February 11, 2022
Meeting of the Faculty Council
Friday, February 11, 2022, 3:00–5:00 p.m.
The meeting will be streamed live at this new link.
3:00 p.m. Chair of the Faculty’s remarks
Prof. Mimi Chapman (Social Work)
3:10 p.m. Chancellor’s remarks
Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz
3:25 p.m. Provost’s remarks
Provost Christopher Clemens
3:45 p.m. Q&A with chancellor and provost
4:00 p.m. Covid-19 update with Q&A
Prof. Ronald Strauss (Dentistry)
4:10 p.m. Project Kitty Hawk online learning program
Vice Provost Todd Nicolet, Digital and Lifelong Learning
4:30 p.m. Mental Health Summit follow-up
Vice Chancellor Amy Johnson, Student Affairs
4:45 p.m. Annual committee reports by title
- Committee on Fixed-Term Faculty [PDF]; Prof. Tonya Van Deinse (Social Work), committee chair
- Faculty Information Technology Advisory Committee [PDF]; Prof. Dan Anderson (English and Comparative Literature), committee chair
- Faculty Committee on Research [PDF]; Prof. J. Victor Garcia (Infectious Diseases), committee chair
- Faculty Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Admissions [PDF]; Prof. Abigail Panter (Psychology and Neuroscience), Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, committee chair
4:50 p.m. Open discussion and planning for remaining spring semester meetings
5:00 p.m. Adjournment
Video of Proceedings
Journal of Proceedings of the Faculty Council
The Faculty Council of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill convened on February 11, 2022, 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 79 Faculty Council members attended: D. Aikat, J. Aikat, Alexander, Anksorus, Becker, Berkoff, Berkowitz, Binz, Brewster, Brownley, Burke, Chapman (Chair of the Faculty), Charles, DeHart-Davis, Dewitya, Divaris, Donahue, Entwisle, Estroff, Floyd-Wilson, Frederick, Freeman, Gilland, Gold, Goralski, Guskiewicz (Chancellor), Haggis, Halpern, Hannig, Jeffay, Johnson, Lain, Larson, Lee, Lensing, Lithgow, Lopez, Mayer-Davis, McEntee, McNeilly, Mehrotra, Menard, Metcalfe, Meyer, Mohanty, Moore (Secretary of the Faculty), Moracco, Muller, Neal, Nichols, Padilla, Pettifor, Plenge, Powell, Renner, Roberts, Rose, Santacroce, Sathy, Scarlett, Scarry, Schlobohm, Smith, Thornburg, Thorp, Triumph, Upshaw, Vaidyanathan, Van Deinse, Vernon-Feagans, Vision, von Bernuth, Watson, Williams, Wiltshire, Womack, Worthen, Young and Zomorodi.
The following 9 members received excused absences: Boyd, Burch, Clement, Holland, Krause, Ma, Moon, Penton and Rahangdale.
The following 3 members were absent without excuse: Gates-Foster, Olson, Santos.
Others in attendance: Kate Brandt (Graduate Observer), Chris Clemens (Provost) Jessica Igollo-Ogele (Undergraduate Observer), Christian Phillips (Undergraduate Observer) and Neel Swamy (Graduate and Professional Student Government President).
Call to Order
The Chair of the Faculty called the meeting to order at 3:00 p.m.
Chair of the Faculty remarks
Chair of the Faculty Mimi Chapman welcomed everyone to the Faculty Council meeting and gave brief remarks on the upcoming Faculty Elections and the deadline for the 2023 Honorary Degree nominations, which was extended to February 21.
Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said he is grateful for the University community’s response to the Omicron COVID-19 variant. The campus’s positivity rate is declining. Last week, the positivity rate among symptomatic individuals was 19%, compared to 36% the week before.
The chancellor gave updates on campus events and initiatives. Professor Chris Clemens (Physics and Astronomy) has started his role as provost and chief academic officer; he is eager to meet faculty and move campus initiatives forward. Junior Taliajah “Teddy” Vann was elected to serve as the 2022-2023 UNC Student Body President. He worked with Teddy in her role as president of the Black Student Movement, and he looks forward to working alongside her to support students. Frank Bruni, distinguished UNC-CH alumnus and Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, will serve as the speaker for the 2022 Commencement. He was the keynote speaker for the 2021 Thomas Wolfe Prize and Lecture.
