GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY

MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE

DECEMBER 2, 2009

Robinson Hall, B113, 3:00 – 4:20 p.m.

 

Senators Present:  David Anderson, Heibatollah Baghi, Sheryl Beach, Jim Bennett, Rei Berroa, Alok Berry, Doris Bitler, Phil Buchanan, Rick Coffinberger, Jose Cortina, Kelly Dunne, Karl Fryxell, Jack Goldstone, Margret Hjalmarson, Mark Houck, Dimitrios Ioannou,  David Kuebrich, Alan Merten, Linda Monson, Jean Moore, Janette Muir, Star Muir, Frank Philpot, Peter Pober, Earle Reybold, Larry Rockwood, Pierre Rodgers, Jim Sanford, Joe Scimecca, Suzanne Scott, Suzanne Slayden, Peter Stearns, June Tangney, Tojo Thatchenkery, Shirley Travis, Susan Trencher, Iosif Vaisman, Harry Wechsler, Phil Wiest, Peter Winant, Michael Wolf-Branigan, John Zenelis.

 

Senators Absent: : Jack Censer, Vikas Chandhoke, Lloyd Cohen, Sharon deMonsabert, Yvonne Demory, Betsy DeMulder, Rutledge Dennis, Penelope Earley, Martin Ford, Lloyd Griffiths, Jorge Haddock, Frances Harbour, Kingsley Haynes, Bruce Johnsen, Howard Kurtz, Terrence Lyons, James Olds, Daniel Polsby, William Reeder, Nigel Waters, Stanley Zoltek

 

Visitors Present: Nathan Dorfman, Student Senator and Student Government Liaison; Kathy Gillette, Director, Classroom Technologies, DOIT; Linda Harber, Associate Vice President, Human Resources/Payroll; David J. Harr, Sr. Associate Dean, School of Management; Robin Herron, Associate Director, Office of Media & Public Relations; Robert Johnston, Associate Professor of Finance, School of Management; Susan Jones, University Registrar; Jennifer Korjus, Director, Learning Support Services, DOIT: 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 September 16, 2009:  The minutes were approved as distributed.

 

III.             Announcements

 

Professor Robert Johnston delivered a brief eulogy for Professor Emeritus Hale Tongren who died last Saturday (Nov. 28th) at his home in Topsham, ME: “ Hale was an emeritus marketing professor in the School of Management.  Hale was one of the very early faculty at the Fairfax Campus of George Mason.  He would not reveal to those of us who came later precisely when he joined the faculty – except to say paint was still wet in the West Building when he arrived. 

 

“As some of you may know, Hale was a long-serving member of the Faculty Senate.  I think his Senate service spanned about thirty years.  He really did believe that the Senate was an important institution for the University and was quite committed to it.  He felt that the Senate was the real place to get to know and appreciate colleagues from across the University.  He was a tireless lobbyist in his efforts to recruit others to serve on the Senate and its committees.  He even twisted my arm enough to serve a couple of terms.   

 

“Hale was also on the Board of the GMU Foundation and contributed a great deal toward developing external relationships with the business community in Northern Virginia.

 

“He was not only a superb colleague to many of us, but also an exceptional friend.  We will miss him.  Thank you.” 

 

The Chair thanked Professor Johnston and expressed condolences on behalf of the Faculty Senate. 

 

The Chair introduced President Merten, who also praised the service of Professor Tongren, speaking of him as a true gentleman and committed faculty member. President Merten called attention to his extensive service as an advisor to the GMU Foundation, and his commitment to educating the external community about life at the academy.

 

Question:  In the last 20 years, the salaries of university presidents and other high-level administrators have increased much more rapidly than the salaries of faculty. This has happened in the state of Virginia and nation-wide. The AAUP is critical of this development, and it has asked its members to address the issue during the current economic crisis.

Do you think this trend is helpful or harmful to the public image of universities and to administrative-faculty relations? If harmful, how do you think this problem might be addressed?

 

President Merten:  I am not aware of any study or research regarding the growth of administrative salaries vs. the growth of faculty salaries. Secondly, if there is a difference between the two as stated, not aware if it has made a difference in relationship with the public. On a personal basis, cannot recall ever being asked by a member of the external community related to the topic. With the exception of a couple of comments from Faculty Senators, no faculty member has asked me about this.

