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Chair of the Faculty Mimi Chapman convened a special meeting of the Faculty Executive Committee on August 4 to discuss coronavirus safety for fall semester. After hearing from Provost Bob Blouin and faculty experts from public health and government, the committee passed a resolution requesting delegated authority to UNC Chapel Hill to respond effectively to COVID-19.

The resolution [PDF] was transmitted to UNC System President Peter Hans and the chairs of the UNC Board of Governors and UNC Board of Trustees this afternoon accompanied by the following letter.

August 5, 2021

Peter D. Hans, President
University of North Carolina System

Randall C. Ramsey, Chair
UNC Board of Governors

David L. Boliek Jr, Chair
UNC Board of Trustees

Dear President Hans, Chair Ramsey and Chair Boliek,

I write to you as my colleagues in shared governance at Carolina to advocate for the best interest of this campus that I care deeply about as a faculty member and alumna. Together with this letter, please find a resolution, unanimously passed on August 4, 2021 by the Faculty Executive Committee, requesting that the UNC System delegate authority to our Chancellor and Provost to make decisions to protect our campus and surrounding community from COVID-19 by through vaccination mandates and mask guidance for the University.

As you know, the Delta variant, which is proving to be as highly transmissible as chicken pox, has changed the landscape with COVID-19 as we prepare for the fall semester. Although some of us may have had trepidation in May about a full return this fall, the declining case numbers and the promise of highly effective vaccines gave comfort that a safe return was possible. However, the news in the last two weeks, about rising case numbers, hospitalizations, break through infections, and the numbers of younger people being affected have given our campus pause about re-opening plans. Even those of us that are fully vaccinated are concerned about our students, the young children ineligible for vaccination in our families, our immune-compromised colleagues, and vulnerable community members among others. Further, our colleagues at UNC Hospitals have been heroic this year. We should do everything in our power to keep them from having to, yet again experience overflowing emergency rooms and limited ICU space, particularly now when such a situation is entirely preventable. Yesterday both the Faculty Executive Committee and the Employee Forum communicated their support and desire for mandated vaccination for all faculty, staff and students to Provost Blouin.

All scientific data demonstrate that vaccines and masks are our best tools to counter this virus and this variant, preserve in-person learning, and support the health of our economy. Further, there is precedent for UNC System campuses making individual decisions, in concert with local public health officials, about requiring vaccines in the face of an outbreak. In 1989, UNC Chapel Hill and other system campuses made decisions to require booster shots in response to a measles outbreak in the state. These decisions required negotiations with public health departments, not the UNC System. They proved to be effective in curbing that outbreak and protecting our campus.

Given that the UNC System has been very clear that it expects nothing less than a full, residential experience for students in the fall semester, it is only right that campuses have the delegated authority to use all available tools, including mandated vaccination for faculty, staff, and students, to make that experience possible and safe. We recognize that other campuses may have different perspectives on this issue and do not presume to speak for or ask for anything on behalf of our sister campuses.

Time is of the essence. Please delegate the authority to our Chancellor and Provost to make these vital decisions.


Mimi V. Chapman, PhD, MSW
Chair of the Faculty
Frank A. Daniels Distinguished Professor for Human Service Policy Information
Associate Dean for Doctoral Education
School of Social Work
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


C: Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz, Provost Robert A. Blouin


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