September 3, 2021
Meeting of the Faculty Council
Friday, September 3, 2021, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
A recording of the livestream is available at this link.
3:00 p.m. Chair of the Faculty’s remarks
Professor Mimi Chapman (Social Work)
3:10 p.m. New contextual language for Thomas Jefferson Award
3:20 p.m. Presentation of the 2021 Thomas Jefferson Award
Presented by Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz
- Professor Vin Steponaitis (Anthropology and Archaeology) reads citation
- Professor Lloyd Kramer (History), award recipient
3:30 p.m. Recognition of the 2021 Hettleman Prize Recipients
Presented by Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz
- Professor Nicholas Law (Physics and Astronomy, College of Arts and Sciences)
- Professor Alice Marwick (Communication, College of Arts and Sciences)
- Professor Daniel Matute (Biology, College of Arts and Sciences)
- Professor Cleo Samuel-Ryals (Health Policy and Management, Gillings School of Global Public Health)
3:40 p.m. Introductions to student and staff leaders
Professor Mimi Chapman (Social Work)
- Kate Brandt (Graduate and Professional Student Observer)
- Jessica Igollo-Ogele (Undergraduate Student Observer)
- Christian Phillips (Undergraduate Student Observer)
- Katie Musgrove (Employee Forum Chair)
- Lamar Richards (Student Body President)
- Neel Swamy (GPSG President)
3:45 p.m. Chancellor’s remarks
Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz
4:05 p.m. Provost’s remarks
Provost Robert Blouin
4:35 p.m. Updates from the Faculty Executive Committee
Committee Chair Mimi Chapman (Social Work)
4:50 p.m. Open discussion
5:00 p.m. Adjournment
Video of Proceedings
Journal of Proceedings of the Faculty Council and General Faculty
The Faculty Council of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill convened on September 3, 2021, 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 77 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, Divaris, Entwisle, Estroff, Floyd-Wilson, Frederick, Gilland, Gold, Goralski, Guskiewicz (Chancellor), Haggis, Halpern, Hannig, Holland, Johnson, Krause, Larson, Lensing, Lithgow, Lopez, McEntee, McNeilly, Mehrotra, Menard, Metcalfe, Meyer, Mohanty, Moon, Moore (Secretary of the Faculty), Moracco, Muller, Neal, Nichols, Olson, Padilla, Penton, Pettifor, Plenge, Powell, Rahangdale, Renner, Roberts, Santos, Sathy, Scarlett, Scarry, Schlobohm, Smith, Triumph, Upshaw, Vaidyanathan, Van Deinse, Vernon-Feagans, Vision, von Bernuth, Watson, Williams, Wiltshire, Womack, Worthen, Young and Zomorodi.
The following 7 members received excused absences: Donahue, Gates-Foster, Lee, Ma, Mayer-Davis, Rose and Thornburg.
The following 6 members were absent without excuse: Brewster, Dewitya, Freeman, Jeffay, Lain and Mock.
Others in attendance: Blouin (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 first Faculty Council meeting of the 2021-2022 academic year and gave remarks [PDF].
Presentation of Thomas Jefferson Award
Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz announced Professor Lloyd Kramer (History) as the winner of the 2021 Thomas Jefferson Award and offered his congratulations.
Professor Vin Steponaitis (Anthropology and Archaeology), one of Professor Kramer’s nominators, read his award citation [PDF].
Professor Kramer accepted the award and gave a brief presentation [PDF].
Recognition of the 2021 Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prizes for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty
The Hettleman Prizes recognize achievements of outstanding junior faculty. Chancellor Guskiewicz acknowledged this year’s Hettleman Prize winners one-by-one: Professor Nicholas Law (Physics and Astronomy), Professor Alice Marwick (Communication), Professor Daniel Matute (Biology) and Professor Cleo Samuel-Ryals (Health Policy and Management).
Introductions to student and staff leaders
Chair Chapman asked the new student representatives to introduce themselves. Jessica Igollo-Ogele (Undergraduate Student Observer), Christian Phillips (Undergraduate Student Observer) and Neel Swamy (Graduate and Professional Student Government President) were in attendance. Kate Brandt (Graduate and Professional Student Observer) was unable to attend. In addition, new Employee Forum Chair Katie Musgrove introduced herself to the Faculty Council.
Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz began by emphasizing how much he enjoys meeting with students and values their input. He commented on the Campus President’s Council meeting held today, which was convened to discuss University COVID-19 policies considering the increase of cases and clusters in and outside of the campus community.
Many faculty, students and parents have expressed the importance of the on-campus experience. The chancellor recognizes the anxiety and fear surrounding the COVID-19 Delta variant. He has met with the Faculty Executive Committee, the Chancellor’s Student Advisory Committee, the Chancellor’s Staff Advisory Committee and the UNC Employee Forum. He listed their concerns and their suggestions about how we can continue to be successful moving forward.
