GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY

MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE MEETING

April 25, 2012

Robinson Hall B113, 3:00 – 4:15 p.m..

 

Senators Present:  Dominique Banville, Ernest Barreto, Scott Bauer, Sheryl Beach, Jim Bennett, John Cantiello, Jack Censer, Rick Coffinberger, Yvonne Demory, Charlene Douglas, Robert Dudley, Cody Edwards, Daniel Garrison, Mark Houck, Dimitrios Ioannou, Kathryn Jacobsen, Dan Joyce, David Kuebrich, Howard Kurtz, Ning Li, Jerry Mayer, Linda Monson, Star Muir, Susan Allen Nan, Elavie Ndura, Peter Pober, Earle Reybold, Pierre Rodgers, Joe Scimecca, Suzanne Scott, Suzanne Slayden, Bob Smith, Thomas Speller, Peter Stearns, June Tangney, Susan Tomasovic, Susan Trencher, Halaevalu Vakalahi, Phil Wiest, Stanley Zoltek.

 

Senators Absent:  Alok Berry, Doris Bitler, Vikas Chandhoke, Lloyd  Cohen, Arie Croitoru, Kelly Dunne, Mark Ginsberg, Lloyd Griffiths, Jorge Haddock, Margret Hjalmarson, Bruce Johnsen, Alan Merten, James Olds, Paula Petrik, Daniel Polsby, William Reeder, Edward Rhodes, Jim Sanford, Lesley Smith, Ray Sommer, Shirley Travis, Iosif Vaisman, John Zenelis.

 

Visitors Present:  Rizna Ahmed, Director of Benefits; Human Resources and Payroll; Mark Broderick, Vice President, University Development and Alumni Affairs; Esther Elstun, Professor Emerita, Modern and Classical Languages; Dolores Gomez-Roman, University Ombudsman;  Linda Harber, Associate Vice President, Human Resources/Payroll; Robin Herron, Associate Director, Media and Public Relations;  Susan Jones, Associate Provost and University Registrar; Justin Lalputin, News Editor/Broadside; Michelle Lim, HR Faculty Business Partner, Human Resources and Payroll;  Thomas Moncure, University Counsel; Linda Miller, Chair, Athletic Council; Rick Miller, CEHD/School of Recreation, Health and Tourism; Laura Phelps, Director, Communication and Planning, DOIT;  Linda Schwartzstein, Vice Provost, Academic Affairs/VP, Enrollment Services, Nicole Snyder, University Policy Manager, Office of the University Counsel.

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

 

II.        Approval of the Minutes of March 28, 2012:  The minutes were approved as distributed.

 

III.             Announcements

 

Provost Peter Stearns announced that President-Elect Cabrera has agreed to extend Provost Stearns’ service by an additional year to facilitate transition.  He joked that he could not resist the opportunity to attend more Faculty Senate meetings; which he has attended all along.  He also noted that there is great pressure to hold down tuition increases.  Virginia Tech has announced a 4.7% tuition increase.  GMU tuition increase is likely to be about 3.8% pending decision from the BOV.  He did say we received a little more money from the General Assembly and the bonuses “should happen.”

 

Dean Jack Censer of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences congratulated Provost Stearns.  CHSS has more than 600 employees, more than 400 faculty, of whom ¾ are tenured/tenure-track.  The College has  9,500 undergraduate students and 2,500 MA/PhD students, and every undergraduate takes at least one course in the college.  The college offers a  range of programs, he said,, from the humanities to neuroscience (shared with the Krasnow Institute).

 

In the strategic plan of the university, each college has to give a halfway report (at five-year mark).  Of the eight categories applicable to CHSS, he said, the College has done well in some, not so well in others:

·         Increases in funded and non-funded research:  last year expenditures were 85% over the baseline year (2006-07).

·         We were 60% over baseline for awards.  Our goal was 20%.

·         In quality of teaching, he cited measurements above the mean (between .7 and 1.5), there are many reasons why above/not above, a hard measurement to quantify; attests that we’re doing better.

·         Improvements to quality of graduate education (GPA) improved from 3.34 average to 3.55 last year – a significant increase.  We are also trying to collect (data) on undergraduate student success, as IRR quit collecting data.

·         To increase by 50% students with a major or minor in global area, as of last year, increase of 12.7%.

·         Student participation rates working with neighbors in the community are low, at 25%.

·         Development Activities:  Goal 25% increase, we were 57% over baseline in 2009, 100% over baseline in 2010, minus (-) 2% in 2011; we’ll beat this next year. 

·         Increase in Minority Students (10% increase goal – from 24.9 – 27.4%), up to 34% this year.  In response to a question raised about the selection rates for minority students, Dean Censer will check on this.

 

Linda Harber, Associate Vice President for Human Resources/Payroll, noted that the dates for Open Enrollment have changed.  Usually in April, they will now take place from Tuesday May 1st – Friday May 25th.  She said they do not have the final amounts due to legislative delays.  If you wish to make changes or wish to establish a flexible reimbursement account, you must act. 

 

Chair Peter Pober, “speaking in his own voice,” addressed the Senate: A little over a decade ago, we watched two friends, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, touring together in a lecture series.  “The call to serve is the call to give voice to all.  What I have done is to give voice to all who wished to be heard.  I cannot thank the Executive Committee enough.  They do all the work; they are exemplary in all their work both the present and former chairs.”  He thanked all the officers (chair pro tem, parliamentarian, and sergeants-at-arms) and also technician Jeff Pugh and Senate clerk Meg Caniano.  He thanked the central administration for welcoming him and thanked the Senate for listening to me.  To Senator Susan Trencher, “never lose your passion”.   “Last but certainly not least, people know Jim Bennett for his bark, but don’t know the heart behind  it…”  He thanked Senator Jim Bennett for all his support and knowledge , “he knows the heart of the faculty”.  Finally he thanked the Senate for the utter privilege (of serving as its chair).

 

IV.       New Business – Committee Reports

A.      Senate Standing Committees

Executive CommitteePeter Pober, Chair

Resolution of Appreciation for Rector Ernst Volgenau

 

WHEREAS Ernst Volgenau has been actively engaged in the affairs of George Mason University for many years and

WHEREAS Ernst Volgenau has served as a member of the University’s Board of Visitors (BOV) for eight years and as Rector of the Board of Visitors for the past five years; and

WHEREAS Ernst Volgenau has championed the inclusion of the faculty in University governance with the establishment of Faculty Representatives to the BOV committees; and the inclusion of the standing Faculty Senate chair as an ex officio non-voting member of the BOV; and

 

WHEREAS Ernst Volgenau has sought faculty input, through the inclusion of Faculty Representatives, his involvement in committee meetings, and his expectation that the Visitors work productively with the Faculty Representatives; and

 

WHEREAS Ernst Volgenau has made himself accessible to Senate leaders, has been respectful of the faculty, and has addressed faculty concerns; and

 

WHEREAS Ernst Volgenau has given generously and tirelessly of his time, energy, and effort to enhance the University and has made significant contributions to the University Foundation’s Comprehensive Campaign;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Faculty Senate that the Secretary of the Senate be directed to send this Senate Resolution and a letter on behalf of the Faculty of the University not only expressing sincere appreciation and gratitude to Ernst Volgenau for all of his contributions to George Mason University but also indicating the desire of the Faculty that Ernst Volgenau maintain close ties to George Mason University in the future.

