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Meeting of the Faculty Council

January 16, 1998, 3:00 p.m.

Assembly Room, 2nd Floor, Wilson Library

Professor Richard N. Andrews will preside in the absence of Chancellor Hooker. Attendance of elected Council members is required.


INFO 3:00 Remarks. Provost Richard J. Richardson

INFO 3:15 Question Period. The Provost invites questions or comments

INFO 3:25 Remarks. Richard N. Andrews, Chair of the Faculty

DISC 3:30 Possible Futures for the University.

INFO 4:00 Call for Nominations for the Spring Elections.

  • Joseph S. Ferrell, Secretary of the Faculty

DISC 4:05 Career and Promotion of Faculty Appointed in the Division of Health Affairs

  • Laurie Mesibov, Assistant Provost

DISC 4:20 Annual Report of the Advisory Committee. Bernadette Gray-Little, Chair

DISC 4:25 Annual Report of the Committee on Buildings and Grounds. David Godschalk, Chair

DISC 4:30 Annual Report of the Committee on the Status of Women. Abigail Panter, Chair

ACT 4:45 Old or New Business

ACT Adjourn


Joseph S. Ferrell
Secretary of the Faculty


ACT = Action
INFO = Information
DISC = Discussion



Present (54): Anderson, L. Bailey, Bluestein, Bose, Carl, Clegg, Conover, Cordeiro-Stone, Cravey, Dalton, Daye, Debreczeny, Devellis, Eckel, Farel, Favorov, Fink, Fletcher, Foshee, Gasaway, Graves, Harrison, Hodges, Hogue, Holmgren, Hooper, Hyatt, Irene, Johnson, Lachiewicz, Lentz, Loda, Lord, Mandel, Margolis, Marshall, Matson, Mauriello, McNeil, Melchert, Moreau, Pagano, Panter, Pfaff, Pielak, Plante, Rabinowitz, Raper, Salgado, Schaller, Shea, Tysinger, Vevea, Weiss.

Excused absences (18): Bangdiwala, Barefoot, Bromberg, Estroff, Fox, Haggis, Howard, Jackson, Lubker, Mill, Passannante, Searles, Skelly, Stidham, Strauss, Tauchen, White, Williams.

Unexcused absences (11): Beckman, Brink, Collins, Covach, Crimmins, Gatzy, Hattem, Owen, Platin, Rosenman, Stabler.

Chancellor’s Remarks

Chancellor Hooker devoted his time to introducing the new freshman seminars program soon to be initiated in the College of Arts and Sciences. The Task Force on Intellectual Climate recommended an experimental seminar program based in the residence halls. Dean Risa Palm recommended instead a freshman seminar program that will be available to all freshmen. This effort will require about 160 seminars and 40 new faculty positions. The chancellor backed Dean Palm’s proposal by committing to it a substantial portion of the academic enhancement funds provided by the General Assembly to match the $400 tuition increase. He called on Provost Richard Richardson and Dean Palm to explain the new program.

Provost Richardson said that the freshman seminars program will be implemented over a four-year period. The amount and method of funding was worked out with the advice and assistance of the newly created University Priorities and Budget Committee. The total cost is approximately $2.8 million. Of this, $1.4 million for the first two years has been provided by the chancellor from the academic enhancement funds previously mentioned. Funding for the third year in the amount of $700,000 has been provided by the Office of the Provost by reallocation of existing resources. Funding for the fourth year in the amount of $700,000 will be provided by the College. Ten new faculty members will be hired in each of the four years to enable departments in the College to offer the seminars.

The common characteristic of the seminars will be that they are to be small, closely taught interactions between experienced scholars who are actively engaged in research. One of the principal goals is to introduce entering students in their first semester to what it means to be in a major research institution. Another objective is to address the conditions that have surfaced in student evaluations of the advising system. Provost Richardson does not believe the problem lies in our failure to advise students on what they need to do to graduate; rather, he thinks the low ratings reflect an insufficient opportunity here for undergraduate students to have mentoring relationships with faculty members.

Dean Palm recalled the university’s experience with a freshman seminar program in the 1970s and said that the new program is consciously designed to build on lessons learned from that experience and similar programs elsewhere at that time. The previous program tended to focus on topics at the edge of disciplines and were funded by paying faculty members a small stipend to take on a teaching overload. Programs of that nature are the first to be cut when funding becomes difficult to find. The new freshman seminars program will be woven into the fabric of the university and will be fully funded on a permanent basis. The specifics of implementing the program will vary from department to department. New positions will be funded, but that does not imply that the seminars will be taught by those new hires. In many instances, the new hires will enable current faculty members to design and offer the seminars without undertaking an additional teaching load. Implementation is being worked out by a coordinating committee chaired by Associate Dean Darryl Gless and organized by Associate Dean Peter Coclanis.

