MAY 3, 2006


Senators Present:  Ernest Barreto, Jim Bennett, Rei Berroa, Alok Berry, Russ Brayley, Phil Buchanan, Richard Carver, Julie Christensen, Charlene Douglas, Bob Ehrlich, Susan Hirsch, Mark Houck, Dan Joyce, Matt Karush, Jim Kozlowski, David Kuebrich, Julie Mahler, Jane McDonald, Linda Monson, Ami Motro, Patricia Moyer-Packenham, Paula Petrik, Peter Pober, Larry Rockwood, James Sanford, Suzanne Slayden, Peter Stearns, Cliff Sutton, June Tangney, Susan Trencher, Iosif Vaisman, Phil Wiest, Mary Williams, Stanley Zoltek.


Senators Absent:  Sara Cobb, Rick Coffinberger, Lloyd Cohen, Jose Cortina, Warren Decker, Jeffrey Gorrell, Lloyd Griffiths, Karen Hallows, Kingsley Haynes, Bruce Johnsen, Kristin Johnsen-Neshati, Menas Kafatos, Richard Klimoski, Alan Merten, Jean Moore, Robert Nadeau, Lisa Pawloski, Daniel Polsby, Jane Razeghi, William Reeder, Joseph Scimecca, Daniele Struppa, Tojo Thatchenkery, Ellen Todd, Shirley Travis, James Willett, John Zenelis.


Visitors Present:  Michael Casey (Assistant Professor, CEIE), Sue Collins (Senior Associate Athletic Director, Intercollegiate Athletics), Patricia Donini (Employee Relations Director and Deputy Director, Human Resources), Andrew Flagel (Dean of Admissions), Alison Frendak-Blume (Academic Director – Peace Operations, SPP) Donna George (Staff Senate Liaison), Dolores Gomez-Moran (Ombudsman for Students), Linda Harber (Assistant Vice President, Human Resources and Payroll), Robin Herron (Editor, Mason Gazette), Susan Jones (University Registrar), Mark Kidd (Associate Dean for University Life, MAIS-HE), Vickie Salmon (Academic Director, Higher Education Program and Chair, Teaching Effectiveness Committee).


I.  Call to Order:  The meeting was called to order at 3:04 p.m.


II.  Approval of Minutes:  The minutes of April 5, 2006 were approved as distributed.


III.  Announcements

A.  2006 Teaching Excellence Award Recipients – Dave Kuebrich

The Chair offered Faculty Senate congratulations to the five winners of the Teaching Excellence Awards:  Charlene Douglas (College of Nursing and Health Science), Michelle Marks (School of Management), Jane McDonald (College of Education and Human Development), Victoria Rader (Sociology and Anthropology), and Andrew Wingfield (New Century College). 


B.  Faculty Handbook Revision Committee Update – Rick Coffinberger

Suzanne Slayden (representing Rick Coffinberger) reported that the committee continues to meet every few weeks, and will continue during the summer.  Minutes are posted on the Faculty Senate website at


C.  Faculty Task Force on Salary Issues Update – Rick Coffinberger

June Tangney, (representing Rick Coffinberger) reported that the Task Force continues to aggressively pursue issues of concern. Since the last Senate meeting the Task Force had a useful  meeting with Provost Stearns, Maurice Scherrens (Senior Vice President), and Donna Kidd (Assistant Vice President, Budget and Institutional Research and Reporting).  The committee will meet following the end of the semester to continue to verify numbers with which it is working.  A primary issue is raising relative pay scale for faculty across the board commensurate with faculty salaries at other in-state universities. GMU already has a federal legislative consultant on Capitol Hill and is working to hire a similar consultant at the state level.


The Task Force continues to deal with difficulties arising from the identification of a peer group in which the cost-of-living is dissimilar to that of the GMU area.  Patrick McKnight  (Psychology) has agreed to work with the Task Force to address issues relevant to SCHEV identification of peer institutions.  The view of the Task Force is that the GMU administration clearly heard the concerns discussed at the Special Meeting of the Senate dedicated to salary issues (April 19, 2006), especially relevant to lower rank tenure-track and non-tenure track positions and increasing transparency around faculty salary decisions.  The issue of information that had not been forthcoming from the Provost’s office has been resolved since the April 19 meeting, and a joint committee will develop an accurate agreed-upon set of numbers to discuss policy ideas given that there is a substantial discrepancy between pay raises of upper level administrators and faculty.  The Task Force is working to obtain a larger pool of money for faculty raises.  The issue of the poor pay for graduate teaching assistants and subsequent inability of GMU to compete with other universities in recruiting for graduate programs on this basis was raised. While recognized as an issue of significance to the university community, graduate assistant pay is outside the purview of the Task Force charge from the Senate.

Based on input from the Faculty at the April 19 meeting,  the Task Force discussed priorities including   instructional faculty salaries (including non-tenure track positions) vis a vis peers, and administrative salaries.   The issue of non-tenure track positions and salaries raised other issues including the question of whether and how much does the current system dilute the tenure system at GMU and other institutions.  It was noted that the matrix salary system at GMU is inadequate for recruiting part-time in this area.  The Task Force is working to get a commitment from the administration for a five year plan that addresses categories, rather than individuals.


D.  American Association of University Professors – Lorraine Brown

Jim Sanford (on behalf of Lorraine Brown) noted that the AAUP is the oldest organization defending academic freedom and tenure and relevant to the previous discussion they produce a definitive salary guide.  Their website ( contains many links of interest.  Faculty was encouraged to join the organization whose GMU membership at present represents less than 5% of the total faculty at GMU are members.  A substantial portion of the dues are tax deductible. 


IV.  Old Business – None.


V.  Reports from the Senate Standing Committee Chairs

A.  Academic Policies – Cliff Sutton

1.      Motion to approve academic calendar



That a three year calendar covering the 2007-2008 through 2009-2010 academic years, prepared by the Registrar following existing academic calendar policies, be approved.



Because approved academic calendars are needed in advance for planning purposes, and there is only one year left on the three year calendar approved previously, we should approve academic calendars to cover three additional academic years.

After considerable discussion and investigation of possible changes to academic calendar policy undertaken at the request at the Student Senate, it was determined that no changes in policy should be recommended at this time. Each of the three proposed changes met with considerable objection from various units (departmental, programmatic, staff) and it was determined that these objections were of sufficient merit to render it unwise to recommend
any changes.

The motion was approved by voice vote, with one negative vote.  See Appendix for “Explanation of Decision Not to Recommend Changes to the Academic Calendar,” submitted by Cliff Sutton.

George Mason University         Three Year Calendar Draft #3-  04.17.06 (S. Jones)


Fall 2007

Fall 2008

Fall 2009

First day of classes

Mon Aug 27

Mon Aug 25

Mon Aug 31

Labor Day (University closed)

Mon Sept 3

Mon Sept 1

Mon Sept 7

Last Day to Add (Census)

Tues Sept 11

Tues Sept 9

Tues Sept 15

Last Day to Drop

Fri Sept 28

Fri Sept 26

Fri Oct 2

Saturday Classes in session

Sat Oct 6

Sat Oct 11

Sat Oct 10

Columbus Day Recess

Mon Oct 8

Mon Oct 13

Mon Oct 12

Mon classes meet instead of Tues classes this day only

Tues Oct 9

Tues Oct 14

Tues Oct 13

Mid-term evaluation period for full-semester 100-200 level classes

Mon Sept 24 -      Fri Oct 19

Mon Sept 22 -       Fri Oct 17

Mon Sept 28 -          Fri Oct 23

Thanksgiving (No classes Wed; Recess Thurs - Sun)

Wed Nov 21 -

Sun Nov 25

Wed Nov 26 -

Sun Nov 30

Wed Nov 25 –    Sun Nov 29

Last Day of Class

Sat Dec 8

Sat Dec 6

Sat Dec 12

Reading Day(s)

