GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE
NOVEMBER 1, 2006
Senators Present: Ernest Barreto, Sheryl Beach, Kristine Bell, James Bennett, Deborah Boehm-Davis, Lorraine Brown, Phillip Buchanan, Julie Christensen, Jose Cortina, Warren Decker, Jeffrey Gorrell, Karen Hallows, Dan Joyce, Matthew Karush, Jim Kozlowski, David Kuebrich, Howard Kurtz, Alan Merten, Linda Monson, Jean Moore, Patricia Moyer-Packenham, Robert Nadeau, Peter Pober, Jane Razeghi, Larry Rockwood, Jim Sanford, Suzanne Slayden, Ray Sommer, Peter Stearns, Cliff Sutton, Susan Trencher, Mary Williams, Jennie Wu, John Zenelis, Stanley Zoltek.
Senators Absent: Alok Berry, Russ Brayley, Frieda Butler, Jack Censer, Vikas Chandhoke, Sara Cobb, Rick Coffinberger, Lloyd Cohen, Jane Flinn, Allison Frendak, Lloyd Griffiths, Kingsley Haines, Susan Hirsch, Mark Houck, Menas Kafatos, Richard Klimoski, Jane McDonald, Ami Motro, Paula Petrik, Daniel Polsby, William Reeder, Joe Scimecca, Ilya Somin, June Tangney, Ellen Todd, Shirley Travis, Iosif Vaisman, Phil Wiest, James Willett.
Visitors Present: Don Boileau, Communication Dept.; Jessica Bowdoin, Librarian – Fenwick Library; Marion Deshmukh, Chair – History and Art History; Pat Donini, Deputy Director/Human Resources/Payroll and Employee Relations Director; Dolores Gomez-Roman, Ombudsman – Academic Affairs; Linda Harber, Associate Vice President – Human Resources/Payroll; Robin Herron, Creative Services; Susan Jones, Registrar; Marilyn Mobley, Associate Provost.
I. Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 3:00 p.m.
II. Approval of the Minutes of October 18, 2006: The minutes were approved as distributed.
Howard Kurtz is the new Senator from the College of Visual and Performing Arts.
Eulogy for Lawrence Levine – Marion Deshmukh, Chair, History and Art History
Professor Lawrence Levine, Professor of History and Art History, passed away last week. A pioneering cultural historian of the 20th century, his work Opening of the American Mind: Canons, Culture and History countered Alan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind. Among his many books were Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in American and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom. A moment of silence was observed in his memory.
President Merten thanked Senators for the time and energy they put into the Faculty Senate as well as, as faculty members at GMU. He acknowledged the loss to the GMU community of historian Larry Levine, and of Bob Krug, President of GMU (1977-78), a position to which he was appointed after serving as a faculty member, Chair of the Chemistry department, Dean of the Faculty and Graduate School, and Provost.
Organization and restructuring: In his remarks the President highlighted continuing change in the units previously known as the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and School of Computational Sciences (SCS), as a timely and important move as well as the expanded scope of the College of Health and Human Services which enables GMU to be more responsive to broad issues in the health and human services areas.
Facilities: The President described GMU as in the early phases of a major construction boom. Ground will soon be broken at the Arlington campus; minor changes to Prince William campus are taking place in preparation for a scheduled new town center; there is on-going construction on the Loudoun County and United Arab Emirates (UAE) campuses. New housing for 1,000 students in the northeast sector of the Fairfax Campus is currently under construction and thinking has begun about an additional 1,000 rooms. Plans are moving ahead on the hotel/conference center and assisted living/retirement community.
Budget and funding priorities: The President stated that GMU had a good year last year with the biannual budget. In 2006, the General Assembly authorized a 4.0% faculty salary increase which was 50% funded institutionally. Mason increased that by 1.5% to allow for at least a 5.5% increase for faculty salaries. It is anticipated that GMU would supplement any appropriated salary increase in 2007, although the General Assembly has not appropriated any funds for salary increases in 2007. The Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) was GMU’s #1 priority during the 2006 General Assembly and although members agreed it was important the $24 million cost precluded its consideration in committee. The President stated that the COLA will again be the #1 priority in 2007 however, in his view the failure of the General Assembly to address the transportation issue and the fact that this is a “short” session makes it less likely that any funds will be made available for this purpose. Members of the Board of Visitors will be meeting with the Governor to, among other things, make sure that Governor Kaine knows what Mason’s priorities are for the budget. A high priority in higher education is the unified budget amendment which addresses base budget adequacy and student financial assistance (access). While the COLA will, again, be the #1 priority in 2008 and the President expects that it will be part of the Governor’s budget proposal, the likelihood of being in the final budget will be determined by what other budget priorities are on the table for the General Assembly. Other high priorities for GMU include research, graduate student support, capital improvements, and base budget funding. Currently GMU is staging a “ full-court press on governor and General Assembly now for modification of biennial budget” and working with other schools. President Merten stressed the significance of the 2008 budget year (the budget is published in 2007) as the only budget which the governor submits and implements in its entirety during his term. Governor Kaine has already made specific statements in support of pre-kindergarten and K-12 education.
