President Merten Speaks at Faculty Senate

Posted: April 6, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By David Driver

Alan Merten, president of George Mason, encouraged faculty input and recognized several recent faculty achievements at the Faculty Senate on April 4.

Merten informed faculty that Mason has hired an outside consultant to do a “campaign readiness study” as the university plans for its next major fundraiser. Merten said information will be forthcoming on how faculty can provide input to the consulting firm.

Merten noted Judy Jobbitt, George Mason University Foundation president and vice president of University Development and Alumni Affairs, recently resigned and will leave the university June 30. Joy Hughes, vice president CIO, Information Technology, will chair the search committee to find Jobbitt’s replacement. According to Hughes, the committee includes 16 people, including herself.

Jobbitt has been with Mason for eight years. During that time, Mason’s first comprehensive fund-raising campaign—The Campaign for George Mason University—was launched and concluded, bringing in commitments of $142 million.

In addition, the George Mason University Foundation matured and surpassed the benchmark of $50 million for endowment.

Merten also noted three current faculty members who have recently received honors:

  • Rebecca Goldin, Mathematical Sciences, was named the first recipient of the Ruth I. Michler Memorial Prize given by the Association for Women in Mathematics. The Michler Prize grants a mid-career woman in academe a residential fellowship in the Cornell University mathematics department without teaching obligations.

  • Abul Hussam, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, received the 2007 Grainger Challenge Prize for Sustainability Gold Award of $1 million from the National Academy of Engineering in February. The award recognized his innovative solution for removing arsenic from drinking water that is poisoning tens of millions of people in developing countries.

  • Roy Rosenzweig, director of Center for History and New Media at Mason, won the Distinguished Service Award from the Organization of American Historians (OAH).

Merten also said Joseph Wood, formerly at Mason, was recently named interim president at the University of Southern Maine, starting July 1. Wood is currently the provost and vice president of academic affairs at Southern Maine. He was vice president for academic affairs at Mason from 1997 until he left for Maine in 2000.

In senate action, the university policy on copyright was approved. The principal purposes on the revised policy, as stated in the policy itself, are to:

  • clarify rights of authorship and ownership in copyrighted works, affirming the university’s commitment to the “traditional works” doctrine under which copyright in works created at the university by faculty and students is generally owned by the creators;

  • provide for the equitable sharing of the financial benefit from the university-owned copyrighted works;

  • clarify roles and responsibilities for the implementation of the copyright policy, including the role of a faculty-based Intellectual Property Committee to resolve disputes; and

  • conform the university’s copyright policy to Virginia law.

Also, a motion passed on an academic policy on student absences for religious observances or participation in university activities. It is Mason’s policy to encourage its faculty to make a reasonable effort to allow students to observe their religious holidays or to participate in university-sponsored activities (intercollegiate athletics, forensics team, dance company, etc.) without academic penalty.

The senate also passed a motion in regards to the employment of a family member/partner. According to the Senate, “favoritism or the appearance of it can undermine the trust that members of the university community place in personnel decisions as well as the public interest which the university serves. Thus, a personnel decision involving a family member or partner of another faculty member or administrator requires unique scrutiny and special safeguards.”

Also, the senate unanimously approved the nomination of Jose Cortina, College of Health and Human Services (CHHS), to serve on the ad hoc Provost’s committee to explore a Mason Faculty Practice Plan, and the nomination of Ana Stoehr, CHHS, to serve on the Veterans and Deployment Issues committee.

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