JANUARY 24, 2007


Senators Present:  Ernest Barreto, Sheryl Beach, Kristine Bell, Jim Bennett, Alok Berry, Deborah Boehm-Davis, Russ Brayley, Lorraine Brown, Phillip Buchanan, Frieda Butler, Sandra Cheldelin, Julie Christensen, Rick Coffinberger, Jose Cortina, Jane Flinn, Karen Hallows, Mark Houck, Dimitrios Ioannou, Dan Joyce, Jim Kozlowski, David Kuebrich, Howard Kurtz, Linda Monson, Jean Moore, Patricia Moyer-Packenham, Paula Petrik, Peter Pober, Jane Razeghi, Larry Rockwood, Jim Sanford, Suzanne Slayden, Peter Stearns, Cliff Sutton, Ellen Todd, Susan Trencher, Phil Wiest, James Willett, Mary Williams, Stanley Zoltek.


Senators Absent:  Jack Censer, Vikas Chandhoke, Sara Cobb, Lloyd Cohen, Warren Decker, Allison Frendak, Jeffrey Gorrell, Lloyd Griffiths, Kingsley Haynes, Menas Kafatos, Matt Karush, Richard Klimoski, Jane McDonald, Alan Merten, Robert Nadeau, Daniel Polsby, William Reeder, Joe Scimecca, Ilya Somin, Ray Sommer, June Tangney, Shirley Travis, Iosif Vaisman, Jennie Wu, John Zenelis.


Visitors Present:  Don Boileau, Professor of Communication; Jessica Bowdoin, Vice-Chair, Librarian’s Council – University Libraries; Pat Donini, Deputy Director – HR & Payroll, Employee Relations Director; Dolores Gomez-Roman, Ombudsman – Academic Affairs; Robin Herron, Editor – Mason Gazette; Susan Jones, University Registrar; Marilyn Mobley, Associate Provost for Education Programs; Della Patrick, Vice-Chair, Staff Senate; Bob Smith, Professor of Psychology.


I.  Call to Order:  The meeting was called to order at 3:02 p.m.


II.  Approval of Minutes of November 29, 2006:  The minutes were approved as distributed.


III.  Announcements:  Chair Suzanne Slayden welcomed new Senators Sandra Cheldelin (ICAR) and Dimitrios Ioannou (IT&E).  Lorraine Brown will serve as Chair of the Organization and Operations Committee.


IV.  Old Business – none. 


V.  Senate Standing Committees


Executive Committee – Suzanne Slayden, Chair

Since the O&O committee has been inactive this semester, the Executive Committee has received requests for study and/ or action on items which have been assigned to committees as noted below:


A. Faculty Matters Committee: Requests for new University policies and procedures on Simultaneous Employment of Family Members and Direct Hires.


1. Simultaneous Employment of Family Members: These hires refer to the simultaneous hiring of husband and wife faculty members, in the same or different local academic units, after either a search resulting in the hire of one of the spouses, or an initial direct hire of one of the spouses.  Simultaneous employment may also occur when two members of the faculty marry each other and/or when an established GMU faculty member or administrator is married and the spouse seeks and is hired for a faculty position at GMU. 

This policy would establish rules and procedures for hiring two or more faculty who are members of the same immediate family.



2. Revision in Procedures for "Direct Hire" (waived search) of Faculty:  Permission for direct hires must be received from the Equity Office.  Some units have a high number of direct hires, in other units they are less common.  Direct hires may be at the Assistant, Associate or Full professor level. Hiring of faculty with tenure at the Associate and Full Professor level would include a mandatory “second-level” review prior to awarding tenure.  (Note:  No procedure for direct hires is currently in the Faculty Handbook, technically making this section an extension rather than revision of procedure).


B. Academic Policies Committee:  Request for information and rationale for the change from MW to MWF class schedules


Academic Policies – Cliff Sutton, Chair

Professor Sutton explained that a pattern of misunderstanding exists regarding when pass/fail courses can be used.  They are currently permitted only outside field of major but in recent years the addition of many minors, and certificate programs has created a need for clarification as the intention was to use pass/fail courses for free electives, not minors/certificates.  The change in catalog wording appears in italics. 


Disallow undergraduate students to elect to take courses on S/NC basis if they wish to use them to satisfy the requirements of a minor or certificate. (Currently the S/NC option applies to electives outside the major field.) A portion of page 35 of the GMU catalog will be changed, as indicated below with the altered portion shown in italics, to state this policy.

Entire courses normally graded as satisfactory/no credit (S/NC) are annotated in the catalog, but students may elect to take credit without grade points. Undergraduates may take up to 6 credits to be graded S/NC; this option applies only to electives outside the field of the major, minor or certificate program.


