NOVEMBER 29, 2006


Senators Present:  Kristine Bell, James Bennett, Alok Berry, Deborah Boehm-Davis, Phillip Buchanan, Frieda Butler, Julie Christensen, Sara Cobb, Rick Coffinberger, Jose Cortina, Warren Decker, Jane Flinn, Allison Frendak, Jeffrey Gorrell, Karen Hallows, Mark Houck, Dan Joyce, Jim Kozlowski, David Kuebrich, Howard Kurtz, Linda Monson, Ami Motro, Patricia Moyer-Packenham, Robert Nadeau, Paula Petrik, Peter Pober, Jane Razeghi, Larry Rockwood, Jim Sanford, Joe Scimecca, Suzanne Slayden, Ilya Somin, Ray Sommer, Cliff Sutton, June Tangney, Ellen Todd, Susan Trencher, Iosif Vaisman, Phil Wiest, James Willett, Mary Williams, Jennie Wu, Stanley Zoltek.


Senators Absent:  Ernest Barreto, Sheryl Beach, Russ Brayley, Lorraine Brown, Jack Censer, Vikas Chandhoke, Lloyd Cohen, Lloyd Griffiths, Kingsley Haynes, Susan Hirsch, Menas Kafatos, Matthew Karush, Richard Klimoski, Jane McDonald, Alan Merten, Jean Moore, Daniel Polsby, William Reeder, Shirley Travis, John Zenelis.


Visitors Present:  Dave Andrews (PR Coordinator/Communications), Jessica Bowdoin (University Libraries – Librarians’ Council), Robin Herron (Editor, Mason Gazette), Susan Jones (University Registrar), Carrie Meyer (Associate Professor, Economics), Della Patrick (Vice Chairperson, Staff Senate), Brian Selinsky (Director of IT Services, Registrar’s Office).


I.                   Call to Order:  The meeting was called to order at 3:05 p.m.


II.    Approval of the Minutes of November 1, 2006:  The minutes were approved as amended (See Appendix A).


III.             Announcements  - none


IV.              Old Business – none.


V.                 New Business Committee Reports

A.  Senate Standing Committees

Executive Committee – no report.

Academic Policies Cliff Sutton, Chair


Professor Sutton presented the following motions for revisions to guidelines for retention of good academic standards.



1.  Attempted hours, instead of earned hours, should be used to determine GPA retention levels for warnings, probations, and suspensions for undergraduate students. On page 39 of the 2006-2007 catalog, under Requirements for Retention, the definition of credit level will be changed by replacing the paragraph


Academic retention is based solely on the cumulative GPA. The significance of the cumulative GPA varies according to the credit level, or cumulative earned credits, which is a combination of GPA credits earned at the university plus credits transferred from other institutions or obtained by testing.


Academic retention is based solely on the cumulative GPA. The significance of the cumulative GPA varies according to the credit level, or attempted credit hours, which is a combination of all credits attempted at the university plus credits transferred from other institutions or obtained by testing.


(Note: The use of italics above is just to make it easier to see where the paragraphs differ --- italics are not used in the actual paragraph in the catalog.) Furthermore, the table used to specify the GPA ranges for student retention categories (see p. 40 of the 2006-2007 catalog, under Student Retention Categories) will be replaced by the simpler table shown below. (This table has only five categories for credit level, as opposed to the eight categories currently in use. In merging the categories to create the new table, the GPA ranges used reflect slightly higher standards.)

2.  The table used to specify the GPA ranges for student retention categories (see p. 40 of the 2006-2007 catalog, under Student Retention Categories) will be replaced by the table shown below.

Credit Level

GPA range

GPA range

GPA range























On January 21, 2004, the Faculty Senate approved the current system for determining when students get warnings, go on probation, and get suspended, and this system was implemented in Fall 2004. At the time, there did not seem to be a desire to create a system which would be more lenient --- the system was changed from what it was before in order to make it easier to understand and to be more compatible with the system used for graduation. It was generally agreed upon that the new system (the system currently being used) would be evaluated after it had been in place for a few semesters.