 

A Senator spoke in support of the motion but asked whether more respectful to resolve to him as Rector Volgenau.  The resolution was approved unanimously.

Faculty Senate Evaluation of the President and Provost   

The Faculty Senate voted to unanimously to accept the report.  See ATTACHMENT A

Academic Policies – Suzanne Scott, Chair

Degree Conferral Date                  

The Academic Policies Committee was asked to approve a change in the degree conferral date for those who complete work in the fall semester from a January conferral date to a December conferral date. The committee approved the proposal and sends it to the Senate for a vote.

Rationale:

·         Students completing their work in one calendar year do not have to wait to have the degree conferred in the next calendar year.

·         Most schools’ conferral dates are May and December.

·         The change has no impact on faculty or administrators, and the proposal matches the May conferral time frames.

o   Example:

May 2012

§  Dissertation deadline – May 4

§  Exam period – May 9-16

§  Conferral- May 19

Fall 2012

§  Dissertation deadline – December 8

§  Exam period – Dec 11-19

§  Proposed conferral – Dec 20

§  Current conferral – January 20, 2013

 

The motion was approved unanimously.                             

 

Budget & Resources – June Tangney, Chair

We have conducted a survey of deans/directors regarding independent study credit.  She commended Senator Jerry Mayer for his work on this.  Senator Mayer noted that most schools claim they take independent study courses, dissertations, etc. into consideration – some as a small component in raises, a small number take into consideration as part of teaching load, a few have  complicated equations, etc..  We will look at this interdepartmentally and asked Senators to contact him with any data or questions they may have.  A Senator noted that in some units departments cannot do this because they do not have the resources.  Is there a university-wide way to do this? 

 

Faculty Matters – John Cantiello

The deadline for the Faculty Evaluation of Administrators surveys is in two more days (April 27th).  The Parental Leave Policy is on hold until cost information becomes available.  The Budget and Resources Committee is also working on this.

 

Nominations – Suzanne Slayden, Chair

Michael R. Kelley (SPP) is nominated to serve as the faculty Appointed Trustee on the Board of Trustees of the George Mason University Foundation.  A Senator noted that in the past the GMU Foundation asked us to submit three names.  Chair Slayden responded that in 2008 the GMU Foundation requested that three names be submitted from the Faculty Senate and the community at large.  The Committee decided to submit one candidate this year.  The nomination was approved unanimously.

 

Organization & Operations – Star Muir, Chair

Our formal report for this year is included in the agenda.  Based on the resolution passed at our last meeting, the Committee will explore options for moving Faculty Senate meetings to another location so that they may be videoconferenced to the distributed campuses.  He noted that the Committee would also have to work out the details of voting and of closed sessions.  Research I room 163 has been suggested as an alternate site, but it was noted that the room is not functional at this time. 

 

In response to a question raised about the establishment of an ad hoc committee to review privacy issues, Senator Muir responded that O&O is working with faculty to construct a relatively succinct and clear charge for this group. 

 

B.     Other Committees  no reports.

C.     Other Committees – Annual Reports

Senate Standing Committees                                                   ATTACHMENT B

University Standing Committees                                             ATTACHMENT C

Senate Ad Hoc Committees                                                    ATTACHMENT D

                                     

V.     Other New Business

A. Contractual Parts of the Faculty Handbook; Free Speech Policy –Tom Moncure, University Counsel

Mr. Moncure referenced the VA Statute that BOV shall appoint President.  “They can and they do delegate by their authority.  Only the General Assembly can rescind their authority.  Further, he noted, in the Code of Virginia there is no such thing as tenure.  To the degree it exists, he said, tenure is a function of the Faculty Handbook.  A Senator questioned “Why is the phrase used throughout and used frequently?”  Mr. Moncure responded “In the industry it is a term of art, tenure rights are based in Faculty Handbook, not statutory based.”

 

 Free Speech Policy:  Mr. Moncure provided the following response by email  to a request for a brief statement to summarize the policy :  By regulation, those facilities and events which serve core University educational functions have been described (and designated) as the "educational enclave." Within the enclave faculty, staff, students and
the general public are simply required to comply with all University policies. Outside the enclave (and excepting leaseholds) - which includes virtually all open areas of campus - lawful non-commercial activities are unrestricted.

 

Contractual Parts of the Faculty Handbook:  A Senator asked: which parts of the Faculty Handbook are contractual and which ones are not?  (Discussed at February 29, 2012 Faculty Senate meeting with Rector Volgenau)

Mr.  Moncure:  “Those part of the Faculty Handbook which relate to your contractual rights as an employee is fixed in the Faculty Handbook.”

Follow up:  Could you color-code the Faculty Handbook?

Mr. Moncure:  Aspirational is good but not enforceable.  “Binding in terms of employee contract:  if you can enforce it; if it’s not enforceable, it’s not contractual.  Used example of a ‘gentlemen’s’ agreement’. 

Another Senator observed she was not sure how that applies – if in fact what we’re saying is that Faculty Handbook “we would have to take GMU to court?”  

Mr. Moncure:  Doctrine of sovereign immunity in state of Virginia.  We are employees of the state of Virginia.  General exception to sovereign immunity can sue is violation of binding contract.  Anything beyond that is aspirational 

A Senator observed the AAUP website takes a different view. 

            

B.     Resolution on the Provost Search Committee               

FACULTY SENATE RESOLUTION on the PROVOST SEARCH COMMITTEE

WHEREAS a search will soon be initiated for a new Provost who will
assume office on 1 July 2013
2014; and

WHEREAS the Provost is the institution’s chief academic officer who is
responsible for the University’s educational, research, and service
missions; and

WHEREAS collegial working relationships with the various units and
Faculty are essential requirements for an effective Provost, and
assessment of a candidate's ability to work with Faculty will be a
critical part of the selection process;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Faculty Senate urges
incoming-President Cabrera to have a majority of the Provost Search
Committee be Faculty representatives elected from the General Faculty.

Co-sponsored by Senators Sheryl Beach, Jim Bennett, Alok Berry, Doris Bitler, John Cantiello, Rick Coffinberger, Robert Dudley, Kelly Dunne, Cody Edwards, Mark Houck, Dan Joyce, Dave Kuebrich,  Jerry Mayer, Linda Monson, Star Muir, Susan Allen Nan, Paula Petrik, Peter Pober, Earle Reybold, Jim Sanford, Joe Scimecca, Suzanne Scott, Bob Smith, Lesley Smith, Ray Sommer, Tom Speller, June Tangney, Susan Tomasovic, Tom Speller, June Tangney, Susan Tomasovic, Susan Trencher, Phil Wiest, and Stan Zoltek.

 

The first whereas was amended to delete “soon” and the year changed from 2013 to 2014 as appears above.  The motion as amended was approved.                   