The Heels Care Network (care.unc.edu) was launched recently. It will serve as a central hub for mental health resources for anyone in the community looking for support. He is grateful to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Amy Johnson and her team for their work in creating the website quickly after the Mental Health Summit in November.
UNC-Chapel Hill ranked highly in the National Science Foundation’s annual Survey of Earned Doctorates for 2016-2020. For Black or African American doctoral recipients, the University ranks in the top five for public doctorate-granting institutions. For American Indian/Alaskan natives, the University tied for 17th overall. For students who identify as more than one race, the University tied at 15th overall. UNC-CH is ranked 19th among public institutions for granting doctoral degrees and ranked 24th overall. This is a testament to the work done by Graduate School Dean Suzanne Barbour and her team, and to the mentorship faculty provides to graduate students. The campus community should feel proud of the climate of inclusion that we aspire to as we recruit and retain graduate students.
The North Carolina Budget provided State employees a one-time bonus and a 2.5% raise. The bonus was paid in December and the raise started in January with a retroactive lump sum payment that covered the period of July through December. The budget also included funding for discretionary base-pay adjustments for EHRA and SHRA employees, based on fund availability, and to be awarded based on performance. Across-the-board adjustments are not permitted. The administration will emphasize addressing equity and compression issues that exist in many units across campus. They have received budget requests from various units; investment in faculty, staff and students is the highest priority among these requests. These discretionary adjustments will be paid in March. Due to the hard work of units to address the budget deficit, the budget has been balanced and a small pool of money was created that can be used to fund high-priority projects. The administration is grateful for the General Assembly’s investment in the campus.
Professor Hilary Lithgow (English and Comparative Literature) asked for advice on explaining to students why there are no University-wide announcements about student deaths.
Vice Chancellor Johnson replied that the administration acknowledges that every death among the community is a tragedy that they take very seriously. The administration does not share information on student deaths broadly unless there is an immediate threat to the campus. They work closely with students’ families, who have their own wishes on how information is shared. In addition to privacy concerns, information sharing can be triggering to members of the campus community. The administration reaches out to close communities of the student, including residence halls, faculty, clubs and organizations, to share the news of the student’s death and to offer support resources.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case brought against UNC-CH by a group called Students for Fair Admissions, which alleges that UNC-CH discriminates against white and Asian American applicants by using race as a factor in its undergraduate admissions process.
Professor Chapman asked when the campus community would be briefed on the case.
Chancellor Guskiewicz said the case will be heard in the fall semester and any outcomes will not be known until summer 2023. is the team working on the case will continue to defend the University’s holistic admissions practice, which they believe meets current Supreme Court precedent. UNC-CH prevailed in the trial that took place in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The administration will provide updates as they become available.
Professor Audrey Pettifor (Epidemiology) commented that faculty have questions about the admissions process.
Chancellor Guskiewicz said the admissions process would stay the same and would only change if the Supreme Court rules against the University. The administration will work with the communications team and legal team about how to amplify this message.
In his first time addressing the Faculty Council as provost, Provost Clemens said he is honored to serve in this new role. Faculty Council represents the faculty of the best public university in the United States. Provost Clemens aims to re-center the office around the dual roles of chief academic officer for the University and advocate in chief for the University’s faculty, staff and students. To represent the focus on these goals, the title executive vice chancellor has been removed from the masthead (though he will retain the title of executive vice chancellor and provost for legal and administrative reasons).
The Provost’s Office is building a team in support of this mission. Executive Vice Provost Amy Locklear Hertel has been inspirational in this process and in her new role. A Transition Team will meet through the end of June to leverage institutional knowledge and to ensure a smooth transition of the functions of the office. This group also serves as an engagement team; they will actively solicit input and ideas from the campus. The team will advise the Provost’s Office on how to build better modes of communication with the campus community and solicit input on how to cultivate the academic community. One idea that has advanced is a campus-level awards committee that will be more attentive and proactive in promoting the work of faculty and nominating faculty for national and international awards and academy memberships.