Chancellor Guskiewicz focused his remarks on the University’s response to the pandemic. Over 90% of the student population has been vaccinated against COVID-19. The campus community must remain vigilant in encouraging vaccination and mask-wearing among all of its members. The vaccination rate for staff members is 85% and the rate for faculty is above 95%. He wants to continue to hear from the community about increasing the vaccination rate.
Even though there is still much uncertainty, this semester is different than fall 2020: the community is highly vaccinated, and we have a year’s worth of experience with this virus. He will continue to engage with the Campus Community Advisory Committee (CCAC), and is working with its co-chairs to plan another meeting.
High levels of community spread exist across North Carolina and the Triangle so it’s inevitable to have positive COVID-19 cases on campus; the current number of cases is consistent with what experts have projected. The University is prepared to handle positive cases, with the goal being to identify the cases early and limit their spread. The administration meets twice a week with campus infectious disease and public health experts and receives regular updates from both Campus Health and UNC Health. While some concerns exist, there is also encouraging news, especially that the University’s positivity rate continues to stay below the average in our region. This campus has ample quarantine and isolation space, with backup space available. Contact tracing has not identified any transmission linked to a classroom. Contact tracers are working hard to identify trends and clusters. A few instances of off-campus non-compliance of standards have occurred, but Chancellor Guskiewicz is encouraged by the community’s general commitment to keeping each other safe. The administration will continue to respond to the virus as necessary.
The chancellor pointed out increased precautions to keep the campus safe this fall. The administration introduced proactive testing of residence halls, required the wearing of face masks indoors and increased outdoor dining options. These changes were implemented based on the recommendations of CCAC and other advisory committees. Members of the community are strongly encouraged to wear masks during large outdoor events.
Provost Bob Blouin said a revision to the COVID-19 Dashboard will be available in mid-September. These changes were made based on suggestions from faculty, staff, students and the leadership team. The intent of the dashboard has always been to be open and transparent about what is happening on campus and to provide the opportunity for users to adjust the parameters to view useful trends. Vaccination rates were added to the dashboard and are constantly updated.
The provost thanked the infectious disease faculty for their efforts in reaching out and meeting with staff to provide some evidence-based information that may convince individuals that vaccination is in their self-interest as well as in the interest of the University and society. The administration has been in close contact with the Orange County Health Department to provide further clarification on what “cluster” means to ensure the campus community understands the term. The University is following the definition of cluster that is used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS):. five or more cases that are deemed in close proximity or are epidemiologically linked or both. We are defining “location” as a single residence hall or dwelling.
Chancellor Guskiewicz gave a few more campus updates. On August 31, 2021, he met with over 70 undergraduate students who are working on the Carolina Across 100 initiative, which is led by Professor Anita Brown-Graham (Government). The purpose of this initiative is to ensure that the research-based insights generated on this campus reach all 100 counties across our state, especially when our communities need us most. The initiative collaborates with cohorts of communities across the state as they work on their most challenging issues, many of which have been aggravated by COVID-19. The students are interviewing leaders across North Carolina to better identify the ways faculty, staff and students can partner with these communities.
Professor Jay Aikat (Computer Science) was selected as the new Faculty Marshal through a process conducted by the (Chancellor’s) Advisory Committee. Her first task in this role is to lead the faculty procession at the 2020 Commencement to be held in Kenan Stadium on October 10. He thanked Professor Aikat for accepting this important role and Professor Patricia Parker (Communication) for her service as Faculty Marshal over the past few years.
Professor Deb Aikat (Journalism and Media) asked the chancellor and provost to share what lessons they have learned from Nikole Hannah-Jones’s recruitment process.
Chancellor Guskiewicz spoke with Professor Hannah-Jones multiple times and had expressed that she could make an incredible impact on the campus and hoped that she would be a faculty member at the University. He has stated this sentiment publicly and worked toward a vote in her tenure case. Our University is part of a shared governance system and there is a process for faculty promotion. He values the role the Board of Trustees (BOT) has in this process. There is a variable tenure option within the Tenure Policy that Provost Blouin offered to Professor Hannah-Jones because she was receiving other offers. He is disappointed that she is not a faculty member at the University.
Provost Blouin worked closely with Dean Susan King and contributed significantly to putting together a highly competitive startup package to recruit Professor Hannah-Jones. He is also disappointed that it did not work out and believes it is an unfortunate loss for the University.
Professor D. Aikat asked how the University community could ensure that donors do not influence the hiring process for deans and faculty members.
Provost Blouin said several constituent groups participate in dean searches. Deans are unique in that they have to relate to faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors and other constituents inside and outside the domains of the University. Any dean search is likely to involve these constituency groups. No one should have inappropriate influence over the search process. Faculty must continue to maintain that standard of integrity and hold the institution to this standard.
