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Meeting of the Faculty Council

Friday, September 11, 2020, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.

A recording of this 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.  Presentation of the 2020 Thomas Jefferson Award
                            Presented by Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz

  • Professor Gail Henderson reads citation
  • Professor Ada Adimora, Professor of Medicine and Public Health, award recipient

3:20 p.m.  Recognition of the 2020 Hettleman Prize Recipients
                            Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz

  • Professor Mohit Bansal (Computer Science, College of Arts and Sciences)
  • Professor Andrea Bohlman (Music, College of Arts and Sciences)
  • Professor Angela Smith (Urology, School of Medicine)
  • Professor William Sturkey (History, College of Arts and Sciences)

3:25 p.m.  Introduction of Student Government Representatives

  • Maian Adams (Graduate and Professional Student Observer)
  • David Burriss (Undergraduate Student Observer)
  • Ryan Collins (GPSF President)

3:35 p.m.  COVID-19 Update
                           Provost Robert Blouin

3:45 p.m.  UNC-CH Budget Outlook

  • Introduction (Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Robert Blouin)
  • Current Picture (Interim Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations Nathan Knuffman)
  • Impact on Employees (Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Becci Menghini)
  • Q & A

4:30 p.m.  Spring Semester Outlook

  • Overview (Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Robert Blouin)
  • Q & A

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 September 11, 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, Cai, Chapman (Chair of the Faculty), Chavis, Clement, Coble, Cox, Divaris, Entwisle, Estroff, Falvo, Floyd-Wilson, Freeman, Gates-Foster, Gentzsch, Gilland, Guskiewicz (Chancellor), Halladay, Halpern, Holland, Jeffay, Joyner, Krause, Larson, Lee, Lensing, Levine, Lithgow, Lopez, Mayer, Mayer-Davis, McGrath, Menard, Metcalfe, Meyer, Mock, Moon, Moracco, Muller, Neal, Nichols, Olson, Pettifor, Plenge, Powell, Rahangdale, Ramaswamy, Renner, Roberts, Rudder, Santos, Scarlett, Scarry, Steponaitis (Secretary of the Faculty), Thornburg, Thorp, Thorpe, Triumph, Vaidyanathan, Van Deinse, Vision, Walter, J. Williams, Wiltshire, Womack, Young and Zomorodi.

The following 7 members received excused absences: Donahue, Krome-Lukens, Lain, Moore, Rose, von Bernuth and Watson.

The following 8 members were absent without excuse: Byerley, Clegg, Dewitya, Fromke, Gilchrist, Padilla, Platts-Mills and M. Williams.

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

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 first Faculty Council meeting of the 2020-2021 academic year and gave remarks [PDF].

Presentation of Thomas Jefferson Award

Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz announced the winner of the 2020 Thomas Jefferson Award, Professor Ada Adimora (Medicine and Public Health), and gave remarks on her work at the University.

Professor Gail Henderson (Social Medicine), one of Professor Adimora’s nominators, read her Award Citation [PDF forthcoming].

Professor Adimora accepted her award and spoke briefly [PDF forthcoming].

Presentation of the Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prizes for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty

The Hettleman Prizes recognize achievements of outstanding junior tenure-track or recently tenured faculty. Chancellor Guskiewicz acknowledged this year’s Hettleman Prize winners one-by-one: Professor Mohit Bansal (Computer Science), Professor Andrea Bohlman (Music), Professor Angela Smith (Urology) and Professor William Sturkey (History).

Introduction of Student Government Representatives

Student Government representatives Maian Adams (Graduate and Professional Student Observer), David Burriss (Undergraduate Student Observer) and Ryan Collins (GPSF President) introduced themselves to the Faculty Council.

COVID-19 Update

Provost Robert Blouin gave a brief update. After classes went completely remote, the University’s top priority was to reduce student density on campus. Now, approximately 1500 students reside on campus, with 450 of those students living in graduate and family apartments, and the remaining are undergraduate students with a demonstrated need to be on campus. Testing is offered to all students. The leadership team worked with the Orange County Health Department and the State of North Carolina to provide off-campus testing, which is free and available to students, staff, faculty and members of the community. They started the Prospective Evaluation Testing plan for students remaining on campus. Every morning, Campus Health will offer voluntary testing to on-campus residents without any COVID-19 symptoms. Few students remain in campus quarantine and isolation dorms. There have been some structural changes to the UNC COVID-19 Dashboard, which will now only report tests that were conducted by Campus Health. They are also reporting positive results provided by students who were tested off campus, but these results are not included in the calculation of positivity. The Roadmap Implementation Team is thinking about the spring semester and will work on a spring roadmap in conjunction with campus experts. The provost also encouraged everyone to get a flu shot, which can be obtained in several walk-in clinics across campus.

UNC-CH Budget Outlook

Nathan Knuffman, interim vice chancellor for Finance and Operations, presented on the University’s financial status, revenue sources and current planning efforts to address the University’s financial challenges [PDF].

