OCTOBER 22, 2008

Robinson Hall, room B113; 3:00 – 4:15 p.m.


Senators Present:  Ernest Barreto, Sheryl Beach, Kristine Bell, Jim Bennett, Alok Berry, Doris Bitler, Deborah Boehm-Davis, Phil Buchanan, Frieda Butler, Rick Coffinberger, Jose Cortina, Yvonne Demory, Betsy DeMulder, Jeffrey Gorrell, Lloyd Griffiths, Frances Harbour, Allison Hayward, Mark Houck, Allen Hughes, David Kuebrich, Linda Monson, Jean Moore, Janette Muir, Star Muir, Peter Pober, Larry Rockwood, Pierre Rodgers, Jim Sanford, Joe Scimecca, Suzanne Scott, Suzanne Slayden, Tojo Thatchenkery, Susan Trencher, Harry Wechsler, Michael Wolf-Branigin, Stanley Zoltek* (*by teleconference).


Senators Absent:  David Anderson, Rei Berroa, Lorraine Brown, Jack Censer, Vikas Chandhoke, Claudio Cioffi-Revilla, Sara Cobb, Lloyd Cohen, Nada Dabbagh, Sharon deMonsabert, Rutledge Dennis, Penelope Earley, Kingsley Haynes, Richard Klimoski, Howard Kurtz, Alan Merten, Daniel Polsby, Jane Razeghi, William Reeder, Ray Sommer, Peter Stearns, June Tangney, Shirley Travis, Iosif Vaisman, Nigel Waters, Peter Winant, John Zenelis. 


Visitors Present:  Rick Davis, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education; Pat Donini, Employee Relations Director and Deputy Director, Human Resources; Andrew Flagel, Dean of Admissions; Dolores Gomez-Roman, University Ombudsman; Linda Harber, Associate Vice President, Human Resources and Payroll; Tom Hennessey, University Chief of Staff; Susan Jones, University Registrar; Jennifer Korjus, Director, Learning Support Services, DOIT; Dr. Ernst Volgenau, Rector, George Mason University.


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


II.  Approval of the Minutes of September 3 and September 24, 2008:  The Minutes were approved as distributed.


Chair Suzanne Slayden introduced Rector Ernst Volgenau.   Rector Volgenau thanked faculty for their time; noting he arrived on the Board of Visitors a little over four years ago.  The Board was spending an awful lot of time on action business, such as approving tenure, new courses, and budgets.  These matters are our fiduciary responsibilities and are an absolutely essential function of the Board of Visitors.  They are also mainly tactical matters, and the Board saw a need to be more strategic.  Over the last several years we have thought about GMU’s manifold accomplishments in the past and present. GMU’s location near the nation’s capital makes it both possible and important that the University become for a world class teaching/research institution.  The need is so great that if GMU doesn’t fill this void, someone else will.  Today we are spending a lot more time on strategic issues, to strengthen our initiative for GMU as a world-class university.  The BOV committees have been restructured to be more strategic.  The former action committees have been combined into three strategic committees. We have created new criteria and defined specific actions for both the entire Board and individual visitors. 


One of the most important conclusions we have reached is the need for more money; an issue of particular concern given the present state of the economy.   In all likelihood, state assistance to the University will decline.  We need to raise not just philanthropic funds; we also need to increase the level of public aid that we receive to levels comparable to that received by other universities.  Of the twelve initiatives for the World Class University, three or four involve fundraising.  The Board wants to increase faculty compensation; we are aware of the disparity between GMU faculty compensation (30% lower) and the faculty at other Virginia public schools. We need a COLA.  Student aid is also too low.


Innovative measures are needed to increase funding; we need to better leverage GMU and its position in the community.  One of our new strategic committees, headed by Vice Rector Singleton, includes not just BOV members but also representatives from the GMU Foundation and the business community.  Increasing research can immeasurably contribute to our country and the world community, and it can raise the stature of the University and increase funding for post-doc’s, graduate students, labs, etc.


 In conclusion:  fundraising is everybody’s responsibility.  Quality teaching and research is important; as is voluntary participation in groups like the Faculty Senate.  A lot of time was spent on the Faculty Handbook. Hopefully, the BOV will approve the document rather quickly. Everyone is encouraged to think of ways to raise money – auxiliary initiatives, grant proposals, etc. 


