President Merten Updates Faculty Senate on Legislative Issues

Posted: February 17, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

President Alan Merten told the Faculty Senate yesterday that although the exact figures have not yet been nailed down, it looks like this session of the Virginia General Assembly will vote for increases to George Mason to help with enrollment growth, undergraduate financial aid, and faculty and staff salaries. He also reported that the university was asked for data to support a recalculation of the Northern Virginia cost of living increment that the governor could include in his next biennial budget in December.

Merten provided some background on the Restructured Higher Education Financial and Administrative Operations Act, which would provide more autonomy to institutions of higher education in the state. He said George Mason is currently interested in a level of autonomy that would allow the university more independence in the areas of tuition, purchasing, information technology, and capital projects. This would involve negotiating a management agreement with the state. As an example of where this would be helpful, he cited a recent instance in which the university wanted to lease more parking spaces at the Truland Building in Arlington, but had to go to Richmond to have the lease approved.

In regard to the university’s plan for 2010, Merten said that even though the university has decided to hold enrollment at 31,000 rather than the 35,000 discussed previously, the need for capital projects remains strong. “We have to catch up,” he said. “We need significant additional facilities.” On the Fairfax Campus, he said, “We are aggressively planning facilities across Rt. 123.” He said the facilities plan for the entire university through 2010 will be presented to the Board of Visitors this month, with the hope it will be approved at the board’s March meeting.

In other business, the Faculty Senate voted to establish a task force to look at issues that may influence a future application for a Phi Beta Kappa chapter at George Mason. The university’s latest application was turned down; an application would not be considered by the honor society for another three years.

The senate also plans to hold a special joint meeting on March 9 with the George Mason chapter of the American Association of University Professors to consider a resolution regarding computer privacy and the Patriot Act. The meeting will be at 3 p.m. in Robinson Hall B, Room 113.

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