December 4, 2020
Meeting of the Faculty Council and the Employee Forum
Friday, December 4, 2020, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
The meeting was streamed live and recorded. The recording is available at this link. Those watching the livestream were able to submit questions and comments via Poll Everywhere.
3:00 p.m. Chair of the Faculty’s Remarks
Professor Mimi Chapman (Social Work)
3:05 p.m. Closed session: Special report of the Honorary Degrees and Special Awards Committee
Nominees for 2021 awards [PDF] Sakai log-in required
Secretary of the Faculty Vin Steponaitis (Anthropology, Archaeology)
3:10 p.m. Educational Policy Committee recommendation to amend syllabi
Resolution 2020-6. On Amending the Guidelines for Course Syllabi [PDF]
Professor Melinda Beck (Nutrition), committee chair
3:20 p.m. Library Update
University Librarian Elaine Westbrooks
3:30 p.m. Joint meeting of the Faculty Council and Employee Forum
Introductory remarks by Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz
3:35 p.m. Spring Semester Plans
Moderated by Chair of the Faculty Mimi Chapman and Vice Chair of the Employee Forum Katie Musgrove
Featured speakers: Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz | Professor Amir Barzin (Family Medicine) | Provost Bob Blouin |
Vice Chancellor for Communications Joel Curran | Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Amy Johnson |
Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Becci Menghini
Discussion topics to include:
- COVID-19 testing protocol
- Community/Pandemic standards
- Teaching/working on campus
- “The On-ramp”
- Q & A
4:55 p.m. Committee Report by Title
Annual report of the Faculty Grievance Committee [PDF]
Professors Chris McLaughlin (Government) and Beth Posner (Law), committee co-chairs
5:00 p.m. Adjournment
Video of Proceedings
Journal of Proceedings of the Faculty Council
The Faculty Council of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill convened on December 4, 2020, at 3:00 p.m. via Zoom. Other faculty and members of the public were able to observe the meeting on a livestream.
The following 72 members attended: D. Aikat, J. Aikat, Alexander, Anksorus, Berkoff, Berkowitz, Boon, Brownley, Burch, Burke, Byerley, Cai, Chapman (Chair of the Faculty), Chavis, Clement, Cox, Divaris, Entwisle, Estroff, Falvo, Floyd-Wilson, Freeman, Gentzsch, Guskiewicz (Chancellor), Halpern, Holland, Jeffay, Joyner, Krause, Krome-Lukens, Lain, Larson, Lee, Lensing, Levine, Lithgow, Lopez, Mayer-Davis, McGrath, Menard, Metcalfe, Meyer, Moon, Moore, Moracco, Muller, Neal, Nichols, Olson, Pettifor, Plenge, Powell, Ramaswamy, Renner, Rose, Rudder, Santos, Scarlett, Scarry, Steponaitis (Secretary of the Faculty), Thorp, Triumph, Vaidyanathan, Van Deinse, Vision, von Bernuth, Walter, J. Williams. Wiltshire, Womack, Young and Zomorodi.
The following 6 members received excused absences: Brewster, Donahue, Rahangdale, Roberts, Thornburg and M. Williams.
The following 14 members were absent without excuse: Clegg, Coble, Dewitya, Fromke, Gates-Foster, Gilchrist, Gilland, Halladay, Mayer, Mock, Padilla, Platts-Mills, Thorpe and Watson.
Others in attendance: Provost Blouin, David Burriss (Undergraduate Observer) and 27 members of the Employee Forum.
Call to order
Chair of the Faculty Mimi Chapman called the meeting to order at 3:00 p.m.
Chair Chapman welcomed everyone to the Faculty Council meeting and gave brief remarks.
Closed session: Special report of the Honorary Degrees and Special Awards Committee
Secretary of the Faculty Vin Steponaitis entertained a motion to go into closed session to prevent the premature disclosure of award nominees. The motion was seconded and approved by the body. Faculty Council approved the nominee for the Edward Kidder Graham Faculty Service Award and the nominees for Distinguished Alumna and Alumnus Awards. The awards will be presented at the 2021 University Day ceremony.
