GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY

 MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE

OCTOBER 12, 2005

 

Senators present:  Ernest Barreto, Jim Bennett, Rei Berroa, Alok Berry, Russ Brayley, Phillip Buchanan, Richard Carver, Julie Christensen, Rick Coffinberger, Lloyd Cohen, Jose Cortina, Warren Decker, Charlene Douglas, Bob Ehrlich, Jeffrey Gorrell, Mark Houck, Bruce Johnsen, Matthew Karush, David Kuebrich, Julie Mahler, Jane McDonald, Alan Merten, Linda Monson, Jean Moore, Ami Motro, Patricia Moyer-Packenham, Robert Nadeau, Lisa Pawloski, Paula Petrik, Peter Pober, Jane Razeghi, Larry Rockwood, James Sanford, Suzanne Slayden, Peter Stearns, Cliff Sutton, June Tangney, Ellen Todd, Shirley Travis, Susan Trencher, Iosif Vaisman, Phil Wiest, John Zenelis, Stanley Zoltek.

 

Senators absent:  Sandra Cheldelin, Sara Cobb, Lloyd Griffiths, Karen Hallows, Kingsley Haynes, Susan Hirsch, Kristin Johnsen-Neshati, Dan Joyce, Menas Kafatos, Richard Klimoski, Jim Kozlowski, Daniel Polsby, William Reeder, Kenneth Reinert, Joseph Scimecca, Christine Smith, Daniele Struppa, Tojo Thatchenkery, James Willett, Mary Williams.

 

Guests present:  Sharon deMonsabert (Associate Professor, CEIE), Pat Donini (Deputy Director, Human Resources/Payroll), Laurie Fathe  (Associate Provost for Educational Improvement and Innovation/Director, Center of Teaching Excellence), Karen Gentemann (Director, Office of Institutional Assessment), Dolores Gomez-Moran (Ombudsman, Student Academic Affairs), Robin Herron (Editor, Daily Gazette), Dave Hoffman (Student Government Liaison), Susan Jones (University Registrar), Mark Kidd  (Associate Dean, University Life and Director, Student Activities), Marilyn McKenzie (Associate Provost for Education Programs), Bridget Miller (Head, Serials and Periodicals/Microforms, Libraries), Bill Sutton (Associate Chair, Associate Professor, ECE).

 

I.                   Call to Order:  The meeting was called to order at 3:01 p.m.

 

II.  Approval of Minutes:  The minutes of September 7, 2005 were amended as follows:

Section V.  Approval of Meeting Schedule for the 2005-2006 Academic Year:  To amend “A suggestion was made that at least one Faculty Senate meeting be held at one of the satellite campuses.” to read “A suggestion was made that at least one Faculty Senate meeting be held at one of the other main campuses of George Mason University.”  The minutes were approved as amended.

 

III.  Announcements

The Office of the Provost is sponsoring a forum on the State of Mason Academics on Monday, October 17, 2005 from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the Johnson Center Cinema.  Questions and comments are welcomed.  Forums will also be held at the Prince William campus, Thursday, October 27 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Bull Run Hall, room 256 and at the Arlington campus, Thursday, November 10 from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. in the Original Building, room 251.

 

The University mourns the death of Ellen Fagenson Eland, Associate Professor of Management on September 25, 2005 after a long illness. A memorial service will be held Friday, October 21, 2005 at 3:30 p.m. at the Center for the Arts.  Please contact Dan Mackeben of the School of Management for more information. 

 

A.  President Merten:  Address to the Senate:  Chair Dave Kuebrich welcomed President Merten and thanked him for his consideration of several questions received from Senators in advance.  There will also be an opportunity for the President to take questions from the floor.  President Merten thanked the Senators for their participation in the Faculty Senate.  He addressed the following four issues:

 

1.   Salaries and COLAs: Salary increases become effective November 21st.  President Merten stated that GMU has been aggressively raising with both the House and Senate delegations of the General Assembly the need to update COLAs and has made it a top priority.  The University of Mary Washington made a similar request casting this issue as a regional one.  The President is hopeful that the correction, if it occurs will take place over the next three years and while most of it would be distributed evenly across the board, the University would also address specific shortfalls so that adjustments up and down would be part of the process.