Summary of funding priorities for short session:
-1- faculty/staff salary increases, COLA
-2- undergraduate need-based financial aid
-3- graduate student fellowships/financial aid
-4- research funding.
Other Areas of Budget and Construction
GMU intends to construct a building for the Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering that will cost in excess of $50 million. Funding will be provided by $25 million from the state, $15 million contributed from grant overhead, and a $10 million gift. Ernst Volgenau provided the $10 million for student support in non-endowment monies; the university needed to provide $25 million. Part of that amount will be provided by designing the building to include space for corporations to rent. Funding for the building was accomplished by getting state money to match federal/private capital money.
A Performing Arts Center will be constructed at the Prince William campus with money from the city, county, state and private sector. A $4 million gift from the deLaskis and an additional $4 million from the state will be used to renovate the Performing Arts building. This model of packaging funds by leveraging private and federal funding to get state dollars in order to build facilities will be the model from now on.
GMU received $3 million for this year; $3 million for next year; and $3 million spread over two years for research equipment focused on the biological sciences; the first time the state has provided a 3:3:3 amount.
GMU was unable to obtain financial resources adequate for increased need-based financial aid for undergraduate students. We received significant dollars in base adequacy money to catch up on enrollment growth part of which was used to hire more faculty and staff and to faculty salary increases.
Comments, Questions and Responses
Senator’s comment and question: Glad that the university has set the COLA as its number one funding priority and asked if this was the first time that the university has identified the COLA as the number one funding/budget priority to state legislators?
President Merten’s Response: It would not be a good idea to give any legislator the idea that the COLA is the university’s first priority, so the COLA will be packaged with the four identified areas of importance to GMU (COLA, undergraduate and graduate assistance, research funding). Citing his experience with legislators the President’s intention is to approach the issue by making it clear that if we don’t get more support for need and merit-based scholarships we will be unable to take the next step which includes support for graduate fellowships and research funding. If we can get base adequacy dollars based on the list of four priorities, GMU is likely to receive undesignated money which while not showing up as faculty salary increases would fund them. President Merten expects these increases to be funded because it’s an election year, rather than in the present case when current requests fall in a non-election part of the cycle. While last year GMU raised the COLA issue on its own, the President stated that we have to get faculty senates from all state universities in Virginia as well as go to other entities in Northern Virginia (such as NOVA) who have state employees. President Merten cited a statement by Bob McDonnell, VA Attorney General, that he had had trouble hiring attorneys in northern Virginia as evidence of inadequate state salaries.
Senator’s question: What is the status of the Loudoun campus.
President Merten: GMU wants a significant campus presence in Loudoun County: 2010-11 time frame for development of a 128 acre land parcel off Route 50 for CEHD and Biological/Health Sciences orientation. CEHD and several other departments are currently renting space in that area. President Merten stated that we will not build a campus at Loudoun at all costs; we must have enough built around us, such as condos/homes; if zoning allows the right things to be there. Tom Hennessey testified in front of the Loudoun Board for 90 minutes the other night in support of construction of these facilities as well as adequate roads.*
Senator’s comment and questions: A Senator thanked President Merten for putting the COLA on top of list but noted that while 5.5% was made available for faculty salaries, monies taken off the top before reaching the department meant that most faculty in his department received a top raise of 4.1%. The gap in this figure between the 5.5% available means that no progress is being made by the faculty in the salary gap between their salaries and those of top central administrators.
The Senator further noted that GMU and the legislature is being “pennywise and pound foolish” if there is inadequate funding to enable construction of green buildings and asked for the President’s view.
President Merten: Agreed that GMU should build public/private buildings that are sustainable and that he would work to make that happen. He said that the faculty housing/retirement center would be built right with adequate level of greenness.”
