January 14, 2022
Meeting of the Faculty Council
Friday, January 14, 2022, 3:00–5:00 p.m.
The recording of the meeting is available at this link.
3:00 p.m. Chair of the Faculty’s remarks
Prof. Mimi Chapman (Social Work)
3:05 p.m. Introduction and welcome of incoming leaders in the Office of the Provost
Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz
Prof. Christopher Clemens (Physics and Astronomy)
Dr. Amy Locklear Hertel (Chancellor’s Office Chief of Staff)
3:10 p.m. Chancellor’s remarks
Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz
3:20 p.m. Provost’s remarks
Provost Robert Blouin
3:30 p.m. Spring semester and COVID-19 updates
Provost Robert Blouin
Prof. David Weber (Infectious Diseases; Pediatrics; Epidemiology)
Dean of Students Desirée Rieckenberg
- Prof. Weber’s COVID-19 Update presented at the meeting [PDF]
- Information about user seal test for face masks [video]
4:20 p.m. New Faculty Retirement Planning Guide presented by Retired Faculty Association leaders
Prof. Donna Falvo (Rehabilitation Counseling and Psychology), President
Prof. Thomas Clegg (Physics and Astronomy), OHR Liaison
4:30 p.m. Annual committee reports by title
- Committee on Appointments, Promotion and Tenure [PDF], Prof. Stuart Gold (Pediatrics), committee chair
- Committee on University Government [PDF], Prof. Joy Renner (Radiologic Science), committee chair
- Faculty Assembly Delegation [PDF], Prof. Jan Hannig (Statistics and Operations Research), committee chair
4:40 p.m. Closed session: Special report of the Honorary Degree and Special Awards Committee
Nominees for Fall 2022 awards [link] (Council member access only; Sakai login required)
Prof. Lloyd Kramer (History), committee member
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 January 14, 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 82 Faculty Council members attended: D. Aikat, J. Aikat, Alexander, Anksorus, Becker, Berkoff, Berkowitz, Binz, Boyd, Brownley, Burch, Burke, Chapman (Chair of the Faculty), Charles, Clement, DeHart-Davis, Dewitya, Divaris, Donahue, Entwisle, Estroff, Floyd-Wilson, Frederick, Freeman, Gilland, Gold, Goralski, Guskiewicz (Chancellor), Halpern, Hannig, Holland, Johnson, Krause, Lain, Larson, Lee, Lensing, Lithgow, Mayer-Davis, McEntee, McNeilly, Menard, Metcalfe, Meyer, Mohanty, Moon, Moore (Secretary of the Faculty), Moracco, Muller, Neal, Nichols, Padilla, Penton, Pettifor, Plenge, Powell, Rahangdale, Renner, Roberts, Rose, Santacroce, Santos, Sathy, Scarlett, Scarry, Schlobohm, Smith, Thornburg, Thorp, Triumph, Upshaw, Vaidyanathan, Van Deinse, Vernon-Feagans, Vision, von Bernuth, Williams, Wiltshire, Womack, Worthen, Young and Zomorodi.
The following 4 members received excused absences: Lopez, Ma, Mehrotra and Olson.
The following 5 members were absent without excuse: Brewster, Gates-Foster, Haggis, Jeffay and Watson.
Others in attendance: Blouin (Provost), Brandt (Graduate and Professional Student Observer), Igollo-Ogele (Undergraduate Observer), Phillips (Undergraduate Observer) and 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 first Faculty Council meeting of the spring semester and gave her remarks [PDF].
Introduction and welcome of incoming leaders in the Office of the Provost
Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz introduced Professor Christopher Clemens (Physics and Astronomy) and Dr. Amy Locklear Hertel (Chancellor’s Office Chief of Staff). Professor Clemens is the current director of the Carolina Institute for Convergent Sciences and he will begin his new role as the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost in February. He has been at Carolina since 1998 and has demonstrated a commitment to interdisciplinary work and to supporting faculty in promoting excellence in teaching, research and serving communities across North Carolina. Dr. Hertel has served as the director of the American Indian Center on campus and has a clinical faculty position in the School of Social Work. In February, she will begin her role as Executive Vice Provost.