Educational Policy Committee recommendation to amend syllabi
Professor Melinda Beck (Nutrition), chair of the Educational Policy Committee, introduced Resolution 2020-6. On Amending the Guidelines for Course Syllabi [PDF]. The resolution focuses on amending the guidelines for course syllabi by providing information on Accessibility Resources and Service (ARS), Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Title IX with recommended language provided by the Office of Undergraduate Curricula. Providing these resources in course syllabi will benefit all students enabling them to have the support and accommodations they need to be as successful as possible and to help destigmatize the use of these resources. The EPC unanimously supports this resolution.
Professor Steponaitis stated the question, Resolution 2020-6, and opened the floor for discussion.
David Burriss (Undergraduate Observer) asked if faculty will be encouraged to give an overview of these services on the first day of class.
Professor Beck said this is included in the instruction that will be given to faculty members.
Professor Ruth von Bernuth (Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures) said faculty need more information on the resources that are available to students to address student needs.
Professor Beck said faculty can access information about the Accessibility Resources and Service (ARS), Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Title IX through the Office of Undergraduate Curriculum.
Resolution 2020-6, On Amending the Guidelines for Course Syllabi, passed unanimously.
University Librarian Elaine Westbrooks gave an update on the University Libraries [PDF].
Professor Barbara Entwisle (Sociology) asked if the Libraries are considering ending deals with any other major publishers besides Elsevier.
University Librarian Westbrooks said they have already ended their deal with Wiley Publishing. The Libraries have major contracts with Springer Publishing and Sage Publishing. If costs continue to increase, they will consider making another cut of the same nature as Elsevier.
Professor Deb Aikat (Journalism and Media) asked if the January 3 deadline to return library books will be extended.
University Librarian Westbrooks said they would extend the due dates because of the pandemic. Faculty, staff and students can keep books as long as needed without any late fees, and the Libraries will automatically renew books on their behalf.
Professor Aikat asked if any precautions have to be taken when returning library books.
University Librarian Westbrooks said they prefer for books to be returned using the book drop at Davis Library and the Health Sciences Library. They have a process for quarantining returned materials.
Joint meeting of the Faculty Council and Employee Forum
Chair of the Faculty Mimi Chapman and Katie Musgrove, vice chair of Employee Forum, co-facilitated this portion of the meeting. This is the first time Faculty Council and Employee Forum have convened a joint meeting.
Chancellor Guskiewicz thanked Faculty Council and Employee Forum for convening this meeting and gave an update on the spring semester. About 1,500 students are living in residence halls throughout this fall semester and over 10,000 students who live off-campus, with a vast majority living within a half-mile radius of campus. Research labs, libraries, dining halls, recreation centers and the Student Union remained open during the fall semester. Campus Health did an incredible job ensuring that faculty, staff and students were safe on campus. Based on contact tracing, there has been zero spread of COVID-19 from students to faculty or staff, which was due to the safety measures on campus, the adherence to COVID-19 community standards throughout the fall semester and the evolving COVID-19 testing program. The leadership team learned from the challenges and successes of the fall semester and the experiences of other universities. They are incorporating feedback provided by various campus groups into the plans for the spring semester. The spring calendar has been pushed back two weeks; the semester will start on January 19. There will not be spring break but there will be wellness days throughout the semester. Approximately 20 percent of classes are planned for in-person instruction compared to the 40 percent at the start of the fall semester.
In the spring, there will be a robust asymptomatic testing program. Every undergraduate student will need to produce evidence of a negative COVID-19 test upon re-entry. All students will be tested once at least once a week, with some students will be tested twice a week; this is a significant change from the fall semester. There will be single occupancy dorm rooms with approximately 3500 students living in the residence hall this spring. Infectious disease experts believe the asymptomatic testing program will stop the rapid spread of the virus. Strike teams have been designated to test close contacts in residence halls. There is more quarantine and isolation space to accommodate suspected or positive cases of COVID-19. The leadership team is confident the University is ready to handle any clusters; students will not have to be sent home.
There have been 456 reports of potential violations, 380 administrative actions resulting from violations and 56 students were removed from housing from the start of the fall semester through October 31. The vast majority of students have been abiding by the community standards.
The leadership team is working hard on everything in their control. They recognize that the COVID-19 rates are worse than they were in August, but they are confident that the right measures are in place to ensure the health and safety of the campus community. They have seen how other schools in the UNC System have been successful in teaching in-person undergraduate courses throughout this fall semester. UNC-CH has successfully taught many graduate classes in person.
