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Meeting of the Faculty Council

Friday, February 17, 2023
3:00 p.m.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation Auditorium (0001 Michael Hooker Research Center)
Gillings School of Global Public Health

The meeting will be recorded and streamed live at this link.


3:00 p.m.   Call to order and Chair’s remarks
                         Chair of the Faculty Mimi Chapman

3:20 p.m.   Discussion on Board of Trustees resolution regarding a School of Civic Life and Leadership
                         Facilitated by Chair of the Faculty Mimi Chapman

4:20 p.m.   Resolution regarding a new school [PDF]
Submitted by Prof. Harry Watson (History)

[Note: The Faculty Council adopted an amendment to this resolution and then approved a motion to divide the resolution into two resolutions, the Secretary of the Faculty having determined that division was possible. The Faculty Council then approved Resolution 2023-1 and Resolution 2023-2.]

4:45 p.m.   Committee Reports (by title)

  • Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Admissions report [PDF]; Prof. Abigail Panter (Psychology and Neuroscience), chair
  • Committee on Fixed-Term Faculty report [PDF]; Prof. Tonya Van Deinse (Social Work), co-chair
  • Faculty Committee on Research report [PDF]; Prof. J. Victor Garcia (Medicine), chair

5:00 p.m.   Adjournment

Video of Proceedings

Watch the full video [Streaming]

Journal of Proceedings of the Faculty Council

The Faculty Council and General Faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill convened on Friday, February 17, 2023 in Michael Hooker Research Center, Room 0001. Members of the public were able to observe the meeting on a livestream.

The following 70 Faculty Council members attended: Aikat, Alderman, Alexander, Ansong, Balasubramanian, Binz, Brownley, Burch, Campbell, Chapman (Chair of the Faculty), Charles, Clement, Colford, Cook, De Fays, DeHart-Davis, Dillman Carpentier, Divaris, Donahue, Drummond, Estroff, Frederick, Freeman, Gates-Foster, Gold, Goralski, Haggis, Halpern, Hannig, Jackson, Johnson, Krause, Lensing, Lin, Lopez, McEntee, McLaughlin, McNeilly, Mehrotra, Mendez, Metcalfe, Meyer, Mohanty, Moore (Secretary of the Faculty), Moracco, Muller, Neal, Nichols, Penton, Pettifor, Plenge, Renner, Reyes, Roberts, Sathy, Schlobohm, Sena-Soberano, J. Smith, Thornburg, Triumph, Turi, Vernon-Feagans, Vines, Wahl, Watson, Weiler, Winget, Yaghoobi, Young and Zeeman.

The following 13 members received excused absences: Becker, Berkoff, Boyd, Cai, Entwisle, Hodges, La Serna, Mayer-Davis, Oliveira, K. Smith, Thorp, Wiltshire and Wolfe.

The following 7 members were absent without excuse: Hackney, Lain, Ma, Menard, Reissner, Rose and Zomorodi.

Others in attendance: Margaux Sherwen (Undergraduate Observer).

Call to order

Chair of the Faculty Mimi Chapman called the meeting to order at 3:00 p.m.

Chair remarks

Chair of the Faculty Mimi Chapman welcomed everyone to the Faculty Council meeting. She announced that the chancellor and provost will need to join later than usual. In addition, Dean James White of the College of Arts and Sciences and Prof. Mark Crescenzi (chair of Political Science), who serves as the chair of the College’s Circle of Chairs, have been invited to this meeting but will also arrive later.

Chair Chapman opened her remarks by acknowledging the mass shooting that occurred at Michigan State University on February 13. She acknowledged the pain of that community, and the Faculty Council observed a moment of silence. She thanked Campus Safety for their continued efforts to keep this campus safe. The MSU incident is a reminder for us to do our part as faculty to educate ourselves about campus preparedness and safety protocols.

Discussion on Board of Trustees resolution regarding a School of Civic Life and Leadership

Chair Chapman acknowledged and thanked students, faculty, and staff for their resilience during recent weeks. This tumultuous period on campus comes at a time when many faculty were just beginning to recover from the exhaustion of recent years. Three weeks ago, the Board of Trustees (BOT) announced the School of Civic Life and Leadership (SCLL) to the national media. The BOT met on January 26 and passed the Resolution in Support of School of Civic Life and Leadership [PDF].

