GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE MEETING
February 1, 2012
Robinson Hall B113, 3:00 – 4:15 p.m..
Senators Present: Ernest Barreto, Sheryl Beach, Jim Bennett, Alok Berry, John Cantiello, Vikas Chandhoke, Arie Croitoru, Yvonne Demory, Charlene Douglas, Robert Dudley, Daniel Garrison, Mark Houck, Dimitrios Ioannou, Kathryn Jacobsen, Dan Joyce, David Kuebrich, Howard Kurtz, Ning Li, Linda Monson, Star Muir, Susan Allen Nan, Elavie Ndura, Paula Petrik, Peter Pober, William Reeder, Earle Reybold, Jim Sanford, Joe Scimecca, Suzanne Scott, Suzanne Slayden, Ray Sommer, Peter Stearns, June Tangney, Halaevalu Vakalahi, Phil Wiest, Stanley Zoltek.
Senators Absent: Doris Bitler, Jack Censer, Rick Coffinberger, Lloyd Cohen, Kelly Dunne, Cody Edwards, Mark Ginsberg, Lloyd Griffiths, Jorge Haddock, Margret Hjalmarson, Bruce Johnsen, Jerry Mayer, Alan Merten, James Olds, Daniel Polsby, Edward Rhodes, Pierre Rodgers, Lesley Smith, Thomas Speller, Shirley Travis, Susan Trencher, Iosif Vaisman, John Zenelis.
Visitors: Rizna Ahmed, Director of Benefits; Human Resources and Payroll; Betsy Appleton, Chair, Librarians’ Council; Kim Eby, Associate Provost for Faculty Development and Director, Center for Teaching Excellence; Esther Elstun, Professor Emerita, Modern and Classical Languages; Dolores Gomez-Roman, University Ombudsman; Linda Harber, Associate Vice President, Human Resources and Payroll; Robin Herron, Associate Director, Media and Public Relations; Susan Jones, Associate Provost and University Registrar; Michelle Lim, HR Faculty Business Partner, Human Resources and Payroll; James Martin, Vice-Chair, Staff Senate; Janette Muir, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education; Claudia Rector, Assistant Provost for Academic Affairs; Linda Schwartzstein, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Vice President for Enrollment Services.
I. Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 3:02 p.m.
II. Approval of the Minutes of December 7, 2011: The minutes were approved as distributed.
Chair Pober welcomed Senators to “Fiesta February” noting the Senate will meet for three weeks in a row. He parlayed as he begins his last semester as chair of the Faculty Senate, encouraging Senators to consider the position.
Dean Vikas Chandhoke, College of Science, provided a brief overview of the past year’s accomplishments. He focused first on academic and research space, noting that projects in Prince William for research space and graduate housing are underway. The renovation of Science and Tech II is expected to be complete in summer, 2013, and the project for the Belmont Bay for Environmental Research in two years. The most important (new) physical asset is the new telescope. He invited everyone to attend an Open House on February 8th between 6:00-8:00 p.m. Dean Chandhoke then discussed expansion for enrollment: a new MA in Biomedical Science with Georgetown has been received very well and expected to expand further next year. He acknowledged “the research side” struggles for expansion with funding pressures. Infrastructure, he said, limits ability to expand aggressively this year, but will expand in the future. He noted the College added twelve faculty members to the roster this year. The College, he said, is attracting very high quality assistant professors.
Question: Which departments are (the) hires?
Dean Chandhoke: There are four in math, some in physics, Krasnow, chemistry, spread over the college.
Question: Chance to attract more research students?
Dean Chandhoke: More grants, graduate stipends with supplemental awards. This is not a
cheap place to live. Need to have grants/stipends (sufficient for) high cost of living.
Dean William Reeder, College of Visual and Performing Arts, reported his college is continuing to enjoy very steady growth. In the last two years, he said, he has been happily surprised with larger numbers than budgeted. He noted a collaborative sense of goodwill among faculty members to manage growth and the expectations of students. His report focused on:
· Facilities: Renovation of the old Fine Arts building to include offices for all faculty members and 32 more practice rooms. He noted the new buildings, as well: the deLaski Performing Arts Building, the Hylton Performing Arts Center, and Art and Design Building.