Mon Dec 10

Mon Dec 8 - Tues Dec 9, 4:30 pm

Not scheduled

Examination Period

Tues Dec 11, 7:30 am – Tues Dec 18, 10:15 pm

Tues Dec 9, 4:30 pm – Wed Dec 17, 10:15 pm

Mon Dec 14, 7:30 am – Mon Dec 21, 10:15 pm

Winter Degree Date

(2nd Sat before classes)

Jan 12, 2008

Jan 10, 2009

Jan 9, 2010


Spring 2008

Spring 2009

Spring 2010

January 1 Day of Week




MLK Day - (no classes)

Mon Jan 21

Mon Jan 19

Mon Jan 18

First Day of Spring Classes

Tues Jan 22

Tues Jan 20

Tues Jan 19

Last Day to Add (Census)

Tues Feb 5

Tues Feb 3

Tues Feb 2

Last Day to Drop

Fri Feb 22

Fri Feb 20

Fri Feb 19

Saturday Classes in session

 Sat Mar 8

Sat Mar 7

Sat Mar 6

Spring Recess

Mon Mar 10 -

Sun Mar 16

Mon Mar 9 -

Sun Mar 15

Mon Mar 8 –      Sun Mar 14

Mid-term evaluation period for full- semester 100-200 level classes

Mon Feb 18 -        Fri Mar 21

Mon Feb 16 -           Fri Mar 20

Mon Feb 15 -         Fri Mar 19

Last Day of Class

Mon May 5

 Mon May 4

Mon May 3

Reading Day

Tues May 6

Tues May 5

Tues May 4

Examination Period


Wed May 7, 7:30 am - Wed May 14, 10:15 pm

Wed May 6, 7:30 am - Wed May 13, 10:15 pm

Wed May 5, 7:30 am – Wed May 12, 10:15 pm


Sat May 17

Sat May 16

Sat May 15

Summer Term Dates

Mon May 19 –

Fri Aug 8

Mon May 18 –

Fri Aug 7

Mon May 17 –

Fri Aug 6


B.  Budget and Resources

1.  Motion to request the Provost’s Office distribute information on equity-based salary adjustments:  The Budget and Resources Committee of the Faculty Senate moved that the Provost’s Office prepare and distribute at the December 2006 meeting of the Faculty Senate a report on special needs* salary adjustments awarded during the Fall 2006 salary adjustment period.  The report should, at minimum, provide the following data for the University; each College, School and Institute; and for each department or academic area:

1-The total number of dollars allocated for equity based equity adjustments;
2-The total number of those dollars that came from the Provost’s pool for equity raises;
3-Range of equity-based salary adjustments;
4-The mean and median of such adjustments;
5-The total number of faculty who were awarded equity based salary adjustments;
6-The distribution of faculty who were awarded equity based salary adjustments organized by:
(a)   traditional academic rank; and
(b)   contract status (tenured, tenure-track and contract).

7-The criteria used to identify the recipients of these special salary adjustments.

Rationale:  For the last two years substantial funds were allocated to special needs salary increments within the University.  The Provost’s Office report last year was both informative and enlightening as to the magnitude of the funds involved and the apparent lack of uniform criteria among the colleges and schools for the awarding of such increases. In order to provide continuous transparency and thus accountability to this process, data are again needed on the outcomes of the process.


*These salary adjustments have also been referred to as equity adjustments in prior years.


The motion was approved unanimously by voice vote.


C. Faculty Matters – Jim Sanford

1.  Update: Parking Rates for Adjunct Faculty.  At a meeting March 8th, we were informed a reduced rate for adjunct parking would be instituted.  The reduced rate takes the form of the availability of a special pass for four-six hours per week at a cost of $45.00 per semester for adjunct faculty.  There will be no blanket policy for cheaper rates.


D.  Nominations – Jim Bennett:  No business items at this time.


E.  Organization and Operations – Rei Berroa:  No action items at this time.


VI.  Senate and University Standing Committee Reports:  The Executive Committee has reviewed all the reports and will write its thanks to all the committees for the work they have completed this year.  A motion from the Effective Teaching Committee will be placed on the table today for consideration.  A motion from the Grievance Committee will become an action item this fall. Bob Ehrlich, chair of the Academic Appeals committee, reminded faculty that any students not on the roster be notified of that fact if they turn in work. 


A.  Senate Standing Committee Reports

1.   Academic Policies – Cliff Sutton, Chair

Committee Members:  Robert Ehrlich, Karen Hallows, Peter Pober, and James Willett

The Academic Policies Committee met three times during the academic year 2005-2006 and used e-mail to take care of a lot of business when it was not practical to meet face-to-face. The committee completed the items of business indicated below.

  1. We performed the annual review of catalog copy relevant to academic policies.
  2. In Spring 2005 it was suggested that we consider a review of quality concerns (of academic programs and faculty) associated with the UAE campus. It was decided in the fall that it was too early to do anything, and thought that it was appropriate to allow pertinent departments and committees (e.g. General Education Committee) at our Virginia campuses first review the UAE programs, and that the Academic Policies Committee should not yet be involved. (Item AP2005-1)
  3. We considered the development of an Undergraduate Council to deal with undergraduate curricular matters that may have relevance to more than one academic unit. After receiving more negative feedback than positive feedback, with a common specific complaint being that the creation of such a body might slow down the approval of new programs, it was decided to not recommend that an Undergraduate Council be formed. (Item AP2005-2)
  4. We considered several suggested changes to the academic calendar, with a specific focus being to determine if there was a good way to fulfill the Student's Senate’s request to create additional reading days (especially in semesters when current policy provides no reading day period). We got a lot of feedback on the suggested changes from students, the Staff Senate, members of the faculty and the administration, and from fellow Senators. Overall, while there was some strong support for each of the suggested changes, there was more opposition to them. In the end, it seemed best to not recommend any changes to current academic calendar policy. A statement summarizing the reasons to not recommend any changes will be presented at the Senate's May 3 meeting so it can become part of the minutes. (Item AP2005-3)
  5. We considered a proposal that students completing associate's degrees at community colleges outside of Virginia be made possibly exempt from most of GMU's general education requirements (as students with associate's degrees from Virginia community colleges are). After communication with the General Education Committee it was decided to let them consider this matter. (Item AP2005-4)
  6. We moved that a slight change, concerning non-degree undergraduate students, be made to the Periods of Academic Suspension portion of the GMU catalog. (See the minutes of the 2/22/06 meeting for details.) The motion passed. (Item AP2006-1)
  7. We will move at the Senate's May 3 meeting that a three year calendar covering the 2007-2008 through 2009-2010 academic years, created by following existing academic calendar policy, be approved. (Item AP2006-3)

The Committee currently has one additional item, which is indicated below, that it expects to consider during academic year 2006-2007. There are no other items that will carry over to the next academic year.

2.  Budget and Resources – Rick Coffinberger, Chair

Committee Members:  Phil Buchanan, Charlene Douglas, Joe Scimecca, Tojo Thatchenkery, and Bridget Miller (ex officio)


The Committee met on a monthly basis.  During the year the Committee:


3.  Faculty Matters – Jim Sanford, Chair

Committee Members:  Richard Carver, Patricia Moyer-Packenham, Jane Razeghi, Larry Rockwood


The Faculty Matters Committee met six times during the 2005-2006 academic year.  The following summarizes committee activities for the year.  Committee members are Richard Carver, Patricia Moyer-Packenham, Jane Razeghi, Larry Rockwood, and James Sanford (chair).



4.  Nominations – Jim Bennett, Chair

Committee Members:  Mark Houck, Jim Kozlowski, Jane Razeghi, Phil Wiest

The Faculty Senate Nominations Committee has successfully filled vacancies on all Faculty Senate Committees, University Committees, and Faculty Senate Task Forces. In addition, the Nominations Committee conducted a Special Election for Faculty Representatives to the various Committees of the University's Board of Visitors.