Professor Clemens thanked everyone who sent him well wishes. He and Dr. Hertel are humbled and honored to serve in these roles. They are working closely with Provost’s Office to ensure a smooth transition. He looks forward to working with Faculty Council.
Chancellor Guskiewicz began by thanking Provost Bob Blouin for the incredible job he has done over the past four and a half years as a tireless advocate for faculty, staff and students. He then gave Faculty Council an update on campus events and initiatives.
Yesterday, the administration announced that the “For all Kind: Campaign for Carolina” reached its $4.25 billion goal a year early. The campaign was launched in October 2017 and is scheduled to end in December 2022. This campaign has seen more than 200,000 donors so far. This historic accomplishment will benefit generations of Carolina students, staff and faculty. This funding will help maintain Carolina’s affordability and meet the mission of excellence in teaching, research and service. Chancellor Guskiewicz thanked the leadership team, center directors and faculty for inspiring donors and alumni to believe in the University and its priorities. He also thanked the UNC Development Office, led by Vice Chancellor for Development David Routh. Over the remaining 11 months of the campaign, the focus will be on raising funds for scholarships, fellowships and professorships.
The administration will direct $2 million to the University Libraries annually, which will help relieve some of the impacts of journal cancellations. The Library is critical in maintaining the University’s status as a world-class research institution. Chancellor Guskiewicz is confident that the administration can navigate the challenges caused by the reduction of the Library’s budget.
During fall 2021, 239 students participated in study abroad programs, which is 69% of pre-pandemic levels. Through the Carolina Global Launch program, 72 first-year students visited three sites in Ireland, Scotland and Spain. This spring 341 students are participating in study abroad programs, which is 89% of pre-pandemic levels. Carolina has been at the forefront of resuming study abroad programs. Some regions of the world have been unavailable for study abroad throughout the pandemic. Since resuming study abroad opportunities in fall 2020, only been two cases of COVID-19 cases among students have been reported. Carolina received the 2021 Institutional Award for Global Learning, Research and Engagement from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities in recognition of inclusive and comprehensive efforts to internationalize the campus. This success is a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of UNC Global and the Study Abroad Office.
The School of Nursing, UNC Adams School of Dentistry, Hussman School of Journalism and Media, Gillings School of Global Public Health and College of Arts and Sciences dean searches are underway. The goal is to have these deans in place by August 2022. He thanked everyone who is currently participating in the various search committees.
Professor Deb Aikat (Journalism and Media) asked if the cover letters of the candidates for the dean searches could be made available to the campus community for review.
Chancellor Guskiewicz said his office would check with Human Resources (HR) to ensure cover letters can be shared because certain application materials must remain confidential. They will contact the chairs of the search committee and try to provide the cover letters, after they confirm with HR.
Professor D. Aikat asked if the administration could designate funds to enhance graduate studies.
Chancellor Guskiewicz said he has been working with deans to raise funds for graduate support. During the last year of the campaign, he will do everything possible to support graduate students.
Professor George Lensing (English and Comparative Literature) said three UNC-CH students were named 2022 Rhodes Scholars: Justin Hadad, Takhoma Hlatshwako and Kimathi Muiruri. All three are also Morehead-Cain Scholars.
Provost Blouin enjoyed working with Chair of the Faculty Mimi Chapman and Secretary of the Faculty Jill Moore, as well as their predecessors Professors Leslie Parise (Biochemistry and Biophysics) and Lloyd Kramer (History), who both served as chair of the faculty, and Professor Vin Steponaitis (Anthropology and Archaeology), former secretary of the faculty. He said it has been an honor to serve the faculty, staff and students. He thanked Faculty Council for their service. He acknowledged it has not been an easy four years for the Council as it has navigated multiple challenges including the effects of COVID-19 and the racial crisis in this country.