                                      

C. Update on the GMU Capital Campaign – Mark Broderick, Vice President

A motion was approved to go into closed session to hear an update on the GMU Capital Campaign. When the update was concluded a motion was approved to go into open session.  A motion to extend the meeting for five more minutes was approved.

 

D. .Election of the Faculty Senate Chair 2012-13

Senator June Tangney was unanimously elected as the Senate Chair for 2012-13.  She is honored and looks forward to giving voice to your concerns. 

 

VI.  Remarks for the Good of the General Facultynone.

 

VII.  Adjournment :  The meeting adjourned at 4:18 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Earle Reybold

Secretary

 

ATTACHMENT A

President/Provost Evaluation Responses AY 11-12

March 2012 

Note that some committees did not provide responses to each question.

GENERAL ANSWERS RECEIVED: 

Admissions Committee:  Our committee did not have, or seek, interaction with the Provost or
President this past year, so I wouldn't have significant experience with which to comment upon or evaluate them.

External Academic Relations:  The External Academic Relations Committee has not yet conducted any business which would reflect on this matter.

Question 1:  During the past calendar year has the President or Provost announced initiatives or goals or acted upon issues that fall under the charge of your Committee? If so, was your Committee consulted by the President or Provost in a timely manner before the announcement or action? If not, do you believe your Committee should have been consulted? Would it have been helpful to have had the input of your Committee from the outset?

Responses from Faculty Senate Standing Committees:

Academic Policies:  No initiative was announced that impacted the Senate Academic Policies committee.

Budget and Resources:  The Provost and his staff worked together with the B&R Committee to gather information and develop procedures that would give full-time faculty greater access to summer school teaching salary, as provided by the handbook.

 

B&R Committee members continue to be welcomed to the first meeting of the month of the Provost’s Budget and Planning Team (BPT) meetings.  The information provided is extremely helpful and our comments on matters related to faculty are also welcomed.

 

Faculty Matters:  There were two issues on which the provost acted that were related to the charge of the Faculty Matters Committee, summer salaries and term faculty moving to tenure track positions.  In both cases the committee was involved throughout consideration.

Nominations:  No. All other questions N.A.

Organization and Operations:  There were no instances where the President or the Provost acted on issues that fall under our Committee’s charge. The Provost’s Office has appropriately brought two issues forward that merit the attention of the Faculty Senate, and these issues are being forwarded to the relevant committees.

Responses from University Standing Committees and ad hoc Committees:

Academic Initiatives:  Not any new initiatives or goals that I am aware of.

Athletic Council:  No, no initiatives for the Athletic Council were initiated by the President or the Provost. We did not have any issues under my charge with either the President or the Provost.

Effective Teaching:  My committee was not active until midyear and has not yet sought input
from the president or provost.  I think that both of them are student advocates who would be helpful. I am not aware of their initiatives this year. 

Faculty Handbook Revision Committee:  The Provost’s Office has changes it would like to see implemented in the Faculty Handbook and the Provost’s representative has brought these issues to the committee for joint discussion.

 General Education:  The General Education committee continued its multifaceted work on assessment, managing the inventory of gen ed courses, revising student learning outcomes in key areas, and other matters in a collegial relationship with the Provost.  The President typically does not have substantive interaction with the work of this committee, and that remained true for this academic year.

Grievance:  No initiatives or goals have been acted upon that fall under the charge of the Grievance Committee (and we have received no notifications of same).

(did not divide MDIV committee statement into segments)

Minority and Diversity Issues: The Minority and Diversity Issues Committee (MDIC) has had limited interaction with the President or other executive officers.   We are not aware of any initiative that would necessarily or appropriately engage the MDIC.   The only issue is that the MDIC-generated (and Faculty Senate-approved) Diversity Statement was reportedly approved by the Executive Committee of the administration during Summer, 2011.   I was informed of this during the Fall retreat prior to the start of the 2011-12 academic year.   I was consulted by Corey Jackson about the name of this statement, to reflect some minor adjustment in how it is presented.  This was appropriate, and the revised title was also deemed appropriate.   I was informed at this time that the statement would be posted on the university's web site.  

In checking the university web site one week ago, this Diversity Statement was not yet posted.   Further, there is no link on the office of diversity and inclusion website about the existence of the MDIC (another suggestion  that I made, to clearly indicate the MDIC role and charge from the Faculty Senate).  

What the MDIC and I would like is to see more attention to diversity and inclusion issues from the campus leadership, including verbal statements, proclamations, initiatives and more.   The intent of having the Diversity Statement is that it becomes a living framework for the university through its daily operations; the aim is to have attention to diversity and inclusion be more intentional.

Non-Traditional, Interdisciplinary, and Adult Learning Committee:  The administration has put forth no new initiatives that would affect the workings of the Non-Traditional, Interdisciplinary, and Adult Learning Committee.

 

Writing Across the Curriculum:  NC

 

2. Did your Committee seek information or input from the President or Provost or members of their staffs? If so, did they respond adequately and in a timely manner?

Responses from Faculty Senate Standing Committees:

Academic Policies:  We received input from Susan Jones, Linda Schwarztstein, and Rick Davis. Any queries to Provost Stearns received immediate responses. We have very little interaction with President Merten.

Budget and Resources:  Yes, we did several times in connection with the Summer Teaching Salary Inquiry.  There were some delays in getting feedback on our interim report, but overall staff were generous with their time and information, and they worked together effectively to arrive at new procedures to address problems identified in the survey.

 

Faculty Matters:  The committee sought information from the provost about the two issues identified in #1 above.  Responses were prompt and appropriate.  Indirectly, the committee requested updates from both the provost and the president to post for reference when faculty completed the Faculty Evaluation of Administrators.  The provost posted the information; the president did not.

Nominations:  No. All other questions N.A.

Organization and Operations:  This year there have been no situations in which information was sought from the President or the Provost.

Responses from University Standing Committees and ad hoc Committees:

Academic Initiatives:  Yes, we did seek information and input from members of the Provost's staff.  They did seek to respond, however, all of the information we requested was not available.

Athletic Council:  No, the committee did not seek information from the President or the Provost.  

Effective Teaching:  Presently we are working with their delegate, whose response has been timely and helpful.

Faculty Handbook Revision Committee:  Yes. The FH committee regularly meets with a representative from the Provost's office to discuss FH issues of interest to both. All responses were adequate and timely.

General Education:  The GE committee regularly consults with the OIA and IRR staffs, and the AP/UG regularly briefs the Provost on the work of the committee. The AP for Faculty Development sits on the Gen Ed committee and makes substantive contributions, including course review and portfolio assessment. These interactions are continuous and successful.

Grievance:  We did not seek input or advice from the President or Provost, although we did deal with administrative offices (largely college deans and HR).  In every case, responses were timely and helpful. 

Minority and Diversity Issues:  see #1

Non-Traditional, Interdisciplinary, and Adult Learning Committee:  The Non-Traditional, Interdisciplinary, and Adult Learning Committee did not seek any input or information from the President, Provost, or their staff.

