November 6, 2020
Meeting of the Faculty Council and the General Faculty
Friday, November 6, 2020, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
The meeting was streamed live and recorded. The recording is available at this link.
3:00 p.m. Chair of the Faculty’s Remarks
Professor Mimi Chapman (Social Work)
3:10 p.m. Chancellor’s Remarks
Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz
3:20 p.m. Budget Updates and Implications
Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz joined by:
- Provost Robert Blouin
- Interim Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations Nathan Knuffman
- Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Becci Menghini
3:45 p.m. Updates on Recent Student and Parent Surveys
- Student Survey (Professors Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld, Anthropology and Mitch Prinstein, Psychology and Neuroscience)
- Parent Survey (Amy Johnson, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs)
4:05 p.m. Provost’s Remarks
Provost Robert Blouin
4:15 p.m. Spring Semester Plans
Facilitated by Professor Mimi Chapman
- COVID-19 Testing (Professors Amir Barzin, Family Medicine and Audrey Pettifor, Epidemiology)
- Community Standards (Amy Johnson, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Desirée Rieckenberg, Dean of Students)
- Housing (Allan Blattner, Executive Director of Carolina Housing)
- Q & A
4:55 p.m. Committee Report by Title
- Annual Report of the Faculty Hearings Committee [PDF]. Committee Chair Gary Cuddeback (Social Work)
5:00 p.m. Adjournment
UNC-CH Employee Forum report: Effects of COVID-19 on the Employees of UNC-Chapel Hill and Recommendations for Senior Leaders, October 2020
Video of Proceedings
Journal of Proceedings of the Faculty Council and General Faculty
The Faculty Council of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill convened on November 6, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. via Zoom in a joint meeting with the General Faculty. Approximately 89 students and members of the general faculty joined the Zoom session; a livestream was also available.
The following 78 Faculty Council members attended: D. Aikat, J. Aikat, Alexander, Anksorus, Berkoff, Berkowitz, Boon, Brownley, Burch, Burke, Byerley, Cai, Chapman (Chair of the Faculty), Chavis, Clement, Coble, Cox, Divaris, Donahue, Entwisle, Estroff, Falvo, Floyd-Wilson, Gates-Foster, Gentzsch, Gilland, Guskiewicz (Chancellor), Halpern, Holland, Jeffay, Joyner, Krause, Krome-Lukens, Larson, Lee, Lensing, Levine, Lithgow, Mayer-Davis, McGrath, Menard, Metcalfe, Meyer, Moon, Moore, Moracco, Muller, Neal, Nichols, Olson, Padilla, Pettifor, Plenge, Powell, Rahangdale, Ramaswamy, Renner, Roberts, Rose, Rudder, Santos, Scarlett, Scarry, Steponaitis (Secretary of the Faculty), Thornburg, Thorp, Thorpe, Triumph, Vaidyanathan, Van Deinse, Vision, von Bernuth, Walter, J. Williams, Wiltshire, Womack, Young and Zomorodi.
The following 6 members received excused absences: Brewster, Clegg, Freeman, Lain, Lopez, and M. Williams.
The following 8 members were absent without excuse: Dewitya, Fromke, Gilchrist, Halladay, Mayer, Mock, Platts-Mills and Watson
Others in attendance: Provost Blouin
Call to Order
The Chair of the Faculty called the meeting to order at 3:01 p.m.
Chair of the Faculty remarks
Chair of the Faculty Mimi Chapman welcomed everyone to the October Meeting of the Faculty Council and the General Faculty, and provided brief remarks [PDF].
Professor Lloyd Kramer (History) provided a historical perspective of the 2020 election [PDF].
Chancellor Guskiewicz recognized faculty and staff for their service and sacrifice to the campus community during upheaval caused by the global pandemic. He then gave an update of campus events and initiatives. Next week, UNC-Chapel Hill will go to court to defend itself in the Students for Fair Admissions lawsuit challenging the University’s ability to admit and educate a diverse community of outstanding students from varied backgrounds. Carolina follows the law when admitting each class of undergraduate students, all of whom earned their place at the University.
The administration has worked with the university community to address the pandemic. Chancellor Guskiewicz acknowledged that some parts of their fall plan worked well, and others did not. This has caused frustration and disappointment for many people for which he apologized. The administration is working to ensure a successful finish to the fall 2020 semester along with a successful start and finish to the spring 2021 semester. He is grateful for the work of the Campus and Community Advisory Committee (CCAC), the Roadmap Implementation Team (RIT) and the many content experts, all of whom have worked together to advise the administration about planning for the spring semester. The administration has increased the testing capacity at the University throughout the fall semester. Testing will be required during the spring semester. In addition, dorms will all be single occupancy in the spring, and more quarantine and isolation space will be provided. The quick transition from in-class to remote learning in the fall was difficult for faculty, students and staff. The administration will do everything possible to maintain in-person teaching in the spring semester.
