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Meeting of the Faculty Council

Friday, January 19, 2024
3:00 p.m.
1001 Kerr Hall (Eshelman School of Pharmacy)

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


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

3:10 p.m.   Presentation of the 2023 Thomas Jefferson Award
                         Presented by Interim Chancellor Lee Roberts
                         Nominator’s remarks by Prof. Bill Marshall (Law)
                         Awardee’s remarks [PDF] by Prof. Michael Gerhardt (Law)

3:25 p.m.   Chancellor’s remarks and Q&A
                         Interim Chancellor Lee Roberts

3:45 p.m.   Resolution condemning antisemitism on campus [PDF]
                         Professor Ronit Freeman (Applied Physical Sciences)

4:15 p.m.   Committee on University Government annual report [PDF] and proposed amendments to The Faculty Code
                         Professor Joy Renner (Radiologic Science), committee chair
                              Resolution to increase the number of members on the Faculty Hearings Committee [PDF]
                              Resolution to increase the number of members on the Honorary Degrees and Special Awards Committee [PDF]
                              Resolution to change the procedure for determining a quorum of the Faculty Council [PDF]

4:35 p.m.   Committee Reports (by title)
                              Committee on Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure [PDF], Chair Joan Krause (Law)
                              Faculty Grievance Committee [PDF], Co-Chairs Karon Johnson (Social Work) & Beth Posner (Law)
                              Faculty Hearings Committee [PDF], Co-Chairs Jane Brice (Emergency Med.) & Brendan Thornton (Religious Stud.)

4:45 p.m.   CLOSED SESSION: Special Report from the Committee on Honorary Degrees and Special Awards
                         Professor Lynn Blanchard (Health Behavior), committee chair
                             Confidential report [link] (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 January 19, 2024, 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 74 Faculty Council members attended: Aikat, Alderman, Ansong, Azcarate-Peril, Balasubramanian, Becker, Berkoff, Binz, Blythe, Boyd, Brownley, Budhiraja, Cai, Campbell, Cilenti, Donahue, Dooley, Drummond, Entwisle, Estroff, Frederick, Freeman, Goralski, Halpern, Hannig, Hessick, Hodges, Jackson, Johnson, Juffras, Kasthuri, Krause, Kucera, La Serna, Lain, Lauen, Lee, Lin, Maman, McEntee, McNeilly, Mehrotra, Mendez, Mersini-Houghton, Meyer, Mohanty, Moore (Secretary of the Faculty), Moracco (Chair of the Faculty), Nichols, Oliveira, Penton, Pérez-Méndez, Pier, Raff, Reissner, Renner, L. Roberts (Interim Chancellor), M. Roberts, Sathy, J. Smith., Smith Taillie, Stewart, Thomas, Turi, Vernon-Feagans, Vines, Weiler, Whitmire, Winget, Wolfe, Young, Zeeman, Zhu and Zomorodi.

The following 14 members received excused absences: Colford, Cook, De Fays, Divaris, Ebert, Haggis, Ma, Metcalfe, Reyes, Schlobohm, Sena-Soberano, K. Smith, Thorp and Yaghoobi.

The following 3 members were absent without excuse: Charles, Dillman Carpentier and Gates-Foster.

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 January Faculty Council meeting and gave brief introductory remarks.

Presentation of the 2023 Thomas Jefferson Award

Interim Chancellor Lee Roberts presented Professor Michael Gerhardt (Law) with a Thomas Jefferson Award and offered his congratulations.

Professor Bill Marshall (Law) introduced Professor Gerhardt and gave remarks.

Professor Gerhardt accepted the award and gave remarks [PDF].

Chancellor’s remarks

Interim Chancellor Lee Roberts’ first official day as interim chancellor was January 12. He expressed gratitude for the warm welcome and excitement to engage with the campus community. He gave an update on campus news.

Applications have increased by 15 percent, which Interim Chancellor Roberts attributed to the University’s esteemed faculty. He emphasized the importance of world-class scholarship in shaping the University’s reputation.

He noted three takeaways from his campus tours: the palpable love for the institution among the community, the need to better showcase the University’s achievements and the necessity of addressing areas needing improvement. He also highlighted the need for improved communication about the University’s expertise and contributions to the state of North Carolina and society.

He expressed his commitment to making the University run more efficiently while acknowledging the challenges faced by faculty in areas such as hiring, grant applications and travel. He pledged to work towards addressing these issues to ensure that the University operates at a world-class level.

Professor Mark McNeilly (Business) mentioned that the UNC-Chapel Hill has become the subject of lawsuits and a federal investigation related to antisemitism on campus. He asked Interim Chancellor Roberts what actions he believes the University should take to address antisemitism on campus.