· Community energy: He emphasized the positive impact of the Faculty Arts Board, the Green Machine, and a number of joint projects such as computer game design shared with the Volgenau School. Building on this point, Dean Reeder said collaborative relationship require us to “be inclusive.” For example, the original organization around the Arts and Mason Partnership evolved to a much simpler relationship across academic, professional, community groups. The “Friends” groups—now there are 13—developed in the past three or four years beyond the classic non-profit role; they have assumed an advisory capacity.
Question: What happened to Cheap Seats for faculty?
Dean Reeder did not know, but promised to look into it.
Chair Pober announced that the agenda for the Special Faculty Senate Meeting to Address the Presidential Search Process – February 8, 2012 will be posted (today) and hopes everyone will come with a desire to speak. As in the past, we will have time limits so all will have a chance to speak (and to) experience a logos-driven perspective. Emotions may run high. (Faculty) do have a lot to say.
He also noted a Special Faculty Senate Meeting to Consider Proposed Changes to the Faculty Handbook – February 15, 2012
IV. New Business – Committee Reports
A. Senate Standing Committees
Executive Committee – Peter Pober, Chair
Chair Pober welcomed Susan Allen Nan, the new Senator from the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution. He also thanked Senator Suzanne Scott who has agreed to serve as chair of the Academic Policies Committee.
A Senator asked whether there were any updates to the Freedom of Speech Policy recommendations made by the Task Force (University Space and Expression Committee). Chair Pober served on the committee and responded that the Committee submitted its revisions to University Counsel Tom Moncure, and is happy to address further revisions.
A Senator asked about (the status) of the recommendations made in the Action Plan for Police and Community Relations (established as an outcome of the July 2011) Presidential Task Force on University Police and University Community Relations. Chair Pober will invite Chief of Police Michael Lynch and Sr. VP Morrie Scherrens to a Faculty Senate meeting this semester to provide an update.
Academic Policies - no report at this time.
Budget & Resources – June Tangney, Chair
Summer Salary Report: We have concluded our summary report on the Summer Salary Issue (see Attachment A). Although there are quite a number of full-time instructional faculty teaching this summer, some do not know they have the rights they have. (As described in the last paragraph of the report), beginning in September, the Provost will send out a call to faculty for requests for summer teaching.
Faculty Salary Data: The faculty and admnistrator salary data reports are not yet posted due to the VRS anti-raise. We are working with Human Resources to designate raise data in such a way to protect privacy of faculty retirement status.
Independent Study Survey: We have initiated a survey of chairs, deans, and directors (to ascertain) policies on independent study/courses and hope to present a report at our next meeting.
Faculty Matters – Jim Sanford, Chair
Proposed Changes to the 2012 Revision of the Faculty Handbook Section 3.6.2:
The Faculty Matters Committee voted to approve a
change in the length of time elapsing between tenuerd faculty study leaves in which the proposed revision text be
changed from “
six” to “four”
years appears underlined and in RED BOLD:
3.6.2 Faculty Handbook 2012 Proposed Revision text in which the time elapsed between study leaves for tenured faculty clarified:
“Faculty must be tenured with
years of service at GMU, and have completed six four
years of such service since a previous study leave. This six four
year period includes time spent on leave of absence, unless such leave includes
time worked at another agency or institution...”
As the Faculty Matters Committee’s vote was too late for inclusion in this meeting’s agenda, the Senate voted by unanimous consent to add this item to the agenda.
Senator Slayden, Chair of the Faculty Handbook Revision Committee, noted that proposed changes to the Study Leave policy also needed the involvement of the Provost’s Office as well as the Research Council, which had earlier asked for clarification of this policy.
A motion was made and seconded to postphone consideration of the change until the Faculty Handbook Committee can meet and consult.
Senator Sanford responded that the Faculty Matters Committee approved this change just a week ago and that the Faculty Senate, administration, and the BOV can all propose changes to the Faculty Handbook.
Another Senator commented that he did not understand why this is so involved, (just) to change the word “six” to the word “four”.
Senator Slayden responded that the Faculty Handbook Revision Committee has talked about how do we best approach revisions to the Faculty Handbook? There is a need for consultation with the administration and asked that we postphone revision at this time so that we can get feedback from Provost Stearns and Roger Stough (VP for Research and Economic Development) before we vote on it.
The motion to postpone voting on the proposed revision failed. By a show of hands, 12 votes in favor of postponement, 15 votes opposed to postponement.
