GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE
MARCH 23, 2005
Senators present: Kevin Avruch, Jim Bennett, Alok Berry, Lorraine Brown, Phillip Buchanan, Richard Carver, Rick Coffinberger, Charlene Douglas, Bob Ehrlich, Esther Elstun, Michael Ferri, Kristin Johnsen-Neshati, Dan Joyce, Carol Kaffenberger, Jim Kozlowski, Jim Metcalf, Linda Monson, Patricia Moyer-Packenham, Robert Nadeau, Peter Pober, Jane Razeghi, Priscilla Regan, Larry Rockwood, James Sanford, Suzanne Slayden, Christine Smith, Cliff Sutton, June Tangney, Tojo Thatchenkery, Susan Trencher, Iosif Vaisman, Phil Wiest, Stanley Zoltek.
Senators absent: Rei Berroa, Michelle Boardman, Deborah Boehm-Davis, Russ Brayley, Sara Cobb, Warren Decker, Martin De Nys, Jeff Gorrell, Lloyd Griffiths, Kingsley Haynes, Mark Houck, Bruce Johnsen, Menas Kafatos, Rich Klimoski, David Kuebrich, Julie Mahler, Jane McDonald, Alan Merten, Jean Moore, Ami Motro, Daniel Polsby, William Reeder, Esperanza Roman-Mendoza, Joseph Scimecca, Peter Stearns, Daniele Struppa, Shirley Travis, John Zenelis.
Guests present: Dan Faxon (CCS/AES), Susan Jones (Registrar), Bill Sutton (ECE), Mike Terry (Library).
I. Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 3:03 p.m.
II. Approval of Minutes: The minutes of February 16, 2005 and March 9, 2005 were approved as distributed.
Lorraine Brown will take the minutes on behalf of Secretary David Kuebrich who is unable to attend today.
A motion to establish a Senate Task Force to prepare for the next Phi Beta Kappa application cycle was unanimously passed at our meeting on February 16, 2005. Cathy Rudder and Marion Deshmukh have recommended that the Task Force wait until Fall 2006 to begin its work as the application process works on a three-year cycle. The Board of Visitors has also expressed interest in facilitating a future application for a Phi Beta Kappa chapter and will discuss this with President Merten.
The Executive Committee moves that Section 2.4 of the 1994 Faculty Handbook be amended as follows:
In response to a question raised regarding procedures for amending the Faculty Handbook, Esther Elstun explained that amendments may be proposed by the three signatories to the Handbook: the Board of Visitors, the Faculty Senate and the central administration. All amendments require the formal approval of the Board. The motion was passed unanimously. The chair directed the Secretary of the Senate to send copies of the motion to each member of the Board of Visitors, President Merten, and Provost Stearns.
B. Academic Policies – Cliff Sutton
Cliff explained that the AP Committee had three related motions, all of which followed from some changes adopted by the Senate in recent years. Several years ago the Senate passed some motions to clarify the distinctions between minors, concentrations, and undergraduate certificates, and specifically, created a policy that stipulates that each minor be satisfied with at least eight credits which are not used to satisfy the requirements for a major or another minor. (Such credits are often referred to as “unique” credits.) Given that policy, it was posible that a student would be prevented in majoring in A and minoring in B, but it would still be okay, with the same set of coursework, to earn a double major in A and B, because currently there are no restrictions on how much overlap can occur in satisfying the requirements for two majors in a double major. This is the type of inconsistency which today’s motions from the AP Committee address. In addition to dealing with minors and double majors, the motions create a unique credit requirement for an undergraduate certificate.
First motion: Beginning with the Fall 2006 semester, the requirement for a double major is changed from “A student who desires to graduate with a BA degree or BS degree in two or more subjects must meet departmental requirements for the major in each field” (which appears on p. 39 of the 2004-2005 Catalog) to “A student who desires to graduate with a BA degree in two or more subjects or a BS degree in two or more subjects must meet departmental requirements for the major in each field. For each major, at least 18 credits used to fulfill its requirements cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of another major, a minor, or an undergraduate certificate.”
