Administration Presents Overview of University’s 2010 Plan

Posted: September 15, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron and Jeremy Lasich

At a town hall meeting yesterday, Provost Peter Stearns and Senior Vice President Maurice Scherrens presented an overview of academic and administrative plans to the university community for 2010 that they plan to finalize by December and present to the university’s Board of Visitors in January. In the meantime, they are seeking faculty and staff input.

Stressing that the process was a “unit-up exercise,” Stearns said the plan addresses three kinds of “intentions”—those that are already happening or are certain to happen, those that will need new funding sources to be realized, and plans that need further development on strategies to be accomplished.

In addition, Stearns explained that three different planning groups are working on major goals. The first group is addressing what he called “an aggressive effort” to bring faculty salaries to the 60th percentile of the university’s peer group, a need to improve the balance between the number of full-time and adjunct faculty, and increasing stipends for graduate assistants and adjunct faculty. The second group is looking at infrastructure issues and strategic planning to support the sciences at George Mason; and the third group is looking at student growth in terms of numbers, quality, student life infrastructure, and the revenue needed to support growth.

Stearns also provided an outline of each academic unit’s plans, which are available online.

Noting that student headcount has increased from 23,000 to more than 28,000 over the last four years, Scherrens said the university is now on a “slow growth” model and will probably add about 250 new students each year, although Mason is willing to accept more students if more state funding becomes available. He forecast a budget of $750 million by 2010, which he said will be less dependent upon state revenue and more dependent upon private support, research funding, and other revenue sources.

Scherrens outlined six “conceptual drivers” for the 2010 plan, which included compensation goals (a 5 percent increase for faculty each year; a 2 percent increase for staff on top of the percentage normally given by the state); an increase in student quality, an emphasis on research and the sciences, enhancement of student life, attention to physical resources, and operational effectiveness.

With regard to construction projects, Scherrens said there were 42 on the drawing board, with 36 that “we have to deliver” by 2010. Plans to add housing for another 1,000 students by 2008 will necessitate more on-campus recreation facilities and activities, he said. University community input will be sought via several town hall meetings on the “northeast sector,” the area closest to the city’s water tower, that will be the likely location of new student housing, parking, and other facilities. A traffic and parking study is already under way to evaluate potential disruptions during construction. Scherrens said the university will seek planning money for several of the projects from the Virginia General Assembly in the next legislative session.

Stearns and Scherrens noted that President Alan Merten’s convocation next week will provide another opportunity for comment on the 2010 plan. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 3 p.m. in the Johnson Center’s Dewberry Hall.

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