GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY

 MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE
APRIL 4, 2007

 

Senators Present:  Ernest Barreto, Sheryl Beach, Kristine Bell, Jim Bennett, Alok Berry, Lorraine Brown, Phil Buchanan, Rick Coffinberger, Jose Cortina, Alison Frendak, Karen Hallows, Mark Houck, Jim Kozlowski, David Kuebrich, Howard Kurtz, Jane McDonald, Alan Merten, Linda Monson, Jean Moore, Patricia Moyer-Packenham, Paula Petrik, Larry Rockwood, Jim Sanford, Suzanne Slayden, Ilya Somin, Ray Sommer, Peter Stearns, Cliff Sutton, Ellen Todd, Iosif Vaisman, Phil Wiest, James Willett, Stanley Zoltek.

 

Senators Absent:  Deborah Boehm-Davis, Russ Brayley, Frieda Butler, Jack Censer, Vikas Chandhoke, Sandra Cheldelin, Julie Christensen, Sara Cobb, Lloyd Cohen, Warren Decker, Jane Flinn, Jeffrey Gorrell, Lloyd Griffiths, Kingsley Haynes, Dimitris Ioannou, Dan Joyce, Matthew Karush, Richard Klimoski, Robert Nadeau, Peter Pober, Daniel Polsby, Jane Razeghi, William Reeder, Joe Scimecca, June Tangney, Shirley Travis, Susan Trencher, Mary Williams, Jennie Wu, John Zenelis.

 

Visitors Present: Jessica Bowdoin, Vice-Chair, Librarians’ Council; Rachael Dickson, Broadside; David Driver, Mason Gazette; Laurie Fathe, Associate Provost for Educational Improvement and Innovation; Dolores Gomez-Roman, Students' Ombudsman; Linda Harber, Associate Vice President for Human Resources; Susan Jones, University Registrar; Menas Kafatos, Director, ISEE; Matt Kluger, Vice President for Research;  Janice Leary, Broadside;  Jennifer Murphy, Assistant Vice President for Research and Economic Development and Director, Technology Transfer;  Della Patrick, Vice-Chair, Staff Senate; Linda Schwartzstein, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs; David Wong, Professor, ESGS; Susan Yang, Faculty, COS.

 

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

 

II.  Approval of the Minutes of March 7, 2007:  The minutes were approved as distributed.

 

III.              Announcements

Provost Stearns noted that he deeply values good relations with the Faculty Senate and offered three comments on the tenor of the Special Meeting held on March 28, 2007*.  First, as the Provost had told groups of faculty regarding (a particular) personnel situation, in his judgment a couple of specific but not overwhelming flaws in the personnel process had occurred. The Provost apologized to the faculty and individuals in question and was sorry that the Faculty Senate had not been informed of his regret. Second, the Provost asserted that the most important thing - policy deficiencies which he had not previously noticed - had been rectified due to Faculty Senate action in delineating new policies which he would now work hard to implement. Third, the Provost had been informed of a few more sweeping remarks about his conduct that had been made at the meeting and gone unquestioned. He reasserted that he valued a good relationship with the Faculty Senate and offered to meet with Senators who had broader concerns about his conduct.

 

* Special Meeting on Perceived Irregularities in the Hiring and Awarding of Tenured Associate Professorship called by Petition by 20% of the Faculty Senate.

 

President Merten apologized for being late and thanked the faculty for the opportunity to come to the Senate.  He congratulated the faculty in general and specific faculty members, including Joe Wood who left GMU in 2000 for the University of Southern Maine and has now been named President of that institution; Rebecca Goldin of Mathematics who received the Michler Prize awarded to an outstanding mid-career female mathematician; Abul Hussam of Chemistry, winner of the Grainger Prize, and honored by the National Academy of Science and Engineering for his invention that removes arsenic from drinking water; and historian Roy Rosenzweig awarded the Distinguished Service award from the Organization of American Historians.  President Merten also noted that GMU students had won the Truman Scholar and Udall Scholar Awards which are highly competitive and are a recognition for both our students and our faculty.  The President  also thanked the Faculty Senate for inviting Rector Dewberry, accompanied by Visitor Volgenau, to a previous Senate meeting, and noted their important contributions to the university.

