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Meeting of the Faculty Council and Employee Forum

Friday, January 15, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Teleconference

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.

Agenda

3:00 p.m.  Introductory remarks from the Chair of the Faculty
                      Professor Mimi Chapman (Social Work)

3:05 p.m.  Committee on Student Conduct resolution to amend the Instrument of Student Judicial Governance
                     Professor Meredith Petschauer (Exercise and Sport Science), committee chair

3:15 p.m.  Report of the Committee on Appointments, Promotion and Tenure
                     Professor Karin Pfennig (Biology), committee chair

3:25 p.m.  Annual committee reports by title

3:30 p.m.  Joint meeting of the Faculty Council and Employee Forum
                      Introductory remarks by Employee Forum Chair Shayna Hill and Chair of the Faculty Mimi Chapman

3:40 p.m.  Spring Semester
                     Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Robert Blouin

  • Spring plans
  • Budget update

4:10 p.m.  Vaccine rollout
                      Executive Director Catherine Brennan (Environment, Health and Safety)

4:40 p.m.  Carolina COVID-19 Student Services Corps
                      Professor Meg Zomorodi (Nursing)

4:55 p.m.  General Q & A

5:00 p.m.  Adjournment

 

Basic Parliamentary Procedure [PDF]

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 15, 2021 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 77 members attended: D. Aikat, J. Aikat, Alexander, Anksorus, Berkoff, Berkowitz, Boon, Brownley, Burch, Burke, Cai, Chapman (Chair of the Faculty), Chavis, Clement, Coble , Cox, Dewitya, Divaris, Donahue, Entwisle, Falvo, Floyd-Wilson, Freeman, Gates-Foster, Gentzsch, Gilland, Guskiewicz (Chancellor), Halpern, Holland, Jeffay, Joyner, Krause, Krome-Lukens, Larson, Lee, Lensing, Lithgow, Lopez, Mayer, Mayer-Davis, McGrath, Metcalfe, Meyer, Moon, Moore, Moracco, Muller, Neal, Nichols, Olson, Padilla, Pettifor, Plenge, Powell, Rahangdale, Renner, Rose, Rudder, Santos, Scarlett, Scarry, Steponaitis, Thornburg, Thorp, Thorpe, Triumph, Vaidyanathan, Van Deinse, Vision, von Bernuth, Walter, Watson, J. Williams, Wiltshire, Womack, Young and Zomorodi.

The following 7 members received excused absences: Byerley, Estroff, Lain, Levine, Menard, Mock and Roberts.

The following 8 members were absent without excuse: Brewster, Clegg, Fromke, Gilchrist, Halladay, Platts-Mills, Ramaswamy and M. Williams.

Others in attendance: Provost Blouin, David Burriss (Undergraduate Observer), Maian Adams (Graduate and Professional Student Observer) and 35 members of the Employee Forum.

Call to order

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

Committee on Student Conduct resolution to amend the Instrument of Student Judicial Governance

Professor Meredith Petschauer (Exercise and Sport Science), chair of the Committee on Student Conduct, presented the committee’s annual report [PDF] and introduced Resolution 2021-1, On Amending the Instrument of Student Judicial Governance [PDF].

Mr. David Burriss (Undergraduate Student Observer) asked about the amount of time an interim Honor Court Chair will serve.

Professor Petschauer said an interim chair’s term is flexible, they will serve until a chair is approved.The Honor Court Chair has to beapproved by the Graduate and Professional School Federation and the Student Government Association. The timeline for approval of the chair varies and, if necessary, an interim chair is appointed while this process is underway.

Mr. Burriss asked what guidelines are in place for the removal of an Honor Court chair or vice chair?

Professor Petschauer said the guidelines are detailed in the Instrument of Student Judicial Governance.

Secretary of the Faculty Vin Steponaitis stated the question, Resolution 2021-1, and opened the floor for discussion.

Resolution 2021-1, On Amending the Instrument of Student Judicial Governance, passed unanimously.

Report of the Committee on Appointments, Promotions and Tenure

Professor Karin Pfennig (Biology), committee chair, presented the annual report [PDF] of the Committee on Appointments, Promotions and Tenure (APT).

