GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY

 MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE

SEPTEMBER 7, 2005

 

Senators present:  Ernest Barreto, Jim Bennett, Rei Berroa, Alok Berry, Russ Brayley, Phil Buchanan, Richard Carver, Rick Coffinberger, Lloyd Cohen, Jose Cortina, Warren Decker, Charlene Douglas, Bob Ehrlich, Jeffrey Gorrell, Karen Hallows, Susan Hirsch, Mark Houck, Dan Joyce, Matthew Karush, Richard Klimoski, Jim Kozlowski, David Kuebrich, Linda Monson, Jean Moore, Ami Motro, Patricia Moyer-Packenham, Peter Pober, Kenneth Reinert, James Sanford, Joseph Scimecca, Suzanne Slayden, Peter Stearns, Cliff Sutton, June Tangney, Ellen Todd, Susan Trencher, Iosif Vaisman, Phil Wiest, Mary Williams, John Zenelis, Stanley Zoltek

 

Senators absent:  Julie Christensen, Sara Cobb, Lloyd Griffiths, Kingsley Haynes, Bruce Johnsen, Kristin Johnsen-Neshati, Menas Kafatos, Julie Mahler, Jane McDonald, Alan Merten, Robert Nadeau, Lisa Pawloski, Paula Petrik, Daniel Polsby, Jane Razeghi, William Reeder, Larry Rockwood, Christine Smith, Daniele Struppa, Tojo Thatchenkery, Shirley Travis, James Willett

 

Liaison present:  Dave Hoffman, Student Government

 

Guests present:  Nancy Dickerson, Academic Advising Center; Laurie Fathe, Director, Center for Teaching Excellence; Dolores Gomez-Moran, Ombudsman for Students; Robin Herron, Creative Services; Marilyn McKenzie, Associate Provost; Mike Terry, Libraries; Egon Verheyen, Robinson Professor and Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Teacher/Course Evaluation Pilot Project

 

I.                   Call to Order – Welcome to the Senate  - Dave Kuebrich

 

The meeting was called to order at 3:01 p.m.  Chair Dave Kuebrich welcomed all Senators and guests.

 

II.                 Approval of Minutes:  The minutes of May 4, 2005 were approved as distributed.

 

III.             Announcements and Introductions

 

The Chair thanked the former chairs of the Senate standing committees – Lorraine Brown (Nominations), Rick Coffinberger (Budget and Resources), Mike Ferri (Organization and Operations), Jim Sanford (Faculty Matters), and Cliff Sutton (Academic Policies) – for their work during the last academic year and over the summer.  He also called particular attention to the generous mentoring of former Senate Chair Jim Bennett, to the hard work of Lorraine Brown in coming up with complete slates for all of the Senate and University committees, and to the hard work and contributions of Senate Clerk, Meg Caniano.

 

In addition, the Chair thanked Daniel Polsby, Alok Berry, and Patricia Moyer-Packenham for their service last year as Sergeants-at-Arms.  Alok and Patricia will continue to serve this year and will be joined by Jean Moore.  He also thanked Suzanne Slayden and Linda Monson for serving as Parliamentarian and President, pro tem, respectively, and for agreeing to serve for another year.

 

The Chair announced that this will be a busy year. New items of business will include the revision of the Faculty Handbook, a major undertaking, as well as the revision of the Senate Charter and By-Laws.  In addition to the scheduled meetings proposed, there will be specially called meetings as has been the practice for the past several years.  Senators and guests were reminded to sign in upon entrance.  Senate attendance records are published at the end of the academic year. 

 

IV.  Old Business:  Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Teacher/Course Evaluation Pilot Project – Egon Verheyen, Chair

 

The Ad Hoc Committee was established to assist the Center for Teaching Excellence, the Office of Institutional Assessment, and the Office of Institutional Research and Reporting in the assessment of the course evaluation pilot program.  The Ad Hoc Committee recommended that the Senate adopt the new evaluation form for the University, starting in the Fall of 2006.

Speaking on behalf of the committee, Egon Verheyen noted that the new form was designed to provide more adequate feedback to faculty about their teaching by including more and better questions.  The new format continues to provide a quantitative score as requested by the Provost.

 

The members of the Ad Hoc Committee reminded faculty that in their view the use of the evaluation should always be supplemented with other materials and measures as developed and utilized in their particular departments and units. Further, they concurred with a suggestion from the Committee on Excellence in Teaching that a form for faculty self-evaluation be provided for use in conjunction with the student evaluation.

 

The Ad Hoc Committee’s final recommendation was that the Senate adopt a process through which faculty members can dispute aspects of their course evaluations under the aegis of the Center for Teaching Excellence.  This opportunity in conjunction with the revised student evaluation in the Committee’s view,  provides a better process for the evaluation of teaching. 

 

Following Professor Verheyen’s presentation questions were raised by those in attendance regarding the genesis of the new questions and format.  Professor Verheyen reported that the new questions and format were developed through the review of such evaluations from other universities.  Questions selected for inclusion were vetted by teams of faculty and students. The new format and questions were then piloted with four thousand students.

