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Joint Meeting of the General Faculty and Faculty Council

Friday, February 23, 2024
3:00 p.m.
1001 Kerr Hall (Eshelman School of Pharmacy)

Members of the General Faculty who are unable to attend in person, may register to participate on Zoom at this link. Registration is for UNC-Chapel Hill faculty only.

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

Agenda

3:00 p.m.   Chair’s welcome and remarks
                         Chair of the Faculty Beth Moracco

3:10 p.m.   Chancellor’s remarks and Q&A
                         Interim Chancellor Lee Roberts

3:30 p.m.   Provost’s remarks and Q&A, including update on faculty workload policy
                         Provost Chris Clemens

3:50 p.m.   Graduate Student Experience (slides [PDF])
                         Graduate School Dean Beth Mayer-Davis

4:10 p.m.   UNC System Faculty Assembly update [PDF]
                         Faculty Assembly Chair Wade Maki (UNC-Greensboro)

4:30 p.m.   Updates from UNC Research (slides [PDF])
                         Vice Chancellor for Research Penny Gordon-Larsen
                         Director of Research Data Management Jonathan Crabtree
                         Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Andy Johns

4:50 p.m.   Committee Reports (by title)
                         Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Admissions [PDF], Jason McGrath (Director of Admissions)
                         Faculty Committee on Research [PDF], Chair Michelle Itano (Medicine)
                         Faculty Information Technology Advisory Committee [PDF], Chair Todd Cherner (Education)
                         Fixed-Term Faculty Committee [PDF], Co-Chairs Louise Fleming (Nursing) & Tonya Van Deinse (Social Work)

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 February 23, 2024, at 3:00 p.m. in Kerr Hall, Room 1001 at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy. A Zoom webinar option was provided to Council members and members of the General Faculty who were unable to attend in person. Other campus constituents and members of the public were able to observe the meeting on a livestream.

The following 58 Faculty Council members attended: Alderman, Azcarate-Peril, Balasubramanian, Berkoff, Boyd, Brownley, Cai, Campbell, Cilenti, Colford, De Fays, Dillman Carpentier, Divaris, Dooley, Drummond, Entwisle, Estroff, Frederick, Freeman, Halpern, Hannig, Hodges, Juffras, Kasthuri, Kucera, La Serna, Lin, Ma, Maman, McEntee, McNeilly, Mehrotra, Mendez, Mersini-Houghton, Metcalfe, Mohanty, Moore (Secretary of the Faculty), Moracco (Chair of the Faculty), Nichols, Oliveira, Pérez-Méndez, Pier, Raff, Reissner, Renner, Reyes, Roberts (Interim Chancellor), Roberts, Sathy, Schlobohm, Thorp, Vernon-Feagans, Vines, Weiler, Whitmire, Yaghoobi, Young and Zomorodi.

The following 18 members received excused absences: Aikat, Becker, Blythe, Donahue, Gates-Foster, Goralski, Hessick, Krause, Lee, Penton, Sena, J. Smith, K. Smith, Smith Taillie, Turi, Winget and Wolfe.

The following 15 members were absent without excuse: Ansong, Binz, Charles, Cook, Ebert, Haggis, Jackson, Johnson, Lain, Lauen, Meyer, Stewart, Thomas, Zeeman and Zhu.

Others in attendance: Provost Chris Clemens, Nikolas Morrison-Welch (Graduate Observer) and Margaux Sherwen (Undergraduate Observer).

Call to order

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

Chair remarks

Chair of the Faculty Beth Moracco welcomed everyone to the February meeting of the General Faulty and Faculty Council and gave updates on activities of the UNC System, the UNC-Chapel Hill campus and faculty governance.

According to The Faculty Code of University Government, the General Faculty meets twice in the academic year, once in the fall semester, and once in the spring semester. Typically, these meetings are held in December and in April, but the scheduled joint meeting for the fall semester was canceled due to the untimely death of a staff member in the Chancellor’s Office. The spring General Faculty meeting and the February Faculty Council meeting have been merged to address items from the December agenda.

