GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE MEETING
SEPTEMBER 5, 2012
Robinson Hall B113, 3:00 - 4:15 p.m.
Senators Present: Scott Bauer, Sheryl Beach, Jim Bennett, Alok Berry, Lisa Billingham, Doris Bitler Davis, John Cantiello, Rick Coffinberger, Arie Croitoru, Charlene Douglas, Robert Dudley, Cody Edwards, Janos Gertler, Mark Houck, Ghassan Husseinali, Dimitrios Ioannou, Kathryn Jacobsen, Dan Joyce, David Kuebrich, Jian Lu, Jerry Mayer, Linda Monson, Star Muir, Elavie Ndura, Peter Pober, Earle Reybold, Steven Rose, Jim Sanford, Joe Scimecca, Suzanne Scott, Suzanne Slayden, Bob Smith, Peter Stearns, June Tangney, Susan Tomasovic, Susan Trencher, Iosif Vaisman, Anand Vidyashankar, Jenice View, Phil Wiest, Stanley Zoltek.
Senators Absent: Kenneth Ball, Dominique Banville, Andrea Bartoli, Ángel Cabrera, Jack Censer, Vikas Chandhoke, Lloyd Cohen, Yvonne Demory, Daniel Garrison, Mark Ginsberg, Jorge Haddock, Bruce Johnsen, Ning Li, Daniel Polsby, Thomas Prohaska, William Reeder, Edward Rhodes, Pierre Rodgers, Mark Rozell, Lesley Smith, John Zenelis.
Visitors Present: Jessica Cain, Employee Relations Specialist, Human Resources/Payroll; Jill Carter, Deputy News Editor, Connect2Mason; Pat Donini, Employee Relations Director/Deputy Director HR, Human Resources/Payroll; Kim Eby, Associate Provost for Faculty Development/Director, Teaching & Faculty Excellence Center; Esther Elstun, Professor emerita, Modern and Classical Languages; Josh Eyler, Associate Director, Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence; Linda Harber, Associate Vice President, Human Resources/Payroll; Corey Jackson, Director, Equity and Diversity Services; Hannah Menchhoff, Reporter, Connect2Mason; Sharon Pitt, Executive Director, Division of Instructional Technology; Beth Roszkowski, University Libraries; Brian Selinksy, Interim Associate Provost and University Registrar.
I. Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 3:00 p.m.
II. Approval of the Minutes of April 25, 2012: The minutes were approved as distributed.
Chair June Tangney welcomed everyone to the first Faculty Senate meeting of the year. She welcomed our newly elected faculty senators: Anand Vidyashankar (Volgenau School of Engineering – Statistics); Jian Lu (College of Science - Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences), Steve Rose (College of Health and Human Services – Social Work), Janos Gertler (Volgenau School of Engineering – Electrical and Computer Engineering), Lisa Billingham (College of Visual and Performing Arts – School of Music), Jenice View (College of Education and Human Development – Initiatives in Educational Tranformation), Mark Rozell (School of Public Policy), and Ghassan Husseinali (College of Humanities and Social Sciences – Modern and Classical Languages). Thanking them for their service, she also noted there are two new ex-officio Senators: Dean Ken Ball (Volgenau School of Engineering) and Dean Prohaska (College of Health and Human Services).
Issues for consideration for academic year 2012 – 2013 – Provost Peter Stearns. On November 2-3, Provost Stearns noted a significant conference on the history of Higher Education will take place. Some invitations have been sent out, and a general invitation to go out later. (See Provost Stearns’ Blog June 18, 2012 for more information).
With the (upcoming) retirement of Jack Censer as Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, there will be a major dean search. Last year there were two.
