NOVEMBER 28, 2007


Senators Present:  Ernest Barreto, Andrea Bartoli, Sheryl Beach, Kristine Bell, Jim Bennett, Rei Berroa, Alok Berry, Deborah Boehm-Davis, Lorraine Brown, Phil Buchanan, Frieda Butler, Julie Christensen, Rick Coffinberger, Jose Cortina, Sharon deMonsabert, Rutledge Dennis, Penelope Earley, Karen Hallows, Mark Houck, Matthew Karush, Jim Kozlowski, David Kuebrich, Howard Kurtz, Alan Merten, Linda Monson, Jean Moore, Patricia Moyer-Packenham, Janette Muir, Paula Petrik, Jane Razeghi, Larry Rockwood, Jim Sanford, Joe Scimecca, Suzanne Slayden, Ray Sommer, Peter Stearns, June Tangney, Ellen Todd, Susan Trencher, Iosif Vaisman, Phil Wiest, Mary Williams, Peter Winant, Michael Wolf-Branigin, Jennie Wu.


Senators Absent:  David Anderson, Jack Censer, Vikas Chandhoke, Sara Cobb, Lloyd Cohen, Allison Frendak, Jeffrey Gorrell, Lloyd Griffiths, Kingsley Haynes, Dimitrios Ioannou, Richard Klimoski, Daniel Polsby, William Reeder, Ilya Somin, Shirley Travis, James Willett, John Zenelis, Jenny Wu.


Visitors Present:  Esther Elstun, Professor Emerita, Modern and Classical Languages; Kathy Gillette, Director, Classroom Technologies, DoIT; Linda Harber, Dolores Gomez-Moran, University Ombudsman for Students; Linda Harber (Associate Vice President, Human Resources/Payroll); Tom Hennessey, University Chief of Staff; Robin Herron, Editor, Mason Gazette, Susan Jones, University Registrar; Jennifer Korjus, Director, Learning Support Services, DoIT; Dane Styles, Reporter, Broadside; David Wong, Chair and Professor, Earth Systems and Geoinformation Sciences (ESGS).


I. Call to Order:  The meeting was called to order at 3:01 p.m.

Chair Suzanne Slayden welcomed President Alan Merten. President Merten announced that the university is moving ahead in a variety of ways such as sustainabililty /green issues.  We are one of two signers in the DC area to the President’s Climate Commission  (Potomac conference). The University has hired Lenna Storm as University Sustainability Coordinator who will address both the academic and institutional side both representing the university to external groups and working with technology companies.  Faculty are encouraged to contact Lenna should they have issues or seek involvement (; 3-2539).


President’s Remarks: The President listed four issues for discussion:


Issue #1. The “Infamous 9 over 12 salary issue”:  Morrie Scherrens is bringing in an outside person to identify what systems, policies, or procedures need to be fixed.*.  President Merten thanked the two faculty members in Biochemistry who brought the issue forward and Phil Buchanan (Chair, Budget and Resources Committee) who has been working on the issue.  The President noted that other faculty raised this issue in the past and noted that there had not been a response to inquiries about this issue.


*See the Faculty Senate website for information made available since this meeting.


Issue #2.  SACS Strategic Planning Committee:  Professor Gary Galluzzo, Chair of the SACS Strategic Planning Committee, gave a presentation at the last Faculty Senate meeting (November 2, 2007) about the process.  To correspond with SACS accreditation requirements in four years we have begun a series of activities.  Open meetings will be held on three campuses; to go through process in conjunction with BOV discussions about the “world class university”.   Questions arise including entrepreneurial survival of fittest vs. need.  More planning is necessary to strike a balance.  The process is to be unit driven vs. centrally controlled with the goal to finish the plan in April.


Issue #3.  Private Fundraising:  The President asked “What’s at stake?  How do we make it happen?” noting with certain exceptions (students buying meal plans, dorms etc.) money comes from four sources: (1) direct allocation from the Commonwealth of Virginia, (2) tuition (3) private sources, and (4) federal government grants.  He noted that discretionary expenditures are almost always associated with state funds and tuition. There is less discretion in use of private and federal funding sources.  Expendable vs. endowment funds must also be taken into account as endowment money is invested with a certain percentage paid out every year (4-5%).  The rest of income generated goes to increase size of endowment so that payment can increase over time. 