 

Technology Policy:  The Technology Policy Committee can report that the University's CIO,
Dr. Joy Hughes attends all our meetings and is very responsive to our requests for information and quickly addresses issues that we bring to her attention. Usually, her senior staff attends our meetings too.

 

Writing Across the Curriculum:  We asked Jeanette Muir to attend our recent WAC meeting to discuss the committees charge and how her office could best support it.  Jeanette was fully aware of the committee's charge and participated in a brainstorming session on how we can better accomplish our goals.

3. Please suggest how you believe the President, Provost and/or their staffs might more effectively interact with your Committee in the future, if necessary.

Responses from Faculty Senate Standing Committees:

Academic Policies:  Keeping the committee apprised of potential academic initiatives is very helpful. Interactions have generally been very positive.

Budget and Resources:  Can’t think of anything at this time, other than we wonder what we are missing in the second BPT meetings each month.

 

Faculty Matters:  The committee has no suggestions for improving interaction with the provost or president.  As described above, interactions with the provost and his staff are cordial and timely.  The committee has had almost no interaction with the president and his staff, but the charge of the committee is such that there are few issues that would involve his office.

Nominations:  Making timely appointments to committees that require administrative appointees.

Organization and Operations:  Maintain our existing cordial working relationship.

Responses from University Standing Committees and ad hoc Committees:

Academic Initiatives:  As soon as new initiatives have real possibilities for moving forward, it would be helpful to prepare a briefing report of the committee and respond to committee questions.

Athletic Council:  No recommendations.  Senior administrators who report to the President, and senior administrators who report to the Provost serve as members of the Athletic Council.  They attend regularly and serve on the council’s sub-committees.

Effective Teaching:   Either could send any suggestions they have to the committee.

Faculty Handbook Revision Committee:  No suggestions for improvement.

General Education:  N/A

Grievance:    Again, nothing directly related to the President or Provost.  However, we did suggest at one point that an annual meeting or workshop might be scheduled between the folks in HR who deal with conflict resolution and members of the Grievance Committee. 

Minority and Diversity Issues:  see #1

Non-Traditional, Interdisciplinary, and Adult Learning Committee:  I have no cause to suggest any improvements in gaining access to, or information from the administration at this time.

 

Writing Across the Curriculum:  NC

 

4. Please relate any additional information you may have regarding interactions between your Committee and the President or Provost or their staff.

Responses from Faculty Senate Standing Committees:

Academic Policies:  Nothing more to add.

Budget and Resources:  We greatly appreciate the openness and transparency afforded by our attendance at the BPT meetings.

 

Faculty Matters:  The committee has no additional information.

Nominations:  None.

 

Organization and Operations:  NA

Responses from University Standing Committees and ad hoc Committees:

Academic Initiatives:  Not at this point.

Athletic Council:  I am comfortable taking any issue or situation to the President or Provost with regard to student-athlete well being or academic performance.   I receive the support necessary to continue in my role as Faculty Athletic Representative and Chair of the Athletic Council.

Faculty Handbook Revision Committee:  The FH Committee finds the administrative representatives who meet with the committee to be dedicated and knowledgeable in their areas. They have spent many hours in committee meetings this year and their efforts have resulted in a much improved Faculty Handbook.

General Education:  N/A

Minority and Diversity Issues: see #1

Non-Traditional, Interdisciplinary, and Adult Learning Committee:  None to report.

 


 

ATTACHMENT B

ANNUAL REPORTS OF THE FACULTY SENATE STANDING COMMITTEES 2011-12

1.       ACADEMIC POLICIES – Suzanne Scott (CHSS), Chair /Spring 2012

Committee Members:  Sheryl Beach (COS), Dimitrios Ioannou (VSE - Spring 2012), Janette Muir (CHSS - Fall 2011/Chair), Ning Li (SOM), Halaevalu Vakalahi (CHHS)

 

Academic Policies Report for academic year 2011 -2012

During the 2011-2012 academic year the Academic Policies committee focused on four main topics. The summaries below indicate topics brought to the Senate and those being discussed in committee meetings.

·      Add/Drop Period -- Reconsidered

The Student Government asked to reconsider the decision to change the Add/Drop date to 8 calendar days, which the Senate approved in Spring 2011 and the university implemented in Fall 2010. The chair of the committee met with representatives of the Student Government. The APAC mentioned that some people in CVPA had issues with the short period because of auditions; they believed one additional day would be helpful.

The committee considered all of the evidence and saw no reason at this time to make another change, since the new policy has been in effect for only one academic year.

o   The 8-day period allows students to attend every class at least once, and the drop date is extended beyond the add date (unlike all but two Virginia universities).

o   Financial aid is held up for students until schedules are settled; this is a significant hardship on some students.

o   We saw no testimonials from students in the sciences; these students would be adversely affected by a longer add/drop period, especially in the lab sciences.

o   Testimonials from students in theater and dance had compelling arguments for needing extra time, but in these cases there is the safety net of the late schedule adjustment.

 

·      Study Elsewhere Issues The APAC sent a proposal to the committee to make changes to the current Study Elsewhere policy. The most substantive change requires a signature from the academic dean in the student’s college to an academic dean in the college where the course is being credited. An additional paragraph was added to address the major arguments that students make in order to be able to study elsewhere.

o   Our committee approved the changes in theory and took the proposal to the Senate for a discussion. A number of people had reservations, and were asked to send their comments to the committee.

 

Additional issues that the committee has reviewed this year:

·         AP Representation on the Graduate Council – Based on changes to the committee this year, we agreed that we would invite the associate provost for graduate study to our April meeting rather than having a committee member sit on the graduate council this year. Since she was unable to attend the April meeting, one of our members will attend the April or May meeting of the Graduate Council.

·         Conferral date change for mid-year graduates

o   The committee has been asked to approve a December conferral date rather than a January date. The committee has a number of questions for which answers are pending.

·         IT Clicker issue

o   Do we need policy changes to clicker use, when clickers do not work? The committee decided that policy issues for iClickers could not be made on the basis of one complaint by a student and/or parent without knowing more of the facts in the case

 

 

2.       BUDGET AND RESOURCES – June Tangney (CHSS), Chair

Committee Members:  Yvonne Demory (SOM), Charlene Douglas (CHHS), Jerry Mayer (SPP), Phil Wiest (CHSS)

Annual Report from the Budget and Resources Committee

This year, the Budget and Resources Committee provided an annual Faculty and Administrative Salary Update which is posted on the Faculty Senate website.  Members of the committee regularly attend and participate in the first Provost’s Budget Planning Team meeting each month, held throughout the year.  The committee continued its evaluation of the nature of summer salary concerns across departments and colleges.  A survey was conducted of all chairs and directors.  The chair of Budget and Resources met several times with members of the Provost’s staff to clarify the current summer school procedures and to underscore the provision in the Faculty Handbook regarding full-time faculty rights to teach a summer course at 10% salary.  The Provost’s office agreed to send an email each September to all fulltime faculty, alerting them to the need to notify chairs of their intention to teach the following summer.  Chairs will then work with Deans/Directors to accommodate these requests, and where necessary, Deans/Directors will work with the Provost’s office to secure additional funding as needed.  The Budget and Resource Committee also embarked on a study of individualized course credit.  The committee received and cleaned updated information from the Registrar on the number of individualized course credits generated by department and college.  These data were included as an attachment to a survey of Chairs, Deans, and Directors regarding current practices for recognizing faculty contributions in this area as well as the disposition of funds generated.  We just completed a follow-up mailing of the survey and are in the midst of analyzing responses.    

