September 5, 2017
Welcome to the new academic year! I write to express my gratitude for all your well wishes since I became Chair of the Faculty and to provide you with some thoughts about what we can accomplish over the next year.
The first few weeks of my tenure have been busy. The Faculty Executive Committee (FEC) met recently to discuss and take action on a Board of Governor’s proposal to prevent Centers in the UNC system from providing legal counsel or engaging in litigation. The FEC unanimously agreed that this proposal would especially hinder UNC’s Center for Civil Rights from fulfilling its mission to both educate and serve the public good. This resolution was also unanimously supported by the other 16 campuses within the UNC system.
After much robust and thoughtful discussion, the FEC also voted last week to send forward a resolution to the Faculty Council on the removal of Silent Sam. That resolution will be considered at the first Faculty Council meeting of the year on September 8. The agenda is posted here.
Because of legal complexities on Silent Sam’s removal that continue to emerge, and because of all the questions Faculty Governance and the Chancellor’s office continue to receive, we are collaborating with the chancellor’s office on a FAQ web page to be released soon. We will continue to have discussions about both the legal and ethical aspects of monuments on campus and our shared values as a faculty and members of the campus community.
While these topics evoke wide-ranging opinions, I expect that we will have informed, passionate and civil discussions at Faculty Council meetings and that these conversations will help us define our vision for the future. To that end, Professor Kim Strom-Gottfried from the Office of Ethics Education and Policy Management will lead us in a discussion on developing a university-wide “statement of values” later in the year. She will provide us with regular updates on the work of this office. I also urge faculty to attend the first Carolina Conversations of this academic year on Wednesday, September 6 on the topic of “The First Amendment and Free Speech at UNC.”
Also very important is the work of Professor Andy Perrin and other members of the General Curriculum Working Group in developing a plan to revise and simplify the General Curriculum. As faculty, we have the opportunity to shape a curriculum that will allow our students to empower themselves, think critically, investigate issues and engage in civil discourse about matters of importance to them. Professor Perrin will provide a timely update at our upcoming Faculty Council meeting and seek crucial input
Finally, please know that I am here to listen to your concerns. While I will try to respond to you as quickly as possible, do keep in mind that you can always contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or suggestions. I look forward to all that we will accomplish together over the next three years.
Leslie V. Parise
Chair of the Faculty
Professor and Chair of Biochemistry and Biophysics