or tuition revenue.
Hill reported that, perhaps because GMU grew so rapidly into a comprehensive, research-oriented institution, some steps in the research infrastructure have not been attended to and that present OSP responsibilities include ensuring that the infrastructure “catch up” with the research effort. This will be an especially important task as research will be increasingly emphasized, according to the 2010 Plan.
Grants Management. OSP is responsible for ensuring proper accounting practices and monitoring over- and under-spending. It serves as an intermediary between the University and funding agencies. The office assists principal investigators (PIs) during the budget proposal stage, submits proposals, negotiates contracts, reviews awards and monitors them for over- and under-spending, bills funding agencies, and handles final closeout of all projects. It also maintains subscriptions available to faculty for on-line access to information on funding opportunities. It does not forward such information directly to individual faculty, however.
According to McGuigan, submission preparation priority is generally determined by external deadlines rather than order of submission by PIs. Although the switch to Banner temporarily disrupted schedules somewhat, OSP team leaders report they have since become expert in the use of the Banner platform.
OSP has a team structure to support specific units so that PIs always have the same team leader assigned to their unit. However, it is not part of OSP’s policies or procedures to ensure that PIs always talk with the same individuals in the office. The contact person depends on availability. However, an investigator can always request to talk with a specific individual.
Hill is working to implement a procedure whereby a PI is given regular updates on the status of a proposal.
Compliance. By federal regulation, the University president is responsible for compliance with laws, regulations, and standards governing research with human subjects and the use of animals. However, as is common practice, this responsibility has been delegated. At GMU, it has been delegated to the Vice Provost for Research (Hill). This person appoints members of the HSRB and IACUC. Federal regulations require that at least one member of each board come from outside the University. There are also regulations stating that any research using prisoners as subjects must include a prisoner representative or “advocate” on the HSRB, i.e., someone knowledgeable about jail/prison life (as opposed to someone who is knowledgeable about research in general). A similar requirement exists for research funded by the National Institute for Disabilities Research when subjects are individuals with disabilities. Other members of the Board are relatively senior faculty (i.e., no untenured, tenure-track faculty) with substantive knowledge of research with human subjects representing different areas of expertise. Sandra Sanford also serves on the HSRB, since she has the requisite experience and has the responsibility of reviewing proposals before they reach the board. There are no written guidelines about length of term on HSRB or IACUC, but recently Hill has informally established three-year terms. There are also no guidelines about number of members or distribution of membership across academic units.
The HSRB and IACUC ensure that research compliance meets both federal laws and current standards. Current federal regulations for research with human subjects require that all PIs receiving NIH funding complete training, and they state that institutions and their institutional review boards may establish training and oversight mechanisms for all investigators using human subjects in their research. Hill reported that a Virginia requirement exists that goes beyond the federal training regulations. The state regulations can be set aside if the University obtains federal assurance of its provisions. However, according to Hill, to obtain federal assurance would require something like universal training for investigators using human subjects. McGuigan also said that federal regulations are moving toward a universal training requirement. For these reasons on-line training is now required as part of project approval.
When the HSRB receives a proposal, the Research Compliance Coordinator first reviews it for completeness and clarity and forwards it to the Assistant Director for Research Compliance. The investigator is contacted for more information, if necessary. The Assistant Director for Research Compliance determines whether the proposal is exempt from review, requires expedited review (meaning that a single designated HSRB member must review it), or requires full board review. Feedback is generally given to the investigator within a week if the proposal is exempt. The time required for expedited review depends on availability of HSRB members designated to review such proposals. For full board review, the proposal must be received in completed form at least two weeks prior to the meeting at which it will be reviewed. Full-board reviews often take up to two months or more if additional information is needed or if a modification is made that requires an additional full-board review. The decision may be to approve the proposal, approve contingent on receiving more information, defer for more information, or, very rarely, disapprove.
