Provost Addresses Faculty Senate

Posted: February 12, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

At the monthly meeting of the Faculty Senate on Feb. 11, Provost Peter Stearns took questions from senators on a wide range of issues.

Some of the topics and a summary of his responses follow.

  • Phi Beta Kappa chapter on campus: There are no new developments at this time.

  • Medical school feasibility study: It has been completed; the university is exploring possible partnerships in the medical education area.
  • Faculty and staff housing: The project is underway. At this time, plans are to build 157 units. No plans for a second phase currently exist.
  • Provost Office staffing: The provost is contemplating establishing a senior position in the next fiscal year to oversee global affairs.
  • Ras Al Khaimah Campus vice president: The position has not yet been filled and is still open.
  • Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology relocation to the Fairfax Campus: There are no plans to do this.
  • Faculty salaries: There are no plans to cut salaries.
  • Additional funds for graduate teaching assistant stipends: Because of the budget situation, this has been put on hold. However, health insurance has been provided for in the next fiscal year.

The senate also heard from Kimberly Eby, associate provost for faculty development and director of the Center for Teaching Excellence, who provided an update on the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP).

Eby reported that the committee overseeing the project, which is required as part of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) reaccreditation process, has narrowed topics down to three from the 12 submitted.

The three finalist plans are:

  • Cultivating a global perspective
  • Fostering a culture of student scholarship
  • Social entrepreneurship: 21st century leaders of change

Eby said the next steps would be to form subcommittees around each of the finalist proposals and to send out a survey to the entire Mason community, including alumni, to seek input. The goal is to finish the survey and select one of the three plans by the end of the spring semester.

After the topic for the QEP is selected, a five-year plan will be developed, and implementation should begin in the fall of 2011.

In response to a question about costs, Eby said a two-track plan is being developed to adjust to changing economic conditions.

More information is available on the QEP web site.

In other business, the senate voted in favor of a resolution to “promote effective and collegial relations between the Faculty Senate and the central administration.”

The resolution calls for a seven-member task force of senate and administration representatives who would propose guidelines “for harmonious and effective collaboration” between the senate and administration.

The task force is to give a final report to the senate no later than October 2009.

The resolution is designed to complement a previous resolution calling for an annual senate evaluation of the president and provost in their interactions with the senate.

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