 

Concerns about some of the specific items on the new form were discussed, including the nature of the continued relevance of questions about office hours in a time when often students prefer to contact faculty via email; the difference between job and course evaluations; and the potential usefulness and inclusion of “non-applicable” as an additional choice on the form.  In response to these issues Associate Provost Laurie Fathe noted that faculty are contractually required to hold office hours for students.  Further,“non-applicable” as a selection for students on the evaluation had not been included because research has shown that when it is available, students use it for majority of questions; this rendering it useless.  Professor Verheyen urged the Senate to adopt the new form with any and all revisions they deemed necessary and thanked the Senate for the opportunity to serve on the Ad Hoc committee.

 

A motion was made and seconded to dismiss the Ad Hoc Committee on the Teacher/Course Evaluation Pilot Project with grateful thanks.  The motion was approved and the chair instructed the Secretary of the Senate to send a letter of appreciation to its members.

 

V.  Approval of Meeting Schedule for the 2005-2006 Academic Year

The proposed schedule was approved.  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 Executive Committee will discuss this suggestion.

 

VI.  Election of the Secretary of the Senate:  Susan Trencher was nominated by the Nominations Committee.  No further nominations were made from the floor and she was unanimously elected Secretary.

 

VII.  Election of Members of Senate Standing Committees and Members of University Standing Committees – Lorraine Brown

 

The following nominees were presented by the Nominations Committee and elected unanimously by the Senate for the Senate Standing Committees:

 

Academic Policies

Nominees:  Bob Ehrlich, Karen Hallows, Peter Pober, Cliff Sutton, James Willett

 

Budget & Resources

Continuing members: Joe Scimecca, Tojo Thatchenkery

Nominees: Phil Buchanan, Rick Coffinberger, Charlene Douglas

 

Faculty Matters

Continuing members: Richard Carver, Jim Sanford

Nominees: Patricia Moyer-Packenham, Jane Razeghi, Larry Rockwood

 

Nominations

Continuing members: Jim Kozlowski, Jane Razeghi

Nominees for this committee must be nominated from the floor.  Jim Bennett, Mark Houck, and Phil Wiest were nominated and elected unanimously.

 

Organizations & Operations

Continuing member: Jane McDonald

Nominees: Ernest Barreto, Rei Berroa, Alok Berry, Suzanne Slayden

 

The following nominees were presented by the Nominations Committee and elected unanimously by the Senate for the University Standing Committees:

 

Academic Appeals

Continuing member:  Bob Ehrlich

Nominees: Pamela Cangelosi, Julie Christensen, Michael Hurley (Provost appointee), Peter Pober, Ellen Todd

 

Admissions

Continuing member: Jeng-Eng Lin

Nominees: Rose Brenkus, Karen Hallows, Dan Joyce, Eddie Tallent (Dean of Admissions appointee), Charles Thomas

 

Athletic Council

Continuing members: Linda Miller, Phil Wiest

Nominees:  Bob Baker, Sharon deMonsabert, Gerald Hanweck

 

Effective Teaching

Continuing Members: Stephanie Holaday, Doug Mose, Janette Muir, Robert Pasnak, Victoria Salmon

Nominee:  Alok Berry

 

External Academic Relations

(nominees must be faculty-at-large)

Continuing members:  Warren Decker, Christine Smith, June Tangney

Nominees: Lorraine Brown, Michelle Marks (Provost appointee), Toni Travis

 

General Education

(one nominee each from CEHD and CNHS)

Continuing Members: Alok Berry, Peggy Feerick, Sheryl Friedley, Susan Hirsch (Provost appointee), Marilyn McKenzie (Associate Provost, Chair)

Nominees:  Julie Christensen, Laurie Fathe (Provost appointee), Jim Harvey (Provost appointee), Jim Kozlowski (CEHD), Lolita O’Donnell (CNHS), Cliff Sutton (Provost appointee), James Willett

 

Grievance

(nominees may not be non-tenured, chairs, or administrators)

Continuing members:  Sheryl Friedley, Joe Reid, Linda Samuels

Nominees:  Bob Ehrlich, Ryszard Michalski

 

Minority & Diversity Issues

(nominees must be tenured or tenure-track faculty)

Continuing members:  Kristin Johnsen-Neshati, Jeng-Eng Lin

Nominees:  Amal Amireh, Wayne Froman, Jenny Wu

 

Non-Traditional, Interdisciplinary, & Adult Learning

Continuing members:  David Beach, Don Seto

Nominees:  Jennifer Berger, Eugenia Verdaguer, Mary Williams

 

Salary Equity Study

(one nominee must be a Senator)

Nominees: Mark Houck, Lisa Pawloski, Don Seto

 

Technology Policy

Continuing members: Melissa Martin, Goodlet McDaniel (Provost Appointee), Iosif Vaisman, Steven Weinberger, Stanley Zoltek

