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Meeting of the Faculty Council

Friday, September 9, 2022
3:00 p.m.
1001 Kerr Hall (Eshelman School of Pharmacy)

The recording of the meeting can be viewed at this link. (Fast-forward to 7:22)

Those watching the livestream were able submit comments and questions via Poll Everywhere.


3:00 p.m.   Chair’s welcome and remarks
                      Chair of the Faculty Mimi Chapman (Social Work)

3:10 p.m.   Introductions to student and staff leaders

  • Samantha Golden (Graduate student observer)
  • Katie Musgrove (Employee Forum Chair)
  • Theodore Nollert (GPSG President)
  • Margaux Sherwen (Undergraduate student observer)
  • Tucker Stillman (Undergraduate student observer)
  • Taliajah “Teddy” Vann (Student Body President)

3:20 p.m.   Provost’s remarks {Slides [PDF])
                      Provost Christopher Clemens

3:40 p.m.   Speech issues on campus (Slides [PDF])
                      Chair of the Faculty Mimi Chapman

4:00 p.m.   Faculty speech and the First Amendment
                      Professor Michael Gerhardt (Law)

4:20 p.m.   Resolution on faculty speech [PDF]
                      Submitted by Professor Eric Muller (Law)

4:45 p.m.   CLOSED SESSION: Special report of the Honorary Degrees and Special Awards Committee
                      Professor Amelia Drake (Medicine), committee chair
                      Confidential Report [HTML] (for Faculty Council members only; Sakai log in required)

5:00 p.m.  Adjournment

Video of Proceedings

Watch the full video [Streaming]

Journal of Proceedings of the Faculty Council

The Faculty Council of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill convened on September 9, 2022, at 3:00 p.m. in Kerr Hall, Room 1001 at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy. A Zoom webinar option was provided for Council members who were unable to attend in person. Other faculty and members of the public were able to observe the meeting on a livestream.

The following 70 Faculty Council members attended: Aikat, Alexander, Ansong, Balasubramanian, Becker, Berkoff, Boyd, Brownley, Burch, Cai, Campbell, Chapman (Chair of the Faculty), Charles, Clement, Colford, Cook, De Fays, Dillman Carpentier, Divaris, Donahue, Drummond, Frederick, Freeman, Gates-Foster, Goralski, Haggis, Halpern, Hannig, Hodges, Johnson, La Serna, Lain, Lin, Mayer-Davis, McEntee, McLaughlin, McNeilly, Mehrotra, Mendez, Metcalfe, Meyer, Mohanty, Moore (Secretary of the Faculty), Moracco, Muller, Neal, Nichols, Oliveira, Pettifor, Plenge, Reissner, Renner, Reyes, Roberts, Rose, Sathy, Schlobohm, Sena-Soberano, J. Smith, Triumph, Turi, Vernon-Feagans, Watson, Weiler, Wiltshire, Winget, Wolfe, Yaghoobi, Zeeman and Zomorodi.

The following 16 members received excused absences: Alderman, Binz, DeHart-Davis, Entwisle, Estroff, Gold, Hackney, Jackson, Lensing, Ma, Menard, Penton, K. Smith, Thornburg, Thorp and Young.

The following 4 members were absent without excuse: Krause, Lopez, Vines and Wahl.

Others in attendance: Clemens (Provost), Samantha Golden (Graduate Observer), Margaux Sherwen (Undergraduate Observer) and Tucker Stillman (Undergraduate Observer).

Call to Order

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

Chair of the Faculty remarks

Chair of the Faculty Mimi Chapman welcomed everyone to the first Faculty Council meeting of the 2022-2023 academic year and gave her remarks [PDF].

Introductions to student and staff leaders

Professor Chapman introduced student and staff leaders from the Undergraduate Student Government, the Graduate and Professional Student Government and the Employee Forum.

Provost’s remarks

Provost Chris Clemens gave Faculty Council an update on campus events and initiatives.

The Office of the Provost is focused on advocating for faculty advancement. Faculty Council is a crucial legislative body on this campus. Faculty define and determine the academic direction of the campus. He is committed to trusting the faculty and protecting their prerogatives. Erin Malloy, director of the Center for Faculty Excellence, has been charged with examining how the administration can improve faculty advancement, recognition, and success.

The provost and his team are also advocating to restore funding to University Libraries and to raise the graduate and professional student stipends.

Executive Vice Provost Amy Hertel gave a presentation [PDF] on the Provost’s Office reporting units spring 2022 goals. The head of each unit introduced themselves to the Faculty Council.

Provost Clemens ended his remarks with an explanation of his leadership philosophy, which centers on solidarity, humility and grace.