Chancellor Guskiewicz thanked everyone who shared their opinions on the spring semester; he recognized that there are many differing opinions. He will continue to consult with the infectious-disease and public-health experts and the Orange County Health Department. If any adjustments need to be made to the plan, they will be announced no later than January 9. He emphasized that there is a range of options to consider if needed, but the leadership team is confident in the current plan.
He encouraged everyone to continue following North Carolina guidelines to avoid high-risk settings, to wear a face mask, to wash their hands and to wait six feet apart.
Provost Blouin recognized the incredible collaboration between the Roadmap Implementation Team (RIT) and the Campus and Community Advisory Committee (CCAC); they have worked tirelessly to review and assess the various aspects of the spring plan. There has been an incredible amount of work that has been done by faculty, staff, students and leadership. Provost Blouin explained the key differences between the spring semester and the fall semester. The University was not in a position to mandate testing of students in the fall because testing was not included in their agreement to return to campus. The administration instituted a volunteer testing program in the Student Union. The level of participation was remarkable, with over 16,000 tests done by the end of the fall semester. Some 8,500 of these tests were performed on students living off-campus. The campus positivity rate continues to remain at 0.5 percent, Orange County’s positivity rate is at 3 percent, and North Carolina’s positivity rate is around 9 percent.
The major difference between the fall and spring semesters is that the University decided to start its own COVID-19 testing facility located in the Genome Sciences Building that will be fully functional by the beginning of January. There will be a robust capacity to perform tests throughout the day, and the facility will be operating seven days a week. This will enable the University to support free testing for faculty, staff and students. The facilities team has done an outstanding job examining and updating the filtration system and airflow at every building that will be supporting classroom function. The leadership team continues to work closely with the Orange County Health Department and North Carolina Health and Human Services.
Decisions about the spring semester have included broad input from people across and the State. CCAC has put together recommendations that have the collective support of faculty, staff and students. They addressed wellness days and were able to create general recommendations that worked for a majority of faculty and students. He thanked Chancellor Guskiewicz for putting this interdisciplinary group together. Everyone has benefited greatly from this perspective and certainly.
The leadership team will be closely examining any changes that take place with the positivity rate and tracking the COVID-19 hospitalization occupancy rates within UNC-CH, Orange County and the State.
Spring Semester Plans
This portion of the meeting was moderated by Chair of the Faculty Mimi Chapman and Vice Chair of the Employee Forum Katie Musgrove.
Professor Amir Barzin (Family Medicine) and the RIT testing workgroup researched peer institutions that have either remained open or are doing larger-scale testing with the ability to keep classes in person. The key principles they found were that it is important to focus on higher density congregate living spaces like undergraduate dorms. Students living on campus, taking in-person classes or living in settings larger than ten people will be tested twice a week. Undergraduate students that live in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area will be tested once a week. Faculty and staff also have access to testing voluntarily. This will allow a glimpse into what is going on in the community and the undergraduate population at large, which gives them the flexibility to scale up or scale down given the degree of spread. The program will be called the Carolina Together Testing Program. They have identified three testing sites in different areas on campus that allow for maximum flexibility in the number of people arriving without having too many people congregate. The sites are located in the Current Art Space, the Student Union and the Rams Head Recreation Center; there will be about 15 stations in each testing location. Students can use an app to authenticate themselves with their ONYEN. This ensures that the University is using a closed loop system while having the important reporting elements needed for the State. This app also allows students to scan their own test, which will take most people no longer than 10 minutes to complete. Professor Barzin gave a demonstration of the testing process.
The testing lab will be set up in the Genome Sciences Building; it is Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certified and can report directly to the State. The turnaround time for the test results is 48 hours or less. A team is developing the security features that are required for reporting. The web-based testing app will send reminders and messages to students about specific testing requirements. Computers will be available at the testing site for people who do not have access to a smartphone; there will be paper documentation in case of technical problems.
The SlowCOVIDNC app allows users to report a positive COVID-19 test anonymously. The app will notify users if they have been in close contact with someone with a positive test and will advise users on whether to quarantine or get tested. Many components of this app do not work well on college campuses; there are concerns about messages sent about exposure, as well as security and privacy.
Professor Chapman asked what metrics would trigger an off-ramp.
