GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY

MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE

November 18, 2009

Room B113, Robinson Hall B113, 3:00 – 4:20 p.m.

 

Senators  Present:  David Anderson, Heibatollah Baghi, Sheryl Beach, Jim Bennett, Alok Berry, Doris Bitler, Phillip Buchanan, Jack Censer, Rick Coffinberger, Jose Cortina, Sharon deMonsabert, Betsy DeMulder, Rutledge Dennis, Kelly Dunne, Penelope Earley, Karl Fryxell, Jack Goldstone, Lloyd Griffiths, Margret Hjalmarson, Mark Houck, Dimitrios Ioannou, David Kuebrich, Howard Kurtz, Linda Monson, Jean Moore, Janette Muir, Star Muir, Peter Pober, Daniel Polsby, Earle Reybold, Larry Rockwood, Pierre Rodgers, Jim Sanford, Suzanne Scott, Suzanne Slayden, Peter Stearns, June Tangney, Susan Trencher, Iosif Vaisman, Harry Wechsler, Phil Wiest, Michael Wolf-Branigin, Stanley Zoltek.

 

Senators Absent:  Rei Berroa, Vikas Chandhoke, Lloyd Cohen, Yvonne Demory, Martin Ford, Jorge Haddock, Frances Harbour, Kingsley Haynes, Bruce Johnsen, Terrence Lyons, Alan Merten, James Olds, Frank Philpot, William Reeder, Joe Scimecca, Tojo Thatchenkery, Shirley Travis, Nigel Waters, Peter Winant, John Zenelis.

 

Visitors Present:  Tom Calhoun, Vice President for Facilities; Patricia Donini, Employee Relations Director – Human Resources/Payroll; Nathan Dorfman, Student Senator and Student Government Liaison; Kathy Gillette, Director, DOIT, Classroom Technologies; George Ginovsky, Assistant Police Chief, University Police; Linda Harber, Associate Vice President, Human Resources and Payroll; Robin Herron, Associate Director, Media and Public Relations; Rick Holt, Vice-Chair, Staff Senate; Susan Jones, University Registrar; Tommy Lee, Student Senators and Student Government Liaison; Dorothy Lockaby, Vice Chair, Librarians’ Council;  J. Goodlet McDaniel, Associate Dean, CHHS; Sharon Pitt, Executive Director, DOIT; Walt Sevon, Executive Director, Technology Systems Division.

 

I.  Call to Order:  The meeting was called to order at 3:02 p.m.

 

II.   Approval of the Minutes of October 7, 2009:  The draft minutes of October 7, 2009 were amended as follows:  The penultimate paragraph of the Resolution of Appreciation and Deepest Sympathy to the deLaski Family was amended to include (in BOLD text):   RESOLVED:  That this Faculty Senate of George Mason University hereby expresses its appreciation to the deLaski family for their support of George Mason University, and deepest sympathies to the deLaski family on the recent passing of Nancy deLaski; and be it further     The resolution as amended was approved.  The minutes were approved as amended.

 

III.Announcements

 

Dean Jack Censer of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Dean Daniel Polsby of the School of Law were warmly welcomed by Chair Peter Pober.  In a spirit of collegiality, he asked the deans also to consider how the College and Faculty Senate may better communicate with each other. 

 

Dean Censer: Thank you for an opportunity to talk about the College. I’ll try to leave time for questions. First, what is the College? The College includes eleven departments ranging from Philosophy and Religion to Psychology and Economics. It also includes New Century College as well as over 50 minors and important interdisciplinary programs like Biodefense and Global Affairs.  It has full-time faculty of approximately 450, with about two-thirds tenured or tenure-track. Current and past members of the faculty include two Nobelists, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two MacArthurs (though one was a student), eight Guggenheims, one Stockholm Prize winner, and numerous other distinguished faculty, including four members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Additionally, one should note that the College has about 9500 majors and graduate students, including eight doctoral programs.

 

The most important fact over the last four years has been the division of the College of Arts and Sciences into the College of Science and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. This posed a number of issues for us, primarily the reconstituting of the dean’s staff, which necessarily was divided between the two colleges. It also created some opportunities.

 

Despite a lot of nostalgia for the link between scientists on the one side and social scientists and humanities-types on the other, there were precious few real connections. However, since then, we have developed much more active collaboration than ever before, primarily in the areas of biodefense, conservation, sustainability, neuroscience, and climate change.

