Faculty Senate Begins Voting on Gift Acceptance Policy Amendments

Allie Thompson/Fourth Estate

Amendments to the draft remain incomplete, will be voted on further


Mason’s faculty senate began voting on proposed amendments to the current draft of Policy 1123 Wednesday, March 13. The policy, defining the terms of accepting gift agreements, is being redrafted following the release of the Gift Agreement Report published by the Internal Review Committee in Oct. 2018.

The Gift Agreement Report is to be presented to the Board of Visitors later this spring, following edits by the faculty senate and Mason’s administration.

The meeting centered primarily around Article II, Section C.3.C, and Article II Section C.5.A. The first of these, 3.C, was related to who should sit on the newly formed Gift Acceptance Committee to review future gifts.

Parts of the motion carried unanimously, including that the committee should include a minimum of two members of the faculty senate. For the time being, these are the same members of faculty who served on the Internal Review Committee.

Section C.5.A focused on the amount of money that would warrant review of a gift by the committee. The original language of the draft stated that any agreement of $500,000 or above would be required for review.

Professor Bethany Letiecq, president of Mason’s American Association of University Presidents (AAUP) in the faculty senate, suggested that for the time being the threshold be lowered to $25,000 so that the acceptance committee could identify smaller problematic or non-standard agreements, rather than only focusing on major ones.

This led to a period of debate between the faculty senate and members of Mason’s administration. During the debate, both members of the administration and some members of the faculty senate raised objection about lowering the threshold.

Members of the administration argued that lowering the threshold would lead to an overwhelming amount of work for the committee. Letiecq responded by arguing that the majority of agreements are quite standard. Because of this, the majority of agreements would not require a detailed review.  

The motion was postponed on account of need for further consideration from the student body.

The faculty senate meeting concluded with the faculty appointing two senators to a task force to propose implementations for the new Gift Acceptance Policy.

In its current form, in the words of chairman of faculty senator Keith Renshaw, “The Gift Acceptance Committee is an advisory committee….The people who decide are the Board of visitors.”

Members of Transparent GMU stood silently with signs at the back of the meeting room to protest Mason’s current gift acceptance policy, as well as to express support for the amendments being drafted by faculty senate.

“Our goal was to highlight how students really support these faculty measures, and really just show our support,” said Gus Thomson, a senior integrative studies major at Mason and member of Transparent GMU.

He continued, “We’re really encouraged to see the faculty take action on a lot of these, and we’re really looking forward to them continuing on working through these motions in the future.”

The group is currently involved in a lawsuit against the GMU Foundation, the private organization that handles gift agreements for Mason.

The group’s appeal against a previous ruling in the Foundation’s favor was approved March 12. “We are excited that our case is moving forward and we are looking forward to our hearing this summer,” Thomson wrote to Fourth Estate.