NOVEMBER 10, 2004


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 3:02 p.m.




Provost Stearns announced a meeting will be held in Dewberry Hall next Monday, November 15, 2004 at 3:00 p.m. to discuss the development of a bio-hazard research facility near the Prince William Campus.  Forums are also being planned for the Prince William and Arlington campuses.





Chair Jim Bennett stated that the purpose of today’s special meeting was to consider the proposal to restructure the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Computational Sciences.  He used an overhead projector to present the relevant section of the Faculty Handbook that explains the role of the Senate in the process of academic reorganization:







  1. A proposal will be prepared that (a) identifies the proposed unit as a school or college with departments, a school or college without departments, or an institute, with accompanying rationale for the proposed designation; (b) explains the mission of the proposed unit; (c) describes the academic programs and other activities of the proposed unit; (d) describes the administrative structure of the proposed unit; (e) discusses the unit’s anticipated funding; and (f) explains how the proposed unit meets Faculty Handbook definitions and requirements for colleges, schools and institutes (see HB1.3.3, HB1.3.4.1, HB1.3.4.2, HB1.3.4.3).


  1. The proposal will be distributed to affected faculties, the Provost, the Faculty Senate Chair, the Chair of the Faculty Senate’s Organization and Operations Committee, the Deans of Colleges and Schools and Directors of Institutes for review.  The review process will include discussions by affected groups (e.g., colleges, schools, departments, divisions) and by one or more standing committees of the Faculty Senate, if appropriate.  The timetable for review will be established by the Provost and the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate.


  1. Following the review period, the Provost and the Chair of the Faculty Senate will jointly chair an open meeting/hearing, at which any members of the university community who wish to do so may speak for or against the proposal. 


  1. After the open hearing, the Chair of the Faculty Senate will convey to the Provost the Senate’s recommendation considering the proposal.  (The recommendation will reflect either the result of a formal vote by the full Senate, or, in the case of uncontroversial proposals, the consensus of the Senate’s Executive Committee, after the Senate has been given notice of what the Executive Committee intends to recommend.)


*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:


 1) the four committees assigned to consider the restructuring of the College of Arts and Sciences:

1.      College of Humanities and Social Sciences Executive Committee

2.      College of Humanities and Social Sciences Steering Committee

3.      College of Science Executive Committee

4.      College of Science Steering Committee



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


All the interdisciplinary programs, including Honors & New Century College


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 College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Computational Sciences. Two committees were established to study this issue:  a “Shared Values Committee” headed by Roger Wilkins and Rosemary Jann and an “Organization Committee” headed by Bob Smith.  Only the Shared Values Committee is operative at the present time.  The Shared Values Committee was also charged to determine whether a preponderance of feeling in one direction or the other currently exists.  The Shared Values Committee will report its findings by February, 2005.  Should a positive recommendation be made to pursue this course, then the Organization Committee will begin its study of the issue and make a recommendation by May 1, 2005 concerning whether such a course is feasible or even possible.  To date, two electronic Town Hall Meetings have been held (with light response) to solicit input from the faculty, and Committee members have been asked to discuss the proposed restructuring within their respective departments.  A letter describing the restructuring is now being drafted that  will be sent out to everyone at the University with a stake in this issue, asking for further input. The Executive Committee’s report will form the basis for the Steering Committee’s consideration.  It was also pointed out that the Executive Committee is carefully examining the experiences of other institutions that proposed or underwent a similar restructuring.


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 Virginia.   The local high-tech business community here seems to want to create a Stanford/Silicon Valley type model.  However, GMU cannot currently play the role of a “Stanford,” nor is it clear that the Northern Virginia tech community would pledge adequate money to support such a research center.  However, the present  organization of the University’s departments of science is viewed as byzantine by potential outside funders, and it hinders the development of joint efforts.




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 Northern Virginia and wants to compete with GMU for joint research projects with local businesses. 


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 Business School imposed great hardship on both faculty and students, and it was suggested that there be full involvement of the Senate in any reorganization that may occur. Joint appointments and degree programs were indicated as areas of special concern 


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 School of Business or Public Policy.  It was responded that such an open-ended process would be too open-ended and unwieldy to be productive. 


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.


IV. Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 4:02 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

David Kuebrich