 

In addition, the College had no development office, as the CAS development officer went with COS. Since then, we created our own small office of three, but it is very active.  We published for the first time a magazine for the College’s nearly 50,000 alums, and we have seen a very substantial increase in donations, at all levels of giving. Currently, we are trying to help departments reach out to their own alums, and we have several College initiatives including a series of linked programs: Korean Studies, Jewish Studies, Islamic Studies, African American studies; and we hope to add Vietnamese.

 

We are also busy trying to complete a challenge grant for the Center for History and New Media. We also had no research director, for the former one also went to COS and is now the Science dean. We have put a lot of emphasis on sponsored research and have seen our totals go up dramatically, from under $10 million three years ago to the high teens at the present.

 

Challenges:  Although enrollment is up sharply this year, we had two years in which we did not make targets and had to return hard-earned money to the Central Administration. Doubtless our improvement related heavily to factors outside the College, but we have made efforts to improve our programs and reach out to students, which we hope have and will continue to improve our enrollment. Also, to keep up with our competition in other similar institutions, the standard teaching load was reduced. The cost of this was significant, but certainly not overwhelming. Nonetheless, it has led to some adjustment in administrative loads as well in teaching load. Finally, we have introduced and are working to strengthen faculty involvement. Two committees elected by the faculty have significant input into all policies. On the other hand, faculty meetings are not as well attended as they ought to be, and I hope to see improvement. 

 

Finally, there are the budget cuts which, thanks to increased sponsored research, we have been able to deal with, mainly by slower replacement of faculty who have left the college over the last several years. Though difficult on everyone, the decline in funding has been handled in a relatively non-disruptive fashion.

 

Question: How could the Faculty Senate better interact with deans such as yourself?

Dean Censer: I have constant interaction with my own faculty and will give further thought to how the College might best interact with the Faculty Senate.  I value the two terms I served as a Faculty Senator.  The CHSS faculty is large, and this gives the College a large number of Senators. In addition, the CHSS faculty are well represented on the Senate’s Executive Committee.  Also, I do not believe deans should be in the Faculty Senate as it is a faculty senate.

 

Dean Polsby commenced his extemporaneous remarks by contrasting CHSS with SOL:  the latter has a very simple shop: it is an entity defined by national requirements and practices. There is homogeneity in law school education with differences in details at each school.  The GMU Law School tries to serve its primary constituencies: faculty, students and alumni. There is a healthy culture at the SOL. It was there when he arrived, and it continues to flourish. The School enjoys a tremendously productive and gifted faculty, that is getting younger with some new appointments.  Besides being gifted scholars, they are seriously committed to their teaching.  The LSAT scores of admitted students are increasing—a tribute to first-rate admissions work..  The graduates pass rate of 90% on the Bar exam is far above state average. The SOL is paying a lot of attention to its alumni. Developing alumni support is a “slow slog” for us, as it has been for most units in the University.  The percentage of alumni who donate--12% last year--has been as high as 15%.  UVA gets about 49%.  There is an average of about 20% of alumni giving in the set of schools to which we aspire.  

 

In response to the Senate Chair asking about Senate – SOL communication, Dean Polsby responded that the SOL is part of a satellite campus.  The distributed university is a wonderful idea, but propinquity counts for a great deal.  It consumes a half-day to come to Faculty Senate meetings. Perhaps the Senate should sometimes meet at the Arlington campus. Other forms of communication also present problems: He is inundated with emails and when he gets a call from the Fairfax Campus, it’s never good news.  Provost Stearns commented that he called with the news of Dean Polsby’s reappointment. In response, Dean Polsby said he invites communication—when people communicate with me things I will like. 

 

Question:  When do you expect a Mason alumni on the Supreme Court?

Dean Polsby:  With a maturing alumni body, an appointment to the Virginia Supreme Court could happen at any time.  Two graduates at his former school, Northwestern University, have ascended to the Supreme Court. However, the Northwestern Law School has been in business for 140 years.  Odds for a GMU SOL alumnus/a ascending to the Supreme Court are virtually zero.  The Virginia Supreme Court is another story . 

 

Questions:  How is SOL organized?  Do you have advanced degrees?

Dean Polsby:  We have departments.  We are accredited by the American Bar Association.  We offer some advanced degrees--an expensive undertaking. The SOL’s two masters of laws (LL.M.) degrees are not highly solicited.  We have accepted two recent applications from foreign law students to our LL.M. program, which they take back home with an accompanying M.Ed. degree. SOL faculty feel the LLM program should be more rigorous. 

 

Question:  Is the conservative image of the School of Law warranted?

Dean Polsby: We have all flavors.  We do, admittedly, have some conservative faculty and some noted Republican professors.

 

Please forward questions to me at polsby@gmu.edu. 

