GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY

MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE

FEBRUARY 1, 2006

Robinson Hall, room B113 – 3:00 p.m.

 

Senators Present:  Ernest Barreto, Jim Bennett, Rei Berroa, Alok Berry, Phillip Buchanan, Richard Carver, Julie Christensen, Rick Coffinberger, Jose Cortina, Charlene Douglas, Bob Ehrlich, Karen Hallows, Mark Houck, Bruce Johnsen, Jim Kozlowski, David Kuebrich, Julie Mahler, Jane McDonald, Linda Monson, Jean Moore, Ami Motro, Patricia Moyer-Packenham, Peter Pober, Larry Rockwood, James Sanford, Joseph Scimecca, Suzanne Slayden, Peter Stearns, Cliff Sutton, June Tangney, Tojo Thatchenkery, Susan Trencher, Iosif Vaisman, Phil Wiest, Mary Williams, Stanley Zoltek.

 

Senators Absent:  Russ Brayley, Sara Cobb, Lloyd Cohen, Warren Decker, Jeffrey Gorrell, Lloyd Griffiths, Kingsley Haynes, Susan Hirsch, Kristin Johnsen-Neshati, Dan Joyce, Menas Kafatos, Matthew Karush, Richard Klimoski, Alan Merten, Robert Nadeau, Lisa Pawloski, Paula Petrik, Daniel Polsby, Jane Razeghi, William Reeder, Kenneth Reinert, Christine Smith, Daniele Struppa, Ellen Todd, Shirley Travis, James Willett, John Zenelis.

 

Guests Present:  Nancy Dickerson (Director – Academic Advising Center), Patricia Donini (Employee Relations Director and Deputy Director – Human Resources/Payroll), Donna George (Staff Senate Liaison), Dolores Gomez-Roman (Ombudsman for Students), Linda Harber (Assistant Vice President for Human Resources/Payroll), Robin Herron (Editor – Mason Gazette), Dave Hoffman (Student Government Liaison), Cathy Hubbs (ITU – IT Security Coordinator), Susan Jones (University Registrar), Bridget Miller (Librarians’ Council), Marilyn Mobley (Associate Provost for Educational Programs), Della Patrick (Staff Senate Liaison), David Rossell (Associate Provost for Personnel and Budget), L. A. Roth (Training and Development Director, Human Resources/Payroll), Maurice Scherrens (Senior Vice President), Bob Smith (Professor of Psychology and Chair, Dept. of Psychology).

 

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

 

II.                Approval of Minutes:  The minutes of November 30, 2005 were approved as distributed.

 

III.             Announcements

A.  Phased Retirement – Jim Sanford:  Meetings are still being held and there is progress in defining this option.

B.  Revision of Faculty Handbook – Rick Coffinberger:  The committee has met twice and will meet twice monthly through April.  The possibility of summer meetings is under discussion. An Open Forum on the Revision of the Faculty Handbook will be held Monday, February 6th, 2006 in Mason Hall, room D3 at the Fairfax campus. Forums are intended to provide an opportunity learn about as well as discuss relevant concerns and ideas.

C.  Introduction of Staff Senate Liaisons:  Dave Kuebrich welcomed Donna George and Della Patrick, who will serve as liaisons from the Staff Senate. 

 

IV.      Old Business:  None

 

V.                 Reports from the Senate Standing Committee Chairs

A.  Academic Policies – Cliff Sutton:  Academic Calendar Update.  Peter Pober distributed a  handout elaborating on points made by Committee Chair Cliff Sutton.  Students and faculty have proposed several changes to academic policies during the period from January 2005 to the present.  Among the suggested changes are:

·        to have more reading days prior to final exams, and in particular to avoid semesters with no reading days;

·        to have a two day break in October (to be accomplished by eliminating the break on Labor Day);

·        to finish the fall semester earlier by starting several days earlier.

·         to finish the spring semester a earlier by starting the semester earlier.

When considering these proposed changes, it is perhaps useful to keep in mind that some of the most recent changes to academic calendar policy were due to decision to lengthen the break between fall and spring semesters; and to include Martin Luther King Day as a non-class day.

 

An additional recent change was the extension of the Thanksgiving Break to include Wednesday. 

 

The Academic Policies Committee of the Faculty Senate has identified three possible changes consistent with the interests expressed by groups proposing changes, for faculty consideration available at http://mason.gmu.edu/~csutton/APcalchange.html . Additional input will be sought and recommendations made later in the spring semester.  Feedback should be directed to Cliff Sutton (csutton@gmu.edu). The following options are open for consideration:

1.  Have classes on Labor Day and extend the Columbus Day break to include Tuesday.

2. Begin fall semester classes the Thursday eleven days before Labor Day (current start date 7 days before Labor Day), and have the final exam period start on the Monday morning following the end of classes (Wednesday).