5.  Organization and Operations – Rei Berroa, Chair

Committee Members:  Ernest Barreto, Alok Berry, Jane McDonald, Suzanne Slayden


The Committee met six times during the year, conducting a revision of the By-Laws of the Faculty Senate as well as reviewing the charges and composition of all Senate committees. The Committee introduced four motions which were passed unanimously by the Senate.


In accordance with the Senate Charter, the Committee also allocated the Senate seats for the 2006-2007 academic year and reported the results at the March Senate Meeting, when the new allocations were presented and adopted. Also following the Senate Charter (III, B, Section I, 2), on March 24 the Chair of the Committee sent a letter to all deans and directors informing them about their allocations and requesting  that the names of the new senators be received by the Senate by May 1.


One area of its responsibilities that the Committee was not able to fully fulfill was Section D of its Charges: “All business to come before the Senate should be first submitted to this committee which shall refer items requiring study and action to the appropriate standing committee or appropriate collegial faculty.” Only on two occasions was this done, and when the committee met to discuss the issue it was already included in the agenda of the next Senate meeting.  This then serves as a reminder to all interested members of the Senate that this is part of our charge and that we would like to implement these responsibilities.


B.  University Standing Committee Reports

1.  Academic Appeals – Bob Ehrlich, Chair

Committee Members:  Pamela Cangelosi, Julie Christensen, Michael Hurley, Peter Pober, and Ellen Todd


Our Committee heard three cases during the past academic year (as of April 9, 2006), which were referred to it by the Associate Provost, Dr. Marilyn Mobley.  We understand that cases involving waiver of specific general education requirements are not heard by our committee unless they involve an appeal of a previous decision, nor are cases involving grade appeals, for which the decision of the deans is final.  The cases brought to the Committee’s attention involved a late withdrawal, retroactive registration for a course after it was completed, and a course taken at NVCC without advance GMU permission.


Of the three cases, the Committee upheld the appeal in only one case.  Somewhat surprisingly, the committee’s recommendations were unanimous in all cases.  One specific recommendation coming out of one of the three cases is that professors need to make sure to remind any students not on their official roster who turn in work or take exams that they are not officially in the class.


2.  Admissions – Rose Brenkus, Chair

Committee Members:  Karen Hallows, Dan Joyce, Jeng-Eng Lin, Eddie Tallent, Charles Thomas


3.  Athletic Council – Linda Miller, Chair

Committee Members:  Bob Baker, Sharon deMonsabert, Gerald Hanweck, Phil Wiest


The Athletic Council met three times this year to provide information to members about NCAA issues, academic support services and the performance of our student-athletes. Major areas of discussion included:


Academic Priority Program

The Academic Priority Program (APP), initiated in Fall 2004, is an aggressive, comprehensive and systematic program to encourage the academic recovery of those student-athletes not meeting the academic standards of the University or the Department of Athletics.  “As presently constructed and carried out by the Academic Services Program, the Subcommittee feels that the APP is rigorous and well-structured.  Under this program, student-athletes not meeting University requirements have a clear plan to regain satisfactory academic status and be able to retain eligibility”. (Academic Integrity Subcommittee Spring 2006 Report)


Standards of Conduct for Student-Athletes

At the April 21, 2006 Athletic Council Meeting, Kevin McNamee, Deputy Athletic Director, gave an overview of the Standards of Conduct for Student Athletes.  Assisted by Girard Mulherin and Pam Matthews from the Dean of Students Office, the Council was apprised of the standards, expectations, and Pledge of Conduct signed by each student-athlete at the University.  Dean Mulherin emphasized the excellent cooperation between the Department of Athletics and the Dean of Students Office in the handling of any misconduct. (April 21, 2006 Athletic Council minutes) 


*Please see the attached unsolicited testimony from the Indianapolis Police Department regarding the conduct of our student athletes at the NCAA Final Four Tournament


Exit Interviews

The Exit Interview written survey is available to all student-athletes on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council website.  Members of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council have requested the exit interview be made available by electronic submission rather than hard copy.  The Student Welfare Subcommittee has made this a priority for early next fall. 


Subcommittee Activities

In addition to the topics discussed above, the Athletic Council’s Subcommittees met and discussed the following:


General Oversight Subcommittee

Internal review and strategic plan for all athletic programs scheduled for this year is still ongoing, however the committee will provide an update when the review is completed. (April 18, 2006 Subcommittee minutes)


Academic Integrity Subcommittee

The March 1, 2006  NCAA Division I 2004-05 Academic Progress Rate (APR) Public Report was reviewed. Men’s Track (Indoor, Outdoor, Cross Country), Men’s Basketball, and Women’s Softball improved their statistics, but still fell below the 925 standard. All were within the confidence interval and were not penalized. The Faculty Athletic Representative has met with two of the three coaches and will meet with the third by the end of the semester. (March 10, 2006 Subcommittee minutes)


Additional Subcommittee activities included review of the Academic Services Program, discussion about the importance of timely faculty reports of student performance, access to Junior and Senior level courses in the summer term, and additional funding for summer scholarships. (April 11, 2006 Subcommittee minutes)


            Commitment to Rules Compliance Subcommittee

The Registrar’s Office continues to effectively monitor and verify compliance with NCAA rules and regulations (April 21, 2006 Athletic Council minutes)


            Student Welfare Subcommittee

Enlist the help of each coach to encourage students to complete the exit interview at the             conclusion of the season.  (March 30, 2006 Subcommittee minutes)


In the 2004-2005 academic year student athletes were compared with the general student body with the following results:

                                                Student Athletes           Students Generally

            Males                                 2.85                                   2.76      

            Females                              3.03                                   2.98

            Combined                          2.93                                   2.89                


* All GPA statistics computed by the Office of the Registrar


In summary, I would like to thank each member of the Athletic Council for their commitment to excellence and a job well done.


Linda Miller, Faculty Athletic Representative

The Mason Gazette

From the Gazette Mailbox…

April 19, 2006

The following e-mail, with the subject "Indianapolis," was sent to the Gazette:

We would like to extend our thanks to President Alan Merten, Coach Jim Larranaga and all George Mason University representatives and fans who came to Indianapolis during the NCAA tournament.

We had the pleasure of providing security for the team during their stay in Indianapolis. We are used to hosting teams for sporting events and have experienced a wide array of behavior from teams and fans.

Without question, the representatives and fans of George Mason University were the kindest and most pleasant group that we have worked with in our years of experience.

We look forward to having you back for the tournament again. With the character shown on and off the court this year, we have every reason to believe that George Mason will be back.

Thank you,

Sergeant Michael Duke
Sergeant James Waters
Officer Robbin Cassidy
Officer Michelle Hacker
Indianapolis Police Department

4.  Effective Teaching– Victoria Salmon, Chair

Committee Members:  Alok Berry, Jose Cortina, Harold Geller, Stephanie Holaday, Doug Mose, Janette Muir, Robert Pasnak


The committee presented a motion regarding criteria for teaching and tenure.   See VII.  New Business. B.  Teaching Effectiveness Committee – Victoria Salmon:  Motion on Department Criteria for Promotion through “Genuine Excellence in Teaching”



 5.  External Academic Relations – Lorraine Brown, Chair

Committee Members:  Warren Decker, Michelle Marks, Christine Smith, June Tangney, Toni Travis

The External Academic Relations Committee met once meeting during this academic year. Members of the committee were all extremely busy with departmental and other committee work within the university. Those who had previously served on the committee felt they could not take on yet more demands on their professional lives. The committee did cooperate with the AAUP Chapter in distributing the "Voters Guide" before the fall election. We did not meet formally again.