Faculty Input. Faculty opinions of the quality of OSP’s operations varied greatly. A few faculty expressed a great deal of satisfaction, while others felt that OSP’s policies and practices are an impediment to research. Specific complaints included misinformation about budget status, long delays in acting on proposals, requests for information not specified by regulations, inconsistent information from OSP personnel, and excessive “wordsmithing” of HSRB proposals. A general opinion expressed by several faculty with external funding is that OSP does a good job in assisting with proposal preparation but that the later monitoring of projects is relatively poor. In general, faculty who were contacted expressed the opinion that OSP should strive for faster response and more accurate and up-to-date feedback.
Recommendations. The Faculty Matters Committee makes the following recommendations.
1. That OSP be fully staffed and allocated adequate resources. Staffing and resource needs should be reviewed annually by the Vice President for Research or other responsible individuals. This step is likely to be cost effective for the University since it will likely result in more external funding.
2. That OSP report the status of funding proposals and HSRB and IACUC proposals to investigators on a biweekly basis.
3. That a formal policy of term length (3 years) and term limit (2 consecutive terms) for membership on HSRB and IACUC be established.
4. That some, but not all, membership slots on the HSRB and IACUC be designated to faculty in specific units. For HSRB, this includes at least one member from the College of Education and Human Development, the School of Nursing and Health Science, and the Department of Psychology. For the IACUC, it should include at least one faculty member from the Department of Molecular and Microbiology and the Department of Psychology.
5. That OSP establish an evaluation system whereby faculty can both rate and comment on their satisfaction with OSP interactions. Evaluation results should be used in monitoring and, where necessary, modifying OSP policies and procedures.
6. That academic units that make heavy use of OSP schedule occasional meetings with OSP personnel to discuss policies and procedures and help ensure that researchers are familiar with current regulations and practices.
7. That OSP strive to assume more of an advocacy role for research than it presently does, making grant/contract and research approval more seamless. Advocacy includes ensuring that HSRB and IACUC fully inform researchers of legal and ethical reasons for feedback on proposals. It also means that only modifications required by current regulations and practices should be requested. Approval of research proposals should not be delayed unless specific violations of regulations and practices are encountered.
8. That a clearer delineation between grant/contract administration and compliance be established, ensuring that OSP supports rather than supervises HSRB and IACUC, the bodies that have legal responsibility for compliance.
9. That OSP strive to reduce the time between announcement of funding approval and allocation of funds. PIs should be fully informed of the status of their projects during this interval as described in Recommendation #2 above.
An amendment to the Faculty Senate Recommendations for the Office of Sponsored Programs was proposed as follows:
Add Recommendation #10
10. That OSP staff members no longer be appointed to the HRSB and IACUC. OSP compliance staff members play a crucial role as liaison between the HSRB/IACUC and investigators in the field. On the front end, OSP staff members provide information and assistance to investigators as they prepare proposals for the Board review. In response to HSRB/IACUC concerns and requests for revision, investigators frequently turn to OSP staff for advice, recommendations, and clarification of HSRB/IACUC communications. The recent appointment of the OSP Assistant Director for Compliance to the HSRB and IACUC has inadvertently blurred this staff member’s role vis a vis PI s. Offers of consultation and advice by the Assistant Director for Compliance are frequently viewed by investigators as HSRB/IACUC directives since this staff member also serves (as a) member of the review boards. To avoid a conflict of roles, and to maintain the opportunity for investigators to freely seek information and advice from a knowledgeable staff member without invoking the weight (perceived or actual) of the Boards, it is recommended that OSP staff members should not serve as voting members of the HSRB and IACUC, preserving their crucial role as liaison and knowledgeable advisor to PI s, in keeping with the practices of many other colleges and universities.
A secondary motion was made to allow OSP staff members to be ex officio members of the Boards. The motion to add recommendation #10 and the secondary motion both passed by voice vote.
A motion was made to amend recommendation #4 as follows:
The phrase “Department of Environmental Science and Policy”be added to the last sentence to read “For the IACUC, it should include at least one faculty member from the Department of Molecular and Microbiology, the Department of Psychology, and the Department of Environmental Science and Policy.”
The amendment was construed as a friendly amendment. The Report on Operations of the Office of Sponsored Programs was passed by voice vote.
Jim Sanford noted that the Faculty Matters Committee will discuss with Chris Hill and Ann McGuigan the suggestion to include some open seats for board members on research topics. The suggestion was also made that the Krasnow Institute should also be included.
