September 11 Faculty Senate Meeting
The Senate held its first regularly scheduled meeting of the Fall 2020 semester on September 11, beginning at 2pm and ending at 6pm.
The Senate passed two resolutions, one on salary increases accompanying faculty promotions, and one of appreciation for Professor Sylvia Marotta-Walters. A third resolution, of censure of President LeBlanc regarding the appointment of Heather Swain, was debated extensively before being recommitted to its authoring committee (Appointments, Salary, & Promotion Policies) with detailed instructions around next steps, including a requirement to bring the resolution back to the Senate at its October meeting.
President LeBlanc and Provost Blake provided operational and financial updates as the fall term gets underway. A GW COVID-19 dashboard will shortly be made available online and will provide data on testing and positivity rates for the university community; GW’s testing protocol is working well. Budget mitigation efforts are focused on an annualized budget gap of approximately $180 million (updated from an earlier estimate of $220 million), an estimate that is more consistent with forecasts prepared by the Senate Fiscal Planning & Budgeting Committee. The first phase of mitigation steps has included restructuring, a salary freeze, a hiring freeze, leadership salary reductions, significant reductions in non-compensation budgets, and difficult decisions regarding staff layoffs. This phase of response is now nearing completion. During this phase, the university has also offset some of the negative budget impact by using reserves for one-time health and safety expenses. In the second phase of mitigation, the university recently announced the temporary suspension of retirement contributions, which takes effect in October. Beyond this step, the administration has not made any additional decisions at this time. The President specifically stated that no discussions have taken place at any level with regard to tenured or tenure-track faculty furloughs or layoffs.
Professor Ed Swaine, co-chair of the Senate Professional Ethics & Academic Freedom (PEAF) committee, updated the Senate on the recent revisions to the university’s Title IX policy. New Department of Education regulations were announced in the spring, necessitating a response by a federally mandated deadline of August 14. PEAF worked closely with the administration on the revised policy, which was approved by the Board on an expedited timeline, meeting the required response date.
In his Executive Committee report, Chair Wilson reported that the FSEC is considering a faculty evaluation of President LeBlanc that would complement the Board’s evaluation this academic year. The FSEC continues to meet frequently, outside of its normal meeting schedule, to discuss a number of pressing issues.
The next FSEC meeting will be held on September 29, and the next Faculty Senate meeting will be held on October 9. The draft minutes of the September 11 Senate meeting have been posted.
About the Faculty Senate
The GW Faculty Senate is the faculty governance body of the George Washington University. Senators are elected to two-year terms by their home schools, and the Senate annually elects an Executive Committee that sets agendas, reviews proposed resolutions, and guides the work of the Senate. The Senate is normally in session from September through May, although the Executive Committee works year-round on faculty and administrative matters.
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