Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about faculty governance at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Faculty committee chairs: See also our special FAQs for Committee Chairs.
I am interested in serving on Faculty Council or a campus-wide standing faculty committee. How can I become involved?
The Office of Faculty Governance circulates an electronic survey by email to all members of the Voting Faculty every February in which we ask faculty members to express interest in serving on the Faculty Council or specific faculty committees. The Faculty Nominating Committee, which develops the annual faculty election ballot, takes expression of interest very seriously in developing a slate of candidates. Faculty are also welcome to contact the Office of Faculty Governance to discuss an interest in becoming involved.
I’ve heard about the “faculty elections.” What are they, and when are they?
Each year, pursuant to the Faculty Code of University Government (essentially the constitution for faculty governance at UNC), all voting-eligible faculty elect members of the representative Faculty Council and the eleven elected standing committees of the faculty that are enumerated in the Faculty Code. The elections are conducted by electronic ballots emailed to faculty, and are usually held in March.
Who makes up the Faculty Nominating Committee?
The Faculty Nominating Committee plays a key role in faculty governance at UNC, as it is responsible each year for assembling a slate of candidates for the standing faculty committees and the Faculty Council. As constituted under section 4-2 of the Faculty Code, the Nominating Committee consists of “the chair of each of the standing committees established by this Article, or the chair’s designee, and four members of the voting faculty appointed by the chair of the faculty.”
Who gets to vote in the faculty elections?
Article 1, Section 4 of the Faculty Code defines the “Voting Faculty” as comprised of all members of the General Faculty with tenured or probationary-term appointments, librarians who are members of the General Faculty, and fixed-term faculty whose positions meet certain criteria (see below). A member of the Voting Faculty who retires but continues on the faculty with a fixed-term appointment that calls for at least one-half time effort retains the voting status that he or she held immediately prior to retirement. As of 2010, UNC had about 3500 voting-eligible faculty members.
Do fixed-term faculty members have voting rights in faculty elections?
Yes. Fixed-term faculty at UNC who meet certain qualifications have had voting rights in faculty elections here since 1995. The qualifications for voting are spelled out in the Faculty Code, section 1-4 and say that voting rights are extended to fixed-term faculty whose positions satisfy the following criteria: (1) the position is for not less than 75% of an equivalent full-time position and is not a visiting appointment; and (2) the duties of the position include teaching, research, or both; and (3) the actual or anticipated length of service in the position is at least three years. This criterion is satisfied if (i) the current term of appointment is for three years or more, or (ii) the appointment is a renewal appointment to the same position and the combined length of the current term and the immediately preceding terms is three years or more.
Does Faculty Council meet in the summer?
No. It meets eight times a year, September through April. If rapid faculty action on the Council’s behalf is needed during the summer, the Faculty Executive Committee handles the matter.
Who presides over Faculty Council?
Article 2, Section 5 of the Faculty Code says that “Pursuant to § 502(D)(2) of The Code of the Board of Governors of The University of North Carolina, the chancellor has the right to preside over the deliberations of the Faculty Council. The chair of the faculty presides upon the request of the chancellor.”
In practice, the chancellor generally calls each Faculty Council meeting to order, makes some introductory remarks, and then defers to the Chair of the Faculty to preside over the rest of the meeting.
Who may speak at Faculty Council?
According to Appendix B of the Faculty Code, “Rules and Procedure of the Faculty Council,” any member of the General Faculty (an entity defined in Article 1 of the Faculty Code), “may enter into the discussions of the Council upon recognition of the chair.” Other members of the University community, the Code states, “may attend Council meetings as observers unless a particular meeting has been declared closed.” In practice, members of the University community who are not members of the General Faculty occasionally speak at Council meetings upon recognition of the chair.
How do I get a topic or speaker on the Faculty Council agenda?
The Faculty Code places responsibility for programming the Faculty Council agenda in the hands of the Agenda Committee, an appointed subcommittee of the Council. The Agenda Committee meets monthly during the academic year to consider agenda items. If you have an item that you would like the Agenda Committee to consider, please contact the Office of Faculty Governance at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-962-2146.
The rules of procedure for the Faculty Council also allow faculty members to initiate proposals from the floor, although proposals for legislative action must be distributed in advance of the meeting according to the rules of providing “due notice.”
Are the standing committees of the faculty subcommittees of the Faculty Council?