 

IV.  New Business – Committee Reports

 

A.     Senate Standing Committees

 

Executive Committee – Peter Pober, Chair

Professor Pober expressed his desire to work with the Staff Senate and anticipates integrating issues with a more unified voice.  He noted that he and Senator Slayden have been working on a COLA  request to be submitted to the legislature. He also thanked Sr. Vice President Morrie Scherrens for all the work he has done on this issue.  In response to Professor Pober's invitation, Provost Stearns responded that he had no remarks to make at this time. 

 

Academic Policies – Janette Muir, Chair

The Academic Policies Committee presents the following Proposed Resolution on Academic Clemency:  

 

Under section on Academic Clemency (University Catalogue, 08-09, p.41): change “within the first semester of returning to Mason” to “within 12 months starting from the first day of the re-enrollment term at Mason.

 

Rationale:

Undergraduate students returning to Mason after a separation of at least three years may petition their academic dean to have a number of previously earned grades and credits removed from the calculation of their cumulative GPA.  The present policy allows  students to make this petition within the first semester of their return.  However, given various adjustments and advising, students are often not ready to make this appeal in their first semester.  Extending the term to one year provides more time for students to determine their appropriate degree path and what they need to do to achieve academic success.  

 

The resolution was approved unanimously.

 

Budget and Resources – Rick Coffinberger, Chair

The Budget and Resources Committee has met twice since the last Faculty Senate meeting.  We have no motions today.  We attend monthly University budget committee meetings.  Today’s Washington Post includes an article on the Commonwealth of Virginia’s budget, citing worst-case scenarios. Budget and Resources will try to stay abreast of the budget issue, and the Committee asks for your input.  The budget presentation from the September 16th Faculty Senate meeting is posted on the Budget Office website at http://budget.gmu.edu/presfacsen09.pdf .

 

Faculty Matters – Doris Bitler, Chair

The Faculty Matters Committee recommends consideration of the following changes (in red) to the 2009 Edition of the GMU Faculty Handbook.

 

2.1.6 Definition of Primary Affiliation

 

Although a faculty member's tenure resides in the University as a whole (see HBHUSection 2.1.1UH), tenure-track and tenured faculty are appointed directly and specifically to one or more local academic units. Term faculty are also appointed directly and specifically to one or more local academic units. The status established by such an appointment to a local academic unit is called "primary affiliation."  Each academic unit must articulate in writing the governance rights of its faculty members. This document should, at minimum, address which faculty members have the right to vote, attend and participate in meetings, serve on and/or chair committees. Primary affiliation in one local academic unit does not preclude the possibility of additional assignments to other local academic units with the approval of the majority of faculty of the unit(s) to which the faculty member is assigned. An appointment to primary affiliation requires the concurrence of the faculty of the local academic unit to which the appointment is to be made and may not be transferred from one local academic unit to another except with the concurrence of the faculty of the unit to which a transfer is proposed. Each academic unit should have written policies in place to respond to requests to transfer affiliation.

 

Discussion:  Provost Stearns said he had no problem with the substance of the new language, but he expressed the following concerns about process:  (1) The Faculty Handbook was revised with careful consultation with the Administration and this spirit of collaboration should be maintained.  (2) At some point—perhaps once a year--the Senate must take changes to the BOV in order for them to become official.  (3) A change in departmental affiliation also requires approval by the Provost's Office, which does not appear in the proposed language.

 

A Senator remarked that there are five sections within the Faculty Handbook which deal with voting rights, and so there does not seem to be a need for this change.  The Senator, Rick Coffinberger, who provided the impetus for the suggested changes, noted he could not find anything in the Faculty Handbook that defines what the right of governance is.  The proposal will be referred back to the Faculty Matters Committee for further study. 

 

Free Speech:  Senator Bitler asked for an update of the work of the current ad hoc committee addressing the issue.  Peter Pober responded that the Free Speech Committee, which he chairs, has changed its name to the “University Space and Expression Committee.”  Inconsistencies in speech and use of space policies are being examined, especially relating to Auxiliary Enterprises.  There will be a comprehensive review of Mason policy documents on speech and space, including a consideration of "hate" speech.  Issues of posting and attribution are also being studied, as well as inconsistencies between the Faculty Handbook, Student Handbook, and University Life policies.  The University Counsel is looking at policies at William and Mary, Emory University, and the University of Oklahoma.

 

A Senator asked that the Committee also consider the issue of expression that is so loud that it is intrusive to the classroom. This is a special problem for classes located in Robinson Hall.   

 

Summer Salary 2009:  All 455 full-time instructors were paid 10% of their salaries for the first course taught. The amount of compensation for the second course taught varied among academic units. 

