Meeting of the General Faculty and the Faculty Council

Friday, December 6th 2002 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. The Secretary of the Faculty.

DISC 3:00 Chancellor’s Remarks and Question Time.

  • Chancellor James Moeser invites questions or comments.

DISC 3:15 Remarks by the Chair of the Faculty.

  • Professor Sue Estroff invites questions or comments.

INFO 3:30 Annual Report of the Faculty Committee on University Government.

  • Professor Elizabeth Gibson, Chair.

ACT 3:35 Resolutions Amending the Faculty Code of University Government.

  • Resolution 2002-8 amending the Code as it relates to the Divisions of the College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Resolution 2002-9 amending the Code as it relates to the Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Admissions.

DISC 3:40 Discussion of the Faculty Salary Equity Study.

INFO 3:50 Annual Report of the Status of Women Committee.

  • Professor Etta Pisano, Chair.

DISC 4:00 Report of the Task Force on Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure.

  • Professors Paul Farel and Barbara Harris, Co-chairs.

INFO 4:25 Progress Report of the Task Force on the Academic Plan.

  • Associate Provost Steve Allred.

INFO 4:30 Progress Report on the Honor System Reform Process.

  • Professor Judith Wegner.

DISC 4:45 Open Discussion of Topics Raised by Faculty Members.

ACT 5:00 Adjourn.

 

Joseph S. Ferrell
Secretary of the Faculty

 

KEY:
ACT = Action
DISC = Discussion
INFO = Information

Minutes

Attendance

Present (42):Bachenheimer, Bollen, Cairns, Carter, Chenault, Colindres, Crawford-Brown, Foley, Henry, Janda, Kjervik, Leigh, Lohr, Malizia, McGraw, Meyer, Nelson, Nicholas, Nonini, Owen, Parikh, Pfaff, Pisano, Reinert, Reisner, Rock, Rowan, Salmon, Schauer, Shea, Sigurdsson, W. Wmith, Straughan, Strauss, Tauchen, Toews, Tulloch, Vandermeer, Watson, Weiss, Wilson, Yopp.
Excused absences (48): Admiora, Allison, Ammerman, Bane, Barbour, Bouldin, Carelli, Cotton, Daye, D’Cruz, Diette, Elter, Elvers, Files, Fishell, Fowler, George, Gerber, Gilland, Gollop, Granger, Holditch-Davis, Kagarise, Kessler, Kelley, Langbauer, LeFebvre, McQueen, Meece, Metzguer, Miller, Molina, Moran, Orthner, Panter, Poole, Porto, Raasch, Retsch-Bogart, Rippe, Rong, Sams, Slain, J. Smith, Sueta, Tresolini, Vick, Wallace, Willis.
No unexcused absences.

Call to Order

Prof. Estroff called the meeting to order. She suspended the agenda previously announced for this meeting, with the exception of the Chancellor’s Remarks, due to the ice storm and resulting power outage that had paralyzed the community. A special meeting of the General Faculty and Faculty Council to complete the announced agenda will be called for a later date.

Chancellor’s Remarks

Chancellor Moeser began by expressing this admiration for the dedicated staff who worked so rapidly and efficiently to restore power to the campus after the December 4 ice storm. Although most of the community, and indeed the entire North Carolina Piedmont, is still without electricity, the campus was blacked out for only a few hours on December 5. He decided not to reschedule final exams, which began today. The chancellor reported that the University has offered Woollen Gym to the American Red Cross for use as a shelter. We are also serving hot food at reasonable prices in Lenoir, Chase, and the Carolina Inn to the entire community.

Chancellor Moeser turned to the controversy that had arisen over his recent decision with respect to a severance agreement with Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Susan Ehringhaus.

