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Meeting of the Faculty Council

Friday, December 8, 2006
3:00 p.m.
Pleasants Family Assembly Room
Wilson Library

Faculty Chair Joseph Templeton presiding


3:00 Welcome, Opening Remarks, and General Questions

  • Provost Bernadette Gray-Little

3:15 University Steering Committee for Worker Health, Safety and Wellness

  • Ben Birken, Committee Coordinator

3:30 Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Process

  • Stephanie Szakal, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enterprise Applications

3:55 Committee Reports

4:00 Distance Learning at Carolina: An Overview (Panel Presentation)

Introductions: Bernadette Gray-Little, Provost

  • Larry Band, Voit Gilmore Distinguished Professor, Department of Geography
  • Linda Carl, Associate Director for Distance Education and E-learning Policy, Friday Center for Continuing Education
  • Suzanne Havala Hobbs,  Clinical Assistant Professor and Director, Doctoral Program in Health Leadership, Department of Health Policy and Administration, School of Public Health
  • Tom James, Dean, School of Education
  • Norm Loewenthal, Director, Friday Center for Continuing Education
  • Bobbi Owen,  Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, College of Arts and Sciences

5:00 Adjourn


The Faculty Council of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill convened at 3:00 p.m. in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room of the Wilson Library.

The following 59 members of the Council attended: Alperin, Ammerman, Bachenheimer, Balthrop, Barreau, Bennett, Boukhelifa, Campbell, Cantwell, Chin, Collichio, Connolly, Conway, Copenhaver, Couper, Degener, DeSaix, Dupuis, Eble, Gerber, Gilligan, Glazner, Gulledge, Halloran, Hendrick, Hobbs, Jonas, Kamarei, Kirsch, Kramer, Lastra, Lesneski, Maffly-Kipp, Matson, McGrath, McIntosh, Moss, Murray, Oatley, Orth, Parsons, Pruvost, Rustioni, Sandelowski, Selassie, Silversmith, Strom-Gottfried, Sweeney, Taylor, Temple, Threadgill, Trotman, Votta, Wallace, Wasik, Wegner, Whisnant, Wilson and Wissick.

The following 29 members were granted excused absences: Bagnell, Bangdiwala, Belger, Blocher, Booth, Cairns, Chapman, Dalton, Fisher, Hightow, Huber, Lefebvre, MacLean, Marshall, Matthysse, McCombs, Murphy, Papanikolas, Peirce, Peterson, Rock, Salmon, Saunders, Sulik, Tiwana, Weinberg, Weir, Wilder and Yankaskas.

The following 4 members were absent without excuse: Arnold, Ewend, Keagy and Rosamond.

Welcome, Opening Remarks, and General Questions

Provost Bernadette Gray-Little called the meeting to order in the absence of Chancellor James Moeser, who was leading a delegation visiting Beijing and Shanghai to help develop recommendations for health-care reform in China. The provost said that Carolina is co-sponsoring a conference at Peking University, hosted by the Guanghua School of Management with the assistance of the Carolina Asia Center. This is to be the beginning of a long-term partnership called the PKU-Global Health Forum that will include a similar event in Chapel Hill next year.

The provost said that the Tuition Task Force has recommended tuition increases of $254 for resident undergraduates and $500 for all other students, but she thinks the Board of Trustees will not endorse that recommendation. It has become clear that the trustees want a more aggressive increase for non-residents, she said. In response to that, Chancellor Moeser made a counter-proposal of a $4,000 increase for entering non-resident students in the Class of 2012 (entering in 2007) coupled with a guarantee of no further tuition increases for that Class. There would be a much more modest increase for non-residents already enrolled, she said. We need to settle on a proposal that has broad support among the trustees, she said, before anything can be submitted to the Board of Governors. There has not been as much discussion of tuition for resident undergraduates due to the ceiling imposed by the Board of Governors. In their discussions, the trustees have kept in mind their own policy of not exceeding the 25th percentile of our peers for resident undergraduates, but that we continue to move toward the 75th percentile of peers for nonresidents. The provost said that Carolina is now farther away from the 75th percentile for nonresidents that we were when the trustees established that policy several years ago.

In response to the annual report of the Committee on the Status of Women delivered at the November Council meeting, Provost Gray-Little briefly summarized the gender equity study conducted in 2002. She said that the study found that in the University as a whole and in the great majority of the schools and departments, gender and ethnicity are not significant variables in predicting faculty salaries. The study did identify a need to do follow-up in two clinical departments in the School of Medicine, which she understands to have been done. In response to the study, the Council adopted Resolution 2003-4, which, among other things, calls on each academic unit to submit to the Office of the Provost annual reports on salary structure with regard to gender. This data is now collected annually. The provost said that the Office of the Provost intends to begin annual evaluation of faculty salary data to examine a number of areas of interest, including gender.

Prof. Ed Halloran (Nursing) said that the gender equity indicators in the AAUP’s 2006 “Report on the Economic Status of the Profession” indicate that the situation at Carolina has worsened for full professors since the 2002 study was done. Provost Gray-Little said that we could consider repeating the 2002 study, but that she does not think the research design used in 2002 will fully explain observable differences between salaries for men and women.