Cliff noted that 18 credit hours reflected a good balance: the University of Virginia has the same rule; the College of William and Mary allows only 6 overlapping credits. A senator questioned what was objectionable about an individual student’s transcript having many notations? Cliff responded that there are so many programs with the potential to pile up notations that the minor should constitute an extra area of study. It may also serve a protective benefit by avoiding duplicate programs. Other senators spoke in favor of the motion, stating that it was fine to have double or even triple minors but that they should have meaning. As transcripts are viewed by prospective employers and other universities, such overlapping may not reflect well upon the requirements of individual programs. The motion was passed by voice vote.
Second motion: Beginning with the Fall 2006 semester, the stipulation concerning unique credits for a minor is changed from “Minors normally require between 15 and 21 credits of study, at least 8 of which must be applied only to that minor and may not be used to fulfill requirements of the student’s major, concentration, or another minor” (which appears on p. 39 of the 2004-2005 Catalog) to “Minors normally require between 15 and 21 credits of study, at least 8 of which must be applied only to that minor and may not be used to fulfill requirements of the student’s major, concentration, an undergraduate certificate, or another minor.”
Concern was expressed that setting aside 15 credit hours would put some certification programs (for example, the certification for coaching) in the Department of Health, Fitness and Recreation Resources at a distinct disadvantage with other institutions. Sports associations determine the requirements. The motion was passed with a division of the house.
Third motion: Beginning with the Fall 2006 semester, it is required that for each undergraduate certificate, at least fifteen credits used to fulfill its requirements cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of a major, a minor, or another undergraduate certificate.
Again it was asked whether GMU requirements should be higher than those imposed by professional associations. Susan Jones, Registrar noted that we do not have a lot of undergraduate certificate programs although the procedure is similar to a minor. There are separate rules for graduate certificates. The motion was passed with a division of the house.
C. Budget and Resources – Rick Coffinberger: No report this month.
D. Faculty Matters – Jim Sanford
1. Faculty Evaluation of Administrators surveys: So far 134 surveys have been returned which constitutes a 14% response rate. Of those returned, 14% have no signatures on the envelope. Jim encouraged senators to remind faculty to complete the survey, sign and return the envelopes. A second announcement will go out with a deadline date for return of the surveys. If anyone has lost her/his copy, contact the Senate Office for another. In a general discussion, it was noted that the Provost is reluctant to use the surveys as input for evaluations unless there is a high percentage of faculty participation. He views a lack of participation as indicative of a general level of satisfaction. Another faculty member noted that research in organizational commitment suggests higher rates of participation reflect higher levels of satisfaction.
2. The report on the Office of Sponsored Programs is in draft form.
3. It does not appear that free access to the field house for spouses will happen because the field house is funded by student fees and Patriot Club funds. Some other institutions have limited access.
E. Nominations – Lorraine Brown
A motion was made and seconded to vote on the following slate of nominations to the Senate Task Force to Redefine the University Resolution to Protect Civil Liberties: David Armor, Rick Coffinberger, Charlene Douglas, Joe Scimecca, Tojo Thatchenkery. No further nominations were made from the floor. The motion was passed unanimously.
F. Organization and Operations – Michael Ferri
The Organization and Operations Committee presented the allocations for the Faculty Senate for the 2005-2006 academic year. Mike thanked Linda Schwartzstein and Yan Ko from IRR who compiled the information with the help of Phil Buchanan. Letters will be sent to deans and directors informing them of their schools’ allocations and the terms of individual senators from their respective schools. In response to a question raised, Mike will inquire how the proposed reorganization of CAS and SCS may impact the allocation.