The APT committee is developing recommendations for campus units to address the impacts of COVID-19 on tenure and promotion decisions for faculty. These recommendations include the addition of COVID-19 impact statements to dossiers that allow faculty to detail the impacts of COVID-19 on their career development and the solicitation of external letters that ask reviewers to explicitly consider the impacts of COVID-19. Later this semester, the committee will bring a resolution to Faculty Council that will evaluate solutions to this issue.

Professor Ronit Freeman (Applied Physical Sciences) asked if APT will recommend an extension of the tenure clock.

Professor Pfennig said there is a COVID-19 tenure clock extension that faculty can request, which is set to expire this spring. APT will recommend the continuation of this extension. Since some faculty do not want a delay in their tenure clocks, the committee is contemplating other mechanisms to address the impacts of COVID-19 on tenure and promotion.

Professor Freeman said another issue is the limited access to start-up funds since the beginning of the pandemic. She asked if there will be an extension for the use of these funds.

Professor Pfennig said she would bring this question back to APT for discussion. APT will also consider the impact of COVID-19 on teaching evaluations and different elements of professional development.

Professor Jessica Boon (Religious Studies) asked if this process will involve guidance to individual departments because promotion to full professor varies by department.

Professor Pfennig said these recommendations must happen at a departmental level because the timing of promotion depends on the department.

Annual committee reports by title

The annual reports of the Advisory Committee [PDF], Faculty Assembly Delegation [PDF] and the Committee on University Government [PDF] were accepted by title.

Joint meeting of the Faculty Council and Employee Forum

Chair of the Faculty Mimi Chapman and Shayna Hill, chair of Employee Forum, co-facilitated this portion of the meeting.

Chair of the Employee Forum Shayna Hill shared brief remarks. Over the past few months, faculty and staff have made great achievements, which include creating a space for discussion and feedback to plan for the spring semester, establishing a greater understanding of how faculty and staff are similar and sharing fears and concerns while advocating for one another in the process. She shared a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr., “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” The latest combined efforts between Faculty Council and Employee Forum demonstrates an effort towards creating a brotherhood of advocacy. She embraces the continued partnership between faculty and staff as we face uncertainty during the pandemic, internal issues related to work and external elements happening around the country. Chair Hill will continue to work transparently and inform staff as developments unfold. She shared another quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., “I have decided to stick to love… Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Professor Chapman gave brief introductory remarks [PDF].

Chancellor’s remarks

Chancellor Guskiewicz thanked Chairs Chapman and Hill for their leadership, and shared his thoughts on the events that transpired on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2020. These events were unacceptable and threaten the very ideals of our country. It was an attack on our democracy and the peaceful transfer of power that defines our nation. The rhetoric around not counting certain votes is disturbing and builds on a long history of disenfranchisement across our country. As the nation’s first public university, we have a responsibility to defend and promote democracy and to fight for the values of truth, freedom, dignity and equality of every person.

Chancellor Guskiewicz gave an update on campus initiatives and events. It has been a decade since there has been a balanced budget at the University. The University faces three major challenges related to the budget: (1) the historic structural deficit, (2) COVID-19 related impacts, and (3) growing deferred maintenance challenges. The leadership team directed schools and units to reduce personnel funds by 1.5% and operating funds by 7.5% for the fiscal year 2021-2022. These budget measures are consistent with those put in place at the beginning of the pandemic. COVID-19 related measures will be kept in place until further notice, which will enable the University to eliminate the $100 million structural deficit in central funds by the end of the fiscal year 2022. This plan will better prepare UNC-CH for the unknown pandemic impacts and will eventually create a strategic reinvestment fund that will allow units to fulfill their strategic plans. Deans and unit leaders will have the autonomy to identify how they will make cuts to their units. However, the leadership team has set forth guiding principles for them to follow; for example, reductions have to be consistent with the University’s strategic plan. The chancellor thanked Interim Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations Nate Knuffman and his team for their work on the budget.

Due to the record number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalization in North Carolina and around the country, the start of in-person undergraduate classes has been delayed to February 8. The University is prepared to handle COVID-19 cases that arise on campus. Over 2,500 people have been tested through the Carolina Together Testing Program. This program is available to all asymptomatic faculty, staff and students. Professor Meg Zomorodi (Nursing) has recruited over 200 student volunteers for the testing program.