The chancellor said he had asked that today’s Council meeting not be postponed because he thought it was important to speak directly to the faculty. He said that this has been the most difficult period of his professional life. It has been a humbling experience. It is not an easy thing to admit mistakes, especially in such a public forum, nor to be the subject of so many news articles and editorials. While it is important to admit mistakes, it is more important to resolve not to repeat them and to learn from them. The question, then, is what can we learn from this experience and how can we better function in a collaborative of shared responsibility for the leadership of this great institution.

Chancellor Moeser said that one of the resolutions he has made is to take better advantage of opportunities for consultation with the leadership of the faculty. He has had good conversations recently with the chair of the faculty and the Executive Committee of the Faculty Council. He will consult the Advisory Committee next week at its regular December meeting. He wanted to be careful in this time of considerable personal stress not to make decisions quickly or impulsively.

Sometimes there is a delicate balance between the need to consult and the need to respect the confidentiality of very sensitive personnel matters. The recent incident is an example of a situation in which broad consultation was not appropriate, but discreet and very confidential consultation might have been. He said he is determined to find measures in which that could be done productively.

There is a great deal of work that we now need to address together. We are in the process of developing an academic plan for the University—one that will define our academic priorities and point to way to where we will place our energies in developing critical support for our academic programs from private giving, State appropriations, and tuition. It is critically important that this plan be developed in a collaborative process among the faculty and its academic leadership. Unless there is a general sense of “buy-in” across the fabric of the University, the plan really will not have much meaning. The chancellor said that he is not so much concerned about arbitrary deadlines for a final plan as he is about the quality of the end result. We have serious work to do to restore the sense of confidence that this is a university that not only has a great vision for itself but also has profound connections to the State of North Carolina.

Chancellor Moeser then commented briefly on some of the agenda items that would have been discussed at today’s meeting but for the weather emergency.

Gender equity.

The chancellor said that the administration’s in-depth analysis of equity in faculty salaries is moving forward as quickly as possible. He wants to be in a position by the Spring semester to be able to make determinations about corrective actions. For now, he wanted to be careful not to over-promise on available resources, given the uncertainty in the State budget, but he said that the matter “needs to be top priority with whatever resources we have.” The chancellor said that he has placed responsibility for remediation of individual salaries with the Office of the Provost and gave the Council his commitment that he and his senior associates are dedicated to this.

Hooding ceremony.

We are moving ahead with plans for a special hooding ceremony for doctoral students whose degrees are conferred by the Graduate School. The ceremony will be held on Polk Place on the Saturday before Commencement. There will be a speaker. Each doctoral recipient will be hooded by his or her advisor.

Referring to the chancellor’s remarks about the faculty salary equity study, Prof. Diane Kjervik (Nursing) said that she is somewhat surprised that the administration is moving ahead with remediation before the Council has had an opportunity to discuss the report of the Committee on the Status of Women and its recommendations. She wanted to bring to the chancellor’s attention a motion adopted by the faculty of the School of Nursing asking that the comparative analysis of salaries in Nursing be broadened to include other Health Affairs schools such as Public Health and Pharmacy. There are so few men in Nursing that gender comparisons confined to that school alone do not convey much useful information. Chancellor Moeser responded to Prof. Kjervik’s first point by saying that there is no intent to pre-empt the Committee’s report prior to discussion by the Council.

Prof. William Smith (Mathematics) said that he understood the chancellor’s intent in restructuring the Office of Legal Affairs is to make it more devoted strictly to legal affairs and less involved in matters of policy. He supports that change and hopes that the chancellor will seek faculty advice as the restructuring takes place. The chancellor replied that Prof. Smith had correctly analyzed the reason for the change.

Prof. Laura Janda (Slavic Languages) cautioned against suggesting that gender equity is something that can be managed with available resources because this suggests that gender equity is a luxury item that we can address only when we have extra money on hand. The chancellor replied that he had not meant to imply that “available resources” means only new resources.

Prof. Bobbi Owen (Dramatic Art) commended the chancellor for sharing the University’s heat and hot water with the community. She hoped that this sharing with the community will be a good first step in improving relationships with the Town of Chapel Hill.