Interim Chancellor Roberts clarified that while the University is not currently facing a lawsuit related to antisemitism, there is at least one Office for Civil Rights (OCR) complaint, and potential legal challenges may arise in the future. He emphasized the importance of addressing antisemitism, and has met with multiple groups, including the North Carolina Hillel, the Center for Jewish Studies, and the Israeli General Consul. He emphasized that there is no place for hatred or antisemitism on this campus and underscored the University’s commitment to upholding the First Amendment while ensuring a respectful and inclusive environment.

He encouraged robust and free-flowing discussion within the bounds of legal rules that prohibit threats, harassment, interruption of speakers, and material disruption of campus operations. He advocates for a scholarly approach to addressing sensitive topics, promoting education and understanding rather than division. He is committed to playing a role in fostering respectful dialogue and academic discourse on campus.

Professor Doug Lauen (Public Policy) referred to an article in The Daily Tar Heel which reported that statements made by a professor were recorded and used in a civil rights case. He was surprised that a recording was used as evidence in the investigation and questioned the ethical implications of using recordings in this manner.  He expressed concern that this situation could erode trust in the classroom environment and hinder open dialogue. He was uncertain about the details of the situation and sought clarification on how the recordings were used and whether professors should be cautious about their classroom speech.

Provost Chris Clemens said he cannot comment on individual cases and cannot comment on the legality of the situation, but clarified that the University did not make, authorize or distribute any recordings.

Professor Lauen reiterated his concern that students can record classroom discussions, which could then be used against faculty in public relations or political battles.

Provost Clemens said students can and have recorded professors. The administration does not try to prevent this other than in a statement in the syllabus. He encouraged faculty to ensure they articulate the policy on making and distributing recordings to their students. He emphasized the importance of following best practices and ensuring adherence to University policies regarding recordings by both faculty and students.

Review of procedures

Chair Moracco asked Secretary of the Faculty Jill Moore to briefly review procedures for discussing and voting on resolutions. Faculty Council members participated in a test of the electronic voting procedure. Secretary Moore announced that during discussion of the resolutions, priority in speaking would be given to Faculty Council members and that other members of the faculty would be called on to speak only if time allowed.

Resolution condemning antisemitism on campus

Professor Ronit Freeman (Applied Physical Sciences) moved to adopt the resolution condemning antisemitism on campus [PDF]. The motion was seconded by Professor McNeilly.

Professor Freeman was recognized to speak on the resolution. She called on all faculty members to condemn antisemitism whenever they see it. She said that it is alarming to listen to individuals in the campus community characterize a brutal terrorist attack as beautiful and celebrate it during a UNC-sponsored event. While our community values free expression and welcomes disagreeable opinions, there is no room to disagree about celebrating violence. She called on the Faculty Council to join over 200 faculty members who have signed a letter condemning the November 28th event where the statements were made.

Secretary Moore opened the floor for further discussion of the resolution.

Jessica Wolfe (English and Comparative Literature) expressed reservations about supporting the resolution. She said that she was unsure whether the resolution would produce the desired effect of mitigating antisemitism, but might instead be fairly misinterpreted as a means for suppressing free speech on a volatile and debatable issue. She advocated for considering more productive approaches to addressing the problem, rather than issuing a potentially divisive statement that may exacerbate existing campus tensions.

Professor Jan Hannig (Statistics and Operations Research) acknowledged the importance of addressing antisemitism and Islamophobia on campus but had reservations about the proposed resolution. He said that he believes the resolution to be unnecessary because UNC-Chapel Hill already has robust policies in place to address discrimination and harassment that faculty members are required to read and agree to abide by as part of required trainings.  He noted that the specific incident prompting the resolution has already been condemned by the former chancellor, the Dean of Arts and Sciences, and the department that sponsored the event, and said that he did not see how the Council passing a resolution months later would help. He expressed concern that voting on the resolution could harm the campus climate regardless of the outcome, because it may lead to accusations of marginalization or antisemitism.

Professor Hannig moved to postpone the resolution indefinitely. The motion was seconded by Professor Miguel La Serna (History). Secretary Moore opened the floor for discussion of the motion to postpone indefinitely.

Professor Freeman thanked the previous speakers and expressed her disagreement with them. She said that the resolution is not a political statement or about the war in Gaza, but rather addresses  an event that occurred on this campus. She urged the Council to support the resolution if they perceive the statements made at the November 28th event as antisemitic and asserted that avoiding the issue will not help the climate on campus.