Faculty should be proud of the tremendous work they have achieved in contributing to the University’s national standing and their commitment to the development and training of students. He is optimistic about the future of UNC because of its outstanding faculty. Great faculty attracts great students and funding to support the pursuit of great ideas. Moving forward, he hopes faculty can work in partnership with the leadership team and be more trusting and supportive as they tackle the issues faced by a leading global research institution and work in direct alignment with the University’s governing boards. He asked faculty to be more gracious and forgiving as the administration and governing boards make decisions about the University. He hopes that disagreement with decisions that are made does not erode trust.
His job as provost has been to help create an environment where faculty, staff and students have a chance to reach their full potential in a way that serves the people of North Carolina who have made a tremendous investment in this University, and the campus community owes them our best effort in all the elements of the University’s mission.
He is appreciative of the opportunity to work with Chancellor Guskiewicz and the members of the leadership team. It was an honor and privilege to work in collaboration with the many outstanding deans at the University. He thanked Faculty Council for their support during his tenure as provost. He has great respect for the Council and the Faculty Executive Committee.
Spring semester and COVID-19 updates
Professor David Weber (Infectious Diseases; Pediatrics; Epidemiology) gave an update on the current state of COVID-19 on campus [PDF]. His presentation included information on COVID-19 deaths, frequency and symptoms of long-COVID-19, the Omicron variant and other Coronavirus variants, hospitalizations, vaccines and forecasting the impact of Omicron on UNC Health. He also presented information on Omicron clusters and outbreaks around the world, asymptomatic carriers, isolation and quarantine, rapid antigen tests and COVID-19 therapeutics.
Professor Jennifer McEntee (Hospital Medicine) asked if he knows the probability of the Omicron variant causing long COVID-19, which is a range of symptoms that can last weeks or months after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 or can appear weeks after infection.
Professor Weber said he did not because there is not yet enough information to calculate probability.
Professor Vaughn Upshaw (Public Health Leadership) asked how the University will protect faculty, staff and students after the Supreme Court ruled that organizations are not required to follow the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) orders for employee protections.
Professor Weber said the decision by the Supreme Court prevents the government from requiring immunizations; private employers are not required to follow this rule. The University can provide incentives for vaccination, access to vaccines and boosters, and education to clarify the misinformation surrounding the vaccine. Masks are effective in preventing the Omicron variant. They dramatically decrease the expulsion of infectious particles. Everyone must properly wear their medical masks, KN95 or N95 masks are not required. A medical mask and a surgical mask both work the same and are effective in preventing COVID-19; the only difference is that a surgical mask is fluid resistant. The efficiency of the mask can be improved by ensuring a tighter fit or wearing a gaiter or a cloth mask over a medical mask. Many KN95 and N95 masks on the market are counterfeit; also, they need to be the proper size and fit to be effective. A properly fitted medical mask works better than an improperly fitted KN95 or N95 mask. Some people wear their masks underneath their noses, even though there is more virus in the nose than the mouth; masks need to cover both the nose and the mouth. Facial hair severely diminishes the capability of masks to protect against COVID-19. When people are unmasked, physical distancing is also an effective prevention method.
In the chat, Professor Hilary Lithgow (English and Comparative Literature) asked if there was research about the protective factors of KN95 masks versus other well-fitting masks.
Professor Weber said researchers have studied KN95 masks. They are supposed to be certified by the country they came from, but the certification systems are lacking enforcement. Many of these masks are incorrectly labeled and fraudulent.
In the chat, Professor Lloyd Kramer (History) asked if a second booster would be needed in the coming months.