6.  General Education – Marilyn Mobley, Chair

Committee Members:  Alok Berry, Rose Cherubin, Laurie Fathe, Peggy Feerick, Sheryl Friedley, Marcy Glover (recording secretary), James Harvey, Susan Hirsch, Sean Kolaskar (student representative), James Kozlowski, Christena Langley, Lolita O’Donnell, Cliff Sutton, James Willett


The General Education Committee oversees the General Education program, as described in the General Education Mission Statement.”  The committee evaluates whether proposed courses meet the General Education guidelines, helps faculty develop courses to meet these guidelines, and examines currently included courses to insure they continue to align with the Mission.


The University General Education Committee met 9 times during the AY 2005-2006, under the leadership of chair, Associate Provost for Educational Programs, Marilyn Mobley.  The committee will convene for the last time of the Spring 2006 semester on Wednesday, April 26, 2006.  Topical subcommittees met between scheduled meetings to review and discuss course proposals in their topic areas before presentations to full committee meetings. 






There are no action items to bring forth to the Faculty Senate at this time, but a slate will have to be developed in consultation with the Provost and the Faculty Senate to replace committee members who are rotating off the committee, who will be on faculty leave, or who will be retiring.  Developing the slate will also involve determining how many new members are needed and in what disciplinary areas.


On behalf of Provost Peter Stearns, the chair wishes to thank the entire committee for their hard work and commitment to general education program.  A special thank you to Marcy Glover who has so diligently served as recording secretary and assistant to the chair in scheduling, preparing binders for faculty members and notifying the registrar of approved courses.  The chair thanks all those faculty members who took the time to design and submit courses for consideration.  And most of all, the chair thanks all those faculty members who teach in our General Education program.  The work they do is critical to our University’s overall mission of preparing our students to be critical thinkers, lifelong learners, and engaged citizens.


Submitted by Marilyn Mobley, Chair and Associate Provost for Educational Programs


7.  Grievance  – Joe Reid, Chair

Committee Members:  John Crockett, Bob Ehrlich, Cynthia Lont, Ryszard Michalski

Based upon its deliberations considering a grievance by a faculty member against the University this past academic year, the Grievance Committee  recommends that the Faculty Senate ask the University Administration to create a Faculty Ombud Office, which will be an avenue for informally discussing concerns of the University faculty and possibly resolving  them before any formal action is taken.  We believe that such an Ombud would have facilitated a fast and helpful resolution of the grievance we convened to consider, and will facilitate fast and helpful resolution of many future grievances. Our proposal is:

The University Grievance Committee moves that: 

The Faculty Senate ask the University Administration to create a Faculty Ombud Office, which will be an avenue for informally discussing concerns of the University faculty and possibly resolving them before any formal action is taken. 

Role of an Ombud: The role of an ombud is to assist members of the university community in resolving their problems, and to recommend policy/procedural changes necessary to achieve fair treatment. The Office of the Ombud is not meant to replace established channels of assistance but may be used if an individual needs assistance in identifying where to go, would prefer to discuss a problem confidentially with a neutral party, or has already gone through established channels without satisfaction.  The ombud will make recommendations regarding a complaint or grievance to appropriate officials. If a recommendation is not acted upon to the ombud's satisfaction, the ombud may seek relief from a higher authority of the appropriate party. The ombud has no authority to make binding decisions on behalf of the University. 

Justification:  While GMU currently has two student ombudsmen offices (one for academic affairs and one for non-academic affairs), there is no parallel office for faculty.  Sara Looney, under President George Johnson, was the last ombud who dealt with faculty concerns.  Faculty who have concerns may, of course, choose to go through the normal grievance process.  However, grievances against the University or its administration can be extremely costly, both in terms of time spent and also money, should they lead to legal action.  A university ombud can defuse disputes before they lead to formal grievances.  The ombud can also serve as a warning system that alerts the administration to faculty concerns at an early stage, where simple corrective action may be possible.  Finally, an ombud, through workshops and meetings with academic departments and administrators help each group better appreciate what behaviors, attitudes and situations can lead to grievances.  The very absence of such an office at a university may signal a certain level of disinterest in faculty concerns, and possibly even disrespect.  More than 200 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada now staff ombud offices, including the University of Virginia – see:

Respectfully submitted by Cynthia Lont, Robert Ehrlich, Ryszard S. Michalski, John Crockett, Joe D. Reid, Chair

8.  Minority and Diversity Issues Committee – Amal Amireh, Chair

Committee Members:  Wayne Froman, Kristin Johnsen-Neshati, Jeng-Eng Lin, Jenny Wu


9.  Non-Traditional, Interdisciplinary, and Adult Learning – David Beach, Chair

Committee Members:  Jennifer Berger, Don Seto, Eugenia Verdaguer, Mary William


For the past two years, the Non-Traditional, Interdisciplinary, and Adult Learning Committee did nothing.  This year, however, the committee (M. Eugenia Verdaguer, Don Seto, Mary Williams, David Beach) was tasked with assessing the current state of non-traditional, interdisciplinary, and adult learning programs at Mason.  We targeted the following programs:



The following three reports provide more details for these programs.  


Next year’s Committee should provide recommendations to the Faculty Senate and Provost for continuing to support NCC, CEHD, and BIS programs, and expanding support for distance learning and BIS faculty mentors.


New Century College and College of Education and Human Development

Prepared for the Non-Traditional, Interdisciplinary and Adult Learning Committee

David Beach, Spring 2006


New Century College (NCC)


Mason’s New Century College (NCC) is a multidisciplinary, integrative undergraduate program which stresses small, team-taught, seminar-styled classes, theme-based curricula, and collaborative and experiential learning.  The College offers integrative degrees in the Arts and in the Sciences.  Students in this program build a core foundation in the first year, all taking the same courses, before moving to a mix of collaborative, NCC courses and discipline-specific courses.  Many NCC classes use portfolios for assessment, and a graduation portfolio which demonstrates integrative and multidisciplinary knowledge must be presented in the senior capstone course.  Modeled on the concept of learning communities, the College limits incoming classes to 150 students in order to build a knowledge community that will extend through four years of college.

Students in the first year take four consecutive eight-credit units with a two-week break occurring between the first and second units and the third and fourth units so students can take part in service learning programs (which they may also do during the winter break).  Integrated throughout the whole curriculum is a focus on mastering nine competencies: Communication, Valuing Effective Citizenship, Critical Thinking, Group Interaction, Aesthetic Awareness, Strategic Problem Solving, Global Understanding, and Information Technology. 

From the NCC website: New Century College was founded on the presumption that traditional modes of teaching in Higher Education need to be challenged and carefully reviewed. Since 1995, NCC has been directly engaged in considering how students learn, how learning can be improved, and different pedagogical methods for teaching and learning. With this focus in mind, we:

·         Explore major perspectives on how students learn such as different kinds of learning styles and how to improve student learning;

·         Conduct research in areas of teaching and learning including experiential and service-learning, science education, collaboration in learning communities, faculty roles and expectations, and technology enriched learning;

·         Develop various methods and approaches for undertaking and assessing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning;

·         Look at learning communities from the standpoint of problem-based inquiry;

·         Develop theoretical frameworks for shaping thought about teaching practices and student learning;

·         Consider and develop different methods to assess student learning and faculty teaching including portfolio-based assessment.

College of Education and Human Development


Three areas in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) offer non-traditional, adult learning opportunities, mainly aimed at professional certific-ation.  The Office of Education Services and the Adult Learning and Professional Development program offer opportunities at the post-baccalaureate level; the School of Health, Recreation, and Tourism offers certification at the undergraduate level. 


The Office of Education Services


The Office of Education Services (OES) collaborates with the CEHD faculty, public school divisions, and local, state and national education agencies. The OES provides credit and non-credit courses, educational services (such as reviews and evaluations), resources, and professional development to enhance the quality of education for PK-12 students, to ensure highly qualified teachers, paraprofessionals, and school personnel, and to contribute to the overall improvement of PK-12 education. The OES serves as a clearinghouse and portal for individual requests for research assistance, consultation and collaboration and provides support to CEHD academic programs to enhance their outreach efforts.