Chair Chapman described two different narratives that have emerged since that vote. During the January 26 BOT meeting, there were statements that the resolution was simply advisory to the chancellor. She described a conversation with BOT Chair David L. Boliek, in which she asked what would happen if the faculty were to say no to SCLL, and his reply suggested that it would not happen if faculty did not approve. However, in BOT members’ communications with the media, the message has been different. These messages state that a school is to be formed and new faculty will be hired. It was described as a separate entity from the College of Arts and Sciences and professional schools, yet housed within the College. Most recently the message seems to be that the faculty have already voted on the school or elements of the school and that standard operating procedures have been followed. At the same time, Chair Chapman has received various requests, such as to route this issue to the College and relevant committees along with questions about the process of creating a school. She views this as being asked to take responsibility for the issue.

Chair Chapman then described two separate issues. First, she acknowledged that there is a problem with the IDEAs in Action curriculum that needs to be resolved. In 2024, a large group of juniors and seniors will need to complete the curriculum’s “Communication Beyond Carolina” requirement. Currently, the University does not have enough teaching capacity to implement this requirement, which is a problem that everyone agrees needs to be solved. Second, the BOT has said that another problem that needs to be solved regarding the ideological balance on campus, with a need for more conservative viewpoints to be brought forward and the concern that students who identify as conservative fear judgement from their peers if they express their views. Chair Chapman stated that some faculty members may agree with the BOT that is a problem while others may not, but regardless, the two issues are distinct and should be considered separately. It is important to decouple the needs of the College from the questions and concerns about SCLL.

Chair Chapman said that she would like to begin the discussion by reviewing what has happened in the past. She shared a timeline [PDF] of the IDEAs in Action curriculum discussions and the Program for Public Discourse (PPD) discussions that took place in Faculty Council. Various news outlets have made assertions that the faculty have already voted on elements that are related to SCLL, such as PPD and the IDEAs in Action Curriculum. Faculty engaged in robust discussion about the PPD and in October 2019 the Faculty Council considered Resolution 2019-10, On Delaying the Program for Public Discourse [PDF]. The resolution did not pass but this did not amount to a vote to establish the program. No such vote was ever taken; rather, at some point the program was simply announced. In contrast, the IDEAs in Action curriculum was discussed by Faculty Council a total of 12 times from 2016-2019. On April 12, 2019, Faculty Council adopted Resolution 2019-7, On Adopting a New General Education Curriculum [PDF]. In summary, the Faculty Council did vote to adopt the IDEAs in Action curriculum, but has not voted on a new school nor the creation or expansion of PPD.

Chair Chapman stated that the issue now is that we need to assist the College in getting the resources it needs to address the Communication Beyond Carolina requirement. She then opened the floor for discussion or questions.

Professor Rich McLaughlin (Mathematics) asked if the Faculty Council voted on the creation of the School for Data Science and Society.

Chair Chapman replied that the Council did not vote on the school, but several robust discussions were held in Faculty Council and Faculty Executive Committee meetings.

Professor Eric Muller asked if PPD was mentioned as a component of the Communication Beyond Carolina requirement while creating the IDEAs in Action curriculum.

Professor Elyse Crystall (English and Comparative Literature) said PPD was proposed as a non-curricular program, so it was not discussed during the creation of IDEAs in Action.

Chair Chapman said IDEAs in Action was proposed in 2016, but was not voted on until 2019, whereas PPD was created in 2019. The curriculum and program culminated together but did not originate together.

Professor Mark McNeilly (Business) said he thinks we’re confusing the BOT’s resolution with an idea that was proposed by the provost, who is faculty, but then got short-circuited. The School of Data Science and Society began similarly, by the then-provost in discussion with a couple of faculty members. These ideas must generate somewhere, and we should be clear about what is actually happening and not be blinded by publicity around what the BOT did. The process by which this has happened is faculty-driven.

Chair Chapman responded that in the more than three weeks since the resolution was passed, no one has come forward to say that they were involved in a working group or conversation about SCLL. Professor McNeilly asked why she would expect people involved in such discussions to notify the faculty chair. Chair Chapman responded that she receives messages about a wide variety of matters and would especially expect to hear from someone correcting her if the public statements she has made about this issue are wrong.