Provost Stearns then focused on several specific points, including strategic visioning and planning; expansion of distance and executive education; distributed campuses in Prince William, Arlington, and Tyson’s Corner; global issues in Korea and India (see Global Problem Solving Consortium Brings the World a Little Closer); the honor code and scientific misconduct; the new budget model; retention, recruitment, and faculty rewards. As for the budget, “We received a little new money from the state this year.” Yet over the past 6-7 years there has been a $3500 FTE funding cut. “We will work for but do not expect increase in state funding or [tuition] relief.” Stearns stressed the need for funding sources such as executive education, and other efficiencies needed. “We don’t know how deeply this will bite.” Stearns emphasized that “most aspects of the university [are] in pretty good shape with faculty and students.”
Questions and Discussion:
Honor Code: In classrooms with theater seating, can see how difficult to dissuade students from cheating. He uses multiple versions of exams. Faculty who have taught classes with 300-400 students can also offer suggestions. Provost Stearns replied that our newer classrooms are a lot better, when state funding being cut, typical classroom larger than before.
Testing Center: In response to a question raised, Provost Stearns confirmed that we will get a reliable testing center in distance education.
Research and Scholarship Policy: Research and scholarship policies were developed with heavy faculty involvement, and hope to involve faculty in future.
Enrollment/Retention/Funding: What is the decline in retention rate for out-of-state students? Provost Stearns responded that he has no figures with him, but drop in out-of-state (retention rate) from 71.xx to 70.xx%.
A Senator viewed SCHEV, Governor, state legislature, as encroaching. Provost Stearns responded that the BOV made it clear that there were limits to what (tuition increases) it would approve. Tuition increases lower than in recent past statewide.
Where do we stand or fall in per funding list for doctoral candidates? Provost Stearns did not have data, did not have relative types, observed there is a marked increase in legitimate need, and our ability to meet need is decreasing/down.
Do we lose state funding if university enrollment targets are not met? Provost Stearns: “ we had deficiencies in transfers, graduate students, freshman class bigger, and well within SCHEV parameters, no funding lost. Some enrollment area are down (e.g. law) statewide.
Several students expressed concern about out-of-state tuition rates in exit interviews. Provost Stearns replied that we are looking at this, the VP for Enrollment Management has (suggestions) for questions to include.
Distance Education/Classroom Space: Are faculty using Blackboard as on-line teaching experience rather than in regular way? Provost Stearns responded that we need to know about this to assign classrooms and inform accreditation (or?).
Chair Tangney thanked Provost Stearns and continued with the following announcements.
· The Society of Phi Beta Kappa has approved establishing a chapter at George Mason University!
· Budget Forum – Monday, September 10, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Meese Conference Room , Mason Hall with Provost Stearns and Beth Brock (Associate Vice President/Controller, Fiscal Services)
· Chair Tangney encouraged Senators to meet our new president and encourage your colleagues to attend.
President Cabrera Town Hall Meetings with Faculty:
· Fairfax: Wednesday, September 19th, 10:30 am – 12:00 p.m., Harris Theater
· Prince William: Wednesday, September 19th, 1:30-3:00 p.m., Verizon Auditorium
· Arlington: Thursday, September 20, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m., Theater Space
· Bob Smith (CHSS) to serve as faculty representative to the Space Advisory Committee
· Faculty Senate Officer appointments;
Chair Tangney also announced Faculty Senate Officer appointments for 2012-13:
· Star Muir (CHSS) reappointed to serve as Faculty Senate parliamentarian
· Bob Smith (CHSS) to serve as Senate chair pro tem.
· Linda Monson (CVPA) and Dan Joyce (CVPA) to serve as Sergeants-at-Arms
IV. Unfinished Business - none.
V. New Business - Committee Reports
A. Senate Standing Committees
Executive Committee – June Tangney, Chair
We will be moving into an exciting period of planning, goals and missions. (She encouraged faculty involvement).
Academic Policies – no report.
Budget & Resources – Jerry Mayer
We continue to look at independent study and family leave policies. We just received an estimate of $160K/year to be included into budget request for 2014.