Chancellor Guskiewicz said the leadership team will work closely with the Department of Health and Human Services, Orange County Health Department, the System Office and infectious disease experts to see if plans for the spring need to be adjusted. They will continue to monitor the path of COVID-19 and continue to engage experts locally and across the State. If the positivity rate skyrockets in Orange County, there is a range of options to consider, including remote instruction for a period of time. In-person classes are relatively small, with 35 students or less, and classrooms are equipped for safe instruction. Students abide by community standards in classrooms, libraries and dining halls; there has been no COVID-19 transmission in these places.
Professor Chapman said the University of Michigan is drastically changing its plans for the spring semester; she asked about the difference between UNC-CH’s plan for the spring semester and Michigan’s plan.
Provost Blouin said the University of Michigan brought most of their students back to campus in the fall, which created a major problem in the area of cluster formation, even with a testing program.
Mr. Phil Edwards (Employee Forum) asked if there is a consensus among epidemiologist about a threshold metric that would prevent reopening.
Chancellor Guskiewicz said hospital capacity is a metric they are focused on. If rates increase and the situation worsens, the University has to ensure there are enough hospital beds to manage serious cases.
Professor Barzin said the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has metrics on positivity rates; a testing program allows the University to control the spread on campus.
Provost Blouin said the campus has been open throughout the entire pandemic. A large number of students have lived on campus since the fall, and the administration has to provide support for them while they are here.
Ms. Jaci Field (Employee Forum) asked why testing is not mandatory for facilities and housekeeping staff working at housing and dining facilities where students will be unmasked.
Professor Barzin said understanding the constraints that some facilities and dining services employees are under, they wanted to provide flexibility. The testing center hours are from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, with additional weekend hours to ensure access throughout the day.
Chancellor Guskiewicz said Professor David Weber (Medicine) would give an update on the Coronavirus vaccine at the January Faculty Council meeting.
Amy Johnson, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, said her office has partnered with University Communications to create a 6-8-week communication strategy to send regular updates to students over email and social media to support them over the break and prepare them for the spring semester. Today, she sent a message to all students regarding resources that are available to them over the break, ways to stay engaged on campus and testing opportunities. In future messages, they will address community standards and re-entry and surveillance testing with easy-to-follow graphics, which will identify the frequency of testing for students. Student leaders from the Student Government Association and the Graduate and Professional Student Federation are taking the lead in a peer-to-peer communication campaign this spring that will focus on community standards and how to keep the community safe. The Office of Student Affairs has a process to receive, investigate and respond to all reports of community standards violations. They are working with the UNC-CH Police to ensure they receive full and timely reports regarding off-campus behaviors that don’t comply with the standards. Both the number of reports and actions are reported on the Carolina Together website. They are working on a revised version of the Community Standards, which will be a comprehensive location for all the requirements to be easily accessible. They are also expecting to revise the rule concerning on-campus gatherings. Student Affairs will offer a combination of both in-person and virtual engagement opportunities that will be designed to encourage healthy and safe interactions for students.
Approximately 1,600 housing assignments have been made for the spring; these students are signing up for move-in appointments to allow for social distancing. All of the dorms will have elevators, which will aid the move-in process. There will be a significant amount of quarantine and isolation space. Students in quarantine and isolation will have increased meal choices where they can select from daily options in a rotating menu. Students will receive daily contact calls from a University staff member to check on their status. Campus Recreation and Student Wellness teams will provide additional recreation, fitness and wellness opportunities as approved by the Orange County Health Department and in compliance with public-health requirements.
Professor D. Aikat asked for more information about the January 9 deadline to announce any adjustments to the spring plan.
Chancellor Guskiewicz said students would move into dorms on January 13. The administration will announce any modifications to the spring plan, such as changes to the mode of class instruction, by January 9. The administration will work with the Orange County Health Department, the Department of Health and Human Services and public health experts to inform their decisions and any changes to the spring plan.
Mr. Burriss asked what policies and procedures are in place to ensure that students are being protected when police are addressing mass gatherings off campus.
UNC-CH Police and Chapel Hill Police are doing joint patrols on the weekends. There has been a decrease in the number of citations for mass gatherings issued over the course of the semester. The University of Maryland is managing off-campus gatherings by citing the homeowners, landlords and those gathered at the location. Police Chief David Perry is considering a similar plan for UNC-CH.