 

3.      FACULTY MATTERS – Jim Sanford (CHSS), Chair

Committee Members:  Doris Bitler (CHSS), John Cantiello (CHHS), Mark Houck (VSE), Paula Petrik (CHSS)

2011-2012 Annual Report of the Faculty Matters CommitteeCommittee members: James F. Sanford (chair), Doris Bitler, John Cantiello, Mark Houck, Paula Petrik

Committee report:

The committee was assigned six issues during AY 2011-2012.  They are, with the result following each:

·         Free tuition benefit available to faculty and staff.  It had been reported that only faculty living in Virginia were allowed to use this benefit and that faculty were required to submit an application for admission to the university to use the benefit.  Resolution: all faculty, regardless of jurisdiction of residence who meet stated criteria are eligible for free tuition.  Faculty continue to have to apply for admission, but the application fee is waived.

·         Faculty evaluation of administrators.  The committee summarized the comments received on the 2011 evaluation and distributed the 2012 evaluation.  Faculty may still complete the latter one.

·         Reducing the time between study leaves for tenured faculty.  The proposal was not approved by the Faculty Senate.

·         Consensual Relations Policy.  Along with the Executive Committee, the committee reviewed and recommended a revised draft of the consensual relations policy.  The proposed policy was approved by the Senate.

·         Parental leave.  The committee approved a draft of a policy to grant paid leave for faculty members who become new parents, either through birth or adoption.  The draft is on hold until the cost to the university is better understood.

·         Email privacy/Freedom of Information Act policy.  The committee recommended that an ad hoc committee be established to review and possibly modify the Responsible Use of Computing Policy.  This recommendation was accepted by the Senate.

 

 

4.      NOMINATIONS – Suzanne Slayden (COS), Chair

Committee Members:  Rick Coffinberger (SOM), David Kuebrich (CHSS), Howard Kurtz (CVPA), Pierre Rodgers (CEHD)

 

Annual Report to the Faculty Senate from the Nominations Committee

Members: Rick Coffinberger, David Kuebrich, Howard Kurtz, Pierre Rodgers, Suzanne Slayden (Chair)

At the beginning of the 2011-2012 academic year, the Nominations Committee provided 13 nominees to fill positions on Senate Standing Committees and 45 nominees to fill positions on University Standing Committees and ad hoc committees. During the year, the Nominations Committee provided 6 nominees to fill vacancies on committees.

 

5.      ORGANIZATION AND OPERATIONS – Star Muir (CHSS), Chair

Committee Members:  Bob Dudley (CHSS), Kelly Dunne (CHSS), John Farina (CHSS – Fall 2011), Dan Joyce (CVPA – Spring 2012), Elavie Ndura (CEHD)

 

The annual report of the Organization and Operations Committee is posted on the Faculty Senate website at

http://www.gmu.edu/resources/facstaff/senate/MINUTES_FS_2011-12/OandOReport20112012v1.pdf .

 

 

ATTACHMENT C

ANNUAL REPORTS OF THE UNIVERSITY STANDING COMMITTEES 2011-12

1.       ACADEMIC APPEALS -  Eva Thorp (CEHD – Chair, Fall 2011)

Committee Members:  Carryl Baldwin (CHSS), Sheri Berkeley (CEHD), Flavia Colonna (COS), Michael Hurley (CHSS –Provost Appointee), Linda Monson (CVPA – Spring 2012), Michael Naor (SOM), Johannes Rojahn (CHSS),

The Academic Appeals Committee, chaired by Eva Thorp, did not conduct any business this year.

 

2.       ACADEMIC INITIATIVES – Bob Johnston (SOM), Chair

Committee Members:  Liz Chong (CHHS), Wayne Froman (CHSS), Tom Kiley (COS), Thomas Speller (VSE), Anne Schiller (Vice President for Global and International Strategies ex-officio)

 

The Spring 2012 Report of the Academic Initiatives Committee is posted on the Faculty Senate website at http://www.gmu.edu/resources/facstaff/senate/MINUTES_FS_2011-12/Faculty_Senate_Academic_Inititatives_Committee_Report_for_Spring_Semester_2012.pdf .

 

3.       ADMISSIONS – Dan Joyce (CVPA), Chair

Committee Members:  Marion Deshmukh (CHSS), Jeng-Eng Lin (COS), Hung Nguyen (CHSS), Charles Thomas (CEHD),  Eddie Tallent (Assistant Dean and Executive Director of Admissions)

 

REPORT FROM THE ADMISSIONS COMMITTEE  April 18, 2012

Committee members: Dan Joyce (CVPA), Marion Deshmukh (CHSS), Jeng-Eng Lin (COS), Hung Nguyen (CHSS), Charles Thomas (CEHD), Eddie Tallent (Assistant Dean and Executive Director of Admissions)

A.On April 12, 2012, the University Admissions committee met. There was no old business pending, and no new business was presented. Assistant Dean Tallent shared with us the statistical information that follows in letter heading B.

B. Assistant Dean Tallent released statistics and information to the committee pertaining to undergraduate applications and admissions to George Mason University. As of April 19, 2012:

1) There is a slight increase in freshman applications (+100) compared to same date last year, (once again marking the largest freshman applicant pool ever for Mason).

2) Due to the outstanding profile of the applicant pool, 300 more students have been admitted compared to same date last year.

3) The class target is 2650; there is a healthy waitlist to make sure that number is                   attained, but it does not appear at this point that there will be a need to offer admissions from the waitlist, due to the strong deposit activity that has taken place thus far.  The confirmation deadline for freshmen is May 1, 2012.

4) Students selected for invitations to the Honors College increased due to the profile of the applicant pool, and thus far these students are depositing at a higher rate compared to last year.

5) Likewise, students selected for the Cornerstones Program are confirming and depositing at a higher rate compared to last year.

6) Transfer applications are level with last year. Since these students do not have to respond until July 1, it is too early to predict enrollment outcomes for transfers.

 

 

 

4.       ATHLETIC COUNCIL – Linda Miller (CVPA), Chair and Faculty Athletic Representative

Committee Members:  Len Annetta (CEHD), Robert Baker (CEHD), Cody Edwards (COS), Steve Klein (CHSS)

 

The annual report of the Athletic Council is posted on the Faculty Senate website at http://www.gmu.edu/resources/facstaff/senate/MINUTES_FS_2011-12/Athletic_Council_2012_Report,_final.pdf .