Professor McLaughlin said the School for Data Science and Society underwent extensive planning with the faculty, but he is unaware of any planning for SCLL.

Professor Beth Moracco (Health Behavior) was the director of the Master of Public Health program in the Department of Health Behavior for eight years. The public health school conducted an extensive overhaul of that degree; it went from a department-level degree to a school-wide one. The degree program underwent two graduate program reviews, a Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) report and reaccreditation for the Gillings School of Global Public Health, and there were additional steps. Faculty are concerned about SCLL because the process is not typical. Professor Harry Watson (History) said one of the most controversial points surrounding SCLL is whether the idea for it originated with faculty. That is part of what we have been debating, so it seems to him that if there were a working group then it would be natural to announce it. The absence of evidence doesn’t prove anything, but it is a very suggestive circumstance in a community that is founded upon lots of talk.

Professor Donald Haggis (Classics) said PPD is not found in the document of the IDEAs in Action curriculum. The BOT resolution proposed that SCLL be nested within the College of Arts and Sciences, but no proposal has been presented to the College on faculty involvement in the establishment of SCLL.

Professor Keith Sawyer (Education) said this discussion of SCLL by Faculty Council seems premature. The BOT resolution was a request for the administration of UNC-CH to do something, but the administration has not yet done anything. If the administration chooses to act on this issue, it would then be appropriate for faculty to express their opposition to it. If the administration decides to act on the request, at that point he would expect a faculty group to be formed. He noted that there are faculty on campus who would be delighted to participate in a working group focused on SCLL.

Chair Chapman said Faculty Council is discussing this issue at this time for two reasons. First, Faculty Council is a place where faculty assemble to discuss issues affecting our campus. Second, she has already been asked to act on this issue. Provost Clemens has asked her to share his budget memo [PDF] with the College and the appropriate committees.

Professor Jan Hannig (Statistics and Operations Research) asked for more information on the SACSCOC inquiry into SCLL.

Chair Chapman responded that SACSCOC sent an official accreditation inquiry letter to Chancellor Guskiewicz on February 15, seeking more information on the decision-making process behind SCLL. The University had 45 days to respond.

Overview of the creation of the School for Data Science and Society

Chair Chapman welcomed Professor Bob Blouin (Pharmacy), Senior Associate Dean Jay Aikat (Data Science and Society) and Dean Gary Marchionini (Information and Library Science) to the meeting and invited them to give an overview of the process by which the School for Data Science and Society was created.

Professor Blouin served as provost when the school was being discussed and planned. He said that over the past ten years, numerous committees were charged by numerous individuals to explore how to approach data science at the University. During the 2017-2018 academic year, then-Vice Chancellor for Research Terry Magnuson charged a faculty committee to study the future of data science at UNC-CH. The study was shared with then-Provost Blouin for consideration. Peer institutions had already moved quickly in this area and had received large gifts to create schools of data science. The administration had conversations with companies such as Amazon and Apple that explained how critical it was for universities associated with Research Triangle Park (RTP) to make a big commitment to data science. Many faculty in individual schools and departments were working on data science, but it was not concentrated. Computer science majors were interested in data science but were unsure how the two related. Professor Blouin determined that a center or institute was not bold enough; the University needed a school of data science. In Spring 2018, he asked Dean Marchionini and Professor Aikat to lead a steering committee, which was tasked with creating seven subcommittees made up of 120 faculty, staff and students. He met with the committee weekly and updated the Faculty Executive Committee and the Faculty Council as they made progress.

Dean Marchionini gave an overview of the steering committee and subcommittees [PDF]. Professor Blouin and the committee thoroughly engaged with a variety of campus units with a high stake in data science to ensure their voices were heard.

Professor Aikat said during the 2019-2020 academic year, the steering committee received feedback from the Departments of Computer Science, Statistics and Operations Research and Mathematics; the Gillings School of Global Public Health; the College of Arts and Sciences’ Clinical and Basic Science Council of Chairs; and department chairs from Humanities and Social Sciences.

Professor Blouin said one of the earliest questions of the committee was who has the authority to approve the creation of schools at the University. The guidance from the UNC System Office was that the decision to create a new school lies with the University; the approval of the Board of Governors is not required. The committee developed a 14-page proposal and shared it with the chancellor and selected members of the Board of Trustees so they would know this was under consideration.