Professor Weber said everyone should receive their booster shot when eligible. The primary series vaccination for most people is two doses, for people who are immunocompromised it is three doses. The number of additional doses needed is unclear at this time. He believes the primary series vaccination for everyone should be three doses. By March, Moderna and Pfizer will have an Omicron-specific booster. Even though companies are working under the presumption that everyone will need yearly booster shots, we have to wait and see if they will be necessary.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with COVID-19 should isolate themselves for 5 days; after five days, if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving and they do not have a fever for 24 hours, they should follow that by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others to minimize the risk of infecting people they encounter. Professor Barbara Entwisle (Sociology) asked how long students should isolate when they have COVID-19 and how do they know their isolation period has ended.
Dr. Weber said somebody who is not hospitalized or immunocompromised only excretes viable virus for up to ten days. The CDC admits that up to 30% may still be infectious after five days, but if they and everyone around them are masked and they practice social distancing when unmasked, the chance of transmission is very low. Masking largely prevents the expulsion of materials and inhalation. He is not worried about risks in the classroom where everybody is masked. Going out to establishments where no one is masked, like bars or restaurants, is a bad idea.
In the chat, Professor Audrey Pettifor (Epidemiology) asked about the differences between mild, moderate and severe cases.
Professor Weber said mild to moderate cases are characterized by symptoms that are not severe enough to require hospitalization. The infected person would have a sore throat, runny nose, cough, low-grade fever, muscle aches and fatigue. People who are immunocompromised should be tested as soon as they experience symptoms because there are multiple therapies that reduce the risk of hospitalization and serious progression by 80%. The hospital has been administering around 600 infusions a week of monoclonal antibodies and they administer oral therapies as well.
Professor Chapman remarked that people are saying there is no way to avoid the Omicron variant, she asked Professor Weber for his opinion on this thought.
Professor Weber said more than half of the overall population would likely become infected with the Omicron variant. People are contracting the virus because they are not receiving their vaccines, social distancing or wearing a mask. People who are around children, older adults and the immunocompromised when unmasked should take maximum precautions. He does not think that everyone will get the Omicron variant. We must follow the prevention rules and wear a mask, wash our hands and keep our distance. He believes the Omicron wave will be over by the end of March or April.
Professor Jan Hannig (Statistics and Operations Research) asked how many days a KN95 or N95 mask can be worn before having to be discarded.
Professor Weber said in the past, when there were shortages of these masks, healthcare professionals reused them for up to five days. If they are torn or not fitting properly, they are no longer effective and need to be discarded. Ideally, you would use one mask once a day, but if you have to reuse it remove the mask and place it in a paper bag with the outside facing down. If you are reusing a medical mask, fold the inside folds together so only the outside is showing and the inside remains non-contaminated and put it in a paper bag. It is important to wash or sanitize your hands before and after you touch the masks. Wearing a medical or cloth mask over the KN95 or N95 masks would prevent contamination to the outside of the mask. The medical mask could be thrown away after use and the cloth mask could be washed after each use. He added that many websites help identify counterfeit KN95 or N95 masks.
Professor Sharon Holland (American Studies) asked about the morale of healthcare professionals at the UNC hospitals.
Professor Weber said healthcare professionals are exhausted from staff shortages due to community transmission. The hospital provides a program for physical and mental wellness.
Professor Lithgow asked if KN95 or N95 masks are more effective than medical masks.
Professor Weber said the KN95 or N95 mask have to be the proper size to be effective. UNC Hospital has a video [link] that demonstrates how to do a seal check on the masks. It is important to ensure the legitimacy of the mask. Studies show that up to 50% of these masks may be counterfeit.
Dean of Students Desirée Rieckenberg provided information on University Approved Absence (UAA). Faculty have the ultimate ability to provide flexibility and accommodations for students who have been impacted by COVID-19. Students who test positive for COVID-19 will automatically receive resources and support information through Campus Health. They will receive a UAA that they can forward to their professors. Students who receive a positive test from an off-campus provider must communicate with Campus Health about their positive diagnosis to be included in the above-outlined process. If a student needs to be absent for longer than ten days, the UAA Office will then send out extensions. They are encouraging students and faculty to work together, faculty do not need approval from the UAA Office is to provide flexibility to students around their assignments and exams. Since the beginning of the semester, students have submitted 2,000 UAA requests.
