President Merten Addresses Faculty Senate

Posted: October 13, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

In his fall address to the Faculty Senate, President Alan Merten discussed cost-of-living increases, the university’s plans in Loudoun County, issues raised as a result of allegations of financial mismanagement at American University, and funding of new university buildings—topics of interest suggested by senate members.

Merten told the senate that with respect to cost-of-living increases, “we are aggressively raising the issue with the state.” Noting that university employees in Northern Virginia haven’t had such an increase in years, he said the university had provided information to state officials in support of the increase and expected a “correction” to be phased in over the next three years.

“We have a footprint in Loudoun,” the president announced in his discussion of the university’s activities in the county, which include offering classes in a leased building for the first time this fall. Approximately 140 students have signed up to take classes. The university has also put in a request with the state for planning money to design a new campus on 123 acres in the county. The university is interested in building an ecologically friendly, or “green” campus, he said, and would like faculty who have an interest in that area to get involved in the planning, which he said “is moving very quickly.”

Although the specific programs that will be located at the new campus have not been decided, there are several under consideration, he said, especially health and human services, to take advantage of the proximity to the new Howard Hughes medical research facility. “The Prince William Campus will serve as a kind of model for this campus,” he said, and the Loudoun campus will likely have a similar mixture of academic and research programs.

As a result of recent news stories about American University’s president and his personal financial management, Merten candidly discussed his contract with the university, how his performance is evaluated and how he handles expenses related to university business.

Merten also explained the various sources of funds to build new university buildings: the state, fees, private funds, federal funds such as grants, and indirect cost recovery from sponsored research. Some buildings use a combination of funding sources. He pointed out that state money funds only academic buildings, not student or recreation buildings.

In other business, Budget and Resources Committee Chair Richard Coffinberger reported that the Board of Visitors voted at its meeting last week to give faculty members a seat on all six subcommittees of the full board. Faculty Senate Chair David Kuebrich will work with President Merten to develop a procedure for selecting the faculty representatives.

A resolution on freedom of speech and expression was presented to the senate by James Bennett, and a substitute motion was presented by Robert Ehrlich. Action on the resolutions was postponed to the November meeting.

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