Adult Learning and Professional Development


Under the umbrella of the OES, the Adult Learning and Professional Development (ALPD) program initiates a wide range of activities and programs which create opportunities for and respond to needs of adult learners and professional development. These initiatives and responses recognize key principles and best practices rooted in research and theory concerning adult development and learning. Within the limits of available resources and expertise, ALPD serves a variety of audiences requiring diverse contents and formats.  ALPD offerings include contract courses and Praxis preparation workshops.

Typically, a contract course is conducted at a site designated by a contracting agency. A contract course represents the University's effort to meet the specifically identified needs of a particular client group in a teaching-learning format consistent with the University's guidelines for graduate credit. Often such needs result in courses designed collaboratively by Mason faculty and agency personnel.

Praxis I preparation workshops allow pre-professionals the opportunity to explore test taking techniques, review test material, and practice writing.  Passing Praxis I (reading, writing and mathematics) scores are required for application to Mason’s state-approved licensure programs and are part of the multiple criteria used to make admissions decisions.


School of Health, Recreation, and Tourism


CEHD’s School of Health, Recreation, and Tourism (HRT) offers a certification program for outdoor adventure leaders.  The Outdoor Adventure certification program introduces students to a variety of activities such as backpacking, rock climbing, canoeing, kayaking, and challenge course facilitation. This cross-disciplinary initiative combines the resources and services of the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism and Hemlock Overlook Center for Outdoor Education.

Students must complete a total of 24 credits in the certificate program, and coursework can be completed while pursuing any degree program. The Outdoor Adventure Certificate coursework focuses on hard (technical) and soft (theory) skills learned experientially while participating in the outdoor adventure curriculum.  Students will become certified as Wilderness First Responders and Leave-No-Trace Trainers.

Students completing the certificate requirements will be fully prepared to work as challenge course facilitators and outdoor adventure instructors at Outdoor Education/Adventure Education organizations. Coursework focuses on the following competencies: Group Dynamics, Problem Solving, Communication Skills, Leadership Skills, Safety Practices, Good Judgment, and Experiential Education Processes.


Distance-based Learning at GMU Report

Prepared for the Non-Traditional, Interdisciplinary and Adult Learning Committee

By Donald Seto (March 2006)


Distance-based learning at GMU should be an important component, given the rise and availability of technology, as well as the untapped population of potential students, including the many biotech companies and government agencies that are involved with science and technology issues.  Also, there is an untapped growing population of active retirees


From a personal experience, talking with several retired professionals, many retirees are looking to expand their knowledge and activities by taking one or two courses a semester at local universities.  For the three sample cases, it would be advantageous to have distance-based technology ported to convenient neighborhood sites.  These three are driving from Bethesda to Annapolis, staying overnight, in order to take courses from St. John’s College- preferring not to have to make this commute.


Also, from personal experience, I have set up a distance-based course in Molecular Cellular Biology this semester (Spring 06), delivering lectures to Celera Corporation in Rockville, MD.  This was set up at the last minute through the recommendation of a recent course alumnus who is Director of Content Systems at Celera Corp.  There are sixteen plus students, at the BS, MS and PhD levels.  This course is set up through the Office of Continuing Professional Education (OCPE) and the Department of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, SCS/GMU (Glenda Wilson,  The mechanism is a series of lectures presented in Powerpoint format through a web-based presentation (WebEx) and by speaker phone.


It is thought that other courses may be offered in this manner in order to bring knowledge and (other) technology to groups of individuals, rather than having them come to GMU individually.  The company finds the savings of commute-time to be attractive and cost-effective.


GMU has a mechanism for distance-based learning set up through the Provost’s Office.  On the GMU website, Ms. Cheryl Chow ( is listed as the contact.  As noted on this site, “The University makes extensive and innovative use of technology in the development and delivery of credit bearing courses and programs to its students in order to:

    Significantly enhance learning outcomes

    Develop students' technology skills

    Provide courses/programs that contribute substantially to workforce development

    Provide an alternative to commuting

    Deliver programming to and from the University's Northern Virginia campuses”


Resources and links provided include:

Distance and distributed learning:

Distance learning resources:



An interview with Dr. Marilyn Mobley, Assoc Prof of English and African-Am Studies and Assoc. Provost [(703)-993-8891] was conducted.  Dr. Mobley is also Chair of the Distance Learning Committee.  She says there is interest at different levels in the University, especially in technology-enhanced education, such as WebCT.  However, funding is a problem and it is not cost-effective at the undergraduate level.  The graduate level may be different.  She notes that the Provost is encouraging proposals for ‘seed money’ to develop courses, but lack funds to support faculty development time.  Proposals should be routed through the Distance Learning Committee.  Currently there are no classes taught at a distance, though according to my information, the School of Management does have courses that are distance-based, with the extra costs borne by the students.


Bachelor of Individualized Study Program (BIS) Report

Prepared for the Non-Traditional, Interdisciplinary and Adult Learning Committee

By M. Eugenia Verdaguer  


Founded in 1975, BIS is Mason’s adult degree completion program, and it allows returning students the opportunity to design an individualized and interdisciplinary “concentration” (major) to suit their professional and personal needs. The program values life and professional experience and let students earn credit for non-traditional modes of learning, which demonstrate college-equivalent knowledge (i.e. portfolio credit, CLEP exams). BIS caters to the needs of three distinct sub-groups of life-long learners: 1) women returning to school after a hiatus because of parental/family responsibilities; 2) working professionals who want to advance in their careers or switch careers; and 3) retired or semi-retired individuals who pursue academic studies for personal fulfillment. With over 620 students, the program currently graduates and admits about 110 students annually.


A closer look at BIS student demographic data reveals that the average student is 40 years old and has an average exit GPA of 3.4.  Historically female-dominated (65% female) and part-time preponderant (80%), the BIS student population currently includes a large proportion of non-Hispanic whites (64%). Yet, the share of minorities represented in the program has been steadily increasing over the past decade. In fact, Latinos are the fastest growing segment of the BIS student population, increasing their share from 6% in 1999 to 16% in 2005.


The BIS degree requires 120 credits hours, including 10 credits of BIS exclusive coursework (BIS 300/390/490/1). Other BIS requirements include: 1) 30 general education semester hours; 2) 30 Mason residence semester hours; 3) 45 upper-division semester hours; 4) 34-46 semester hours in core concentration; and 5) additional electives. BIS-exclusive curricular requirements, including demands placed upon students to develop a research proposal (original research) in BIS 390, and to carry it out as part of their interdisciplinary capstone project in BIS 490, make the program challenging and innovative. In their senior project, BIS students critically analyze a problem related to their interdisciplinary concentration; in doing so, they have the flexibility to choose from a wide spectrum of formats such as investigative (research), creative and/or participatory (internship/reflective learning) type projects.  Most recently, the program has launched a BIS/Accelerated MS in Telecommunications (144 credits) in partnership with the School of Information Technology and Engineering.


Largely consistent with other individualized programs in the Commonwealth, BIS general education requirements include 6 hours in English Composition, 6 to 9 hours in the Humanities, 6 to 9 in the Social Sciences, and 6 to 9 hours in Science/Analytical Reasoning.  Under the shared supervision of BIS academic advisors/faculty and university-wide faculty mentors in students’ respective areas of specialization, BIS students weave courses from distinct colleges and departments into innovative academic programs of study. Faculty mentors play a key role in the program since they provide the content expertise BIS students need to develop strong individualized concentrations and senior capstone projects.