The Academic Procedures Advisory Committee (APAC), a group of Assistant/Associate Deans and administrators chaired by Susan Jones (Registrar), suggested this catalog change. When the current rule was written years ago, minor and certificate programs were not nearly as popular and it was perhaps an oversight to not refer to them explicitly. There is currently confusion about this rule, with some believing that the option may be used for courses used for a minor or certificate program, and others thinking that the option may only be used for completely free electives.


The motion was approved by unanimous voice vote.


Budget and Resources – Phil Buchanan, Chair

Professor Buchanan presented the following table of special salary adjustments (previously referred to in the university as “equity adjustments”), ranging from $250 to $11,500. 


Faculty Senate Data Request

Special Salary Adjustments

11-25-2006 Salary Raise Process




















$200 - $4,400

$1,909 $1,425


Asst - 14   Assoc - 20     Prof - 8

Tenure - 26 T/T - 15               Term - 1




$748 - $7,002

$2,973 $2,004


Inst - 3 Asst - 4  Assoc - 8    Prof - 4

Tenure - 8    T/T - 3              Term - 8




$630 - $15,000

$5,177 $4,000


Asst - 16   Assoc - 12 Prof - 11

Tenure - 23   T/T - 16




$310 - $4,000

$2,218  $2,274


Inst - 1     Asst - 9      Assoc - 14  Prof - 11

Tenure - 15    T/T - 17        Term - 3




$220 - $11,489

$2,659  $1,328


Asst - 4      Assoc - 9       Prof. - 3

Tenure - 10   T/T - 5         Term - 1




$3,000 - $7,000

$3,167    $4,750


Assoc - 1     Prof - 3

Tenure - 3




$1,500 - $5,500

$2,602 $2,500


Inst - 2       Asst - 1           Assoc - 11           Prof -4

Tenure - 15    Term - 3












$5,000 - $9,000

$7,000         $7,000


Prof - 3

Tenure - 3




$500 - $8,500

$2,825 $2,000


Inst - 3      Asst - 16      Assoc - 13     Prof - 6

Tenure - 18   T/T - 9           Term - 11




$5,000 - $10,000

$7000    $8000


Asst - 1      Prof - 3

Tenure - 3       T/T - 1

*Neither requested nor received funds.






The Budget and Resources Committee of the Faculty Senate moves that the Provost’s Office prepare and distribute at the December 2006 meeting of the Faculty Senate a report on “equity based” 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).










In response to a question it was noted that the salary above data includes all instructional faculty and  administrators who also hold faculty rank.  In response to a Senator’s request, Professor Buchanan will report on raises of administrative faculty without relation to tenured status. (Individual situations will not be identified).


Professor Buchanan announced that we have received information for all faculty salaries as of November 2006 and hope to have it posted to the Faculty Senate website in the next couple of weeks.


Faculty Matters –Jim Sanford, Chair

Professor Sanford will invite a member of the Faculty Handbook Revision Committee to work with Faculty Matters while considering the two newly assigned issues.


Faculty representative to the Parking Committee, Senator Peter Pober raised the issue that the previous program negotiated by the Faculty Matters committee in which individuals could purchase fifteen-use parking passes (often used by adjunct faculty who may be on campus once a week) no longer exists; nor has he been contacted regarding meetings of the Parking Committee.  Professor Sanford suggested he contact Josh Cantor, Director of Parking and Transportation directly. 


Organization and Operations – no report.


Nominations – Jim Bennett, Chair

Susie Crate and David Kuebrich were unanimously elected by voice vote to serve as Faculty Representatives to the Environmental Task Force. 


Other Committees

External Academic Relations – David Kuebrich, Co-Chair

Senator Kuebrich, Senator Rick Coffinberger, and Senator Deborah Boehm-Davis attended Higher Education Advocacy Day in Richmond on January 11th.  Twenty-five appointments were arranged with delegates, senators or their legislative assistants. 


Items of discussion included the seven pieces of legislation supported by the Faculty Senate of Virginia and the Virginia Chapter, AAUP (detailed in FS Minutes 11-29-06) as well as additional items of concern to GMU faculty.  We were well-received everywhere.  Professor Coffinberger expressed some disappointment by what he perceived those at GMU have done or not done.  Even the Northern Virginia lobbyists did not seem to be aware of the issue of COLA adjustments.  The GMU administration and lobbyists need to be doing a better job.  Another problem is that despite repeated requests by the External Academic Relations Committee and the Salary Task Force, faculty were not able to have much communication with the newly hired GMU lobbyist(s). It was noted that two legislators recommended raising tuition, with some of the new revenues to go to faculty salaries, some to need-based financial aid. 