Provost Stearns: We haven’t had a chance to look at this. The amount of money/funding available is not likely to increase. Beyond the change from 7 to 6 years already agreed upon, he does not know where this figure came from and noted it was a dramatic change.
Senator Sanford: The Faculty Matters Committee recognized that this may not involve more money, but would (result) in more competition. The proposal would assist full professors, giving them more incentive to continue research. Without expectation of more money/funding available, would expect those who are really productive (in their research) likely to get it.
A Senator asked whether this practice is very common; in most universities of which he is aware, it is not.
Senator Petrik, who also serves on the Faculty Matters Committee cited another insitution in which the interval between study leaves for Assistant and Associate Professors is seven years, but for Full Professors it is five. Senator Petrik also consulted her academic department.
A Senator expressed concern given the lack of money, that full professors might get most of the leaves over lower-ranking professors based on research proposals.
Senator Petrik replied this “would help the vast field of associate professors move up...”
A motion was made and seconded to change the proposed study leave interval in Section 3.6.2 Faculty Handbook 2012 Revision from six to four years. By a show of hands, 9 votes in favor, 18 votes against, the motion failed.
A Senator commented that she “has never seen a group vote against its own self-interest with (such) grace and abandon.”
Senator Sanford also reported that the committee is working on maternity/paternity leaves and will also look at email privacy issues, with implications for compromising human subjects and other research topics.
Dan Joyce (CVPA) is nominated to fill a vacancy on the Organization and OperationsCommittee for Spring, 2012. No further nominations were made from the floor, and the nomination was approved unanimously.
Organization & Operations – Star Muir, Chair
Senator Muir clarified that the email privacy issue was first assigned to the Technology Policy Committee. There is a clause in the policy that faculty have no expectation of privacy in email. He said people need to know their privacy is not being protected; the issue was then sent to Faculty Matters.
Gun Policy on Campus: By (employment) contract, faculty cannot bring a gun on campus, nor can students. However, the state of Virginia recently voted to support the public’s ability to carry concealed weapons in public places (see University Policy 1120: Weapons on Campus). People who are not members of the GMU community can bring guns to campus, but they cannot enter buildings or attend university events with them. If you are a member of the general public, you can carry concealed weapons in Virginia in public places. There is no place for this to go; as approved by the Commonwealth of Virginia and upheld by the Virginia Supreme Court. O&O will not refer this issue out. In response to a question raised, Senator Muir confirmed that University Policy 1120 is not in conflict with state law.
B. Other Committees
Academic Initiatives Committee: The Fall 2011 report of the Academic Initiatives Committee is posted on the Senate website. A motion was made and seconded to accept the report from the Academic Initiatives Committee. The motion was approved unanimously.
Faculty Handbook Revision Committee – Suzanne Slayden, Chair
The Committee has met 7-8 times this semester; first three meetings solo, then in expanded meetings with representatives from the Provost’s office, Human Resources, and CHSS Associate Dean Debbie Boehm-Davis. We can take the “four” proposal back to the Provost and the Research Council. At the Special Meeting to consider proposed revisions to the Faculty Handbook on February 15th, we plan to ask for a vote of yes or no. If no, the proposed revisions will be sent back to the committee (to avoid last minute changes). Chair Pober thanked Senator Slayden and the committee for all their work. Please see Attachment B for the full text of the committee’s report.
V. Other New Business
VRS Update – Linda Harber, Vice President for Human Resources
*Vice President Harber recently went to Richmond with Betty Jolly, State Government Relations Director. She said they expressed opposition to proposals to cap COLAs, adjust (retirement contribution) formulas, and the governor’s hybrid plan. There are currently various retirement House and Senate bills; for example, House Bill #486 offers the opportunity for those ORP faculty with less than ten years’ service the option to switch to VRS by purchasing credit –an actuarial number that could be quite high. Faculty interested in changing from VRS to ORP should watch the status of that bill. Current legislation proposed does not impact the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) program elements. She noted, “we are working together with UVA, Virginia Tech, and VCU on many of these initiatives." * Text provided by Vice President Harber in response to inquiry.
See also ATTACHMENT C, Letter to State Employees from Governor McDonnell, January 12, 2012. A Senator observed an inaccuracy in the Governor’s letter which stated that the 5% VRS contribution was completely offset.
Endorsement for BOV Consideration of Emeritus Status for Thomas Hennessey
In recognition of years of meritorious service to the University, the Faculty Senate recommends to the Board of Visitors that Thomas Hennessey be granted the title Chief of Staff Emeritus upon his retirement in May, 2012.
