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Meeting of the Faculty Council

Friday, October 9, 2020, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.

A recording of the meeting 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 and Provost’s Remarks
                         Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Robert Blouin

3:20 p.m.  Campus Well-being and Mental Health
                        Moderated by Professor Julie Byerley (Medicine)

  • DeVetta Holman, Health Educator (Student Wellness)
  • Amy Johnson, Vice Chancellor (Student Affairs)
  • Samantha Meltzer-Brody, Professor and Chair (Psychiatry)
  • Allen O’Barr, Director (Counseling and Psychological Services)
  • Mitch Prinstein, Professor (Psychology and Neuroscience) and Assistant Dean (Honors Carolina)
  • Desirée Rieckenberg, Dean of Students (Student Affairs)

3:50 p.m.  Faculty Council Discussion of Spring Semester Planning
                        Facilitated by Professor Mimi Chapman

4:30 p.m.  Student-Athlete Well-being in the Wake of a Pandemic
                        Moderated by Professor Lissa Broome (Law) and Professor Daryhl Johnson (Medicine)

  • Nicole Barnes, Student-Athlete (Women’s Track and Field; Exercise and Sport Science)
  • Will Bowen, Student-Athlete (Men’s Lacrosse; Business)
  • Michelle Brown, Assistant Provost and Director (Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes)
  • Mario Ciocca, Director of Sports Medicine (Athletic Department)
  • Cricket Lane, Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development (Athletic Department)
  • Jeni Shannon, Director of Mental Health and Performance Psychology (Athletic Department)

4:55 p.m.  Committee Reports by Title

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 October 9, 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 78 members attended: D. Aikat, J. Aikat, Alexander, Anksorus, Berkoff, Berkowitz, Boon, Brewster, Brownley, Burch, Burke, Byerley, Cai, Chapman (Chair of the Faculty), Chavis, Coble, Cox, Divaris, Donahue, Entwisle, Estroff, Falvo, Floyd-Wilson, Gentzsch, Gilland, Guskiewicz (Chancellor), Halladay, Halpern, Holland, Jeffay, Joyner, Krause, Krome-Lukens, Larson, Lee, Lensing, Levine, Lopez, Mayer, Mayer-Davis, McGrath, Menard, Metcalfe, Meyer, Moon, Moore, Moracco, Muller, Neal, Nichols, Olson, Padilla, Pettifor, Plenge, Powell, Rahangdale, Ramaswamy, Renner, Roberts, Rose, Rudder, Santos, Scarry, Steponaitis (Chair of the Faculty), Thornburg, Thorp, Thorpe, Triumph, Vaidyanathan, Van Deinse, Vision, von Bernuth, Walter, Watson, Wiltshire, Womack, Young and Zomorodi.

The following 7 members received excused absences: Clement, Freeman, Gates-Foster, Lain, Lithgow, J. Williams, M. Williams.

The following 7 members were absent without excuse: Clegg, Dewitya, Fromke, Gilchrist, Mock, Platts-Mills and Scarlett.

Others in attendance: Robert Blouin, (Provost), Maian Adams (Graduate and Professional Student Observer), David Burriss (Undergraduate Student Observer) and Ryan Collins (Graduate and Professional Student Federation President. 

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 Faculty Council meeting and gave remarks [PDF].

Chancellor remarks

Chancellor Guskiewicz updated the Faculty Council on campus news and events. National rankings from U.S. News & World Report and The Wall Street Journal ranked UNC-CH as a top-tier university, which reflects the hard work of faculty, staff and students. The University has ranked in the top five in U.S. News & World Report for the twentieth year in a row. He recognized Professor Tressie McMillan Cottom (Information and Library Science), winner of a prestigious 2020 MacArthur Fellowship. University Day will be celebrated virtually on October 11 and 12 with the former date being the installation ceremony for Chancellor Guskiewicz who will be officially installed as the 12th chancellor of the University. Recipients of the Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Award and the Edward Kidder Graham Award will be honored on October 12. Chancellor Guskiewicz thanked the Roadmap Implementation Team (RIT) and the Campus and Community Advisory Committee (CCAC) for their hard work. The spring calendar has been revised and now has a January 19 start date. There will be no formal spring break, but wellness days will be spread throughout the semester. The goal is to celebrate commencement for May 2020, December 2020 and May 2021 graduates in the spring. The administration will keep the campus community updated on decisions about testing, modes of instruction, housing and off-campus guidelines as they continue to plan for the spring semester.

