GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY

MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE

NOVEMBER 17, 2004

 

Senators present:  Kevin Avruch, Jim Bennett, Rei Berroa, Deborah  Boehm-Davis, Russ Brayley, Lorraine Brown, Phillip Buchanan, Richard Carver, Rick Coffinberger, Warren Decker, Charlene Douglas, Bob Ehrlich, Esther Elstun, Mark Houck, Dan Joyce, Carol Kaffenberger, David Kuebrich, Julie Mahler, Jim Metcalf, Linda Monson, Jean Moore, Ami Motro, Patricia Moyer-Packenham, Robert Nadeau, Peter Pober, Jane Razeghi, William Reeder, Priscilla Regan, Larry Rockwood, Esperanza. Roman-Mendoza, James Sanford, Joseph Scimecca, Suzanne Slayden, Christine Smith, Peter Stearns, Clifton Sutton, Phil Wiest, Stanley Zoltek

 

Senators absent:  Alok Berry, Peter Black, Michelle Boardman, Brack Brown, Sara Cobb, Martin De Nys, Michael Ferri, Jeff Gorrell, Lloyd Griffiths, Kingsley Haynes, Bruce Johnsen, Kristin Johnsen-Neshati, Menas Kafatos, Rich Klimoski, Jim Kozlowski, Jane McDonald, Alan Merten, Daniel Polsby, Daniele Struppa, June Tangney, Tojo Thatchenkery, Shirley Travis, Susan Trencher, Iosif Vaisman, John Zenelis.

 

Liaison present:  Lauren Geiger, Student Senate

 

Guests present:  Don Boudreaux, Dolores Gomez-Moran, Robin Herron, Michael Terry

 

I. Call to Order

Chair Jim Bennett called the meeting to order at 3:02 p.m.

 

II. Approval of Minutes

The minutes of October 27, 2004 were approved as distributed.

 

III. Announcements

The Chair  requested that you keep in your thoughts and prayers our former colleagues Hal Gortner (Emeritus) and Sylvia Gortner (catalog specialist, Fenwick Library) whose daughter has an aggressive form of cancer.   

 

All faculty members are encouraged to join the Faculty Arts Board. 

 

IV.  Reports from the Senate Standing Committee Chairs

 

A. Academic Policies – Esther Elstun

1. As noted at our last meeting, Jean Moore is working on the review of the thirteen-hour rule.

2. The Law School’s proposal for a “three plus three” plan (allowing GMU students to complete their undergraduate degree and law school in six years) has been assigned to Academic Policies for review.

3. Cliff Sutton and Susan Jones are working on a proposal regarding the number of credit hours to be defined towards undergraduate double majors. 

B. Budget and Resources – Rick Coffinberger

There were no actions to report at the Committee’s meeting of November 3.  Two reports are slated for discussion at the December meeting:  travel expenditures over the past four years and equity-based pay.

 

C. Faculty Matters – Jim Sanford

On behalf of Jim Sanford, Patricia Moyer-Packenham reported: 

1. Faculty evaluations of administrators:  we met with the Provost who assured us that the results are taken seriously.  In response to last year’s report, the Provost met with three deans/directors who had received low ratings.  At least two of these have subsequently discussed the results with their faculty.  The Provost has not used the evaluation results in determining salary increases to date, but he is open to doing so in the future. However, to guard against the possibility that disgruntled faculty may respond at a disproportionately high rate, it is necessary for a unit to have a very high percentage of its faculty return the assessment form before the results can be fairly used in considering administrative pay raises.

In the spring, the process of handling the returned assessments will be made explicit to faculty to assure them that confidentiality is fully protected.  To help increase the response rate, the Committee may ask the Provost to distribute a memo urging faculty participation.  Deans and directors have been given a January 31, 2005 deadline to submit an update of their activities for faculty to access in completing the evaluation.  The Committee is satisfied with the format of last year’s form, except for the inconsistency in numbers on the rating scale--some range from 1-4, others from 1-5.  This discrepancy will be addressed before the survey is distributed in the spring.

 

2. The Committee has been asked to look into the operations of the Office of Sponsored Programs as they relate to grant activity and human/animal subject use.  Committee members will each discuss these activities with two or three colleagues and report back at their next meeting.  A report to the Senate is forthcoming.

 

3. The Committee’s next meeting is scheduled for December 6 at 12:30 in the Faculty Lounge.

 

D. Nominations – Lorraine Brown

A motion was made and seconded to nominate Esperanza Roman-Mendoza to the Search Committee seeking a replacement for Helen Ackerman.  No nominations from the floor were made.  The nomination was closed and the motion was passed unanimously by voice vote.

 

E. Organization and Operations – Mike Ferri – no report this month.

 

V.   New Business

 

A.  Resolution of Appreciation – Executive Committee – Jim Bennett

As noted in the Mason Gazette (11/15/04), Barbara and Mark Fried have donated one million dollars to create a scholarship endowment at the University for graduates of high schools in the counties of Arlington and Fairfax and the cities of Fairfax, Alexandria and Falls Church.  Barbara Fried is a former chair of the George Mason University Foundation and a key figure in the successful launch of the University’s Comprehensive Campaign.  Mark Fried has served on the GMU Board of Visitors.