No. The standing committees of the faculty (which are established in Article 4 of the Faculty Code) are not subcommittees of the Faculty Council. Instead, the committees—with the exception of the Agenda Committee—are free-standing, independent committees either elected directly by the Voting Faculty or appointed by the Chair of the Faculty or the Chancellor.
The committees do report annually to the Faculty Council and sometimes propose resolutions for Faculty Council action. Members of the Faculty Executive Committee and the Faculty Assembly Delegation serve as ex officio members of the Council, but otherwise the committees operate alongside the Council and largely independent of it.
When do the faculty committees meet?
Each faculty committee sets its own meeting schedule each year. Please consult our online calendar.
Are faculty committees allowed to hold closed meetings?
No, as a general rule. Faculty committees are considered public bodies for the purposes of the North Carolina Open Meetings Law. Public bodies may hold closed meetings only for purposes specifically enumerated in the law. The only two such purposes that faculty committees are likely to encounter are meetings to select recipients of honorary degrees and other special awards, and discussions of personnel issues pertaining to specific individuals.
What and who is the Faculty Marshal?
The Faculty Marshal is one of the key “officers of the faculty” whose positions are established by Article 3 of the Faculty Code. Professor of communication Patricia Parker currently serves as the Faculty Marshal. According to the Faculty Code, the Faculty Marshal assists the chancellor with planning for commencement, University Day, and other university-wide academic ceremonies. The position’s most visible function is to lead the academic procession at all such ceremonies.
What is the Faculty Assembly?
It is faculty governance at the UNC-system level. Each year, the Chapel Hill faculty elects representatives from this campus to the UNC systemwide Faculty Assembly, which consists of delegates from all of the UNC system’s seventeen campuses. The Faculty Assembly was established in 1972, at the time that several campuses were “consolidated” under the UNC System. It was created at the request of then UNC President William Friday and has been active ever since. The Faculty Assembly endeavors to meet four times a year. For more information on the Faculty Assembly, please visit the Faculty Assembly webpage (located on the UNC System website).
Who addresses changes that may be needed in the Faculty Code?
Like any constitution or set of organizational bylaws, the Faculty Code is (and needs to be) a living document, evolving over the years since its creation in 1947 as “Faculty Legislation.” Standing committees, for instance, have come and gone, and the method for choosing members of both Faculty Council and many of the standing committees has changed. As late as 1999, a standing “Committee on Established Lectures” was appointed by the chancellor to conduct a series of “named lectureships on topics of campus-wide interest and concern,” but by 2004, this committee had been eliminated.
The tasks of watching over the Faculty Code, considering how and whether it needs to be changed, and making recommendations to the General Faculty about Code revisions are handled by the appointed Committee on University Government, which, the Code notes, “is concerned with the continuing development, adaptation, and interpretation of The Faculty Code of University Government.” The Code further notes that the committee should be “especially concerned with maintaining internal forms and procedures of academic administration which reflect principles of democracy and equity, vision and adaptability, and quality and responsibility, toward achieving the intellectual aims of the University.”
FAQ for candidates, Council and committee members
I was elected to the Faculty Council. When does my term begin, and when are the meetings?
Terms of all elected faculty committees and the Faculty Council begin July 1. The Council meets one Friday each month from September through April from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. There is no other time commitment other than to review meeting materials in advance.
What should I do if I go on leave during my term?
Members of the Faculty Council and the elected committees who plan to go on leave should inform the Secretary of the Faculty. Generally, an alternate will only be appointed to sit in for a committee member who goes on leave for an entire academic year. A committee member who goes on leave for only one semester is not usually replaced unless the committee chair asks for a replacement or (with regard to the Faculty Council) unless there would be no other representative of that constituency during the leave period.
If I am unable to attend a particular meeting of the Council or committee, should I call on an alternate to attend in my place?
No. The Faculty Code does not permit Faculty Council members to appoint proxies for meetings they cannot attend.
I was on the ballot, but not elected, in the recent faculty elections. Someone said that this makes me an “alternate” for the position I ran for. What does this mean?
Candidates for a position on the Faculty Council or one of the elected committees who are not elected are designated as alternates for that position in the order of the number of votes received. When a permanent or temporary vacancy occurs, the Secretary of the Faculty fills the vacancy by appointing the first alternate in the most recent election for that position. If there are no available alternates, the Faculty Executive Committee fills the vacancy.