Provost Clemens identified two specific messages that animate the work we are doing together at UNC-CH. First, Faculty Council represents an academy of scholars and he trusts its members to define and determine the academic direction of the campus. Second, the Provost’s Office wants to tell the stories of the campus community in ways that resonate with the people of North Carolina. As one example, he described how faculty, staff, and students contributed to the tools and technologies needed to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic’s worst effects. He also described how his graduate student team discovered the element lithium for the first time in exoplanetary debris falling onto a white dwarf star. Lithium is one of only three elements made in the primordial fireball of the Big Bang; its history in the galaxy is hard to trace using stars because it is fragile and easily destroyed by stellar heat and pressure. This discovery opens the way to trace the galactic history of this element using a new method. Without the University, this discovery would not have happened. From the time of their invention, universities have been the avenues and vehicles for the recognition of the grandest human aspirations. As we remember what we lost during the pandemic, we must also remember to be committed to the pursuit of and transfer of knowledge and to be thankful for the commitment of faculty and staff.
The provost is committed to promoting sound shared governance and to sharing the story of the campus community to make the case for the State’s investment in the University. He believes that we are united and ready to serve the public and demonstrate our commitment to students and the State.
Professor Jan Hannig (Statistics and Operations Research) asked Provost Clemens if he would be continuing the plans for the school of data science and the revisions of the internal budgeting model.
Provost Clemens said he does not believe in disruptive leadership, many of the previous initiatives will continue including the school of data science. The need for transparency is greater than a rigid budget model. He is working with Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations Nathan Knuffman to understand the budget and he will teach deans how to understand the budget once he is well-versed in it. He is not promising to change the model, but he is promising that the administration will have enough information to make good decisions around any model.
Professor Barbara Entwisle (Sociology) asked for more information on the removal of the title executive vice chancellor from the masthead and what it means for his role as provost.
Provost Clemens said his job requires him to be both provost and executive vice chancellor; due to legal reasons he must carry the longer title. He is not using the title on the masthead because the provost is a member of the faculty who has a special responsibility to the faculty. Peer institutions offer far greater faculty affairs support according to a study conducted by Executive Vice Provost Hertel. The University offers some support, but it is not centralized. It is not due to a deficit in the quality of UNC-CH faculty, but a lack of organizational attention to the nomination process. For example, when Professor Kerry Bloom (Chair, Biology) created an awards committee to nominate faculty for academy memberships and awards, three faculty members became national academy members in one year. He will work with Executive Vice Provost Hertel and the Center for Faculty Excellence to create additional opportunities to celebrate faculty and contribute to faculty advancement.
Chancellor Guskiewicz said the number of faculty that are members of their respective academies is one of the factors considered in the University’s ranking. He is pleased to create the awards committee to nominate the University’s world-class faculty for awards and academies and maintain the University’s ranking as a top-five public university.
Professor Beth Moracco (Health Behavior) asked if there are methods other than email that the Transition Team will use to solicit input from faculty, staff and students.
Provost Clemens said the Transition Team will offer other methods to solicit input, including holding meetings with campus groups. He charged the team to consider how to implement permanent ways for members of the campus community to engage the administration. He meets monthly with the Faculty Executive Committee, which provides a good conduit for information.
In the Zoom chat, Professor Misha Becker (Linguistics) said the efforts to recognize faculty should be strongly informed by considerations of equity. Currently, within Academic Affairs units, 20% of male faculty hold a permanent Distinguished Professor title, but less than 8% of female faculty hold such a title.
Also in the chat, Professor Leisha DeHart-Davis (Government) asked if the University tracks faculty who are members of national academies.
Provost Clemens said the Office of Institutional Research tracks this data. The Provost’s Office has a subscription to Academic Analytics, a tool that tracks benchmarking data. Institutions have access to how they compare to their peers, the disciplinary norms and if there are faculty in need of recognition.
Professor Rumay Alexander (Nursing) said that, in some aspects, Health Affairs has different needs than Academic Affairs. She asked how this would be factored in as Provost Clemens moves forward in his role.
Provost Clemens said the Provost’s Office does not treat both parts of the campus the same and has always ensured that Health Affairs is represented. In the past, there were two provosts; one represented Health Affairs and the other represented Academic Affairs. Executive Vice Provost Hertel is from the School of Social Work and represents Academic Affairs. The Provost’s Office needs an administrator from Health Affairs and the Transition Team is searching for candidates.
Professor Chapman asked about the members of the Transition Team and their roles.