Professor Jan Hannig (Statistics and Operations Research) suggested that vaccination rates for students be split to show the rate for undergraduate and graduate students separately. He asked about the proportion of vaccine attestations that have been verified by vaccination cards.
Provost Blouin said 65% of students have uploaded their vaccination cards to the system. Everyone who completes the vaccination attestation form must provide information on the vaccine they received and the date it was administered.
Professor Hannig also asked if there is any information on employee raises. Given high inflation, he is afraid the University in becoming non-competitive in retaining world-class faculty, especially at the mid-career level.
Chancellor Guskiewicz said both the House and Senate budgets contain proposed raises for state employees, which include faculty and staff. The General Assembly could take at least another three weeks to approve the budget, and the administration has to await guidance from the UNC System Office before they can implement raises. Some of the administration’s top priorities are to retain faculty and to recruit the best faculty possible.
Professor Mary Floyd-Wilson (English and Comparative Literature) asked for clarification on which part of the CDC guidelines determines our approach to contact tracing? One section states that close contact includes those who are in the same space with a positive individual, even with masks, for 15 minutes and within 6 feet. However, the guidelines for the state’s K-12 schools say that masked students in classrooms do not count as close contacts.
Provost Blouin responded that if someone is within six feet of a positive individual for 15 minutes, they are considered a person to be traced. Contact tracing is being conducted by Campus Health. Other universities have been encouraging faculty to have seating charts or encouraging students to interact and develop their contact tracing within the classroom.
Ken Pittman, executive director for Campus Health, has found that as Campus Health conducts source case investigation with students who have positive test results, students are becoming more familiar with the people around them and they are increasingly able to provide names of individuals they sit near during class. Once the source case investigation for all positive students is complete, then Campus Health is responsible for the contact tracing related to on-campus contacts. The Orange County Health Department (OCHD) is responsible for contact tracing off campus. Campus Health is witnessing the most infection through social gatherings outside the classroom and among students who live in the same household, including residence halls and apartments. They have not seen any transmission that can be traced to the classroom setting.
Professor Beth Morocco (Public Health) said some faculty are getting frequent requests from students to join classes remotely for a short period, so they have been teaching in hybrid mode. She asked if there is any guidance or support for faculty in these situations.
Provost Blouin said the administration decided to allow individual schools and units to create their plans to address the need for hybrid learning when students cannot meet in person. He suggested that she work with her dean or chair to figure out what is best for her class. The administration does not want faculty to make unilateral decisions to change their classes from in-person to remote. Departments and schools have been sensitive to individual circumstances that would require a faculty to offer another mode of instruction for a short period.
Professor Megan Plenge (Earth, Marine and Environmental Sciences) described a recent scenario in which she was contacted by the Health Department about close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual that directed her to get tested and quarantine until receiving a negative test. She noted a gap in timing and wondered if this delay was associated with the OCHD or with UNC-CH contact tracing efforts. She also asked how delays in notifications are impacting students who test positive.
Director Pittman said the source case responsibility for faculty and staff lies with the University Employee Occupational Health Clinic, which works in collaboration with the home county of the faculty or staff member. In this instance, close contact notifications would have been the responsibility of the Health Department. There could be a 24- to 48-hour delay from when they receive a positive result, conduct the source case investigation and reach out to close contacts.
Professor Barzin said quarantine is only recommended for those who are unvaccinated. A vaccinated close contact would be tested three to five days after exposure. Electronic communication may be a blanket statement with the most conservative measure, which is aimed at the unvaccinated.
Director Pittman said there is an added step of determining the vaccination status of close contacts during contact tracing. Once Campus Health identifies close contacts who are unvaccinated, they prioritize their communication with this group because those individuals need to quarantine as soon as possible.
Provost Blouin added that the administration provides Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) documents about contact tracing.
Professor Hilary Lithgow (English and Comparative Literature) said many students don’t know who is sitting around them in class and are unable to identify them as close contacts. Given these facts, it seems as if we are in not a position to make strong claims about the degree to which COVID is or is not spreading in classrooms.
Professor Barzin said they have not witnessed an epidemiological link to a classroom transmission. His team will continue to monitor as best as possible to limit any classroom transmission. The majority of the cases on the healthcare side have not been from workplace transmission, but mostly from home or domicile transmission in community-based settings. While contact tracing and case investigation is a snapshot and picture of time, this information is used continually to make epidemiological links retrospectively.
Professor Chapman asked if the administration would require that faculty use seating charts in the classroom.
