President Merten Addresses Faculty Senate

Posted: November 2, 2006 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 the university has four priorities Mason would like to see included in the budget Gov. Timothy Kaine submits to the General Assembly in December.

The priorities are funding for faculty/staff salaries, need-based financial aid for undergraduates, graduate student fellowships, and research. Merten said to expect “a full court press on the governor and the General Assembly” from Mason and other colleges and universities in the state regarding funding higher education.

Merten also recapped the university’s gains from the last budget passed in June, saying, “We had a good year in the biennial cycle.”

In addition to modest salary gains, the university received capital funding for a new building for the Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering, the new performing arts center at the Prince William Campus, and the expansion of the Fine Arts Building on the Fairfax Campus. The university was successful in part, Merten believes, because funding for these building projects was “packaged” by leveraging a combination of state, federal and private funds. “This packaging for facilities will likely be the model” for the future, Merten explained.

Merten was also pleased, he said, that Mason received $3 million for research for the 2006-07 academic year, $3 million for the 2007-08 year, and $3 million for research equipment spread out over the two years. He noted this was the first time the General Assembly had allotted money specifically for higher education research.

In response to questions from the floor, Merten also said

  • The university hopes to form alliances with some other state agencies in Northern Virginia to lobby for a salary cost of living adjustment

  • The university wants “a significant campus presence in Loudoun County” but only if other development, such as residences and shopping areas, occurs nearby, and only if the site is accessible via major roadways

  • He supports making new buildings on campus energy-efficient and “green” and would like to see an academic component to the university’s efforts in this area

  • He supports fund-raising private dollars to boost faculty salaries

In other senate action, senator James Bennett declined to introduce his draft resolution on “Student Diversity and the Classroom Educational Experience,” citing concerns of the Mason Project on Immigration.

A resolution was passed that would establish a Task Force on Satellite Operations to review the academic content of courses offered and to monitor operational aspects on Mason campuses outside the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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