Provost Outlines Initiatives at Faculty Senate Meeting

Posted: September 9, 2010 at 1:04 am, Last Updated: September 8, 2010 at 5:14 pm

By Robin Herron

To start off the first Faculty Senate meeting of the year on Sept. 8, Provost Peter Stearns was called upon to provide an update on academic and other university initiatives.

Among the provost’s comments were the following:

  • In light of this fall’s higher-than-anticipated enrollment, the provost plans to convene an ad hoc committee later in the semester to look at long-term enrollment targets. The fall’s higher numbers were due primarily to improved retention, an expansion in graduate enrollment and part-time students switching to full-time status.
  • The university expects to have a chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, which describes itself as “the nation’s oldest, largest and most selective honor society for all academic disciplines,” in place this semester. The university will reapply for a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, another selective academic honor society, in the spring.
  • Research awards are up by 13 percent this year.
  • New programs in place at the Prince William Campus this fall include a graduate-level joint medical education program with Georgetown University, which has enrolled 53 students; and the Governor’s School @ Innovation Park for high school students.
  • Residence halls house 5,400 students this fall, and when the next section of housing is completed next year, the number will increase to 6,000.
  • Mason continues to have a successful collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution, including the conservation program at Front Royal, Va.
  • The Provost’s Office will have a search for a vice president of global strategies; in the meantime, Anne Schiller is filling the position on an interim basis.
  • The university is conducting a market survey to determine the feasibility of a Mason site in South Korea, and is also looking at opportunities in Sardinia, Italy.
  • Mason is looking at possibilities for facilities in Loudoun County, Tyson’s Corner and the District of Columbia.

In other senate business, a motion to amend the bylaws to offer flexibility in scheduling meetings was passed. The senate also elected representatives to senate and university committees.

The senate heard reports from Sharon Pitt, executive director of the Division of Instructional Technology, on the Blackboard system; Donna Fox, associate dean of the Office of Academic Integrity, on the honor code; and Danielle Miller, student and president of the Mason Ambassadors, on her group’s work.

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