Vice Chancellor Johnson said in higher education it is common for there to be a spike in reports of violations of university codes of conduct at the beginning of the year and taper off as the semester progresses. Student Affairs has data on the transmission of the virus among students due to the contact tracing and case investigations. The majority of positive student cases were not connected to large gatherings or off-campus behavior; they were connected to students in congregate housing or convening with housemates. Adherence to community standards has been high among the student population. Students acknowledged that they became more relaxed to social distancing and mask wearing when they were home with housemates and friends.
Chancellor Guskiewicz is optimistic that the behavior modification students experienced in August will continue into the spring semester.
A livestream viewer said top administrators in the College of Arts and Sciences have threatened departments with budget cuts if they do not provide an in-person component in 20-30 percent of their classes and asked Chancellor Guskiewicz if this in line with his plan for the spring.
Chancellor Guskiewicz said this is the first time he heard about this situation.
Provost Blouin said this situation was not discussed when he met with the dean and senior executive dean of the College and many department chairs. They had conversations about the ramifications of COVID-19 on the campus budget. He has not advocated for budget cuts to departments that do not provide an in-person component in 20-30 percent of their classes.
Chancellor Guskiewicz said students at some universities are taking a gap year if in-person instruction is not offered. Deans and department chairs are trying to provide that opportunity for students who want to take in-person classes and access campus resources. If enrollment decreases in the spring, there will be financial implications.
Professor Chapman said she would send any unanswered questions to Chancellor Guskiewicz and Provost Blouin.
The Employee Forum conducted a research study on the of COVID-19 on the employees of
UNC-Chapel Hill and their recommendations for senior leaders. Professor Betsy Olson (Geography) asked how employee concerns are being addressed.
Vice Chair Musgrove has been in conversation with Provost Blouin and other senior leaders to follow up on the report and address staff advocacy concerns on campus.
Becci Menghini, Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, said she would send a campus message about Human Resources updates. To accommodate employees who have used a large portion of their leave, the two required winter holiday dates will be optional workdays. This is intended to address some of the flexibility concerns that employees have raised. Benefits provided to employees to provide relief and support during the pandemic are set to expire on December 31. Human Resources expect many of these benefits to continue; teleworking provisions have been extended through March. Leave interchangeability, which allows employees to swap sick leave for vacation leave, will continue through the end of March. The Family First Coronavirus Response Act is a federal bill that provides both emergency sick leave and leave for childcare is set to expire at the end of year and could be reinstated. They asked the Office of State Human Resources and the Office of State Budget Management if there is an opportunity to provide some additional mental-health leave or vacation days in support of staff on University Wellness Days.
The administration will demonstrate that they can ensure the safety of those who need to be on campus. They expect employees who have effectively worked from home to continue to do so for some portion of the spring semester, with the approval of their supervisors. To the extent possible, employees need to have agency in their decision about how to come back to campus; some State employees do not have agency on when to come to work and are responsible to supervisors and the mission of the institution. The administration will provide accommodations and flexibility options for faculty and staff. Deans and vice chancellors will outline which employees will be working on campus and which employees will be working remotely based on expectations for the courses being taught on campus and the support needed for these courses.
A livestream viewer asked if the COVID-19 community-service leave will be continued in the spring.
Vice Chancellor Menghini said they are waiting on an update from the Office of State Human Resources.
A livestream viewer asked if all in-person, non-lab-based courses will have an online option for students who are high risk, or will the in-person component be mandatory.
Provost Blouin said high-risk students should choose remote or hybrid courses. Some faculty are willing to record their lectures and make them available asynchronously, so students should communicate with faculty members.
Vice Chancellor Menghini said the voluntary testing opportunity provided to faculty and staff on campus is for asymptomatic testing. If an employee is showing symptoms, they will take the Daily Health Assessment and will be contacted by Occupational Health to get tested.
Provost Blouin said mandatory testing implies this is a condition of employment, which could cause unnecessary conflict. The administration is trying to be practical and also empower employees to make decisions about testing on their own.
Chair of the Faculty Mimi Chapman thanked everyone for attending the meeting.
Its business having concluded, the Faculty Council adjourned at 5:00 p.m.
University Program Associate
Secretary of the Faculty