Many inquiries have been received regarding the proposed Foundations of American Democracy requirement, a UNC System Office initiative. Chair of the Faculty Assembly Wade Maki (UNC-Greensboro) will provide background on the initiative. The Faculty Assembly asked each campus’ faculty senate or council to provide feedback on this initiative. At UNC-CH, feedback was gathered via a three-item survey sent to three faculty committees: Faculty Executive Committee, Educational Policy Committee, and Faculty Assembly Delegation. Committee members were encouraged to forward the survey to colleagues with expertise or interest. 46 responses were submitted in less than 48 hours, representing diverse viewpoints and commenting on matters including the substance of the proposed requirement and the process by which it was pursued.

Another UNC-System level issue is the amended Faculty Workload Policy. Provost Clemens will provide further details.

The search for the new permanent chancellor is underway. The Chancellor’s Search Advisory Committee was named recently. There are only two faculty members on the committee, Chair Moracco and Professor and School of Medicine Executive Dean Christy Page. Chair Moracco expressed concern about the lack of faculty representation, especially from the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as the absence of representation from Graduate and Professional Student Government. It is important that many stakeholders are included in the process. Professor Anita Brown-Graham (Government) was appointed as a special adviser to the committee, serving as a liaison between the committee and various stakeholder groups.

The Committee on Honorary Degrees and Special Awards is seeking nominations for the Thomas Jefferson Award, to be presented to a faculty member during academic year 2024-25. The 2024 faculty elections for Faculty Council and the standing committees will be held shortly after spring break. Chair Moracco encouraged faculty to run for election if asked.

Chancellor’s remarks

Interim Chancellor Lee Roberts expressed gratitude for the opportunity to address the General Faculty and Faculty Council and acknowledged the valuable input received from members of the Council in recent weeks.

He outlined emerging themes from conversations with faculty, staff, students and other campus stakeholders, such as repair and renovation efforts, improvement of operational efficiency and artificial intelligence (AI). He expressed excitement about navigating the shifting landscape of artificial intelligence and discussing the deeper humanistic questions it raises.

He acknowledged this campus’ concerns about the toxic chemicals found in Poe Hall at NC State University and the accompanying press coverage. The UNC-CH administration is in direct conversation with the NC State administration. The University is undertaking its own internal review. Executive Director of Environment, Health and Safety Cathy Brennan will attend the next Faculty Executive Committee meeting to discuss the topic and to answer questions from that committee.

Other concerns he has heard from faculty include the faculty hiring process, working with vendors and managing travel and conferences. He emphasized the importance of attracting and retaining world-class faculty and streamlining bureaucracy to support teaching, research and service.

Interim Chancellor Roberts acknowledged challenges, including recent events in the Middle East, emphasizing the University’s role in informing public debate and enhancing shared knowledge. In his conversations with students, faculty, alumni and other stakeholders he has highlighted the rigorous work our scholars are doing to inform the public debate. Our role is not to resolve controversies but to enhance our shared knowledge and educate and inform conversations. He commended the professionalism and rigor of faculty engaging with difficult topics. He thanked faculty for their commitment to the University’s mission.

Provost’s remarks

Provost Chris Clemens emphasized the importance of the Faculty Council as the legislative body of the faculty as well as its role in providing guidance and a conscience for the community through its respectful disagreement and collective deliberation. He stated that the administration is at its best when it follows the directions set by the collective commitments and points of consensus that emerge in Council meetings.

He described communities such as the one the Council represents as “perishingly rare” and often difficult to hold together as they require care and concern for others. They are rooted in solidarity and grace, two terms that he has felt have been increasingly distant and disconnected since the Council’s last meeting. Provost Clemens acknowledged the inevitable presence of politics within the Council and urged members to consider the broader purpose of their discussions beyond personal interests. He said that the Council is founded on the idea that our disagreements are a feature, not a bug—a necessary condition for crafting consensus based on a commitment to the common good. He advocated for solidarity in committing to the common good despite differences, and the grace to accept that others with whom we disagree may also envision a common good. He acknowledged the difficulty of solidarity during this time of conflict in the Middle East and reminded the Council that many of our faculty colleagues of differing perspectives are suffering in deeply personal ways, and none of us are unaffected. He urged faculty members to see that we are all in a difficult situation and though our perspectives may be different or even at times irreconcilable, our commitment to leading the university together is not negotiable. He said that the university community is constituted by a common calling to speak together and to be partners with a common charge and purpose that guides us. He encouraged Council members to stand with colleagues, even in the depths of the most profound disagreements.