 

2.   Loudoun Campus:  President Merten reported on the temporary campus of rented facilities at the intersection of Routes 7 and 28, serving approximately 140 students in four classrooms and computer labs.  GMU currently has a two-year lease with an option to extend for a third year.  A gift of 123 acres of land in Loudoun County (near the intersection of Routes 50 and 659) has been made to GMU by a local developer for a permanent campus.  The university will request planning money from the state to design a campus and buildings which will also define the community which will surround it, including an anticipated new town center.  There is an interest in constructing “green buildings” on this campus.  Faculty with expertise in this area is invited to work with the administration and the state of Virginia.  The need for further road construction was raised and President Merten noted that he and Tom Hennessey have been involved in relevant discussions with the Loudoun Economic Development Commission as well as members of the Loudoun County delegation to the General Assembly.  The Prince William campus is being used as an initial model with the possibility of a focus on a small liberal arts college as a component of the new campus. The State of Virginia has given provisional approval based on GMU response thus far to questions raised.  Four sources of funding were identified: developers, university funds, the Virginia General Assembly, and the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. 

 

3.  Sources of Presidential Compensation:  In response to submitted questions regarding the compensation of the GMU president, President Merten explained that he has a contract with the Board of Visitors and the GMU Foundation’s Board of Trustees thus his salary comes from two sources: state funds and private foundation funds. The President is evaluated annually by the Board of Visitors which through its Executive Committee is directly involved in the terms of his contract. President Merten stated that his salary is consistent with other presidents of doctoral granting institutions in Virginia.

 

Details of the non-salary portion of the contract included: a car used only for University business, purchased by the GMU Foundation and maintained by the University.  In some instances, for example, long trips within a single day, or trips to multiple destinations, a GMU police officer is used as a driver. Memberships to the Tower Club and the Fairfax County Country Club are provided to host business guests only.  Expenses are reviewed every month to verify that they are GMU expenses, to be paid by either University or private (Foundation) funds.   Business meals off campus and expenses incurred at Mathy House are submitted and reimbursed from state or private funds, depending on the nature of the expenditure. The Mathy House is maintained by GMU Buildings and Grounds and food is provided by the University catering service, Sodexho.  Mrs. Merten receives no GMU financial compensation for any of her university related activities. Once a year all expenditures are reviewed by a University auditor and a report is made to the Audit Committee of the Board of Visitors.  President Merten’s arrangement is that if he becomes a faculty member at GMU at the end of his presidency, he would receive the mean salary of the endowed professors on the Engineering and Management School faculties, which comprise his areas of expertise.

 

4. Facilities:  There are four sources of funding for building construction on GMU campuses.  These include: state funds (only for academic buildings – no student buildings, parking, recreation facilities, etc.); private funds; student fees; and federal funds (derived from a calculation of the recovery rate for faculty sponsored research as an indirect cost of grants).  In the case of Research I (now under construction on the Fairfax campus) half of the funding comes from the state, the other half from the federal government.  The University is currently involved in planning Academic VI to house the School of Information Technology that would involve state and federal funding as well as efforts to raise $10,000,000 in private donations to reduce the need for state monies by that amount. The use of private funds for construction costs has long been employed by older state universities in Virginia. 

 

Chair of the Faculty Senate Dave Kuebrich thanked President Merten for his excellent presentation.

 

B.  Status of Senate Request for a Non-Voting Faculty Representative to the Board of Visitors – Rick Coffinberger:  The Board of Visitors held its first official meeting on campus last week (October 5, 2005).  During executive (closed) session, the Board considered but did not approve the request from the Faculty Senate for a non-voting faculty representative.  No reason was given for the refusal.  A motion was adopted to give the faculty non-voting membership on all six committees of the full Board.  President Merten has been asked by the BOV to devise a procedure to determine how the faculty representatives to the subcommittees will be elected. Chair Dave Kuebrich will meet with President Merten on this matter later this week.

 

IV. Old Business:  Teacher Evaluation Pilot Program: Pilot Course Evaluation Form and Sample Faculty Course Self Evaluation Form – Laurie Fathe

 

Professor Egon Verheyen was unable to attend today’s meeting.  Associate Provost Laurie Fathe recounted the history of the development of the form which included a year during which the Ad Hoc committee of the Faculty Senate researched such forms at other universities. A new form was developed and tested in spring 2004 involving 4,000 students in 300 classes.  Results were analyzed and further changes made including the removal of redundant questions and a portion of those focused on demographic data. The summer and fall were spent analyzing the results.  Some questions were removed as redundant. 75% of the questions were validated.

 

Feedback on the questionnaires should be sent to Laurie Fathe at lfathe@gmu.edu or mailed to the Center for Teaching Excellence, MSN 4D6 by November 4,2005.  Anonymous comments will be read. The Ad Hoc Committee will meet for a one additional time to formulate a final iteration to be submitted for a final vote at the November 30th Faculty Senate meeting.  The form will be used in Fall 2006.

