Meeting of the Faculty Council and the General Faculty

April 20th, 2001 at 3:00 p.m.

The Pleasants Family Assembly Room in Wilson Library

Chancellor James Moeser and Professor Sue Estroff, Chair of the Faculty, will preside.

Agenda

3:00 Call to Order by the Chancellor.

ACT 3:00 Closed Session. Honorary Degree Nominations.

INFO 3:05 Presentation of the 2001 Thomas Jefferson Award.

INFO 3:15 Presentation of the 2001 Advising Awards.

  • Senior Associate Dean Bernadette Gray-Little.

DISC 3:30 Chancellor’s Remarks and Question Time.

  • Chancellor James Moeser invites questions or comments on any topic.

DISC 3:45 Remarks by the Chair of the Faculty.

  • Professor Sue Estroff invites questions or comments on any topic.

DISC 4:00 Topics Raised by Council Members.

DISC 4:15 Report of the Task Force on Grading Standards.

  • Professor Beverly Long.

ACT 4:30 Resolution 2001-2 on the New Survey for the Student Evaluation of Teaching.

  • Professor Abigail Panter.

ACT 4:35 Resolution 2001-3 on the University Committee on Copyright.

  • Professor Janet Mason.

INFO 4:40 Annual Report of the Faculty Assembly.

  • Professor Estroff.

ACT 4:45 Resolution 2001-4 on the Academic Calendar.

  • Professor Douglas Crawford-Brown.

INFO 4:50 2001 Election Results.

ACT 4:55 Election of the Secretary of the Faculty.

ACT 5:00 Adjourn.

 

Joseph S. Ferrell
Secretary of the Faculty

 

KEY:
ACT = Action
DISC = Discussion
INFO = Information

Minutes

Attendance

Present (54): Ammerman, Assani, Blackburn, Bolas, Bollen, Bowen, Bromberg, Bynum, Carelli, Chenault, Clegg, Cordeiro-Stone, Cotton, Daye, Drake, Files, Fowler, George, Glazner, Granger, Henry, Huang, Kaufman, Kessler, Kjervik, Kopp, Levine, Lubker, Ludlow, Madison, McCormick, McKeown, Meehan-Black, Metzguer, Melchert, A. Molina, P. Molina, Nord, Otey, Panter, Pfaff, Raab-Traub, Reinert, Sekerak, Steponaitis, Stewart, Straughan, Strauss, Sueta, Taft, Vaughn, Walsh, Weiss, Werner.

Excused absences (30): Adler, Allison, Angel, Bell, Bender, Boxill, Crawford-Brown, D’Cruz, De La Cadena, Elvers, Fishman, Gilland, Grossberg, Janda, Kagarise, Ketch, Kupper, LeFebvre, Meece, Meyer, Moran, Nelson, Raasch, Rao, Rosenfeld, Savitz, Slatt, Tauchen, White, Williams.

Unexcused absences (2): Graham, McQueen.

Chancellor James Moeser called the meeting to order at 3:00 p.m. He entertained a motion to go into closed session, which was moved and seconded.

Closed Session. Honorary Degree Nominations.

Presented by Professor Frank Wilson.

Chancellor’s Remarks.

Chancellor Moeser said that the State revenue shortfall, and the possibility of budget cuts, has placed the University in a difficult situation. He said he has two messages for the members of the Faculty Council and for their colleagues, the students, staff, alumni and friends of the University across the State. First, this is a serious situation, and should be taken very seriously. It is a call to mobilize support for the University, demonstrated by the support of 73% of the voters, in the recent bond referendum, for a strong system of higher education across the State. Public opinion has to be rallied for higher education, and education overall. The Chancellor said public opinion needs to be rallied in support of the University itself, which is a nationally recognized research university and requires a greater level of support than other types of universities which have a different mission. He said that the University, which has as its mission to be the best public university in the nation, having taken 207 years to create, could be irretrievably damaged in a matter of days by foolish, irresponsible, irrational actions. He believes that the constituency will rally in support of the University, and that this will include the voices of the faculty and students. The Chancellor pointed out how this situation was faced by the University of South Carolina a few months ago. The students there voiced concern, which the State heard; South Carolina managed to find one-time funding in order not to make cuts. He said that many universities across the country are facing cuts. The important thing is to take our case to the people of the State who love this University.

