Having been in such frequent contact over the summer, it feels strange to be writing you an official welcome letter almost five weeks into the fall semester. Like many of you, I have a heavy heart as we approach our first Faculty Council meeting on Friday, September 11. Our campus is too quiet, we miss seeing each other in person, and we also wonder what comes next. As a faculty, some of us are anguished, some angry, some resigned and most adjusting. Even with all the difficult moments our campus has experienced, the pandemic and all it has laid bare feel more difficult still.
Last week, I sought counsel from our immediate past Chair of the Faculty, Professor Lloyd Kramer. Characteristically, he chose a perfect historical reference to sum up our current situation. We created a Maginot Line believing that a detailed plan, which took countless hours to execute, could keep a virus out of our community. We believed we could control the uncontrollable, and we could not. Soon, we will need a Roadmap to Spring. My hope is that collectively spending some time in reflection through an Acknowledgement, Analysis, and Moving Toward Spring event, we will create a plan that builds on the lessons we’ve learned, brings more voices to the table along with more ideas and creativity. Stay tuned for more information on that process.
Even though this is a challenging moment, I remain so proud to be a part of this faculty and so honored to serve as your Chair. Your encouraging words since I was elected are sustaining. Your critical words make me think and consider. And when I listen to you describe all that you do for our students and your deep commitment to their education and well-being, I am inspired. As I wrote on my personal blog a few weeks ago, Carolina and Chapel Hill are home to me and I am deeply committed to the health of our University. In all I do as Chair of the Faculty, I’ll try to earn and keep your trust.
Our first Faculty Council meeting of the year will bring some traditions like the Thomas Jefferson Award. We will also ask the Chancellor and the Provost to provide detailed updates on the budget and the planning processes for spring. I have requested that they not focus on general comments, rather, I have asked them to be as specific and honest about our collective life as they can possibly be. Because our meeting is remote, only Faculty Council members will be in the “Zoom room.” As your elected representatives, they will be asking questions on your behalf during the meeting. Anyone is welcome to watch the proceedings on the livestream. As the fall semester progresses, we will find ways to keep faculty informed and to provide their input. To that end, please feel free to share your suggestions with me.
I look forward to our first Faculty Council meeting on Friday. Please do not hesitate to contact me. Faculty Governance has never been more critical and your voice is what makes it work.