Provost Clemens gave an update on the Faculty Workload Policy. In the past we had a workload policy that assumed that all faculty members do is teach, which is inaccurate. Following a comprehensive review, in October 2023 the Board of Governors (BOG) approved a revised policy on faculty workload and charged each UNC institution to develop its own workload policy.

Key features of the new policy include considerations for teaching, research, service and clinical work, aiming to provide a comprehensive understanding of faculty responsibilities. It also requires annual reporting on faculty workload to the System Office.

A campus-wide committee, led by Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Giselle Corbie, was formed to formalize the UNC-CH Faculty Workload Policy, which was subsequently approved by our Board of Trustees in January 2024. The Office of Faculty Affairs has collaborated with deans and school leaders to disseminate the policy and facilitate its implementation across units. The policy seeks to document existing practices without imposing new directives.

Provost Clemens stressed the importance of faculty input in refining departmental policies to ensure alignment with institutional goals. He acknowledged the challenges associated with workload assessment and expresses a commitment to ensuring fairness in workload assignment. Updates on the policy rollout will be provided to both deans and faculty members through meetings and the Faculty Affairs website.

Update on Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina

Executive Vice Provost Amy Hertel provided an update on the progress of the University’s compliance efforts with the Students for Fair Admissions decision in the graduate and professional schools, detailing the four phases of the initial response.

Phase one involved reviewing the content of applications across all graduate and professional schools. Phase two focused on how to conduct application reviews. Phase three centered on recruitment and pipeline programming. Currently, they’re in phase four, which deals with student aid, scholarships and awards.

Executive Vice Provost Hertel explained that the phase four process closely resembles phases one and two, as scholarship and award decisions often coincide with admissions decisions. She highlighted the use of a consultative model, which involves meeting with each school and certain departments to discuss scholarships and awards; development representatives were also included in the meetings.

Throughout their work, the emphasis has been on compliance with the law while maintaining the University’s values of access, diversity, equity and inclusion. She emphasized the importance of being precise and specific in compliance efforts and avoiding overinterpretation of the Supreme Court’s decision. Higher education institutions nationwide are grappling with similar issues.

She encouraged faculty to direct specific questions about grants, scholarships and awards to their schools’ senior associate academic deans and admissions leads.

Question & Answer Period

Chair Moracco invited faculty members to pose their questions to the speakers.

Professor Jan Hannig (Statistics and Operations Research) asked Provost Clemens about additional tasks faculty members would be required to undertake under the new workload policy.

Provost Clemens explained that while the goal is to minimize additional workload, the new policy is linked to annual reporting. The reporting includes regular evaluation meetings, which some faculty may not have had consistently. Depending on existing practices, the policy may appear to entail more work for some and less for others. He emphasized the importance of providing feedback to faculty members regularly, rather than relying solely on periodic performance reviews every five years.

Professor Mark McNeilly (Business) asked about enforcement of the University’s policy on protests. He stated that the administration issued a letter outlining behaviors that are prohibited during protests, which included the wearing of masks. There was a recent protest where many participants wore masks, according to the Daily Tar Heel. He asked for clarification on the policy of the administration regarding the enforcement of the prohibition on wearing masks.

Provost Clemens said violations of the policy on protests are considered violations of both the student code and potentially the law. Law enforcement handles legal enforcement, while students enforce the student code. The Student Attorney General’s office is actively investigating reported incidents, individuals and student organizations found to be in violation are subject to sanctions. Specific details about ongoing cases cannot be disclosed, but each incident reported to the campus is being investigated thoroughly.

Professor Allison Schlobohm (Business) sought clarification on whether medical masks are included in the prohibition against masks during protests.

Provost Clemens said that the administration does not believe it’s the intent of the law or policy to prohibit medical masks. Law enforcement make judgments during protests, and they have the authority to determine whether something is inappropriate. Any student action will be reviewed by the student justice system. Both law enforcement and the student justice system are involved in decision-making processes and both processes provide for due process.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Amy Johnson clarified that wearing masks is not a violation of The Instrument of Student Judicial Governance, but rather a University policy. Law enforcement adjudicates this policy, with provisions in place for them to make on-site determinations during demonstrative events, regarding whether to remove or arrest someone. She was unsure whether there is a state rule with an exception for medical masks.

