MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE
Senators Present: Kevin Avruch, Jim Bennett, Alok Berry, Lorraine Brown, Philip Buchanan, Charlene Douglas, Bob Ehrlich, Esther Elstun, Michael Ferri, Dan Joyce, Carol Kaffenberger, Jim Kozlowski, David Kuebrich, Julie Mahler, Jim Metcalf, Linda Monson, Jean Moore, Ami Motro, Daniel Polsby, Jane Razeghi, Larry Rockwood, Esperanza Roman-Mendoza, James Sanford, Joseph Scimecca, Suzanne Slayden, Christine Smith, Peter Stearns, Clifton Sutton, Phil Wiest, Stanley Zoltek.
Senators Absent: Rei Berroa, Peter Black, Michelle Boardman, D. Boehm-Davis, Russ Brayley, Brack Brown, Richard Carver, Sara Cobb, Richard Coffinberger, Warren Decker, Martin De Nys, Jeff Gorrell, Lloyd Griffiths, Kingsley Haynes, Mark Houck, Bruce Johnsen, K. Johnsen-Neshati, Menas Kafatos, Richard Klimoski, Jane McDonald, Alan Merten, P. Moyer-Packenham, Robert Nadeau, Peter Pober, William Reeder, Priscilla Regan, Daniele Struppa, June Tangney, Tojo Thatchenkery, Shirley Travis, Iosif Vaisman, John Zenelis.
Guests Present: Sheryl Beach, Peter Becker, Jack Censer, Laurie Fathe, Klaus Fischer, Greg Foster, Donna Fox, Don Gantz, Dolores Gomez-Moran, Chris Hill, Dee Ann Holisky, Chris Jones, Susan Jones, Kirby Malone, Heather Meyers, Janette Muir, Star Muir, John Orens, Walter Rankin, Charles Rowley, Michael Summers, Michael Terry, Egon Verheyen, John Wallin, Tom Wood.
The meeting was called to order at
Provost Stearns announced a meeting will be held in Dewberry
Hall next Monday,
Chair Jim Bennett stated that the purpose of today’s special
meeting was to consider the proposal to restructure the
SUMMARY OF PROCEDURES
FOR CHANGES IN ACADEMIC ORGANIZATION
AT GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
IN ACCORDANCE WITH SEC 1.3.2 OF THE FACULTY HANDBOOK*
*Since the implementation of the 1994 edition of the Faculty Handbook, the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate and the Provost have been jointly responsible for official interpretations of the document whenever questions of interpretation have arisen. The foregoing summary represents their official interpretation of that part of HB Section 1.3.2 that pertains to changes in academic organization and the process for implementing them. It has been in effect since its adoption in 1995 by then-provost Frederick Rossini and the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate, then chaired by Professor Anita Taylor.
Overheads were also used to show:
four committees assigned to consider the restructuring of the
2) a list of academic departments, the Sciences, that would join with the School of Computational Sciences under the new proposal; and a list of those departments, the Humanities, Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Programs that would remain as a proposed School of Humanities and Social Sciences:
Physics and Astronomy
Environmental Science and Policy
Molecular and Microbiology
Sociology and Anthropology
Public and International Affairs
History and Art History
Modern and Classical Languages
Philosophy and Religious Studies
interdisciplinary programs, including
Presentations by Jack Censer and Jim Trefil
Jack Censer, Chair of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Executive Committee explained that the Committee was charged by the Provost to
study the feasibility of a restructuring of the
Jim Trefil, Chair of the Science Executive Committee, explained that the Committee has two subcommittees:
--a “Shared Values” committee that has discussed the cultural divide between the natural sciences and the social sciences/humanities as well as the division between teaching in the disciplines (i.e., coursework) and research within the scientific community.
--an “External Threats and Opportunities”
committee that is considering GMU’s place within the
context of the broader scientific community in northern
In the ensuing discussion, various concerns were raised and differing viewpoints presented:
1) Process: Is the process too complex? Why so many committees? Are the humanities/social sciences and science committees talking with each other?
2) External Threats:
What are the “external threats”?
Jim Trefil responded that there is a sense
outside GMU that the University may not be able to develop the technical
expertise wanted by local companies.
Consequently, they may want to start up a separate center. Chris Hill, Vice Provost for Research,
explained that so far the State Legislature has not given any money to fund or
even consider funding a new institution.
However, it has authorized a committee to study the issue. Chris is co-chair of that committee, and he
feels there is now an opportunity to propose that GMU develop greater
collaboration with the local tech community.
Chris also noted that Virginia Tech is aggressively expanding in
3) Byzantine Structure: The current division of science departments is a complex organizational structure that is difficult to understand, especially for members of the outside community. Accordingly, this structure contributes to the outside threat. In response, it was suggested that what is needed is not the proposed restructuring but the creation of a new unit or office that could effectively communicate with the outside community.
4) Need for Care: It
was pointed out that an earlier restructuring in the
5) Other Scenarios:
Instead of just considering the current proposal for restructuring, it
would be better to consider other, perhaps broader, options. There are many
equally rational possibilities: for
instance, a department such as Economics might realign itself with the
6) Cultural Divide: The proposed restructuring would further an already troubling divide between the sciences and humanities, having negative consequences for both teaching and research, especially cross-disciplinary work The larger society is already too specialized. Higher education should resist the further compartmentalization of learning. GMU should be concerned about the long-term educational and cultural consequences of the proposed restructuring. In response, it was asserted that the proposed institutional structure might be easier for students to understand and that bridges already exist (and new ones could be built) between the sciences and social sciences/humanities. (The current relationship between the Krasnow Institute and Physics was given as an example.)
7) Size: In favor of restructuring, it was stated that CAS is currently so large as to be unmanageable, that it is undesirable to have such great variation in the sizes of schools, and that it is generally unwise to put so many schools under the control and budgetary authority of one dean (for instance, a future dean, depending on his/her training or interests, might lack proper appreciation for the humanities or the sciences). In opposition to restructuring, it was argued that size is not necessarily a problem. Large institutions can function very successfully if they develop a decentralized structure and exploit the possibilities of new communication technologies; size sometimes leads to economies of scale; deans of small schools may accrue too much power.
8) Faculty Morale: Several science professors commented on this issue. Some expressed the view that most science faculty favored restructuring and would be demoralized if the proposal is voted down. Others said the faculty in their departments are divided over the issue.
III. Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty
Don Joyce announced the premiere dance performance by Keith Thompson to be held this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening, featuring the work of students and faculty.
The Chair encouraged faculty members to participate in the new Faculty Arts Board.
The meeting adjourned at