The Academic Procedures Advisory Committee (APAC) (a group of Assistant and Associate Deans and administrators chaired by Susan Jones) and the Academic Policies Committee have noted that the current system has resulted in appreciably fewer warnings, probations, and suspensions than what occurred prior to the changes in policy. Nevertheless, there are currently a lot of students who are doing very poorly in their coursework and not making good progress toward a degree. This is due to the fact that the current system is rather lenient for students who have only a small number of earned hours, and so some students who fail a lot of courses and accumulate only a small number of earned hours can continue to register for courses semester after semester because their numbers of earned hours remain low and suspensions are not triggered by their very low GPAs.

It can also be noted that the current system, based on earned hours, allows students to retake courses (even those they passed) in an attempt to raise their GPA and avoid suspension. (Students who retake courses that they pass do not get closer to a degree by accumulating more earned hours --- they just attempt to raise their GPA while keeping their earned hours constant (and it's possible that their earned hours can go down if they fail a course they had previously passed).)

All in all, the current system seems too lenient, and allows students to flounder and exploit certain loopholes. The Academic Policies Committee thinks that it will be better to have a system which will be better at identifying problem students earlier, so that such students can reflect on their situations and make some changes before they reach a point at which it will be very hard for them to raise their GPAs to the level required for graduation. At a time when admission to GMU is becoming more competitive, and it is desirable to have a higher graduation rate, it is not good to continue with a retention system that allows very weak students, who are not making reasonable progress towards a degree, to occupy space in classes while continuing to flounder in their studies.


The statistics below were provided by the Registrar’s Office and displayed on an overhead projector at the meeting.


Academic Standing

Fall 2003

Spring 2004

Fall 2004

Spring 2005

Fall 2005

Spring 2006

System Used







Total Enrolled





















First Suspension







Second Suspension














Final Dismissal














Good Standing







Percentage Good









Professor Sutton also noted the revised chart above would simplify the Catalog. In response to a question raised regarding how this would be applied in the future, University Registrar Susan Jones responded that the catalog year sets in place requirements for a degree and that this change would be implemented for December 2007 grades, allowing time to communicate these changes to students. 


A question arose as to a “grace period” or adjustment phase.  The Registrar responded there would be no formal “grace period” or adjustment phase other than the time frame between this December and next, during which time changes would be communicated to students.  Associate Deans will become busier as student appeals will be left to their professional judgment. 


In response to a question asking if a course can be repeated for a higher grade, the Registrar responded that doing so increases the number of “attempted” hours.


A Senator raised a concern about difficulties freshman have when trying to recover from below average grades in their first year and expressed the view that including attempted hours will mean that students get in trouble more quickly, thus introducing more draconian measures from which it will be harder for these students to recover.


Another Senator asked  “Are people looking at this?  If you fail everything your first semester, how (can the student) get on track?”  The Registrar responded that under present policy, when students failed everything, the transcript message would say “in good standing”.  People who keep taking courses and get a warning automatically receive a letter from the Registrar telling them to meet with their advisor and avail themselves of the learning and academic skills services of the Counseling Center.


There was a complaint that the new policy effective Fall 2004 went into effect at the end of the semester instead of the beginning.  The Senator expressed concern that with the first suspension you are out and at the freshman level these students won’t be back.   Do we have any responsibility to deal with these “problem students” or “students with problems?”  Illustration of a few extreme cases – if students want to retake courses; willing to spend money to do so – allow to retake and change grade from an F to a C.    We need to do a better job – suspension is not the answer, if we are bringing in better students.  Another example:  a student leaves GMU suspended.  Could he withdraw and attend community college?  Was told there was no way the suspension could be omitted from the transcript. 


Concern also expressed about the transition period creating a hole too deep (for some) to get out of.


Professor Sutton noted that the motivation here is for students to get warnings/probation sooner to help them correct situation.  Another Senator reminded the audience there is a lot of support around – advising as well as counseling center – students need to take advantage of it. 


A Senator (who has also served as an associate dean) stated that he is not sympathetic to any of this.  Some kids leave and come back and are successful.  There are consequences.  What is the difference between dismissal and final dismissal?  Professor Sutton  responded that if you’re dismissed, you can appeal to be reinstated after a period of time (3-5 year period); not automatic you would get back in.  If issues regard family, health, etc. the option for total withdrawal remains.  Two worst-case scenarios were described in which a student registers for courses in order to remain on parents’ health insurance policy.  For students with catastrophic medical consequences – school is not their first priority.  Need possibility to retroactively withdraw and reapply – example of student with multiple sclerosis.  Medical issues and emergencies must be taken into consideration. 