 

The President urged the faculty to get involved in two present initiatives:

 

Transition Mode to Private Fundraising: 

1.   The University hired a consultant to do a campaign readiness study including studying organizational capacity to do the next campaign.  Potential donors would not be interviewed.  The issue to be addressed in this readiness study was to assess whether we have the right people at the central and local levels and the right policies and procedures in place.  In the next few days the university will announce how faculty can give input into the campaign readiness study and views about the size of the campaign. The President noted that the first campaign was associated with academic units and suggested that in the next campaign, in addition to academic units, that there be a thematic campaign, the development of which is important to the success of a second campaign.

2.  The President referred to the resignation of Judith Jobbitt (President of the GMU Foundation and Vice President for University Development and Alumni Affairs) and the establishment of a search advisory committee chaired by Joy Hughes with input from faculty/staff/members of community.  They are in the final stages of identifying who will be on the search committee, final selection to be decided by Judith Jobbitt and President Merten.  Search committee membership may be as large as 13-15 people composed of faculty, administrators, Foundation board members, and BOV.  Not all academic units will be represented.  Joy Hughes expects to hire a search firm to help in the process and anticipates a hundred-plus applications, followed by a narrowing of the list to 4 or 5 people.

 

President Merten also discussed non-academic projects which he asserted were key to the future of academe e.g. faculty housing on which the Senate had already received updates.  The Board of Visitors has approved moving ahead with the hotel and conference center and the President asked for faculty input on how this facility will be used.

 

Budget:  The President reported that we are currently at the end of discussions associated with 2008 budget (begins July 1, 2007), a modification of the 2007 biennial budget.  With respect to 2007 budget, the President asserted that there were some successes on the operating side:  additional monies for faculty salaries and financial aid; salary supplement for nursing; 4% salary increase for faculty and staff.  Increases in operating funds are connected to how fast tuition is raised.  If you raise tuition too much (the state) won’t give you any money which the President viewed as bad public policy but is the case as long as the legislature feels the desire to micromanage universities on the tuition side. In the President’s view GMU did well on the capital side but did not receive a long- term commitment for new construction. The Governor will come up with 2009-10 budget in December 2007.  GMU challenges for 2009 budget include our continuing battle with respect to salaries.  The two-prong approach includes: (1) To change our peer group.  We are now getting encouragement from SCHEV that we have exceeded our peer group, and (2) COLA – push to combine COLA with change in peer group. 

 

QUESTION AND ANSWER:

Senator:  What can faculty members do to help you convince governor and legislature about COLA? 

President Merten:  From Faculty Senate and others, a letter-writing campaign dealing with COLA and peer group issues.  Suggested text:  “thank you for what we’ve gotten this past year etc. e.g. change peer group.  (We wish to work with you on the) COLA.”

Senator:  What argument do you feel would be most persuasive to the governor re the COLA?

President Merten:  From our side to deal with great difficulty of attracting/retaining faculty.  More comparable – we cannot compete with University X.  What the relative COLA is in areas of three universities with whom we compete. At dept/school/individual level, we need a much more directed, more detailed level.   A Faculty Senate letter (could be written) to take four or five different markets we’re in from academic unit point of view. 

 

 IV. Unfinished Business and General Orders

 

Senate Apportionment 2007-2008: Ernest Barreto, Organization and Operations Committee:

Professor Barreto presented the allocation for Senate seats for the 2007-08 academic year using official FTE data from the administration.  One significant change was the gain of one seat by the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS), and loss of one seat by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS). The Krasnow Institute and ICAR are pooled together; ICAR is close to having its own allocation, the Krasnow Institute will remain too small.  A Senator asked whether there had been any discussion about whether the number of Senators should increase as the university enlarges.  Professor Barreto responded that he has not heard anything about that, noting that it would require a change in the Senate charter.


 

Apportionment of Elected Senators for 2007/2008

 

Unit

Allocation

Change

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

 

17

-1

College of Education & Human Development

 

6

0

College of Health and Human Services

 

4

+1

College of Science

 

7

0

College of Visual and Performing Arts

 

3

0

Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution

 

1

0

Krasnow Institute

 

0

0

School of Management

 

3

0

School of Law

 

2

0

School of Public Policy

 

2

0

Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering

 

5

0

 

Total: 50

0

 

 

 

University Policy on Copyright

 

After further discussion in the Provost's office in response to the concerns expressed about the course materials provision of the copyright policy by some members of the Faculty Senate, a small revision has been made.