As Figure 1 illustrates, BIS current students’ programs of study shows large demand for BIS management-related concentrations (34%), concentrations drawing from LAHS (27%), and education careers (17%).  As important, there is a growing demand for technology (11%), art/ visual and media-related (10%) concentrations drawing from both ITE and CVPA/ AVT. 



















N = 220 BIS students


Figure 1. 


Yet, a glance at BIS’ current faculty mentor pool in Figure 2 reveals that LAHS (50%), SOM (15%), and CEHD (16%) are the largest contributors of faculty mentors to the program, whereas IT&E (5%), CVPA (4%), COS (2%), CHNS (2%) and SCC (1%) contribute more modestly. Further, the program draws content experts from the President’s office, the Provost office, University Services, the BIS office, and other Mason units (5%).  




















Figure 2


BIS’s flexibility and interdisciplinarity allows for innovative concentrations that serve mature life-long learners well.  In fact, program “flexibility” is often rated top on the list of reasons leading students to select the program.  Yet, this same “flexibility” and individualized program feature presents administrators with a few infrastructure challenges. Faculty mentor bottlenecks, for example, are one of BIS’ perennial problems since the late 1980s.  As institutional incentives for faculty participation in the program have diminished over the past years (i.e. elimination of time release, modest stipend support) faculty bottlenecks have become more acute.  To illustrate, while at present the program seems to adequately meet student demand for faculty mentors in education-related concentrations, it seems to be falling short in meeting the management, technology and art/visual and media-related concentration demands (See Figure 3). As important, only 1/3 of the total BIS student population is currently working under the supervision of a mentor. In the upcoming year(s), as students move through the academic pipeline, BIS will need to recruit about 380 additional mentors to work with junior and senior students.























Figure 3.


To respond to this bottleneck challenge, given that a strong BIS curriculum is predicated upon an effective partnership between BIS faculty/staff and actively engaged faculty advisors, BIS staff has recently enhanced educational materials (i.e. brochures and tip sheets) in an attempt to educate and attract interested mentors.  Further, the program has enhanced its website, uploading PR materials and forms, and reorganizing course information.  In addition, to better inform faculty on BIS expectations, coursework requirements and mentor responsibilities, BIS staff has been actively presenting information at departmental meetings across campus (i.e. CAS Undergraduate Coordinators Meeting, SOM departmental meetings, Provost-organized Chairs Meeting, Women-sponsored Transitions Conference). Ultimately, the success of the BIS program depends on its ability to continuously recruit faculty mentors from all schools and departments, although the need is most acute for mentors from units currently under represented in our faculty pool. 


Future BIS plans include the development and institutionalization of interdisciplinary program tracks to reduce labor-intensive advising and administrative functions.  BIS staff has begun to develop tracks in “Educational Psychology”, “Legal Studies”, “Business Communications”, “Human Resources Studies”, “Information Technology Management” and “Multicultural Literacy”. Further, a GMU-NVCC articulation agreement to create a BIS Early Childhood Education Studies track, with significantly different eligibility requirements (i.e. student age, transfer credit hours) is currently pending for approval in Admissions.


10.  Salary Equity Study

Committee Members:  Josephine Evola, Elyse Lehman, John Miller, Lisa Pawloski, Don Seto


11.  Technology Policy – Stanley Zoltek, Chair

Committee Members:  Melissa Martin, Goodlett McDaniel, Ami Motro, Paula Petrik, Iosif Vaisman, Steven Weinberger


The committee has met five times during the 2005-2006 academic year.  In addition to the committee members, Dr. Hughes, Dr. Star Muir and Mr. Walter Savon attended the meetings representing the ITU.  Below we summarize the major topics of business for each meeting.


October 27, 2005:  Dr. Hughes reported that the ITU is currently short on staffing in several key positions due to a variety of medical and family emergencies.  In addition, DoIT director Anne Agee is leaving Mason.  Anne’s expertise goes beyond DoIT and so some of her other duties will be absorbed by other ITU staff.  Dr. Hughes asked the chair of the Senate Technology Policy Committee to serve on the search committee. 


An extensive discussion of the pros and cons of using “TURNITIN” at Mason included reflections by committee members on their experience using the “anti-plagiarism tool.”  It was noted that the tool can play an important role in verifying the authenticity of student writing and may be the only efficient tool for doing this when teaching large classes.  Others noted that “TURNITIN” was often viewed negatively by students, but that it can play a positive role in courses that allow time for revision.  Another problem with using “TURNITIN” is that it is expensive.  Its site licensing being based on the total enrollment of a university, we would find ourselves paying for students in programs which might never use “TURNITIN.”  Star Muir reported that the University is running a small pilot project to determine how to best implement “TURNITIN” as a component of our teaching efforts.  Professor Motro suggested that the University consider making Adobe Acrobat “Writer” available to all University members.   Star Muir agreed to determine the cost of obtaining a University-wide license.  It was noted that some platforms (macintosh) have pdf creation built into them.


December 9, 2005:  Steven Weinberger was unanimously elected to represent the FSTPC on the DoIT search committee.  It was announced that GMU alumni can now obtain a lifetime Mason email address.  The committee discussed the need for more flexibility in the naming convention for Mason email addresses.  The committee wanted, for example, to be a viable email address.  The ITU email group is considering how this can be best implemented. 


January 31, 2006:  We heard a report on the A-V dept. laptop loaner program for faculty teaching in classrooms that have a projector but no computer.  This pilot program seems to be very well received by faculty.  The committee was updated on the “Corporate Time Calendar.”  Since new versions are not being developed by Oracle, we will eventually have to adopt a new on-line calendar system.  ITU is researching viable replacement systems.  It was reported that email quotas have been increased for both faculty and students.


March 1, 2006:  Walt Sevon distributed the Mail Frontier statistics on the number of email messages received monthly and the high proportion of spam.  It was noted that total email over the past year has almost doubled in volume to over 20,000,000 per month and SPAM/Viruses accounted for 78% of the total messages in February, 2006.  Iosif Vaisman had questions about spam settings on both Mail Frontier and his client and Walt Sevon offered to schedule some sessions to inform the community on SPAM settings for both Mail Frontier and the email client.


Walt Sevon distributed the ITU plans to upgrade six classrooms (Enterprise 278, Fine Arts Building 106, Krug 242, Robinson B220, Robinson B224, and Robinson B203) to electronic ones, and one classroom (David King 1006) to a smart classroom this summer.  A question was raised about who selects these classrooms to be upgraded and the information passed that the Registrar selects the classrooms.  Much discussion ensued among the committee on the design deficiencies of the electronic classrooms in Enterprise Hall and Innovation Hall.  Joy suggested that classroom design be included as a topic for the faculty focus groups that are being developed.  Many mentioned that although there was a learning curve with using electronic classrooms, the most important element was that the classrooms had a computer and that faculty members did not need to set up a computer prior to class.


The committee next discussed how to best conduct focus groups on support for teaching and learning.  It was decided that Dr. Martin will organize and manage the groups.  As a Marketing professor, she has a great deal of experience in running focus groups.  Membership to the groups will be by mixture of random sample and deliberate selection.  Focus group topics will include:  classroom design; how to provide learning spaces on campus despite the state constraints for classroom buildings; and standards for technology that is placed in classrooms.  Joy mentioned the WebCt and Blackboard merger and that many changes would be forthcoming.


April 6, 2006:  Ron Secrest presented the ITU plan for transitioning the Mason cluster to a new hardware/software platform.  This will result in some services used by faculty will not be available for a few days.  The rest of the meeting was devoted to discussing the focus groups which will be conducted in early Fall 2006.  Dr. Martin and Dr. Zoltek will work together over the summer to select the participants.