Question:  I was dismayed to read of funding reductions for sixteen public universities.  Except for the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University, GMU was hit with the third largest cuts.  What happened that we got hit so hard?

Rector Volgenau responded that he doesn’t know the answer; and promised the BOV will look into it.  BOV members do talk to the Governor; the last time we [Volgenau and Kaine] met, he was asking me for money.  I spoke with him last year about why we need more money.  Governor Kaine responded that he was in a difficult place.  He knows of GMU’s needs and is aware of the efforts over the years to increase GMU’s budget. However, the Governor says that if he gives special attention to funding GMU, he risks being accused of being impartial.  The Governor suggests that GMU should develop initiatives that promise to benefit the Northern Virginia region. It is easier for him to fund a proposal that assists a broad constituency. 


Question:  Will the new BOV committees have faculty representatives?

Rector Volgenau:  Of three committees, two are external.  The Faculty and Academic Standards/University Life/Equity and Diversity Committees combined to form a really big committee run by Visitor Kathleen deLaski.  The second committee combined Finance and Resource Development with Land Use and Physical Facilities and is run by Chuck Mills.  At the BOV meetings, approval of tactical and fiduciary items takes place at the first session; and then the work of developing strategies follows in the second session.  The third committee is heterogeneous, containing not just BOV and faculty representatives.  Any faculty member is welcome to attend if he can raise money.  Faculty representatives continue to serve on the combined committees.

Question:  The Chronicle of Higher Education is not very flattering in its (assessment) of the GMU campus in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  What are the BOV’s views?


Rector Volgeanu:  I have read the CHE article, and it was not encouraging.  The UAE campus does not cost GMU any money, except for travel costs for executives to go check on it; in the larger scheme of things, this is not that much.  It is still to be seen whether the UAE campus is viable, but GMU should not walk away at this point.  In this time of economic turmoil, the UAE has had a booming economy; the GMU patron does not have oil, but he is proximate to oil. 


Question:   Does the BOV have any continuing building projects on the map?  The State of Virginia no longer provides funding for maintenance costs.   I spoke recently with a state legislator in this area to express concerns about building faculty/staff housing in view of the current down turn in the housing market and new availability of homes. There are about ten categories of GMU employees and community people eligible for the planned faculty/staff housing. 


Rector Volgenau: Maintaining campus buildings is a growing concern. GMU’s current building initiative was well advanced before Richmond announced it would not support operations and maintenance.  In the last two BOV meetings, operation and maintenance costs of new buildings were flagged – something has got to give.  We will need to raise money we did not anticipate needing two years ago. 


Question:  Does the BOV receive the Faculty Evaluation of Administrators Survey, which is put together by the Senate’s Faculty Matters Committee? Does it influence the Board’s view of what are appropriate raises for the Central Administration?


Rector Volgenau:  We would like to see it   I disagree, however, with general premise, which I sometimes hear, that we are being overly generous in our evaluation of President Merten.  One criterion by which we measure his performance is his success in managing the University effectively. 


Question:   President Merten’s salary is high relative to that of presidents at other public doctoral-granting institutions.  He has a multiyear contract in which he receives a base raise, and  at the option of the BOV,  he also gets performance bonuses.  How much did he get this last year, if you are comfortable telling us?


Rector Volgenau:  About 18 months ago, (January 2007), the BOV needed to evaluate President Merten for his bonus.  This was informally done the previous year. I developed a set of criteria.  The BOV and President Merten agreed to the criteria I proposed.  By the time everything was defined, it was nearly May.  The BOV consensus viewed it was not fair to immediately evaluate President Merten in terms of the new criteria; he needed time to respond to the newly articulated goals.  Therefore, he received a full bonus in 2007 of $120,000.  After a year, he received 90% of the full bonus or $108,000, with the Board raising concerns about certain things such as fundraising.  


The Rector departed to applause at 3:30 p.m.


III.       Announcements


IV.       New Business - Committee Reports


A.                       Senate Standing Committees


Executive Committee – Suzanne Slayden, Chair

The Administration has contracted with an outside firm to examine GMU’s need for a COLA.


