GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY

 MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE MEETING

NOVEMBER 10, 2010

Robinson Hall B113,  3:00  - 4:15 p.m.

 

Senators Present:  Clayton Austin, Heibatollah Baghi, Ernest Barreto, Sheryl Beach, Jim Bennett, Alok Berry, Doris Bitler, Lloyd Cohen, Jose Cortina, Maggie Daniels, Nicole Darnall, Yvonne Demory, Betsy DeMulder, Robert Dudley, Daniel Garrison, Margret Hjalmarson, Dimitrios Ioannou, Dan Joyce, David Kuebrich, Linda Monson, Jean Moore, Janette Muir, Star Muir, James Olds, Paula Petrik, Frank Philpot, Peter Pober, Earle Reybold, Jim Sanford, Suzanne Slayden, Thomas Speller, June Tangney, Eva Thorp, Susan Trencher, Iosif Vaisman, Nigel Waters, Harry Wechsler, Phil Wiest, Stanley Zoltek.

 

Senators Absent:  Jack Censer, Vikas Chandhoke, Rick Coffinberger, Kelly Dunne, Mark Ginsberg, Jack Goldstone, Lloyd Griffiths, Jorge Haddock, Frances Harbour, Susan Hirsch, Mark Houck, Alan Merten, Adam Mossoff, Daniel Polsby, William Reeder, Edward Rhodes, Pierre Rodgers, Joe Scimecca, Suzanne Scott, Ray Sommer, Peter Stearns, Shirley Travis, John Zenelis.

 

Visitors Present:   Kim Eby, Associate Provost for Faculty Development and Director, Center for Teaching Excellence;  Esther Elstun, Professor Emerita, Modern and Classical Languages;  Harold Geller, Professor, Physics and Astronomy; Dolores Gomez-Roman, University Ombudsman;  Robin Herron, Associate Director, Office of Media and Public Relations; Susan Jones, University Registrar; Leroy LaFleur, GMU Libraries; Goodlet McDaniel, Associate Provost for Distance Education;   Sharon Pitt, Executive Director, Division of Instructional Technology, ITU; Claudia Rector, Assistant Provost for Academic Affairs;  Linda Schwartzstein, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs/Vice President, Enrollment Services; Ron Secrest, Director – TSD, Ent. Servers and Messaging;  Bill Sutton, Associate Chair/Associate Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering; Joy Taylor, Director, Learning Support Services, DoIT; Bethany Usher, Associate Director, Center for Teaching Excellence.

 

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

 

II.        Approval of the Minutes of October 6, 2010:  The minutes were approved as distributed.

 

III.       Announcements

Chair Peter Pober announced that Rector Volgenau was unable to attend  our meeting today.  The Chair has encouraged the Rector to come to speak to the Senate at least once per semester,

 

Director Jim Olds, Krasnow Institute provided an informational update about the unit. 

The  Krasnow Institute is both an academic unit and hosts advanced study with scholars (faculty and post-doctoral)  from multiple other units.  The Computational Social Science (CSS)  doctoral program is the first of its kind in the US, with about 25 PhD students. There are also approximately 25 students in the  neuroscience doctoral program and approximately 80 baccalaureate students. Future plans include an application for an MAIS track in CSS and a MS in Neuroscience. The Institute selected to receive the first GMU grant from the Howard Hughes Institute, also received grants from the Allen Brand Institute, Janelia Farms Institute and was part of an NIH challenge.  Director Olds is very excited about  participation in events in Singapore and Germany as Krasnow reaches across national boundaries with scientists around the world. 

The daily business of the Institute also continues with 110 participants, almost all of whom are doing post-doctoral research in the sciences. The bulk of the funding for this research comes from NIH and NSF.

 

Senator Question:  Where do your faculty come from?

Director Olds:   We have two departments with 100% faculty lines, but also have faculty with other appointments with full voting privileges.

Senator Question:  In the last couple of years, have you bought any expensive equipment, e.g. in the millions?

Director Olds:  GMU purchased a $3 million dollar MRI machine about five years ago, which is also used by the Psychology Department. 