Professor Blouin stressed the importance of strong funding for the school. The committee envisioned that funding would come from tuition dollars, new State appropriations and development opportunities.

In March 2020, the committee introduced the concept of the new school at a meeting of the BOT, with the feasibility document that had been developed by the faculty.

Chair Chapman then called for discussion, comments, or observations by Council members.

Professor Allison Schlobohm (Business) asked if faculty in the School of Government or the Department of Communication were involved in discussions about SCLL.

Department of Communication Chair Avi Santo said his department has not been involved in discussions about SCLL. They were heavily involved in preliminary conversations on how to address the Communication Beyond Carolina requirement and submitted a proposal to the General Education Oversight Committee for a communication lab. The proposal passed but was impeded by funding issues.

Chair Chapman thanked all the speakers who provided important background. She then encouraged Council members to consider SCLL and the Communication Beyond Carolina requirement as separate issues. She emphasized the importance of disentangling them to move forward productively. The College of Arts and Sciences needs a solution for the requirement in 18 months. Helping to solve this issue requires the Council’s immediate attention.

Professor Mark Crescenzi (Political Science), chair of the Council of Chairs [of the College], presented a letter [PDF] from chairs in the College of Arts and Sciences in support of the Dean of the College and his budget request to fulfill the College’s commitment to the IDEAs in Action curriculum. The letter also stated its support for the role of the faculty in determining the educational policies and activities of the University.

College of Arts and Sciences Dean Jim White said the College has a mandate to implement the IDEAs in Action curriculum. The Communication Beyond Carolina requirement, which starts in students’ junior year, has not been fully implemented or fully funded yet.

The Communication Beyond Carolina requirement stipulates that 70% of a course be communication based. Faculty need to be formally trained in communication for their course to count toward the requirement. The courses are supposed to be taught in small classes. Each year, around 5,000 students will need to fulfil the requirement to graduate. There are not enough faculty in communication to teach these courses. In the fall he met with deans in the College, and they put forward a budget request for funds to hire additional faculty to implement the requirement. The process of hiring faculty and creating courses is lengthy and needs to start immediately.

Dean White asked Provost Clemens to delay SCLL because launching both the School of Data Science and Society and the School of Civic Life and Leadership would have been difficult, he wanted to gather faculty input, and his main priority is the Communication Beyond Carolina requirement.

Professor Hugo Mendez (Religious Studies) asked why SCLL would operate as a division of the College.

Dean White said the IDEAs in Action curriculum is implemented through the College. The budget proposal positions SCLL as one solution for the Communication Beyond Carolina requirement of the curriculum.

Professor Muller asked if the essence of the Communication Beyond Carolina requirement is to communicate across ideological differences.

Dean White said the requirement is supposed to be focused on having difficult conversations.

Professor Santo said the focus of the requirement is not about content but about skills, helping students acquire the skills they need to communicate and deliberate effectively in multiple forums.

Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Abigail Panter said the requirement prepares students for communication beyond the University when they graduate and start their careers. In rolling out the curriculum, it made sense to delay this requirement while the others were initiated first, but now is the time for addressing this requirement.

Dean White said the Communication Beyond Carolina requirement sets UNC-CH apart from other universities. It fulfils the University’s responsibility to the State and to the nation to produce the best citizens possible. He is impressed by the IDEAs in Action Curriculum, and it contributed to his decision to join the University.

Professor Sridhar Balasubramanian (Business) asked about the goals of SCLL and what it is aiming to deliver that other campus units cannot. He noted that some of the resistance surrounding SCLL is due to the origin of the idea. He wondered if SCLL went through the same process as the School of Data Science and Society would faculty be more amenable to the idea.

Chair Chapman reached out to the BOT about their vision for SCLL and is awaiting a response. She does not know how this would be received if it went through a process similar to SDSS.

Professor Schlobohm remarked that she is invested in the IDEAS in Action curriculum and finds that existing courses could meet the communications requirement that the proposed school is supposed to address. For example, her course on management and corporate communication fits the qualifications but is not on the list of courses that qualify. In other words, the proposed school is not the only option as faculty are already teaching courses and have the capacity to meet the need without the rapid creation of a new school.