 

Nominations -  no report.

 

Organization and Operations – Susan Trencher, Chair

The O & O Committee proposed:

Revision of Grievance Committee Charge

With the approval of the Faculty Handbook (effective January 1, 2009), the responsibilities of the University Grievance Committee were referenced, updated, or expanded. See the following sections of the Faculty Handbook for more information:  http://www2.gmu.edu/resources/facstaff/handbook/ .

 2.9.3 Termination of Appointment for Tenured, Tenure-Track, and Term Faculty Members for Cause (pp. 44-47)

 2.10.1 University Policies (p. 48)

 2.10.3 Faculty Work Assignments (p.49 in case where Grievance is against a dean or director)

 2.11.2 Grievances, 2.11.2.1 Policies Concerning Grievances, 2.11.2.2 Grievance Procedures, (pp. 53-54)

 

The following revision is proposed in order to take into account the content of the above sections and provide consistency between the Faculty Handbook and the charge of the Grievance Committee.  (Revised text appears in blue).

 

Grievance Committee
In March 1998, the Faculty Senate approved the creation of the Grievance Committee, replacing the ad hoc University Grievance Committee, effective September 1998. The Charge was amended by a Faculty Senate vote on February 12, 2003 to enable the Committee to hear grievances from research faculty on matters of infringements of academic freedom, unfair or inappropriate conditions of employment, and any other due process issue.  The Charge was further elaborated in the Faculty Handbook adopted in January 2009 concerning termination for cause and grievances against administrators.

Composition: Five members. Non-tenured faculty, chairs, and others serving in administrative capacities are ineligible to serve on this Committee. Members serve staggered two-year terms.


Charge: To investigate grievances of Instructional, Restricted, and Research Faculty:
A. which involve faculty matters from more than one local academic unit. Issues of investigation include alleged infringements of academic freedom, alleged unfair or inappropriate conditions of employment, alleged unfair or inappropriate termination for cause, and any other due process issue with the exclusion of retention, promotion and tenure appeals;
B. which are not addressed by, or do not fall within the purview of the grievance committee of the pertinent local academic unit; and
C. for local academic units that do not have grievance committees established, or when a grievance committee does not conform to the written procedures of the local academic unit. Other faculty appeals from local academic unit grievance committees are excluded.

D. which involve administrators at or above the level of Dean or Director.

 

Discussion: The following amendments were proposed:

 

In the first phrase of Charge paragraph:  replace “Instructional, Restricted, and Research Faculty” with “tenured, tenure –track, and term faculty” so the revised phrase reads “To investigate grievances of tenured, tenure-track, and term faculty”. 

 

In the second sentence of paragraph C, insert “Other” so the revised sentence reads:  “Other faculty appeals from local academic unit grievance committees are excluded.”

 

The Handbook references cited at the outset of the explanation are added to paragraphs A,B,C, and D of the charge as appears below:

Blue = new text

Red = Removed Text

 

Grievance Committee
In March 1998, the Faculty Senate approved the creation of the Grievance Committee, replacing the ad hoc University Grievance Committee, effective September 1998. The Charge was amended by a Faculty Senate vote on February 12, 2003 to enable the Committee to hear grievances from research faculty on matters of infringements of academic freedom, unfair or inappropriate conditions of employment, and any other due process issue.  The charge was further elaborated in the Faculty Handbook adopted in 2009 concerning termination for cause and grievances against administrators.


Composition: Five members. Non-tenured faculty, chairs, and others serving in administrative capacities are ineligible to serve on this Committee. Members serve staggered two-year terms.


Charge: To investigate grievances of Instructional, Restricted, and Research tenured, tenure-track, and term faculty:
A. which involve faculty matters from more than one local academic unit. Issues of investigation include alleged infringements of academic freedom, alleged unfair or inappropriate conditions of employment, alleged unfair or inappropriate termination for cause, and any other due process issue with the exclusion of retention, promotion and tenure appeals; (See also Faculty Handbook Section 2.93 Termination of Appointment for Tenured, Tenure-Track, and Term Faculty Members for Cause (pp.47-49)).
B. which are not addressed by, or do not fall within the purview of the grievance committee of the pertinent local academic unit; (See also Faculty Handbook Section 2.10.1 University Policies(p. 48)), and
C. for local academic units that do not have grievance committees established, or when a grievance committee does not conform to the written procedures of the local academic unit. Other faculty appeals from local academic unit grievance committees are excluded. See also Faculty Handbook Section 2.10.3 Faculty Work Assignments (p. 49) in case where Grievance is against a dean or director.
D.  which involve administrators at or above the level of Dean or Director.  See also Faculty Handbook Sections 2.11.2 Grievances, 2.11.2.1 Policies Concerning Grievances, 2.11.2.2 Grievance Procedures (pp.53-54).

