July 12, 2018

Dear Provost Blouin,

As you know, the Faculty Executive Committee recently spent some time discussing the case of Professor Jay Smith’s grievance, in response to faculty concerns about why the decision of the Faculty Grievance Committee in this matter was overturned. We sincerely appreciate your meeting with us on July 2, and your candor in answering our questions. On behalf of FEC, I am sharing a statement that emerged from our meeting on July 9th:

We believe the Faculty Grievance Committee discharged their duties in this matter with diligence and skill. We also believe that the Provost, the Chancellor, and the Board of Trustees reviewed this matter with diligence and in good faith. However, we note that overturning the committee’s decision created the concern that academic freedom had been compromised. We acknowledge administrators’ responsibility to maintain oversight over curricula. But to be compatible with the university’s commitment to academic freedom, this oversight must be fairly and consistently applied, leaving as many course scheduling decisions as possible to department-level leadership. We urge the Provost and the Chancellor to publicly reaffirm their commitments to department autonomy, academic freedom, and the processes of faculty governance.

Yours Truly,

Leslie V. Parise
Chair of the Faculty

 

Letter from Chancellor and Provost

FEC Response

Thank you for your thoughtful work to resolve the grievance filed by Professor Jay Smith. We are grateful for your diligent commitment to this process and affirmation of the highest principles of shared governance that we all share.

We are pleased to affirm our historic, steadfast commitment to academic freedom and faculty shared governance, and we value the robust and thorough process of faculty governance at this University. We know and appreciate the hard work of our faculty that has upheld and advanced this time-honored tradition. While faculty leadership and the Chancellor and Provost have generally agreed in these serious discussions and governance issues, there are rare occasions when we have disagreed. This instance is one of those rare occasions.

We recognize and support the role of the schools and departments that have a tradition of operating in a highly decentralized fashion on our campus. However, at the same time, academic freedom is not free from accountability, which we must enforce as leaders of this University. As the Faculty Code of University Government states very clearly, “the duties of a dean include…to administer all curricular and degree programs, all regulations governing academic standards, and such other special functions as may be delegated to the school or college.”

The shared governance model over curriculum and academic programs is recognized and reaffirmed in policy statements by the UNC System’s Board of Governors, the University’s Board of Trustees, and various accreditation bodies, and is imbedded in job descriptions of deans across our campus. Therefore, we cannot state or agree that an individual department has the right or authority to operate in complete autonomy from oversight by a school or University leadership.

Sincerely,

Carol L. Folt, Chancellor
Robert A. Blouin, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor

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