 

There will be no January 19, 2011 meeting of the Faculty Senate, so we will begin the spring term with February 9th meeting.  Another meeting will be added to the end of Spring semester if necessary.

 

Chair Pober will be away for the final meeting of the semester.. Chair pro Tem Suzanne Slayden will conduct the meeting, scheduled for December 8.

 

IV.       New Business - Committee Reports

A.  Senate Standing Committees

Executive Committee -Peter Pober, Chair

No report. 

 

Academic Policies- Janette Muir, Chair

Motion from the Academic Policies Committee: 

Under Catalog copy about Final Exams
Proposed addition (add after section on absences, pg. 36)

Add: Students who have more than one examination scheduled at the same time or more than two examinations scheduled on the same day should consult their instructors to explore whether they can make other arrangements.

Senator Question: If final exams were scheduled at different times, how can you have more than one at the same time?

Senator Muir:  The motion also addresses not just the same time, but also more than one exam on the same day.

The motion was approved unanimously.

 

Budget & Resources – June Tangney, Chair

Professor Tangney thanked Professor Alok Berry for attending the Budget Planning Team meeting and shared his report:

“Some of the highlights of the Sept. 28th meeting are:

·         Bonus of 3% in FY11, no salary increase in FY12 and 3% annual salary increases beginning in FY13.

·         Proposed Tuition Increase:  FY12: 10.3%, FY13: 10.3%, FY14: 4.2%, FY15: 4.0%.

·         The financial aid funding from the state will remain the same but the university will increase funding to students to help offset the tuition increase.

·          $1.5 million additional program support (initiative funds for excellence, priorities, etc.) in FY12, then additional $2 million in FY13; $3 million in FY 14; and $4 million in FY15.

 

As suggested by the state, at the November 2, 2010 meeting it was discussed that the university should prepare for the (2) two, (4) four, and (6) six percent savings plan.  It may increase the tuition further.

 

Discussion/Questions:   Could we look at reducing fees on research students, as a disincentive to getting (recruitment) students?

Senator Tangney:  They do a careful market analysis at the state level and look at other state universities in the area.  GMU tuition is competitive at the state level.

Follow Up:  What about the rest of the US?

Senator Tangney:  This problem exists across the US – at one point, state support for universities was at about 60%, now at 28%.  The increase will have a serious effect on our PhD students.  There is an attempt to raise financial aid. 

Senator Question:  Are students aware of the schedule of tuition increases?

Vice Provost for Academic Affairs/VP for Enrollment Services Linda Schwartzstein: The BOV sets tuition in March, the figures now are unofficial.  The Provost conducts open forums with students during the spring term to talk about issues.

Senator Comment: It was suggested that the issue of student fees also be examined as they have also been steadily increasing.

 

Faculty Matters – Doris Bitler, Chair

(1) A report on how health benefits have changed (over the past five years) was recently forwarded to Senators. 

(2) An issue raised by an adjunct faculty member about hiring was referred to the university grievance committee.  The committee has declined to review question about converting position from term to tenure-track.  Individuals must apply for tenure-track positions as a  new job. 

Senator Question:  What will health insurance costs be for the next open season? 

Senator Bitler responded it is not known at this time.

 

Nominations – Jim Bennett, Chair                                                           

Election of Faculty Representatives:

Provost's Regulatory Committee

Faculty Representatives:  Peter Pober (CHSS), Bob Smith (CHSS), Susan Trencher (CHSS)  Provost appointees:  Deborah Boehm-Davis (Chair/Professor, Psychology,CHSS),  Martin Ford (Sr. Associate Dean, CEHD), Mike Lasofski (Director, Office of Sponsored Programs), Claudia Rector (Assistant Provost for Academic Affairs),  Walt Sevon (Executive Director, Technology Systems Division), Brian Walther, (Senior Associate University Counsel), Ying Zhou (Director, Institutional Assessment), Julie Zobel (Executive Director, Environmental Health and Safety).

 

Nigel Waters is nominated to serve as Faculty Senate Representative to the TIAA/CREF Scholarship Committee.