The President addressed the state of private gifts at GMU by asserting that we are a young institution, with young alumni, and a relatively young development organization, both at central level and among most schools and colleges.  In the course of the last decade development people have been hired at the school and college level.  Central development staff has also increased.  Over 130,000 degrees granted since 1972, of which 70,000 granted since 1996 thus noted that in terms of fundraising progress and potential GMU “does well for our age, but not for our size.”  From 30,000 students/5,000 employees – we need to do a lot better. Of $147 million raised in the last campaign, far more dollars were directed toward expendable/restricted than anything else leaving less available to put into the endowment than desirable.


We are now in an adjustment phase from a comprehensive to targeted campaign which will “morph” into a comprehensive campaign.  Targeted campaign goals include CVPA ‘s specific needs for Prince William arts center, new AVT building, renovation of current facilities after AVT moves into new building, as well as the new building at the Volgenau School for which we received $10 million donation.  Marc Broderick, newly hired Vice President for University Development and Alumni Affairs, is working to establish new procedures and practices. He will work with each individual school to develop school/college goals; to develop four or five themes which may involve faculty from multiple academic units; needs for additional faculty, fellowships, buildings.  Under his leadership, this work will proceed over the next year or so.




Senator question: What is the source of rankings in terms of fundraising/endowments?

President Merten response:  The Chronicle of Higher Education lists size of endowments but these are not good sources because other institutions were created before GMU.

Senator follow-up #1:  How many millions of dollars does the university recover re indirect costs?

Provost Stearns:  43%?  Unsure of exact figure.

Follow-up #2:  What about federal funding and how to direct unrestricted funding?

President Merten:  There was a real big battle in Congress over capping indirect cost rate.  We are right below the cap and it didn’t hurt us.  The President of Princeton explained why it made no sense to have indirect cost rates. 

Senator question:  How is the GMU Foundation doing as an investor?

President Merten:  At recent meeting the GMU Foundation Investment Committee feels it is doing well. 

Senator comment and question:  It has recently been reported that the University of Virginia is raising billions, averaging $2.5 million per day.  During his recent visit to the Faculty Senate, when Rector Volgenau was asked how he felt about GMU performance over last ten years given the wealth in the area he responded that we have been busy building buildings, but a key central fact is the need for more money, and that we need to set an ambitious target for the next campaign. 

President Merten:  Little private money was spent on buildings which have mostly been built with state funds or in the case of non-academic buildings, by bonds.  The President stated that if the next campaign goal is not $300 million or more he will be “very disappointed.”  The President also noted that all levels of the university, including colleges, faculty and staff, need to be involved in a coordinated effort.  This effort will also tie in with marketing.  Christine LaPaille, Vice President for University Relations will create a new image of the university over next 1-1 ˝ years.  We will do needs analysis to identify how needs of $600 million can be whittled to $300 million. 

Senator comment and question:  I am new here from Columbia University.  It is good to have buildings built as part of synergy for the next campaign.  Does it occur that someone wants to give a name to a building? 

President Merten: Donors offering endowment for a building can name a building after someone if 20% of cost is given to invest internally in building.  In order to catch up to the number of students we need to deal with federal government, state of Virginia, and private donations. 

Senator question:  Are student ratios too big?  Universities all over the country don’t have classes on Friday and older universities also have needs for new buildings. 

President Merten:  On the academic side:  CVPA and Volgenau School, Arlington buildings are primarily academic; Prince William research facility, not teaching (academic) building.  Plans for 2010 – fourteen other buildings are not approved/designed at this point.  When we build academic buildings, every space is in use.  There is a higher percentage of research than in the past.

Senator comment:  As a member of the Technology Team, I can state that faculty pedagogical recommendations were ignored.  The new persons to be hired “Classroom Design Specialists” have not spent any time in the classroom.  The left hand does not know what right hand is doing. 

President Merten:  This should be looked into.

Senator comment and question:  There are concerns about state cuts – 5% department cuts.  How are we to make that up?  It is critical that the private fundraising effort is ambitious and effective. 

President Merten:  We’ll have to make case to the Governor and the General Assembly.  There has been a dramatic change in the General Assembly.  Northern Virginia Senator Richard Saslaw is now the incoming majority leader of Virginia State Senate.  Other key people from Northern Virginia also serve in Virginia Senate.  We need to work over every member of the General Assembly.  The Governor is supportive. Need to make a fresh case with new leadership of General Assembly and ask students, faculty, alumni, and BOV to also do this – now is the time.