Dean Palm endorsed the Provost’s observations about the hoped-for effect on student perceptions of the advising system by saying that in her view it is not that students want to know a faculty member but that “they want to believe that they are known by a faculty member.” She hopes that the freshman seminar program will provide students with that opportunity early in their college career.

Professor Carl Bose (Pediatrics) asked whether there are plans to evaluate the program as it progresses.

Deans Gless and Coclanis replied that they are in touch with Vanderbilt, University of Pennsylvania, University of California at Berkeley, Stanford, and Michigan in an effort to gather information on evaluation and assessment of similar programs at those institutions. One of the areas in which we expect to see some results is freshman retention.

Professor Leon Fink (History) praised the new program but cautioned that the Task Force intended that the seminars are only one part of a larger strategy. They need to be surrounded by changes in the residential culture and the orientation process and by such specific measures as deferring Greek rush until the sophomore year.

In response to other questions, Dean Gless emphasized that many details of the program remain to be decided. Examples include whether sophomores and juniors will be permitted to enroll and whether freshmen will be required to take one of the seminars.

Professor Marila Cordeiro-Stone (Pathology & Lab Medicine) asked about participation by faculty in the professional schools. Dean Palm said she welcomes participation by faculty in the professional schools.

Professor Richard Pfaff (History) observed that the normal rhythm of the freshman year indicates to him that much of the hoped-for impact of seminars offered in the first semester would not materialize. He thought that they would yield better results if offered in the second semester.

Professor Joseph Pagano (Medicine) noted that the program affords an unusual opportunity for an interdisciplinary approach and for innovations along those lines. Dean Palm said that she hopes to see a combination of departmental and interdisciplinary proposals. There had been suggestions that only interdisciplinary proposals be accepted, but she thinks that is too limiting. She agreed, however, that this is a wonderful opportunity to promote interdisciplinary seminars and interdisciplinary cooperation.

Chair of the Faculty’s Remarks

Professor Andrews called attention to the following matters:

  • The second annual new faculty bus tour which will take place May 18-22, 1998. The application deadline is February 27. Faculty members who have come to Carolina within the past three years are eligible. This year 30 participants will be selected. The tour is funded by the chancellor from private funds and involves no cost to the participants or their departments.
  • The Board of Trustees has retained a consulting firm, Ayers Saint Gross of Baltimore, Maryland, to update the university’s central campus plan. He and Prof. Tom Clegg (Physics & Astronomy), among others, have met with representatives of the firm to present to them faculty concerns, goals, and aspirations.
  • He, Provost Richardson, and Student Body President Mo Nathan continue to constitute a working group to pursue implementation of the Task Force on Intellectual Climate recommendations. Libby Evans has recently joined the group, representing the Employee Forum.
  • The provost has provided funding to send a delegation to the University of Texas to investigate their version of the Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars recommended by the Task Force. He invited anyone interested in this trip to contact him.

Visions of the Future of the University

Professor Andrews initiated a discussion of visions of the future of the university. “We are all aware,” he said, “that there is a larger public environment in which we and universities in general are facing major challenges today and major issues being raised with us from outside constituencies.” He noted Chancellor Hooker’s emphasis on the need to strengthen our capacity to use instructional technology and to consider seriously its potential for providing access to a Carolina education to students who cannot aspire to be physically present on campus. One of the major challenges to traditional university education comes from commercial providers and in some instances other North Carolina institutions who have the capacity and aspiration to increase enrollment substantially. One possible response from this institution would be to admit a smaller and increasingly more elite fraction of secondary school students going on to college. Another response could be, as the chancellor urges, a major effort to reach new populations through distance learning technologies. We also must note, he said, increasing demands for great accountability coming from the General Assembly and the Board of Governors. The trend for the past five years has been toward increasing tuition, a decline in the percentage of the state budget devoted to higher education, and a dismaying tendency in the media to attack indiscriminately universities, faculty members, academic tenure, research, and affirmative action. “It seems to me,” he said, ” that we, as faculty members, must articulate and defend what the university is and what we believe it should become.” He invited a discussion.

Prof. Carol Hogue (Nursing) thought that interdisciplinary research and teaching should be encouraged, but that we are sometimes hampered by our infrastructure in that regard. She hoped this would be addressed at the appropriate levels.

Prof. Ron Hyatt (Physical Education) proposed a program to identify two people from each of the 100 counties who would be invited to the university for a week as North Carolina Fellows. Those chosen for this program should be leaders in their communities. During their week here, they would learn from first-hand experience what the university is doing and we would learn from them how we can better serve the people of North Carolina. Provost Richardson noted that we had a similar program in place during the bicentennial observance and that it is an idea that could be revisited.

Prof. Barry Lentz (Biochemistry & Biophysics) likened the university to a complex organism that must constantly adapt to a changing environment. He wondered whether it is practical to attempt to work systematically toward long range goals in an environment that changes as rapidly as now seems to be the case. “I think we have to be organic in evolving,” he said.