Chair Pober expressed his deep appreciation for Tom’s work. Provost Stearns added that, although it was not his idea, he supports the endorsement. The endorsement was approved unanimously by the Faculty Senate.
VI. Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty
Chair Pober introduced James Martin, recently elected Vice-Chair of the Staff Senate. He has been at Mason four years, as a student and staff member.
The Faculty Arts Board will hold an event on Friday, March 23rd at 6:00 p.m. in advance of The Mikado. Dean Reeder asked Provost Stearns to regale us again with a rewritten Mikado. If any of you have such talents, please let him know. (For additional information, see http://newsdesk.gmu.edu/2012/02/provost-stearns-to-entertain-at-faculty-arts-board-event/.)
Provost Stearns is attempting to arrange an informal meeting between President-Elect Cabrera and Faculty Senators during in early March.
Professor Giorgio Ascoli (Krasnow) and Professor Bob Hazen (Robinson Professor of Earth Sciences) were both named 2012 Outstanding Faculty Awards, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). Kim Eby (Associate Provost) also noted that this is an honor for Mason to have two of the twelve award recipients.
Vice Provost Schwartzstein thanked everyone for their support for SACS Accreditation/Approval December 14th.
VII. Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 4:03 p.m.
Summary of Summer Salary Inquiry
Conducted by the Budget and Resources Committee of the Faculty Senate
Funding for summer term is now part of the annual academic budget allocated to units. The summer instructional budgets moved to the academic units (FY) 2010/11 and are part of the transition to move the university to an annualized model. Deans and Directors now have the flexibility of managing all funds to meet annualized targets. Similar to fall and spring, if an academic unit exceeds its target the unit is compensated for the additional FTEs generated. If an academic unit does not meet its established target, the unit is required to return a portion of funding centrally.
The primary disconnect seems to be that units do not uniformly receive sufficient funding from the Provost’s office to allow full-time faculty to teach one summer course at 10% of their base salary, as required by the Faculty Handbook. In the past, the allocation was made assuming that 70% of summer classes would be taught by full-time faculty at 10% of their base salary, but this approach has changed over the years. As mentioned earlier, the academic units now manage all funding related to summer term. According to the Provost’s office, each unit’s budget for summer is set based on historical data and a varied set of factors distinctive to each unit. The use of a full-time/part-time ratio was based on the historical use of each at the university during summer term. If an allocated budget does not meet the instructional costs associated with building and offering courses that meet the needs of students and faculty, chairs may submit requests to deans. The dean determines a course of action and, if necessary, contacts the Summer Term Office for collaboration. No dean did so for summer 2011, according to the Provost’s office.
In some units (e.g., Psychology, SOM), relatively few full time faculty request summer courses and thus the funds allocated are sufficient to meet and even exceed the requirements of the Faculty Handbook. In other units (e.g., Sociology) the funds allocated are not sufficient to meet this Faculty Handbook requirement. Chairs must overspend their summer allocations to provide summer teaching opportunities to full-time faculty and must take money from other parts of their budgets which are already very tight to make up the difference. It was noted that some departments implicitly discourage full-time faculty from teaching summer school courses by the number, nature, and/or scheduling of summer school courses. Electrical and Computer Engineering, for example, has reduced its summer school offerings by approximately 60%.
Summer courses are important to both Mason students and potentially for a significant portion of Mason’s faculty members. Most Mason students work a significant number of hours each week while completing their degree requirements. As a result of the time these students spend working and commuting, they want to complete coursework during the summer in order to finish their degree requirements in a timely manner. Summer salary is potentially important to many Mason faculty, especially because Mason faculty have received a single average 2.25% raise in the past five years and because Mason faculty salaries now rank at the 3rd percentile vis-à-vis SCHEV defined peer, adjusted for cost of living.
According to the Provost’s office, all tuition revenue generated during the summer is part of the annual budget model that is based on annualized FTE which forecasts total revenues generated from tuition and then expenses against it to determine the annual tuition increase. The model showing generation of $3 for every $1 invested in the summer is based on summer FTE only against costs for instructional salaries and therefore erroneously depicts a surplus. That said, the summer session is likely to be a source of additional revenue for units and the University given the number of courses taught by adjuncts.