The leadership team is advocating for front-line employees on campus to receive the vaccine as soon as possible, which include food service workers, housekeepers, police officers, maintenance staff, transit workers and faculty who teach in-person.

The University will celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through multiple virtual events. The annual banquet will be held Sunday and the lecture will feature Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Provost’s remarks

Provost Blouin said the Carolina Together Testing Program is the best example of UNC-CH collaboration that he has seen during his time as provost. About 1,000 people are tested each day; eventually, the testing program will have the capacity to run several thousand tests per day. The positivity rate of the 2,500 tests run through the program is 0.5%. Although this rate will change over time, it is a testament to students taking care of themselves during the break. The main testing site is at the Carolina Student Union; the other two testing sites at the CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio and Rams Head will go online on January 16. The testing sites are available to all asymptomatic faculty, staff and students. Registration is available online through the Hall Pass website. Provost Blouin recommends registering in advance to save time at the testing center. The testing program will be closed on the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.

Professor Jessica Boon (Religious Studies) asked if the 7.5% budget reduction in operating funds for the fiscal year 2021-2022 will be cumulative and equate to 15% over two years.

Chancellor Guskiewicz said that by the end of 2022 operating funds will be reduced by 15%. The operational budget includes tuition appropriations and Facilities and Administration (F&A) funds, which account for $1.2 billion of the $3.5 billion budget. Due to measures put in place to mediate COVID-19 budget impacts, many units have already been able to save funds.

A viewer from the livestream asked why it is important to balance the budget during a pandemic, wondering why not wait until it is over.

Chancellor Guskiewicz said the full financial impact of the pandemic is still unknown. The current deficit cannot continue to grow, and the leadership is attempting to help mitigate the impact by putting measures in place now.

Provost Blouin said that as we prepare for the future and the unknown, we cannot continue to spend more than we can afford. There are many reasons for the University’s financial situation, which started back in 2008 when there were many budget cuts from the State. If the leadership team does not take steps now to mitigate the budget, the University will be in a much worse position in the future as other new challenges arise. COVID-19 will also have an impact on the State budget next fiscal year. It will be difficult to make the strategic investments the University will need to stay competitive with peer universities if the budget is not under control.

Chancellor Guskiewicz said the University’s research funding has continued on a strong trajectory throughout the pandemic and the enrollment numbers have remained steady throughout the pandemic.

Chair Shayna Hill asked a question from the Zoom chat. The UNC-CH Office of Human Resources released a statement stating that no one below a certain income threshold would be impacted by furloughs, she asked if this guidance is still in place? She also asked about what is being done to protect the lowest paid employees from the impact of the 1.5% personnel budget cuts.

Chancellor Guskiewicz saidfurloughs are not occurring at the University, except for some auxiliary units where furloughs were put in place during the beginning of the pandemic. If a temporary furlough program is put in place, it likely will not affect employees below a certain income threshold.

Provost Blouin said there will be a 1.5% reduction in the pool of all state-appropriated funds for salaries, not in individuals’ salaries. 61:00

Professor Deb Aikat (Journalism and Media) asked if there will be another deadline to announce any adjustments to the spring plan, similar to the January 9 deadline.

Chancellor Guskiewicz said the leadership team receives weekly updates from the Orange County Health Department, and public health faculty are providing COVID-19 models and projections on a regular basis. There will is not a specific deadline to announce further adjustments to the spring plan. The administration makes daily decisions around the operations of the University. The chancellor says his main focus is on the health and safety of the campus community, and providing flexibility to faculty, staff and students.

Professor Boon said the administration sent out an email announcing budget cuts and another email announcing the hiring of administrative positions. She asked Chancellor Guskiewicz to address the need for hiring more administrators in a moment of budgetary limitation.

Chancellor Guskiewicz said the memo sent today outlined eight budget reduction principles, one being to balance personnel reductions across all layers of the University with a focus on reducing the number of senior administrators in our organization. Decisions about budget cuts need to be made strategically and involve leadership within the schools and departments. He is unaware of the memo about hiring new administrators, he did receive a message that a couple of units were discussing new positions, but he is unsure if they are filling vacant positions or new administrative positions. Units have the autonomy to make decisions and meet the needs of their schools and departments.