VI. New Business – Faculty Senate Committee on Privacy: Resolution on Privacy in the Use of Computing – Robert Nadeau
In presenting the following motion, similar language will also be incorporated into the Use of Computing Standards. The purpose of the motion is to let users of the GMU computer system know that all information in the system can be accessed by authorities. The suggestion was made to place a warning statement on the computer screen used by the GMU community so that it would appear whenever individuals logged into their email accounts. The Registrar also noted that while we require students to use their email accounts, e.g., sending them important information about graduation; their office does not send personally identifiable information such as grades without its being encrypted. The Technology Policy Committee is also very supportive of the idea of placing a statement on the log-in screen but inquired who would be responsible for updating information as things change.
Faculty Senate Motion on the Use of Computing:
Whereas the “No Privacy Expectations” provisions in the “Use of Internet and Electronics Communications” issued by the Department of Human Resources of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which essentially state that information resident on state-owned computers, storage devices, and electronic communications systems at George Mason University can be accessed at any time for any purpose by agencies of the state government, remain in force;
Whereas the only federal law that deals with the legal right to privacy in the use of such computers, storage devices, and electronic communications systems, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, allows employers to monitor and access email and other communications for business purposes providing that the employee has been notified that such monitoring is in process;
Whereas the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-156) allows expanded access by law enforcement officials to medical, financial, and academic records of faculty and students without meaningful oversight or judicial review, probable cause, and notification of the person whose records are being searched;
Whereas proposed amendments to this Act would remove virtually all of the existing protections of privacy;
Be It Resolved: The Faculty Senate approves the following statement on privacy in the use of state-owned computers, storage devices, and electronic communications systems at GMU:
Be It Further Resolved: This statement, if approved by the Senate, will be distributed by email and in hard copy if necessary to all faculty and students at GMU as soon as possible:
The Faculty Senate at GMU has concluded that it is prudent to inform all faculty and students that existing state and federal laws do not provide adequate protections for rights to privacy in the use of state-owned computers, storage devices, and electronic communications systems. Those who are concerned that these rights might be violated should seriously consider storing sensitive information on privately owned personal computers and external storage devices and using telecommunications systems which are not owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia for all personal or private communications, including email messages.
The motion passed.
VII. Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty
Jim Bennett thanked the Registrar for her assistance in providing statistics on Force Ad slips for Fall 2003 and Fall 2004 as well as for students enrolled by school and department in Independent Study Sections/Internships/Theses and Dissertations from Fall 2001 through Summer 2004. The report “GMU Faculty as Teachers” was distributed yesterday by email.
At a recent meeting of the Board of Visitors, a concern was raised that at least in one situation, faculty are being hired, then given academic rank and tenure without any review of their academic credentials by peer faculty.
A general discussion about the status of the proposed reorganization of the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Computational Sciences took place. Not all science departments are enthusiastic about this proposal. The College of Arts and Sciences Council passed a resolution expressing regret that the Provost had not asked for input and commended the two committees for the work they had done thus far. It was further noted that the reports of the two committees are very conceptual and general and do not deal with operational questions such as location, administrative structure, funding, and good governance provisions; indeed, a whole list of very specific items will need to be addressed. Then the proposal would be distributed to all affected departments and specific administrators as well as the Faculty Senate for review. There was some disagreement about the level of consultation in various departments. Some faculty groups remain neutral pending further details; others feel the process has been very democratic; noting that Jack Censer sponsored a number of town halls which were not well attended. Some departments opposed to the proposal fear retaliation or punishment and therefore have not expressed their positions publicly. After their recent meeting, some members of the Board of Visitors expressed surprise upon learning that there was opposition to the proposal. At least one member inquired why have not other options been considered? The Provost wants to have the input of the Faculty Senate prior to the next Board of Visitors meeting in May. Given the heavy work load of faculty as the end of the semester approaches, this does not seem realistic. The Board of Visitors indicated that if the time line proves unrealistic, it would postpone its decision until a later, unspecified time. Senators outside CAS and SCS would also wish to know the views of the faculty directly affected before voting on the proposal.
VIII. Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 4:10 p.m.