 

Question:  A few years after you became our president, GMU moved from the fourth to the third tier in the US News and World Report rankings of national research universities.  When will we move into the second tier?

President Merten:  Some things will make it difficult to move up.  The amount of public funding per student provided to the University is low, and US News uses this as an important criterion of quality.  As long as we are underfunded, it will be hard to improve our ranking.  Also, as a relatively new university, GMU has deliberately chosen not to create certain programs and specialties: for example, in the Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering we have chosen to not do certain things.  We think these decisions were good decisions, but they sometimes hurt us in the rankings.

Provost Stearns:  Our reputation is already Tier 1, student quality is at or near Tier 1. In the areas of alumni contributions and class size, we’re doing well. GMU is okay regarding the percentage of its classes that are large (50+ students), but it needs to increase the number of classes with 20 (or fewer) students.

 

Question:  What will be the impact of the gubernatorial election of McDonnell?

President Merten:  We had ongoing discussions with the candidates prior to the election, including more contact with Governor-Elect McDonnell than the three Democratic candidates.  He presented his platform on higher education during a talk here on campus.  We have similar contacts with Lt. Governor Bill Bolling; fewer with Attorney-General-Elect Ken Cuccinelli.  Mr.Cuccinelli is the first GMU alumnus to hold statewide office. He graduated from the School of Law and also has a masters' degree from the School of Public Policy. 

 

With regard to modifications to the out-going governor's budget:  we have been in touch with each member of the transition team as they advise him on cabinet offices.  We have been providing names and advice.  We are also in contact with those who provided Governor-Elect McDonnell with financial support.  I will meet tomorrow with NOVA members of the General Assembly.  Richmond won’t be able to increase funding in the next session. However, we must try to convince the Governor and Legislature to not do certain things. For instance, we don’t want them to constrain us on tuition or the admission of out-of-state students. Also, despite all our building, we still have needs.

 

Question:  Did you speak with him about increasing the amount of state-funding per student?

President Merten:  That is the nature of our conversation.  As the number of our students increases, state-funding per capita decreases.  We will make the case (again) tomorrow with our state legislators. Historically, the Senate has been more favorable to higher education than the House.  This past year, with an increase in number of students, dollars per student dropped.  The problem of budget cutbacks is, of course, not limited to Virginia. Many states are worse off.  I recently attended a conference of university presidents from across the country.  Arizona State University had had 500 layoffs and 10 furlough days. At present, the critical issue is what will happen when the (federal) stimulus money goes away?  Last year we got $19 million; this year $11 million. In FY 2012, we will get zero. On June 30, 2011, GMU and other state schools and agencies face falling off a cliff.   

 

Question:  How is the silent phase of the Campaign going?  Can the GMU Foundation pick up any of the slack?

President Merten:  To clarify about funding:  Any fundraising done by the University is not done by the GMU Foundation (a 501c private firm).  Fundraising is done by GMU employees.  The Office of Development and Alumni Affairs is responsible for administrative and academic units in any school or college. There is no pot of unrestricted funds. With a very, very few exceptions, most gifts are designated; large unrestricted gifts went away twenty years ago.  Small gifts may be unrestricted.  The GMU Foundation is a legal entity that allows donors to make private gifts to GMU as a public university.   If someone gives us $100,000, the donor does not write a check to GMU but to the GMU Foundation. Otherwise it would go directly to the State. The GMU Foundation invests money on behalf of the University. We are presently identifying our needs – by school, college, and department.  In some cases we are receiving gifts already.  Given the current economy, we are somewhat surprised by this.  They are often pledged to be paid in 3 to 5 years.  If the economy improves, the pay schedule may be shortened.   Fifteen years ago we had no more than 1 or 2 development officers. At first, we increased central development staff a little, but subsequently our development staff has increased more rapidly.  To conduct a fund-raising campaign, one has to be an optimist and see the economy turning around. 

 

Question: Are you seeking an extension of your contract?

President Merten:  I will not answer. I discuss my contract only with the Rector.

The Chair added that the Rector told him, as public knowledge, that the BOV has hired a consulting firm to look at the possibility of extending the President’s contract.

