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Meeting of the Faculty Council

Friday, December 12, 2008, 3:00 p.m.
Hitchcock Multipurpose Room
Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

Professor Joe Templeton, Chair of the Faculty, presiding


3:00   Provost’s Remarks and Question Period

  • Provost Bernadette Gray-Little

3:15   An Overview of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication

  • Prof. Jean Folkerts, Dean

3:45   Remarks from the Student Body President

  • J. J. Raynor

4:00   Chancellor’s Remarks and Question Period

  • Chancellor Holden Thorp

4:15   Current Issues before the UNC System Faculty Assembly

4:45   Committee Reports

5:00   Adjourn


The Faculty Council of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill convened at 3:00 p.m. in the Hitchcock Multipurpose Room of the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History.

The following 53 members of the Council attended: Aaron, Adamson, Ashby, Bagnell, Bechtel, Blackburn, Blalock, Blocher,  P. Brown, Catellier, Chin, Conway, Copenhaver, Cornell, Desaix, Earp, Egan, Gerber, Gulledge, Guskiewicz, Halloran, Hartnett, Hendrick, Hodges, Kelly, Kendall, Kramer, Lee, Lesneski, Lopez, Maffly-Kipp, Mauro, Morris-Natschke, Oatley, Papanikolas, Paquette, Renner, Rhodes, Richardson, Sheldon, Shields, Shomaker, Stein, Stotts, Sweeney, Temple, Tobin, Toews, Van Tilburg, Wallace,  Weinberg, Wilder and Williams.

The following 31 members were granted excused  absences: Andrews, Bickford, Binotti, Bloom, Brice, J. Brown, Campbell,  Dilworth-Anderson, Ernst, Guskiewicz, Heenan, Hightow, Hobbs, Katznelson, Kirsch, Koroluk, LeFebvre, Leonard, Melamut, Moss, O’Connell-Edwards, Orth, Pruvost, Quinonez, Rodgers,  Saunders, Schoenfisch, Thorp, Visser, Waski and Whisnant.

The following 7 members were absent without excuse: Adler, Boukhelifa, Coleman, McCombs, Orth, Rosamond, Sweet and Verkerk.

Call to Order

Prof. Joseph Templeton, Chair of the Faculty, called the meeting to order promptly at 3:00 p.m. He announced that Chancellor Holden Thorp would arrive late due to another engagement.

Presentation on the School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Prof. Templeton introduced Dean Jean Folkerts for a  presentation on the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JOMC).

Dean Folkerts said that the school is now being challenged to  prepare students for a changed media environment. The newspaper industry, in particular, is in disarray. Today’s students do not put as much value on print media as previous generations; they obtain information from a wide variety of sources. Consequently, the industry is now looking to journalism schools more  for research findings than as a source of employees who can be hired for relatively low wages.

The dean said that JOMC has a faculty complement of 48, with 44 on the tenure track and four in fixed-term appointments. The tenure-track faculty are focused in two tracks. Faculty in the concept-theory track hold Ph.D. degrees and engage in social science research. Those in the professional track are drawn from the profession and are rewarded for excellence in teaching and recognition in the profession. Recently, JOMC has hired 12 new faculty members. Of these, two were targeted minority hires, two were hires in graphics and multimedia, and two specialize in digital media. Others replace some of the 10 faculty who retired or left for other employment. The curriculum, Dean Folkerts said, has been revised to address cross-platform and digital issues, as well as to offer more undergraduate courses on-line. JOMC enrolls 800 undergraduates and 100 graduate students.

Dean Folkerts said that at one time JOMC did not place great emphasis on research. This is changing in response to the expressed needs of the industry. The school also considers service to North Carolina to be important. One example is the school’s program in scholastic journalism conducted in conjunction with high schools across the state.

The dean concluded by describing JOMC’s participation in the Carnegie-Knight Initiative through which 12 journalism schools across the nation are focusing on 21st century challenges to the profession.

Provost’s Remarks

Provost Bernadette Gray-Little reported on several senior administrator searches:

  • The search for Director of the Renaissance Computing Institute is close to identifying a list of candidates to be invited  to campus for interviews.
  • The search for Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences has not yet reached the point of narrowing candidates down to an  interview list.
  • The search for Dean of the School of Nursing expects to identify finalists in January.
  • Dean Jose-Marie Griffiths has decided not to seek reappointment as Dean of the School of Information and Library Science. The search committee will be chaired by Dean John Stamm and will begin work in January.

On the budget front, the Provost reported that General  Administration has asked that each institution submit scenarios in anticipation  of reductions in state appropriations of three percent, five percent, and seven  percent. All academic and support units have been asked to report how they  would respond to state funds reductions of these magnitudes.

