President Merten Addresses Faculty Senate; Resolution Seeking ‘Shared Sacrifice’ Passes

Posted: November 20, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

At the Faculty Senate’s monthly meeting on Nov. 19, Mason President Alan Merten addressed the body on a variety of issues, from state support to construction on the Mason campuses.

The address was followed almost immediately by discussion and ultimately passage of a motion requesting that the president contribute his performance bonus and salary increase toward student financial aid.

The resolution, which was sponsored by the senate’s Task Force on Compensation Issues as well as several individual senators, was titled “Resolution Seeking Solidarity and Shared Sacrifice Between Faculty and the Central Administration During the Current Economic Crisis.” The resolution will be sent to Merten and all members of the Board of Visitors.

In other action, the senate approved the previously submitted University Policy on Ownership and Maintenance of Research Records, which had been revised in response to questions raised by the senate.

The senate also approved a motion urging faculty representatives to the Board of Visitors to meet individually with new BOV members and orient them to faculty concerns.

In his address to the senate, Merten referred to recent state budget cuts and the current economic situation by saying, “These are difficult times.” He added, “We have to keep our spirits up and we have to keep moving ahead.”

Regarding relations with the state, Merten announced that the university has recently hired a director of government relations who will be based in Richmond. He noted that Mason has a new member on the Board of Visitors, Vince Callahan, who served in the state legislature for 30 years and “wants to help.”

Merten also listed efforts of various university officials to meet with current members of the legislature as well as possible gubernatorial candidates to educate them about higher education issues.

On the financial front, Merten reported that Mason asked the state to recalculate the university’s base budget adequacy and to do it every year. The university is also studying the cost of living in Northern Virginia and other urban areas of the state.

Other issues Merten touched on included the university’s continued growth in sponsored research; construction, including the new hotel and conference center on the Fairfax Campus; and university administration’s need for influential individuals to serve on the BOV and university advisory boards.

Merten also praised faculty members who were quoted in the media regarding the many issues surrounding the presidential election. “Many people have told me that not only do our faculty know what they’re talking about on these issues, they also know how to talk about them,” he said.

Merten ended his remarks by saying, “Thank you for what you’ve done, and thank you for what you will do in the future.”

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