GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY

 MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE

FEBRUARY 21, 2007

 

Senators Present:  Sheryl Beach, Kristine Bell, Jim Bennett, Alok Berry, Deborah Boehm-Davis, Lorraine Brown, Phil Buchanan, Frieda Butler, Sandra Cheldelin, Rick Coffinberger, Jose Cortina, Warren Decker, Jeffrey Gorrell, Karen Hallows, Mark Houck, Dimitrios Ioannou, Dan Joyce, Jim Kozlowski, David Kuebrich, Howard Kurtz, Linda Monson, Paula Petrik, Peter Pober, Jane Razeghi, Larry Rockwood, Jim Sanford, Suzanne Slayden, Ilya Somin, Ray Sommer, Peter Stearns, Cliff Sutton, June Tangney, Susan Trencher, Iosif Vaisman, Phil Wiest, James Willett, Mary Williams, Jennie Wu, John Zenelis, Stanley Zoltek.

 

Senators Absent:  Ernest Barreto, Russ Brayley, Jack Censer, Vikas Chandhoke, Julie Christensen, Sara Cobb, Lloyd Cohen, Jane Flinn, Allison Frendak, Lloyd Griffiths, Kingsley Haynes, Menas Kafatos, Matthew Karush, Richard Klimoski, Jane McDonald, Alan Merten, Jean Moore, Patricia Moyer-Packenham, Robert Nadeau, Daniel Polsby, William Reeder, Joe Scimecca, Ellen Todd, Shirley Travis.

 

Guests Present:  Jessica Bowdoin, Vice-Chair, Librarian's Council; Pat Donini, Deputy Director, Human Resources and Payroll; Dolores Gomez-Roman, Students' Ombudsman; Linda Harber, AssociateVice President, Human Resources and Payroll; Robin Herron, Editor, Mason Gazette, Susan Jones, University Registrar; Matt Kluger, Vice President for Research; Sean Luke, Associate Professor, Computer Science; Tamara Maddox, Instructor, Computer Science; Jennifer Murphy, Assistant Vice President for Research and Director, Technology Transfer; Della Patrick, Vice-Chair, Staff Senate.

 

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

 

II.   Approval of the Minutes of January 24, 2007:  The minutes were approved as distributed.

 

III.   Announcements - None.

 

IV.   Unfinished Business - None.

 

V.        New Business - Committee Reports

 

A.        Senate Standing Committees

Executive Committee - No report.

 

Academic Policies - Cliff Sutton, Chair

Members of the AP Committee are working on a number of projects.  The following Senators are working on the following projects:  Peter Pober, the number of unique hours required for double majors; Julie Christensen, the new emphasis on M-W-F scheduling; Jim Willett, wrapping up the summer scheduling issue;  Dan Joyce,  students who submit the same work to multiple professors without their prior knowledge/consent.  Senator Joyce asks for your input on this matter. Students do not understand that handing in the same work to multiple professors is not necessarily an acceptable practice.  Links to policies in the honor codes from the University of Virginia and the University of Georgia will be emailed to Senators later today (2/21/07).  Please contact Dan Joyce at djoyce@gmu.edu with any comments or feedback.  The next meeting of the AP Committee will take place February 28th.

 

Professor Sutton then introduced the following motion: 

Motion: Modify the Absence for Religious Observances policy (see  p. 35 of the 2006-2007 catalog) to cover absence for participation in university activities by adding the parts shown in italics below and deleting the word religious in the second sentence of the current policy. (Note: In the proposed new second sentence the word these has replaced the word religious.)

 

Absence for Religious Observances or Participation in University Activities

It is Mason's policy to make every reasonable effort to allow members of the campus community to observe their religious holidays, or participate in University sponsored activities (e.g., Intercollegiate Athletics, Forensics Team, Dance Company, etc.) without academic penalty. Absence from classes or exams for these reasons does not relieve students from responsibility for any part of the course work required during the absence. Students who expect to miss classes, exams, or other assignments as a consequence of their religious observance or for participation in a university activity will be provided a reasonable alternative opportunity to complete their academic responsibilities. It is the obligation of students to provide faculty with reasonable notice of the dates of major religious holidays on which they will be absent. Faculty should take religious observances into consideration when constructing class schedules and syllabi. Students requesting an excused absence for participation in a University sponsored activity must provide documentation to the instructor prior to the scheduled absence when known in advance, and as soon as possible when not known in advance.

 

Rationale:

The Colonial Academic Alliance concluded that all member institutions should have similar policies regarding absences due to participation in university activities, and the Academic Integrity Committee of this university's Athletic Council proposed the policy stated above in order to make GMU have a policy in line with the policies of other members of the alliance. (The Academic Integrity Committee voted to approve the proposed policy on Jan. 31, 2007.)

While it has been observed that for the most part GMU faculty are reasonable with regard to not penalizing students who miss a class or exam due to participation in a recognized university activity, it has also been observed that some new faculty and adjunct faculty seem reluctant to make reasonable accommodations. Perhaps in some cases the reluctance is due to a desire to do things "by the book" and avoid making exceptions, and in such instances it may be the case that having an official policy regarding absence due to participation in university activities may be helpful.

It strikes some students and faculty members as odd that GMU has a policy regarding absence due to religious observance but not one covering absence due to participation in university activities.

It can be noted that the proposed policy does not specify what is meant by making a reasonable effort to accommodate students who will miss a class or exam, allowing individual faculty members to for the most part decide for themselves what is appropriate for their classes.

 

Discussion: The current wording, approved in 1998, allowed for excused absences for religious observances.  One Senator noted that there are a number of courses where students are required to take all exams.  While no make-up exams are allowed, students may drop one of the required exams. Professor Sutton responded that some departments also have a similar policy in effect.

 

An amendment was proposed and seconded to add "consistent with academic standards and class policies." at the end of the third sentence, so that the revised sentence reads:  Students who expect to miss classes, exams, or other assignments as a consequence of their religious observance or for participation in a university activity will be provided a reasonable alternative opportunity to complete their academic responsibilities consistent with academic standards and class policies."  One Senator noted his support of the proposed amendment with the understanding that a student (may not) come in and demand that faculty  give a make-up exam in lieu of dropping one exam.   Another Senator argued that a policy was needed for those who do not have such a generous policy.  Questions arise, i.e. does this prohibit a student from ever making an exam up?  The Director of Forensics stated that he informs faculty when students are gone, but has had some faculty who say "swallow the bitter pill and deal with it". He argued that a statement is necessary that supports students in service to the University.  Another Senator wondered what would happen in the case where a student missed more than one graded exercise (exam, quiz, etc.) in instances where one grade can be dropped by the student.  Are make-ups still expected or required?  A Senator made the point that even in cases where one exam could be dropped, the policy could be insufficient, as in instances where students miss more than one graded assignment as part of their participation in university activities.  This was not an argument against making accommodations, but how can we make a statement that allows accommodations that are reasonable for both faculty and students?  A Senator inquired whether "collegiate" includes club sports.  Professor Sutton responded that the policy would covers university-sponsored activities, including club sports. 

 

The Faculty Athletic Representative (Professor Linda Miller) remarked that it seemed easier to include this extended policy in already existing policy (catalog statement on accommodations for religious exams), rather than stand alone.  Her view was that in general, faculty currently accommodate these students but supports the amendment. As Faculty Athletic Representative, she is searching for some place in university policies that gives the impression that not all education (takes place) in the classroom.  Policy must be consistent with NCAA requirements.  Towson State University, where a requirement was added that documentation from a university official must be presented to the faculty member, was mentioned as a possible model.  A Senator made the observation that in large classes between 30 and 50 students, all of whom currently present documentation from a university official, could require accommodations.

 

The amendment to the motion was approved unanimously by voice vote.

 

A Senator distinguished between religious observances and university activities, observing that these are fundamentally different and may reasonably require two different policies. More specifics are needed, e.g. what constitutes a university activity? Clearly athletics/clubs are university activities, versus things like study group meetings to work on a project.  The Senator fully supported the requirement for documentation from a university official. Another Senator asked:  How much documentation do you request for observance of a religious holiday?  It was noted by a fellow Senator that the university publishes a list of approved holidays. A second amendment to the motion was proposed and seconded:  adding "from a University official" in the last sentence so that it reads: Students requesting an excused absence for participation in a University sponsored activity must provide documentation from a University official to the instructor prior to the scheduled absence when known in advance, and as soon as possible when not known in advance; was made and seconded.   A Senator noted that in large classes letters for 30-40 students from university officials document when they will not be in class and asked whether providing reasonable accommodations should appropriately be a catalog issue or a recommendation that should appear in the Faculty Handbook. A Senator from the Prince William campus appreciates the documentation requirement and noted that faculty need to take into account bus schedules between campuses, pre-game meal or other activities. Another Senator agreed, and added that if time frames change, coaches should send (notification).  It is the student's responsibility to disseminate information as soon as possible. 

 

A motion was made and seconded to refer the motion back to the Academic Policies Committee for further study and to report back at our next meeting.  The motion to refer the amended motion back to the AP Committee was approved unanimously by voice vote.

 

 

Budget and Resources – Phil Buchanan, Chair

The Chair announced that it was hoped that salary data would be posted to the website very soon. The Committee is reviewing the Direct Expenses by Department Report.  Professor Buchanan refuted urban legends that some departments have no money at all.  The Administration is trying to rectify problems that have existed for some departments. Every large academic unit has had increases in direct expense budget for this year.

 

The Committee reported on Out of Cycle Raises as requested at the previous Senate meeting. The following data was presented to the Senate.

 

 

Out-of-Cycle Salary Increases for Instructional/Research Faculty and Administrative Faculty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructional/Research Faculty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the Timeframe 11/26/04 through 11/24/05

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reason

 

 

 

#

 

Total Amount

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Promotion & Tenure

 

 

39.00

 

73,500

 

 

 

 

Title Change/Job Change

 

4.00

 

42,711

 

 

 

 

Counter Offer

 

 

3.00

 

17,449

 

 

 

 

Changes Not Identified by Specific Category

*

41.00

 

216,835

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totals

 

87.00

 

350,495

 

 

 

 

 

 

Average

 

 $4,028.68

 

 

 

For the Timeframe 11/26/05 through 11/24/06

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reason

 

 

 

#

 

Total Amount

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Promotion & Tenure

 

 

47.00

 

96,000

 

 

 

 

Faculty Minimum Adjustment

 

149.00

 

828,201

 

 

 

 

Title Change/Job Change

 

8.00

 

31,291

 

 

 

 

Counter Offer

 

 

5.00

 

130,013

 

 

 

 

Changes Not Identified by Specific Category

*

29.00

 

281,447

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totals

 

238.00

 

1,366,952

 

 

 

 

 

 

Average

 

 $5,743.50

 

 


 

Administrative Faculty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the Timeframe 11/26/04 through 11/24/05

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reason

 

 

 

#

 

Total Amount

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Promotion & Tenure

 

 

5.00

 

7,500

 

 

 

 

Title Change/Promotion/Change in Duties

13.00

 

61,405

 

 

 

 

Retention/Counter Offer/Internal Alignment

4.00

 

12,967

 

 

 

 

Changes Not Identified by Specific Category

*

46.00

 

329,860

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totals

 

68.00

 

411,732

 

For the Timeframe 11/26/05 through 11/24/06

Average

 

 $6,054.88

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reason

 

 

 

#

 

Total Amount

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Promotion & Tenure

 

 

4.00

 

6,000

 

 

 

 

Title Change/Promotion/Change in Duties

18.00

 

97,163

 

 

 

 

Retention/Internal Alignment

 

3.00

 

26,825

 

 

 

 

Dean Renewal/Adjustments

 

4.00

 

46,224

 

 

 

 

Changes Not Identified by Specific Category

*

54.00

 

581,906

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totals

 

83.00

 

758,118

 

 

 

 

 

 

Average

 

 $9,133.95

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*  Detailed change category not identified in the system;  in future years

 

 

 

 

changes will be coded by category for complete reporting of information

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The report illustrates how prevalent out-of-cycle increments have been.  The number and aggregate amounts for AY 04-05 and 05-06, separated by Instructional/Research Faculty and Administrative Faculty are listed.  The largest item ($828,000) was for faculty minimum salary adjustments as consistent with set “floors” for faculty salaries at various levels, effective fall semester.  About 13% of instructional/research faculty received out-of-cycle raises over the past year. Excluding minimum faculty salary adjustments, 89 faculty (5%) received out-of-cycle raises.   About 15% of administrative faculty (83), received out-of-cycle raises over the past year.   The Budget and Resources Committee will continue to study this data.

 

Senators raised various questions:

Question #1: Where does the money for these raises came from?  The Senator noted that the numbers the Senate has been given for these raises are the same as those we have been told were necessary for the COLA.  Professor Buchanan responded that $828,000 advances against salary increments received in October, bridge for September to October, were funded by the Provost’s Office.

 

Question #2:  Do we have information about raises by department?   Professor Buchanan will discuss issues with Donna Kidd ((Assistant Vice President, Budget and IRR), then bring back the information to the Budget and Resources Committee. 

 

Question #3:  Is this state money rather than contract money?  Professor Buchanan responded that only state dollars are used.  Provost Peter Stearns added that we don’t know the amount of contract money involved.

 

Question #4: Are out-of-cycle adjustments for promotion and tenure automatic?  Could you report this excluding promotion and tenure raises?  Professor Buchanan responded (promotion and tenure raises) miniscule, range from $1,500 - $2,000 but made up a percentage of the faculty out of cycle raises.  The Senator pursued the issue noting that of 1800 instructional/research faculty, 47 received (out-of-cycle) promotion and tenure raises.  Of  540 administrative faculty, 4 received (out-of-cycle) promotion and tenure raises.  If we exclude the unusual one-time (minimum) raise, almost half of instructional/research faculty (out-of-cycle) adjustments were promotion/tenure related, but for the bulk of administrative faculty, (out-of-cycle) raises were not promotion/tenure related. 

 

Faculty Matters – Jim Sanford, Chair

 

Draft of Noncompetitive (Waived Search) Hire Policy

 

Policy.  In keeping with Section 1.3 of the Faculty Handbook that states, “In accordance with the best traditions of American universities, the faculty plays a primary role in…faculty personnel actions,” the faculty role in noncompetitive hires is equal to that in competitive searches and hires.  This policy concerns all noncompetitive hires of instructional term, tenured, and tenure-line faculty.

 

Noncompetitive or direct hires are hires in which the search process is waived.  When hiring term, tenured and tenure-line faculty, competitive searches should be used except in very special circumstances.  These circumstances are normally limited to situations (a) when the candidate has already established a national/international reputation, the program has a unique opportunity to hire the targeted candidate, and the area of specialization complements those of faculty already in the program; (b) when the candidate is a close family member (spouse, parent, child, or sibling) of a candidate being hired through formal search procedures and the university is attempting to accommodate the family member; and (c) when an administrator is hired and is considered for acceptance in a specific local academic unit (LAU).  While an administrator is normally hired using a competitive process at the administrative level, this policy applies because s/he is not part of a competitive process at the level of the LAU.  Instructional term faculty may also be hired without a search when classes must be staffed immediately due to an unexpected resignation, death, or illness of a member of the teaching faculty.  Waiver of a search in this situation is usually only valid for up to one year.

 

Procedures.  Faculty in the LAU review the credentials of any individual who is a candidate for noncompetitive hire using the same procedures as review of competitive hire candidates.  These include at a minimum the opportunity to examine a curriculum vitae, meet with the candidate, attend a job seminar or formal presentation by the candidate, and review letters of reference.  The LAU faculty then vote to accept or reject the candidate.  The hiring process moves forward only when a majority of the LAU faculty who are eligible to vote accept the candidate.

 

If a candidate for noncompetitive hire is to be tenured upon hiring, s/he must be reviewed by both the LAU faculty and the college- or school-level promotion and tenure committee.  The LAU review requires a majority positive vote by eligible faculty for tenure in addition to the vote to accept the candidate into the program.  If the LAU faculty vote is positive and the chair approves of the candidate, the dossier is then sent to the college or school promotion and tenure committee.  As with all tenure reviews, independent external letters from recognized experts in the candidate’s field must be obtained in a manner consistent with other tenure reviews, and candidates are held to the same standards as other candidates in that LAU.  Since noncompetitive hires may be made outside the normal annual promotion and tenure cycle, college and school promotion and tenure committees must develop procedures for reviewing candidates out of cycle.

Discussion:  If the policy is adopted, would it begin immediately unless and until modified in the Faculty Handbook?  Professor Sanford responded yes, as long as the Faculty Handbook includes it, or something like this.  A friendly amendment was suggested:  to change term “tenure-line” to “tenure-track” for consistency with revision in Faculty Handbook.  No objections were raised to this change.

The following amendment was proposed and seconded: In paragraph 4, insert the following in the first sentence so that the sentence reads:  “If a candidate for noncompetitive hire is to be tenured upon hiring, s/he must present evidence of successful teaching at the university level and must be reviewed by the LAU faculty and…”  Provost Stearns objected, arguing that some administrative hire(s) did not have teaching experience, needs to include “normally.”  Another Senator objected to inclusion of “normally” noting that such language is continually problematic in documents such as the Faculty Handbook.  Another Senator noted subsequent sentence in paragraph includes LAU standards.  A Senator from the College of Science argued that high-level, productive researchers in  federal or private lab settings who have developed training in organizations might be the best person for a position rather than an individual with university teaching experience. A second Senator concurred stating that the phrase was unnecessary. The motion to amend paragraph 4 was defeated by voice vote.

A second amendment was proposed and seconded:  In paragraph 3, after the sentence that ends in “review letters of reference.” add the following parenthetical sentence:  (None of these essential steps may be omitted.) One Senator expressed that while he had no problem with it, it was redundant.  The Senator proposing the amendment responded it is not unusual, and point out in contracts that several steps outlined and cannot be omitted.  The motion to amend paragraph 3 was defeated by a divided house, 10 votes in favor, 18 votes opposed.

A third amendment was proposed and seconded:  In paragraph 2, change (b) when the candidate is a close family member (spouse, parent, child, or sibling) of a candidate being hired through formal search procedures and the university is attempting to accommodate the family member to read:  (b) when the candidate is a spouse of a candidate being hired..”.  A Senator noted he did not know what (how) Faculty Handbook Committee (may address civil partners).  This could mean there would be multiple accommodation hires for a particular candidate at whatever level, needs to be clarified.  A Senator stated that while he appreciates the spirit of the intention to include “civil partners”, the Commonwealth of Virginia does not recognize civil partners as a legal institution.   The intention of the clause is to recognize that accommodations can be made for trailing “significant others.”  To do just for one class, to do differently; if to acknowledge relationships, needs to be sufficiently broad.  Questions arise, e.g. “Is it possible to have a civil partner through adoption? “ Recent law applies only to marriage.  Professor Sanford noted the Faculty Matters Committee is also working on a draft policy for family hires to be presented at the next Senate meeting.  “Personal relationship” may not work as it is necessary to define such a term. A Senator asked whether we make accommodation hires for parents, siblings, or children.  Some Senators object to opening a can of worms to craft what a significant other (may be).  The Faculty Handbook Committee will look at this issue as well.  The question was raised as to what happens if we use “civil partners” and the state does not recognize it?  Linda Harber, Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Payroll, suggested changing “significant others” to “partner” as a term in use by Human Resources.  There was concern expressed that definitions are too loose and too broad, to limit to spouse or significant relationship, even if not recognized and there was a further move to amend by adding “or partner” after spouse.  The motion to amend paragraph 2 to include “spouse or partner” was made, seconded, and approved by voice vote.

A fourth amendment was proposed and seconded:  In paragraph 2, final sentence, to remove “usually” and
”up to” so that the sentence would read:  “Waiver of a search in this situation is  only valid for one year”.  Professor Sanford agreed in general this should be rare, but could think of a failed search where you may have to extend someone.  The motion to amend paragraph 2 to remove “usually” and “up to” was made and seconded and approved by a divided house:  15 votes in favor, 13 votes opposed.

 

The policy as amended was approved.

 

Organization and Operations –no report.

 

Nominations  no report. 

 

B.  Other Committees

Task Force on Salary Issues – Rick Coffinberger, Chair

 

The Task Force on Salary Issues moves:

 

That the Vice-President for Human Resources promptly provide to the Task Force the administrative salary data from the College & University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) salary surveys to enable the Task Force to report to the Senate on issues related to the compensation of Mason’s administrative faculty.

Discussion

Access to the CUPA salary survey data is by subscription only and subscriptions are only available to college and university human resource units.  George Mason’s Human Resources Office purchases an annual subscription to the CUPA salary survey data with university funding from the taxpayers of the Commonwealth.  CUPA officials have confirmed that Mason’s administration may share this data with the Task Force without violating its subscription agreement.  The Task Force on Salary Issues must have access to this data in order to perform its charge.

The motion was approved unanimously by voice vote.  Provost Stearns expressed a sense of trouble that the Salary Task Force was meeting without university officials present and expressed the hope that “after a long period of misunderstanding,” the Task Force would work with the same administrators they had met with last year.

Handbook Revision Committee – Rick Coffinberger, Chair

The Chair reported that the Handbook Revision Committee continues to work, meeting almost every Wednesday for 1 ½ hours.  The job has turned out to be even bigger than originally thought and the Committee is currently deep into Chapter Two.  The Committee is planning forums in early April on the Fairfax, Arlington, and Prince William campuses. 

 

VI.       Other New Business

Report on “Green Resolutions” – Dave Kuebrich

Professor Kuebrich stated that he is very positive about how “green” Mason wants to become, but unfortunately the support asked for in the November Faculty Senate resolution has not been forthcoming.  While the Green Campus Task Force is doing great work it remains the case that there has been no research assistant or release time for chair provided.  The Committee is dismayed about what they can accept as their charge as they cannot do what was voted on in the absence of adequate support and resources.

 

VII.   Adjournment:  The meeting was adjourned at 4:14 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Trencher

Secretary