Faculty Evaluation of Administrators: A follow-up mailing was sent out last week. Just under three hundred responses have been received. Senators were urged to go back and encourage faculty to mail their returns by the deadline of April 15th . Those who do not wish to sign the return envelope may bring the survey to the Faculty Senate Office or to any member of the Faculty Matters Committee (Richard Carver, Larry Rockwood, Patricia Moyer-Packenham, Jim Sanford). One senator noted that a 30% return rate is not a bad outcome; in terms of survey research, the response rate is typical. It was further suggested that the issue of the rate of faculty failing to respond to the survey be addressed as an agenda item next year.
E. Nominations – Lorraine Brown – no report
F. Organization and Operations – Mike Ferri – no report
The Teaching Effectiveness Committee moves that medians for teacher-course evaluations be calculated in the manner appropriate for psychological ratings.
Rationale: Quite some time ago the Senate asked that medians be calculated for student ratings in addition to the means (averages) already calculated. The purpose was to limit the effect of one or two extremely low ratings on the over-all rating of the instructor in a course with few students. The median, being the middle score in any group, is not unduly affected by extremely low or extremely high scores.
Unfortunately, the medians have been calculated in a manner appropriate for referents which are necessarily whole numbers, e.g., things like the number of children one has, or the number of times one has been married; one cannot have a fraction of a child. Consequently, the medians for all courses are almost always 4, or possibly 5, and hence are of little value. They do not serve the purpose the faculty intended.
Ratings are psychological measurements, and while rendered as whole numbers, they stand for psychological estimates that have fractional values. A rating of 4 means that an instructor was judged closer to 4 than to 3 or 5. However, for some students, the 4 means the instructor was just above 3.5, and for others that the instructor was just below 4.5. Other students will likewise have assigned the instructor a 4 when rating him or her somewhere between 3.5 and 4.5. The median (middle) psychological rating will be somewhere between 3.5 and 4.5, but rarely exactly 4. It is an interpolated value, that reflects the number of ratings that are 4 and the number of ratings above and below 4, regardless of how far they are above or below 4.
The appropriate equation for calculating the median for ratings was developed by statisticians in the 1930’s and is given below:
Median = Exact lower limit of the interval containing the median + (half the number of raters altogether - 1) / (number of ratings in the interval containing the median)
As an example, suppose instructor Doe has been rated 5,5,5,5,4,4,4,4,1 by the 9 students in a seminar. The mean (average) is 4.11, and the median as now calculated is 4. However, properly calculated as a median of ratings (psychological judgments), the median is 3.5 + [(9/2) -1] / 4 = 4.375. This is, statistically speaking, a better measure of Doe’s performance, since more of the ratings are above 4 than below it.
Differences between the mean (average) and the median will almost always be slight, except in cases like that above, where the number of raters is small and one or two ratings are quite deviant.
Thus, the committee recommends that the medians for ratings of instructors be calculated according to the equation appropriate for ratings because (1) it is technically more valid and (2) it better serves the purpose the Senate originally intended.
The following amendment was proposed to the text of the resolution by Cliff Sutton and Stanley Zoltek to clarify that it is not the normal median:
“Median = Exact lower limit of the interval containing the median + (half the number of raters altogether – number of ratings below the interval containing the median)/(number of ratings in the interval containing the median) to be substituted for “Median = Exact lower limit of the interval containing the median + (half the number of raters altogether-1)/(number of ratings in the interval containing the median)
The motion passed by voice vote.
B. Christine Smith participated in Plagiarism Week with DoIt as well as other demonstrations and discussion groups. The group decided to recommend pursuit of a site license (at least on a trial basis) for a WebCT plug-in of turnitin.com, the paper checking site. Senators are requested to forward their comments and concerns to Star Muir, Director of DoIt Learning Support Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fenwick Fellows Program is now accepting applications; the deadline is May 3rd.
Susan Trencher encouraged faculty to stop by the faculty lounge. Student artwork will be displayed there on a rotating basis. Members were encouraged to join the Faculty Arts Board. Congratulations to the dance company on a great performance last weekend.