Two issues emerge here: (1) standards need reevaluation, and (2) services provided by various offices. 

In situation of withdrawal, (the course) is not counted toward GPA.    Associate and Assistant Deans have handled this – we need something for the bulk of students.  There are limitations on what you can do within the Banner system which also play a role.  The Associate Deans support this change.


The first motion was approved by a divided vote.  The second motion (to adopt the simplified table for the catalog) was approved unanimously by voice vote. 


Budget and Resources – no report.
Faculty Matters – no report.

Organization and Operations – no report.


Nominations – Jim Bennett, Chair

Satellite Campus Committee – Aimee Flannery (IT&E), Gerald Hanweck (SOM) and Robert Johnston (SOM) were nominated and elected by unanimous ballot. 


B.  Other Committees

Technology Policy Committee – Stanley Zoltek, Chair

Professor Zoltek read the following announcement from Tracy Holt, Manager, Enterprise Messaging System, ITU:  “On Sunday, December 10th, the ITU will upgrade the Mail Frontier system. Mail Frontier is the name of the software package that filters messages that are spam, contain viruses, or have been identified as fraudulent attempts at phishing. This new version of the software will have the ability to read images which is the latest method spammers use to get around systems like Mail Frontier. The new version will have a similar look and feel as the old one but will now be branded SonicWall Email Security to reflect the recent purchase of Mail Frontier Corporation by SonicWall Corporation.  No changes to user settings, preferences, or software will be required to take advantage of this upgrade. If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact the ITU Support Center at 3-8870.”


External Academic Relations – Dave Kuebrich, Co-Chair

Higher Education Advocacy Day will take place in Richmond January 11, 2007.  Five or six members of the committee may attend and it is hoped that additional faculty will also attend, bringing the total to 10-12 faculty visiting legislators in teams of two.  Previous experience demonstrates that legislators welcome these faculty visits.  Faculty who attend will go to a brief training session beforehand.  (Relevant comments by Professor Kuebrich on proposed legislation and advocacy appear below in standard typeface).


The Faculty Senate of Virginia (FSVA) & AAUP will advocate for the following legislation (in addition to the legislative packages of individual schools): 

1)      A 50% tuition waiver for faculty (with 7 years of service) whose children attend a Virginia public college or university;

In the FSVA, there was a real debate whether to include this motion, as faculty without children would prefer salary increases; also a very helpful inducement in recruiting.


2) The opportunity to change from an ORP to VRS after 10 years of service;  (Faculty had this right from 1924-74.)

If you are in ORP getting less than in VRS, hoping they will equalize this by raising contributions to a higher level.

3) An equal allocation from the State for faculty on ORP or VRS;  (Currently, VRS members get 10.76% and ORP members get 10.4%).

One Senator noted that the number they use for VRS is meaningless because it is a defined benefit plan; and suggested that the proposal be reworked to focus instead on ORP contribution.  The Senator further noted that the defined benefit is average of highest three years of income with the risk in ORP if stocks severely decline in value and that most folks who remained in ORP are worse off if they remained working at GMU. 

4) The right of individual schools to include up to 5 "aspirant" schools in their SCHEV-designated peer institutions. 

The claim is that this would allow schools to be more competitive in hiring relative to more highly regarded schools with which they aspire to be equal.

5) An amendment to current law regarding faculty representation on the BOV, so it reads that colleges and universities "shall" (not "may") have such representation.


 6) A faculty member, appointed by the Governor, to serve as an advisory, non-voting member of SCHEV.

7) A requirement that the leasing of school property must be authorized by the school's BOV (and not, as now may be the case, by its Foundation)

In response to a question raised, Professor Kuebrich explained this is a way to have greater transparency and oversight of the university Foundation; an issue at one school.  Legislators have told faculty lobbyists that Foundations are not sufficiently transparent.  Not sure how visible Foundation activities and decisions are; faculty are much better informed of BOV decisions. A Senator raised that issue that when BOV’s go into Executive Session there also a loss of transparency, noting that recently at GMU the issue of a sale or property or first rights to property to a high university official has been rumored, an issue that should be publicly addressed.