3.  For spring semesters in years for which Martin Luther King Day comes relatively early, so that by current policy classes would begin the Monday following Martin Luther King Day, begin spring semester classes the Thursday following Martin Luther King Day. Final exam period would start on the Monday morning following the end of classes (on Wednesday). 

           

Chair Cliff Sutton and committee member Peter Pober have already met with student government and various administrators.  The Student Senate will meet February 2, 2006 to discuss these proposals.  Discussion was held as to how to appropriately notify faculty members about this issue.

 

B.     Budget and Resources – Rick Coffinberger

1.  Distribution to Schools of E&G (Education and General) Funds:  Provost Stearns and Senior Vice President Maurice Scherrens.  At the invitation of the Budget and Resources Committee, Provost Stearns and Vice-President Scherrens held a brief informational session on how E&G funding allocations are made and then opened the floor for questions. General principles for allocation of new budget monies: 55% allocated to academic programs and the balance to other aspects of the university, such as admissions, maintenance, etc.  On the academic side, new monies for agreed-upon enrollment growth targets are $6,500 per FTE graduate student enrollment and $5,500 per FTE undergraduate enrollment.  The amounts in the formula are variable but set amounts of money are assigned.  The final batch of academic funding has been divided between base budget adequacy – in which units identify shortages of funds and the remaining (about half) for new initiatives.

 

VP Scherrens noted that approximately 50 – 55% of the budget goes to instruction;  5-8% to libraries (large allocation as compared to our national peer group), thus more of the E&G Budget goes to academics and libraries than in any of our other 25 peer institutions.  The single greatest driver of funding for FTE is faculty salaries.  Personnel costs equal about 80% of budgets in academic units; the figures could range as high as 90-95%.  A dozen umbrella projects (“pockets”) have been identified which the Provost shares with the deans and directors both to ascertain anything missed as well as set priorities.

 

Questions were raised regarding huge differences between and among schools and between and among departments within single schools. Both VP Scherrens and Provost Stearns noted that the budget process at GMU is largely decentralized and that there has been a general shortfall in appropriate funding for units based on monies available to the institution as a whole, and reiterated that GMU has the lowest funded FTE for students in the Commonwealth.  Provost Stearns also noted that while not applying to all cases, some budget disparities may concern other sources of funding available outside E&G funds. The Provost noted that our tolerance of diverse funding is in part because some units grow because they attract additional monies. 

 

The current GMU budget is the first time that the university has come out better than in the Governor’s proposed budget and was in part a reward for  (1) growth by 5000 students in a time frame in which the plan was to slow growth; (2) an increase in the number of degrees granted, (3) improved student retention.  GMU received about 40% of the additional funding stipulated for four-year institutions. Further, FTE allotments vary; in the sciences new FTE brings us in the range of $7,000 more tuition per unit – additional state allotments for enrollment increases will allow us to reach $11,000 per student.

 

A question was raised about disparities in allocations for units and faculty across the university and ways to attract/increase funding and allocations.

 

The Governor’s budget allotted  instructional faculty a 3.7% salary increase; and administrators and staff  3.0% . According to Provost Stearns the current budget allows augmentation to a 5% faculty salary increase

 

A question was raised regarding the distribution of the 11% COLA increase requested by the university.  Provost Stearns responded that if available, the monies would not be applied across the board but with attention to salary ranges.  The executive branch of the state government would not support an across the board adjustment as there are dramatic gaps across job categories. 

 

2.  Summer School 2005 Report:  Enrollment increased slightly.  All full-time faculty who decided to teach received 10% per course, in large part due to discussions between the Executive Committee and the Provost, who agreed last year to set aside $50,000 for this purpose  of which $35,000 - $38,000 was spent.  The question was raised as to whether the same funding would be available this year and the Provost responded that if/when such a request is made he will consider it.

 

3.      Salary Data Update:  Rick Coffinberger thanked Linda Harber for supplying mid-late December 2005 salary data.  It will be sorted into four categories (Administrative Faculty, Nine Month Instructional Faculty, Twelve Month Instructional Faculty, and Research Faculty).  Plans are to put updated data on a controlled access website linked to the Faculty Senate page, next week.  Faculty must provide GMU email and password to get to the link. Rick thanked Mindy Stawarz and Meg Caniano for all their work and corrections made to data obviously in error.  Chair Coffinberger previewed some elements of the report:

·        Administrative Faculty Increases:  largest increase:  $76,273; range of ten largest increases: $21,120 - $76,273; average of ten largest increases:  $37,108.

·        Twelve Month Instructional Faculty Increases:  largest increase $22,084; range of ten largest increases $5,918 - $22,084; average of ten largest increases: $10,867.

·        Nine Month Instructional Faculty Increases:  largest increase:  $40,288; range of ten largest increases $20,000 - $40,288* (*includes a former Dean); average of ten largest increases: $28,729.

·        Research Faculty Increases:  largest increase: $26,355; range of ten largest increases: $10,975 - $26,355); average of ten largest increases $14,824.