Becci Menghini, vice chancellor for Human Resources, spoke about the current impact of the pandemic on employees, considerations of personnel actions, tools and next steps [PDF].

Chancellor Guskiewicz said all the University’s revenue sources are threatened in some way. The estimated loss, from the beginning of the pandemic up until now, exceeds $100 million. Another $55 million revenue loss is projected in housing and dining. He acknowledged departments and units across the campus for implementing cost-saving measures to mitigate the impact of the budget shortfall. Our campus is in close conversation with the UNC System to learn about the potential shortfalls with state appropriations, which cover operations costs. The leadership team will continue to communicate to the campus about budget issues and how they might impact faculty, staff and students.

Enrollment has remained steady this semester and credit hours have increased by ten percent from last year at this time, which should help with tuition dollars. Additionally, UNC-CH has received more than $1.048 billion in new research rewards—a 14% increase from last year.

Budget meetings with campus units are underway. There will be difficult conversations with deans and unit finance leads, but the administration will do everything within its power to protect faculty, staff and students.

Mr. Burris (Undergraduate Student Observer) asked how the budget might be affected by the national election.

Vice Chancellor Knuffman said they are closely tracking signs for insight into what to expect from state appropriations. Avoiding reductions will be contingent on a very strong economic response or potential federal funding. On the state level, they expect to see a revenue forecast updated later this month, which will provide some insight. In terms of federal funding, there are no signs of any action yet. The $300 million budget loss he mentioned in his presentation does not factor in any reduction in state or federal funding.

Professor Barbara Entwisle (Sociology) asked if structural issues will be considered when developing strategies to address the budget shortfall.

Vice Chancellor Knuffman said the structural shortfall refers to recurring expenses that exceed recurring revenues. These expenses, which include faculty salaries and program investments, have been supported by one-time funds that are becoming increasingly unavailable.

Chancellor Guskiewicz commented on how the structural deficit has grown over the years. The chancellor and provost are hosting 32 different budget meetings with units over the next two months. They are discussing the need for vertical versus horizontal cuts during these conversations. Units are reviewing their academic programs and research investments to ensure that they align with the mission of the school and the strategic plan as there will be difficult decisions to make over the next several months. The chancellor and his team are committed to rectifying the structural deficit.

A viewer from the livestream asked if University initiatives like Carolina Next should be put on pause given the budget unknowns.

Chancellor Guskiewicz said a strategic plan is needed in this current climate to speak to what the University and campus community aspire to be and to guide units as they make difficult decisions to offset the structural deficit.

Provost Blouin said concerns about pausing the implementation of the strategic plan arose when the plan was receiving the endorsement from the Board of Trustees because there were other things were occurring across the state that were indicating reductions to the state budget. The strategic plan is essential because this is the time to plan our future and also leverage our available assets in order to pursue the mission of the University and pursue priorities.

Professor Eric Muller (Law) asked about the likelihood and timing of possible cuts.

Chancellor Guskiewicz said it is important that we continue to maintain and protect the things we have control over, such as enrollment, research, dining, housing and parking.  As we think about next semester, we need to focus on maintaining the safety and financial health of the campus. In order to protect the auxiliary services, it would be helpful to have students eating in dining halls and employees coming to campus to utilize services. The University also has control over the capital campaign, which continues to stay on a good trajectory.

Vice Chancellor Knuffman said they are closely monitoring the state budget. As we move forward the question becomes: does revenue rebound or is there other one-time funding that is available that allows the state to meet its spending moving forward in the next fiscal year? A key variable will be the availability of federal funding and how the economy is performing this year. It is early in the fiscal year and the state doesn’t evaluate the revenue forecast until the first quarter ends in September. There will be more information provided in the coming weeks.

Professor Mimi Chapman asked for clarification on a vertical versus a horizontal cut.

Chancellor Guskiewicz said a horizontal cut occurs when a dean or chair is asked to make budget cuts across their entire unit, usually a percentage. A vertical cut involves eliminating a specific program within a unit.

Professor Chapman asked about the cost of reopening in the fall. Where did this money come from and how does it impact our budget?

Chancellor Guskiewicz said that since last April, they have been preparing campus for research operations and reopening clinics, libraries, dining halls, classrooms and residence halls. The University has never closed, just operated differently.

Vice Chancellor Knuffman estimated that the cost to reopen this fall was about five to ten million dollars. Those expenses were for community protective equipment (CPE), classroom technology to support digital learning, and outdoor structures such as tents. They received funding from the Federal Cares Act and also state relief for coronavirus funding to offset some of these costs.

Secretary of the Faculty Vin Steponaitis asked for a potential scenario of what might happen with the state budget.

Vice Chancellor Knuffman replied that at the end of the September they expect the state to release a revised revenue forecast. Typically, the state will wait through the first quarter to gauge the key revenue components, such as wage withholding on income and sales tax, which usually comprise almost 75 percent of the state’s revenue to fund state operations. Another key factor will be budget instructions from the State Budget Office, which have yet to be released.

Professor Jessica Boon (Religious Studies) asked if there have been conversations with The Graduate School about increasing financial commitments to graduate students, such as increased stipends.