 8) A prohibition of state funds to support the cost of university Foundation staff, administrators, or Foundation board members;

The rationale for this legislation was an effort to make sure Foundations are money-making institutions, not a drain on school resources.  Provost Stearns commented while he was not opposed to the idea, this is a bad way to do this since development activities would grind to a halt.   Professor Kuebrich asked the Provost to devise better wording which would then be forwarded to the President of FSVA.  A Senator raised the question of the position of FSVA representatives from UVA and Virginia Tech on the Foundation questions.  Professor Kuebrich reported that there was no representative from Virginia Tech present at the  November 11th meeting, and that none of the three representatives present from UVA were opposed to it.


9) A SCHEV study to determine the State's competitiveness in attracting and retaining faculty for its public institutions of higher education.

10) A requirement that all new state-funded buildings must be certified as at or above the LEED silver standard

Deals with reduction of energy consumption; 20% of energy to be generated from renewable sources.


Professor Kuebrich added that some of the issues addressed above have been ongoing.  The principal architects of the proposals are the president of FSVA and the head of VA AAUP, and were voted on by the FSVA membership.  In discussion following the presentation of all 10 proposals, a Senator noted that it would be better to focus on two or three issues when talking with legislators; ten is too many.  Professor Kuebrich responded that legislators will receive all of the material but that faculty may choose what they wish to emphasize as they meet with them, as well as have the opportunity to focus on issues of local importance.


A Senator argued for raising the issue of Virginia’s lack of a reasonable maternity leave plan, noting that  Maternity Leave is classified under “Sick Leave” which was in the Senator’s view  is “insulting.”  While this issue is under consideration by the GMU Faculty Handbook Revision Committee, Professor Kuebrich stated that it was too late to include this proposal in the upcoming session, but promised to raise this issue with FSVA for the 2007-08 legislative session.


VI.              Other New Business


Motions on Environmental Issues – Dave Kuebrich

Background: There are many greening efforts taking place at GMU.  Green academic programs include Environmental Science and Policy, New Century College, and the Dept. of Civil, Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering.  Programs such as recycling and electricity conservation are saving a lot of energy.  An Earth Week Planning group composed of students, faculty, and the Office of University Life has been active since Fall, 2004.  An Environmental Task Force composed of faculty, students, and representatives form University Life, Facilities, Dining Services, etc. was initiated in January 2006 in order to pull diverse efforts together and act in a coordinated way.  The Associate Dean for Academic Projects, Brett Ingram, was hired into this new position in Fall, 2006.  Dean Ingram brings great expertise and energy to this project and is considered easy to work with and a great asset in this effort.  A Faculty Development Workshop for Infusing Sustainability into the Curriculum will take place in January 2007.  We anticipate 15-20 faculty, some staff, and a few students in attendance.  Provost Stearns, Laurie Fathe (Associate Provost for Educational Improvement and Innovation), and Marilyn Mobley (Associate Provost for Education Programs) have given much support to this project, Professor Bob Nadeau (CHSS – English) has conducted research and written about this for 10 years; Professor Susie Crate (COS - ESP) has promoted a lot of curricular activities.  The petition attached to the motion below will be distributed by email as well as by faculty, students, and other groups.  We need to put this in everyone’s consciousness.  An important educative task – to distribute in classes, asking you to circulate to students – want to have every person on campus sign in.  Some campuses have folks who monitor recycling and (other environmentally sound practices) addressing the need to develop an adult relationship with the environment. 

1. MOTION:   The Faculty Senate endorses the attached petition to help launch a comprehensive  “campus greening” campaign.

To promote the campaign, the Chair and Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate are asked to:

A) send an email to all instructional, research and administrative faculty, asking them to sign the petition;

B) encourage the faculty to give moral, financial and volunteer-time support to the students who will be gathering signatures between now and the University’s 2007 Earth Week Program (third week of April);

C) encourage the Staff Senate to circulate the petition to its constituency.