Faculty Matters – Jim Sanford, Chair
In presenting the following report on the Criminal Background Check Policy, Chair Sanford thanked Senator Dave Kuebrich, Linda Harber and Jessica Cain of Human Resources for their assistance.
Criminal Background Check
George Mason University is modifying University Policy Number 2221 (Criminal Background Investigations). The new policy will require all new employees and all current employees who change positions to undergo criminal background checks. The old policy specified the employment categories and offices that require such checks. They included all staff and most administrative faculty positions. Due to outside certification requirements, faculty teaching in the College of Health and Human Services and the College of Science were also subject to background checks. The new policy will extend the check to all new faculty, staff, and admin faculty for whom a check has not been completed in the last three years, including those who leave the university and then are rehired. Employees who are simply promoted in their present positions will not be required to have a background check completed. Also, anyone who signed a contract with the university prior to June 25 is exempt from a check unless it was already part of their hiring process.
According to Linda Harber, Associate Vice President and CHRO of Human Resources and Payroll , all major universities in Virginia except Old Dominion University either presently have a policy like the new one being implemented or are in the process of implementing one. The change in policy at Mason and some other institutions is, in part, the result of the recent incidents at Penn State.
The policy change was developed by Linda Harber and senior administrative staff. The first major planning meeting occurred on April 5, 2012. With the unfolding revelation of child molestation at Penn State, there was some urgency to complete the process quickly. Faculty and staff were not invited to participate in the planning process. Any concerns or feedback with the policy can be shared with Jessica Cain (firstname.lastname@example.org) in Employee Relations.
The background check process occurs as follows. As part of hiring or position-changing, the employee must agree to a criminal background check. That action is a condition of employment or job change. The university then uses the services of an online company named HireRight. This company completes (a) a Social Security Trace which reveals the names and addresses associated with the social security number, (b) a search of the Sex Offenders Registry and Prohibited Parties (terror watch) List, and (c) a criminal search that reveals felony and misdemeanor convictions (not arrests or accusations) within the last seven years. Minor traffic violations are exempted. Once the check is complete, results are kept in a locked file in HR, apart from the individual’s personnel file, and never shared with a third party under any circumstances. Jessica Cain and Christine Harchick in HR Employee Relations are responsible for initiating the checks.
The cost to the university varies between about $42 and $70 per check, averaging about $50, and this is paid centrally, not from the budget of the hiring unit. The total annual cost for completing this process is difficult to estimate. According to Jessica Cain, the university had about 500 new hires last year, meaning the cost for this category of employee is about $25,000. However, this number does not include present employees who changed positions and staff/volunteers associated with camps.
If the search results in the finding of a criminal conviction or other issue, the individual will have a confidential one-on-one meeting with a member of Employee Relations. This meeting allows the employee the opportunity to verify the results and inform Employee Relations of any ongoing appeals. Concerns can potentially be discussed with the position’s supervisor and, if deemed necessary by the department, with individuals higher on the employment chain and the university’s General Counsel’s Office. A negative finding would not normally result in non-hiring or non-promotion. Usually, unless the conviction occurred in an area that might compromise the ability to complete the individual’s assigned duties, the person would be hired or the job change would go through.
The change in the policy is not the result of any significant problems at Mason. No faculty and only a small number of staff have been released or not hired as a result of criminal background checks. The reason for most of those is that the individuals did not disclose their convictions. Disclosure is required by both the old and new policies. In addition, there have been no cases to date in which a successful candidate has refused to approve a check and therefore not been hired.
Discussion: In response to concerns about the confidentiality of the procedure, Senator Sanford noted the Faculty Matters Committee is satisfied that confidentiality is being “carefully kept.” The results are not released and are not kept with the personnel file. Both the old and new policies require if you are convicted of a crime, you have five days to report it.
A Senator asked: What about speeding tickets?
Senator Sanford: No, not (applicable to) minor traffic violations, not sure how they define minor traffic violations. Another Senator observed it may depend on the type of tickets, such as DUI, speeding, etc.
