President Merten Addresses Faculty Senate

Posted: April 7, 2011 at 1:01 am, Last Updated: April 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm

By Robin Herron

At his first appearance before the Faculty Senate on April 6 after announcing that he will step down as Mason president on June 30, 2012, Alan Merten outlined the process for hiring his replacement and shared some of his plans for the future.

Merten said, “I will help in any way if asked” in the process for hiring a new president, but would not be involved otherwise. He said an ad hoc committee of Board of Visitors (BOV) members Lovey Hammel, Edward Newberry and R. Carter Pate was appointed to recommend criteria for a presidential search committee, and they are expected to report to the full board when it meets on April 13. Merten said he anticipates a search firm would be hired.

Merten noted that the Faculty Handbook is precise on the role of the faculty in a presidential search.  The Faculty Senate will elect representatives to the search committee once its composition is determined.

As to his personal plans, Merten said he expects to have “some kind of faculty appointment” after he steps down and that he and his wife, Sally, will stay in the area. He noted that they had met in Virginia and “this is our home.”

In response to a question about what direction he sees the university taking after he steps down, Merten said that the size and makeup of the university is one question for the future. Commercialization of the university’s intellectual property is another issue, as well as what the university will do with the land it owns.

In the near future, Merten noted that he and four other university presidents will serve on a higher education advisory committee that Gov. Bob McDonnell has established.

In other business, the Faculty Senate voted to approve changes to the Faculty Handbook that were discussed at a special meeting on March 23.

The changes can be viewed at the Faculty Senate website. The revisions will now be sent to the Board of Visitors for its approval.

The senate also passed a motion to revise a previously adopted resolution regarding the annual evaluations of the university president and provost. The changes addressed the need to conduct the process in a timely manner and the procedure for communicating the reports to the general faculty and the Board of Visitors.

An amendment to the procedure specifying that the Faculty Senate chair would request a separate meeting to discuss the report with the BOV and invite faculty representatives to the BOV to attend was suggested and approved, as was a request for the BOV rector to comment upon the evaluations during his or her regular appearances at Faculty Senate meetings.

The senate also recommended James McCauley, professor of communication, for emeritus status. Upon his retirement, McCauley will not have met the length-of-service requirement (10 years) for emeritus status, and the senate requested an exception to this requirement based on his “long record of excellent performance in academia and his record of outstanding work since his arrival at George Mason in all venues, university, college, department and discipline….”

This motion will be forwarded to the Board of Visitors for its consideration.

The senate also reports from Jorge Haddock, dean of the School of Management, and Jack Censer, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, on their unit’s activities.

Rick Davis, associate provost for undergraduate education, was scheduled to address the senate on general education, but that presentation was deferred because the meeting ran late.

Chair Peter Pober reminded the senate of the special called meeting of the Faculty Senate on Wednesday, April 20, with special guests Del. David Bulova and state Sen. Chap Petersen. The meeting will be at 3 p.m. in Robinson Hall B, Room 113. Faculty Senate meetings are open to the Mason community.

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