George Mason University

News at Mason

Faculty Senate Endorses Songdo Proposal, with Reservations

March 5, 2012

By Robin Herron

At its meeting on Feb. 29, the Faculty Senate voted to endorse the proposed Songdo, Korea, initiative, subject to two conditions.

The issue was studied by the Faculty Senate’s Academic Initiatives Committee, which found that the proposal for a Mason campus in Korea “does have merit.”

The conditions are

  • That deans of the colleges or schools that offer degrees in Songdo certify that the programs will meet all requirements for graduation, and that the sequence of courses will satisfy prerequisite requirements for the major degree program.
  • That the senior vice president certify that the program in Songdo will be self-supporting and financially viable beyond the initial five-year subsidy period.

More information on the Songdo initiative is posted on the Faculty Senate website.

The senate also heard final reports from Board of Visitors (BOV) Rector Ernst Volgenau, whose term ends in June. Volgenau commented on President Alan Merten’s departure, saying, “I’ve been impressed with his leadership.” At the same time, Volgenau said he welcomed the incoming president, Ángel Cabrera. “I expect that he will have a wealth of new ideas and can take the university to the next level,” Volgenau said.

Senators questioned the rector about the contractual aspects of the Faculty Handbook. Volgenau asked Mason University Counsel Tom Moncure, who was present, to report on this at the next Faculty Senate meeting.

Regarding a search for a new provost when Peter Stearns steps down next year, the rector commented that he did not expect the BOV to be involved in the search and that the president would make the final decision.

Departing deans Lloyd Griffiths of the Volgenau School of Engineering and Shirley Travis of the College of Health and Human Services also addressed the group. Travis noted that her college is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year and that the school has recently added two new departments, Nutrition and Food Studies and Rehabilitation Science. She said that enrollment has been strong, but that the college can’t expand further until a planned new building is completed.

Griffiths reported that a relatively new program, bioengineering, is “booming.” It  is the school’s most popular undergraduate program and has attracted a large number of female students. The civil, environmental and infrastructure engineering program is also doing well, he said, as is the program in gaming, which is a partnership with the College of Visual and Performing Arts.  Griffiths also said that the school is doing well in fundraising and will soon announce a major gift.

Griffiths said he plans to take a sabbatical after he steps down this summer and then return to teaching in the Volgenau School.

Chair Peter Pober announced that the Faculty Senate has been invited to meet with the incoming president Cabrera on Wednesday, March 7.

At its next meeting on Wednesday, March 28, the senate will consider a resolution regarding Mason’s  presidential search process.