Faculty Senate Meets

Posted: December 10, 2010 at 1:04 am, Last Updated: December 9, 2010 at 4:27 pm

By Robin Herron

At its Dec. 8 meeting, the Faculty Senate heard comments from Board of Visitors Rector Ernst Volgenau and Mason President Alan Merten.

Volgenau noted that since he has been on the BOV, the board has expanded its focus from providing only fiduciary oversight to being more involved in fund raising and looking for alternative sources of revenue for the university. He reiterated that the BOV is committed to increasing faculty compensation and student aid.

In response to a question about receiving funds from foundations that have a particular political stance, both Volgenau and Merten pointed out that Mason and many other universities receive funding from a variety of sources that have perspectives across the political spectrum. However, they said that the source of funding does not and should not influence faculty members and that researchers should disclose the source of their funding.

Merten praised the Faculty Senate and the BOV for the effectiveness of their new relationship established several years ago when faculty members were first appointed to sit on various BOV committees.  Having a faculty voice on the committees is especially useful, Merten said, “because that’s where the action is.”

Merten also invited faculty members to submit suggestions for BOV appointments to him to pass on to the governor’s staff. He said he’s been told that more people want to sit on Mason’s board than on any other appointed board in the state.

Referring to the current fiscal environment, Merten said, “I want to thank you for going through a tough year. I know we’re all tired.” However, he pointed out that Virginia has been more fortunate than many other states that have had deep budget cuts, layoffs and furloughs.

Regarding the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education’s interim report, Merten said, “By and large we’re pleased because it recognized our needs.” He said he was also encouraged by what it didn’t address: mandatory tuition caps or ratios for in-state and out-of-state students.

Merten noted that Mason has already fulfilled the commission’s call for graduating more students because it has been accepting more students steadily since 2005.

Finally, Merten commended the senate for working with other faculty senates across the state to act as a group in lobbying the Governor’s Commission.

In other senate business, the senate voted to send a proposed resolution on voluntary faculty practice back to the Organization and Operations Committee for further study.

The senate heard reports from Mark Ginsberg, dean of the College of Education and Human Development, and Andrew Flagel, dean of admissions. Flagel noted that his office has issued an annual report for the first time.

The Faculty Senate will next meet on Feb. 9, 2011.

Write to gazette at gazette@gmu.edu