Professor McNeilly agreed that the resolution alone would not fully address antisemitism but said he views it as a necessary step. He asserted that it is important for the faculty to show its stand against antisemitism, especially in light of federal investigations, and argued that not doing so would be proof that UNC has a hostile environment for Jews. He said that condemning the remarks made at the UNC-sponsored event on November 28th is a basic step that Faculty Council should take and that it is puzzling that some find that step difficult.  He argued that action is necessary to show that the faculty of this university stand against antisemitism.

Professor Roxana Pérez-Méndez (Art and Art History) referred to the recent U.S. congressional panel that questioned the presidents of major institutions and questioned why the potential effects of the resolution for everyone in the campus community are being minimized.

Professor Doug Lauen (Public Policy) expressed concern that there is no right answer in this situation because the resolution forces the Council to take sides in a larger conflict.  He also worries about the differing values of the students we teach. He acknowledged the need to condemn antisemitism but pointed out that the resolution does not mention Islamophobia and does not take a larger view of the ongoing conflict in Gaza. He condemned Hamas’s actions as abhorrent and unjustified war crimes but said any action taken on this issue by the Council could be problematic.

Secretary Moore acknowledged that a Council member was seeking to be recognized a second time and asked if there were any Council members who had not yet spoken who wished to do so.

Professor Misha Becker (Linguistics) said that we can’t be confident that everyone shares the same definition of the term “antisemitism.”  She understands it to mean hatred or violence towards Jews, but believes that it’s increasingly used in reference to the state of Israel in addition to the Jewish people or people who belong to the faith of Judaism. Without clarity on this definition, she felt uncomfortable deciding on the resolution.

Cheryl Jackson (Pediatrics-Emergency Medicine) questioned the wording of the resolution, which is titled Condemning Antisemitism” but does not define the term. She noted that the resolution’s first paragraph condemns statements made during an event that she has not had the opportunity to review in its entirety. She acknowledged the link that was provided to the one statement from the event but said she was unfamiliar with any other statements referenced by the resolution. She supports the portions of the resolution that support freedom of speech and expression while strongly condemning speech that celebrates violence against any people. However, without sufficient context and information, she is concerned that people are voting without full understanding and further that the resolution becomes more about condemning specific speech than addressing antisemitism. She questioned whether the Faculty Council would want to do this for every event where someone uses inappropriate speech. She stated that she would be happy to entertain a resolution condemning antisemitism but is not confident this resolution does that.

Secretary Moore again asked if there were any Council members who had not yet spoken who wished to be heard a first time. Seeing none, she recognized Professor Freeman to speak a second time.

Professor Freeman stated that all background materials are provided in advance in accordance with faculty governance rules. Council members are responsible for reviewing materials thoroughly. All background information cannot be included in resolutions because they must be concise; in fact, previous resolutions have been rejected for being too long. She urged members who feel they cannot weigh in on the resolution to abstain. She disagreed that the resolution is political, noting that it says nothing about politics and also citing the university’s policy on institutional neutrality on political issues. She said the resolution is about the faculty’s ability to set an example for our students, our colleagues, and our community for how to respond to a speaker who celebrates violence. She reiterated that Council members can listen to the background material and judge for themselves whether they agree or disagree with it. She stressed the importance of voting on the matter rather than indefinitely delaying it.

Professor Andrea Azcarate-Peril (Gastroenterology) expressed discomfort with voting for a resolution that may condemn any opinion not supportive of Israel. She said that we all agree that the attack by Hamas was horrible but that she is not comfortable voting for a blanket condemnation of anti-Israel sentiments or characterizing them as antisemitic. She emphasized the need for nuance in discussions about the conflict.

Secretary Moore called for further discussion by Faculty Council members. She acknowledged that a non-Council member was seeking to be recognized but reiterated that the opportunity to speak would be offered to Council members first.

Professor McNeilly said that people are conflating this discussion with a discussion about the war in Gaza, when it is specifically a discussion about a UNC-sponsored event in which a guest speaker described the Hamas attack of October 7th as beautiful.

Professor Eric Hodges (Nursing) stated that while he believes the incident under discussion deserves condemnation as hate speech, he is concerned about the workload for the Faculty Council if every similar incident requires a resolution.

Professor Hannig reminded the Council that voting to postpone the resolution doesn’t indicate a stance on the resolution itself. He doesn’t think it’s the right time to pass the resolution and fears it may not improve the campus climate.

Professor Azcarate-Peril suggested relabeling the resolution as condemnation of hate speech, violent speech, or anything condoning violence.

Secretary Moore invited further discussion by Faculty Council members. Seeing no Faculty Council member seeking to speak, she recognized a non-member.