John H. Crockett is nominated to serve as Faculty Representative to the BOV's new Other Business Opportunities Committee.  

The nominations were seconded and a unanimous ballot cast to elect the representatives.

Organization & Operations – Star Muir, Chair

1.  Resolution to Amend the Charge of the Minority and Diversity Issues Committee

Whereas, there is no substantial rationale to exclude term faculty from service on the Minority and Diversity Issues Committee; and

Whereas, the Committee addresses issues that impact all faculty, not just tenured and tenure-track faculty; and

Whereas, composition of the Committee is determined by a vote of duly elected members of the Faculty Senate;

Be it resolved: 

That the Minority and Diversity Issues Committee charge be revised to insert “Term” at the beginning of the second sentence under Composition as follows:

Term, tenured and tenure-track faculty are eligible to serve on this Committee.

[Minority and Diversity Issues Committee  Charge:

The Minority and Diversity Issues Committee (approved by the Faculty Senate on March 18, 1998) incorporated and revised duties previously addressed by the ad hoc Minority Affairs Committee and the ad hoc Diversity Issues Committee. effective September 1998.

Composition: Five members. Tenured and tenure-track faculty are eligible to serve on this Committee. Members serve staggered two-year terms.

Charge: To work in concert with the Equity Office, Minority Students Services Office, other pertinent administrators, and campus organizations in developing and implementing means to ensure nondiscrimination, tolerance, and protection of the rights of all persons affiliated with the University; and to facilitate dialogue among those connected with the University and those in the broader community on matters concerning minority populations and diversity issues.]      

 

The resolution was approved unanimously.

                                                                                              

2. Recommendations on the Proposed Code of Ethics    

Professor Muir introduced the following report in noting that GMU is the only major university in Virginia which does not have a code of ethics.  This could become an issue as research I institutions receiving federal money may look at whether we have one. 

O&O  Action on Code of Ethics

After reviewing the feedback from Faculty Senate members on the Code of Ethics, and closely reading the Code to identify the areas of primary faculty concern, the O&O Committee offers this feedback to Tom Hennessey regarding bringing the Code for a formal vote of approval by the Faculty Senate:

*there is some vagueness in terminology which left faculty members uneasy about what was covered and disallowed.  Included among these phrases were “free of personal conflicts” and “appearance of impropriety” (1); “anything of value in consideration of performing our public duties” (2); and “mindful of the public cost” (7).

*we looked closely at the rigidity of the requirements, and felt that the verbs “encourage” and “expected” were sufficient to convey the normative statement set by the code (e.g., for reporting in 6 and 8).

We offer the following possibility for moving forward with the Code in the face of faculty concerns (see Code of Ethics below for mark up):

*Strike the last two sentences of clause 1 (appearance of impropriety is vague, as is conflicting interests);

*Strike the first sentence of clause 2 (too broad, could include free texts as part of making on informed decision about course materials, or a bottle of wine by a grateful graduate student);

*Strike the last part of clause 7 after University (public cost seems misplaced in this clause about improving performance, which is arguably covered in clause 1).

While there are no guarantees about actions taken by the Faculty Senate, it seems to us that these clauses are among the vaguest and most objectionably interpretable, and that there is a much higher chance of Faculty Senate endorsement without these sentences.