In response to a question on her remarks about tuition, Provost Gray-Little said that the Board of Trustees is somewhat ambivalent about increasing graduate student tuition because they are aware that the schools and departments end up absorbing most of that additional cost.

Prof. John Orth (Law) asked whether the $500 increase recommended by the Tuition Task Force would apply to students enrolled in professional school programs (other than Ph.D. programs). The provost said that it would not apply to those students.

Prof. Gregory Copenhaver (Biology) said that an employee of the Biology department had been struck by a bicycle while crossing the street at a marked crosswalk. He reported that the employee was told by the campus police that bicyclists are considered to be pedestrians and, as such, will not be cited for failing to obey pedestrian crossing signals. Prof. Copenhaver said that this is contrary to state law and should be redressed.

University Steering Committee for Worker Health, Safety and Wellness

Mr. Ben Birken briefed the Council on the work being undertaken by the University Steering Committee for Worker Health, Safety and Wellness. A major part of this work will be to make recommendations as to what kinds of programs would be most effective. Mr. Birken said that the committee will be assembling a number of focus groups to aid in that process. Two of the groups will be composed solely of faculty members. The committee expects to complete its report in June, 2007.

Enterprise Resource Planning Process

Ms. Stephanie Szakal, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enterprise Applications, briefed the Council on work that is being done to replace the University’s data processing infrastructure. She said that the problems that underlie the Enterprise Resource Planning Process have three roots: (1) the fragile, aging, and inflexible architecture of our existing systems, (2) technical difficulties that impede functionality, and (3) dysfunctionality of many features of the system architecture. She explained why it is important to begin now to replace this infrastructure. She said that the initial effort will focus exclusively on student records.

Distance Learning at Carolina: An Overview

Provost Gray-Little introduced the topic and the members of the discussion panel. She said that the impetus for this discussion was General Administration’s announcement of plans for establishing a portal for distance education that will allow students from across North Carolina to access distance education opportunities on various campus of the UNC System. This plan has led to a number of questions for our campus centered around how, exactly, we would participate in such a portal and whether and to what extent we would want to encourage our own students to participate in it.

She introduced the panel members, all of whom are involved in distance education from different viewpoints. They were Prof. Larry Band (Geography) who is chairing the Arts & Sciences Distance Learning Committee; Dr. Linda Carl, Associate Director for Distance Education and E-learning Policy at the Friday Center; Prof. Suzanne Havala Hobbs (Health Policy and Administration) who administers an on-line doctoral program in her department; Dean Tom James of the School of Education; Mr. Norman Loewenthal, Director of the Friday Center; and Prof. Bobbi Owen, Senior Associate for Undergraduate Education in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Prof. Joseph Templeton, Chair of the Faculty, posed a number of questions that had been prepared for the panel and asked selected panelists to respond.

Prof. Templeton asked “What is meant by the term distance learning?” Dr. Carl said she prefers the term “distance education,” and defined that as any type of instruction that is not delivered on-campus. Mr. Loewenthal added that the concept includes not only computer-based instruction but traditional classroom instruction at remote locations.

Prof. Templeton asked “What kinds of mechanisms and technologies are used?” Prof. Hobbs said that technologies range from asynchronous methods such as self-paced tutorials to class sessions held in real time via video conferencing equipment. Dr. Carl added that we have a very wide range of technology in use on this campus. Dean James said that distance education was once thought of as “reaching out” to a wider community. Today, we are using the internet to “reach in,” he said.

Prof. Templeton asked, “Who decides what kinds of programs and course are offered through distance learning methods?” Prof. Band said that the College has a faculty committee that decides what courses will be offered online. The committee sees those course as having been planned and conceived by the department that offers them; they are regular courses with the same course number as those offered in campus classrooms. The Friday Center provides delivery services, but the initiative for setting up the courses is entirely at the department level. Mr. Loewenthal affirmed that all critical decisions are made by the department. Dean James said that all School of Education distance learning courses are designed and initiated by the school’s faculty. He added that the school would like to be able involve its doctoral students as instructors of online courses.

Prof. Templeton asked, “Who are the faculty teaching in distance education programs?” Prof. Owen said that the College of Arts and Sciences has been working on a system for identifying instructors of record for all self-paced and online courses. Department chairs are required to sign-off on who will be teaching an online class when it is first approved, but there is no routine review of those approvals. She said that the College recognizes this to be a problem. Dr. Carl said that a wide range of instructors are involved in online instruction in the professional schools. Some of the schools use practitioners for some courses. These are not necessarily tenure-track faculty. Prof. Hobbs said that in the online doctoral program in health policy and administration (DrPH), the full range of available faculty is used, including tenured, fixed-term, and adjunct faculty who are also practitioners. This is a program for working professionals, so it is appropriate to use faculty who are also practitioners. Prof. Band said that in the College of Arts and Sciences, sometimes faculty offering online courses are no longer in residence at Carolina and that is a problem the College needs to address.  Departments, in particular, need to monitor this more closely, and the Distance Learning Committee is looking to identifying who is teaching these courses.