Jessica Cain: If it rises to a misdemeanor or felony, it will show up; would cover DUIs and things of that nature.
Senator Kuebrich not sure what the Faculty Matters Committee’s position is, and he requested the Faculty Senate to ask the appropriate administrator(s) to reconsider and amend this policy. Faculty were not consulted, he said, and AAUP opposes blanket security checks on faculty until specified – such as financial checks. Nothing in this policy, he said, would have “prevented Penn State.” He has two objections to the policy: (1) Language for faculty who are convicted and appealing conviction; need for faculty committee or participation; (2) Exemptions for Civil Disobedience – citing faculty arrested in melee on behalf of students.
Another Senator asked if a cost estimate in place for hiring of private company? Are consequences imagined? What about someone who had a DUI conviction years ago who we want to hire?
Pat Donini: We have been using this company already; it is centrally funded, departments do not pay for it. She added that violations greater than seven years (ago) are unlikely to come up.
Follow Up: Who gets the information?
Pat Donini: To the vendor – issue more about whether applicant is telling the truth. Did they omit information? Depends on job, a DUI in grad school will not be an issue. Human Resources will not pass this information on at all. We were the only university which did not do background checks when I arrived here nine years ago. Within a two month period, most schools who had not been doing background checks on all faculty were swept up with the storm, not sure if applies to ODU. Public (universities) in Virginia are doing what we are doing today, mirroring our best practices.
A Senator asked how all convictions under a common name (such as Bob Smith) are handled? Also faculty hiring under Faculty Handbook and faculty committees such as tenure committees.
Pat Donini: Federal Law requires looking at multiple common names and other checks.
Another Senator noted that part-time faculty hired (to work with high school students under 18 years of age) also had to have background checks. He praised Human Resources staff associated with this as very helpful with the process; amazing, thorough process.
Several Senators suggested this policy be referenced in the Faculty Handbook, with assurances for faculty already here.
A Senator asked: What about cases in which someone is not hired? Legal trend in private sector is going away from this. It also has disparate impacts on minority community.
Pat Donini: in letter listed as a condition of employment. Usually communication going on before this. In DC/federal area, probably all have background checks in this area. If not job related, more as an honesty device.
A Senator affirmed reference to Faculty Handbook : “makes a lot of sense to me.” Also noted, Rector Volgenau asked the University Counsel to deliver color-coded contractual and aspirational parts of the Faculty Handbook. This has not been delivered
The Staff Senate also wishes to be included in discussion of this policy.
The Faculty Evaluation of Administrators survey will be available later in the semester. One change from last year: we used to send all Faculty Senators a paper copy, will not distribute paper copies unless requested, will continue to send paper copies to BOV and other categories. Please let Meg know if you wish to receive a paper copy.
Nominations – Suzanne Slayden, Chair
Chair Slayden thanked everyone for volunteering. (See VI. Other New Business/A. Elections)
Organization & Operations – Star Muir, Chair
Questions regarding changes to the academic calendar were referred to the Academic Policies Committee. We are pulling together a committee charge for a Task Force to address access to email and research data, anticipating its work to conclude at the end of this academic year.
B. Other Committees – no report.
VI. Other New Business
September 2012 Faculty Senate Nominations Committee Report
The Committee on Nominations presents the following nominations for AY 2012-2013:
SECRETARY of the SENATE: Earle Reybold (CEHD) . No further nominations were made from the floor and the nomination was approved unanimously.