The Chancellor said that the second message to the faculty is that it must not panic, and must continue to believe that the trajectory of the University will remain upward. He said he was speaking directly to those faculty who have job offers from other universities and are seriously considering them. The essence of this University is its distinguished scholars and teachers, who will be sought after by other institutions. He urged the faculty to remember that this is a great institution and must continue to move forward. He asked for the spirit of confidence and optimism to continue, even in bad times, and he said that those who have the responsibility for leadership must keep the flame of hope alive and well on this campus. The University is involved in one of the largest recruiting cycles in its history, for students, graduate students and faculty, yet it is fighting a rear-guard action to shore up the base. He said the University needs to ally itself with North Carolina State University, which has similar issues. The two universities have the most at stake and the most to lose, because excellence is a very fragile thing, and must be cared for. The negative impacts of a 4% or 7% cut are stark. The largest first-year class (3,500 or more students) in the history of the campus is expected for the upcoming academic year, and the contract with those students for a quality education is at risk. The public service mission of the University to the State is at risk. The Chancellor said the University will do its fair share in helping the State in its temporary shortfall, but the University needs to ask questions about what the nature of the shortfall is, whether it is due to a temporary downturn in the economy and unexpectedly large bills to be paid, or to a structural flaw in the revenue structure of the State, which would have to be addressed by the General Assembly. These questions must be put by the people of the State to the highest level of State government. He feels it is the duty of the University to make the public aware of these questions.

The Chancellor also said that sensitive negotiations with the Town of Chapel Hill continue, with a very productive meeting of the Town/Gown Committee this past week. The working group, co-chaired by Vice Chancellor Nancy Suttenfield and Town Manager Cal Horton, has scheduled meetings every afternoon next week to begin to work on details of building a model of a development plan. The Town of Chapel Hill responded to the University’s request for relief from the floor-area ratio requirement with a proposal to create a new zone for the University which, if approved, would give the University 10 years plus 10 percent of building capacity on the campus, without going back project by project for Town approval. The Chancellor said the University is pleased with the Town’s good-faith response, but the details of a number of issues still need to be resolved. The central issue for the University is regulatory relief, and for the Town it is fiscal equity—compensation for costs shared by both the University and the Town for the impacts on the community of growth on the campus. Information on twelve areas where the University could partner with the Town have been presented. Good headway has been made on the issue of employer/employee housing to be built on Franklin Street. He said there had been heated rhetoric in the media, which has contributed to damage in community relations between the University and the Town. The Chancellor said the University wishes to have good relations and respect for the community and property owners. He remains hopeful that the conversations with the Town will lead to a satisfactory resolution.

The Chancellor announced the groundbreaking on April 26 at 10:00 a.m. for the Sonja Haynes Stone Black Cultural Center. He said it sends a powerful message about the University’s commitment to diversity and plurality, and to human rights. He urged the faculty to be present. The building will house the Black Cultural Center, the Institute for African/American Research, and the Outward Bound Program.

The Chancellor encouraged the faculty to attend the commencement ceremonies on May 20 at 10:00 a.m. in Kenan Stadium. The format will be different this year with the hope that it will be a joyful yet dignified ceremony.

Presentation of the 2001 Thomas Jefferson Award.

The Thomas Jefferson Award was created to honor faculty members who, through personal influence and the performance of duty in teaching and scholarship, best exemplify the ideas and objectives of Thomas Jefferson. Candidates are nominated by the faculty, and the winners are selected by the Honorary Degrees and Special Awards Committee. The recipient this year is Royce W. Murray, Kenan Professor of Chemistry. Professor Mark Wightman (Chemistry) read the citation for Dr. Murray.

Presentation of the 2001 Advising Awards.

Senior Associate Dean Bernadette Gray-Little presented the awards, read brief commentaries from students about the recipients, and presented plaques to each of them. The 2001 Mickel-Shaw Excellence in Advising Awards went to Ms. Minda D. Brooks, Dr. Wendy E. Perry, and Ms. Marilyn J. Wyrick. The 2001 Class of 1996 Awards for Advising Excellence went to Mr. Seth L. Leibowitz, Prof. Steven W. Matson, and Prof. Elaine Yeh.