A full list of the Transition Team is on the Office of the Provost website [link]. The first task of the team is to focus on the operations at the University. They are reviewing the organizational chart to ensure everyone understands their delegated authority. They are considering structures that allow offices, such as the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, to become integrated with the Provost’s Office. The team will meet with students, faculty and staff to garner input.
Covid-19 update with Q&A
Executive Vice Provost Ron Strauss gave an update on COVID-19 at the University. Currently, 94% of students and 93% of faculty are fully vaccinated. To compare, 64% of the United States population, 60% of the North Carolina population and 75% of the Orange County population are fully vaccinated. Since January 1, there have been about 3000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 among students and about 400 among employees. More than 80% of those who have tested positive are vaccinated. The positivity rate and the number of students in isolation and quarantine have dropped significantly over the past few weeks. This is a vibrant moment for the epidemic, but it is important to continue masking and vaccinations and to provide more treatment for people who are hospitalized. Faculty must have grace as students miss class because of COVID-19.
We have come a long way because of changes in the biology and epidemiology of the pandemic. Any mask that covers the nose and mouth well and is comfortable is acceptable. N95 masks are not required for the public, but they are important for clinicians who are in direct contact with individuals who have COVID-19.
Since the start of the semester, reports from students have been positive; they are excited to continue in-person instruction. He thanked the faculty for their contributions to a positive direction for the campus.
Professor Mark McNeilly (Business) asked when the mask would mandate end and masking would become optional on campus.
Executive Vice Provost Strauss believes that until the trajectory of the pandemic is known and there is more information on the Omicron BA.2 subvariant, it is too early to end the mask mandate. The subvariant is more transmissible than the Omicron variant and the risk of long-COVID outcomes are unknown. He understands the problems that masking can cause for teaching, but the alternative is also problematic.
Professor Hannig asked if the Carolina Together Testing Program would continue.
Executive Vice Provost Strauss said the testing capacity was reduced because the demand has lessened, partly due to the availability of home test kits. One testing site will remain in the Student Union, run by an outside vendor. At this moment, asymptomatic testing is less valuable and meaningful than symptomatic testing, which is a tool for making treatment decisions. He predicts a marked growth in the availability of antiretroviral treatment for COVID-19 in the next month.
Professor Audrey Pettifor (Epidemiology) said even though we are past the peak, there could be just as many cases on the downslope of the peak, especially if people start letting their guard down. Currently, the number of cases is the same as the last peak in December 2021. She met with State epidemiologists and they are watching the BA.2 subvariant very closely. There are some cases in North Carolina and epidemiologists believe the number will increase.
Professor Ricardo Padilla (Dentistry) asked about vaccine hesitancy among staff and their vaccination rate.
Executive Vice Provost Strauss said the vaccination rate among non-faculty employees is 88%. Vaccine hesitancy is a national phenomenon and the variability across North Carolina is remarkable. In Gates County, only 29% of the population is vaccinated, compared to 74% in Orange County. Due to health disparities in parts of the country, it is harder to access vaccinations and testing. Much of the hesitancy is caused by a distrust of science and a lack of accurate communication. Science is a changing phenomenon, and this uncertainty is uncomfortable; people look for simple and clear answers—and become suspicious when they do not receive them. We are dealing with the political and social determinants of trust. The University has demonstrated its support of reason and science, but there is still work that goes beyond UNC-CH.
In the chat, Secretary of the Faculty Jill Moore asked what percentage of faculty, staff and students have received boosters.
Executive Vice Provost Strauss said 13,082 people at UNC-CH have submitted their vaccination cards with booster information; they are unsure of exact percentages. Many people have not submitted their booster documentation so this number is not accurate; he encouraged everyone to submit this information. Boosting is variable across the country, 42% of the U.S. population is boosted and 47% of the North Carolina population is boosted.
Project Kitty Hawk online learning program
Vice Provost for Digital and Lifelong Learning Todd Nicolet gave an overview of Project Kitty Hawk. The UNC System started an initiative that will create a non-profit startup company that can help system institutions offer academic programs online. This initiative was created to help universities design workforce-aligned online programs and to attract, enroll and support learners through graduation. This project is aligned with North Carolina’s educational attainment goal to have two million North Carolinians complete a post-secondary degree or credential by 2030. To complete this goal, they must reach working adult learners, a large underserved population in North Carolina. Large out-of-state online universities attract many of North Carolina’s adult learners, sometimes leaving them with debt and no degree. Over 60,000 North Carolinians are currently enrolled in such programs, and they need better options in the State. Many institutions already have some options, the goal is not to replace them, but to complement them and create new tools for institutions to extend their reach. Vice Provost Nicolet shared links to the Project Kitty Hawk website [link] and Institute for Emerging Issues (NC State) Podcast on Project Kitty Hawk [link].