Provost Blouin updated Faculty Council on plans for the spring semester. There has been great communication between RIT and CCAC. Each of these committees is working through difficult issues and recommendations before advancing them to Chancellor Guskiewicz for final consideration. Provost Blouin emphasized that the two groups are in the discussion phase and working toward recommendations; none of the items being discussed today have been finalized. The administration is working with several groups to assess the question of mandatory reentry testing and surveillance, as well as exploring different avenues for testing. The location for student testing changed to the Carolina Union and the mechanism for testing changed to saliva-based testing. This change resulted in dramatic increases in student participation in voluntary testing. Most recently, up to 400 student COVID-19 tests have been conducted daily, with at least 85 percent of those tests being for students residing off-campus.

Provost Blouin emphasized that no decision has been made regarding returning to campus in the spring. Other decisions for the spring semester will be made in consultation with different advisory groups. Abigail Panter, senior associate dean for Undergraduate Education, and her team have been working on potential modes of delivery for teaching in the spring. This information will have to be clarified before student registration opens. RIT and CCAC are also re-examining dorm and campus density, and have received several recommendations to move to a single-occupancy dorm environment. For the spring, the plan is to significantly increase quarantine and isolation capacity, and support services for students within the quarantine and isolation spaces.

Provost Blouin added that many other activities are happening on campus besides COVID-19 planning. The Provost’s Office is in final discussions with a partner to strengthen the University’s ability to deliver quality digital education particularly at the master’s certificate and boot camp level. They are also making continuous progress with discussions about the future of data science at UNC-CH.

Professor Deb Aikat (Journalism and Media) asked if students, staff and faculty will have to pay for COVID-19 testing in the spring.

Chancellor Guskiewicz said RIT and CCAC are evaluating different testing protocols, but no decisions have been made at this point. They are engaging in discussions with several companies about methods of testing. At this point, students, staff and faculty will not have to pay for COVID-19 testing.

Professor D. Aikat asked when the administration will share information about the spring semester.

Chancellor Guskiewicz said class registration will start on November 30.

Provost Blouin and Professor Chapman have been in conversation to identify some key issues that need to be resolved in advance to decision making about the spring. RIT and CCAC should complete most of this work by the end of October.

David Burriss (Undergraduate Student Observer) asked how classes will be structured in the spring.

Provost Blouin said the administration has been working with departments and faculty to identify courses that will be taught on campus and faculty with a high level of enthusiasm for teaching on campus, and to align this with the needs of students.

A Faculty Council member asked if RIT and CCAC are in conversation with other institutions about their plans for the spring semester.

Provost Blouin said the administration has spoken with the University of New Hampshire and the University of Illinois. The latter is the public university that has done the most in the area of COVID-19 testing with about 100,000 samples each week. Provost Blouin has talked with other UNC-System provosts, the Atlantic Coast Conference provost and the Amateur Athletic Union provost.

Professor Chapman said CCAC will share updates about the spring semester, along with their recommendations and summaries of their meetings.

Campus Well-being and Mental Health

Professor Chapman introduced the campus well-being and mental health panel, moderated by Professor Julie Byerley (Medicine).

Professor Byerley noted that as a campus community we need to reflect on how challenging the last seven months have been. Many members of our community are suffering from anxiety and depression. Data supports that at baseline, at least two-thirds of college students are depressed, this number is even higher due to the pandemic. There are many consequences to being in pandemic conditions, including financial implications, social isolation and long-lasting impacts on mental health. Each of us needs to do what we can as individuals and a community to mitigate these issues.