Chancellor Guskiewicz said some of the Cares Act funding the University received will go toward graduate students. They are committed to supporting graduate students through Carolina Away and other avenues.

Provost Blouin said support for graduate students is embedded in our strategic priorities and will be incorporated into planning moving forward. He acknowledged GPSF President Ryan Collins as a strong advocate for graduate students. He also acknowledged the particular challenges for international students and how the campus is working to support them.

Chancellor Guskiewicz said he and Provost Blouin are working with the Libraries to allow students access to resources and archives for their dissertations and theses.

Provost Blouin said they have been approving travel requests for graduate students when it is required for their studies.

Professor Sharon Holland (American Studies) said she has concerns about the tools the administration may use to remedy the budget shortfall. If income is used as an adjustment measure, inequalities will be created for members of underrepresented groups across the University who do not have the same access to wealth as others in our community.

Chancellor Guskiewicz recognizes that this burden cannot fall solely on those who have the lowest salaries on campus; we all are going to have to bear this burden as we look at the tools to address this shortfall.

Vice Chancellor Menghini said they have advocated for some additional ability to think broadly as they implement tools. If they get authority, she anticipates that they will look into a graded system should they have to use a temporary base adjustment or a furlough. There are also some federal limitations on how they can adjust salaries. She is open to having conversations about ways we might pair available tools with the prescriptions that we get from authorities, in order to do the least amount of harm and ensure the best outcome for our community. Under the emergency temporary furlough guidelines created by the UNC-System Office, no one will see their base salary go below $45,000 as a result of a temporary base adjustment or a furlough. This policy is intended to protect the most vulnerable employees.

Spring Semester Outlook

Chancellor Guskiewicz and Provost Blouin gave a presentation [PDF] on planning for the spring 2021 semester. The leadership team will be advised by the Roadmap Implementation Team, content experts and the newly formed Campus and Community Advisory Committee. This committee is composed of students, faculty, staff and community members. It was created to reflect on the past six months and the Fall 2020 Roadmap, to provide input related to specific considerations as identified by the leadership team, and to seek input from broader constituencies on campus and in neighboring communities.

Professor Beth Mayer-Davis (Nutrition) asked if behavioral scientists will be included on the list of content experts advising the leadership team on spring 2021 planning.

Chancellor Guskiewicz and Provost Blouin have met with behavioral scientists and they will be added to the list of content experts.

Professor Joy Renner (Allied Health) asked if people from Academic Advising and the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid are included on the Roadmap Implementation Team.

Provost Blouin said both offices have been involved in spring 2021 planning and have been invaluable.

Chancellor Guskiewicz said people from Academic Advising are on the Campus and Community Advisory Committee and will be invited to serve on the Roadmap Implementation Team.

Professor Deb Aikat (Journalism and Media) asked about University Day and if there are plans to officially install Chancellor Guskiewicz as the 12th chancellor of the University at this year’s University Day celebration.

Chancellor Guskiewicz said a team is planning a virtual University Day celebration to be held on October 12 and there will be an installation ceremony held in some form. Since the semester has been compressed, classes will not be canceled during the celebration.

Professor Ryan Thornburg (Journalism and Media) asked if they could list the names of the content experts. He also asked Chancellor Guskiewicz to share what was discussed during his meeting with UNC-System President Peter Hans and the chancellors of the other UNC-System schools.

Chancellor Guskiewicz said that he was in the process of putting together the Campus and Community Advisory Committee. Some universities are considering moving the start date of the spring semester back two weeks and start at the end of January. Many institutions are planning to hold classes during spring break to avoid spreading the virus. Most UNC-System institutions are planning to have in-person instruction in some capacity during the spring semester.

Provost Blouin said when the list of content experts is finalized it will be made public.

Professor Entwisle (Sociology) asked if there has been discussion of modifying the academic calendar for the spring semester.

Chancellor Guskiewicz said the semester currently is scheduled to start on January 6. The final decision on the academic calendar will be made in the next three weeks.

Professor Boon (Religious Studies) asked if they are planning an off-ramp for next semester, in case classes have to transition from in person to online.

Provost Blouin said there was a lot of planning for the fall semester, but the speed of the off-ramp made it difficult to execute. The Roadmap Implementation Team will consider multiple scenarios for the spring as we move forward.

Mr. Burris asked if Resident Advisors will receive some compensation even though they are not able to work this semester.

Provost Blouin said housing has been significantly affected, so there will be limitations on the amount of support they can provide. The intention is to maintain their housing privilege; students will maintain their employment and pay level until the end of October.

A member of Faculty Council asked why there is not a faculty member from the humanities on the content expert team.

Chancellor Guskiewicz said the content experts are advising them on ways to prevent the spread of the virus, the way the University protects workers and establishing the proper social distancing in classroom environments.

Professor Chapman added that faculty from the humanities will have opportunities to share their perspectives through other channels, such as the Advisory Committee, the Faculty Executive Committee, and the Campus and Community Advisory Committee.


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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