 
As revised, the limitation on the use of such materials prepared in connection with a faculty member's academic responsibilities at the university for teaching purposes in substantial competition with the university, or making these materials available to others with the intent that they be used for those purposes, without the permission of his or her Dean or Institute Director applies only to on-line courses.  The policy is unchanged in all other respects

 

University Policy Number 4002 – Copyright in University Works is submitted by Matt Kluger, Vice President, Research & Economic Development, for review and approval by the Faculty Senate. The policy will be submitted to the Board of Visitors for its approval following the Senate’s consideration.

 

The principal purposes on the revised policy, as stated in the policy itself, are to –

 

 

 

 

Please click the link to read the full text of the policy.

http://www.gmu.edu/facstaff/senate/Copyright%20for%20Faculty%20Senate%20March%2023,%202007%20final.doc 

After some discussion, a motion was made and seconded to approve the copyright policy.  The motion was approved by a divided vote, 19 in favor, 6 opposed.

V.  New Business – Committee Reports

A.  Senate Standing Committees

Academic Policies Committee – Cliff Sutton, Chair

Professor Sutton and Professor Julie Christensen attended a meeting of the Classroom Advisory Committee and prepared a “Short Report to the Faculty Senate on the Monday-Wednesday-Friday Scheduling Initiative.” The report was distributed to Senators and appears as Appendix A.  Faculty unhappy with the  decision should contact their representative on the Classroom Advisory Committee (listed in Appendix A).

It was the unanimous decision of the Academic Policies Committee not to recommend changes in the current policy regarding overlapping of credits, investigated by Professor Peter Pober.

Motion:   Modify the Absence for Religious Observances policy (which is on p. 35 of the 2006-2007 catalog) so that it will appear as shown below, adjusted to reflect faculty concerns about responsibilities and limitations, and so that it also covers absence for participation in university activities.

 

Absence for Religious Observances or Participation in University Activities

It is Mason's policy to encourage its faculty to make a reasonable effort to allow students to observe their religious holidays or to 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 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, consistent with class attendance policies stated in the syllabus, to make up the missed work. It is the obligation of students to provide faculty, within the first two weeks of the semester, with the dates of major religious holidays on which they will be absent, and the dates for which they are requesting an excused absence for participation in any university-sponsored activity scheduled prior to the start of the semester, and as soon as possible otherwise. Students requesting an excused absence for participation in a university-sponsored activity must provide their instructor with letter from a university official stating the dates and times that participation in the activity would result in the student missing class. Faculty are encouraged to take religious observances into consideration when constructing class schedules and syllabi.

 

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 requested that our attendance policy be modified to cover absences due to participation in university-sponsored activities.

 

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.

 

The motion was revised, taking into account comments made when initially presented at an earlier Faculty Senate Meeting (February 21, 2007).  The motion was approved with one negative vote.

Budget and Resources Committee – Phil Buchanan, Chair:  Faculty are reminded that the deadline for the Fenwick Fellows applications is April 25th, a little earlier this year.  The Budget and Resources Committee evaluates the applications.

Faculty Matters Committee – Jim Sanford, Chair:  The Faculty Evaluation of Administrators Survey was distributed in last Friday’s mail to all instructional faculty.  Senators should encourage faculty to complete them and turn them into the Senate office or to a member of the Faculty Matters Committee.  Even if many of the responses are “No opinion/don’t know,” completing the survey shows faculty interest in the process.  Meg has extra copies at today’s meeting if anyone wants to take some

Motion from the Faculty Matters to approve this policy that will be incorporated into the revised Faculty Handbook:

 

Employment of Family Member/Partner

 

Favoritism or the appearance of it can undermine the trust that members of the university community place in personnel decisions as well as the public interest which the university serves.  Thus, a personnel decision involving a family member or partner of another faculty member or administrator requires unique scrutiny and special safeguards.  In no case should a faculty member or administrator who might have a “personal interest” participate in the hiring, supervision, evaluation, or other personnel actions that involve a family member or partner.