Chair Shayna Hill asked a question from the Zoom chat. In earlier meetings, vertical cuts were included among the potential tools for managing the budget, at what level would those decisions be handled if vertical cuts are still being considered?

Chancellor Guskiewicz said that over the next three to four weeks schools and units will decide on a combination of strategic vertical and horizontal cuts. They will then submit these plans to the Finance and Operations Team.

A viewer from the livestream stated that today’s budget update email said the University will have the ability to reinvest in school and unit initiatives that align with the goals of the strategic plan, Carolina Next. The viewer asked Chancellor Guskiewicz to explain how reinvestment is preferable to greater offsets of the negative impact of budget cuts on personnel.

Chancellor Guskiewicz said once the budget is balanced, safety net needs to be in place to take care of unknown COVID-19 impacts. The leadership team is hopeful they can get to a point where they can assist units in need. Before the pandemic, there were discussions about creating a fund to invest in initiatives that are outlined in the University’s strategic plan.

Provost Blouin said the budget cuts are not funding a reinvestment pool at this moment. The administration is balancing the budget so there will be an opportunity for reinvestment in the future for the long-term interests of the University and individual units.

Multiple livestream viewers asked if early retirement would assist in offsetting budget consequences.

Chancellor Guskiewicz acknowledged that early retirement is a potential tool for mitigating budgetary shortfalls.

A member of the Faculty Council asked how units will communicate their budget reduction process to their faculty and staff.

Provost Blouin said that eight budget-reduction principles are intended to guide how deans and unit leads make these decisions and how they communicate them to faculty and staff. This process will be different for each unit depending on its structure. He underscored that the UNC offices of finance and human resources work with individual units to ensure this is a smooth process.

A livestream viewer asked if there have been efforts to retain staff during the pandemic.

Chair Shayna Hill added that the University is at a critical threshold in terms of reducing staff, UNC-CH can no longer effectively function with less staff. Historically, reducing staff has been used as a tool to cut the budget. Currently, positions are going unfilled because of the pandemic. Due to the career banding structure, staff cannot receive additional pay for doing lower-level work. For example, a manager cannot receive compensation for completing the duties of staff in a lower career band whose positions have been cut.

Provost Blouin said the administration cannot reduce staff and then spread more work to fewer people, they have to be strategic in the way cuts are made.

Chancellor Guskiewicz said Vice Chancellor Menghini will meet with members of the Employee Forum to discuss staff retention and she will report back to the chancellor and provost. He acknowledged that many vacant positions have not been filled, which puts an additional burden on remaining staff. Difficult decisions will need to be made about the future of programs that are not aligned with the strategic plan.

Students eligible for graduation in May 2021 will receive a survey focused on how they would like to celebrate their accomplishments. It is highly unlikely that a normal graduation could be held in Kenan Stadium; an alternate option is a series of smaller outdoor events.

Vaccine rollout

Catherine Brennan, executive director of Environment, Health and Safety, provided an update on the University’s vaccination planning, which has been rapidly changing by the day. The Federal government provides guidance to the states, which then decide how to prioritize their vaccination rollout. A small vaccination working group has been meeting on campus since December. The first phase of vaccine distribution was for high-risk healthcare workers and UNC integrated with UNC Healthcare to get people in this group vaccinated. The second phase was for 75 years and older, but the state modified this phase and changed the age to 65 and older. It’s anticipated that frontline essential workers will not be vaccinated for some time due to the modification of the second phase. Once they define who the frontline workers are they will designate them through the State system. The UNC vaccine working group has integrated with the Orange County Vaccine Planning Task Force to help ensure the community is also being vaccinated. There is a vaccination site at the RR parking lot on Estes Drive, the UNC vaccine working group helped set up the location and the University loaned a couple of freezers to help with storage.

Professor Eric Muller (Law) said various states include teachers as a vaccination group. He asked if university professors included in this group, or just K-12 educators.

Executive Director Brennan said educators are included in North Carolina’s definition of essential workers, but it does not specifically state whether that includes educators from institutes of higher learning. The vaccine working group has advocated that these educators be added to the definition.