Explanation: The purpose of the petition drive is three-fold: to raise consciousness about environmental issues, especially the threat posed by global warming; to ask individual members of the campus-community to “buy into” the idea of promoting environmental sustainability at GMU; to provide campus leaders with evidence of widespread support for greening the GMU campus.

The GMU Environmental Task Force (EVT)* will invite President Merten to help launch the campaign in early December or the beginning of the Spring Semester. The Task Force will arrange a Broadside photo op at which the President and the chairs of the Faculty, Staff and Student Senates sign the petition. The campaign will end with a special program during Earth Week—including a press conference (perhaps arranged by GMU Media Relations).  Also, the EVT will ask Broadside to foreground this year’s Earth Week and perhaps publish a special issue.

The campaign will be directed by student leaders in collaboration with a working group of the EVT.

*The Environmental Task Force (ETF) was created in January 2006 under the auspices of University Life.  Susie Crate (ESP), Martha Slover (UL), and Dave Kuebrich (English) were the original co-facilitators.  Provost Stearns has subsequently appointed Brent Ingram a co-facilitator.  The goal of the Task Force is to bring together representatives of all parts of the University to share ideas and build a plan for greening the University. The Senate Task Forces will complement the work of the EVT.  

The motion was approved unanimously by voice vote.

2. MOTION:  The Faculty Senate will appoint a “Green Education Task Force” to conduct a review of the GMU curriculum as well as the curricula of selected other schools noted for leadership in environmental education. 

Charge: The Task Force will consider the desirability and feasibility of

A) developing new and modified courses to infuse “environmental sustainability”** into the general education program, undergraduate majors and graduate degree programs;

B) developing new undergraduate and graduate certificate and degree programs emphasizing “environmental sustainability”; 

C) developing a plan, in collaboration with University Life, for systematically promoting service learning, student internships and co-curricular programming aimed toward green education and the greening of the campus;

D) recommending other needed curricular and co-curricular measures.

The Task Force will make an initial report to the Faculty Senate in March, 2007 and a second report in May, 2007.

Composition:  Four instructional faculty (active or emeriti) of which at least one is a Senator; Marilyn Mobley (Associate Provost of Education Programs) or a designated member of the General Education Committee; Brent Ingram (Associate Dean of Environmental Projects) or another designated administrative faculty member; and a representative designated by University Life. Student Government is also invited to designate two student representatives.

In order for the Task Force to work effectively and expeditiously, President Merten is requested to provide its chair with one course of released time in Spring, 2007 and support for two graduate student assistants.

Provost Stearns is requested to ask the Chairs, Directors and Deans to respond promptly and fully to the Task Force’s requests for information and cooperation.

The Task Force is asked to take special care to advertise its meetings in order to encourage participation by other members of the GMU community.

** “Environmental sustainability” (or simply “sustainability”): “Sustainability” has been defined as the practice of the “golden rule through time.”  The goal of a sustainable community is to organize its material infrastructure and institutional operating practices—especially its use and disposal of natural resources—in a manner that allows it to meet the needs of present users without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  Sustainability presumes that some resources are finite and should be used conservatively with a view to providing for the long-term needs of the human race.

The motion was approved unanimously by voice vote.

3. MOTION:  The Faculty Senate will appoint a “Green Campus Task Force” to conduct a review of the environmental policies of the various offices at GMU responsible for buildings and grounds, energy consumption, and use of resources and materials,* as well as of the policies of the counterparts to these offices at other schools notable for taking decisive steps toward creating environmentally sustainable campuses. 

Charge: The Task Force will address the following questions:

A) what measures to promote sustainability are currently being implemented by  each unit?

B) what additional measures to promote sustainability are being planned and what is the timeframe for their implementation?

C) what additional measures to promote sustainability are being implemented and/or planned by schools noted for their environmental leadership?

D) what additional measures might be taken at GMU?

E) how might the Senate, the general faculty and the larger campus community support the efforts of these units?

F) what other steps need to be taken to green the GMU campus?

The Task Force should give particular attention to the issue of green buildings because the decisions being made and implemented today will impact the natural environment and the University budget for decades to come.