  1. We perform our public responsibilities, services and activities ethically, competently, efficiently and honestly, in keeping with University policy and applicable law. We expect that all necessary and proper controls safeguarding public resources are in place and observed, with periodic auditing of functions and departments by the State Auditor of Public Accounts and/or the University’s Internal Audit and Management Services. While in the service of the University, we conduct ourselves free of personal conflicts or appearances of impropriety, mindful that our exercise of authority on behalf of the University has been delegated fundamentally for the public good. Conflicting interests or influences are promptly disclosed to our superiors and appropriate steps are undertaken to promote the integrity of University business and other transactions.
  2. We do not accept anything of value offered in consideration of performing our public duties, other than the compensation, benefits and reimbursement of expenses duly authorized by the University or otherwise permitted by law. We do not accept any favor, loan, service, business or professional opportunity from anyone knowing (or when it should be known) that it is offered in order to improperly influence the performance of our public duties, or when acceptance thereof may reasonably be perceived as an impropriety in violation of University policy or state law. University procurements of goods or services are undertaken only by authorized personnel and, when competitive principles apply, decisions are made impartially and objectively in accordance with established policy and state law.
  3. We preserve and respect the confidentiality of University records, including individual and student records. We do not externally disclose confidential records or other nonpublic information without appropriate authorization, and any confidential record or information we access as a result of our position or duty is neither exploited for personal benefit nor misused for any unauthorized purpose.
  4. We are committed to the principles of federal and state law guaranteeing equal opportunity and nondiscrimination with respect to University services, programs, activities and employment, and we support an environment that respects the rights and opinions of all people. Complaints of discrimination, harassment and retaliation are investigated and when warranted appropriate corrective action is taken and disciplined in accordance with University policy and applicable law.
  5. Our communications on behalf of the University with all persons, including co-employees, clients, customers, students, guests and vendors, are conducted professionally and with civility.
  6. We do not condone dishonesty in any form by anyone, including misuse of University funds or property, fraud, theft, cheating, plagiarism or lying. We encourage and expect reporting of any form of dishonesty, and our managers and supervisors to appropriately investigate such reports. We also expect that the police and/or State Auditor of Public Accounts will be notified when circumstances reasonably indicate fraud or theft of University funds.
  7. We strive for continuous improvement in our performance of public duties for the University. mindful of the public cost to our activities which must be reasonable and appropriately authorized.
  8. We bring to the attention of supervisors and managers, the University auditor or other responsible University office, any violation of these principles or circumstances reasonably indicating that a violation has occurred or may occur. Such reporting in good faith in order to promote the ethical integrity of operations is expected and encouraged by the University, and retaliation by any University employee as a result against the person making such good faith report shall be subject to disciplinary action. We appropriately investigate all such reports and, when warranted by the facts, require corrective action and discipline in accordance with University policy and state law.

Selected References:

Code of Virginia §2.2-3100, et seq. - Conflict of Interest Act.

University Policy Number 407 – Misconduct in Research and Scholarship.

University Policy Number 410 – Financial Conflicts of Interest in Federally-Funded Research.

University Administrative Policies – Series 2100 – Financial.

University Policy Number 4001 – Financial Conflicts of Interest in University Contracts with Businesses.

University Policy Number 4005 – Cost Transfer Policy.

Faculty Handbook – 2.10 Faculty Duties and Responsibilities.

American Association of University Professors – Statement on Professional Ethics.


DISCUSSION: 
Senator:  Concern that the proposal may run directly counter to the proposed policy on consensual relationships, particularly with reference to aspirational language.

 

Senator  Muir responded that the Code of Ethics is a broader, more aspirational statement unlike the (proposed) Consensual Relationship policy.  Chair Pober added that the Faculty Matters Committee has just received the revisions to the Consensual Relationship proposed policy from Corey Jackson and will review it.

Senator Question:  Is an action not specifically prohibited therefore ethical?   

Senator Muir  Did not assume that if not in the document it could be considered ethical. ≈  Senator Comment: These seem to be different categories of practice and language.  Some of the things, e.g stealing, are against the law.  This..does not belong in a code of ethics.

Senator Muir:  Tom Hennessey started with a 16 page proposal and realized not everything could be enumerated.  

 

Senator Queestion What do you do about violations?  How can it be enforced? (Since Dr. Hennessey had taken this statement almost verbatim from the University of Virginia Code of Ethics).  What about plagiarism of other universities' codes of ethics? 

Senator Muir:  The question of enforcement had also crossed his mind. Neither the UVA nor the William and Mary Codes of Ethics have enforcement provisions. We need to be considerate of principles.

Senator Comment:  There is some confusion about adjustments.  Suggestion that we contact  the AAUP regional office to look at this before we vote to approve.

Senator Comment:   There are problems with negative, e.g.  “do not” vs. using “we strive for” form. 