At our next meeting we hope to discuss recent increases of “non-merit” special circumstances such as salaries out of the market range.

 

C.     Faculty Matters – Jim Sanford:  No action items at this time.  First meeting of the spring term will be held next Monday.  Items to discuss will include the Faculty Evaluation of Administrators survey, expected to be distributed within the next 4-6 weeks.

 

D.  Nominations – Jim Bennett

1.  COS Dean Search Committee – Larry Rockwood’s nomination was approved unanimously by voice vote.  The Committee has met once and will meet again on Friday.

 

2.  Faculty/Staff Housing Workgroup – Mark Houck:  Jim Bennett reported that over the winter break, the Executive Committee learned that the decision to build heavily subsidized housing was made; and input from the Faculty Senate is now requested.  Mark Houck, newly elected faculty representative to the Facilities and Land Use Committee of the Board of Visitors, has agreed to become part of the group.  The nomination was approved unanimously by voice vote.

 

3.  Salary Equity Study Committee – John Miller (to replace Mark Houck): John Miller, past member of this committee, was nominated. The nomination was approved unanimously by voice vote.

 

E. Organization and Operations – Rei Berroa

1.  Motion to amend the By-Laws of the Faculty Senate (2nd view)

The O & O Committee moves to amend the bylaws of the Faculty Senate:

1) Change the title of ARTICLE VI: "Effective Date, Amendment and Review" by inserting the word "and" between "Date" and "Amendment" and deleting the words "and Review" so that it reads “Effective Date and Amendment”.

2) Delete ARTICLE VI Section 3: "Due to the constant evolving of the University, these bylaws shall be reviewed at least once every five years by an ad hoc committee.


 

Rationale:

This section of the bylaws, part of the original bylaws as far as we know, dates to sometime between 1974 (adoption of the Charter of the Faculty Senate) and 1977 (the earliest available publication of the bylaws found by the committee). Although a section describing the process of amendment is nearly universally included in bylaws, section 3 is unusual and may be unique to GMU. The duty of reviewing and recommending revisions to an organization’s bylaws is commonly given to a standing committee, usually called a Bylaws Committee. The Faculty Senate does not have such a committee; instead, the duty of considering amendments to the bylaws, but not explicitly reviewing them, is given to the Organization and Operations committee. (See Motion 2.)

 

The last revisions to the bylaws were made in 1996, effective January, 1997. The review was initiated by the O & O committee (Minutes, November 13, 1996):

“[O & O Chair] Spikell reported that the Committee had been reviewing the Senate bylaws for 14 months and explained the rationale for the proposed changes. The first reading and consideration of bylaw changes occurred. The second reading will take place at the December 4, 1996 Senate meeting….”

 

The O&O committee can find no record that an ad hoc committee has even been constituted to review the bylaws.

 

Ad hoc committees are appointed to consider a specific motion or to carry out a special task. A review of bylaws is not usually considered a special task, especially if there is a Bylaws Committee or other standing committee charged with considering changes to bylaws. By eliminating this section of the bylaws, there is no need for the Senate to keep track of 5-year intervals, for the Nominations Committee to solicit volunteers, or for the Senate to elect a committee or to hear a report.

 

Motions to amend the By-Laws must be approved by a two-thirds majority.  The motion passed unanimously by voice vote.

 

VI.  New Business

A.  Higher Education Advocacy Day – Dave Kuebrich:  Chair of the Faculty Senate Dave Kuebrich attended Higher Education Advocacy Day on January 12th in Richmond.  Training sessions and position papers were presented.  Dave also visited a number of state legislators.

 

B. COLA for GMU Faculty and Staff – Dave Kuebrich:  A letter sent from President Merten  (January 10, 2006) to Senator Charles Colgan and Delegate Vincent Callahan, Jr. which summarized elements of Governor Warner’s budget proposal supportive of GMU was distributed along with copies of “Supporting Northern Virginia’s Economy:  A George Mason University Compensation Adjustment” brochure put together by the administration outlines the case for salary increases as the cost of living in Northern Virginia outstrips that of any other area of the Commonwealth by 33%

(http://www.gmu.edu/mlfacstaff/CompAdjust.pdf  ).  A draft letter was circulated, along with names and addresses of N. Va. Legislators and key members of the Virginia legislature (address list provided by Tom Hennessey). Each member of the Senate was asked to email ten legislators this week using the sample documents as a test.  The same request will be made of the general faculty.  Please send the Faculty Senate office an list of the delegates whom you have contacted.  The Staff Senate will also discuss participating in the email campaign at its Executive Committee meeting tomorrow.  Dave will contact the Librarians’ Council for their support.   CVPA representative Linda Monson added that the gift of $4,000,000 by Donald and Nancy deLaski to the College of Visual and Performing Arts is contingent upon the state providing matching funds.  Dr. Monson stressed that much work has gone into obtaining this donation which would be lost if state funding is not made available.

 

VI.              Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 4:16 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Trencher

Secretary

Faculty Senate