12.  Writing Across the Curriculum – Stanley Zoltek, Chair

Committee Members:  Susan Durham, Tamara Maddox, Tom Owens, Ellen Rodgers, Victoria Salmon, Beth Schneider, Christopher Thaiss, Terry Zawacki ex-officio (Director, WAC Program)

Consultants to the Committee:  Sarah Baker, Shelley Reid, Kevin Simmons, Andrew Wingfield


The committee has met four times during the 2005-2006 academic year and will have its last meeting on May 9.  The committee’s charge includes advising the director of “Writing Across the Curriculum,” regularly review writing intensive (WI) syllabi and assist with activities and events related to Writing Across the Curriculum.  Among this academic year’s activities:

  1. Reviewed and revised the email “reminder” sent to WI faculty and chairs about WI requirements.
  2. Each semester checked enrollments in WI courses to assess compliance to the 35-seat requirement.
  3. Revisited the question of what is an appropriate grade percentage that should be assigned to writing assignments in WI courses.
  4. Discussed the possibility of interviewing dept. chairs and undergrad coordinators about the WI requirement – any problems with staffing, keeping seat size down, how faculty are elected and prepared to teach the course, any changes in requirement, and so on.
  5. Discussed interviewing WI faculty on the role of writing in their WI course.  We decided to conduct focus groups instead of or supplemental to interviews, so that WI instructors can hear what others do as well as tell what they do with writing in their classrooms, with the object being to find out what role writing plays pedagogically.  WI faculty currently are not asked to justify why or how they qualify to teach a WI course; and no checkpoint or review exists to see whether they are teaching well with writing.


The committee decided to design a survey to be given prior to focus groups and targeted to certain departments or sections.  The survey could be presented to instructors as an informative precursor to clarify and help with focus groups or workshops, like a fact-finding mission.  Questions would be left somewhat open, such as “Give one example of how you incorporate writing into your course aside from assignments.”  Some questions could be in a checkbox format (frequently, not at all, high/low comfort level, high/low effectiveness).  A subcommittee was formed to develop the survey questions.  It is expected that the focus groups will begin in Fall 2006. 


  1. The committee reviewed and approved several new or modified courses designated to meet the Senate mandated WI requirement, for global affairs, conflict analysis and resolution, and neuroscience, a proposed new major.


Because of the creation of the two new colleges, LAHS and COS, the committee asks that the Senate’s Nomination Committee reconsider the guidelines for determining membership to the WAC committee.  We’ll be giving writing excellence awards again this year.   Currently the committee co-sponsors with departments eight awards in the majors, plans are being made to support more awards this year. 


The writing@center newsletter was offered in both print and online formats for the first time at .


13.  Faculty Handbook Revision Committee – Rick Coffinberger, Chair

Committee Members:  Kevin Avruch, Lorraine Brown, Martin Ford, Dave Harr, Marilyn Mobley, David Rossell (ex-officio), Suzanne Slayden


The Faculty Handbook Revision began met twice per month during the spring semester and will continue to meet throughout the summer (albeit without support for the four instructional faculty members on nine month contracts).  The Committee held three open forums to obtain gather inputs on the issues that need to be addressed.  The Committee has now begun discussing these issues and developing recommendations on them.


14.  Faculty Task Force to Consider Salary Issues – Rick Coffinberger, Chair

Committee Members:  Richard Carver, Michael Ferri, Julie Mahler, Richard Rubenstein, June Tangney


The Task Force met has met several times and communicated frequently by e-mail.  A “progress report” was presented to the Senate at a special meeting held on April 19th.  The Task Force will continue its work over the summer and will present a final report with recommendations to the Senate during the fall semester.


VII.  New Business


A.  Election of the Faculty Senate Chair for the Academic Year 2006-2007:  The nomination of Suzanne Slayden was made and seconded.  No other nominations were made and she was elected unanimously by voice vote.


B.  Teaching Effectiveness Committee – Victoria Salmon:  Motion on Department Criteria for Promotion through “Genuine Excellence in Teaching”


Each George Mason University department and program with at least three tenure line faculty members should establish standards by which faculty can achieve tenure through the “genuine excellence in teaching and high competence in research” route.


The current problem:  Mason’s Center for Teaching Excellence provides a general list of factors to determine excellence in teaching for faculty who qualify for tenure and promotion.  One item on the list is “a clear statement of the departmental expectations in teaching”; however, many departments have yet to clearly articulate their own standards for how this teaching may be evaluated, especially in light of the program’s specific mission.


Faculty who may wish to pursue this pathway to tenure need to have clearly articulated measures from the departments, programs, and colleges.  Broad dimensions are needed to make clear that genuine excellence in teaching is different from good teaching.  To avoid confusion among faculty, departments, and programs a set of dimensions and markers can assist all involved in the tenure decision process. 


If a department does not consider excellence in teaching as the primary track to tenure, then a statement to that effect is necessary for current and future faculty. 


Suggestions for Questions Departments could consider:


Background Information:

a.               2.4 Criteria for Evaluation of Faculty

Recommendations on matters of faculty status (e.g., initial appointment, renewal, promotion, the conferral of tenure, and dismissal) are in large measure a faculty responsibility. The faculty's role in these personnel actions is based upon the essentiality of its judgment to sound educational policy, and upon the fact that scholars in a particular field have the chief competence for judging the work of their colleagues. Implicit in such competence is the acknowledgement that responsibility exists for both adverse and favorable judgments. An additional reason for the faculty's role in these matters is the general competence of experienced faculty personnel committees with a broader charge that encompasses the evaluation of teaching and service.

Recommendations in these matters originate through faculty action in accordance with established procedures; are reviewed by senior academic administrators; and presented to the Board for final approval. The administration and the Board should overturn faculty personnel recommendations only when it is clear that peer faculty have not exercised high standards, or when the University's long- term programmatic needs are an overriding consideration. Such judgments would presumably be reached only in rare instances. In such cases both the candidate and the faculty bodies participating in the decision-making process are entitled to know the reasons administrators give to the President in recommending that faculty judgment be overturned. Only in extraordinary circumstances and for clear and compelling reasons should administrators substitute their own judgment of the value of scholarly accomplishments for judgments made by professionals in the discipline.

Candidates for reappointment, promotion and tenure will be evaluated in light of the missions of the University which are teaching, scholarship, both theoretical and applied, and service (as defined in 2.4.4). Although candidates are not expected to have equal levels of commitment or equal responsibilities in each of these areas, high competence is expected. Genuine excellence must be exhibited in the areas of teaching or scholarship and high competence must be exhibited in both. The primary consideration in the evaluation of the candidates' achievements will be the extent to which these continue to improve the academic quality of the University. Peer review plays a central role in the evaluation of individual achievement in each of these areas.

Levels of expectation will vary with the type of decision. While probationary appointments will, to some extent, recognize perceived potential rather than achievement, appointment without term or promotion in rank will be based on achievement rather than potential. Appointment without term should leave very few doubts, if any, about the candidate's value to the University over an extended period.

As stated above, candidates need to exhibit levels of competence and excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service as defined above. If a candidate's strength is sharply concentrated in only one area, then the candidate's achievements in that area should have some significant impact beyond the boundaries of this University. If the primary strength is teaching, there should be evidence that the candidate's contributions have influence beyond the immediate classroom; if in theoretical or applied scholarship, there should be evidence that the candidate's contributions have significant influence on colleagues at other institutions in this country, and where applicable, abroad.

In addition to specific academic qualifications and professional competence, evaluation for promotion or tenure should consider the candidate's concern for professional ethics and responsibilities. For purposes of promotion and tenure, the total period of service to the University will be evaluated.

2.4.1 Teaching

Effective teaching is demonstrated by the clarity, appropriateness, and efficacy of course materials, methods, and presentations. Contributions to teaching include the development and implementation of new courses and programs; the development of instructional materials, including applications of new technologies; the training and supervision of teaching assistants; mentoring graduate students; clinical and field supervision of students; and student advising.

2.4.2 Scholarship

Scholarly achievement is demonstrated by original published and refereed contributions to the advancement of the discipline/field of study or the integration of the discipline with other fields; by original research, artistic work, exhibitions, and performance; and by the application of discipline- or field-based knowledge to the practice of a profession.