Provost Gray-Little spoke at length about the initiative originating in General Administration to move to a system-wide method of  computing tuition charges by credit hour. This discussion began about ten years  ago, she said, and seems to have arisen from discussions on issues surrounding the growth of on-line course offerings and transfer of recognition of credits for such instruction among the sixteen campuses. Currently, tuition at Carolina is set at fixed rates for full-time in-state and out-of-state students without regard to the number of credit hours taken. Students enrolled on half-time status pay a lower rate, but it is not strictly proportional to credit hours taken. General Administration has wanted for several years to move to the credit hour model for three principal reasons: (1) greater transparency in accounting for tuition charges; (2) a stronger relationship between course load and tuition charges; and (3) facilitation of tuition charges for distance education work. The Provost said that Carolina has been vocal in opposing the credit-hour model for the last four or five years. We think it is inconsistent with the culture of this institution, she said, and would act as a disincentive  to students who would otherwise explore courses not required for the degree they are seeking. She said that General Administration has accommodated all of the objections Carolina has advanced except those based on our educational philosophy.

The Provost said that the on-going controversy about the credit-hour tuition model is now at a critical juncture due to the impending implementation of the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System. The time has come to decide whether to design the software to administer the current system of computing tuition or to move to the credit-hour model. Once that decision is made, implementation would be a year or two into the future. The Provost said that Assoc. Provost Elmira Mangum is now visiting each school to gather information for determining the appropriate credit-hour tuition charge for that unit. This will be a difficult task, she said, because the goal will be to set  figures that are revenue-neutral.

Prof. Gregory Copenhaver (Biology) asked what overall financial impact the credit-hour model will have, and whether there are ways to forestall disincentives for double majors and undergraduate research. The Provost replied that the average course load for undergraduates is 14.7 credit hours per semester. Every effort will be made to ensure that the new model generates the same amount of tuition revenue as the current plan, i.e., that it will be revenue-neutral. She said that it would be very difficult if not  impossible to address advantages or disadvantages from the vantage point of any particular student.

In response to a question from Prof. Joy Renner (Allied  Health Sciences) the Provost said that the current system for tuition  surcharges in certain circumstances would continue unchanged.

Prof. Judith Wegner (Law), Chair of the UNC Faculty Assembly, reported that the Faculty Assembly plans to consider a resolution at its January meeting expressing concern about the credit-hour model and urging further study. The Provost replied that Carolina has made the case against the plan repeatedly without success. It is not possible, she said, to program the ERP software to implement both systems. Prof. Wegner said that rumor has it that Carolina is on board with the new plan. The Provost replied that any such rumor is false.

Prof. Douglas Kelly (Statistics & Operations Research), seconded by Prof. Jean DeSaix (Biology), moved that the rules be suspended to the end that the Council might entertain a resolution on the subject of tuition computation methods. The motion was adopted unanimously.

Prof. Kelly, seconded by Prof. DeSaix, moved adoption of the  following resolution.

Resolution 2008-5. On Tuition Computation Methods

Resolved, that it is the unanimous sentiment of the Faculty  Council of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that the block method of computing tuition is preferable to the proposed credit-hour system.

The resolution was adopted without dissent.

Chancellor Thorp said that he strongly supports the resolution, but that a decision to implement the credit-hour model seems  inevitable. “We have no choice,” he said.

Moving to another topic, Prof. Templeton asked whether the faculty will have input on budget reduction decisions. The Provost replied that the University Priorities and Budget Advisory Committee will be consulted, and  that faculty should also have input at the school and department level. She welcomed suggestions about the overall approach to this matter.

Greetings from the President of the Student Body

President J.J. Raynor brought greetings to the Council from  the executive branch of Student Government. She said that students agree that the credit-hour model of computing tuition is not in the overall best interest of students. She mentioned placing a minimum cap on tuition at a somewhat lower level than the current average credit-hour load as a means of avoiding disadvantage to double majors and students doing undergraduate research.

President Raynor reported briefly on an effort she is undertaking jointly with Trustee John Ellison to develop a strategic plan for  the University for the next four to five years. She said that the focus is on three areas: (1) faculty recruitment and support; (2) recruitment of undergraduate and graduate students; and (3) continued curricular innovation. She said that a final report will be presented to the Trustees in May. She also reported that she has assembled a team of students from the honorary societies to develop proposals for making academic endeavors challenging for students.

Prof. Renner asked whether student government has addressed the needs of students whose parents have lost their jobs in the current economic crisis. Ms. Raynor said that she is working with the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid on this. So far, financial aid applications have increased by only 2.2 percent, she said.

Chancellor’s Remarks

Chancellor Thorp began by reporting on recent decisions on tuition increase recommendations. He said that the Board of Trustees has  approved the recommendation of this year’s Tuition Task Force for tuition increases of $240 for in-state undergraduates, $1,150 for out-of-state undergraduates, and $400 for graduate students. Of these increases 35 percent will be allocated to need-based student aid. The remainder will be used for faculty salaries, class size reduction, and program enhancement. He said that  this was the first time in many years that the student member of the Board of Trustees, i.e., the President of the Student Body, has voted for a tuition increase. He noted that final action on all tuition increases goes to the Board  of Governors.