In sum, units do not uniformly receive sufficient funding from the Provost’s office to allow full-time faculty to teach one summer course at 10% of their base salary, as required by the Faculty Handbook. Yet no dean contacted the Summer Term Office in 2011 for an adjustment to the summer allocation. An administrative procedure is needed to more flexibly meet the faculty requests for summer teaching assignments and associated salary. One possibility would be to modify the procedure so that a specific deadline date be established for faculty to declare that they wanted a summer school course and that funding sufficient to cover all their salaries be put aside at that date. The remaining money could be allocated to programs as done in the past.
During the fall of 2011, the Budget and Resources Committee of the Faculty Senate sent a survey to Deans and Directors to get a clearer picture of the state of summer teaching by full time faculty. Fifty seven (57) surveys were mailed and 53% (30) were returned with 27 completed by administrators who had been in their positions long enough to comment on summer teaching practices in their Unit. Eighty one percent (81%) of administrators routinely notified their faculty of summer teaching opportunities with one administrator noting that they only used adjuncts because tenure/tenure-track faculty use the summer for research writing. The same percentage of administrators was able to honor all faculty requests, and used adjuncts only when full-time faculty members were not interested.
However, 19% of administrators were unable to honor all full-time faculty requests for summer teaching when requests were made. One Unit noted that their College and the Provost’s office encouraged the use of adjuncts for summer teaching whenever possible. Various types of rationing strategies were used to support summer teaching: one unit used only lower salaried faculty, another limited summer opportunities to graduate assistants and adjuncts and did not offer courses to faculty with outside funding streams such as grants or stipends, and another Unit offered a high salaried faculty the opportunity to teach a course other than the one requested, resulting in the faculty member declining to teach.
Additional funding requests, on the order of $30 - $100,000, were suggested by administrators in order to honor all full-time faculty requests for summer teaching. As an alternative to the 10% salary, support options included: encouraging faculty to apply for summer funding from the University or other outside sources, reliance on faculty summer grant funding, financing labs in natural science at the 6.7% rate instead of 10% (unless they are coordinating) and encouraging more oversight from the central administration.
At a subsequent meeting between the Chair of the Budget and Resources Committee and relevant members of the Provost’s staff (Cathy Evans and Renate Guilford), it was decided that each year in September, the Provost staff would work with the Chair of the Faculty Senate and the Provost to send out a call to faculty for requests for summer teaching, to be submitted to the Chair, Director, or Dean (depending on the unit). In October, Chairs and Directors will submit to their Associate Deans a course schedule (without a budget). Associate Deans will then communicate with the summer term office regarding funding required to cover courses with adequate enrollment.
Report from the Faculty Handbook Revision Committee for the Faculty Senate meeting, February 1, 2012
The Faculty Handbook Revision Committee and appropriate administrators have approved the proposed revisions to the Faculty Handbook that appear in the Attachment. The Faculty Senate will convene in a Special Meeting on February 15, 2012 to vote on the revisions.
The Board of Visitors has requested that any approved changes be considered by them at their March 21, 2012 meeting (agenda deadline is March 5).
By this report, we hope to give Faculty Senators and the General Faculty ample time to read and discuss the proposals before the Special Meeting. If there are any questions or concerns, they can be voiced at the Faculty Senate meeting or communicated to the Committee. It is unlikely that the Committee will consider any wholly new proposals before the agenda deadline for the Special Meeting (Feb. 8).
When the agenda for the Special Meeting is circulated, the motion to approve the revisions will include the stipulation that there are to be no further revisions at the meeting other than those necessary to correct typographical or grammatical errors. This procedure is the same as used for consideration of the 2009 and 2011 revisions.
The Committee and administrators will meet at least three more times this semester to continue discussions of proposals that are not yet finalized, as well as to begin discussion of any new proposed revisions.
The full committee recommending these changes consists of the Faculty Handbook Revision Committee, whose faculty members are elected by the Faculty Senate, and representatives from the Administration:
Geoffrey Birchard COS
Lloyd Cohen SOL Faculty Senator
Richard Miller CEHD
Suzanne Slayden COS Faculty Senator Chair
Deborah Boehm-Davis Associate Dean, CHSS
Renate Guilford Associate Provost, Enrollment Planning & Administration
Michelle Lim Human Resources Faculty Business Partner
Brian Walther Senior Associate University Counsel
The proposed revisions to the Faculty Handbook 2012 are posted on the Senate website.
January 12, 2012