Resolution regarding a new school

Professor Watson made a motion to adopt Resolution 2023-1, On Supporting the Implementation of the IDEAS in Action Curriculum and Disapproving the Creation of a New School at UNC-Chapel Hill [PDF]. The motion was seconded by Professor Schlobohm.

Secretary of the Faculty Jill Moore opened the floor for discussion of the resolution.

Professor McLaughlin made a motion to amend [PDF] the resolution. The motion was seconded by Professor Balasubramanian.

Secretary Moore opened the floor for discussion of the amendment.

Commenting on the amendment to the resolution, Professor Crystall said that she is not comfortable with putting conditions in the last sentence changing it to “until” something happens from the original version’s stated disapproval of any further action.

Professor Watson defended the original resolution. Some faculty have expressed concern and he wanted to give them the opportunity to say no to its creation. The BOT’s resolution suggests that faculty indoctrinate students and faculty need to declare that is not the case.

Professor Hannig said both the amendment and the resolution entangle the issues of the IDEAs and Action Curriculum and SCLL. He prefers two resolutions: one supporting the College’s efforts with the curriculum and the other expressing faculty concerns about SCLL.

Professor Sawyer expressed support for the amendment. If a faculty group emerges and puts SCLL through the same process that the School of Data Science and Society went through, he believes SCLL should be supported by faculty.

Professor Joy Renner (Radiologic Science) expressed support for the amendment, which puts the process back in control of the campus.

Professor Balasubramanian also supports dividing the resolution. Linking the IDEAs in Action curriculum with SCLL could threaten the support of the curriculum.

Secretary Moore stated that this could be proffered as a separate amendment after the currently proposed amendment is resolved and asked for further discussion of the proposed amendment.

Professor Muller said he wants to keep sentence “Further, public assertions by some University leaders that we impose improper “constraints on what can be taught in university classes” and need additional kinds of political “balance” are false and unfairly malign this faculty,” in the resolution. He discusses contentious topics in his classroom and students have praised the ability of our faculty to remain neutral.

Professor Megan Plenge (Earth, Marine and Environmental Sciences) expressed support for the amendment. Since the BOT did not mention indoctrination in their official resolution, she feels the Faculty Council resolution would be stronger if they did the same.

Secretary Moore stated that the question before the body was whether to approve the amendment to Resolution 2023-1 and opened the vote. The amendment was adopted by a 42-19 vote.

Secretary Moore opened the floor for discussion of the resolution as amended [PDF].

Professor Jean Cook (Biochemistry and Biophysics) asked to separate Resolution 2023-1 into two separate resolutions, one supporting the IDEAS in Action curriculum and one about SCLL. Even though the resolution specifically states that these are conceptually separate undertakings, the fact that they’re discussed in the same resolution might be interpreted as a link between the two issues.

Professor Hannig made a motion to divide Resolution 2023-1 into two separate resolutions. The motion was seconded by Professor Cook.

Secretary Moore stated the motion to divide is not debatable and opened the vote. The motion to divide passed by a 38-10 vote.

Secretary Moore stated that the question before the body was whether to approve Resolution 2023-1, On Supporting the Implementation of the IDEAs in Action Curriculum [PDF] and opened the vote. The resolution was adopted by a 53-1 vote.

Secretary Moore stated that the question before the body was whether to approve Resolution 2023-2, On Disapproving the Creation of a New School at UNC-Chapel Hill [PDF] and opened the vote. The resolution was adopted by a 53-3 vote.

Chancellor’s remarks

Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz updated the Faculty Council on campus events and initiatives.

Today he and other System chancellors participated in a round table discussion with Governor Roy Cooper focused on student mental health. He thanked faculty for contributing to the health and wellbeing of students. The wellbeing days are making a positive difference.

He thanked faculty for educating and supporting students and the State. He has complete confidence in the quality of the education that faculty provide and the research and scholarship they pursue. In times of polarity the faculty will continue to set the academic standards for this institution.

The chancellor underscored that SCLL will undergo the same process of evaluation and development as the School of Data Science and Society and other existing initiatives. He believes in the faculty’s ability to lead this process and to continue to foster an environment of rigorous debate and scholarship.

Finally, he announced that Professor Aimee Wall was appointed dean of the School of Government.


Its business having concluded, the Faculty Council adjourned at 5:05 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Kadejah Murray
University Program Associate

Jill Moore
Secretary of the Faculty

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