President Merten also noted that it would be worthwhile to look at creating something on the academic side such as a certificate (not degree) program to give students the opportunity to develop expertise in this area, and invited us to put more pressure on him so he could put it on the appropriate people about greening the campus, saying 'You have my commitment, let me know what I can do…some information just recently understood...(gives us an opportunity) to do something in this area and show off."
At the state level, the General Assembly is at ground zero on this issue, and the Provost when asked, provided the information that Virginia cost parameters do not focus on these matters.
It was suggested that a subset of the Faculty Senate work with the administration to make the “operating side” work and encourage academic departments to work on the certificate side. The Senator stressed that there should be broad university involvement along with that of the Faculty Senate; the more bottom-up,.the better. Future scenarios include faculty providing intellectual leadership on this.
* On November 9,2006 the Washington Post reported that the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors had rejected the development project specified by President Merton as the anchor for GMU’s 123 acre campus.
Senator’s question and follow-up: Given that the administration has found creative means to fund physical infrastructure are there similarly creative efforts being designed to fund the human infrastructure, i.e. staff and faculty salaries.
President Merten: The first Capital Campaign finished up last year and GMU is now in a series of mini-campaigns: for Prince William Center for the Performing Arts, scholarship dollars, construction of basketball practice and athletic support facility next to the Patriot Center; and for the Volgenau School. In a few weeks there will be an announcement to the academic units to get ready for the next campaign which focuses on departments and the identification of needs for which they will raise money – both on dept/facilities side. Monies raised should include some support for state salaries through educating donors, something GMU could not do in the first campaign. Further, the President hopes that each school/college when asked to come up with wish list would ask for private support for faculty salaries.
Follow-up: Having various units seek to raise their faculty salaries from private funds raises the issue of putting units in competition with each other for fund raising for salaries and increase concerns about disparity in faculty salaries between, within and among units at GMU.
President Merten: When raising private dollars donors prefer to give designated money more often that the university might like. There is rarely negotiation about where donated funds can be spent. The Volgenaus are an example of a sophisticated donor who provides money not for endowment but without a lot of specific guidelines. Donor would take a dim view of this. – donors want to give to unit – visible and targeted.
Resolution on Satellite Campuses: sponsored by Senator Rick Coffinberger
WHEREAS the Central Administration has established a campus of George Mason University in the United Arab Emirates from which students may earn GMU degrees; and
WHEREAS similar operations may be established at other locations outside Virginia and, indeed, outside the U.S.; and
WHEREAS Faculty should have the primary role in decisions regarding curriculum and personnel matters;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Faculty Senate establish a Task Force on Satellite Operations to review the content of academic course offerings, to assess the qualifications of the Faculty, and to monitor any and all aspects of the programs, especially financial commitments and enrollments, offered at all satellite campuses. The Task Force shall consist of three GMU Faculty members in Virginia from programs offering degrees or certificates at satellite operations. This Task Force shall report to the Faculty Senate at least once each semester.
Discussion points included the definition of Satellite campuses as out of state. An amendment was proposed that the Task Force report at least once a year instead of once a semester. The amendment to the motion passed unanimously by voice vote. The amended motion passed unanimously by voice vote.
V. New Business – Committee Reports
A. Senate Standing Committees
Executive Committee – no report.
Academic Policies – Cliff Sutton announced the AP Committee’s next meeting will be held next week; all are welcome to attend.
Budget and Resources – no report.
Faculty Matters – no report.
Organization and Operations – no report.
Nominations – Jim Bennett
1. Peter Pober is nominated to the Parking Services Advisory Committee – unanimously elected by voice vote.
2. Report from the Nominations Committee: Trials and Tribulations of University Service (Attachment B) was circulated in an effort to point out the difficulties in getting faculty to volunteer or agree to university service. The document focuses on some of the reasons for these difficulties, and includes a request to the Faculty Handbook Revision committee to specify service as a central and rewarded activity. The Chair of the Nominations Committee thanked the committee members for their efforts in putting this document together.
B. Other Committees – none.
VII. Other New Business – none.
VIII. Adjournment – the meeting was adjourned at 3:53 p.m.
Secretary, Faculty Senate
Report from the Nominations Committee
Trials and Tribulations of University Service
The Faculty Senate Nominations Committee wishes to share with you some observations and concerns regarding University service. Our motivation for doing so is the chronic problem of finding faculty members who are willing and able to work on committees and task forces and in the other positions that are essential to the functioning of the University as an academic enterprise. As the official voice of the faculty, the Faculty Senate is tasked with electing and appointing individuals to serve, and the Nominations Committee is tasked with providing a slate.