Prof. Ron Hyatt (Exercise & Sport Science) said that as we move toward “campus incorporated” it is important not to lose our culture of consultation. There was a time when senior administrators were drawn from the ranks of the faculty and, at the end of their terms, returned to their departments to receive the thanks or stones of their colleagues. The controversy over the legal officer arises from the approach to the severance package, its scope, and its size. It has been very, very difficult to find any winners in this matter. The faculty fear the loss of overhead funds, the downturn in alumni giving, and the great change that seems to be taking place in the corporate governance of the University. Chancellor Moeser expressed his thanks for Prof. Hyatt’s candid remarks, which he accepted on all counts.

Prof. Richard Pfaff (History) commented on the administrative culture of the University. He characterized South Building as a kind of closed culture in which decisions have not always been taken with consultations of the nature and extent that the faculty expect. He regretted the trend toward treating the chancellor as if he were the chief executive of the nation. As an example, he cited the chancellor’s recent state of the university address which seemed to have been structured with the president’s State of the Union address in mind—all of the vice chancellors and deans seated together in the front row and formally introduced as if they somehow constituted “the University” in the same way that the president and his cabinet constitute “the government.” Prof. Pfaff said that he does not believe that is how Chancellor Moeser understands the University, but nevertheless the impression is given of a culture at the upper level of administration [South Building] that would be unthinkable in other contexts within the institution. He urged the chancellor to cultivate the wider academic culture. No great university can flourish if its predominant culture is administrative. He regretted the executive and competitive mind-set to which we seem to be committed. He rejected the intellectual viability of the notion that we must continually bid for the services of faculty members through a repetitive process of offer and counter-offer. We all understand that this is a zero-sum game. He hoped that the kind of reflectiveness that has heretofore been lacking in South Building will now be fostered by the discussions that have emanated from recent events.

Chancellor Moeser replied that within the past three days he and others in South Building had discussed the need to spend more of our time talking about issues of educational quality, which is what the faculty are truly passionate about, rather than focusing on administrative issues. The chancellor said that when he decided he wanted a career as a faculty member, he never dreamed of administration as a goal. He still believes that would should be spending more of our time talking about the passions that drive academics—commitment to our own disciplines, the glorious interaction with students that we call teaching, and to the service in which we engage that fulfills our lives. For example, let us challenge ourselves to have a deep campus debate about the academic plan.

Prof. Joseph Ferrell (Government) spoke to extent of the controversy that erupted about Ms. Ehringhaus’ severance agreement. He said that this is not the first time a senior public official has been asked to step aside, nor the first time in which a severance agreement has been part of that process. It is, however, the first that he can recall generating controversy of this extent. He thought that the controversy might have been less had the severance terms been negotiated in advance at the time of appointment rather than negotiated in secret at the end. Severance agreements for school superintendents and city and county managers, for example, are in wide use throughout North Carolina and seldom attract negative comment. It is understood that these officials serve at the pleasure of the governing boards and may be dismissed with little notice. To attract the caliber of individual needed in the job, reasonable severance provisions are essential. He hoped that the current controversy would result in a change in appointment procedures for senior administrators, especially those who are brought in from the outside with no prior academic base in this institution, in which severance packages are negotiated up front and are approved in advance by the appropriate authorities.

Prof. Howard Reisner (Pathology & Laboratory Medicine) noted that from the perspective of the staff, faculty members are part of the “imperium.” He often finds himself having to defend the University’s actions, which he feels compelled to do. He hoped the chancellor would try hard to mend our fences with the staff. An excellent academic institution depends on having an excellent faculty, but we faculty most certainly depend on staff who are willing to work for us.

Adjournment.

Its business having been completed, the Council adjourned at 4:45 p.m.

Joseph S. Ferrell
Secretary of the Faculty

 

Pdf of meeting materials

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