Senator Comment: The status of this should be written down as part of document, like a preface, so that it cannot be used as a basis for dismissal, etc. 

Senator Muir invited Senators to send suggestions to him and asked about response to Dr. Hennessey who wants to know from Senate whether this is a reasonable document to send to the BOV.

Senator Comment:  We were rather confused at the School of Law about where the impetus came from.  I am very uncomfortable with this unless it says it is an aspirational document and is not enforceable; it should not have behavioral consequences. 

Senator Muir read examples of prefaces from VCU and William and Mary. 

Senator Follow up: You aspire better than you insist, we are regulating things we already see to be unlawful.
Chair Pober noted that the BOV will likely look at this at its December 1st meeting.

Senator Comment:  It  is a good thing to be against bad things.  This is in no way prescriptive.

 

A motion was made and seconded to accept  the proposed Code of Ethics as a draft with the inclusion of a preamble.    The motion was approved with one negative vote.

 

Below is a summary of the discussion by the Faculty Senate by Senator Muir:
1) The Senate followed the recommendation to strike the sentences  previously identified as somewhat problematic.
2) The Senate additionally struck one more parenthetical comment in clause 2:  "(or when it should be known)"

3) The Senate is forwarding this as a draft and is willing to engage in more dialog as appropriate; and
4) The Senate crafted a preamble which clarified the aspirational nature of the document.

B. Other Committees 

Faculty Representatives to the BOV – Janette Muir

The report (see October 6, 2010 FS Minutes) will be presented at the December 1st BOV meeting. 

Technology Policy – Stanley Zoltek, Chair

Walt Sevon, Deputy CIO and Executive Director Technology Systems Division, briefed the committee on a new project that will start later this year to select a new Faculty/Staff E-mail system.  MEMO, the current e-mail system for faculty and staff, has not been upgraded by the vendor for years and does not provide features currently available in most commercially available e-mail systems.  The Information Technology Unit will be putting together a team in the next two months to establish requirements for a new em=mail system.  The new e-mail system should enable better collaboration within the faculty/staff community as well as with the students on MasonLive e-mail.  This could also provide an integrated calendaring system that would eventually replace the current Oracle Calendar.  Faculty/staff wanting more information or interested in participating on the committee should contact Ron Secrest, Director of Enterprise Systems & Messaging, at rsecrest@gmu.edu . 

 

Sharon Pitt, Executive Director, Division of Instructional Technology, informed that committee that during the summer, the Classroom Advisory Committee (a committee tasked by he university's Space Administration Committee) established a group to make recommendations, including budget, to address the immediate need for more technology enhanced classrooms on the Fairfax campus.  The group met during the fall semester and will make recommendations to the Classroom Advisory Committee and the university's budget group to seek to reduce the wait list for technology classrooms as of fall 2011.  Star Muir is the Faculty Senate representative on the Classroom Advisory Committee and the Technology Subcommittee on the CAC, which is tasked with addressing this need.

 

Discussion:  Senator Muir reported that this committee did some great work.  A lot of departments have wait lists to get into certain rooms.   Analysis a three-pronged approach: not just getting into new classrooms, but also maintenance and replenishing(them) when old. The recommendations will be presented to the Classroom Advisory Committee this Friday morning, and to the budget committee next week.

 

Senator Question:   When will the spring wait list be cleared?

Response: University Registrar Susan Jones responded (in an email distributed to Senators on November 11th0), “ For spring 2011, we started out with around 300 classes, and are now down to 116.  We are slowly making progress as sections are canceled or changed. Regarding the fall 2010 semester, there were 54 classes remaining on the tech classroom wait list that never got a tech room.” She added that past experience is that the wait list is never totally cleared.

 

Sharon Pitt:   There is a recommendation to eliminate technology classroom waiting list by Fall 2011.

Senator Commented that she works in lots of classrooms in Northern Virginia, and is embarrassed that many classrooms here do not have the technology others do, and that the technology she uses is not available at GMU.