 

If a faculty member or administrator might exercise or appear to exercise control over the employment or other personnel actions of a family member or partner, the supervisor of the faculty member or administrator must, at a minimum, designate a disinterested person to substitute for the individual who might have a personal interest.  Additional steps may also be required if colleagues or subordinates of the individual with a personal interest are involved in the employment activities.  “Appearance of exercising control” includes but is not limited to assigning responsibility for personnel actions or supervision to a colleague or subordinate.  If the personnel action involves a faculty member or administrator in a local academic unit, the faculty in that unit and all other interested parties must be fully apprised of both the family/partner relationship and the steps that have been taken to ensure that the individual with a personal interest is not involved in the personnel decision.

 

At least ten days prior to consideration of a personnel action involving a family member or partner of a faculty member or administrator by the Board of Visitors, the Board will be fully apprised of the relationship and the steps taken to ensure that the individual with a personal interest was not involved in the action.  Only after the Board is satisfied that the present policy was implemented and that safeguards were adequate should the personnel action be approved.

 

Professor Sanford noted that the text is the same as March 7th agenda, suggestions made in earlier meeting incorporated.  A Senator asked whether (to ask about marital status of candidates) pre-hiring may violate state law.  Marital profiling specific to employment is prohibited in twenty-two states and at the federal level.  Professor Sanford responded that this legal issue did not come up.  Ensuing discussion did not provide a determination as to the legality of this process in Virginia.  The motion was voted on in its entirety and was approved, 17 votes in favor, 12 votes opposed.

 

A Senator raised the question of whether the policy we just passed was illegal.  Chair Suzanne Slayden responded that it will be included in the Faculty Handbook after review by the Handbook Revision Committee, administration, and the Equity Office.  The Faculty Matters Committee will consult further with the Equity Office.  Some redundancy is built into the process.

 

Nominations Committee – Jim Bennett, Chair:  Jose Cortina, CHSS, was elected to serve on the ad hoc Provost’s committee to explore a Mason Faculty Practice Plan.  Ana Stoehr, CHHS, was elected to serve on the Veterans and Deployment Issues Committee.

 

B.  Other Committees

Salary Issues Task Force – Rick Coffinberger, Chair

Work continued over spring break as the committee met separately for about an hour each with two members of the BOV to identify faculty concerns as well as learn their thoughts.  A meeting has been set up with the Provost, Vice President Scherrens, and Linda Harber from the central administration.  The committee hopes to get already requested access to CUPA data.  Initially the committee planned to have a special-called meeting before the end of the academic year but will request a special meeting early next fall.  If the report is completed before the end of the semester it will be distributed at that time.

 

Faculty Handbook Revision Committee – Rick Coffinberger, Chair

The committee has met quite a bit.  An email announcing three open forums will be distributed soon:  in Fairfax – April 18th 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Mason Hall, D3; in Arlington – April 23rd 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. in the Original Building, room 257; in Prince William – April 25th 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. in Bull Run Hall, room 247.

 

BOV Finance and Resource Development Committee Representative – Rick Coffinberger

As President Merten said, the state has put in an unofficial tuition cap of 6% - if you stay at or below this level, you could get some additional money.  Holding the increase in summer tuition to 6% cost the university a couple of  hundred thousand dollars.  This cap does not bode well for COLA or salary increments. There is no reason to be optimistic about ability to get more money from the state. 

 

VII.  Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty – Dave Kuebrich

Of the four green resolutions passed by the Faculty Senate (November 29, 2006), one endorsed a petition campaign to create a more sustainable campus by the end of the year.  We are trying to collect 10,000 signatures to present to President Merten at a green rally; now have 3,000 signatures.  Faculty are encouraged to circulate petitions; they will later be sent to Senators Warner and Webb.

 

IX.  Adjournment:  The meeting adjourned at 4:04 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Trencher

Secretary

 

 

 

 

APPENDIX A

 

SHORT REPORT TO THE FACULTY SENATE 
ON THE  MONDAY-WEDNESDAY-FRIDAY SCHEDULE  INITIATIVE
 
Julie Christensen and Clifton Sutton
Academic Policies
March 7, 2007
 
 
The Academic Policies Committee was asked to look into the recent mandate to increase the number of MWF classes.  On Feb. 26, we attended a meeting of the Classroom Advisory Committee (a rather large committee co-chaired by Susan Jones and Cathy Wolfe).  The first item on their agenda was a discussion of the origination, progress, and status of the MWF scheduling initiative.  We learned a lot at this meeting, and we were also given the opportunity to speak about the serious concerns that some faculty members have about the initiative.  
 
