So that we're all on the same page –
At Mason, policy exists following a decentralized model. Academic administration is governed on three levels: university, college, and department, allowing these units to tailor specialized policies to their practice and curriculum. Consult your department to obtain unit-specific policies.
- Faculty Handbook: The GMU Faculty Handbook defines and describes the conditions of full-time instructional, research, and clinical faculty employment; the structures and processes through which the faculty participates in institutional decision-making and governance; and the academic policies of the University as established by its Board of Visitors.
The provisions of the Faculty Handbook are incorporated by reference in all full time instructional, research, and clinical faculty employment contracts. These provisions are binding on the University and on individual faculty members. The Faculty Handbook governs the employment relationship of individual faculty members, and sets forth the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of faculty members and of the University. Faculty and academic administrators are expected to read the Faculty Handbook and to be familiar with its contents.
- University Catalog: The University Catalog is the authoritative source for all policy related to students’ progress through academic degree programs, and is the definitive source for information on the degree programs themselves.
- University Policy: The University Policy website houses policy whose central purpose concerns the administration of academic programs, especially when such policy involves coordination across multiple units or with external entities. Regulatory requirements, such as those of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), are also available on this site.
Policy Advisory Bodies
Developing and revising university policy is a collaborative process. The following entities are key contributors to various aspects of policy and interpretation.
- Graduate Council - official interpretations and refinement of graduate policy.
- Undergraduate Council - reviews and approves the creation, assessment, modification, or discontinuation of undergraduate programs.
- Faculty Senate Committees - Faculty Senate Standing Committees consist of Faculty Senators and provide input on academic policies, budgetary issues, and faculty-related policies, among others. University Standing Committees consist of faculty from across the university and provide input on a wide range of issues and policies, as described in their charges.
- Office of Digital Learning - contributes to governance pertaining to online coursework.
- Compliance, Diversity and Ethics - provides authoritative input on policy matters relating to equity, diversity, access, respect and inclusiveness for all members of the George Mason University community.
- Policy Management Group - This group is led by the Associate Provost for Academic Initiatives & Services. It is comprised of the directors, or their designees, from across the university student services offices (financial aid, admissions, student accounts, accreditation, international programs and services) and has a representative from the Faculty Senate Academic Policies committee. This group is made aware of high-level issues, which they then research and discuss, before drafting a resolution which is then passed along to the appropriate body for deliberation and approval.