Issue #4: **Salaries/COLA/Compensation:  The following report was distributed to Senators by Provost Stearns at the request of President Merten. (The report has also been posted by the Faculty Senate on its website).


November 28, 2007

George Mason University

Faculty Salary Summary

FY03 to FY07


 Further improvements in faculty salaries remain a high budget priority for the University, particularly to address cost-of-living issues, and this priority builds on recent trajectories. The University’s efforts to increase faculty salaries are long standing and these efforts have resulted in annual average faculty salary increases above the annual salary increases appropriated by the Commonwealth. The University has used other state appropriated funds and non-state funds to provide these enhancements. Mason salaries increased an average of 4.1% for the five-year period from FY03 to FY07 compared to both the state appropriated average salary increase and the peer group average increase of 3.0% during the same period.


Mason has established minimum base salaries for new hires as well as enhanced salaries for current faculty. The actual average salary dollar increase over the five-year period was $2,663 in state salary appropriations. Mason’s institutional enhancements increased the average annual salary by an additional average of $424 annually. All salary figures include the 1989 cost of living adjustment of 8.57% Mason receives annually from the state. For FY08 both the Mason salary increase and state salary appropriation increase are 4.0%.


Growth in Faculty Salaries from FY03 to FY07


Annual Percent Faculty Salary Increase



FY04       FY05











State Salary Appropriation







New Peer Group Avg.







Former Peer Group Avg.







Annual Average Salary Increase








State Salary Appropriation *








Salaries include the 1989 8.57% cost of living adjustment. * Funded from 55% state general fund support and 45% university tuition funds


Progress toward Salary Goal The SCHEV salary goal for each state institution is the sixtieth percentile of its average peer group salary. Progress has been made toward this goal with annual faculty salary increases raising Mason’s percentile ranking among its peers from the 34th to the 53rd percentile in the past five-year period.





New Peer Group Advantage

Mason’s new peer group recently negotiated with the State Council will provide faculty salary enhancements through Mason’s state appropriations. The University has changed considerably over the past ten years and the institutions included in the new peer group reflect a more appropriate mix given its size, its emphasis on graduate education, and its research activity.


With this new group of peer institutions, the peer average salary in FY07 was 3.8% higher than the former peer group average. It is to Mason’s advantage to have two other institutions within the Washington, D.C. metro area included in the group, the University of Maryland at College Park and George Washington University.


Mason and Peer Group Salaries for FY03 through FY07

Average Faculty Salaries



FY04       FY05



Mason Actual1






Mason’s Percentile Rank Old Peer Group






Mason’s Percentile Rank New Peer Group







1Includes the 1989 8.57% cost of living adjustment.


Please note – Actual salary numbers for peer group and appropriation are available on request. The comparisons are complicated because of the gap between actual salaries and appropriation, and the way that the 1989 COLA is or is not included in the calculations.


Cost of Living

The high cost of living in Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area has an impact on the University’s ability to attract and retain quality faculty. The cost of living differential for institutions has not been reviewed since Mason received the 8.57% adjustment in 1989. Mason requested a cost of living adjustment for faculty salaries as part of the process for updating its peer group and offered the State Council three possible options to address this issue.


Current Status

As a result of Mason’s request, SCHEV is undertaking a cost of living study for faculty salaries with the focus on Northern Virginia, with a mandate to include recommendations for salary adjustments as a result of the study. We are currently pressing SCHEV to complete the study by May and Mason plans to be actively involved in this study.


** This issue was brought to discussion as a response to questions sent to President Merten by the Faculty Senate Task Force on Salaries in advance of his scheduled visit.


Additional Remarks:  When peer groups are created and they look at salaries, historically institutions do not consider COLA.  Members of SCHEV say we should consider COLA in terms of how well schools are doing.  The addition of COLA would have a negative impact for some institutions in Virginia.    Northern Virginia teachers get COLA adjustment of 12%, police and fire department personnel receive similar adjustments.  The goal is to get COLA into Virginia Code so we don’t have to do this every year.  It is estimated $20-$40 million extra funding is needed to address this.  It is an expensive issue.  We’ve given them ramps:  to add $5-$10 million for year one; $10-$15 million for year two.  President Merten stated that this is a story we can tell, understandable (and illustrates) the importance of funding for faculty support, research etc. 