Chair of the Faculty’s Remarks.

Professor Sue Estroff thanked the Chancellor for his encouraging words and his optimism. She said the faculty will have to muster the courage and conviction which will be required to face the potential adversity caused by the fiscal circumstances. The quality of education and scholarship that is the University of North Carolina must be protected, and the University should not sell North Carolinians short, nor let fear or anxiety undermine the confidence the faculty has in the students, and that they, in turn, have in the faculty. Professor Estroff said that this is a time to join together in a common cause for the future of the University, and she is optimistic that this can be accomplished. In this budget crisis, she said, the faculty has been listened to and its views taken seriously.

Faculty Governance set a very ambitious agenda for the 2000-2001 academic year:

  • The Grading Standards Task Force completed its work on schedule.
  • The work of the task force on promotions and tenure is underway.
  • The campus honor code system is undergoing an ambitious work plan for reform.
  • Along with the Employee Forum, the faculty has aggressively pushed for benefits to more closely fit the needs of faculty and staff.
  • Progress has been made in enhancing the experience of Commencement.
  • Groundbreaking for the Black Cultural Center will take place, and the search for a new director for the Center is proceeding well.
  • The University is engaged in working with the Town of Chapel Hill to nurture the relations between the two entities.
  • Greater participation has invigorated the Faculty Council.

Professor Estroff thanked all the members of the faculty who have participated on the faculty committees.

She said that the Provost, the Chancellor, and the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs are working energetically and effectively to respond to the concerns of the students regarding race and racism on the campus. She said it was the task of everyone on the campus, particularly the faculty, to be engaged in this issue. Recognition of the role of African-Americans in the building of the University is necessary. The gravesites of some of these African-Americans are in deplorable condition. She said the recent rhetoric concerning the Black Cultural Center invites the faculty to teach to racism and to subtle, and not-so-subtle, discrimination.

Professor Estroff introduced the out-going Student Body President, Brad Matthews, thanking him for the work they did together over the last year. Mr. Matthews thanked the faculty for all they did for the students.

Professor Estroff introduced the incoming Student Body President, Justin Young.

She congratulated all the members elected to the Faculty Council, and bid goodbye to those who are leaving the Council. The FITAC reports and the salary reports will be delayed until the fall meeting, she said. She urged the faculty to read the FITAC report ahead of time and to direct any questions to the members of the FITAC.

Mr. Young thanked the faculty and left some written comments regarding the agenda with Professor Estroff. At a Faculty Assembly meeting in the morning, there was a briefing on health insurance. Professor Estroff said it appeared that deductibles will go up from $250 to $400, and the first out-of-pocket payment will rise from $1,500 to $2,000. She said the faculty survey was very interesting to the health planners.

Report of the Task Force on Grading Standards.

Presented by Professor Beverly Long (Communication Studies).

Professor Long introduced the members of the task force and thanked them for their work. She read from the recommendations of the task force on page 6 of the report:

“Because the increase in student grade point averages can be attributed to a wide variety of causes, as we have attempted to define, and because no two classes are ever exactly alike in the quality of students’ work over the course of a semester, we find it difficult to assign in an all-inclusive way a single cause for higher grades among our students. Likewise, it is hard to determine a single way to address grading practices.

“We acknowledge that it is possible that there may be isolated instances where an individual instructor exaggerates the quality of a student’s work in grading. If such instances occur, it should be left to the individual units of the University to ascertain if such exaggerations do, in fact, exist. As a result, our recommendations to the Faculty Council are directed toward the various educational units within the University.” Professor Long continued: “The faculty of each educational unit within the University should review in a formal meeting these standards in the light of the disciplines and the pedagogies by which they are taught.

“For graduate teaching assistants and other part-time or temporary instructors within the units, such a review should occur on an annual basis.

“The chairs and heads of each unit should review the grading patterns of the individual faculty on an annual basis.

“Deans should require in the annual report of each educational unit of the University a general summary of grading patterns within that unit — not for the purpose of singling out the grading patterns of individual faculty members by name, but to insure that reviews of grading patterns within the unit occur on a regular basis.