 

5.      EFFECTIVE TEACHING – Bob Pasnak (CHSS), Chair

Committee Members: Paul Gorski (CHSS), Michelle Greet (CHSS), Ramin Hakami (COS), Paula Petrik (CHSS), Danielle Rudes (CHSS)

Annual Report of the Effective Teaching Committee, 2011-2012

After extensive discussion between the members, and consultation with Kim Eby, Associate Provost and Director of the Teaching Excellence Center, and Rick Custer, Associate Vice President and Director of the Mason Spirit magazine, the committee makes the following recommendations:

* Feedback should be solicited from faculty about the kinds of professional development they need or want and the information forwarded to the Teaching Excellence Center

                    * Participation in teaching workshops be acknowledged in annual reviews

                   *Announcements for teaching workshops should be sent to department listserves

                    * A“Meet your teaching award faculty” session should be scheduled in each college or school

                    * A rolling media tape of teaching award faculty should be installed in the JC

                   * The Mason Spirit magazine should announce the names of teaching award faculty

                    * Plaques honoring the receivers of teaching awards should be placed in areas frequented by students

                    * Criteria for evaluating teaching should be included in all tenure package information               

             * GMU policies regarding laptop, smart phone, and cell phone use in the classroom should be published more broadly and more frequently  ***

                   * Greater support for the Students as Scholars program should be developed through the Senate

                   * The criteria for teaching portfolios for teaching awards should be published more broadly

            * The standard course evaluations should also include comparisons of only the undergraduate courses of similar type (e.g., synthesis courses) without mixing in the graduate level courses or other course types.  The evaluations should also include comparisons of graduate level courses of similar type (e.g., basic science courses) without mixing in undergraduate level or other course types. 
 

The committee further notes that the number of members made it impossible to schedule meetings that all could attend.  The Senate may wish to consider reducing the size of this committee.

***A Senator noted that we do not have policies on this.

 

6.  EXTERNAL ACADEMIC RELATIONS – Elavie Ndura (CEHD) and Frank Allen Philpot  (SOM), Co Chairs.  Committee Members:  Alok Berry (VSE), Arie Croitoru (COS), Karl Fryxell (COS), Lisa Gring-Pemble (CHSS – Provost Appointee)

Unfortunately the Committee on External Academic Relations has not been active this year.

 

7.       FACULTY HANDBOOK REVISION – Suzanne Slayden (COS), Chair

Committee Members:  Geoff Birchard (COS), Lloyd Cohen (SOL), Richard Miller (CEHD)

 

Annual Report to the Faculty Senate from the Faculty Handbook Revision Committee

Members: Geoff Birchard, Lloyd Cohen, Rich Miller, Suzanne Slayden (Chair)

The Committee met 11 times (with one additional meeting scheduled for May) during the 2011-2012 academic year. The first three meetings were attended by only the committee members, during which procedures were reviewed, a calendar established, and old and new issues discussed. For the remainder of the meetings, certain administrators attended (Deborah Boehm-Davis, Associate Dean, CHSS; Renate Guilford, Associate Provost; Michelle Lim, Human Resources). Proposals for changes to the Faculty Handbook were considered. These changes were submitted to the Faculty Senate at a Special Meeting on Feb. 15, 2012. All the proposed revisions were approved, with the exception of two items that were sent back for reconsideration. The approved revisions, which were also approved by the administration and reviewed by the University Counsel’s office, were submitted to the BOV for distribution at its April meeting. It is anticipated that the BOV will vote on the revisions at their May meeting.

 

8.   GENERAL EDUCATION  – Janette Muir (Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education – Chair, Spring 2012), Rick Davis (Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education – Chair, Fall 2011).  Committee Members:  Rick Diecchio (COS – Provost Appointee, Kelly Dunne (CHSS), Kim Eby (Associate Provost & Director, Center for Teaching Excellence), Doug Eyman (CHSS), Mack Holt (CHSS), Frank Allen Philpot (SOM – Provost Appointee), Kammy Sanghera (VSE), Hugh Sockett (CHSS), Mark Uhen (COS), Carol Urban (CHHS), Peter Winant (CVPA).

The report is posted on the Faculty Senate website at http://www.gmu.edu/resources/facstaff/senate/MINUTES_FS_2011-12/FY_11-12_GE_FS_report.htm .

 

9.       GRIEVANCE - Scott Bauer (CEHD), Chair

Committee Members:  Cody Edwards (COS), B ob Pasnak (CHSS), Johannes Rojahn (CHSS), Sylvia Sanchez (CEHD).

Thankfully, the grievance committee has not had a need to meet this year. In contrast to last year, when we received quite a few inquiries, many of which that were outside the scope of the committee charge, we have not even had an inquiry this year.

 

10.   MINORITY AND DIVERSITY ISSUES – David Anderson (CEHD), Chair

Committee Members:  Xiaomei Cai (CHSS), Harold Geller (COS), Hazel McFerson (CHSS), Michael Mink (CHHS), Suzanne Scott (CHSS)

The report is posted on the Faculty Senate website at http://www.gmu.edu/resources/facstaff/senate/MINUTES_FS_2011-12/Annual_Report_2011-2012_MDIC.pdf .

 

11.   NON-TRADITIONAL, INTERDISCIPLINARY, AND ADULT LEARNING – Ray Sommer (SPP), Chair.  Committee Members:  Steve Klein (CHSS), Jaime Lester (CHSS), Cynthia Lum (CHSS), John Riskind (CHSS), Carole Rosenstein (CVPA)

The Non-Traditional, Interdisciplinary, and Adult Learning Committee met only once to elect a chair. Other than that, no other business was conducted during AY 11-12.

 

 

 

12.   SALARY EQUITY STUDY

Committee Members:  Michelle Buehl (CEHD), Margret Hjalmarson (CEHD), Prosenjit Mazumdar (SOM), Melinda Villagran (CHSS).

Last semester, Kris Smith's office which is assigned to support this committee was unable to provide data analysis for us due to staffing and other projects.

 

13.   TECHNOLOGY POLICY – Stanley Zoltek (COS), Chair

Committee Members: Maggie Daniels (CEHD), Andy Finn (CHSS), Amin Jazaeri (COS), Goodlet McDaniel (CHHS), Nirup Menon (SOM), Christy Pichichero (CHSS), Nigel Waters (COS)

 

The Faculty Senate Technology Policy Committee met six times during the academic year. We will hold our seventh and final meeting on May 7.

The committee began the year by discussing with the university CIO how to provide the faculty with the best teaching and research tools in an era of diminishing budgets and ever increasing demands of new teaching paradigms which utilize only the newest computer hardware and software. The committee assisted Jim Witte, director of the CHSS Center for Social Sciences Research, in preparing a survey to elicit faculty input as to which tools they used and considered the highest priority for future support and improvement. We look forward to sharing further information on this survey with our colleagues in the near future. The committee also supported the work of the ITU to contract for an analysis of how best to support the research computing needs of faculty.   We look forward to the discussion of the report that has recently been drafted.

The committee has received updates throughout the year on the university’s progress in selecting a new electronic mail system for faculty and staff .The chair of the FSTPC serves on the email selection committee.