Professor Mitch Prinstein (Psychology and Neuroscience), associate dean of Honors Carolina, studies the reaction responses to stress among young adults. The pandemic is a health and mortality related stressor that affects all aspects of our lives. Racism, job loss and food insecurity are compounding stressors causing students to have difficulty during this pandemic. Many members of our community are also juggling parental and professional tasks simultaneously. Due the ongoing stigma surrounding mental health, we are spending far less time, money and resources on mental health. In his work at Honors Carolina, Professor Prinstein and his team continuously survey and assess the wellness of students. They found that students at Carolina are having difficulties with motivation, concentration and loneliness; students are also grieving the loss of lifelong milestones. A high number of young adults in our community already experience mental health difficulties; adding the stress of the pandemic is leading to significant and severe clinical issues.

Amy Johnson, vice chancellor of Student Affairs, said supporting student health and wellness has always been a critical component of her office. She and her team try to help students avoid the negative effects of social isolation and distancing by getting them engaged with faculty, staff and other students through clubs and activities, virtual classes and outdoor recreation, to create a sense of community and belonging on campus. The Healthy Heels Program is a partnership between Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Student Wellness. Through this program, interns produce a regular newsletter and social media posts to reach out to students about mental health. Healthy Heels Ambassadors is a peer education component that offers a range of workshops for students on health promotion and violence prevention. Vice Chancellor Johnson has a list of resources for students that she is willing to share with faculty.

Desirée Rieckenberg, dean of Students in the Office of Student Affairs, shared a few tools that faculty can use to connect students to information and resources as they are navigating their mental health concerns. UNC Student Affairs is a resource for students who are having trouble with food security and accessing healthcare and housing; among other resources, emergency student funding is available to provide additional support when needed. The student affairs office also works closely with the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid to implement resources and address the basic needs of students. UNC Student Affairs is operating virtually with limited in-person capacity. Faculty can use the Care Referral Form to reach them about a student concern. The University Approved Absence (UAA) Office has received several inquiries from students and faculty. While there are three primary categories in which students may receive a UAA, many other reasons exist that do not fit neatly in these categories. The Student Care Hub is a virtual tool for students to access resources and information related to COVID-19.

Allen O’Barr, director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), said his office has continued to operate in full capacity since the early spring and has continued to provide students 24/7 access to therapists and medication services. CAPS ran into an issue because some students went home to states where CAPS therapists are not licensed to practice. There is a full staff of referral coordinators who help students find services in their state. During the summer, CAPS hired four new Black therapists and created the Multicultural Health Program to address the needs of underserved and underrepresented students. If a student needs to talk to someone, they can call the CAPS Hotline at 919-966-3658.

DeVetta Holman, health educator with Student Wellness, shared information on programs offered by the Office of Student Wellness. The Mental Health Awareness and Stigma Reduction program offers large group presentations about specific aspects of mental health and is facilitated by a licensed mental health counselor. During weekly virtual wellness circles, students are allowed to address self-healing and manage stress, crisis and trauma. These circles are facilitated by a clinical health counselor and targeted toward graduate, post-doc and international students. UNC Student Wellness also offers one-on-one integrative health and wellness coaches. There has been an uptick in the number of students reaching out to the coaches. If a clinical intervention is needed, students are transitioned to CAPS. Four wellness affinity groups exist on campus: 1) Sister Talk, 2) Sister Talk after Dark, 3) R.E.A.L Talk (Resiliency, Education and Leadership) and 4) P.E.A.C.E. (Processing Emotions and Communicating Effectively). On October 23, Student Wellness will host “Let’s Talk About It,” a collaborative mental health space with music, movement, reflections, information and education.

Professor and Chair of Psychiatry Samantha Meltzer-Brody said we each need to make our own mental health a top priority and invest in things that will help us cope through this difficult time. Telepsychiatry is widely available at UNC and in the community.

Mr. Burriss worries that mental health resources are not reaching some students with depression and anxiety, which can inhibit people from seeking out help. He is also concerned about students who are pausing their studies for the semester and students who are working full time. He wants to ensure that everyone is getting access to these resources.

Professor Prinstein said the Student Care Hub sent out a survey at the end of spring. They sent individual emails with a wide array of resources and guidance to the 2,000 students who completed the survey.

Dean Rieckenberg said it is important that students who are suffering in silence have access to and awareness of these resources. Faculty, family, and friends can step up, speak out and share their concerns with any member of the panel or submit a Care Referral Form. The Student Care Hub is preparing to send another survey to assess the experiences of students during the fall semester. They will be coordinating a mass outreach effort to respond to individual students who are looking for help and resources.