Prof. Templeton asked, “What is the general demographic profile of students taking distance learning courses?” Prof. Owen said that at Commencement 2006 the University awarded 2,847 undergraduate degrees. Of those students, 500 had taken at least one distance learning course. Some took those courses in the summer. While most took only one such course, on student had taken eight of them. The College allows a student who has a full academic load of 12 hours to take one online course in addition. The number of online courses that may be counted toward degree credit is 10. She said that while the College is committed to traditional on-campus education, there is a need for flexibility in special situations. She said that the College is finding that more and more students want to take online courses in the summer. Mr. Loewenthal added that offerings through the Friday Center are primarily for persons who are not regularly enrolled students, but there are special circumstances that make it appropriate for on-campus students to take these courses. He agreed that there is a need for rules and oversight. Prof. Hobbs said that the School of Public Health has several executive programs that target working professionals whose average age is about 40. She said that in some of the online courses she teaches, about 40% of the students are on-campus. Prof. Band said that the increasing interest among undergraduates in taking online courses in the summer has implications for the Summer School. Prof. Hobbs showed a video of a typical online class session in her doctoral program.

Prof. Copenhaver asked whether online students tend to think that the instructor is available to them at all times. Dr. Carl said that this can be problem. Faculty teaching online courses need to learn special classroom management techniques. It is also important to work with an instructional designer. That takes money, and not all departments have the necessary resources.

Prof. Andrew Chin (Law) asked if there was a way to identify demand for online courses in different parts of North Carolina. Prof. Hobbs said that the School of Public Health has done some market research in that regard. Dr. Carl said that it is always necessary to do some research on demand before initiating an online course. Prof. Chin asked whether the University is doing that. Dr. Carl said one of the objectives of General Administration’s initiative is to determine the extent of the need for online instruction and to assess whether the portal they have in mind can meet that demand.

Prof. Suzanne Gulledge (Education) noted that Learn North Carolina had not been mentioned in the discussion. Dean James explained that Learn North Carolina is funded by the General Assembly to serve public school teachers. It doesn’t fit into the definition of distance learning offered by Dr. Carl because it does not generate credit hours.

In response to a question about how credit hours are established for online courses, Dr. Carl said that this is decided by the school or department offering the course. Prof. Owen said that an online couse must be evaluated by the department before it is approved for transcript credit.

Registrar Alice Poehls pointed out that transcripts do not carry a notation as to whether a course was offered online; therefore, we really don’t know from the transcript whether a course from another institution that is accepted for credit was taken online or not.

In response to a question, Dr. Carl said that it is very difficult to determine what promise distance learning courses have for becoming self-sustaining or income-producing. Many of the certificate programs offered by the professional schools are revenue-generating, she said. Provost Gray-Little said that distance learning courses are usually offered “on the model,” which means that they are funded from state funds on the same basis as regular courses. On the other hand, online courses that are not offered for degree credit do not get state funding. Therefore, funding implications depend on whether the course is part of a degree program or not.

Prof. Kim Strom-Gottfried (Social Work) asked whether is national data on degrees that are being earned mainly through online instruction and how this translates into ongoing relationships with traditional university education. Prof. Hobbs said that the School of Public Health tries hard to ensure that students in the online degree programs stay connected with the school. Dr. Carl mentioned Washington State University as an institution that is actively trying to involve these students as alumni.

In response to a question about requests for Carolina to give degree credit for courses taken by distance education from other institutions, Prof. Owen said that when any course from another institution is offered for transcript, the course is vetted when first presented, but is not routinely re-examined thereafter. If a course from another institution has been previously approved, we have no way of knowing whether it was offered online or in an on-campus classroom. Prof. Todd Taylor (English) asked whether it is possible for one of our own students to obtain degree credit for an online course taken from another institution. Prof. Band said that the Distance Learning Committee is aware of this issue and is addressing it. Provost Gray-Little cautioned against extensive use of online courses for credit by regularly enrolled students. She said that we want to ensure that all of our on-campus students have similar experiences. There is also a financial dimension, she said. If General Administration carries through on the pending proposal to base state funding on credit hours, we will lose funding when students obtain transcript credit for courses taken online from other institutions.

Prof. Eileen Parsons (Education) asked how online courses are evaluated. Mr. Loewenthal said that the Friday Center has established evaluation techniques that are similar to those used for on-campus courses. Prof. Band said that the Distance Learning Committee is recommending that each department establish a director of online courses, and that there be a formal evaluation system for them.

Registrar Poehls said that the National Association of Admissions and Records Officers does not support labeling online courses as such on the transcript. Prof. Hobbs added that the School of Public Health treats online courses the same as those taken on campus.


Its business having been completed, the Council adjourned at 5:00 p.m.

Joseph S. Ferrell
Secretary of the Faculty


Pdf of meeting materials

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