2.4.3 Professional Service

Professional service is demonstrated by contributions to recognized societies and associations that promote scholarship; by consultancies and cooperative projects that make the faculty member's discipline or field-based knowledge available to individuals, groups or agencies outside the University. Local academic units will develop and disseminate in a timely manner (i) specific discipline- or field- based expectations regarding the types of professional service which will be considered appropriate as evidence in promotion and tenure cases and (ii) the criteria to be used in assessing the quality of this service.

2.4.4 University Service

Decisions on reappointment, promotion and tenure will also be influenced by the extent of the candidate's service to the University. All full-time faculty are expected to participate as part of their professional responsibilities in governance and operational activities outside the classroom. Required university service includes, but is not limited to, such activity as attendance at faculty meetings and participation in faculty personnel matters and curriculum development. University service beyond that which is required of all faculty members will be given positive weight in personnel decisions. Each local academic unit will make known in a timely manner its requirements concerning the minimum acceptable level of university service and its policies concerning positive weight to be given for intramural service in excess of that minimum requirement.


Discussion centered on the impact to programs and faculty of stated specific sets of criteria that may narrow rather than expand the range of appropriate practice; views that  Faculty Handbook adequately addressed the issue along with  Teaching Excellence Standards set out in the university in 2001. 

The motion was tabled until the Committee is able to seek feedback from the Center for Teaching Excellence and the Provost’s Office. 


C.  Report from the Admissions Office – Andrew Flagel, Director of Admissions

The Final Four didn’t play out for this year’s admissions season as application deadlines had passed; significant trends this year included: 

·        10% increase in applications since last year; over 11,000 applications received for 2200-2300 spaces in the freshman class.   This year we accepted 7% less than last year. 

·        National admissions/acceptance yield 30-33%, ruling out open enrollment.  Last year yield  increased from 32% to 35%; this year appears it will be around 37%. Jump in yield again even though we admitted 500 fewer students.

·        Increase in average SAT scores, fewer scores at bottom, more at top, not a huge influx of middle, students at top pulling averages up higher, more competitive.  There is no such thing as an SAT score cutoff; SAT scores horrific predictors; over 3.4 have no correlative value with students; lower scores tend to have lower academic profile; average mid 1100s. 

·        Average GPA increased from 3.3 to 3.4.  In response to question raised regarding high school grade inflation, much less pronounced in northern Virginia where 94 = A, but it is a national trend. 

·        Also a higher percentage of students living on campus:  from 53% to almost 70% today.

·        Most importantly he noted how excited students are to be here.  A big jump that reported that GMU was their first choice.  As of May 1st, deposits received have filled the class.  Students began depositing heavily in December.   At the moment it looks like we’ll have a substantially larger freshman class (2,500 students). Best projections indicate the class will be the most competitive and diverse, both ethnically and geographically.

·        Inquiries up 350%, tours at double/triple capacity; they are not coming because of basketball, but because of academic experience at this institution. Expectation that next year will be nothing less than extraordinary.

·        How to maintain our accessibility to a wide community with surging numbers of applications?

·        Institute, graduate applications up 4%

·        Had to add some sections of General Ed classes last year and this year to accommodate transfer students; constantly in process to mitigate downstream effect. About half of transfer students come from NVCC, an extremely competitive group.

·        In-state vs. out-of-state:  demographic bubble in this state; nationally huge influx from Florida, California, and Texas.  Suddenly receiving a flood of inquiries from Michigan, Ohio, and North Carolina . Currently between 17-18% out-of-state freshman; next year likely to climb over 20%

·        Northern Virginia area full of excellent schools – are we getting more good students from local area?  - Vast majority of local students want to go away to school; highest profile likely to come from south/out of area.


The Senators thanked outgoing Chair of the Faculty Senate Dave Kuebrich with a huge round of applause.  Dave thanked them for their kind words and hoped to continue to serve in another capacity.


The meeting adjourned at 4:12 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

Susan Trencher



Appendix:  “Explanation of Decision to Not to Recommend Changes to the Academic Calendar,” May 1, 2006: Submitted by Cliff Sutton, Chair Academic Policies

During the 2005-2006 academic year, the Academic Policies Committee of the Faculty Senate investigated possible changes to academic calendar policy. This investigation was in large part inspired by the Student Senate's desire to add more reading days to the academic calendar.

It was immediately obvious that it would not be easy to add reading days unless the semesters started earlier. So we considered three proposals: one to start the fall semester about one half week earlier, one to start the spring semester about one half week earlier, and one to have classes on Labor Day and have a two day break in October instead of continuing with the current practice of taking Labor Day Monday off, taking Columbus Day Monday off, and having Monday classes meet on the Tuesday after Columbus Day.

After calling for input about these three proposals, it was found that there was very strong opposition to the proposal involving Labor Day. Specifically, in addition to some faculty members thinking that it would be a bad practice to have classes on Labor Day, the Staff Senate strongly objected to this proposal since it would mean that many of them would have to give up the Labor Day holiday and work instead. A key objection from the Staff Senate was that many workers rely on child care centers to take care of their children while they are at work and these child care centers would not be open on Labor Day.

The possibility of having classes with only a relatively small number of essential staff members working was briefly considered, but the provost clearly stated that he felt that if classes were held on Labor Day, university offices should be open to assist students, and that it was not practical to try to have classes with only relatively few staff members working. It was suggested that perhaps our staff could use a system like they use at Virginia Tech where staff members who choose to work on Labor Day can take another day off instead, but our Staff Senate strongly objected to this, claiming that such a policy here could lead to problems. So, the Academic Policies Committee decided to not pursue the Labor Day proposal, but still let the Faculty Senate vote to determine if the semesters should start about one half week earlier in order to allow for a longer reading day period.

In the three hours just prior to the Senate meeting at which votes on the proposals concerning the semester starting times would occur, some science faculty members pointed out that starting the fall and spring semesters on Thursday instead of Monday would severely hurt the quality of many science lab courses. This is due to the fact that because it takes a lot of time to set up the labs for a new assignment, many lab courses with a lot of lab sections don't make use of partial weeks, and only run labs during full weeks of classes. In the fall, because there are partial weeks of classes the weeks of Labor Day, Columbus Day, and Thanksgiving Day, there are only 12 full weeks of classes in which to have labs (assuming no other weeks are fragmented because of cancellations due to bad weather). If the proposals to begin the semesters on Thursday instead of Monday were approved, the effect would be that a full week would be replaced by two partial weeks, leaving only 11 full weeks of classes in the fall.

Some of the science faculty were among those faculty members who most strongly supported the Labor Day proposal since if approved it would result in fewer partial weeks of classes, and they felt that it would be particularly bad to approve semester starting time policies that would result even more partial weeks (and fewer full weeks of classes). In addition, the Center for Global Education protested that starting the spring semester earlier would have a harmful effect on the Winter Abroad programs, and the physical plant claimed that starting the fall semester earlier would not give them sufficient time to prepare the campus for the fall semester (since a lot of repair work and other preparation work is done after summer session ends and before the fall semester begins). Given all of these major complaints about starting the semesters earlier, the Academic Policies Committee concluded that it would not be good to propose that the semester start about one half week earlier. In addition to the problems that were pointed out, it could be that unexpected problems would also result if any changes were made, and so it seems best to stick with the current academic calendar policies. (Note: More details could be given to support the decision to not recommend any changes at this time, but I wanted to keep this reasonably short.)

It should be noted that due to the problem incomplete class weeks cause for the science labs, any future attempts to add reading days to the academic calendar would have to focus on calendar changes for which the number of incomplete class weeks is not increased. So it seems crucial that a way be found to have classes on Labor Day in order to eliminate the partial week caused by taking Labor Day off.