GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
MINUTES OF THE SPECIAL FACULTY SENATE MEETING
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Founders Hall, room 466, Arlington Campus, 3:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Senators Present: Sheryl Beach, Lisa Billingham, Daniel Garrison, David Kuebrich, Jerry Mayer, Linda Monson, Star Muir, Earle Reybold, Edward Rhodes, Steven Rose, June Tangney, Susan Tomasovic, Jenice View.
Senators Absent: Kenneth Ball, Dominique Banville, Andrea Bartoli, Scott Bauer, Jim Bennett, Alok Berry, Doris Bitler Davis, Ángel Cabrera, John Cantiello, Jack Censer, Vikas Chandhoke, Rick Coffinberger, Lloyd Cohen, Arie Croitoru, Yvonne Demory, Charlene Douglas, Robert Dudley, Cody Edwards, Janos Gertler, Mark Ginsberg, Jorge Haddock, Mark Houck, Ghassan Husseinali, Dimitrios Ioannou, Kathryn Jacobsen, Bruce Johnsen, Dan Joyce, Ning Li, Jian Lu, Harold Morowitz, Elavie Ndura, Peter Pober, Daniel Polsby, Thomas Prohaska, William Reeder, Pierre Rodgers, Mark Rozell, Jim Sanford, Joe Scimecca, Suzanne Scott, Suzanne Slayden, Bob Smith, Lesley Smith, Peter Stearns, Susan Trencher, Iosif Vaisman, Anand Vidyashankar, Phil Wiest, John Zenelis, Stanley Zoltek.
Visitors Present: Delegate David Bulova, House District 37; Senator Barbara Favola, Senate District 31; Paul Liberty, Vice President, Government and Community Relations; Janette Muir, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education; Senator Chap Petersen, Senate District 34; Beth Rozkowski, Head, Arlington Campus Library.
Note: Only business included in the agenda can be transacted at the Special Meeting.
I. Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 3:08 p.m.
II. New Business
Chair June Tangney welcomed Senator Barbara Favola, Delegate David Bulova, and Senator Chap Petersen, representatives to the Virginia General Assembly. This meeting will provide an opportunity to learn more about the legislative process and legislators’ roles and what faculty can do to support the legislative process in Virginia. We also hope it will provide an opportunity for the legislators to learn about the university from a faculty perspective. After introductory remarks, they will answer questions submitted by faculty and sent to them in advance. Faculty will also have an opportunity to ask questions from the floor.
Chair June Tangney introduced Delegate David Bulova, Democrat, representing House District 37 in Fairfax. First elected to the House of Delegates in 2005, he is now serving his fourth consecutive two-year term. During the 2012 Legislative session, Delegate Bulova served on the Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee, Education Committee (including membership on Higher Education and the Arts Subcommittee and Standards of Quality Subcommittee), and the General Laws Committee. David is a Senior Planner at AMEC Environment & Infrastructure, Inc. and works to help local governments and industry comply with state and federal environmental regulations. He has been a friend to higher education, George Mason University, and to the Fairfax district and helped with legislation for the western (intercampus) connector.
Delegate Bulova: This is the fourth time speaking to the Faculty Senate, appreciates your time to listen and learn, especially at this time of year. We will be in Richmond on January 9th – very, very busy, very, very short session of 46 days. We don’t have the same kind of gridlock we have in Congress. We deal with a tremendous amount of legislation. This is an off-year (in biennial budget) but will look at changes from last year. He wants dialogue back and forth with you; to be plugged in with us at the General Assembly.
Many kinds of bills came before Higher Education Committee last year – some may not be at the top of your radar. Day in and day out bills were debated over five meetings of Higher Education Committee. Examples included:
· Crisis management and mental health issues, particularly community colleges, which have fewer resources for students and faculty.
· Credit for real-life (e.g. military) experience as a way to allow you to receive higher education credit – asking SCHEV to do this
· To publish salaries in higher education greater than 125% of the Governor of Virginia’s salary – a Northern Virginia legislative petition.
· Concealed weapons on campus.
· To impose 25% caps on out-of-state students tabled. As a parent aware how expensive to send children to college. General Assembly has cut back funding for higher education.
· Expansion of those who get in-state tuition – to include military among others.
Bills passed included publishing of undergraduate data until 2017, as a tool for prospective students to use. He acknowledged this created more work for you.
Carried over for further study: Ability of student to object to curriculum for a degree or program in conflict with individual’s religious beliefs; the bill raised interesting questions.
Successful managing of colleges and universities: Is this an area General Assembly should dictate to BOV or faculty or staff or should it be worked out at local level? He cherishes the independence of universities.