Conversations about the enforcement of community standards have been plentiful. The Office of Student Affairs is working to improve coordination with the Town of Chapel Hill and off-campus residents. The Student Conduct Team will receive timely reports from both the Chapel Hill and UNC police departments, and there will be consistent communication between the groups. New agreements with fraternity and sorority chapters will be implemented to enforce the rights and responsibilities of the University and the chapters in contractual relationships.
The administration is working to increase and clarify its communication with the campus community. They have worked to engage further with a broader group of campus and community stakeholders and have discussed how to continue to communicate broadly. Chancellor Guskiewicz said we must move forward with cautious optimism while navigating through these difficult circumstances. He will continue to showcase how this community has adapted and, in many ways, excelled in carrying out the of mission the University. He believes UNC-Chapel Hill is capable of great things while navigating through big challenges.
Budget Updates and Implications
Chancellor Guskiewicz said that a lot of uncertainty exists around the budget. He clarified that the University does not have a $300 million deficit; this figure was a misinterpretation of what was presented at the September Faculty Council meeting. Every revenue source at the University is threatened; hence, the focus of the administration is to continue to protect the core mission and the campus community.
Nathan Knuffman, interim vice chancellor for Finance and Operations and Becci Menghini, vice chancellor for Human Resources, presented the University Financial Update [PDF].
The administration was asked if the decision to bring more students back in the spring is a financial decision. Chancellor Guskiewicz said many factors go into decisions about bringing more students back to live and learn on campus. Bringing more students back will generate some revenue, but it does not come without costs, such as COVID-19-related expenses to prepare the campus. Many students need the resources that are available on campus to be successful. Furthermore, students thrive in the campus environment when they have face-to-face interaction with faculty and other students.
Professor Andy Perrin (Sociology) asked if the Endowment Board could temporarily increase the returns that the University can use from the endowment.
Chancellor Guskiewicz said the Endowment Board of the Chapel Hill Investment Fund set the distributions that are given to the University each year. The administration has been in conversation with the board. The distribution for the unrestricted endowment funds will not be enough to offset the budget shortfall, but the funds can cover program initiatives, scholarships and strategic investments.
Vice Chancellor Knuffman said that each year the distribution from the investment fund is about five percent with a large portion of the funds earmarked for individual units. The portion available centrally is small and the unrestricted amount is even smaller.
Professor Jay Smith (History) asked if there are creative ways to use some of the restricted funds of the endowment to meet some of the budget shortfalls.
Chancellor Guskiewicz said the restricted funds are used for professorships, scholarships and programs. They would have to go to the donors and ask to change the gift agreement; he is not sure donors would be willing to adjust their agreements. The administration will pull funds from auxiliary services like housing, dining, parking, athletics and patient care to budget cover shortfalls.
Professor Perrin asked why the endowment fund couldn’t return a higher percentage point during this crisis.
Chancellor Guskiewicz said the administration is in conversation with the Chapel Hill Investment Fund about the opportunity to increase next year’s distributions. There may be an opportunity for the increase if the administration can show how the funds will be used for strategic investments to provide the resources to put toward the budget deficit.
Professor Betsy Olson (Geography) said there have been conversations about addressing long-term structural issues within the budget. At the same time, there have been conversations about increasing admissions and pursuing our status as a top global institution, which makes the University competitive in terms of research and tuition dollars. She asked how campus leadership and faculty should interpret this.
The chancellor answered by saying that “Globalize” is one of the eight strategic initiatives in the strategic plan Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good. The administration could ask for additional distribution to invest in this strategic initiative. Increasing enrollment will bring in some additional tuition dollars, but the University must have the capacity to manage this growth within the residence and dining halls. A working group has been tasked with exploring responsible ways to expand enrollment. Increased enrollment may lead to additional funding to offset the structural deficit. The administration is trying to leverage the University’s assets to offset the shortfall as well.
Vice Chancellor Menghini said State appropriations have not been impacted. As the state continues to navigate COVID-19, the administration does not know what the State appropriation will be in the next cycle, noting that many salaries are funded by state appropriations. The administration is trying to address the structural budget due to a potential impact on state appropriations.
Professor Deb Aikat (Journalism and Media) asked if Chancellor Guskiewicz will appoint a committee of faculty, staff and students to provide input on budget cuts and long-term adjustments.
Chancellor Guskiewicz said the administration received feedback from budget meetings held with 32 different campus units; he will consider appointing such a committee.
Updates on Recent Student and Parent Surveys
Professor Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld (Anthropology) presented the quantitative results of the Student Wellness survey [PDF]. Professor Mitch Prinstein (Psychology and Neuroscience) presented the qualitative results of the Student Wellness survey. He shared the results of two survey prompts (1) academically, what is going particularly well for you this semester? (2) academically what is not going particularly well for you this semester?
Amy Johnson, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, gave a presentation of the results from a recent Parents Council survey[PDF].