Nominees:  Ami Motro, Paula Petrik

 

Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC)*

(one nominee from CAS, CVPA, and IT&E)

Continuing Members: Susan Durham, Victoria Salmon, Beth Schneider, Terry Zawacki (Director of the WAC Program), Stanley Zoltek

Nominees:  Tamara Maddox (IT&E), Linda Monson (CVPA), Christopher Thaiss (CAS)

 

The newly instructed Senate Standing Committees were instructed to meet immediately after the meeting to elect their chairs.  After adjournment, the Committees reported that the following Senators were elected chairs:  Academic Policies - Cliff Sutton; Budget and Resources - Rick Coffinberger; Faculty Matters - Jim Sanford; Nominations - Jim Bennett; Organization and Operations – Rei Berroa. 

 

The newly elected University Standing Committee members will be notified by the Faculty Senate office with instructions to meet and elect their chairs.

 

VIII:  New Business:  Reports on Summer Work and Future Agenda Items from Last Year’s Chairs of Academic Policies, Budget and Resources, and Faculty Matters

 

A.     Academic Policies – Cliff Sutton:  Three items for future consideration include:

1.      Suggested changes to the academic calendar proposed by student government to establish the same number of reading days during the fall and spring semesters

2.      Creation of a University Curriculum Committee

3.      To work more closely with the General Education Committee

 

B.     Budget and Resources – Rick Coffinberger

1.      A member of the Budget and Resources Committee attended most meetings of the University Budget Planning Committee, most recently yesterday (Sept. 6, 2005).  It is clear that the university’s highest budget priority for the next biennium is salaries; along with a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).  There used to be a COLA during the late 1990’s.

2.      Dave Kuebrich, Jim Sanford and I met with Linda Harber (Assistant Vice President – Human Resources and Payroll) and Dave Rossell (Associate Provost for Personnel and Budget) to initiate discussions on retirement issues and policies.  They have begun discussions to formalize a phased retirement policy.  Our next meeting is scheduled for mid-October.

3.      It appears that GMU faculty may not participate in the new Roth 403(b) savings account option; this will be investigated more fully.

4.      An IRS rule which allows individual employees to put money aside for health care costs and carry over unused amounts from year to year is not an option permitted by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

5.      Full-time faculty have not expressed any concerns that they were unable to teach summer courses if they wished due to lack of funding.  The Provost allocated additional monies last year for this purpose.

6.      The University Budget Planning Committee announced the review process for salary increments has begun. A 5.5% salary increase pool  with .5% being held back for special needs/adjustments.  The pool available for adjustments is better than in past years.

C.     Faculty Matters – Jim Sanford

1.      The Faculty Evaluation of Administrators report will be distributed in a few weeks. Please email any comments to Jim Sanford at jsanford@gmu.edu.  The response rate was a little over 40%; some responses were unsigned; therefore we could not use them.

2.      A draft policy regarding the use of background checks for new employees is being considered in which selected employees in certain areas, such as Nursing or Biodefense, would need to undergo checks.  It is not likely that many potential faculty would be affected.

 

IX.  Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty

 

Rick Coffinberger and Susan             Trencher were invited by the Board of Visitors to make a presentation in support of the addition of a non-voting faculty member to the Board of Visitors.  The Board is expected to make a decision at its next meeting (October 5, 2005).  Although George Mason University is at the cutting edge on many issues, this is not one of them.

 

An update on the Faculty Lounge was emailed earlier today.  The Lounge is located on the third floor of the Johnson Center.  Coffee and doughnuts are available in the morning and coffee and cookies in the afternoon.  Although there are no refreshments served after 4:30 p.m., the lounge itself remains open until the Johnson Center closes at approximately 2:00 a.m.  While the Faculty Lounge Committee (Susan Trencher, Rick Coffinberger and Evans Mandes) fervently hope that faculty has been able to go home before that time, it was hoped that the faculty u will take advantage of this space as often and as late as you like.  Subscriptions to The Chronicle of Higher Education and The New York Times will become available.  Please let us know any concerns, complaints or comments you may have to make it better.

 

The Democracy Project is teaming up with the Fall for the Book festival to present “An Educated Citizen” – a panel discussion including Jay Matthews, Senior Education reporter for the Washington Post, Professor Gary Galluzzo of the College of Education and Human Development and Marilyn McKenzie, Associate Provost for Education Programs.

 

Provost Peter Stearns reported that at least thirty-five students from the Gulf area have arrived at George Mason University.  Efforts are underway to accommodate faculty from the region as well.

 

Dr. Eugenia Scott, Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education will be here December 1, 2005.  During the day, she will visit various classes.  Her visit to GMU will culminate in a large public lecture entitled “Why Scientists Reject Intelligent Design” at 7:00 p.m. in Dewberry Hall South.  Anyone interesting in having Dr. Scott visit their class should contact Ernie Barreto (ebarreto@gmu.edu).

 

X.   Adjournment:  The meeting adjourned at 3:54 p.m.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Trencher

Secretary