VII.  Other New Business

Resolution regarding the GMU Sign on Braddock Road – Suzanne Slayden

A letter (Appendix A) was distributed at the meeting in which Gerald Connolly, Chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, asked the University to remove/relocate the sign in response to many complaints received from the local community.  Much discussion about the sign has taken place in local papers, including The Washington Post.  One Senator noted that no representative from the administration was present to discuss the sign.  In the following discussion it was noted that signs are common throughout the geographic area; relocation to (1) the center of campus might be considered in response to student complaints about not knowing what is happening on campus; (2) or the gas station opposite the main Braddock Road entrance to campus might be considered. One Senator reported receiving fifty phone calls from alumni happy to see what’s going on at the campus. Concerns in the local neighborhood included references to its “ugliness,” and “garish colors,” that distract drivers and make it hazardous to traffic safety.  The sign (about 3-4 stories high) is located on state property thus is exempt from local ordinances. It was announced that Delegate David Bulova introduced legislation in Richmond about the sign engendering comment by other delegates in Richmond. It was noted during general comment that as an LED sign, it uses less electricity than regular light bulbs, but it goes on and off all day.  While not particularly attractive, it does inform the local community of events.  The university spent $320,000 for the sign and also takes out full-page ads in Business Week and Newsweek, as well as announcements on National Public Radio; a Senator expressed concern that so little money available for important things, although lauds publicity; also knows full-page ads are very expensive.


The initial text of the resolution was revised and the following resolution was passed by a divided vote:


The George Mason University Faculty Senate strongly urges the Central Administration to be sensitive to the widespread opposition to the large electronic sign erected by GMU at Braddock Road and to act quickly to resolve the situation.


VIII.  Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty

It was moved, seconded, and approved that the Senate go into a closed session.


IX.              Adjournment:  The meeting was adjourned at 4:07 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

Susan Trencher



Appendix A – pp. 6-7











Chairman’s heading



January 12, 2007





Alan G. Merten, President

George Mason University

4400 University Drive, MS 341

Fairfax, Virginia 22030


Dear President Merten:


For more than 30 years, Fairfax County and George Mason University have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship.  The Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County and the community have supported GMU’s development and its cultural, educational, and sports programs, and have taken pride in its national and worldwide reputation as an outstanding university.  Many of the students, faculty, administration, and their families live and work in Fairfax County.  Through the years the County and GMU have adopted a “good-neighbor policy” that balances the interests of the university with those of the surrounding community.


However, in August 2006, without prior consultation or discussion with the Board of Supervisors, County staff, or the surrounding community, GMU erected a large LED electronic sign near the intersection of Braddock Road and Sideburn Road, which is not in character with the surrounding neighborhood and raises considerable traffic concerns because of its location immediately adjacent to an intersection with a traffic light.  Nearby residents have complained about the glare from the sign, the hours that the sign operates, and the “splash” and moving “Las Vegas-type” graphics in the advertisements.  Subsequent to the sign’s installation, staff from GMU attended several meetings with community leaders, County staff, and Supervisor Sharon Bulova to, among other things, discuss and respond to the citizens’ concerns about the sign.  As a result, GMU made some accommodations regarding the operation of the sign by limiting the frequency of changes in advertisements and the type of images on the sign, restricting the hours that images are displayed, and reducing the luminescence of the sign in the evening.


Despite these changes, the sign remains out of character with the surrounding community, continues to negatively impact the homes in the adjacent neighborhoods, and constitutes a traffic hazard by distracting drivers approaching and entering the busy intersection.  The Fairfax County Zoning Ordinance specifically prohibits such signs.  Furthermore, as a result of the problems created by the sign and the continued opposition by the community, and because it appears that the Zoning Ordinance and state code provisions regarding placement of advertisements in and along rights-of-way do not apply to state universities, it is the Board’s understanding that legislation is currently being proposed that would require certain signs erected by educational institutions to comply with a locality’s sign ordinance. 


In an effort to try to resolve the problems that the sign has created at the local level, the Board of Supervisors has authorized me to request GMU to reconsider its decision to erect the sign at its current location adjacent to residential communities and at a busy intersection, and either remove the sign or relocate it to a more appropriate location.  The Board recognizes GMU’s desire and need to keep the community informed of its activities and programs; however, the interests of GMU should be balanced with those of the surrounding community.  The removal or relocation of the sign would be a clear indication that GMU recognizes that it is part of the community and is concerned about the impact its decision has had on the community.  It would also show that GMU understands that it has benefited from its long association with the County and its residents and that it values that relationship.  It is my sincere hope that GMU and the County can work cooperatively to resolve this matter.






Gerald E. Connolly, Chairman


cc:  Members of the Board of Supervisors

       Anthony H. Griffin, County Executive