Provost Blouin said the plan for the spring semester will require adjustments along the way. The CCAC and RIT have been working together on many of the critical questions and issues surrounding the spring plan. One of the administration’s main priorities is to have a safe campus and to ensure we are in a position to pursue the full mission of the University, which includes education, research, outreach, service and global ambitions. Another critical element of the planning process is trying to minimize the negative financial impact that COVID-19 is having on the campus.
Provost Blouin explained the major differences between the fall and spring semester plans. The administration has learned a great deal from the experiences of the fall and from what other universities across the country have done. This spring, there will be approximately 3,500 students in single-domicile environments. The capacity of quarantine and isolation facilities will increase, with Vice Chancellor Johnson and her team working to improve the experience of students in these spaces.
A major strategic error in the fall plan was not putting enough emphasis on testing. Universities that started the semester with a strong commitment to mandatory re-entry surveillance testing had lower rates of COVID-19 among their students. Many of our samples are now sent to outside vendors to provide test results; the administration is currently developing a campus COVID-19 testing center. The savings convenience of having our own internal testing capacity will go a long way in making us safer as a campus. Schools are working to identify which courses will be held in person. Many of the community standards will be maintained including, mask-wearing and social distancing. CCAC is examining and strengthening existing community standards to improve the probability of compliance. The UNC Police is working with the Town of Chapel Hill Police on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays when there Is a higher concentration of party activity to enforce standards of compliance.
Provost Blouin said the entire community is stressed, and everyone is dealing with the challenges of COVID-19, economic insecurity and the polarized political environment. He asked faculty to be sensitive to the situations that students are facing and bring as much empathy and compassion to the classroom and mentoring roles as possible.
Spring Semester Plans
Professor Amir Barzin (Family Medicine) and Professor Audrey Pettifor (Epidemiology) are working with the RIT testing workgroup to ensure there is an adequate testing platform that can handle high-volume testing. Professor Barzin said their goal was to find the most effective testing platform, both in terms of personnel cost and accessibility for students, staff and faculty. There will be a high-throughput system that could evaluate up to 7000 samples a day. They do not think testing will reach this volume, but they want to be prepared just in case. They are working to ensure clear communication about the availability of testing, the capacity to test every day and appropriate staffing and testing equipment. They are also focused on contact tracing and the availability of quarantine and isolation space.
Professor Pettifor said they are working to create a volunteer core; many universities are using students in different aspects of testing on campus and support for students who are in quarantine and isolation. Health professional students can help with checking students in at testing locations and delivering specimens to the lab. Some students felt that they didn’t receive enough support while they were in the isolation and quarantine space. Many universities created student support groups over Zoom, and students are volunteering to bring supplies to students who are in quarantine and isolation. There is also an opportunity for students to assist Campus Health and the Orange County Health Department with contact tracing.
Professor Meg Zomorodi (Nursing) said this is an opportunity for undergraduate students who have not had opportunities to volunteer or to clinically serve and are interested in the health professions.
Professor Barzin said the testing platform is PCR based.
Professor Jay Smith (History) asked why the option to go fully remote in the spring is not being considered since the number of cases and hospitalizations are increasing drastically.
Provost Blouin said the administration has regular meetings with UNC Healthcare modelers as they examine the possible conditions of the next few months. They are prepared to adjust the spring-semester plan if the conditions worsen.
Chancellor Guskiewicz said they will monitor the path of the virus and make accommodations and adjustments as needed, based on expert input in those first few weeks of January.
Allan Blattner, executive director of Carolina Housing, said there will only be single-occupancy dorm rooms in the spring semester. Many of the strategies implemented in the fall will return in the spring, such as no visitation in the residence halls, the mask and physical distancing requirements and the staged move-in, which will only allow a certain number of people to move into the buildings at a certain time. The quarantine and isolation spaces have been significantly restructured for the spring. There is more space available, and each building is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. Carolina Housing is working with Campus Health and the Dean of Students Office to set up a different model of connecting with students who are in isolation and quarantine spaces. The cross-transmission of other winter ailments like the flu and common cold is also a major concern in these spaces.
Professor D. Aikat heard from students working as housing employees that there is a directive that they are not allowed to be interviewed by the media. He asked Executive Director Blattner to explain.
Executive Director Blattner said this is a misrepresentation of what their policy is and one that they are working to correct both in rewriting the policy language and also making sure this is clear with students. The policy was intended to ensure official requests for housing information and housing interviews get routed to the Carolina Housing office to ensure consistency of information. It was not to stop students from speaking about concerns they may have, but it was to direct official inquiries back to the central office; no students were disciplined under this policy.
Professor Chapman invited everyone to attend the upcoming CCAC meetings.
Committee Reports by Title
The annual report of the Faculty Hearings Committee [PDF] was accepted by title.
Its business having concluded, the Faculty Council adjourned at 5:00 p.m.
University Program Associate
Secretary of the Faculty