The committee, on request from O&O, held discussions concerning the privacy of employee communications. The committee, after careful review, brought forward a recommendation to modify the current RUC, but not to the extent that the policy changes would require legal review. The changes would clarify the university’s commitment to faculty privacy. On further consideration some Senators felt that the committees changes were insufficient. The Senate plans to establish an ad hoc committee to consider more substantive changes to the RUC policy. The ad hoc committee is expected to have representation from FSTPC, Faculty Matters, and at large members and will begin deliberations in next academic year.

The committee held discussions concerning BlackBoard such as recommending to DoIT that the faculty should be able to see their courses as a student would see them instead of only seeing them from a faculty account’s perspective. This resulted in DoIT implementing “Student View” which is available under the “Tools” menu in BlackBoard. The committee held a discussion with ITU about the optimal retention period for course material held within BlackBoard. Eventually, older courses will need to be archived. The archival of courses will be a topic for consideration during the next year.

ITU kept the committee apprised of a number of their projects, such as: upgrading from XP to Windows 7 in labs and classrooms, continuing the rollout of VoIP phones across campus, ongoing voice mail issues which will be resolved shortly

On April 30, 2012, the Information Technology Unit will offer a secure (data-encrypted) wireless network service to the George Mason University community, named MASON-SECURE.

MASON-SECURE provides users an alternative to Mason’s current SNAP/Mason Public Wireless system with three major benefits. 

1.  The wireless signal is encrypted and users can feel confident that their wireless data will not be intercepted and read by others.

2.  Once users log in to the new MASON-SECURE system from a smartphone, laptop, or other mobile device, they will not have to go through the login process on that device again until they change their Patriot Pass password.  There will be no restrictions that will force a user to log into the system after a set number of hours.

3.  Users will not need to keep a browser window open while they are using the wireless network.

The current SNAP/Mason Public Wireless system will remain available for guests, and for devices that are not compatible with the new system. 

For more information, visit http://wireless.gmu.edu/Mason-Secure/.

Finally, the committee discussed the best way to keep faculty informed of technology changes, particularly changes which occur during term breaks when most faculty are not on campus. The best way to find out about these changes is to go to the ITU support home page, http://itservices.gmu.edu/, and from the menu on the left select ”Technology Changes that Impact Teaching and Learning.” The committee made several recommendations as to how to “push out” the change notices without disturbing faculty with unwanted mass emails.  The ITU will explore these options during the summer.

 

14.   WRITING ACROSS THE CURRICULUM – Stanley Zoltek (COS), Chair

Committee Members:  Joan Bristol (CHSS), Susan Durham (CHHS), Tamara Maddox (VSE), Agnieszka Paczynska (S-CAR), Gregory Robinson (CVPA), Nicola Scott (SOM), Miruna Stanica (CHSS), Shahron Williams Van Rooij (CEHD).

Terry Zawacki ex-officio (Director, WAC Program); Sarah Baker ex-officio (Assistant Director, WAC Program); Jackie Brown (WAC Program Research Assistant)

Consultants to the Committee:  Melissa Allen (ELI), Peggy Brouse (VSE), Dawn Fels (Writing Center), Karyn Mallet (ELI), George Oberle (JC Library), Shelley Reid (Composition), Larry Rockwood (COS), Paul Rogers (CHSS/NVWP), Bethany Usher (CTE/OSCAR)

The committee met eight times during the 2011-2012 academic year (last meeting scheduled for May 1, 2012).  The committee’s charge includes: advising the director of Writing Across the Curriculum, approval of new writing-intensive (WI) courses, regular review of WI course syllabi, and assisting with activities and events related to Writing Across the Curriculum.

WAC now reports to the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education.

2011-2012 activities included:

Committee Actions:

§  Reviewed and approved new or modified courses designated to meet the Senate-mandated WI requirement: ACS 306 & 321 (Applied Computer Science), CHIN 480 (Chinese), FRSC 302 & 304 (Forensic Science), HEAL 310 (Recreation, Health, and Tourism).

§  Each semester checked enrollments in WI courses to assess compliance with the 35-seat requirement and addressed non-compliant courses/departments.  Provided resources to WI faculty.

§  Reviewed syllabi, including discussion of the types of writing assigned in WI courses, word/page-count requirements, and writing as proportion of overall grade.

§  Extensive discussion about revising the WI course requirements, including “what is writing?” (formal/informal, print/digital mediums, etc.).  Drafted revised language; discussion will be continued into the next AY to develop a draft for formal approval.  

§  The committee also discussed with Associate Provost Muir ways that the 35-student enrollment cap might be lowered so that faculty could teach more effectively with writing in the major.

§  Continued department-level analysis of graduating seniors’ writing experiences from the annual graduating senior survey (Office of Institutional Assessment).  Survey results were distributed to members of the Council for Undergraduate Education.

§  Continued efforts to encourage departments to institute new and/or permanent undergraduate student writing awards.

§  Produced the print and online versions of the fall 2011 Teaching with Writing Across the Curriculum newsletter.  The spring 2012 issue, focusing on WAC and the culture of writing at Mason, will be published in May 2012.

§  Promoted the cross-disciplinary, undergraduate journal, The George Mason Review (http://gmreview.gmu.edu/).

§  Created an email address specifically for the WAC program and committee (wac@gmu.edu).

 

Other program activities in consultation with the WAC committee:

§  Conducted a comprehensive program assessment, including data gathering and tracking of responsibilities, initiatives, and programs relevant to the WAC Committee and program. 

§  For the 10th year in a row, Mason’s WAC Program made the U.S. News “Best Colleges 2012” list of highly ranked colleges for Writing in the Disciplines (WID).

§  Developed WIN(ning) initiative for writing-infused programs in collaboration with Criminology, Law and Society (CLS), English, History, Philosophy, Social Work, and Systems Engineering, with an all-day planning workshop was held in August 2011.

§  Participated in searches for a new WAC director to replace Terry Zawacki, who is stepping down at the end of spring 2012 in preparation for retirement. The searches were not successful, so current assistant director Sarah Baker will become interim director for 2012-2013 while a new search is conducted. 

 

 

 

ATTACHMENT D

 

ANNUAL REPORTS OF THE FACULTY SENATE AD HOC COMMITTEES 2011-12

 

1.   FACULTY SENATE TASK FORCE TO EXAMINE AGREEMENTS BETWEEN GMU AND PRIVATE DONORS – David Kuebrich (CHSS), Chair

Task Force Members:  Penny Earley (CEHD), Esther Elstun (CHSS – Emerita), Rich Rubenstein (S-CAR), Matt Zingraff (CHSS/Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs, ex officio)

REPORT OF THE TASK FORCE RE PRIVATE DONORS

I. The Charge and Schedule of the Task Force (excerpted from the Feb.9 Minutes) “Motion: The George Mason University Faculty Senate shall create a fact-finding “Task Force re Private Donors” (TFPD). The charge of the Task Force will be to review significant agreements between Private Donors and the University that have an overt intellectual dimension.  The activities of the Task Force shall include examining the impact of these agreements in regard to A) the teaching and research missions of the University; B) the University’s mission to serve the public good; C) the University’s use of resources; and D) the image of the University--as perceived both by the George Mason community and the larger public.”