Professor Chapman said that the mental health resources mentioned in the meeting will be shared with the Faculty Council by email.

Discussion of Spring Semester Planning

To prepare for the conversation, the Faculty Council members were asked to consider answers to the following prompts:

  1. What would you like to see happen on campus in the spring semester?
  2. What concerns you the most about the spring?
  3. If you could change two things about how the return of students to campus was pursued in the fall, what would they be and why?
  4. What concerns you the most if we were to continue in a remote fashion in the spring?

Professor Chapman will share all the concerns and issues raised by Faculty Council with RIT and CCAC.

Professor Jessica Boon (Religious Studies) said if a graduate student were to fall ill with COVID-19 or have a mental health crisis that lasts more than six weeks then no medical or psychological leave would allow students to retain their stipend. They either would have to withdraw from the semester or apply for a leave of absence. She asked if there has been discussion about creating a mental-health leave for graduate students.

Professor Joan Krause (Law) said some universities are focused on managing how to live with COVID-19 and asked if this approach has been considered in planning for the spring semester.

Professor Chapman said this approach is being discussed by CCAC.

Professor Ryan Thornburg (Journalism and Media) relayed ideas about the spring semester discussed by faculty in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media. Their ideas included clear, consistent and transparent information, a robust testing protocol, a significant reduction in on-campus student housing and stricter enforcement of campus community standards. They also recommended prioritizing student experiences that need to be experiential and in-person, such as athletic and lab-based classes, and having a written public framework to handle any mid-semester changes.


Todd Vision (Biology) asked if there has been discussion for an alternative social life for students. For example, Villanova University has made a major effort to ensure that student socialization happens in a relatively safe environment with tents on campus, where student parties can be managed for social distancing and mask-wearing or harm reduction socialization.

Professor Chapman said the CCAC has not discussed this area yet, but welcomed the idea for when they do discuss community standards.

Mr. Burriss said it is important to keep a greater focus on the off-campus activities of students and how these activities can contribute to the spread of COVID-19. He wants to ensure there is real pressure on sororities and fraternities to uphold community standards.

Professor Thornburg said his colleagues have discussed how decisions about the spring semester can affect the culture of the University in the long term. The administration must deliver on plans for the spring semester and beyond, which is crucial to maintaining the trust of our constituencies. Faculty in Journalism and Media are already seeing cuts to the number of course sections they can offer in the spring and want to understand the long-term impacts on the classroom experience. Professor Thornburg also recommended a more robust learning management system than Sakai.

Professor Harry Watson (History) said some faculty and community members feel the effort to bring students back to campus in August was a mistake. The objective conditions for another outbreak in the spring semester are still in place as there is still a significant degree of infection in North Carolina. Professor Watson asked if the administration will inform the community on the objective changes that have occurred that will make it safe to return to campus in the spring.

Professor Chapman answered that some conditions have improved and lots has been learned since the beginning of the fall semester. The plans are not to repeat the fall, but to try something different that can work. If conditions are not favorable for students to return, CCAC may recommend all remote learning in the spring.

Professor Watson said improvements may be due to students remaining off-campus. He would like an objective discussion about why any changes or improvements might remain if we change our approach for the spring semester.

Professor Kate Menard (Medicine) echoed Professor Watson’s sentiments by saying it would be helpful to faculty and students to know what conditions have changed since August that would allow for students to return to campus in the spring. A remarkable amount of work was put into preparing the campus for a safe fall semester, but the University was not prepared for the way student socialize. Figuring out how to manage student life is the key to success in the fall.

Professor Chapman said the socialization has been studied and some conditions have changed since August while some have stayed the same. There is more coordination between UNC-CH police and Town of Chapel Hill police, which is regularly patrolling off-campus housing.

Professor Barbara Entwisle (Sociology) is concerned about the impact of remote interaction on the University’s research enterprise. It has been difficult to start new research collaborations and projects since the shift to remote learning. The transition to remote learning has also impacted socialization among faculty members. She is concerned about what the campus community can do to cultivate new relationships, especially for new faculty, and to maintain established ones.