Composition: five instructional faculty (active or emeriti) of which at least one is a Senator; Brent Ingram (Associate Dean of Environmental Projects) or another designated administrative faculty; Tom Calhoun, Vice President of Facilities; and John Spaldo, Associate Vice President of Operations; (or appropriate staff members designated by them), and a representative designated by University Life. Student Government is also invited to designate two student representatives.

The Task Force will make an initial report to the Faculty Senate in March, 2007 and a second report in May, 2007.

In order for the Task Force to work effectively and expeditiously, President Merten is requested to provide its chair with one course of released time in Spring, 2007 and support for two graduate student assistants.

President Merten is requested to ask the responsible administrators to respond promptly and fully to the Task Force’s requests for information and cooperation.

The Task Force is asked to take special care to advertise its meetings in order to encourage participation by other members of the GMU community.

 The motion was approved unanimously by voice vote.

4. MOTION:  The Faculty Senate will elect two representatives to the Environmental Task Force. The representatives will report regularly to the Faculty Senate. This appointment will last until May, 2007.

Two faculty members to be elected need not be Senators. A question was raised as to why appointments would be made only effective until May 2007.  A suggestion was made to elect representatives on a rotating basis? (It was noted, for example, that there are official representatives from University Life on the Environmental Task Force, but the faculty there do not represent anyone).  The motion was approved unanimously by voice vote.


An overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that the rapid warming of planet earth threatens large-scale disruptions in our lifetime and for future generations.  Every person, every organization, and every institution can help to reduce this threat.  Over 300 American colleges and universities have adopted policies to become green and sustainable campuses.  We want GMU to join them.  All of us--students, alumni, staff, faculty, administrators, and board members--must commit ourselves to making our university a model of energy efficiency, green education, and environmental leadership.

We call on the leaders of our campus community to put a comprehensive environmental plan in place by Summer 2007.

Register your agreement by signing this petition. It will be presented to the Student, Staff, and Faculty Senates, the Provost, President, and Board of Visitors.

Please join this urgent and important effort!


Motion Regarding Creation of Ad Hoc Committees

Motion: Creation of the ad hoc committees “Green Campus Task Force” and “Green Education Task Force” is of urgent necessity.

Explanation: According to the Faculty Senate bylaws, declaring the creation of an ad hoc committee as urgently necessary allows immediate nomination and election of members to serve on the committee.

Article V Section 3.

a. Whenever the Senate shall determine by its vote that the creation of an ad hoc committee or of a new standing committee is a matter of urgent necessity, nominations shall be made from the floor following that determination.

These faculty have agreed to serve on the designated committees (if created) and will be nominated from the floor. The floor will be open to further nominations.

Green Campus Task Force

Sharon deMonsabert               (Civil, Environmental, & Infrastructure Engineering)
Henry Hamburger               (Computer Science, Emeritus)
Carrie Meyer               (Economics)
Peter Pober               (Communication)
Ron Zobel               (Civil, Environmental, & Infrastructure Engineering)

Green Education Task Force

David Brazer         (College of Education and Human Development)
Susie Crate                (Environmental Science and Policy)
Greg Guagnano               (Sociology and Anthropology)
Jim Willett             (Molecular and Microbiology)
The motion was approved unanimously.  The nominees to the Green Campus Task Force and Green 
 Education Task Force were elected unanimously.  Additional nominations for the Task Force will be 
entertained at the next Faculty Senate meeting (January 24, 2007) so that agreement to serve if elected can be 
obtained from nominees made from the floor.  The size of the Task Force can be expanded.  In response to a 
question, it was agreed that graduate students are warmly welcomed to submit names to the Task Force.  
VII.           Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty
Nearly 1,000 gifted and talented high school students, coaches, and judges will be on campus for the Patriot 
Games Classic for High School Forensics, the fastest growing high school tournament in the nation. Contact 
Professor Peter Pober, Director of GMU Forensics Program,, 3-4119.
VIII.  Adjournment:  The meeting adjourned at 4:12 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
Susan Trencher
Appendix A
The following sentences were accepted as amendments and appropriately inserted in the minutes of 11-1-06:
  “The President said (that the) faculty housing/retirement center would be built right with adequate level of 
greenness.  The President 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.’”