President Merten Addresses Faculty Senate

Posted: March 9, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

The status of funding by the Virginia General Assembly and construction plans at George Mason were the major topics of President Alan Merten’s biannual address to the Faculty Senate yesterday.

Saying, “We started off the process with a good budget from the governor,” Merten expressed guarded optimism that Mason will receive increased funding from this current legislative session. “We’ve done relatively well [so far], but it’s not over till it’s over,” he said.

Merten cautioned that transportation has taken center stage in the legislature and has edged out some requests that the university had lobbied for, such as a cost of living adjustment for employees. However, he indicated Mason was working with a coalition of other Northern Virginia agencies that have the same concerns regarding cost of living and will continue to push for an adjustment.

At this point in the session, funding bills differ in the House and the Senate, but Merten expects general fund support to increase. He also praised the legislature for considering funding of research separately from general funds for the first time, and said, “We want to make this a habit.”

Merten was hopeful that faculty and staff can expect a salary increase for the first year of the biennium in the neighborhood of 4 percent.

Construction at Mason will also depend to a large extent on state funding, and Merten outlined funding plans for renovations and additions to the Performing Arts Building, the Academic VI building and Research II on the Fairfax Campus, and the new Community Performing Arts Center at the Prince William Campus.

Merten also discussed other construction projects for the Fairfax Campus that won’t be dependent on state dollars because they are envisioned as public-private partnerships. These may include a hotel and conference center, faculty/staff housing and an assisted living facility for seniors.

Other business before the Faculty Senate were motions to create a faculty task force to consider salary issues and an ad hoc committee to review the new university faculty evaluation form after two semesters of implementation. Both motions passed.

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