Rationale for the move towards more MWF classes is the following:  1. We need to increase classroom utilization, since SCHEV keeps track of the percentage of time classrooms are used, and low utilization may harm the justification for new capital projects.  (Note: The fact that Prince William and Arlington classrooms are not heavily used during daytime hours hurts when the accounting is done, as does low utilization of Fairfax classrooms on Fridays.)  2.  We need to free up space for graduate classes in the evening hours, since the number of graduate programs and classes increases every year, usually as a result of faculty initiatives.  3. We need to increase access to course sections for freshmen and sophomores, who have low registration priority and often have trouble getting into sections for desired courses.  (Note: Between 10:30 AM and 4:30 PM, a classroom can accommodate six MWF classes, whereas it can only accommodate four MW classes.)  4. We will have 14 fewer classrooms available when Thompson Hall renovations start in Spring 2008, while the number of students and the number of graduate programs are expected to increase.  5.  Three meetings a week is pedagogically preferable for many lower-division courses (although this is clearly not the case for many others).
 
We pointed out several disadvantages to MWF scheduling.  Many faculty fear that students will simply not come to class on Fridays.  It will be difficult to hire adjunct faculty willing to come to campus three times a week.  Many classes work better with an extended class period (the blocking principle).  Many full-time faculty members will not want to teach three days a week.  And a MWF schedule for lower level courses will decrease the number of tenure-line faculty teaching at those levels.  
 
We were told that all of the objections we brought up had been previously noted and discussed at length by the Classroom Advisory Committee.  Adjuncts will have some compensation for teaching three days a week.  Advising will work with entering freshmen and transfer students to begin to encourage a change in campus culture (advisors feel that freshmen do not enter Mason assuming a two-day class schedule or a four-day weekend – that is something students learn after arriving).  Members of the committee acknowledge that the change in campus culture will be gradual, and the change must be supported by university services – there must be more food, entertainment, and activities available for students on Fridays and into the weekend.  In the end, the committee has concluded that, given no viable alternative, the advantages of increasing MWF sections outweigh the disadvantages.
 
We informed the committee that many faculty members unhappy about not being consulted earlier.  It was pointed out that the Classroom Advisory Committee serves in an advisory capacity to the university's Space Utilization Committee (which requested that the Classroom Advisory Committee address the classroom utilization issue), and there is a Senate representative on that committee. It was also noted that the Classroom Advisory Committee has representatives from every academic unit, and that deans, directors, and chairs had been informed about the initiative and had no serious objections.  In the case of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (which will be most affected initially by these changes), Dee Holisky reported that she had discussed this issue at length with department chairs and undergraduate coordinators, who discussed it or should have discussed it with their faculty.  
 
 
To summarize:  it is clear that the MWF initiative is far along and no other reasonable alternatives have been identified to increase classroom utilization.  Faculty members who are unhappy with the MWF initiative might want to contact their unit's representative on the Classroom Advisory Committee.  These people are listed below.
 
 

Classroom Advisory Committee

 

FACILITIES

Wolfe, Cathy, Co-Chair

REGISTRAR

Jones, Susan Co-Chair

 

 

CVPA

Davis, Rick

COS

Dworzecka, Maria

CNHS

Gillette, Brian

INFO TECH UNIT

Gillette, Kathy

GSE / CEHD (per Joe Alvis)

Goor, Mark                                                                  

ENRLMNT PLNG

Guilford, Renate

SOM

Harr, Dave

CHSS

Holisky, Dee

ARLINGTON

Jones, Rebecca

BUDGET & PLANNING

Kidd, Donna

INSTITUTIONAL RESEARCH & REPORTING

Ko, Jang

LAW

Moore, Winston

PRINCE WILLIAM

Pirhalla, Karen

DoIT

Pitt, Sharon

SPP

Rudder, Cathy [ARL]

REGISTRAR

Staulcup, Joy

INFO TECH & ENGRG

White, Bernard