 

Question:  I’m concerned about increasing tuition to fund new buildings. Is it possible to spend less money on new buildings and more on the renovation of existing ones? For instance, Sociology lacks office space for two of its full-time faculty.  Appropriate renovation to allow for more offices would be greatly appreciated. Is it really necessary to create the planned new administration building?

President Merten:  The majority of construction money in the six-year plan is for renovation. The new administration building will not come from tuition but will be funded by the Foundation. It will be a good long-term investment, allowing Mason to move staff to campus who are now working in rented off-campus offices. 

 

Question:  Do you have any input on who is elected to the Board of Visitors?  We’ve had problems with earlier boards. Now it seems we have a much more reasonable BOV. Can we maintain members who will not meddle in the business of the faculty?

President Merten:  When I came here in 1996, VA university presidents did not lobby the governor for board appointments.  But I soon decided to lobby the governor for two potential candidates.  Since that time, we have spent a significant amount of time assisting governors in making board appointments.  Currently, each university president lobbies aggressively for board appointments. Mark Warner set up a committee to vet board nominations, which has been extremely helpful. Warner said people should be appointed/reappointed regardless of party. I’ve mentioned to the new Governor that the Virginia governor makes more appointments than other governors in the US. I’ve told the Governor-elect that I need a good appointment every year.

 

Question:  There are a lot of people who have taught part-time at GMU for many years.  Is there any move to put those who have served 5-7 years or longer into our health insurance system?

President Merten:  I have been reading a lot about the plight of adjunct, non-tenured faculty. It is time to look carefully at the contribution, status, and future of non-tenure- track faculty members.  There are some things we can do and some things we cannot do because of state provisions.  At present, GMU has over a thousand tenure-line faculty and about the same number who are not tenure-line. When I run into alumni, they always talk about the high quality of teaching they received at GMU; and they don’t distinguish between tenure-line and non-tenure-line faculty. 

 

In conclusion, President Merten praised Professor Gary Kreps' efforts for Worlds AIDS Day and the dramatic tiered display of the AIDS quilt in the Johnson Center.

 

IV.             Unfinished Business

Resolution from the Organization and Operations Committee:  To Ensure Faculty Senate Bylaws and Charter Consistency    - Susan Trencher, Chair

 

Professor Trencher introduced the following motion: 

 

Draft Resolution to Ensure Faculty Senate Bylaws and Charter Consistency

 

Whereas the responsibilities of the Faculty Senate in Section II.A.1 of the Faculty Senate Charter indicate that the Senate shall have “the fundamental general responsibility to speak and act for the General Faculty on matters affecting the University as a whole;” and

 

Whereas the Charter indicates in Section II.A.2 that the Faculty Senate, “on behalf of the general faculty, shall have the particular responsibility to formulate proposals on those matters affecting the welfare of the university as a whole,” which will constitute the “primary advice to the administration;” and

 

Whereas the Charter further specifies that on “matters affecting the entire faculty and transcending collegiate unit boundaries, the Senate shall be the primary faculty representative in consultation with the central administration and the President;” and

 

Whereas the Bylaws in Article I, Section 1 specify that the “membership of the George Mason Faculty Senate and eligibility to vote therein shall be as prescribed by the Charter,” yet there is no prescription of voting eligibility in any section or clause of the Charter; and

 

Whereas administrators are welcomed and encouraged to participate in dialog and consultation with and as members of the Faculty Senate, yet should not be representing the faculty voice on matters of importance to the faculty and the University;

 

Be it resolved:

 

That Article I, Section I of the Bylaws of the Faculty Senate should be amended to strike “and eligibility to vote therein” and add the following sentence at the end:  “Eligibility to vote on matters before the Faculty Senate shall be limited to duly elected faculty members of the Faculty Senate.

 

Discussion: [The ensuing discussion was fast-paced and complex, and this is an admittedly incomplete summary.]

 

Senator Trencher: Ex officio members of committees are not necessarily non-voting members, rather their voting rights are defined in charters and bylaws.