 

Senator Question/Comment: Concern with what is considered a  major problem with the MasonLive student email system in which students names do not have to come up with student email addresses.  There is a real problem with privacy issues when faculty respond to students, and asks that email system should deal with this as faculty have to deal with this in the trenches. 

Response:  Ron Secrest:  We did an RFP and Microsoft won.  Argued that it has a pretty good system.  He added that you can also change your display name in the current system.

Senator Follow Up:  In the past this was rare, it is now frequent.

Senator Question/Comment:  Should do a cost analysis to see whether new technology/where money is spent etc. is justified.  If  there is no advantage to new systems why use them?

Senator Zoltek  (Speaking on behalf of the committee)  All issues must be looked at.

Senator Comment The (old) phone system was way out of warranty, not supported by vendor.  We had to act.  There does have to be some oversight of the budget priorities of technology policy – feels there has been a reasonable engagement with faculty.  Things may go wrong, but they are doing the best with what they have. 

Senator Comment: Issue with technology classrooms with the arbitrary changing of assignments.  You may be told you were assigned a technology classroom and later told you don't have one.  What about classes which must be taught in a computer classroom?  22 complaints about this have been received.

Chair Pober encouraged Senator to submit the complaints to the Classroom Advisory and Technology Policy Committee and faculty to send feedback to Ron Secrest, Sharon Pitt, and Stanley Zoltek. 

 

V.   Other New Business

Enrollment Services – Linda Schwartzstein, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Vice President for Enrollment Services

 

Enrollment Central:  The Enrollment Services have moved over the summer to the new addition in SUB I, now called the Enrollment Center.  A one-stop shop, very efficient and friendly.  The Enrollment Center is a place where many students can get answers to questions right there – no more “Mason shuffle” as in the past.  If the front desk cannot answer a question, there is handoff to a specialist right there to make sure easy for students to get to the right person to resolve issues as soon as possible.  We are working to make it a reality .  This is a different type of operation than in the past and we are still learning.  As we see student flow, types of questions, some reconfiguring will take place.  Will also add some technology solutions to support this. 

Admissions could also include student accounts.  There are heavy-duty client services, tens of thousands of parents and students are involved and some interactions are sensitive.  These are often the first units with which families interact.  We  hope we convey an attitude of respect and caring.   The work is also very transaction-heavy.  There is a huge back office component, with close to 100% accuracy in areas such as transcripts, financial aid, federal aid.  We can be proud of them – there are very few complaints and very few negative audit finds.  It’s a very dedicated staff.

 

Discussion:

Senator Comment/Question:  This sounds great.  (On another related subject) There are rumors about a new position in Enrollment Services- what will it cost? Are there  costs for support staff? Why do this during a time of fiscal crisis?

In the absence of a representative from Human Resources, Chair Pober will refer this question to the Provost and thanked Linda Schwartzstein for her presentation.

 

VI.   Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty

The Faculty Senate and the GMU Chapter of the AAUP are jointly sponsoring a reception for the BOV on December 1st in the Mason Hall Atrium.  An email invitation will be distributed once the time is confirmed.

 

Faculty will play a direct  role in the selection of the President, as already appears in the Faculty Handbook.  Chair Pober added that Tom Hennessey has informed him six faculty members will serve on the next presidential search committee. 

 

The Mason Symphony Orchestra will perform tonight at the Concert Hall at 8:00 p.m.

 

Sharon Pitt welcomed Ms.  Joy Taylor, the new director of Learning Support Services.

 

November 17th is GIS Day all over the world.  More information about activities at GMU is available at http://ggs.gmu.edu/AcademicPrograms/Flyers/GISDay.pdf .

 

A Senator expressed concern over a column in the Broadside which in his view contained explicit pornography. 

 

The GMU Dance Company's fall concerts will take place this weekend (Nov. 11,12, 13th).

 

Congratulations to Senator Nicole Darnall (COS) on her selection to receive one of three   Emerging Researcher, Scholar, Creator Awards at a ceremony November 3rd.

 

Chair Pober wished all a Happy Thanksgiving.

 

VII.  Adjournment – The meeting adjourned at 4:21 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Trencher

Secretary