Provost Blouin reinforced that faculty have the authority to manage student absences without the involvement of the UAA Office.
In the chat, Professor Allison Schlobohm (Business) asked if students are provided medical masks and if the campus community would receive updates on COVID-19 data.
Professor Chapman said there are mask stations at various locations on campus.
Provost Blouin said the UNC-CH COVID-19 Dashboard is updated daily at noon.
Professor Scholbohm asked if faculty have the discretion to provide hybrid classes to their students.
Provost Blouin said the administration has given faculty flexibility. Due to structure and pedagogy, not every class can be livestreamed via Zoom. They have encouraged faculty to record their classes and make them available asynchronously. Most classes will be either synchronous or asynchronous. Faculty have discretion on whether their class will be held in-person and on Zoom.
Professor Lithgow asked if there are resources to update rooms that are not yet hybrid capable.
Provost Blouin suggested that she contact Senior Vice Provost for Business Operations Rick Wernoski. His team can check the classroom and will do anything technically feasible to help.
New Faculty Retirement Planning Guide presented by Retired Faculty Association (RFA) leaders
Professor Donna Falvo (Rehabilitation Counseling and Psychology), President of the RFA, said the Faculty Retirement Planning Guide [PDF] is the result of four years of focused small-group discussions at the Retired Faculty Seminar held at the Institute of Arts and Humanities. This guide would not have been possible without the strong support of the Provost’s Office and the hard work and dedication of the RFA. The Office of Human Resources (OHR) assembled the edited version of the guide that will be presented today.
Professor Thomas Clegg (Physics and Astronomy), RFA member and Office of Human Resources liaison, presented information on the Faculty Retirement Planning Guide. The guide provides UNC-specific retirement information and addresses many problems frequently faced by faculty. The goal is to ensure that current and future faculty will be able to plan and execute their transition to retirement with few hurdles. The guide will be updated as practices and rules change; it is intended to be an official up-to-date UNC resource. It will always be available for download on the OHR website.
The guide is divided into four parts: early career, mid-career, late-career and executing your transition to retirement. In the early career phase, faculty have to choose a retirement plan within 60 days of starting employment. The options are the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS), which is a defined benefit plan, or the Optional Retirement Plan. In the mid-career phase, faculty begin to think about other investments to ensure they have enough funds for retirement. The UNC System offers faculty contracts with Fidelity, TIAA and CAPTRUST. In the late-career phase, faculty begin to approach retirement age and find their path through pre-retirement questions. The guide answers questions about the Phased Retirement Program. The last section of the guide focuses on how faculty execute their transition to retirement including how to maintain contacts within the University and which University resources remain accessible after retirement.
OHR sent memos announcing the guide’s availability to faculty, deans, directors, department chairs, department/unit managers and Human Resource managers. Articles about the guide can be found on the OHR website, the Office of Faculty Governance website and in The Well. The RFA is seeking suggestions and additions to the guide. Professor Clegg asked faculty to advertise the guide’s availability to their colleagues and send all suggestions to email@example.com.
Annual committee reports by title
The Committee on Appointments, Promotion and Tenure [PDF], the Committee on University Government [PDF] and Faculty Assembly Delegation [PDF] annual reports were submitted by title and accepted by the Faculty Council.
Closed session: Special report of the Honorary Degree and Special Awards Committee
Secretary of the Faculty Jill Moore entertained a motion to move into closed session to prevent the premature disclosure of honorary degree and special awards information. Professor Joy Renner (Allied Health) made a motion to move into closed session. The motion was seconded by Professor Rumay Alexander (Nursing) and approved by Faculty Council. While in closed session, candidates for the 2022 Edward Kidder Graham Faculty Service Award and the 2022 Distinguished Alumna and Alumnus Awards were approved by the Council.
Its business having concluded, the Faculty Council adjourned at 5:00 p.m.
University Program Associate
Secretary of the Faculty