Prof. Andrews replied that while he agrees that mission statements and the like are not always the answer, he does believe we must begin to articulate answers to those who charge that most research outside the natural and biomedical sciences is worthless (an opinion recently voiced by the head of the Massachusetts Commission for Higher Education).

Prof. Laura Gasaway (Law School) thought that we need to address in a structured, university-wide way the role of the faculty in distance education. We are now approaching this piece-meal. She thought that the issues that need addressing are those of educational policy, not the technology of how distance learning is provided. Are we to be predominately a residential university? If so, how do we undertake distance learning? For whom? In what areas? These questions must be addressed before we get to the technology issues.

Prof. Steven Bachenheimer (Microbiology) thought that many of the ideas brought forward in the Michigan report are site-specific, but it would be worthwhile to test some of them here. To do that, he recommended an experimental approach in which subsets of the freshman class are offered different tracks in terms of student/teacher ratio, technology, and course design. He felt that it would be extremely difficult for the faculty to agree on particular courses of action without such a structured experimental approach.

Prof. Leon Fink (History) proposed that two or three discrete areas be identified for further attention perhaps through ad hoc committees or task forces. He mentioned the concept of the virtual university, interdisciplinary issues, and public service as three examples.

Prof. Andrews invited further responses and suggestions by email or other means.

Call for Nominations for Spring Elections

Prof. Ferrell encouraged the faculty to participate in faculty governance by accepting the call to serve on committees, by suggesting colleagues who would make good choices for committee service, and by volunteering to work in areas in which one has an interest. He observed that the academy has traditionally valued the classical ideal in which one yields reluctantly to the call of duty and does not admit an ambition to serve. He urged a more positive and active attitude toward service to the university.

Career and Promotion of Faculty Appointed in the Division of Health Affairs

Prof. Laurie Mesibov introduced a report that she and Assoc. Provost Ned Brooks have done that addresses the question of whether there is a “glass ceiling” effect in the Division of Health Affairs with respect to the appointment and promotion of women faculty. [The text of the report can be found on the Faculty Governance Web Page.] The report does not find significant differences in the rate at which men and women achieve tenure and promotion in the Division of Health Affairs. She cautioned that the report does not address the problem of recruiting women to the faculty in the first instance.

Assoc. Provost Brooks noted that women constitute about one-third of initial appointments to tenure-track positions in the Division of Health Affairs but nearly two-thirds of initial appointments to fixed-term positions. He is unable to explain why this is the case and invited Council members to suggest reasons.

Prof. Steven Bachenheimer noted that there was no breakdown of data by department. He wondered whether there are significant differences between the clinical departments and the basic sciences departments.

Prof. Paul Farel (Physiology) said that he has learned from talking to medical students that students perceive some of the clinical specialties to be more friendly to women than others. He does not assert the truth of that perception, but students do seem to have it. He thought there should be an effort to determine why.

Annual Reports of Standing Committees

Advisory Committee.

The annual report of the Advisory Committee was received without question or comment.

Buildings and Grounds.

Prof. David Godschalk, chair of the Committee on Buildings and Grounds, reported that he has met with consultants who are updating the central campus plan. The committee will be actively soliciting opinions from faculty and others during this effort. The report was received.

Committee on the Status of Women.

Prof. Abigail Panter, chair of the Committee on the Status of Women, presented the committee’s annual report. She also distributed information in graph format showing that the rate at which the university is hiring women in tenure-track positions has remained static for thirteen years. On the other hand, the hiring rate for women in fixed-term positions shows a steady increase. During the time period studied (1985-1995) there has been a steady rise in the number of women who are earning doctoral degrees. Some schools and departments are doing better jobs than others in hiring women in relation to the applicant pool.

Prof. Pamela Conover (Political Science) asked if anyone is charged with asking for reasonable explanations from hiring units who are not doing well in hiring women. Prof. Panter replied that her committee is doing that.

Prof. Farel said that in the Medical School there have been from 200 to 300 applicants for some open positions. In the basic science departments, we are graduating as many or more women then men, and women seem to constitute about half of the post-doctoral fellows. Yet, applicants for positions are in a three to one ratio of men to women. This causes him to think that the structure of the positions have much to do with the case. Applicants are generally 32 to 36 years old and are just beginning to commit themselves to jobs that entail great stress and demands on one’s time. Those hired to the positions will not know whether they have a permanent job for another six or seven years.

Prof. Cordeiro-Stone noted that many faculty begin in fixed-term positions and move on to tenure-track positions. She observed that in our society women still bear a larger share of responsibility for family life than men, and that this may account to some extent for women choosing a fixed-term position that may not entail the same degree of stress and pressure as a tenure-track position. She said that she has heard of women being advised strongly by upper level administrators to choose fixed-term positions. She thought that this kind of influence, coupled with societal pressures, could account to some extent for the differences displayed by the data.


There being no further business, the Council adjourned.


Joseph S. Ferrell
Secretary of the Faculty


Pdf of meeting materials

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