The Faculty Senate met last Wednesday to discuss issues including parental leave and the possibility of video conferencing future Faculty Senate meetings. President Alan Merten delivered his final address as the top university official at the beginning of the meeting. The session was also Peter Pober’s last as chair of the Faculty Senate. Pober has been chair since 2009, and the Faculty Senate will elect a new chair at their next meeting.

by Stephen Kline

In his speech, Merten reflected on his time at George Mason University, expressed his love for the institution and said he plans on remaining involved with the university in coming years. Merten said he intends to teach an honors course at Mason dealing with technology in the modern world.

Following Merten’s speech, Suzanne Scott, chair of the Academic Policies Committee, said in her report that the add/drop period will remain unchanged despite the Student Government’s recent request that it be extended.

The Faculty Senate then discussed a new parental leave policy for faculty members. According to the Faculty Senate, the current economic situation means that unpaid leave is no longer a feasible option. The proposed parental leave policy would allow new parents to work half-time for one academic year. New parents would have the option to work half-time for two semesters or work just one full semester.

Star Muir of the Organization and Operations committee discussed the possibility of video conferencing Faculty Senate meetings. Attendance at Faculty Senate meetings is open to anyone at Mason, but some people, especially those who work on the Prince William campus, cannot make the commute to the Fairfax campus. Video conferencing would solve this issue and would allow Faculty Senate discussions to reach a wider audience. Identifying a location large enough to accommodate the Faculy Senate that is equipped with video conferencing technology, however, has proven difficult.

The Faculty Senate also discussed the fact that the operating systems of all PCs on campus will be upgraded from Windows XP to Windows 7 in fall 2012. The Innovation Hall computer lab has already been outfitted with Windows 7. The upgrade is necessary because Windows will stop producing security updates for Windows XP, and Windows 7 is a stable operating system.

The Faculty Senate also honored two members of the Mason community. Linda Monson, the director of keyboard studies in the School of Music, was named faculty member of the year. Anthropology majorand Connect2Mason executive editor Kevin Loker was recognized as senior of the year.

The April 11 meeting has been canceled, so the next Faculty Senate meeting will take place on April 25.