Professor Nadia Yaqub (Asian and Middle Eastern Studies) introduced herself and urged Faculty Council members to vote in favor of the motion to postpone indefinitely. She said that very few of those present attended the November 28th event and do not know fully what was said there. She asserted that the definition of antisemitism is highly contested, and that Faculty Council should not vote on a resolution condemning it without defining the term. She urged Council members to consider the potential chilling effect on speech that could occur as a result of Faculty Council resolutions condemning statements made at public events, and also the burden to the Council of policing and condemning other events in which racist or otherwise unacceptable remarks are made. She questioned why the Council would speak on this event and not others that have rendered the campus a tense and scary environment for university community members. She argued that Faculty Council must maintain institutional neutrality and treat all community members equally, and that this resolution fails to do so in the context of a war that has left many categories of campus community members feeling particularly vulnerable and distressed. She said that while the resolution purports to support academic freedom, it undermines academic speech and freedom related to Palestinian advocacy.

Professor Jennifer Smith (Linguistics) stated that while the wording of the resolution appears simple and focused, it is proposed in a particular social and political context, which means that the actions taken today will take on meanings that go beyond the text. She emphasized the importance of considering these implications carefully. She also asked Secretary Moore what happens if the motion to postpone indefinitely passed.

Secretary Moore replied that a motion to postpone indefinitely removes the matter from further consideration.

Professor Jennifer Smith asked if a resolution that has been postponed indefinitely could be reintroduced at some later stage.

Secretary Moore said it is possible that the topic could come up again, but normally a motion to postpone indefinitely ends discussion of the matter for the remainder of the term of the body, which for Faculty Council is this academic year.

Secretary Moore announced that further discussion would be limited to Faculty Council members in the interest of time.

Professor Freeman encouraged the Council to consider whether they would postpone indefinitely if the event in question celebrated violence against any demographic other than Jews. She asserted that the resolution should at least be brought to a vote to show support for Jews who feel compromised, harassed, or violated by such events. She emphasized the importance of allowing discussion and holding a vote on the resolution, even if the majority outcome is against it.

Secretary Moore asked for further discussion by Faculty Council members. There being none, she stated that the question before the body was whether to support the motion to postpone the resolution indefinitely. The motion to postpone indefinitely passed with 32 in favor, 29 opposed and 6 abstaining.

Committee on University Government proposed amendments to The Faculty Code

Professor Joy Renner (Radiologic Science), chair of the Committee on University Government, explained that the committee has asked each faculty governance committee to review its composition and charge and to propose changes if needed. Two of the resolutions being brought forward today arose from that process and they both seek to increase the membership of certain committees.

Professor Renner moved to adopt Resolution 2024-3. Amending The Faculty Code of University Government to increase the number of members on the Faculty Hearings Committee [PDF]. A motion from committee does not require a second. Secretary Moore opened the floor for discussion of the proposed resolution, but there was none.

Secretary Moore stated the question before the body was whether to approve Resolution 2024-3. The resolution passed with 61 in favor, 1 opposed and 1 abstaining.

Professor Renner then moved to adopt Resolution 2024-4. Amending The Faculty Code of University Government to increase the number of members on the Committee on Honorary Degrees and Special Awards [PDF]. Secretary Moore opened the floor for discussion of the proposed resolution. There was no discussion.

Secretary Moore stated the question before the body was whether to approve Resolution 2024-4. The resolution passed with 62 in favor, 0 opposed and 0 abstaining.

Professor Renner introduced the final resolution, which would change the rule for ascertaining a quorum for Faculty Council by allowing the members of the Faculty Executive Committee and Faculty Assembly Delegation to count toward the quorum. She then moved to adopt Resolution 2024-5. Amending The Faculty Code of University Government to change the procedure for determining a quorum of the Faculty Council [PDF]. Secretary Moore opened the floor for discussion of the proposed resolution.

Secretary Moore stated the question before the body was whether to approve Resolution 2024-5. The Council voted on it and the resolution passed with 58 in favor, 3 opposed and 2 abstaining.

Committee Reports (by title)

The annual reports of the Committee on University Government [PDF], Committee on Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure [PDF], the Faculty Grievance Committee [PDF], and the Faculty Hearings Committee [PDF] were accepted by title. The Council did not have any questions for the committee chairs.

CLOSED SESSION: Special Reports from the Committee on Honorary Degrees and Special Awards

Secretary Moore invited a motion to move into closed session to prevent the premature disclosure of honorary degree and special awards information. Chair Moracco made the motion, which was seconded by Professor Yong Cai (Sociology). The motion carried and the Faculty Council went into closed session.

While in closed session the Council approved nominees for 2024 Distinguished Alumna and Alumnus Awards and a nominee for the 2024 Edward Kidder Graham Faculty Service Award.


Upon returning to open session, the Faculty Council adjourned at 4:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Kadejah Murray
University Program Associate

Jill Moore
Secretary of the Faculty






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