Secretary of the Faulty Vin Steponaitis remarked that remote learning is necessary to save lives, but pointed out that does come at a cost to faculty and students. As an archeologist, a tremendous amount of teaching and training is hands-on, in historical collections or the lab. There is a cohort of students who have missed out on their training in the fall and will potentially miss out in the spring. He usually assigns a research project to his undergraduate class that depends on access to library resources, which half of his students do not have access to because they are off-campus. He has noticed an increase in the number of students having trouble in his class since the start of remote learning. Professor Steponaitis contacted the Dean of Students Office and learned that many students are encountering issues this semester.

Professor Lisa Rahangdale (Obstetrics and Gynecology) said the School of Medicine is partially open and conducting some in-person classes, and has not experienced any significant viral transmission. She asked if classes that require face-to-face instruction will be prioritized when deciding which classes will be taught in person.

Professor Boon asked if there has been a discussion about requiring departments to provide detailed information about courses, such as assignments and the cost of course materials, that would be available to students during the registration process. Requiring instructors to develop the details of their courses before registration would impede pedagogy.

Student-Athlete Well-being in the Wake of a Pandemic

Professor Chapman introduced Professor Daryhl Johnson (Medicine), chair of the Faculty Athletics Committee and one of the moderators for this section along with Professor Lissa Broome (Law), Faculty Athletics Representative.

Professor Broome asked Nicole Barnes (Student-Athlete) how COVID-19 has affected the way members of the Women’s Track and Field team practice.

Ms. Barnes said practices have changed significantly due to COVID-19. The team only practices in pods with the teammates they live with. Following the protocols that the Athletics Department has set for safety is very important to her team. Any student-athlete who doesn’t feel safe returning to campus is not required to return.

Professor Johnson asked Will Bowen (Student-Athlete) about the challenges of virtual learning and how faculty can be more supportive from the perspective of a student athlete.

Mr. Bowen answered that a major obstacle to remote learning is the lack of engagement opportunities with both classmates and professors, especially for freshman and new transfer students. Additionally, in the asynchronous classroom setting, some professors are not posting lectures according to schedule, which is problematic for student-athletes who have fairly regimented schedules. This semester breaks between classes were extended to 30 minutes to allow for social distancing while students were on campus. Mr. Bowen asked if the administration has discussed reverting to 15-minute breaks between classes, especially if online instruction continues into the spring semester. This will allow student-athletes more time to focus on their schoolwork and training.

Professor Broome asked Ms. Barnes to share ways that she has been involved in social justice issues and how her teammates, coaches and the Department of Athletics are offering support.

Ms. Barnes said a group of student athletes and faculty members are encouraging people to register to vote, and they are working to ensure people feel empowered and engaged. Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham has engaged with the Black Student-Athlete Collective to figure out what he can do to improve their experience at Carolina. Steps are being implemented to have meaningful conversations.

Professor Johnson asked Mr. Bowen to talk about mental health challenges from the student-athlete perspective.

Mr. Bowen described how during an initial quarantine period before they were able to practice and train together, many members and coaches of the Men’s Lacrosse team experienced significant loneliness. Practicing with his teammates has garnered a very positive mental-health response, which shows the importance of social connections whether virtually or in small groups. Student-athletes are facing the possibility of a canceled season, which is causing considerable stress and anxiety. In addition, uncertainty surrounding the job market is high and seniors are concerned about their chances of finding employment after graduation. Career Services has been tremendous in providing resources to student-athletes.

Professor Audrey Pettifor (Epidemiology) asked the student-athletes if frequent COVID-19 testing has been stressful or if it has provided more reassurance.

Mr. Bowen said testing has been valuable for the Men’s Lacrosse team, which had several COVID-19 cases. The most important lesson he learned from frequent testing is that even though someone may receive a negative COVID-19 test, it is still critical to follow the proper safety protocols.

Ms. Barnes said the Women’s Track and Field coaches emphasized the importance of testing and being safe. The Women’s Track and Field team has had fewer positive COVID-19 tests than many of the other teams on campus (it’s the largest team on campus, but has had the smallest number of positive test results).

Committee Reports by Title

The annual reports of the Faculty Athletics Committee [PDF] the Faculty Athletics Representative [PDF] were accepted by title.


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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