A “Call for Nominations” sent via e-mail to the entire faculty often produces few or even no responses. Then, it becomes the unenviable task of Nominations Committee members to dragoon, impress, arm twist, plead with, or harass their busy colleagues to accept a nomination to some committee, task force, or position. Rarely is an election contested because there are more candidates than vacancies to be filled. Even a casual review of the Minutes of the Faculty Senate’s (available for several years on the Senate’s webpage) first meeting in September of each year, the meeting at which most vacancies are filled, will show that except in rare circumstances, elections are by unanimous vote. The Faculty Senate Nominations Committee believes that it is fortunate to have even one person for each slot; nominations from the floor in addition to the Nominations Committee’s slate are rare.
This state of affairs is unsatisfactory for several reasons. First, it puts the members of the Nominations Committee in an uncomfortable position: We seem to be “manipulating” who does what in service to the University. And, unfortunately, there is a tendency for some to view those faculty who are willing to serve over and over and actively voice their views as “malcontents” or even “troublemakers.” Second, the Nominations Committee often is in the position of cajoling someone into serving when the most suitable person, i.e., someone with expertise specific to the issues to be addressed, declines to serve. Third, the burden of University service falls disproportionately on a small segment of the Faculty rather than being widely distributed. Fourth, there is a natural tendency to ask those who have been willing to serve in the past to serve again rather than scour lists of faculty for new faces and ideas. Thus, the range of views and ideas is more limited than it should be.
Why does the problem of finding qualified and enthusiastic nominees arise and persist? The Nominations Committee believes that the answer is simple: University service is not adequately rewarded or recognized. The Faculty Handbook states that each faculty member’s University service will be a factor — in addition to research and teaching — in decisions regarding promotion and tenure (Section 2.4.4) and in the annual evaluation of faculty (Section 2.5.4) on which salary increases are based, in years when raises are given. In practice, however, little weight is given to University service by faculty members at the department level, the college or school level, or even at the University level in the salary evaluation process, and especially when tenure decisions are made.
Second, other factors also contribute to the problem. As the institution has grown, the number of full-time faculty has not risen in direct proportion, because adjuncts and contract and term faculty carry a substantial part of the teaching load. These individuals have little incentive to engage in service because their job descriptions typically do not include service work and they suffer — as many of their full-time colleagues do — from inadequate compensation for the work that they already perform. Most are hired solely to teach or to work on grant-supported research projects. So, the service burden on full-time faculty has increased over the years.
A third consideration is that University service benefits primarily the institution, with little recognition or reward given to the faculty member for engaging in service activities. Research and publication benefits the individual faculty member and the institution because research activities make the individual more attractive to other universities; in contrast, service benefits only the “home” institution.
A fourth consideration is that faculty are expected to engage in service throughout the calendar year. Although the typical faculty member is paid for only nine months, there seems to be a growing expectation that faculty will be available for service activities year-round.
Finally, the work of administrative faculty is essentially service to the University. Some administrative faculty may teach and some may do research [the Provost is a notable example of doing both], but such activities are the exception rather than the rule in both the central administration and in the administration of the colleges, schools, and institutes. The faculty members who take administrative positions and go from a 9-month to a 12-month appointment are often given raises that can substantially surpass the amount to compensate them for the additional months. Moreover, an examination of administrative faculty salaries shows that raises have been received by many — sometimes even in years when faculty salaries were frozen. [Interested readers are invited to visit the Senate’s website where salaries may be easily accessed; the link is given below.] Surely, if administrative faculty receive salaries that are typically generous compared to faculty who teach, do research, and are also expected to actively engage in University service, more rewards should be offered for service. We believe that these rewards should include release time and additional compensation.
The Nominations Committee urges the Faculty Handbook Revision Committee to recognize the critical importance of University service and include provisions which mandate that such activity be adequately rewarded. Only then will individuals be willing to contribute enthusiastically to the work so critical to the functioning of our academic enterprise.
Faculty Senate Nominations Committee
Jim Bennett, Mark Houck, Linda Monson, Jane Razeghi, Phil Wiest
Note: Administrative and Faculty salaries may be accessed at the following link: