GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE
MARCH 28, 2007
Senators Present: Ernest Barreto, Sheryl Beach, James Bennett, Alok Berry, Russ Brayley, Lorraine Brown, Phillip Buchanan, Frieda Butler, Rick Coffinberger, Jose Cortina, Warren Decker, Jane Flinn, Jeffrey Gorrell, Mark Houck, David Kuebrich, Jane McDonald, Jean Moore, Larry Rockwood, James Sanford, Suzanne Slayden, Cliff Sutton, June Tangney, Ellen Todd, Susan Trencher, James Willett, Mary Williams, Stanley Zoltek.
Senators Absent: Kristine Bell, Deborah Boehm-Davis, Jack Censer, Vikas Chandhoke, Sandra Cheldelin, Julie Christensen, Sara Cobb, Lloyd Cohen, Allison Frendak, Lloyd Griffiths, Karen Hallows, Kingsley Haynes, Dimitrios Ioannou, Dan Joyce, Menas Kafatos, Matthew Karush, Richard Klimoski, Jim Kozlowski, Howard Kurtz, Alan Merten, Linda Monson, Patricia Moyer-Packenham, Robert Nadeau, Paula Petrik, Peter Pober, Daniel Polsby, Jane Razeghi, William Reeder, Joseph Scimecca, Ilya Somin, Ray Sommer, Peter Stearns, Shirley Travis, Iosif Vaisman, Phil Wiest, Jennie Wu, John Zenelis.
Visitors Present: Don Boileau, Faculty Representative to the BOV – Faculty and Academic Standards Committee; Jessica Bowdoin, Vice-Chair, Librarians’ Council; Rachael Dickson, Broadside; Pat Donini, Deputy Director, Human Resources and Payroll; David Driver, Mason Gazette; Laurie Fathe, Associate Provost for Educational Improvement and Innovation; Dolores Gomez-Roman, Students' Ombudsman; Camille Hazeur, Director, Office of Equity and Diversity Services; Marcelle Heerschap, Dean, Student Academic Affairs and Advising; Robin Herron, Editor, Mason Gazette; Mike Kelley, Public Policy (and) Executive Director, Capitol Connection; Janice Leary, Broadside; Marilyn Mobley, Associate Provost, Education Programs; Dimitrios Papaconstantopoulos, Professor of Computational and Data Sciences; Della Patrick, Vice-Chair, Staff Senate; Linda Schwartzstein, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs.
Call to Order/Introductory Remarks – Suzanne Slayden, Chair of the Faculty Senate.
The meeting was called to order at 3:05 p.m. by Chair Suzanne Slayden. The Chair welcomed everyone to the Special Meeting called by a petition signed by 20% of current Senators. The Chair thanked those in the room for coming and reported that Provost Stearns had a prior commitment and the Provost’s office would be represented by Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Vice President of Enrollment Services Linda Schwartzstein and Associate Provost for Educational Programs, Marilyn Sanders Mobley.
The terms of the meeting were set out as follows:
1. Rules governing special meetings allow only business pertaining to the announced topic.
2. There is no regular order of business.
3. Two speakers (James Sanford, Chair of Faculty Matters Committee of the Faculty Senate and Susan Trencher, Secretary of the Faculty Senate) would begin the formal meeting by reading statements pertaining to the subject of the special meeting as requested by the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate.
4. Four speakers (Jim Bennett, Senator and former Chair of the Faculty Senate; Dave Kuebrich, Senator and former Chair of the Faculty Senate; Bob Smith, former Chair of the Department of Psychology; Esther Elstun, Professor Emerita and former Chair of the Faculty Senate) contacted the Faculty Senate in advance of the meeting and were placed on a list of interested speakers ( in accordance with procedures of the Special Meeting, March 28, 2007 as previously announced).
5. Floor open for general questions, comments and concerns.
I am Jim Sanford, chair of the Faculty Matter Committee of the Faculty Senate, and I have been asked to begin this meeting by summarizing two recent policies that the committee has approved, one that has already been approved by the Senate and one awaiting consideration at the meeting next week. I have also been asked to describe very generally the events that led the Senate to request that the committee develop these policies.
At a recent meeting, the Senate approved a policy concerning direct (or noncompetitive) hires. This policy, if implemented by the administration, limits this type of hire to, first, situations in which the candidate has already established a national or international reputation AND the area of specialization complements those of faculty already serving in the program; second, when the candidate is a spouse or partner of a candidate being considered through normal search processes and the university is attempting to accommodate the family member; and, third, when an administrator is hired and is being considered for acceptance in a specific academic unit. This policy makes noncompetitive faculty hires rare at GMU. The policy also requires that program faculty review the credentials of any candidate for a noncompetitive hire using the same procedures as those used for competitive-hire candidates. Finally, this policy requires that faculty who are being considered for tenure upon hiring must be reviewed by both the program faculty and the college- or school-level promotion and tenure committee using the same standards as those used when considering other candidates in the unit.
The second policy will be considered at next week’s Faculty Senate meeting and is directed toward employment of a family member or partner. It states that a member of a candidate’s family or the candidate’s partner can neither exercise any control nor have the appearance of exercising control in any personnel action, and it describes procedures to ensure that this is the case. The proposed policy also states that all interested parties, including program faculty, administrators, and the Board of Visitors will be fully apprised of both the personal relationship and the steps taken to ensure that any individual with a personal interest is not involved in the personnel decision.
The events that led to new policy considerations are, briefly, as follows. Recently, officials in a college within GMU and higher administrative officials approved a number of personnel actions related to an individual who was the spouse of a dean in the same college. Taking into account all the facts that were able to be verified by the Senate and its Executive Committee, there appears to have been significant deviations from procedures that should be followed if best practices in higher education had been adopted. These include apparent variations in both hiring and tenuring the spouse in question. Investigation by Senators and the Senate Executive Committee also revealed that the proportion of overall hires that are noncompetitive varies extensively across units, from being a rare exception to the competitive hire policy to being practically the normal way of hiring faculty.
Statement re Perceived Irregularities in the Hiring and Awarding of a Tenured Associate Professorship
I am Susan Trencher, Secretary of the Faculty Senate and I have been asked by the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate to read the following document in which events relevant to the call for a Special Meeting have been set out.
A candidate, spouse of a Dean of the college in which these events took place was presented to four departments for direct hire and tenure. One department made no offer. Two departments offered a position without tenure. In both cases the offer was declined by the candidate. The fourth department (see below as Department #4) offered the candidate a position of Associate Professor with tenure. The offer was accepted.
Internal to Department
Department #4 does many direct hires (that is, there is no public advertising of the position and only one candidate is considered). For direct hires, the Department normally has a fairly formal and rigorous process of review. In nearly all cases, a committee of faculty is established, and the committee is responsible for reviewing the candidate’s cv and obtaining three letters of recommendation from the candidate. The committee usually arranges for the candidate to present a job seminar and makes its recommendation to the rest of the faculty and to the chair. If the position carries tenure, the committee also obtains additional references from respected scholars in the candidate’s area of research.
The time frame for the hiring of the candidate in this case was deemed too short to attempt the usual process. Department #4 did not initiate the hire, nor did they request waiver of a search from the Equity Office (required for a direct hire), although one was subsequently obtained. The vote was held at a faculty meeting following review of the cv and candidate solicited letters. The candidate did not meet with the department nor make an academic presentation. Letters not solicited by the candidate were not obtained.
The candidate’s professional degree, experience and research interests do not appear to match those of the department.
External to Department
The form required for tenure processes that is sent to the University’s Board of Visitors (BOV), requires “one-half page justification for appointment, to include a description of the benefit of this hire for the department, school, etc., as well as the rationale for selecting this candidate over others”. In this case, the Dean’s statement consisted of three sentences, one of them a general statement, the remaining two, state the candidate’s qualifications for, and role in, an administrative position for a project not yet in existence and which was not mentioned as part of the process above. Qualifications mentioned in this document consisted of receipt of a recent Ph.D.
The Provost signed the tenure documents and they went forward.
January 5, 2007: The Chair and Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate, after learning of this appointment and what were perceived as irregularities sent a letter of concern to President Merten. No response was received.
Following signatures, including those of the Chair, Associate Dean, and Provost, the BOV’s decision (January 10) became effective. There was no requirement that the BOV be made aware that this was a spousal hire.
*January 30 At the request of the Executive Board of the Faculty Senate and other concerned faculty, a meeting with the Provost. The Provost suggested the possibility of the formation of a committee to further look into these concerns if, in his view, additional materials regarding perceived irregularities warranted such a committee.
February 20, 2007. A small group of faculty who had attended the previous meeting on January 30, met with the Provost. Additional information regarding perceived irregularities had been gathered and were discussed. The Provost decided against the formation of a committee to look further into this matter.
*Based on material submitted following the presentation of this material at the Special Meeting of the Faculty Senate, the chronology and statement of events for January 30 and February 20 has been corrected and represent a change from the statement read at the Special Meeting.
The Faculty expects the Administration to protect the integrity of the process that awards tenure and promotion. This is one of the Administration’s most important duties.
In my thirty-plus years at GMU, this recent special hire has created more concern and anger among the faculty than anything I can recall. The incident is perhaps unprecedented in terms of the negative effect it has had on faculty morale. It rankles and demoralizes faculty now, and it will continue to do so for years to come.
The incident points to a larger structural problem in governance at GMU. In some important respects the Central Administration is not accountable to anyone. As this episode indicates, in regard to the Central Administration, there is an obvious need for greater transparency, higher standards of performance, and accountability. The Faculty, especially the Faculty Senate, needs to have a stronger voice in decision-making. It needs to hold the Central Administration accountable for its actions.
At the last regular Faculty Senate meeting, (Visitor) Ernst Volgenau gave a presentation about plans for George Mason becoming a great or “world class” university. A university is judged by its faculty; a university’s reputation is determined by the reputation of its faculty. If we’re going to obtain top-quality faculty, then we must recruit widely – our search for talent must be carried out nationally and, at times, internationally. Two direct hires in my department (Economics) won the Nobel Prize. An international reputation of the highest order needs to be established before any faculty member is hired without an extensive search. I cannot envision a direct hire at the assistant or even the associate professor level.
I applaud the Faculty Matters Committee for its work on direct hires. Currently, there is no explicit procedure on direct hires in the Faculty Handbook; because direct hires were not expected to be extremely rare, not the norm. In the absence of a direct hire policy, the Faculty Handbook specifies hiring procedures for tenure‑track faculty and these should have been followed carefully. As a former Faculty Senate chair, I am very concerned that the central administration follows the Faculty Handbook when it suits their purpose, and simply ignores it otherwise. We need a change in culture here: shared governance must be consistent and taken seriously -- otherwise, morale suffers. If there is an expectation of rising out of third tier where the University has been ranked for years, we should get rid of whole concept of direct hires unless the candidate is acknowledges by all in the local unit as a potential Nobel Laureate.
Statement of Professor Bob Smith, Former Chair of the Department of Psychology
Professor Smith spoke in support of the importance of the issues and concerns that had resulted in the call for the Special Meeting, asserting that appointing and retaining the best faculty available requires two fundamental principles: an open search and unbiased judgment of merit. Fundamentally, the current (Faculty) Handbook provides (policies consistent with these principles) but the handbook and these policies are not consistently followed and specific instances of ‘skirting’ handbook requirements illustrate the need for continuing vigilance. Let me preface my remarks by noting that my own knowledge of some of the facts and circumstances to which I will allude is indirect, and at least one specific is a close estimate, not an exact figure. While my knowledge of specific instances of ‘skirting’ is indirect, it appears to me that the occasional past and potential future lapses fall into just a few categories, and can be avoided by:
1. Open searches. There are instances where a direct appointment is appropriate – I used them sparingly while chairing Psychology – but we need to be clear on when they are appropriate, and the processes for insuring that. I’ve used the criterion that direct hires into tenure line positions should only be used when there is a reasonable judgment that no stronger candidate could be found in an open search, and that there is a strong fit of the candidate to program needs. If those are the case, confirmation of that judgment by a specified review process should insure a strong hire. In the case where a tenured hire is contemplated, an expedited review by a Faculty Committee which should judge a direct hire into a tenured line appropriate. There should also be a duly constituted second tier review. Having individuals effectively make direct hire decisions into tenure line positions simply has too much potential for bias and favoritism.
2. The ‘Golden Rule’ in fair procedures – the rules apply to all. To insure unbiased judgments in hires, any member of the Mason community with a direct interest or personal relationship with a candidate simply must disclose that interest [at all levels of the hiring process], and recuse him/herself from any role whatsoever in the hiring process. It is not sufficient that the individual avoid signing forms, the recusal must include a complete absence of influence in the process. The current handbook strongly suggests this, and requires that an individual not participate in an action which benefits a family member. However, the recent situation which is the basis for this special meeting apparently did not include full disclosure or complete recusal, and it appears that administration did not enforce it. None of the administrators responsible for fair hiring insisted upon it (in this instance). This cannot recur.
3. Adhering to the spirit and letter of the handbook in P&T reviews. The recent announcement that Krasnow will have departments created within it illustrates problems in tenure review in very small academic units. Although the Krasnow Institute (KI) will have a large number of affiliated faculty, most of the announced 60 are not even Mason faculty, and KI will initially have very few tenure-track faculty lines. Only a tiny number of KI faculty [I estimate that number at 3-5, but have not seen a roster] will be eligible to sit on first- or second-level review committees, i.e., tenured but not administrators, and none of those 3-5 can be on both committees. The handbook specifies alternative second-level review procedures when certain size and constitution limits are not met, and the faculty should insist on those procedures, rather than allowing exceptions and new inventions. Tenure decisions made by a very small and cohesive group have greater potential for favoritism than the broad second-level review now specified, and adhering to a broad review best serves the interests of the university.
Unbiased and rigorous procedures in selection and tenure of faculty are not hard to adhere to, and we must insist on it. We need to take a careful look at what is happening or can happen in smaller units. There are no mitigating factors which would allow us to circumvent or overlook those procedures. We cannot justify selection or tenure based on personal relationships or favoritism, and we must reject those, or we will deserve the consequences.
Statement of Esther Elstun, Professor Emerita and former Chair of the Faculty Senate
Some of you know me, but others do not, so let me begin by introducing myself: my name is Esther Elstun, and I am a recently retired professor emerita in the Department of Modern & Classical Languages. In 1974 I was a co-founder of this Faculty Senate, served in it for over 25 years as an elected member from the College of Arts & Sciences, and as its presiding officer from 1996-1999.
I speak to you today because I am profoundly concerned about two things: (1) the faculty personnel action that prompted the call for today’s special meeting, and (2) the future of this institution’s Faculty Senate. Let me address those concerns in the order in which I mentioned them:
(1) To the best of my knowledge and recollection, there has not been a case remotely similar to this one since 1971. At that time, this was not a free-standing public university of the Commonwealth; it was still George Mason College of the University of Virginia, and our chief administrator, who reported to President Edgar Shannon and the Board of Visitors in Charlottesville, was Chancellor Lorin Thompson. There was no faculty senate here in 1971, but I am proud to say that when Chancellor Thompson attempted—unilaterally—to confer a tenured professorship in the History Department on someone who had not undergone appropriate peer review, the faculty acted very swiftly and successfully to thwart that appointment. The case at hand is obviously different in some respects, but it is similar in the sense that it, too, seems fraught with irregularities. All of us are familiar with the best practices that are supposed to prevail in faculty personnel actions, including initial appointments. Those practices are routinely observed at first-rate academic institutions throughout this country; they are endorsed and encouraged by the professoriate’s major professional organization, the AAUP; and they are codified in our own Faculty Handbook. To allow them to be disregarded without protest is to invite similar cases in the future, and further erosion of what we all know to be best practices and acceptable standards.
(2) My second concern can be stated more concisely. Having been a co-founder of this Senate, I think it will not surprise you to learn that I continue to care very much about its integrity, its vitality, and its effectiveness. If best practices and acceptable standards can be ignored with impunity—anywhere in the university—the institution as a whole is harmed, and the Senate can no longer expect to be taken seriously as the principal voice of the General Faculty at this university.
End of listed speakers. Floor opened for general questions, comments and concerns.
A Senator directed a comment/question to the Director and Assistant to the President of Equity and Diversity Services, Camille Hazeur, who was in attendance. The Senator noted that the role of the Equity and Diversity office, as well as the Provost’s office is to ensure that practices followed at GMU are those set out in the Faculty Handbook and consistent with “best practices” widely recognized in universities. The Senator stated that enforcing these standards and practices is clearly the responsibility of these offices, not that of the BOV since the Faculty Handbook is a contract approved by the BOV, but ultimately it is the role of the Equity Office and the Provost’s Office to act out the terms of that contract.
Director Hazeur’s responded that the “keyword for us in a request for a direct hire is “integrity.” She stated that in direct hires “we” trust that the department asking for the direct hire is making that request in good faith. The Director stated that in her experience direct hires occur at the senior level, and are considered very important hires (involving) grants, or some finite financial opportunity typically in a non-faculty area. Director Hazeur stated “We assume, as you do, that processes for tenure will be taken care of in the search process in that department.” Further, she stated that the job of those in the Office of Equity and Diversity Services is to assure that “we have good justification for excluding some people from the search process,” adding that the Department of Labor looks at these processes and at the “paper trail.” As far as tenure is concerned, her office does not get involved. “If a spouse does get hired – assuming we know it’s a spouse – there are not a lot of spousal hires although it is not unusual in a hire to accommodate spouses - the spouse (family member) should not be supervised by that person nor should that person weigh into the hiring process. Our assumptions (in this case) turned out not to be true.”
Further, regarding the “second step of tenure” it was assumed that this step was taken care of in the college and that another reason for waiver of a full search is to get a hire in quickly. Director Hazeur stated that she herself wondered what happened as there was no mention of tenure in the papers sent to her office. The request for a direct hire in this case was approved on the basis of special talents, the (other) title which was allocated to this candidate was not included in the request to her office – “…this came out later.”
The Director stated that “we subsequently stopped doing direct hires in COS. (COS) does most of direct hires. (We were) compliant because of changes in COS and opportunity hires. Contractual agreements were signed on and we tried to be open in these areas.”
A Senator asked Director Hazeur: “ Knowing what you know now, was this (hire) inappropriate?
Director Hazeur responded: Yes
A faculty member asked Director Hazeur: Is the Senate motion (regarding direct hires) helpful to you?
Director Hazeur responded: “Yes, it (the search process) can’t be closed, but we don’t have to list everything if we don’t want to. There is no contradiction in what you’re asking and what we’re asking. We’re assuming that the search process is going on while we’re doing paperwork.”
The visitor commented that the principal concern is with tenure track hires.
Director Hazeur responded by asking that the Faculty Senate share all of their procedures with her office in order to provide better checks and balances. She added that her office has done direct hires in good faith and they are not going to ask someone if they are telling the truth as part of this process.
A Senator directed a question/comment to the representatives from the Provost’s office.
“It was clear that he (the Provost) knew this was a spousal hire involving tenure. (The Provost) knows Faculty Handbook procedures. He is an excellent scholar. Why did he sign off on this?”
Vice Provost Linda Schwartzstein responded: “(The) Provost has said to the extent that there were flaws in the process, he regrets any involvement he had. He has apologized. I don’t know what else he can do.”
The Senator asked why there was not fuller disclosure of important facts about this hire, including that this was a spousal hire; that there were issues of supervisory conflict, and issues related to qualifications.
Vice Provost Schwartzstein responded that she has been a faculty member since 1979 and sees these issues both from faculty and administration perspectives. She asserted that one of the things the Provost has done is to protect faculty interests as BOVs change over time, are dependent on appointment by the Governor, and may have no experience in higher education. She noted that as a general rule some Visitors want to go into individual hire actions. In her view the present Provost had been adroit and firm about protecting the tenure process (as) a faculty driven process and that asking the Board to look into any tenure action (can set) a bad precedent. She stated that when something happens that people dislike, the reaction to it can create a worse situation. The Provost has never had a practice of declaring information to Board (which helps) to protect faculty members, but he is open to changing practice. Further, the intention was to use means that better protects faculty input with respect to hiring and tenure rather than give the BOV an invitation to become more involved in processes.
A Senator posed the following question with comment: “We are clarifying the Faculty Handbook for the future, but what difference will it make? What’s written is not uniformly followed.” The Senator stated that at the time the Provost arrived at GMU, she was serving on the Faculty Grievance Committee which was looking into a grievance filed by a senior colleague regarding the shaving of summer school salary based on course enrollment. After much careful deliberation and discussion over many months including review of the Handbook and numerous consultations with others, the committee found in favor of the grievant. Following this finding, early in his present position, the Provost summarily overturned the decision without consultation with the committee. The Senator further noted that at present she is serving on the Senate Salary Issues Task force where serious concerns “not just about ourselves, but about the future of the institution” are emerging. What the Senator finds most disturbing is that often actions are the opposite of the words. The Senator stated “I begin to lose confidence.”
Professor Don Boileau – Faculty Representative to the BOV Faculty and Academic Standards Committee offered the view that he sees reason for renewed optimism, i.e. the Faculty Senate’s Faculty Matters Committee has now passed a new policy which had it been in effect at the time of the events leading to this meeting, would have resulted in a very different outcome. In his view these events have created an opportunity that strengthens faculty goals. He assumes that the new policies will pass due to the work of a strong Faculty Senate. In the last two months the Executive Committee had exerted its power and the Provost will not oppose new Faculty Senate policies which will be included in the revisions to the Faculty Handbook. He noted that Rick Coffinberger (Chair of the Faculty Handbook Committee) had made a presentation to the BOV at its meeting last week on the revision process. Board members wanted to be alerted to major concerns for change. Professor Boileau noted that past BOVs had sought to look into faculty publications and syllabi, and lauded the Senate Faculty Matters committee for strengthening faculty power. In his view this is “a wonderful opportunity to strengthen important rights on direct hire and spousal hires, which will result in a better faculty.”
A Senator commented that some good has come out of evil noting that the Faculty Senate has strengthened a lot of this, but finds it annoying that the administration is sitting here and no mention is made of Senate efforts.
A Senator and member of the Senate Executive and Faculty Handbook Committee, commented that a lot of time and energy has been spent on this issue and bringing this to the point of a special meeting; hours which cannot be given to teaching and research. In the Senator’s view if the faculty is going to put this energy into work important to the health and welfare of the university it is not enough to be brushed off, changes need to be put into practice. The expenditure of time and energy on this issue has been enormous and will be continued as warranted “but what magic potion will make the administration read the Faculty Handbook?”
A Senator commented that while these and other similar events offer an opportunity to make changes in procedure and policy as suggested by an earlier speaker, the larger issue is that there are traditions and “best practices” in academia which when violated in this university are claimed as the result of no policy having been formally put in place. Terms that have long been accepted in academia as meaning one thing, may mean something else at GMU. For instance, how is a “trailing hire” defined? Traditionally it has meaning for faculty recruitment and retention and spouses who already have careers in academia. How far is this definition to be extended and to whom? Who is responsible for setting out the terms of definition and practice in a transparent and uniform way? In the instance under discussion, faculty members were asked to further look into these events for evidence of irregularities but much of the information about these events was and still is not available to faculty as the result of authority conferred to them, yet it became their responsibility to do the inquiry as best they could with limited resources and less authority than that which would have created a real opportunity for change.
A Senator commented that there is a comparison to be made here between GMU and a banana republic as we find ourselves with an always changing Constitution. The Senator noted his service on the Executive Committee for a six year period during which the Faculty Handbook had been violated (by the administration) time after time with no consequence to those who violate it. The new Handbook can provide a hopeful change in which there is truly shared. (In the procedures we are talking about today) the administration did not heed the policies set out in the Handbook and there are reasons to call someone to task for that failure.
A Senator commented that while he agreed that faculty does not want the BOV to go through each appointment/tenure case, there are always some which require special attention. The Senator noted that the Board has to trust the administration but this can’t happen without full disclosure and the use of required judgment. He asserted that in this case poor judgment was exercised.
A Senator commented that (it would be) helpful to know what actions the Provost and administration have done to make this right.
Vice Provost Schwartzstein responded that the Provost agrees with (the new Faculty Senate) policy and welcomes it, and asked then asked the Senator what was meant by the question asked.
The Senator responded: “It is not my job to straighten out the mess.”
Vice Provost Schwartzstein responded: (In the case of) a legal appointment once passed by BOV, there are no grounds to “redo” (that appointment).
A Senator asked: Wasn’t he (the Provost) asked to form an investigative committee and he said no?
Vice Provost Schwartzstein responded that it is up to the academic unit, if they felt the procedure (was) wrong.
The Senator followed up: Does this mean the Provost won’t overturn it?
Vice Provost Schwartzstein responded that the role of the Faculty Senate with respect to setting these kinds of procedures, affects all (of the) university, but the Faculty Senate does not have a role in individual unit actions.
A Senator commented: “I disagree. If the Faculty Senate approves policy, the Faculty Senate has the right to object if LAU violates policy as well as any academic member.
A Senator asked: Why did Provost Stearns approve it (the hire in question)?
Vice Provost Schwartzstein responded that she was not part of the discussion process in this case and does not have “internal reflections as (if) she was part of procedures.”
A Senator commented that at the least we need continued and increased vigilance about spousal hires especially in a unit where one spouse has supervisory control over another, and also have a supervisory role over the unit that initiates or makes such a hire, thus potentially providing pressure on the unit to make the hire and grant tenure.
A Senator asked who has the authority to enforce policies and procedures?
A Senator commented that shared governance is important in this process.
A Senator commented that “Faculty cannot enforce (policies and procedures) without access to information.
A Senator commented that as Chair of the Senate for one year a good deal of time was spent responding to the Provost over administrative violations of the Faculty Handbook and in his view it is very hard to have an effective Faculty Senate with this Provost.
A Senator asked whether President Merten had responded to the letter (sent by the Chair of the Faculty Senate about this issue on behalf of the faculty) “in any way?”
The Chair of the Faculty Senate, Suzanne Slayden responded that the President had sent no response of any kind.
A Senator commented that this is part of a larger issue of shared governance and the degree in which the Faculty Handbook has any standing. “This is not an isolated incident.”
A Senator commented that he was also disturbed about timing of the hire and tenuring as well as the fact that tenure at GMU has become harder to get based on the standard of having an outstanding record in both teaching and research. In this case teaching was apparently entirely ignored since the candidate in this instance has no teaching experience on record.
A Senator commented that he is similarly disturbed, having attending Provost’s seminars on Promotion and Tenure requirements when in a tenure-track position (which specifies that the candidate must have both teaching and research).
The Chair of the Senate thanked all those in attendance for coming.
Meeting adjourned at 4:08 p.m.