Delegate Bulova noted he talked with SCHEV this afternoon. Two areas of focus:
-1- BOV –draft legislation - how to keep UVA situation from happening again without micromanaging? At William and Mary (DB’s alma mater) having BOV being drilled by the General Assembly got his back up. General Assembly to look at broad-based qualifications. We have a responsibility for BOV fiduciary responsibility with Commonwealth of Virginia. Specifically BOV will have to attend annual training; now voluntary training. Flip side is General Assembly directs its ire at Rector Dragas (U VA).
-2- Budget: Not so much changes in policy. Dramatic decline in funding from Commonwealth of Virginia in the past. Last year and this year put $100 M more into Higher Education for those universities willing to take more undergraduate and community college students. GMU wins here as you are at top of ____. Recruitment and retention: falling behind, we don’t have a lot of money to throw at schools for benefit of faculty members. Bill introduced last year for reduced tuition for family members died in committee.
Chair Tangney introduced Senator Chap Petersen, Democrat, represents Senate District 34, stretching from Annandale to Centreville and includes the Town of Vienna and City of Fairfax. During the 2012 legislative session, Senator Petersen served on the Privileges and Elections Committee, Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee, and General Laws and Technology Committee. As a Senator, Chap has been the chief patron on several successful bills, including SB 510 (2008) which guaranteed our college students the right to a fairly priced student loan. We express our condolences on the death of Senator Petersen’s father last April, Professor John Petersen, professor of public policy and finance at the School of Public Policy. He was an internationally known expert in government finance and financial institutions and an important part of our community.
Senator Petersen: My dad and I used to (campaign) a lot together. Good news – had a great reception, they all wanted to vote for him. The new Connector to go underneath Ox Road to be built with $15 M in state budget for this purpose. As a result of an investigation of sole source student loans by Andrew Cuomo (NY), sole source student loans are now illegal, students now have right to choices.
He expressed past concerns about the BOV ‘s rubber stamp approval for (faculty/staff) housing facility on campus while local builders going out of business. He complained about this to Tom Hennessey, houses going into foreclosure nearby. Needed someone on BOV willing to push back UVA went all the way to the other side of deal. Wants BOV members who ask tough questions, performance metrics (where does money go?) bill to put salaries on the website. We need disclosure. Looking globally, two enormous issues
-1- Sequestration – we will fall into default level budget cuts. One of three dollars spent in Virginia are from the federal government. Virginia is #1 per capita for federal spending.
-2- Health Care reform. No prediction who will win (the Presidential election). Unless Democrats lose the Senate, the Affordable Care Act will not be repealed. The state of Virginia has to put up an exchange to provide benefits.
In 2009-2010 we dipped as low as we could go (re revenue) support for GMU dipped to $140M annually, should pick up when economy increases.
Chair Tangney introduced Senator Barbara Favola, Democrat, represents Senate District 31. First elected to the Virginia Senate in November 2011, she is serving her first four year term. Prior to her election in 2011, the Senator served on the Arlington County Board for fourteen years and chaired that body three times. A long-time friend to George Mason University education, specifically her son will graduate this year.
Senator Favola: Given the whole UVA situation, next year there will be more emphasis on accountability and access. Higher Education – partnership of state of Virginia with premier institutions of higher education. She’s in a district where she received more mail on UVA than not voting on budget and women’s’ issues combined. All had ideas on how to fix it. Do not want lawmakers to dictate – to be surgical. Not to go beyond that, to be judicious and careful. Has found when it comes to a strong constituent group on Higher Education better for General Assembly collaborative vs. prescriptive legislation. State of Virginia does better in partnering with Higher Education in legislature.
Counseling – Senate passed only - Issue of counseling, to talk with community service boards if students needed more support than university could provide (influenced by Virginia Tech). To be your partner and fill safety-net gaps, that university is part of safety net. (Followed by anecdote)
Did get a budget amendment through for expansion of those eligible at community college – motivated to get two-year degree. Means tested eligibility for $2K for student/$K for other for faculty to demonstrate so can increase grant from $8K to $9K. Does not want to see more brochure bills. A big onslaught last year, such an ultrasound bill, HIV bill to require parental option, bills were killed. Ultrasound bill revised but principle still offensive, government dictating health care. Bills dealing with voter suppression e.g. fraud and abuse in voting, but no one could explain where the fraud and abuse were… …less than 1% and not intentional. Issue in US not everybody gets to the polls. Some of these bills passed and are now in play. If you do not have your voter ID card, you can cast a provisional ballot by Friday after election. Other acceptable IDs include leases, title to home, utility bills.
Agrees with Chap about Health Benefit Exchange to focus on Medicaid expenses in bill. In Virginia there is no single coverage mechanism. We have one of the skimpiest plans in the country – eligibility, reimbursement rates, benefits package. If we don’t pick (fund) individuals above and beyond at least to 100% of poverty level, won’t be able to go into benefits exchange. It will cost state $20B to access $100B federal money. Really hopes we make some progress on it.