Professor Ronit Freeman (Applied Physical Sciences) thanked Provost Clemens for his remarks on solidarity and grace. She said that during the previous Faculty Council meeting, some members and others discussed the role of the Faculty Council in making solidarity resolutions. While previous resolutions of this nature were accepted, Resolution 2024-2 [PDF], Condemning Antisemitism on Campus, was postponed indefinitely at the January meeting. She asked Provost Clemens his views on the role of the Faculty Council in making solidarity resolutions.

Provost Clemens expressed uncertainty, suggesting that it is something the Council needs to address. Discussions about solidarity need not be confined to the Council but may also include conversations and outreach that happen before and after meetings. Most legislative bodies have an idea of what they are going to do before they get in the room.  He suggested that more groundwork may be needed before revisiting the matter.

Chair Moracco acknowledged the lack of clarity and consistency regarding the types of resolutions entertained over the years. Discussions about when to take on resolutions, their content, and their appropriateness for the Faculty Council’s role have been ongoing since August. Resolutions are supposed to be either advisory or legislative, but a careful review of past resolutions revealed inconsistencies dating back to 2007. Recognizing the need for guidance, discussions have taken place with various committees, leading to the formation of the Ad Hoc Committee on Faculty Governance Resolutions and Statements to establish guidelines for both processes and content of resolutions. Among other things, the ad hoc committee is discussing when it is appropriate to bring resolutions to the floor versus pursuing other ways of communicating or being in solidarity with each other. The discussions the Council has had this year exemplify why we need guidelines.

Professor Freeman expressed concern that before Resolution 2024-2 was discussed, there was already a statement suggesting uncertainty about whether the Faculty Council should be making resolutions on such matters. She perceived this as biased. The resolution was already on the agenda and was going to be discussed, which she believes indicated a lack of clarity and consistency in the decision-making process.

Chair Moracco replied that the intent was not directly related to Resolution 2024-2 being discussed but was coincidental timing. The Office of Faculty Governance wanted to inform the Council about the formation of the ad hoc committee, as there had been previous resolutions and statements that prompted discussions about whether statements should be made at all about other matters, such as the Supreme Court case. She acknowledged that the timing could create a perception of setting the stage and reiterated that it was not intended.

Provost Clemens said it does not violate institutional neutrality for faculty to speak individually or collectively. He emphasized the importance of faculty contributing to conversations and shedding light on issues, reassuring that they should not feel restricted by institutional neutrality unless they hold a high-ranking administrative position and are using their office to represent the institution. Challenges exist in separating personal opinions from an institutional stance. He encouraged faculty to express their viewpoints, especially those within their realm of expertise, as their thoughtful contributions are welcomed and valued.

Chair Moracco expressed the view that sometimes people confuse the administration and the Faculty Council. She said that the Faculty Council speaks for the faculty, not the institution.

Professor Miguel La Serna (History) expressed disappointment that the Department of History was not consulted until after the Foundation for American Democracy Project proposal was drafted. He chairs the department and did not know about the proposal until the draft was out. He was not asked to provide members to the committee drafting the proposal or otherwise consulted. His department provided feedback on the draft but at that point it appeared to be a fait accompli. The lack of consultation feels like a disregard for their feedback rather than genuine inclusion in the process.

Graduate Student Experience

Dean of the Graduate School Beth Mayer-Davis gave a presentation [PDF] on the Graduate Student Experience Initiative. The initiative started with the recognition of increasing rates of depression and anxiety among graduate students, predating the COVID-19 pandemic. The University may need to address services but should also consider the underlying causes of stress and distress in graduate education.

The initiative aims to comprehensively assess the student experience, balancing academic rigor with student success and well-being. Special attention will be given to the working conditions of graduate students, including teaching and research assistantships, and the diverse spectrum of graduate student demographics and disciplines. The initiative will make recommendations and provide an implementation strategy that will be supported by the ongoing program review process.

The initiative includes a steering committee chaired by Dean Mayer-Davis, an advisory board and five working groups focused on different aspects of graduate student life. Four high-level recommendations have been endorsed by Provost Clemens: 1) curating a digital platform for campus resource navigation, 2) implementing teaching assistant training, 3) assessing mental health and well-being services, and 4) providing faculty mentor training.

The working groups will use existing data and potentially gather new data to inform the implementation of these recommendations. Dean Mayer-Davis emphasized the importance of ongoing collaboration, communication and system support to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of the initiative. Graduate students, faculty, campus offices and external evaluators will be involved in the initiative. The timeline for the initiative extends into 2025, reflecting the ongoing nature of the work.