Academic Policies – Janette Muir, Chair


Motion 1: Approval of 3-Year Academic Calendar   Fall 2010-Spring 2013

Background: The Academic Policies Committee has had significant discussion regarding two specific areas of the calendar: 1) shifting Spring Break to match the Fairfax Public School System’s calendar; and 2) moving the beginning of the Spring Semester one week earlier.  We understand that these issues have come up in past discussions of the academic calendar, and that the decision has been made to adopt the calendar presented to the Committee from the Registrar’s Office.  We believe, however, that more discussion is needed regarding possible changes to this calendar in the future.  Therefore, we recommend that, given growth in graduate student programs and a new influx of faculty and students, a systematic survey be conducted to determine what calendar might work best for the majority of the University community.

(See Appendix 1 for the proposed calendar).

The motion was approved.


Motion 2:  Forbearance in Academic Standing for New Undergraduates

The Committee proposes adding a new, brief section to the Catalog, between the sections "GPA Retention Levels" and "Periods of Academic Suspension," (p.40) as follows:

Exception for freshmen and transfer students

Freshmen and transfer students in their first semester of study at George Mason will receive probation as the strongest academic sanction.  GPA retention levels, as stated above, will apply in all subsequent semesters.  Students in this category should be on notice that they must make up ground in order to avoid suspension in future semesters; in particular they should consult their advisors and consider repeating courses in order to achieve academic good standing.

This change in policy to be effective with the Spring 2009 semester.


Rationale:  According to the Academic Procedures Advisory Committee (APAC) (a group of Assistant and Associate Deans and other administrators, chaired by Susan Jones), the current academic standing policy precludes freshmen who enter Mason with no credit from being suspended in their first semester.  Students who take more than 17 credits and those who have pre-college credit (from Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or dual enrollment) however, find themselves at risk.  In addition, the more credit a transfer student has, the greater his/her GPA requirement.  Students do not bring in grades for any of this prior work, therefore their academic persistence in the current policy is based on this single semester of work, but applied at the higher GPA standard.  This provides an inadvertent disadvantage to upper-level students coming in with greater amounts of credit.


A brief report from the Registrar’s Office is attached, showing some basic information:  the number of first semester students suspended after Fall 07, and the Spring 08 performance of those given Dean's overrides who continued attending in the Spring.  (Note that the report does not indicate the number of requests for overrides turned down by the Deans.  It also does not indicate the number of students dissuaded from trying to continue in attendance once a suspension was placed on their record.) 



Academic Standing for Spring 2008

For New Students Suspended after Fall 2007

Given Dean’s Overrides for the Spring


                                                Spring End of Term Academic Standing

Student Type



Number of Overrides




















Question Why is academic standing determined on a semester basis rather than a credit hour basis?  Many transfer students are not full-time; often they are working and may take only one or two courses at a time.  While I do not oppose the proposed motion, I would prefer one based on credit hours, rather than semesters.

Response:  Professor Muir responded that the biggest problem was lack of the lack of maturity of some students when they transfer to a four-year institution from a community college or high school.   Students need to better understand the environment they are now in. 

Andrew Flagel, Dean of Admissions:  Our data is better for entering freshmen than for transfer students. For now the proposed motion is a good first step.  We will soon develop more data on the experiences of transfer students in their second semester.


The motion passed.


Budget & Resources – Phil Buchanan, Chair

We are working on a project involving the allocation of indirect expenditures.  Although the posting of salary data in January is somewhat of a moot issue; we have agreed to go ahead with postings of salary data for historical consistency.  All budget cuts have been communicated to units; if you have questions, ask your dean.


Faculty Matters – Larry Rockwood, Chair

The Faculty Evaluation of Administrators surveys were mailed yesterday. 


Nominations – Jim Bennett, Chair

There are no action items for today.  We are looking for candidates to serve on the Audit Committee of the Board of Visitors.


Organization and Operations – Susan Trencher, Chair

We are working on changes to the charge of the General Education Committee; and requesting information from the Task Force on Satellite Operations. 



V.        Other New Business


A.  Motion to approve the proposed University Policy on Ownership and Maintenance of Research Records   

Chair Suzanne Slayden announced that consideration of the motion would be delayed until our next meeting (November 19, 2008) as Barry Stevens, Director of Policy Development for the Provost Office, could not be here as planned today to answer faculty questions due to the death yesterday of his father.