Professor Jan Hannig (Statistics & Operations Research) asked how the Provost’s Office interfaces with the UNC System, the Board of Governors (BOG) and the Board of Trustees (BOT)

Provost Clemens said there are several interfaces with the System Office. He attends a monthly meeting of the chief academic officers and corresponds with the System Office on operational and academic matters of the University. Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz is the main point of contact with the BOG and BOT.

Professor Jessica Wolfe (English & Comparative Literature) asked about the administration’s plan to deal with the $900 million backlog in deferred maintenance and to increase the University’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance.

Chair Chapman noted that the NC Legislature allocated $1.1 million to the University’s deferred maintenance fund. Provost Clemens stated that additional funds from the University will be collected to help with immediate needs and that dealing with deferred maintenance will become a permanent part of the University’s annual budget. He asked faculty to please let him know about immediate needs, especially any that are ADA-related.

Professor Francesca Carpentier (Journalism & Media) asked for clarification on what elevating the Center for Faculty Excellence means and if processes, support and funds around campus would be centralized.

Provost Clemens said most of the Center’s work will remain the same. Director Malloy has been tasked with assessing faculty advancement and leadership development programs and ensuring they are uniform across campus. Provost Clemens and Director Malloy are also creating a central awards committee to nominate faculty for awards and national academies.

Professor Rich McLaughlin commented that Summer School has the potential to bring in many funds to the University.

Provost Clemens said some of the proceeds of Summer School have been allocated to the College of Arts and Sciences, where most of the summer classes were taught. Summer School is profitable, all the tuition from the summer sessions come back to the University. The administration is figuring out how to capitalize on this opportunity.

Speech issues on campus

Chair of the Faculty Mimi Chapman gave a presentation [PDF] highlighting issues that faculty face with free speech on campus. She described recent campus speech issues as falling into three categories: (1) BOT actions affirming the Chicago principles and the University of Chicago’s Kalven Report of 1967, (2) matters of student speech, and (3) silencing of faculty speech. The intent of this meeting’s discussion is to focus on the third category.

Faculty speech and the First Amendment

Professor Michael Gerhardt (Law) began his remarks by stating that he does not represent the Law School and does not speak for any of its students, faculty or staff.

He stated that it is important for faculty members to know the correct people to seek legal advice from when issues of speech arise. The Office of University Counsel represents the University. Faculty members needing advise should seek legal representation on their own behalf.

The University’s mission statement states “with lux, libertas — light and liberty — as its founding principles, the University has charted a bold course of leading change to improve society and to help solve the world’s greatest problems.” This statement implies that the University will have difficult conversations about controversial subjects. Due to their expertise in various academic fields, UNC-CH faculty will be asked to give input on a variety of issues. As citizens, faculty members are fully entitled to speak on issues, even if they are publicly controversial. This is protected by the First Amendment. However, some aspects of the First Amendment are less clear with respect to public employees.

First, there may be issues with funding. It is constitutional for an entity to put conditions on the funding they provide. These conditions may silence a person from speaking on controversial issues if the speech is supported by the funding. One obligation of the institution providing funding is to ensure there is consistency. The same conditions should apply to everyone who is receiving similar funding.

Second, the free speech rights of government employees may be restricted under current Supreme Court jurisprudence. In Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006), the Supreme Court ruled that public employees do not have First Amendment protection for speech undertaken as part of their official duties. The free speech of a government employee is protected under the First Amendment if it meets three criteria. First, faculty may speak freely on issues in their capacity as citizens, not as government employees. Private citizens have the most robust protections surrounding political speech, and this is the realm where the speech of faculty members has the most protection. Making clear that you are speaking as a citizen and not for the university may take some care but it can be done. Second, the speech must have pertained to a matter of public opinion. Third, the speech is subject to a balancing test, by which it must be determined whether the interests of the institution outweigh the interest of the person and their ability to speak freely. Many cases come down to whether the interests of the institution outweigh the interest of the individual in saying something.

Chair Chapman asked how faculty can navigate this terrain. Professor Gerhardt stated that he is perceiving that people are uncertain about what they can say, when, and under what conditions. His advice to the institution would be to be uniform and consistent in responses to faculty speech, and to err on the side of protecting speech in keeping with the university’s mission. Faculty educate the public and need clear guidelines on how to navigate these interactions to ensure protection under the First Amendment.

Professor Mark McNeilly (Business) stated that there seem to be three different issues, each of which is important but that need to be separated. First are the anecdotes we’ve heard about outside threats to faculty made as a result of their speech. Second is the feeling by some faculty that their work is being held back. Third is how we identify ourselves when we speak. He said it would seem that when speaking publicly the easiest and safest way to protect ourselves as faculty would be to say that we are speaking only for ourselves and not for the University.