The Chair added that he had consulted with three registered parliamentarians to determine that ex-officio is not, by definition “non-voting.” He is asking that an ad hoc committee be established to review the charter. In response to a Senator’s comment that the review of the charter is within the charge of the Organization and Operations Committee, the Chair responded that he did not wish to tax O&O.

 

Senator:  I strongly support the proposed change.  In a faculty senate, only faculty should vote. Faculty senates at most other schools limit voting to faculty.  Making the suggested change would not be a big change, for most of the currently enfranchised administrators do not attend Senate meetings.

 

Senator:  I am in favor of a true Faculty Senate. The Faculty Senate was chartered 35 years ago. The institution has grown and outgrown whatever need there might once have been for a joint administration and faculty governance.  Now, the Deans and Directors are a group that confers, deliberates, and makes decisions, sometimes in parallel with the Faculty Senate.  The Deans no longer come to Faculty Senate meetings – their interests are not here. We have already amended our bylaws to exclude them from the quorum requirement because of their non-attendance.

 

The present motion would only accomplish part of the objective of a true Faculty Senate. It would be cleaner to have one class of member in the Faculty Senate – all of them elected and voting members.  I hope we can soon convene a meeting of the General Faculty to change the Charter to exclude most, if not all, administrative members.  However, this motion to amend the bylaws is improper because it conflicts with the Charter and Robert’s Rules of Order (10th ed., p.332 & Footnote, p.11):


“‘Improper Motions’: Motions that conflict with the corporate charter, constitution or bylaws of a society, or with procedural rules prescribed by national, state, or local laws, are out of order, and if any motion of this kind is adopted, it is null and void.” (332)

The word ‘charter’ …granting the right to form a particular local or subordinate unit. … it supersedes any rules the subordinate body may adopt, because it carries with it the requirement that the subordinate unit adopt no rules that conflict with those of the grantor.” (p.11,note)

 

The Charter defines membership in the Faculty Senate and makes no distinction among the various membership categories. It is true that the bylaws use the phrase “and eligibility to vote therein as prescribed by the Charter” while there is no mention of voting rights for any members in the Charter. However, there is no need to specify voting rights, because unless rights are specifically delineated in the Charter, then all members are full members with voting rights, as explained in Robert’s:


A member of the assembly…is a person having the right to full participation in its proceedings--the right to make motions, to speak in debate on them, and to vote. Some organized societies define different classes of “membership,” not all of which may include this status. Whenever the term member is used in this book, it refers to full participating membership in the assembly unless otherwise specified. Such members are also described as ‘voting members’ when it is necessary to make a distinction.” (p.3)

 

Finally, even if you think there is ambiguity, the intent of the General Faculty at the time of granting the Charter must be followed. The Minutes of the General Faculty of April 3, 1974 show that they voted twice to allow the Deans to vote.

 

Senator Star Muir (Parliamentarian) responded to this challenge:
1) The challenger's first contention, that a motion is out-of-order if it conflicts with any provision of the bylaws or the charter is clearly untrue since this would always prevent any motion to amend the bylaws or charter.  In fact, the Senate bylaws specify a clear process for amending the bylaws, and this motion is pursuant to that provision.

2) The O&O Committee charge clearly indicates that it has the responsibility to review the bylaws and bring recommended changes to the Faculty Senate.  This is exactly the procedure that has been followed in this case, so there is nothing out of order about the process and the O&O is clearly following their charge and proper procedure in bringing this bylaw amendment proposal to the Faculty Senate.

3) Regarding the membership clause of the Charter, the O&O Committee perceived that a spirit of collegiality would invite specific administrators to be "members" of the Faculty Senate, welcome to provide input and speak out on important issues, but that the specific functionality of the Faculty Senate as clarified in the Charter (representing the faculty as a whole, being a voice on important issues to the administration) warrants amending the bylaws to specify that voting privileges reside with faculty elected to the Senate.

 

Senator Trencher:  I have spoken with a former GMU faculty member who was present when the Charter was written (1974). It is impossible to determine the intent of the Faculty Senate from the text of the Charter. When the GMU Faculty Senate was being created in 1974, it was the only Faculty Senate in Virginia. The faculty who worked to create the Senate did not get what they actually wanted. The only way the Administration would allow for a Senate was if administrators were also included.