 

Noting that it is critical for the Faculty to recognize donors of substantial sums, Chairman Jim Bennett introduced the following resolution, which was seconded and passed unanimously by a voice vote:

 

 

Resolution of Appreciation to Barbara and Mark Fried

 

WHEREAS public higher education in the State of Virginia has been and still is in a state of fiscal crisis; and

 

WHEREAS Virginia’s public universities have found it necessary to raise tuition substantially in recent years to maintain the viability of the academic enterprise; and

 

WHEREAS tuition increases have increased the financial burden of higher education on students and their families; and

 

WHEREAS many deserving students find it difficult to pay the costs of higher education so that scholarships and financial aid play a crucial role in providing the opportunity for them to attend George Mason University;

 

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Faculty Senate of George Mason University that sincere thanks and grateful appreciation be extended to Barbara and Mark Fried for their most generous and gracious gift of one million dollars to create a scholarship endowment that will benefit Mason students in perpetuity and enhance the academic experience of all Mason students.

 

The Secretary will write a cover letter and forward the resolution to the Frieds as well as President Merten and Rector Dewberry. 

 

B. Update on the GMU Foundation – Don Boudreaux

Don Boudreaux and Bill Reeder are the Senate representatives on the Board of the GMU Foundation.  As a member of the Investment Committee, Professor Boudreaux has identified three issues to which he will give special attention:

1. To encourage the Foundation board and staff to assist the faculty in any way they can with fundraising.

2. To improve the performance of the Foundation’s investment portfolio.

3. To ensure the Foundation provides adequate service in exchange for the fees being charged to accounts for services rendered.

 

C. Progress Report from the Privacy Task Force – Robert Nadeau

The Task Force has had four meetings so far and expects to bring several items to the Senate early next term.  Topics under examination include the responsible use of computer policy, relevant federal and state laws, and discussions of privacy matters by the American Association of University Professors, the American Civil Liberties Union and similar organizations.

 

The Chair noted the “exalted status” for Faculty under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, that is, the faculty can ask state officials for their records, but they, in turn, cannot ask faculty to divulge their research.  It was also noted, however, that no such protections exist under federal law.

 

D. Report from the Virginia State Faculty Senate – Christine Smith

Warren Decker and Christine Smith attended the Virginia State Faculty Senate Meeting October 30, 2004.  Three items of note are:

Higher Education Advocacy Day will be January 13, 2005 from 9:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m. in Richmond.  A lobbyist training workshop will be held that morning.  Organizations participating are the State Conference of AAUP, the VCU Faculty Senate, the Faculty Senate of Virginia and, if appropriate, the student organization “Virginia 21.”  Issues to be addressed include:

a. The raising of faculty salaries to the sixtieth percentile of their peer institutions;

b. The restoration of base adequacy funding to a minimum of 12.5 percent of general fund expenditures;

c. Reinforcing the commitment to ensure access to in-state students;

d. VRS funding–particularly with reference to health benefits for retirees. (An issue summary and sample memo to legislators are available.)

Christine plans to attend the workshop. Please contact her if you are interested in carpooling (csmithy@gmu.edu).

Issues tabled for further information and action were:

a. The charter proposal (University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and William and Mary).  It was noted that Alan Merten is a member of the charter proposal committee.

b. A proposed new university for south central Virginia.

 

There will be a Governor’s Town Hall Meeting on Higher Education on November 30, 2004 from 12:00–2:00 p.m. at the Northern Virginia Community College-Annandale in the Richard J. Ernst Cultural Center.  For more information, call 703-323-2405.

 

The Chair inquired whether the Faculty Senate of Virginia is continuing to lobby for legislation that would give faculty a non-voting seat on the Board of Visitors.  Christine responded that the BOV of each institution now has the prerogative to grant faculty representation.  It was proposed that this issue be taken up with Rector Sidney Dewberry when he appears before the Senate.

 

E. Annual Letter to the Faculty – David Kuebrich

The primary purpose of the Letter is to provide the general faculty with a summary of the Senate’s more important deliberations and actions during the previous year and to solicit suggestions for future undertakings.  In addition, this year’s Letter (along with last year’s) gives new senators a convenient history of the recent work of the Senate, and it reminds the entire Senate of earlier or ongoing issues that need further attention.

 

Several items from the Letter were noted:

1. Although the information from Institutional Research and Reporting regarding the numbers and percentages of faculty who are tenured, probationary, and term/adjunct has not been finalized, it appears that over the last two years the percentage of faculty who are tenured has remained at 46%, the percentage who are probationary has declined from 20 to 17%, and the percentage who are term/adjunct has increased.

2. The proposal presented by Associate Provost David Rossell for an enhanced study-leave program has not been funded.  Hopefully, this judgment will be reconsidered.

3. Information about faculty and administrative salaries for the last several years has been received from the Payroll Office and posted on the Senate website.  The Senate will continue to update these records and monitor them for seeming irregularities.

4. The Senate passed a resolution that redefined the criteria for emeritus rank and its accompanying privileges.  This item may need further action concerning implementation.

5. The Task Force on Academic Standards concluded that during the period under examination (1991-2000) there were no significant trends toward giving higher or lower grades.  The Senate passed a motion that calls for the appropriate university office to compile annual detailed summaries of grades given at the department, course and instructor level and to present these to the deans for dissemination to units in their colleges.

6. Last year the Senate External Relations Committee lobbied the state legislature and spoke at two local public meetings.  The Senate may wish to consider additional efforts to  represent the University to the legislature and the general public.    

 

VI. Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty

Esther Elstun noted this is International Education Week.  Poetry readings in the original languages will continue today.

 

Stanley Zoltek announced that ITU is currently examining the feasibility of providing the capability to directly upload grades from an Excel spreadsheet.

 

VII. The meeting adjourned at 3:52 p.m. 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

David Kuebrich

Secretary