Ryan Collins (Graduate and Professional Student Federation) said many students who work in the healthcare field have been vaccinated because of the role they play in health affairs, but there are students who work in medical laboratory research that have not been vaccinated. He asked how these students fit into the vaccination plan.

Executive Director Brennan said the laboratory researchers working with COVID-19 clinical samples are considered part of the healthcare worker group. She has to determine if laboratory researchers who are not working with COVID-19 samples are considered frontline workers. A frontline worker is typically defined as someone who works 40 hours a week in front of the public or someone unable to maintain six feet distance while they are working.

Mr. Collins asked if the vaccine working group will advocate for graduate teaching assistants who are teaching in-person to be included in the State’s definition of essential workers.

Executive Director Brennan said they are advocating for all educators from institutes of higher learning, including teaching assistants.

During this meeting, the Town of Chapel Hill sent out an email stating that the guidance from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) lists higher-education instructors and support staff as essential frontline workers.

Professor Chapman asked if the University will differentiate between faculty and graduate instructors who work in-person versus those who work remotely in terms of classifying them as frontline essential workers.

Executive Director Brennan said they had to upload the names and emails of the specific healthcare workers who met the eligibility criteria to the North Carolina system, which signaled to the State these individuals met the criteria and could register to be vaccinated. They anticipate the same process for frontline essential workers.

Professor Deb Aikat (Journalism and Media) asked if the University will recommend or require that students, faculty and staff take the vaccine.

Executive Director Brennan said the University recommends that people get the vaccine, but it is not a requirement.

Professor Chapman said due to the emergency use authorization the vaccine could not be made mandatory.

Provost Blouin said the leadership team has been discussing whether they should mandate the vaccine after it is formally approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They have also engaged in informal conversations with University Counsel about this issue.

Chair Hill said some staff who work with students in a non-teaching capacity are asking to be considered essential frontline workers.

Executive Director Brennan said they will reach out to units and request information about their frontline essential workers. The vaccine working group will make their decisions based on the information they receive from units.

Professor Jill Moore (Government) is a member of the NC Institute of Medicine’s advisory committee on the vaccine that is advising NCDHHS on the priority groups. University faculty and staff will be in the essential frontline worker group if they meet certain criteria. They will be asked whether they have to be on-site in order to perform their work duties and whether their work duties bring them within six feet of other people.

Carolina COVID-19 Student Services Corps

Professor Meg Zomorodi (Nursing) serves as the Assistant Provost for the Office of Interprofessional Education and Practice (OIPEP). One of her duties is to work with students to help them in learning from, with and about each other. The Carolina COVID-19 Student Services Corps began this summer when students in the health professions were pulled out of clinical settings, OIPEP wanted students to feel like they could still contribute in a meaningful way as they helped health professionals dealing with the impact of COVID-19. This program is modeled on the Colombia Student Service Corps at Colombia University. Students who serve 75 hours or more during the semester will receive a certificate as well as several incentives along the way. Additional students have the opportunity to engage and connect through virtual shadowing experiences. Students are helping run COVID-19 testing stations, assisting with contact tracing and helping with data review, communications and health promotion materials.

Faculty Council watched a video from the Carolina COVID-19 Student Services Corps in which students shared why they chose to serve Carolina in this way.

Professor Zomorodi said that about 250 volunteers worked this week at the COVID-19 testing sites. The Corps has more than 800 volunteers in its database and is still accepting volunteers. Students are also helping with vaccination efforts.

General Q & A

Chair Hill asked if there has been any discussion about the mass vaccination of students.

Executive Director Brennan said Campus Health has applied to become a vaccinator for the COVID-19 vaccine, but this process takes a while. Most students will fall under phase 5 of the vaccine distribution, which is for the general population. Some students may fall under phase 4, which is for high-risk adults.

Katie Musgrove, vice chair of the Employee Forum, asked if the Carolina Together Testing Program is only available to faculty and staff who regularly access campus.

Professor Amir Barzin (Family Medicine) said the testing program is open to all asymptomatic students, faculty and staff.

Adjournment

Its business having concluded, the Faculty Council adjourned at 5:00 p.m

Respectfully submitted,

Kadejah Murray

University Program Associate

Vin Steponaitis

Secretary of the Faculty

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