Schedule: The Task Force will make a preliminary report to the Senate by the end of the Spring semester and a second report early in the Fall semester. In its Fall report, the Task Force will recommend either that it be dissolved or that it continue in order to develop and recommend needed changes in University policy.”

II. The Problem of State-Mandated Secrecy

TFPD has been unable to fulfill its assigned mission of reviewing the University’s agreements with private donors because the University Administration, backed by the Office of University Counsel, maintains such agreements are confidential (and not subject to the Freedom of Information Act) at GMU and other Virginia public colleges and universities.  Nevertheless, the Task Force has been able to carry out important parts of its assignment; and, as a result, it makes several recommendations and also presents the Senate with two “topics for discussion.”

III. Recommendations

1. In order to better preserve the University’s integrity and academic freedom, TFPD recommends the George Mason University Faculty Senate collaborate with the Administration to create a special committee that includes appropriate administrators (or their designees), but both the chair and the majority of the membership should be tenured faculty elected by the Faculty Senate. The committee would have two charges:

A) To develop a comprehensive policy for dealing with donations to the University. The committee should formulate “best policies and practices” for accepting outside monies while also preserving the integrity of the University as well as academic freedom in its teaching and research missions. TFPD suggests that documents developed by Cornell University to govern its formation of “Strategic Corporate Alliances” might provide a starting point.

B) To create a detailed conflict of interest policy (COI) designed to protect the integrity of all research and instruction done by GMU faculty, researchers, and others associated with the University. In this regard, TFPD notes with interest the set of principles recently adopted by the American Economic Association (AEA, Jan 2012) for author disclosure of conflict of interest in any of its publications. These principles include (amongst others) requiring an author to state the sources of financial support for the research an article; to identify “each interested party” from whom the author has received “significant financial support, summing to at least $10,000 in the past three years, in the form of consultant fees, retainers, grants and the like”; to “disclose any paid or unpaid positions as officer, director, or board member of relevant non-profit advocacy organizations or profit-making entities.” The AEA goes on to urge “its members and other economists  . . . apply the above principles in other forms of publication and public presentation: scholarly journals, op-ed pieces, newspaper and magazine columns, radio and television commentaries, as well as in testimony before federal and state legislative committees and other agencies.”

TPFD also recommends that a COI policy should include not only general principles that apply to all institutions of higher education but also specific principles relevant to a particular institution. For instance, a university with a medical school and/or heavily involved in medical research would want to have special provisions in its COI  policy that would address potential conflicts arising from accepting research monies from suppliers of pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and/or medical services. Similarly, a university such as George Mason, located near the seat of the Federal Government, has special opportunities for influencing public policy. Accordingly, it should have a COI policy that gives special attention to the potential conflicts of interest that might develop between the teaching and research faculty (and  members of institutes or centers associated with the University) who make public policy recommendations and the gifts from outside donors who might benefit from such recommendations.

In order to protect the integrity of the University and its mission, an adequate COI policy (and an adequate policy for dealing with outside donations) must not only prevent conflicts of interest but also the appearance of such conflicts. In thinking about what might constitute a robust COI policy, the TPFD has given special attention to Vanderbilt University’s comprehensive and detailed “Conflict of Interest and Commitment Policy,” which includes a statement of general principles; specific guidelines regarding potential conflicts of interest pertaining to administrators, faculty, researchers, and other university personnel who may receive and/or manage outside gifts or funding; and guidelines for avoiding conflicts of commitment that “can arise when  [outside activities] . . . burden or interfere with the University member’s primary obligations and commitments to the University.”

2. The TFPD also recommends the creation of a policy that allows for adequate faculty representation on the GMU Gift Acceptance Committee (which approves agreements with private donors). This representation would consist of at least two tenured faculty members, elected by the Faculty Senate, at least one of whom is a member of the Senate's Faculty Matters Committee. Such faculty participation would allow for a degree of faculty oversight to insure that gifts do not impinge upon academic freedom and faculty control of the curriculum.

IV. Topics for Senate Discussion

In its deliberations, TFPD has entertained a number of concerns about the University’s relationship with its largest private donor, the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation ($4,074,300 in 2009). Among the concerns are the following:

--A Need for Greater Transparency: Even if we accept that the agreement itself is legally confidential, there is a need for fuller disclosure of specific economic arrangements between units such as the Mercatus Center, which seemingly receives the major portion of the Koch funding, and the University. The fundamental issue here is to make it perfectly clear that tax-payer monies are not supporting the Center or other units associated with the University. On its “About” page, the Mercatus Center asserts it “does not receive financial support from George Mason University or any federal, state, or local government.” This may be true, but the public should have easy access to the needed documents to examine this claim. For example, what are the specific economic arrangements, in dollars and cents, which allow for the Center to occupy space at the Arlington Campus and yet not receive support from the State or University?  Or again, how do University faculty who receive salaries from the State, and who also work at the Center, and presumably receive Center support for this, separate their commitments to ensure they devote the appropriate amount of time to each? The Committee’s point is not that existing space and time arrangements are inappropriate—for we presently have no way of knowing one way or the other--but that detailed information should be readily available to the GMU community and larger  public.

--The Issue of Drawing upon the University’s Intangible Resources:  Even if units associated with the University receive no financial support from GMU or the State, they still draw upon what Vanderbilt University’s “Conflict of Interest and Commitment Policy” refers to as “intangible resources,” which would include such things as the University’s “reputation” or “prestige” and, more importantly, we might add, its standing as a center of disinterested knowledge. It makes a world of difference if a publication, program, or public testimony advocating for a particular policy of significant economic import is seen as emanating from university research as opposed to corporate interests. And these intangible benefits are made possible, in large part, by tax-payer monies that have built up the University over the years and that continue to support it.

Some of the problems associated with the second point would be resolved, or at least reduced, if the University develops, implements and monitors a strong conflict of interest policy. However, given these two points (and others might be added), it seems inescapable that it is highly problematic for a university, especially a public university, to enter into a secret agreement with a private donor that provides funding for public policy research  that impacts upon the financial interests not only of the funder but also of the tax-payers.

Given concerns such as these, it seems important for the Faculty Senate to conduct a thorough discussion directed at making the best possible decisions for maintaining an adequately funded system of public higher education.

V. Extending the Life of TFPD

The Task Force asks that the Senate extend its life until at least October, 2012, allowing it to further pursue its charge.

Submitted by David Kuebrich for the TFPD (Penelope Earley, Esther Elstun, Richard Rubenstein, Matt Zingraff)   

Discussion:  Senator Kuebrich   displayed slides depicting “Capitol Hill Campus”   using Mercatus Center logo as a backdrop.  Several Senators expressed concern as GMU does not have a Capitol Hill Campus.    This is not meant as an attack on the Mercatus Center, rather shows need for all university groups to have a conflict-of-interest policy, as outlined in the Task Force Report’s Recommendations noted above.  A motion was made and seconded to extend the life of the Task Force until October 2012.  The motion was approved unanimously.