 

The motion was approved as amended.

 

Committee on External Academic Relations: Renewal of Charge and Change from Ad Hoc to Standing Committee

The current charge was changed to remove "The Committee expires August 31, 2002, unless reviewed and approved by the Faculty Senate to continue its operation as a standing committee." At the end of the first paragraph.  Under "B," "monthly" was deleted as the second word in the sentence, so the revised text reads "Report to the GMU Faculty Senate...."

 

Committee on External Academic Relations: Renewal of Charge and Change from Ad Hoc to Standing


Composition: Six members who are elected for two-year terms. Three members of the Committee should be senators, two others are elected from the faculty at-large, and one ex-officio member is the Provost's designee.


At the beginning of each academic year, the Committee must meet to select the representatives to the Virginia Faculty Senate from among its members, excluding the ex-officio member. At least one of these representatives must be a senator. In case of vacancies, the Nominations Committee nominates the new members, and the Committee internally evaluates and possibly reallocates the assigned responsibilities.

 

Charge:
A. Represent GMU faculty at Virginia higher education faculty governance organizations, including the Faculty Senate of Virginia. The seats allocated to GMU at the Faculty Senate of Virginia are to be filled by members of CEAR.
B. Report to the GMU Faculty Senate on the proceedings of the Virginia Faculty Senate and voice back to this organization, issues of relevance to GMU.
C. Gather information on key matters about higher education in state legislation, state committees, and local venues and report back to the GMU Senate.
D. Provide forums and avenues for the exchange of ideas with representatives of SCHEV, state legislators representing Northern Virginia, and community groups related to higher education in Northern Virginia.
                                                                                                                       

The motion was approved.

 

V.  Other New Business

 

A.  Presentations

 

Assistant Chief of Police George Ginovsky stated that he appreciated the invitation to address the Senate about safety issues, particularly questions about 911 phone service outages. GMU runs a 911 Center.  If you dial 911 from a University phone, the call goes to the GMU 911 Center Director.  If you call 911 from a cell phone, the call goes to the Fairfax City PSAP.  In the GMU communications center, there is an outside (non-993) line which keeps working when outages occur.  Notices also go out on “Mason Alert” to all subscribers.  Chief Ginovsky suggests that everyone add 703-993-2810 to their cell phones as it is the direct line to the GMU Center.  He also noted that notification procedures with Fairfax County run smoothly. 

 

Tom Calhoun, Vice President of Facilities, provided an update on Masonvale. 

Masonvale is a University partnership with a private company that has been created to provide housing opportunities for new faculty members. It is intended to serve as a recruiting tool.  Not an official part of the University, it only has the mission of providing housing. GMU leased land to this single-purpose entity.  Provost Stearns, Sr. Vice President Scherrens, and five external members serve on its Board of Directors.  The company went out and did all the development. No University or state money was used.  As of now, the purpose of Masonvale is to provide transitional housing for faculty and staff for up to three years.  There will be a total of 157 residences, with one, two, and three bedroom units. Sixty-four units are currently ready for occupancy, of which 16 are leased, and 5 more lease applications have been accepted.  All 157 units are expected to be available for assignment for the next academic year.  With the three-year lease maximum, it is anticipated that 1/3 of the units will be available for tenants each year.  Faculty are welcome to visit – two furnished models are now open.  A new entrance will soon be opened on Roberts Road. The residential area has been designed to feel like a neighborhood, not just part of campus.  The priority list is available on the Masonvale website – some units have been reserved for special circumstances.  Detailed information about rents and amenities are available on the Masonvale website at http://www.masonvale.com/

 

As the meeting was briefly extended to accommodate questions, Mr. Calhoun responded:

  • He will provide a list of the Board of Directors.
  • The entity is a 501c3 corporation.
  • Concern was expressed about high rents which approach 50% of faculty member salaries who earn $50K/year.  He responded that rents are about 90-95% of price for similar units.
  • He will inquire as to whether a faculty or staff representative might be included on the Board of Directors, adding that faculty representatives served on the (planning/development) committee. 
  •  Applicants are accepted according to an established priority list. To date, as there are vacant units, deciding who will be accepted has not been an issue. 

 

VI.             Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty

The AIDS quilt will be at GMU on December 1st for World AIDS Day.

 

VII.          Adjournment:  The meeting adjourned at 4:20 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

David Kuebrich

Secretary