Questions submitted in advance :
1. What is the likelihood of a significant increase in funding for VA public colleges and universities in, say, the next three years?
Senator Petersen: Thinks it’s pretty good as we are now in positive economic growth. As we dipped way below our baseline (to 2007 levels) to add 5, 10, 15% to baseline pretty good.
Delegate Bulova: Last year we made significant progress forward, to hold onto that. SCHEV responsive to increase, benefitted GMU. To watch link between higher education and transportation (increases in general funding). Proposals could divert general fund resources to transportation, if we put more there (impacts) other services
Senator Favola does not see big increases. K-12 funded at 2012 level, enrollment growing. We need a new and separate dedicated revenue source for transportation funding.
2. Have there been any new developments in the initiative to support faculty tuition support for members of faculty families in the state of Virginia? Many other state institutions offer some percentage of tuition deduction for children of full-time faculty. Why does Virginia not offer some tuition exemption for its faculty?
Chair Tangney: Faculty salaries at GMU are very low with SCHEV peers, with COLA at the 3rd percentile. Can we provide tuition support for family members of faculty in the state of Virginia?
Senator Favola: Suggested tax-free also, private institutions have tuition subsidies.
A Senator noted he was at a private institution where faculty and family members could attend consortia for free.
Senator Petersen: Not aware of any state agency where they have access to state benefit without access across the board. Rather apple to apples comparison. What about those without children, children already out of college? Would rather have pay increase.
Another Senator noted: We’re not treated equally, true; can’t carry guns like police officers do – laws not issued a firearm. Seems simplistic; tradition in higher education that this is an expected benefit, but hurts recruitment.
Senator Petersen: Would rather pay people and compare with other state agencies, etc.
A third Senator observed: Imagine you are a faculty member when your children start at one university and you go elsewhere for a job.
A fourth Senator observed: Increasing everyone’s salary will cost more. Cost saving to increase limited benefit.
Senator Favola: To be valued as a benefit in recruitment, a big deal in the industry.
3. What is the VA state legislature doing to address climate change? Is there any way a state university such as George Mason can assist with the development of needed legislation?
Senator Petersen: You all would do a much better job addressing this than we do. Referenced bill passed for buildings greater than 5,000 square feet to be LEED certified. Also supports auditing state buildings to see how can save money.
Senator Bulova: Agrees with Senator Petersen: To focus on this campus, many hands make small work. A global issue, not to give up. He served on Governor Kaine’s Climate Change Commission. Bipartisan, with legislators and members from the business community. Balanced report with very comprehensive plan what Virginia can do with carbon emissions, etc. In the first year, didn’t get as far as wanted. He put a bill in on reduction - voluntary system with certain benefits 12 to 15% by 2025, pushed us in right direction. To promote renewables, not as well on efficiency standards. Retrenchment allows utilities to merit renewable portfolio standards through investment and research. To his mind, double dipping – credits to make up for research cost doesn’t make sense.
Senator Petersen: Governor McDonnell announced that we’re finally moving toward natural gas in our state fleet.
Senator Favola: Anti-regulatory theme in certain areas. Tried to get a bill for state buildings to identify their energy consumption, defeated multiple times. Acknowledge energy use, also by names. General Assembly hasn’t gotten to energy efficiency, element of competitiveness. Costs more to produce will put us at a gross economic disadvantage, market will adjust. Local governments have moved toward LEED, have to watch bottom line.
Senator Bulova: GMU and other research universities indispensable in this: carbon emission and how to deal with sea-level rise. VA has the potential to lose a lot of infrastructure, citing examples of Newport News, agriculture, grapes, if we don’t think this through.
Questions from the Floor:
A Senator expressed concern about adding more students. He does scheduling – (had to) increase number of students from 22 to 35 in writing intensive class. How in creating our new vision, what are the kinds of things you’re looking for? To grow GMU to 40-45,000 students?
Senator Petersen: Bigger is not always better. President Merten was extremely successful, but principle of let’s get bigger – who agreed to that? Would like to see university become more selective and more precise in what it does. Not a commuter school to have classes all over. To focus on a few things and make them great. GMU focus on international studies/urban setting ..hopes the new president makes GMU (into) unique identity, than to be all things to all people, need to be more targeted.
Senator Favola: A good question, doesn’t have an answer, depends on what you want to be. People want to be premier research institution and undergraduate to do both – does not know what the magic number is.
Senator Bulova: Bigger is not always better. __to balance technology access – appreciates teaching is an art, and cannot have classes so big to break bond between teacher and students. We have talked with President Cabrera – reference to Vision statement.
(The meeting adjourned approximately 4:05 p.m.)