Provost Blouin said there would not be a requirement to use seating charts. Several faculty have expressed concerns about students being about to recall all the individuals sitting near them. The administration recommends that faculty use a seating chart if it is conducive to their classroom structure. Students can create their contact-tracing list in each of their classes, which would help Campus Health facilitate contact tracing.
Professor Joan Krause (Law) asked if there had been any discussion of re-opening one of the former testing locations. Employees who are required to test as of mid-September may find it easier to test on the way to/from work. Having good parking near the testing site would be very helpful, and possibly increase compliance.
Provost Blouin said the administration is reevaluating whether to expand either the testing site hours or the number of sites, which will depend on the demand for testing. CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio was used as an off-campus location in the past.
Professor Barzin said the Carolina Together Testing Center at the Carolina Union is predicted to administer 7,500 to 9,000 tests per week. There is parking available at the Carolina Union and there are also vouchers available for the Rams Parking Deck. They have been discussing weekend testing options as well.
Director Pittman said symptomatic testing is done at Campus Health with about 700 to 800 tests administered every week. Last week, the positivity rate was about five percent. He added that Campus Health will provide flu shot clinics beginning mid-September through October. Please visit flu.unc.edu for information about clinic locations.
Professor Hannig asked if the administration recommends that employees be tested periodically to monitor the rate of infection.
Professor Barzin said if vaccinated employees are interested in asymptomatic testing, it is recommended that they test no more than once a week.
Professor Hannig asked if there is data on the number of positive cases among the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.
Professor Barzin said since the campus community is highly vaccinated, most of the positive cases come from vaccinated individuals. After the first week of testing, a disproportionate amount of positive cases in the unvaccinated population prompted the administration to require testing twice a week for unvaccinated individuals.
Professor Sharon Holland (American Studies) asked about the mental health resources available for students who have tested positive and who are experiencing anxiety surrounding COVID-19.
Director Pittman said Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is housed in Campus Health. They provide support groups for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and students who are experiencing anxiety surrounding COVID-19. The UNC Dean of Students Office is engaging with students through the COVID-19 Care Hub. There is a formal process for reaching out to students who have tested positive to determine the resources they require. There are also virtual counseling services for students in quarantine and isolation.
Provost Blouin said several deans have built health and wellbeing infrastructures to help students, staff and faculty in their schools. This infrastructure was modeled after Peer2Peer, which is a student-led group that advocates for the mental well-being of the members within our community through peer support. Peep2Peer is a part of Peers for Progress, which is led by Professor Ed Fisher (Public Health). The administration funded a pilot project where Professor Fisher partners with various schools to help them create their peer-to-peer network.
Chancellor Guskiewicz said graduate students often serve as teaching assistants. It is important to equip them with the ability to direct undergraduate students toward the correct resources.
Provost Blouin said many issues are occurring at local, national and global levels that are putting stress on people. The administration is mindful of the complexity of mental health.
Director Pittman said students in isolation and quarantine who are experiencing mental health challenges are contacted by student volunteers from UNC Housing daily.
Professor Mark McNeilly (Business) asked if weekly testing of all employees will be implemented.
Provost Blouin said the administration’s approach is to test people who are at the greatest risk, which are the unvaccinated members of the community. Originally, unvaccinated individuals had mandatory COVID-19 testing once a week, now they are required to test twice a week. They are also considering some form of random surveillance testing.
Professor Barzin said there is not a general recommendation that everyone on campus be tested regularly. Targeted outreach and/or assessment testing is utilized where the caseloads are most predominant.
Chancellor Guskiewicz thanked Professor Barzin, Director Pittman and their teams for their incredible work and dedication.
Updates from the Faculty Executive Committee
Professor Chapman, committee chair, gave a brief overview of the actions the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC) has taken since the last regular Faculty Council meeting in April. In early May, the committee voted to affirm a statement in support of free speech in the wake of vandalism of the distribution boxes for the Carolina Review and vandalism of their website. On May 24, the FEC approved a resolution to encourage the Board of Trustees (BOT) to consider tenure for Nikole Hannah-Jones. The committee ratified a statement regarding academic freedom and the actions of the UNC Press Board on July 19. On August 4, FEC adopted a resolution requesting that the UNC System delegate authority to UNC-Chapel Hill’s administration to make decisions related to COVID-19 on our campus. On August 30, the committee discussed a change in the Board of Trustee regulations governing the faculty’s role in honorary degrees and special awards. On September 2, Secretary of the Faculty Jill Moore, Professor Chapman and others in the campus community had a productive meeting with the chair and the vice chair of the BOT about this change.
Professor D. Aikat asked if Faculty Council meetings will be held in person or virtually for the remainder of the semester.
Professor Chapman answered that the location of future Faculty Council meetings will be announced in a couple of weeks, and may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Its business having concluded, the Faculty Council adjourned at 4:53 p.m.
University Program Associate
Secretary of the Faculty