The NC Legislature appropriated the funding for the project as part of the recently passed budget. The Board of Governors officially created the entity and appointed its board of directors. The board is seeking to identify potential programs that would benefit from the services the Kitty Hawk organization will provide. They are in the early stages of the process, but they are excited about the goals and the potential for institutions in the System.
Professor Chapman asked if departments should delay their efforts to create online options to align with Kitty Hawk, or should they proceed as planned. She asked if there is an advantage in delaying their online programs.
Professor Vaughn Upshaw (Public Health Leadership Program) asked how departments engaged in online learning have a voice in this new initiative.
Vice Provost Nicolet said any unit that is interested in exploring an online option should reach out to him and Digital and Lifelong Learning. They can help navigate options to help units achieve their goals. They could also help units decipher how to best advantage the opportunity that the project presents.
Provost Clemens said Project Kitty Hawk would help units with development costs, the operational model is not complete so specific funding amounts are unknown.
Vice Provost Nicolet said his team could help units with their financial models for their online programs.
Professor Dehart-Davis asked how this effort fits with existing online programs hosted by private sector vendors such as 2U.
Vice Provost Nicolet said 2U is an online program manager (OPM). Project Kitty Hawk is intended to be a non-profit OPM. The intent is to provide similar quality service and a business model that will work well with institutions.
Mental Health Summit follow-up
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Amy Johnson gave a presentation [PDF] on student mental health and the November 2021 Mental Health Summit that included an overview of what was learned from the summit and the latest actions taken to promote mental wellness on campus. The University recently launched the Heels Care Network, which serves as a hub for mental health and well-being resources available to Carolina students, staff and faculty, including links to 24/7 support and suicide prevention resources. It also features a live chat and a link to an anonymous care referral form for anyone to report concerns they have for a student.
In the chat, Professor Allison Schlobohm (Business) commented that one of the biggest issues she runs into when supporting students is their lack of comfort in finding off-campus support. She asked if the Heels Care Network includes contact information for any private provider networks or guidance for students on how to explore on their own.
Vice Chancellor Johnson said the Heels Care Network does not have a listing of mental health counselors. Student Affairs encourages students to connect with UNC Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to conduct an assessment about their needs and they offer a referral service. One problem is that recommendations from outside sources could take over the website and the goal was to create a website that is easily accessible and comprehensible. She expressed appreciation for the feedback and understood that students might want more autonomy.
Professor Schlobohm asked why the Resilience Coaches Network was not included on the website.
Vice Chancellor Johnson said the Resilience Coaches Network was not left off the website intentionally. Student Affairs is still adding resources to the website.
In the chat, Professor Lithgow commented that she understands the need to protect privacy around student deaths; she is encountering several students who are struggling with a death in their dorm of which the rest of the campus is unaware. She asked if some campus communication could go out that could acknowledge that situation in a way that affirms the students who are struggling with the issue without compromising the privacy of families.
Vice Chancellor said a campus-wide message about a student death is triggering for students who have no connection to the student. Instead of a campus message, Student Affairs is relaying information through discrete networks.
Annual committee reports by title
Council members were offered the opportunity to ask questions about committee reports that were submitted this month. Professor Schlobohm asked for more information on the Race Neutral Admissions Committee.
Professor Abigail Panter (Psychology and Neuroscience), senior associate dean for Undergraduate Education and chair of the Faculty Committee on Undergraduate Admissions, said the Race Neutral Admissions Committee is charged with trying to understand if there are options other than race and ethnicity that can be used as part of the admissions process.
The annual reports of the Committee on Fixed-Term Faculty [PDF], the Faculty Information Technology Advisory Committee [PDF], the Faculty Committee on Research [PDF] and the Faculty Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Admissions [PDF] were accepted by title.
Its business having concluded, the Faculty Council adjourned at 5:00 p.m.
University Program Associate
Secretary of the Faculty