FACULTY SENATE STANDING COMMITTEES
(2-year terms; all members are Senators)
Continuing Members: Sheryl Beach (COS), Ning Li (SOM), Suzanne Scott (CHSS)
Nominees: Dominique Banville (CHED), Cody Edwards (COS)
BUDGET AND RESOURCES
Continuing Members: Charlene Douglas (CHHS), Jerry Mayer (SPP)
Nominees: Janos Gertler (VSE), Jenice View (CEHD), Phil Wiest (CHSS)
Continuing Members: none
Nominees: Lisa Billingham (CVPA) (1-year term to fill a vacancy), Scott Bauer (CEHD), Steven Rose (CHHS), Mark Rozell (SPP), Jim Sanford (CHSS)
Continuing Members: Rick Coffinberger (SOM), Suzanne Slayden (COS)
Nominees: – Three vacancies; nominations must come from the floor. Five nominations were made and seconded:
Jim Bennett (CHSS), Yvonne Demory (SOM), Linda Monson (CVPA), Peter Pober (CHSS), and Pierre Rodgers (CEHD). Paper ballots were distributed. Jim Bennett, Linda Monson, and Peter Pober were elected.
ORGANIZATION AND OPERATIONS:
Continuing Member: Elavie Ndura (CEHD)
Nominees: Arie Croitoru (COS), Robert Dudley (CHSS), Star Muir (CHSS), Bob Smith (CHSS)
The nominations to the Faculty Senate Standing Committees were approved and the nominees elected.
UNIVERSITY STANDING COMMITTEES
(Members and nominees in bold type are Faculty Senators;
2-year terms unless otherwise noted)
Continuing Members: Flavia Colonna (COS), Michael Naor (SOM), Johannes Rojahn (CHSS)
Nominees: Sheri Berkeley (CEHD), Peter Pober (CHSS)
Provost Appointee: Michael Hurley (CHSS)
Continuing Member: Robert Johnston (SOM)
Nominees: 1-year term: Elizabeth Chong (CHHS), Wayne Froman (CHSS)
2-year term: Craig Esherick (CEHD), Iosif Vaisman (COS)
Ex Officio: Anne Schiller, Vice President for Global and International Strategies
Continuing Members: Marion Deshmukh (CHSS), Jeng-Eng Lin (COS), Hung Nguyen (CHSS)
Nominees: M. Hasan Aijaz (LAW), Susan Tomasovic (CHSS)
Dean of Admissions Appointee:
ATHLETIC COUNCIL (4 elected members)
Continuing Members: Robert Baker (CEHD), Cody Edwards (COS)
Nominees: Louis Buffardi (CHSS), Rich Klimoski (SOM)
Presidential Appointee: Linda Miller (Chair, Faculty Athletic Representative)
Continuing Members: Paul Gorski (CHSS), Ramin Hakami (COS), Danielle Rudes (CHSS)
Nominees: John Cantiello (CHHS), Timothy W. Curby (CHSS)
EXTERNAL ACADEMIC RELATIONS
Continuing Members: Alok Berry (VSE), Arie Croitoru (COS), Elavie Ndura (CEHD)
Nominees: Mike Dickerson (CHSS), John Riskind (CHSS)
FACULTY HANDBOOK REVISION COMMITTEE (3-year term)
Continuing Members: Lloyd Cohen (LAW - 2013), Richard Miller (CEHD -2014), Suzanne Slayden (COS - 2013)
Nominee: Kevin Curtin (COS)
GENERAL EDUCATION (8 elected members, 3-year term)
Continuing Members: Kelly Dunne (CHSS - 2014), Doug Eyman (CHSS - 2013), Mack Holt (CHSS - 2014), Hugh Sockett (CHSS - 2013), Mark Uhen (COS - 2014)
Nominees: Dominique Banville (CEHD), Rebecca Ericson (COS), Frank Allen Philpot (SOM)
Provost Appointees: Rick Diecchio (COS), Kim Eby (Assoc. Provost), Janette Muir (Assoc. Provost for Undergraduate Education, Chair), Cliff Sutton (VSE), Carol Urban (CHHS)
Continuing Member: Cody Edwards (COS)
Nominees: 1-year term: Rick Coffinberger (SOM)
2-year term: Doris Bitler Davis (CHSS), Paul Houser (COS), Mike O'Malley (CHSS)
MINORITY and DIVERSITY ISSUES COMMITTEE
Continuing Members: David Anderson (CEHD), Xiaomei Cai (CHSS), Hazel McFerson (CHSS), Michael Mink (CHHS)
Nominees: Jian Lu (COS)
NON-TRADITIONAL, INTERDISCIPLINARY, and ADULT LEARNING
Continuing Members: Cynthia Lum (CHSS), Carole Rosenstein (CVPA), Ray Sommer (SPP)