The Chancellor reported that he has agreed to Thursday night  football games in Chapel Hill but only during Fall Break. He noted that the Atlantic Coast Conference requires each member school to play at least one  football game on Thursday night each year. So far, we have been able to meet that requirement with “away” games, but that may not always be possible. He  said that he is sympathetic with those who oppose Thursday football games in  Chapel Hill under any circumstances, but he thinks most of the objections are obviated by scheduling such a game during Fall Break. He reiterated our opposition to scheduling football games on class days.

Prof. Richard Weinberg (Cell & Developmental Biology) said that it is disturbing that the ACC requires Thursday night games.  Chancellor Thorp replied that the ACC sets all football and basketball schedules, and that we have one vote out of twelve. [It has been pointed out in  previous Council debates on this topic that few of the ACC schools have football stadiums situated in central campus and thus are not as adversely impacted by game day traffic and noise as is Carolina.]

Prof. Ritchie Kendall (English & Comparative Literature) asked whether, in the current budget reduction situation, the University is considering giving salary increases to tenure-track faculty while laying off fixed-term  faculty. Chancellor Thorp replied that this was a possibility. The Provost said that she would try to avoid that. The Chancellor replied that he was not prepared to give any “hard and fast promises” in that regard.

Current Issues before the UNC Faculty Assembly

Prof. Wegner said that her tenure as Chair of the UNC Faculty Assembly has given her an opportunity to visit other UNC campuses and to gain insights into faculty governance across the System. She said that governance practices at Carolina are more mature and developed than is the case on many campuses. Historically, the Faculty Assembly has focused on information exchange, advising, and capacity building, she said.

Prof. Wegner briefly reviewed the Assembly’s areas of focus this year: fixed-term faculty issues (compensation, role in governance, academic freedom), the state budget situation and its possible effects on faculty retention, distance education, UNC Tomorrow, and developing shared  governance structures on younger campuses. With regard to fixed-term faculty issues, Prof. Wegner noted that in January, Harold Martin, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, will appoint a committee that will include faculty representatives to examine  faculty staffing patterns across the system. She commended the Chapel Hill campus for the attention it is giving  fixed-term faculty concerns.

Prof. Wegner reported briefly on the Assembly’s discussion of issues raised by an incident at the North Carolina State University “free speech tunnel” in which several students (who have been identified) painted offensive and racist remarks directed toward President-Elect Barack Obama. She said that President Erskine Bowles is constituting a task force to address appropriate responses to this and other instances of hate speech and other disruptive and offensive instances of public expression.

Prof. Lloyd Kramer (History) asked whether other campuses share Carolina’s concern about the credit-hour model for tuition computation. Prof. Wegner replied that the Assembly’s Executive Committee is strongly opposed to this move. She said that it is being driven by financial convenience, not educational considerations, and she will be doing whatever she can to head it off.

Prof. Templeton asked at what point Prof. Wegner thought it would be most effective for faculty to provide input on budget cuts. Prof. Wegner replied that when she was dean of the School of Law she had tried to educate the faculty on the school’s budget, and had found that the faculty often are not aware of the constraints under which budgets are developed and administered. She thought that more training for department chairs in this and other aspects of administration is needed.

Annual Report of the Faculty Assembly Delegation

Prof. Templeton presented the report by title.

Prof. Suzanne Gulledge (Education) noted that the report  mentioned consideration of issues related to non-tenure track faculty. She asked for more information. Prof. Wegner replied that General Administration plans to establish a committee or task force in January to address these  matters.

Prof. DeSaix remarked that everyone seems to be studying  non-tenure track faculty, but that it is not clear who has authority to  implement changes. Prof. Templeton said that the big picture is very complex  and that he thinks we need to choose one or two discrete targets for in-depth scrutiny. The Provost observed that differences in the ways non-tenure track  faculty are treated on the various campus of the UNC System are truly profound. She said that there are situations where fixed-term faculty are treated very badly indeed, and that implementation of change involves deep-seated cultural  characteristics on the particular campus, which is a greater problem than simply finding out what kind of change might be possible. She also observed  that finding a way to address the career and job security concerns of fixed-term faculty without turning those appointments into tenure-track  positions is a very difficult legal issue.

Prof. Renner ask for comment about community college transfer  students. She said that in her experience there is great variation in student  ability and that grades are an insufficient indication of the student’s ability to succeed at Carolina. Prof. Wegner replied that we need better institutional  research on this issue.

Annual Report of the Faculty Executive Committee

Prof. Templeton filed the report by title. There were no questions.


Its business having been completed, the Council adjourned at  4:47 p.m.

Joseph S. Ferrell
Secretary of the Faculty

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