Professor Gerhardt responded that in addition to the University’s mission statement and the First Amendment, we also have the Chicago principles, which have been adopted by the Faculty Council and the Board of Trustees and are extremely robust. Within the realm of responsible teaching and scholarship, faculty members should have a great deal of foundational protection.

Professor Muller commented that the issue Professor McNeilly identified as third can become complicated. For example, it is clear that a faculty member making a political donation or speaking on behalf of a political candidate should do so on their own time. But suppose, for example, a faculty member with expertise in abortion law is invited by an organization to speak about it. Professor Muller stated that he viewed that as part of the faculty member’s job, not an attempt to speak on behalf of UNC, and it would be odd to disclaim association with the university when the invitation to speak is based on expertise associated with the faculty position.

Professor Hannig said it is standard for his colleagues who work at national labs to include a disclaimer in their publications that states their work is by no means an opinion of the national lab.

Provost Clemens said the BOT resolution adopting both the “Chicago Principles” and “Kalven Committee Report on the University’s Role in Political and Social Action” is significant. It is a statement that the BOT will examine its tenure policy from the perspective of the Chicago Principles.

Katie Musgrove, chair of the Employee Forum, asked how public bodies and entities of the University ensure they are not speaking as the University when they make statements.

Professor Gerhardt said entities of the University are entitled to some degree of speech. He explained that the Kalven report (which was recently adopted by the BOT) was a predecessor document to the Chicago principles that was adopted in reaction to violence on the University of Chicago’s campus in the 1960s. Its focus was institutional neutrality, which largely applies to administrators, not to faculty or other organizations.

Professor Alison Schlobohm (Business) said the campus community can go beyond legal requirements. While making efforts to be the most innovative University and seeking the best outcomes for the State and nation, the campus community must ensure that the most vulnerable people are being protected.

Professor Gerhardt stated that he began his comments with the Chicago principles precisely because they go above and beyond the minimum requirements, which he believes is essential for a great university. He acknowledged that sometimes people refrain from expressing their opinions openly because they fear retaliation. The University’s support would be helpful in these situations. He described a personal experience of being harassed for public statements, and said that Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz reached out in support. Controversial conversations will occur on campus, and they will be conducted professionally and with expertise.

Resolution on faculty speech

Professor Eric Muller (Law) introduced Resolution 2022-5, On the Right and Duty of Faculty Members to Speak Freely and the Duty of the University to Protect Faculty Speech [PDF], and moved adoption of the resolution. Professor Eric Hodges (Nursing) seconded the motion. Secretary Moore stated that the matter was properly before the Council and called for further discussion or questions.

Professor Jonathan Weiler (Global Studies) asked if fixed-term faculty members are included in the intent of the resolution. He also asked if there is a distinction between tenure-track and fixed-term faculty members in terms of their ability to speak freely on campus.

Professor Muller said the resolution applies to all faculty on campus.

Professor Gerhardt said there is no distinction between tenure-track and fixed-term faculty members in terms of First Amendment protection for speech but acknowledged that faculty members may experience different concerns or responses.

Provost Clemens reminded the Council that faculty members who believe they have been disciplined or retaliated against because of speech may seek redress through faculty governance channels [the Faculty Grievance Committee or Faculty Hearings Committee, depending on the nature of the action.]

Professor Audrey Pettifor (Epidemiology) suggested adding language about faculty safety to the resolution.

Professor Jennifer McEntee (Pediatrics) moved to amend the resolution by adding that the University and its leaders must actively and publicly advocate for faculty safety. Professor Audrey Pettifor (Epidemiology) seconded the motion. Secretary Moore called for discussion of the proposed amendment. The ensuing discussion touched on the implementation of the resolution. Secretary Moore then called for a vote on whether to approve the amendment. The amendment passed with 37 voting in favor, 30 voting against and 1 abstention.

Professor Schlobohm inquired whether a friendly amendment could be made to add the language “including faculty members of any designation,” to ensure all faculty feel included in the resolution.

Professor Muller stated that he would accept the friendly amendment. Secretary Moore ruled that the friendly amendment was in order and would be accepted absent an objection. No objection was made.

Secretary Moore stated that the issue before the Council was whether to approve the resolution as amended and asked whether there was further discussion. The resolution passed with 63 voting in favor and 1 voting against.

Closed Session: Special report of the Honorary Degrees and Special Awards Committee

Secretary of the Faculty Jill Moore requested a motion to move into closed session to prevent the premature disclosure of honorary degree and special awards information. The motion was made by Professor Eric Hodges (Nursing), seconded by Professor Meg Zomorodi (Nursing), and approved by unanimous consent of the Faculty Council.

While in closed session a candidate for the 2023 Honorary Degree was approved by the Council.

Professor Amelia Drake (ENT-Pediatrics) then moved to return to open session. Professor Christina Burch (Biology) seconded the motion, and the motion was approved by unanimous consent.


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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