A.                       Resolution Adopted by the Faculty of the School of Law – Allison Hayward, School of Law


Professor Hayward, a Senator from the School of Law, informed the Senate that:

“On May 20, 2008, the Faculty of the School of Law adopted a resolution concerning an investigation being conducted during 2007-08 by the School’s Academic Freedom and Faculty Grievance Committee.”  In pertinent part, the Resolution stated:


“The University Counsel’s office frustrated the Committee’s charge to protect academic freedom as defined under Section 2.12 of the Faculty Handbook by wrongly refusing to cooperate with the Committee’s investigation, thereby undermining the protection of academic freedom throughout the University.  The law school’s faculty senators are directed to draw this to the attention of the Faculty Senate.”



Professor Hayward added that in general terms, this was a very sensitive matter.  With the permission of the Law School faculty, she would be willing to share the report.  A motion was made and seconded to request the report.  Concerns were expressed about the need to examine the underlying general issues rather than airing sensitive information about a particular case.  While the charge of the Faculty Matters Committee deals with issues of academic freedom, it is not within their change to deal with matters concerning individual (cases).   The motion was amended by substituting for the pending motion new language that would request Senator Hayward to bring the essence of the report to the Faculty Matters Committee for review.  The amended motion was seconded.  The motion as amended passed.



VI.       Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty

Suggestions for improvement of food/dining facilities should be emailed to 

Student government is sponsoring shuttle buses to transport students from Sandy Creek to the polling place at Woodson High School.  Flyers will be distributed.


The GMU Symphony performs at 8:00 p.m. tonight.


Professor Stanley Zoltek, Chair of the Technology Policy Committee, will look into concerns about the EndNote Site license expiration.  Information has been posted on the ITU website (see Appendix 2) and ITU staff will also be informed of the committee’s report.


A Senator requested the Technology Policy Committee also look into the University’s decision to remove all VCR players from classrooms because VCRs are no longer being made.  It was pointed out that the GMU Library still has huge holdings of videos.  A faculty member expressed concern that this decision was made unilaterally.  He thought VCR equipment was in his classroom but found it had been removed without his knowledge.  It was stated that faculty should retain the choice to use VCRs if they wish to; faculty need the capacity to make changes as needed.  Jennifer Korjus, Director, Learning Support Services, DOIT, explained the VCRs are being removed from classrooms as they are upgraded.  There are a diminishing number of VCRs, but she will communicate these concerns to Kathy Gillette, Director, DOIT – Classroom Technologies.  The Classroom Technology Committee, chaired by Rick Davis, will also be informed of these concerns.


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


Respectfully submitted,

David Kuebrich










George Mason University                  Three Year Calendar  DRAFT 7.29.08 SHJ


Fall 2010

Fall 2011

Fall 2012

First day of classes

Mon Aug 30

Mon Aug 29

Mon Aug 27

Labor Day (University closed)

Mon Sept 6

Mon Sept 5

Mon Sept 3

Last Day to Add (Census)

Tues Sept 14

Tues Sept 13

Tues Sept 11

Last Day to Drop

Fri Oct 1

Fri Sept 30

Fri Sept 28

Saturday Classes in session

Sat Oct 9

Sat Oct 8

Sat Oct 6

Columbus Day Recess

Mon Oct 11

Mon Oct 10

Mon Oct 8

Mon classes meet instead of Tues classes this day only

Tues Oct 12

Tues Oct 11

Tues Oct 9

Mid-term evaluation period for full-semester 100-200 level classes

Mon Sept 27 –
Fri Oct 22

Mon Sept 26 –
Fri Oct 21

Mon Sept 24 -
Fri Oct 19

Selective Withdrawal Period – undergraduate

Mon Oct 4 – Fri Oct 29

Mon Oct 3 – Fri Oct 28

Mon Oct 1 – Fri Oct 26

Thanksgiving (No classes Wed; Recess Thurs - Sun)

Wed Nov 24 -

Sun Nov 28

Wed Nov 23 -

Sun Nov 27

Wed Nov 21 –

Sun Nov 25

Dissertation/Thesis Deadline

Fri Dec 10

Fri Dec 9

Fri Dec 7

Last Day of Class

Sat Dec 11

Sat Dec 10

Sat Dec 8

Reading Day(s)