Senator question:  A Senator suggested broadening the scope to include compensation.  The value of benefits might make us look better.

President Merten: “We’ll look at it.”

Senator question:  What does cost-of-living study mean?  Why do we need a study?

President Merten: The national data on COLA is compiled by a firm in Cleveland.  The President used an example in which faculty candidate offered $90K to come here might be offered $70K to go somewhere else with much lower cost of living. 

Senator comment and question:  In our department we hire new faculty at $52,000 per year. Those with families have to juggle budgets, deal with a high cost-of-living and other common costs which rapidly increase their debt.  If we are provided no additional monies for salary increases from the state which seems to be the situation, are there ways in which the university is thinking about re-allocation of its current funding to raise faculty salaries?

President Merten:  There are so few things we can do. 

Senator Comment: An extract prepared by the Salary Task Force from The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 16, 2007, Section B. “Executive Compensation” which compared compensation among presidents of state universities in Virginia was distributed (to the Faculty Senate) by the Salary Task Force.   (See Attachment A). 

President Merten:  “It is my policy not to discuss individual salaries except with the individual involved. I only discuss my salary with my wife and my accountant.”

Senator question:  What about other discretionary funding, such as using tuition increases (to fund) faculty and staff salary increases? 

President Merten:  We have taken tuition increases to increment faculty and staff salaries and would like to raise tuition more than in the past.  In the Virginia Code, the BOV controls tuition.  The General Assembly says that if you raise tuition beyond “x,” we will cut your state funding.  We got in trouble a few years ago when we raised tuition faster than others.  Would also need to allocate 10% of tuition increase for student financial aid.  Tuition $6,500 instate; $17,000 out-of-state.  It is unknown what impact of new General Assembly will be.

Senator question:  As a big research university, salary raises for graduate students are needed.  Their salaries are very low and how can we expect to get good graduate students to come to the area to do research when you give them small amounts to live on in this area?

President Merten:  State support for research and graduate education is pitiful.  As we move ahead, research dimensions of the Capital Campaign will be significant.  It needs to be very specific.  The state supports undergraduate financial aid. We (need) to get financial support for graduate students on the private (side).

Senator question:  There has been a large increase in doctoral programs but a large part of the financial pie has gone away due to the number of students.  Tension has been exacerbated on the teaching side. 

President Merten:  We need discussions with the state on research funding.  We benefited dramatically in biological sciences; need specific allocation for funds for research related to economic development. 


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


III.  New Business – Committee Reports

Budget and Resources – Phil Buchanan, Chair

Report and discussion of “9 month paid 12 month” salary discrepancies.*

Chair, Budget and Resources: You have received a letter from Faculty Senate Chair Suzanne Slayden about this issue.  The Budget and Resources Committee has been working with Linda Harber (Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Payroll) and Morrie Scherrens (Senior Vice President) to rectify the problem.   If you look at gross pay from today to a year from now, the (pay stated in) your salary letter would not (be) equal.  Problem:  1/12th of raise is shorted each year.  We have talked with Linda Harber before this meeting and an accounting firm has been hired to do an audit of the system.  The folks in the administration acknowledge the problem, and we are working together to get it resolved. (*Please see the Faculty Senate website for further developments on this issue since the date of this meeting.)

Chair of the Senate:  The Chair of Budget and Resources, is a CPA and it took 40-50 hours to get to this point working with information which was difficult to obtain. 

Senator question: When do you anticipate problem (will be) fixed?  Concern expressed the longer it continues, (becomes) more retroactive. 

Chair, Budget and Resources: He could not answer the question, but stated Morrie Scherrens’ commitment that it will be fixed. 

Senator question:  What is the total amount owed to faculty?

Chair, Budget and Resources:  Up to 700 faculty may be affected; 1/12th of raise over past 15 years as his best guesstimate.  In response to a follow-up question, Professor Buchanan responded that it does affect retirement benefits.

Linda Harber, Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Payroll comment:

There is some difference of opinion, not over 15 years, pending outside firm review. The system was changed in ‘03 (before Banner).

Senator Comment: The 15 year window was suggested because some faculty began asking questions about this issue over ten years ago.

Senator question:  When all of this is looked over, will the faculty be given some kind of formal way to ascertain how to calculate it?

Chair, Budget and Resources:  Yes


IV.  Adjournment:  The meeting adjourned at 4:21 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

Susan Trencher