 

Issues raised by Senators on the evaluations included whether A/B student responses differ from D/F students, and whether there tends to be any differences in ratings between required courses and elective courses.  There is no evidence for the latter.  There will be an opportunity for further discussion on the new evaluation form at the next Faculty Senate meeting (November 2nd) prior to the final vote on November 30th.  Faculty can contact the Ad Hoc committee or Laurie Fathe (see contact above) to comment. 

 

V.  Reports of the Senate Standing Committee Chairs:  Due to time constraints reports will be  emailed to Senators next week with expanded reports from those who choose to submit them.

 

A.     Academic Policies:  Cliff Sutton

No action items.  The AP Committee is looking into three items of business.

 

1. Karen Hallows is reviewing catalog copy for the Academic Policies section of the next GMU catalog.

 

 2. Bob Ehrlich has taken the lead in an investigation to determine if there is sufficiently strong interest in the creation of an Undergraduate Council organized along the lines of the extant Graduate Council. A link to a short description of this proposed body can be found near the bottom of the Academic Policies Committee web page http://mason.gmu.edu/~csutton/APCommUGC.doc (proposal for Undergraduate Council) or http://mason.gmu.edu/~csutton/APComm.html .  Feedback should be sent to Bob. 

 

3. Peter Pober and Cliff Sutton are working on issues related to potential changes in the academic calendar. They have already met with representatives from Student Government and will look at other state and local universities. For information go to: http://mason.gmu.edu/~csutton/APcalendar.html (comparison of academic calendars).  Feedback can be sent to Cliff or Peter.

               

B.     Budget and Resources – Rick Coffinberger

The committee met for the first time two weeks ago.  At our meeting in May, 2005 a motion was approved requesting that the Office of the Provost provide detailed information on equity raises vs. special needs raises.  Someone from the Provost’s staff will develop the information.

 

C.     Faculty Matters – Jim Sanford

1.  The 2004-2005 Faculty Evaluation of Administrators report was distributed recently.  All full-time instructional faculty, administrators being evaluated and members of the Board of Visitors received copies.  Informal feedback from faculty suggests a positive response to changes in this year’s form.

 

2. The primary active issue is the revision of GMU's copyright policy.  Members of the Faculty Matters Committee, an intellectual property expert from the School of Law, and several other faculty have reviewed the draft document and have identified several areas of concern.

 

3.      The issue of reduced-rate field house access for spouses and partners is still under investigation.

4.   The committee chair is serving on a committee to look into the feasibility and possible implementation of phased retirement for GMU faculty.

 

D.    Nominations – Jim Bennett

1.  Committee on the Faculty Handbook: Kevin Avruch, Lorraine Brown, Rick Coffinberger, Suzanne Slayden.  In the process of forming a committee to revise the Faculty Handbook an email was sent requesting nominations.  In reviewing the responses received, the Nominations Committee looked at the following criteria:  tenure, service in the Faculty Senate, and length of service at George Mason University (to better understand the needs of the school).  The floor is open to other nominations.  No other nominations were made.  The Provost will also appoint three members of the committee.

 

2.  Committee on Writing Across the Curriculum:  Ellen Rodgers  – to represent Recreation, Health and Tourism

 

3.  Committee on General Education:  Rose Cherubin (Philosophy and Religion)

 

A vote was made to approve the nominations; all were approved unanimously by voice vote.

 

E.      Organization and Operations – Rei Berroa

The committee will examine whether changes may be needed in the Senate by-laws to include issues such as who may be a member of the Senate, the ways in which Senators are elected, and whom do we represent.

 

V.                 New Business

A.  Update on the Johnson Center incident:  Provost Peter Stearns reiterated (email October 3, 2005) that GMU is committed to the freedom of speech and the protection of freedom of assembly.  Following inquiries currently taking place a report will be submitted to the President on October 19, 2005 after which decisions regarding what actions are to be taken and what information regarding the event will be released.

 

B.  Faculty Senate Resolution on Freedom of Speech and Expression – Jim Bennett

Jim Bennett offered a resolution in support of freedom of speech, expression and the free exchange of ideas and viewpoints at George Mason in reaction to a recent incident on campus.  Lloyd Cohen read a statement from Daniel Polsby, Dean of the School of Law, and added his own statement regarding the resolution which had been circulated to the faculty in advance of the Senate meeting.  Bob Ehrlich opposed the original motion and offered a substitute.

 

As time constraints precluded further discussion, Parliamentarian Suzanne Slayden suggested that the motions be considered as an item of old business at our next meeting (November 2, 2005) by which time the investigation of the incident precipitating the various resolution(s) would be concluded.  The texts of the resolutions will be provided in the agenda of the November 2nd meeting for review.  
 
VI.  Adjournment:  The meeting adjourned at 4:15 p.m.
 
 
Respectfully submitted,
Susan Trencher
Secretary