Mon Dec 13

Mon Dec 12

Mon Dec 10 – Tues Dec 11, 4:30 pm

Examination Period

Tues Dec 14, 7:30 am – Tues Dec 21, 10:15 pm

Tues Dec 13, 7:30 am – Tues Dec 20, 10:15 pm

Tues Dec 11, 4:30 pm – Wed Dec 19, 10:15 pm

Winter Degree Date

(2nd Sat before classes)

Sat Jan 15, 2011

Sat Jan 14, 2012

Sat, Jan 12, 2013


Spring 2011

Spring 2012

Spring 2013

January 1 Day of Week




MLK Day - (no classes)

Mon Jan 17

Mon Jan 16

Mon Jan 21

First Day of Spring Classes

Mon Jan 24

Mon Jan 23

Tues Jan 22

Last Day to Add (Census)

Tues Feb 8

Tues Feb 7

Tues Feb 5

Last Day to Drop

Fri Feb 25

Fri Feb 24

Fri Feb 22

Saturday Classes in session

 Sat Mar 12

Sat Mar 10

Sat Mar 9

Spring Recess

Mon Mar 14 -Sun Mar 20

Mon Mar 12 - Sun Mar 18

Mon Mar 11 – Sun Mar 17

Mid-term evaluation period for full- semester 100-200 level classes

Mon Feb 21 –
Fri Mar 25

Mon Feb 20 -
Fri Mar 23

Mon Feb 18 -
 Fri Mar 22

Selective Withdrawal Period – undergraduate

Mon Feb 28 – Fri Apr 1

Mon Feb 27 – Fri Mar 30

Mon Feb 25 – Fri Mar 29

Dissertation/Thesis Deadline

Fri May 6

Fri May 4

Fri May 3

Last Day of Class

Sat May 7

 Sat May 5

Mon May 6

Reading Day(s)

Mon & Tues May  9 & 10

Mon & Tues May 7 & 8

Tues May 7

Examination Period

Wed May 11, 7:30 am - Wed May 18, 10:15 pm

Wed May 9, 7:30 am - Wed May 16, 10:15 pm

Wed May 8, 7:30 am – Wed May 15, 10:15 pm


Sat May 21

Sat May 19

Sat May 18

Summer Term Dates

Mon May 23 – Fri Aug 12

Mon May 21 – Fri Aug 10

Mon May 20 – Fri Aug 9

Approved by Faculty Senate: __________       


APPENDIX 2:  Technology Changes That Impact Teaching and Learning:

EndNote Site License Expiration

The University will not renew the institution-wide license for the citation management software EndNote when it expires on November 30, 2008. Because of pending litigation between Thomson Reuters, the owner of the EndNote product, and the University/Commonwealth of Virginia, Mason’s Office of University Counsel has advised that this license cannot be renewed. This means that students, faculty and staff who were supplied with EndNote software under the University’s license must stop using and delete the software from their computers by November 30, 2008. The software will be deleted from computers in University computer labs and classrooms, and must also be deleted in college/school labs.


We strongly encourage members of University community who rely on EndNote for their academic and administrative work to consider migrating to Zotero right away. Developed and supported by Mason’s Center for History and New Media (CHNM), Zotero is a full-featured research platform that already enjoys broad popularity within higher education, Staff in the University Libraries, assisted by their colleagues in Information Technology and CHNM, provide training services and support for Zotero, and will assist individuals to migrate EndNote-based files into Zotero.

Because of the University’s current budget situation, it is unlikely that we will be able to license another commercial citation management product. Based on initial investigations, the cost of other commercial products will exceed significantly what the University has being paying for EndNote. For example, one competing web-based citation management product would increase costs by 200% annually.


You may, of course, purchase your own copy of EndNote, using non-University funds, and continue using any EndNote “libraries” you have created. Sources for a purchased copy of EndNote include Academic Superstore (which offers educational pricing) or sites like Amazon.


We have created a special website that provides additional information such as instructions for migrating EndNote “libraries” to other citation management systems, workshops on Zotero,“frequently asked questions” and more: Also, questions regarding this matter may be directed to the following address:


To ensure your legal protection, it is important to again note that copies of EndNote made available to George Mason University students, faculty and staff through the University license cannot continue to be used legally past November 30, 2008.


We appreciate the cooperation and compliance of all impacted members of the Mason community.

Thank you.

John G. Zenelis

University Librarian/Associate Vice-President, Information Technology