“The Registrar should distribute annually to deans and chairs a summary of grades assigned within all units. Such disclosure can help members of the university community be sure that their own grading standards are in harmony with the expectations of other units.”

Professor Vincas Steponaitis (Anthropology) applauded the Task Force for its work, and asked, if instead of annual reviews, the reviews could be less frequent. The departments are already being asked for many annual reports, he said. Professor Long said that would be an acceptable suggestion, and that the task force was mostly concerned that there be a first, formal discussion within the department, and that teaching assistants and part-time faculty be oriented every year. The chair should report, in the annual report of the department, that grades and grading had been a topic of concern.

Professor Anthony Molina (Prosthodontics) expressed concern that the administration support grades awarded by the faculty.

Professor Joseph Ferrell (Secretary of the Faculty) asked about the intended force of the task force’s recommendations, on page 7: are they merely advisory, strongly advisory, or mandatory? Professor Long responded that the committee chose not to present resolutions at the present time, but wants a further discussion with the Faculty Council. She said the committee could bring the recommendations back to the Council as resolutions, with Professor Steponaitis’ recommendation taken into account. Professor George Lensing (English), member of the Task Force, cited the sentence on page 6, “We propose that the Faculty Council forward to these units the following directives…” and added that the committee does want these to be seriously considered as directives.

Professor Ferrell said that the Agenda Committee will prepare the recommendations as resolutions to be presented at a future meeting.

Professor Estroff said that these are important recommendations which have positive and far-reaching implications. She said that she did not believe it would take very long to make annual reviews.

Professor Ferrell asked if it is the intent of the task force that the recommendations be applied University-wide. Professor Long said they are, but that they should apply only to college students.

Professor Bobbie Lubker (Education) requested that the task force review the grade definitions, given in an addendum to the report, which were approved by the Faculty Council in 1976.

Professor Estroff asked whether the definitions of grades are part of the Faculty Code. Professor Ferrell said that they are part of the Academic Regulations. Professor Estroff asked whether the definitions need to be revisited. Professor Steponaitis said he didn’t think it would be problematic to leave the definitions to the individual units.

Professor Laurel Files (Health Policy and Administration), referring to point 3, page 7, said it was not clear to her what the task force was asking the chairs to look for when they review grading practices. Professor Long said there might possibly be isolated instances where an individual teacher exaggerates the quality of a student’s work, and this could be noted at the departmental level. Professor Files asked if they would be looking for instructors whose grades were always higher than others. Professor Long responded that there might be the opposite pattern, and if there seem to be problems, they should be noted as soon as possible. Professor Estroff gave an example from her experience, and said that if there were a large proportion of certain grades from an instructor, that should set off an alarm to ask why. Professor Files said that should indicate the need to have a discussion within the faculty as to what are the guidelines. Professor Long said that kind of discussion is what the task force is asking for in the first section of the report. The discussion within the department can be very productive. Edward Neal (Center for Teaching and Learning), member of the task force, said the first step should be to have a discussion within the department.

Professor Philip Bromberg (Medicine) said that, rather than having many different grades, it would be better to have three grades—Pass, Fail, or Honors.

Ridley Kessler (Academic Affairs Librarian) said he was surprised to see the ambivalence in this relationship between student evaluations and grades. Professor Estroff said one of the things she found most important in the report was the reassertion of the rights and responsibilities of the faculty for grades, which are central for the work of the faculty. Professor Bromberg said responsibility will always be present, but that the authority of faculty members is being eaten away, and he feels very uncomfortable with that.

Professor Estroff announced that the Faculty Council had received the report and will send it to the Agenda Committee for the constructions of resolutions, which would be presented in the fall for some kind of action. The Educational Policy Committee needs to take a look at the definitions of grades, she said. Professor Ferrell suggested that the Agenda Committee prepare one resolution, or a series of resolutions, that could be voted upon in an “up or down” vote.

Resolution 2001-2 on the New Survey for the Student Evaluation of Teaching.