UNC System Faculty Assembly update

Faculty Assembly Chair Wade Maki (UNC-Greensboro) provided updates [PDF] on the Faculty Assembly working groups, the Foundation for American Democracy Project, and chancellor searches.

The Faculty Assembly strives to be the faculty voice when decisions affecting faculty are made by the UNC System Office, the Board of Governors, and the state legislature. Chair Maki’s role as chair is to ensure that faculty have a seat at the table in discussions and decision-making processes. An executive committee advises him. His signature project has been the Faculty Policy Initiative, in which six workgroups have focused on different system policy initiatives, including the Faculty Retirement Incentive Program (FRIP), Faculty Workload Policy, Post-Tenure Review, Evaluation of Teaching, Teaching/Professional Track and Faculty Recognition. Each workgroup included a provost from a constituent institution. The workgroups made recommendations that were ultimately developed into policies.

Chair Maki commented on two of the policies in more detail.

Faculty Workload Policy: The previous Faculty Workload Policy relied on flawed data from third parties. The new policy draws on internal data and provides for individualized annual workload plans for faculty members that are tailored to their responsibilities in teaching, research and service.

Post-Tenure Review: Data over a ten-year period showed that only a small percentage of faculty were found to be below expectations during their post-tenure reviews. The data raised concerns about the consistency and rigor of the process, especially when comparing different institutions within the System. The working group on post-tenure review proposed introducing rewards for faculty who exceed expectations. Their goal is to enhance the effectiveness and fairness of the review process.

Chair Maki next addressed the Foundations of American Democracy (FAD) Project, which established student learning objectives (SLOs) for all students in all UNC constituent institutions. He highlighted the educational need for civics and the importance of preparing individuals for democratic life. The Foundation for American Democracy Project was initiated by the System Office to proactively address the concerns associated with the proposed N.C. REACH Act, which if enacted would have imposed a specific course requirement on all UNC constituent institutions. A small group of faculty members from diverse institutional backgrounds collected feedback from the System schools and provided it to the System Office. Their goals were to maintain faculty control over the curriculum, ensure college-level rigor, and use existing courses rather than mandating new ones. The latest version of the project included input provided by the Faculty Assembly and will be voted on by the BOG Educational Planning Committee on February 28 and the full board on April 18. Then campuses will identify and certify the classes that meet the requirements, with implementation planned for fall 2025.

Provost Clemens stated that the enumerated powers of the Faculty Council give it authority over the curriculum. Thus, the Provost and Chancellor will not make rulings on whether something meets the student learning objectives in the FAD program; that will be done by the Faculty Council or a committee.

Chair Maki provided details about the search process for chancellors, highlighting changes made last spring. The UNC System President now selects the search committee, which includes representatives from various stakeholders such as faculty, staff, students and alumni. He encouraged faculty to review the composition of the committees to understand the representation from each campus.

Updates from UNC Research

Vice Chancellor for Research Penny Gordon-Larsen explained that the regulatory landscape around research has expanded significantly. Data management and sharing are two of the newest regulatory requirements that we must comply with. UNC-CH has created a forward-thinking and cost-effective way of dealing with this recommendation. She introduced Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Andy Johns and Director of Research Data Management Jonathan Crabtree to explain the University’s plan.

Senior Associate Vice Chancellor Johns said that data management and sharing plans have been mandatory for National Institutes of Health-funded proposals since January 2023. Inadequate plans have led to proposal rejections. Similar policies are expected to be implemented by all federal agencies by 2025. The Research Data Management Core (RDMC) supports the campus community in data management, education, compliance and leveraging data assets. A modest fee will be implemented on grants to support the RDMC, generating approximately $2 million annually. The fee allows for critical infrastructure support.

Director Crabtree gave a presentation [PDF] on the RDMC. The quality of data management directly impacts the quality of research outcomes. He introduced the concept of FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) data and emphasized the importance of sharing data not only externally but also internally to foster collaboration and interdisciplinary projects. He outlined the role of the RDMC in supporting the campus community, including infrastructure, policy consultations and training. He also encouraged researchers to engage with the RDMC and provided information on accessing support through the new website.

Adjournment

Its business having been concluded; the joint meeting of the Faculty Council and the General Faculty adjourned at 5:01 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Kadejah Murray
University Program Associate

Jill Moore
Secretary of the Faculty

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