 

Question:  Does the proposed motion allow for the Provost and President to continue to be members?  Are just the deans being removed?

 

Comment:  How do we slice votes?  Administrative deans are members of colleges of varying size. It was generous of Dean Censer to say he would not vote, but his vote represents only 5.5% of the CHSS vote.  The vote of COS Dean Chandhoke represents 12.5% of COS votes.  Every other college would lose between 25 and 50 percent of their voting power if the Dean/director is disenfranchised. 

Senator Trencher: Apportionment is already determined.  If we include that person in the apportionment, it would not change the number of Senators.  The question still remains of whether or not the vote of the deans represents the will of the Faculty.

 

Senator:  The Charter is the superior document; the General Faculty is the superior group.  You cannot disenfranchise members in a greater group.  The issue is not the desirability of who votes. The issue is that you cannot amend voting rights in the manner being proposed. 

 

Please send further comments and suggestions to strenche@gmu.edu.


V.  New Business – Committee Reports

A.  Senate Standing Committees

 

Executive Committee – Peter Pober, Chair

The Chair noted the Space and Expression Committee continues to make progress in developing a new set of policies for speech and the use of space on campus.  The COLA issues presented will be inserted into the amended budget.  He is happy to address the ad hoc committee issue, and looks forward to hearing from you.

 

Academic Policies – no report

 

Budget and Resources- Rick Coffinberger, Chair

Salary data has been posted (08-09).  We are working with Donna Kidd on the most recent update, anticipate posting in early 2010.

 

Faculty Matters - no report.

 

Nominations – Jim Bennett, Chair

Deborah Boehm-Davis, Kelly Dunne, Penny Earley (Provost's Appointee), Stephen Farnsworth, Karl Fryxell, and Frank Philpot are nominated to serve on the External Academic Relations Committee.

No further nominations were made from the floor.  The nominees were elected unanimously.  The Committee members must stagger their terms. 

 

Organization and Operations – no additional report

 

B. Other Committees

 

Academic Initiatives Committee – Jim Bennett, Chair

A motion was made and seconded to accept the Fall 2009 report.  The motion was approved.

                                               

November 23, 2009

 

To:   The Faculty Senate

From: The Academic Initiatives Committee

            Jim Bennett (CHSS), Chair

            Elizabeth Chong (CHHS)

            Bob Ehrlich (COS)

            Bob Johnston (SOM)

            Terry Zawacki (CHSS)

Subj: Committee Report for Fall 2009

 

1.0 Introduction

 

The Charge of the Academic Initiatives Committee requires a report to the Senate each semester. In conducting its business, the Committee has met four times thus far this semester: September 18, September 25 (with Provost Stearns), and November 13 (with Sergei Andronikov, Director of Russian Programs in the Provost s Office, and Anne Schiller, Associate Provost, International Projects). A fourth meeting has been scheduled (with the Provost) on December 1.

 

At the semester s first meeting of the Senate on September 9, the Provost provided a list of goals and issues for AY2009-2010, including academic initiatives in Russia, Korea, and Viet Nam, which are under the purview of the Academic Initiatives Committee. Thus, our work has focused on these three programs. In addition, Committee member Terry Zawacki is actively involved in the planning of  Access  and  Bridge  programs that deal with English proficiency for, respectively, undergraduate and graduate, foreign students. A memo on these programs from Terry to the Academic Initiatives Committee is included as part of our report. A brief summary by country is provided below.

 

2.0 Viet Nam: Provost Stearns and Roger Stough, Vice President for Research and Economic Development, are visiting Viet Nam for initial discussions during Thanksgiving week. No plans have yet been developed.

 

2.1 Korea: Just as Mason seeks to build strong international partnerships, governments and top universities in the Asia-Pacific region also seek to extend their international educational reach. South Korea is among the nations most actively pursuing strategic partnerships with overseas institutions. Mason s major Korea-related initiative at this time is the IFEZ Initiative, a potential Mason branch campus in the Incheon Free Economic Zone, located an hour by train from Seoul and promoted locally as only 3.5 hours to 1/3 of the world s population. The Korean government has created the zone in an attempt to transform the area into a Northeast Asian logistics, financial, business, and research and development hub that links Pacific Rim economies with the Eurasian continent. Within IFEZ, Mason s interest is the city of Songdo, which is being developed as an international city and high value-added knowledge-based and information business and industrial complex.