Professor Abigail Panter (Psychology) presented the resolution, which recommends an administrative commitment, including financial support, for a two-year University-wide pilot of the new system for the student evaluation of teaching. The system is modeled on the system in place at the University of Michigan, which includes a standardized system of items. A number of points were made about the new system:

  • Evaluations are to be used in connection with appointments, promotions, and awards of tenure.
  • The new system would benefit departments and schools in providing systematic procedures for the student evaluation of teaching.
  • The Task Force on the Student Evaluation of Teaching and the Center for Teaching and Learning have developed the new survey instrument.
  • The new instrument allows for flexibility in the selection of questions by individual departments, schools, and instructors.

A motion for approval of the resolution was moved and seconded.

Professor Steponaitis asked what the cost of this would be. Professor Panter said the process to determine this was still underway. The funds will come from the Provost’s office. Professor Files said she thought the resolution was a great idea, but was surprised that there was not a financial number attached. Professor Estroff said that the Provost actually preferred the language in the resolution, which gave him flexibility.

Resolution 2001-2 Calling for Funding of the New Survey for the Student Evaluation of Teaching was adopted.

Resolution 2001-3 on the University Committee on Copyright.

Professor Ferrell presented the resolution, with some minor textual changes. The resolution relates to the responsibilities of the University Committee on Copyright and is intended to insure conformity to General Administration Copyright Policy. It also removes from the University Committee on Copyright responsibility for monitoring application of University policies and guidelines regarding copyrighted works. It was adopted
unanimously. The resolution will have a second reading in the fall.

Annual Report of the Faculty Assembly.

Professor Estroff presented the Report, which was received by the Faculty Council.

Resolution 2001-4 on the Academic Calendar.

Professor Estroff presented the resolution, which is in support of autonomy on individual campuses in the UNC system with respect to their academic calendars, and also supports a return on the Chapel Hill campus to an academic semester of 140 to 144, rather than 150, days. The resolution was moved and seconded.

Professor Timothy Taft (Orthopaedics) asked whether there would be any significant difference in reducing the semester by 6 to 10 days. Professor Estroff said that problems with the longer calendar have been persistent, because it leaves less time for faculty to prepare for the coming semester, and for other reasons. Professor Richard Pfaff (History) said that the students get very tired, and there is not much educational value in the additional few days. He suggested three terms instead of two. Professor Taft said that passing this resolution would be a big mistake, especially because it would damage the image of the faculty and the University. He said the cut to the school year would be 7%, and asked if that would mean a tuition cut of 7%, and dorm rent reductions of 7%, and salary cuts of 7%. He said he was not sure that the “Whereas” clauses in the document were accurate. He said numbers 4 and 5 needed to have some data, and that number 6 may not be correct in terms of the expected effect. He said this would be a public relations disaster, after asking for money from the people of the State for education in the bonds issue, and then cutting the school year. Professor Steponaitis agreed that it could be a public relations issue, but he felt that the resolution addresses problems that are very real. He said this is an issue that is important enough that the faculty should address it. This is just starting a discussion, which needs to be continued, he said. There is a public perception that all the faculty do is teach classes, which is a perception that needs to be corrected, especially for those teaching in a research university.

Professor Files moved to amend the resolution by striking the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs under “Be It Resolved.” The amendment was seconded. Professor Steponaitis said that by striking the 3rd paragraph, the Council would be striking the key part of the resolution. Professor Bromberg said the 1st paragraph did not preclude cutting the schedule to 100 days. He said he understands the rationale for cutting the days, but he worries about the perception of cutting the days to fewer than 150. Professor Charles Daye (Law School) asked if there are not accreditation requirements relevant to this, and suggested saying that the University would have an academic calendar consistent with the requirements for accreditation.

The question was called. The motion to amend the resolution failed.

Professor Pfaff suggested a further discussion of the motion at another meeting. The motion to postpone further discussion until another meeting was adopted unanimously.

Election of the Secretary of the Faculty.

Professor Joseph Ferrell was re-elected Secretary of the Faculty by acclamation. The term of office is July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2006.

2001 Election Results.

Professor Estroff said that a report of the election results could be found on the back table.

Adjournment.

The business of the day having concluded, the Council adjourned at 5:05 p.m.

Joseph S. Ferrell
Secretary of the Faculty

Pdf of meeting materials

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