Nominees: Nada Dabbagh (CEHD), Kathryn Jacobsen (CHHS)
SALARY EQUITY STUDY COMMITTEE (3 elected members)
Continuing Member: Margret Hjalmarson (CEHD)
Nominees: Eden King (CHSS), Lesley Smith (CHSS), Catherine Wright (CHSS)
Continuing Members: Andy Finn (CHSS), Nirup Menon (SOM), Nigel Waters (COS)
Nominees: Alok Berry (VSE), Pallab Sanyal (SOM), Stanley Zoltek (COS)
Provost Appointee: Goodlett McDaniel (CHHS)
WRITING ACROSS THE CURRICULUM COMMITTEE
Continuing Members: Greg Robinson (CVPA), Miruna Stanica (CHSS), Sharon Williams von Rooij (CEHD)
Nominees: Benedict Carton (CHSS), Charlene Douglas (CHHS), Tamara Maddox (VSE), Arthur Romano (S-CAR), Stanley Zoltek (COS)
Ex Officio: Sarah Baker, Director, WAC Program
Sia Rose-Robinson (SOM) was nominated; the nomination was seconded and approved unanimously.
The nominations to the University Standing Committees were approved and the nominees elected.
B. Conflict of Interest Policy
See Attachments A and B. Chair Tangney explained that it was necessary to move this through quickly because of federal deadline requirements, so it was not considered by the Faculty Senate before. The floor is open to discussion. A Senator requested a brief summary of academic policies changed be provided at the beginning of the academic year. Nicole Snyder is the new University Policy Manager in the Office of University Counsel. Another Senator inquired whether this is provided as FYI or for endorsement? Provost Stearns responded as FYI unless you have concerns. No concerns were expressed, Chair Tangney thanked Provost Stearns for the FYI.
C. Resolution of Appreciation for Marion Deshmukh
WHEREAS Phi Beta Kappa, the preeminent academic honorary society in the liberal arts, has approved the establishment of a chapter at George Mason University; and
WHEREAS the University, its Faculty, and, especially, Mason’s students benefit from this action; and
WHEREAS, Prof. Marion Deshmukh of the Department of History and Art History was primarily responsible for shepherding Mason’s application through a lengthy, detailed, and arduous process that required extensive time and effort;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Faculty Senate, on behalf of the General Faculty, expresses its gratitude to Prof. Deshmukh.
A Senator proposed to amend the motion to insert “and Art History” in the third whereas after “Department of History”. The amendment was seconded and the resolution was unanimously approved as amended.
VII. Remarks for the Good of the General Faculty
Congratulations to Chair June Tangney as she has done a very good job in her first meeting as chair!
A Senator introduced Visitor Karen Alcalde; Chair Tangney welcomed her.
Chair Tangney thanked all the volunteers to the Senate and University Standing committees and reminded the Senate committees to meet briefly at the end of the meeting to select a chair.
The Grand Piano Celebration with Senator Linda Monson will take place on Sunday, September 16th at 3:00 p.m. at the Center for the Arts.
Senator Susan Trencher continues to serve on the Faculty Food Committee. Please email me to communicate any concerns.
VIII. Adjournment : The meeting was adjourned at 4:20 p.m.
Financial Conflicts of Interest in Federally-Funded Research: Policy Number 4010
is posted on the Faculty Senate website at
Appendix to Financial Conflicts of Interest in Federally-Funded Research: Policy Number 4010
Is posted on the Faculty Senate website at