 

Mason is one of about nine US and British institutions invited by the IFEZ Committee to consider planning a branch campus in Songdo. The provosts of five US schools have signed a cooperative agreement to explore such topics as shared facilities and services and credit transfer. These other universities would share a building with Mason on the Global University Campus.  Planning and evaluation of the potential branch campus opportunity is anticipated to begin in December, 2009. A market survey will be conducted and carefully considered financial plan will follow. Focus groups to solicit faculty input concerning factors that could influence their interest in and ability to teach at Songdo will be held and planning work groups convened. The evaluation process is expected to extend over a period of eighteen months, and the Korean government will provide a grant of one million dollars to support the planning process. No formal commitments beyond the planning process have been made at this point.

 

2.2 Russia: 2.2.1 Two programs are being developed with institutions in Russia. A rather modest graduate program that brings students from Russian National University s Higher School of Economics to do research as part of their master s degree. Starting in Fall 2010 Russian students will study here, primarily in the fields of Economics, Sociology, and Political Science.

 

2.2.2 The second Russian program involving Moscow State University is much further developed and will begin in January 2010. Sergei Andronikov, Director of Russian Programs in the Provost s Office, has developed a detailed prospectus for this dual-degree program which involves Russian professors coming to Mason to teach Russian undergraduate students and the students then migrating directly into Mason s School of Management and Department of Economics. A brief overview of the program is given in the one-page summary entitled, “Dual Degree Program between Moscow State University and George Mason University in B.S. Economics and B.S. Management” which is included with this report. Much more information is found in the document “Mason - MSU Academic Dual Degree Program: Business Plan” dated June 1, 2009 which is also included as part of this report.  This document contains a marketing plan, operational plan, specifies the program s management and organization, and contains a financial plan (now a bit dated given that the tuition has been increased from $25,000 per year to $27,000 per year). Appendices to the Business Plan (also included in our report) contain the Memorandum of Understanding between Mason and Moscow State as well as information on the academic requirements for the dual degree.

 

3.0 In summary, all these foreign initiatives seek to increase foreign student enrollment at Mason, not only to enhance diversity in the Mason community and open new opportunities for research and academic collaboration, but also to generate increased out-of-state tuition revenue. As recognized clearly in the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis on page 10 of the Business Plan for the Mason-Moscow State program, there are significant difficulties to be overcome. Given the goal of increasing out-of-state tuition revenue and the current increasingly difficult economic situation for both the state and the University, these programs require adequate enrollment to be economically viable. The financial plan for the Mason-Moscow State initiative show the projections for costs and revenues once the program is underway, i.e., the  startup costs  are not included. Startup costs are substantial; for example, for the Higher School of Economics program various administrators and faculty from Economics, Sociology, and Political Science traveled to Russia. Although information on these costs were requested from the Provost s Office, none has been provided. On the revenue side, enrollment is a critical parameter. For the first semester, an enrollment of 10 students from Moscow state was predicted, but only six students are currently registered. With the economic uncertainties both in Russia and the US and given the University s budget constraints, the Academic Initiatives Committee recommends that enrollment be regularly monitored in all these programs.

 

4.0 Finally, the Committee thanks Anne Schiller and Sergei Andronikov for their cooperation.

 

VI.  Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty

 

Senator: I’m concerned about the role of the Faculty Senate, as well as of the Faculty as a whole, in selecting our President, especially when, as we have just learned, the BOV has put in place, at the President’s request, a process for considering the President’s reappointment, but the Faculty has not been informed of this request and certainly not been invited to participate in the process. 

 

The Chair promised to ask for further information from Rector Volgenau.

 

In a spirit of collegiality, Senator Trencher said she hoped she did not seem uncivil in the discussion of the Bylaws and Charter.  The problem seemed to be that the various speakers were not all on the “same page.”

 

The Chair wished all the happiest and healthiest of holiday seasons, and he expressed his appreciation for all the work of the Senate and University Committees.

 

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

 

Respectfully submitted,

David Kuebrich

Secretary

Faculty Senate