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Meeting of the Faculty Council

Friday, February 20, 2009, 3:00 p.m.
Hitchcock Multipurpose Room
Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

Chancellor Holden Thorp
Professor Joe Templeton, Chair of the Faculty


3:00   Chancellor’s Remarks and Question Period

  • Chancellor Holden Thorp

3:15   Resolution 2009-1. On Recognizing the Accomplishments of George Moses Horton

  • Presented by the Honorary Degrees and Special Awards Committee (Prof. Hodding Carter, Chair; resolution presented by Prof. Joseph Ferrell)

3:20   Discontinuation of Computer-Based Training

  • Mr. Charlie Green, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Teaching and Learning, Information Technology Services

3:25   Committee Report: Administrative Board of the Library

  • Prof. Reid Barbour, Chair

3:35   Committee Report: Undergraduate Admissions Committee

  • Mr. Steve Farmer and Prof. Bobbi Owen, co-chairs

3:50   Panel Discussion with Prof. Tony Waldrop:  Centers and Institutes at UNC

4:35   Closed session: Honorary Degrees and Special Awards Committee Report

  • Nominees for 2010 Honorary Degrees (Faculty Council access only)
  • Prof. Hodding Carter, Chair

4:40   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 52 members of the Council attended: Aaron, Adamson, Bagnell, Bangdiwala, Bechtel, Bickford, Blackburn, Blalock, Blocher, J. Brown, P. Brown, Catellier, Chin, Conway, Cornell, Earp, Egan, Gulledge, Halloran, Heenan, Hendrick, Hodges, Kelly, Kirsch, Lopez, Maffly-Kipp, Mauro, Melamut, Morris-Natschke, Moss, Oatley, Orth, Papanikolas, Pruvost, Quinonez, Renner, Rodgers, Saunders, Schoenfisch, Sheldon, Shields, Stein, Stotts, Sweeney, Sweet, Tobin, Toews, Van Tilburg, Vernon-Feagans, Visser, Weinberg and Whisnant.

The following 31 members were granted excused absences: Andrews, Ashby, Balthrop, Binotti, Bloom, Brice, Campbell, Copenhaver, Desaix, Dilworth-Anderson, Ernst, Gerber, Hartnett, Hightow, Katznelson, Kendall, Koroluk, Kramer, Lee, LeFebvre, Leonard, Lesneski, Paquette, Parsons, Rhodes, Richardson, Shomaker, Temple, Wallace, Wilder and Williams.

The following 9 members were absent without excuse: Adler, Boukhelifa, Coleman, Hobbs, McCombs, O”Connell-Edwards, Rosamond, Thorp and Verkerk.

Call to Order and Chancellor’s Remarks

Prof. Joseph Templeton, Chair of the Faculty, called the meeting to order promptly at 3:00 p.m.

Chancellor Thorp acknowledged the death on February 19 of Paul Frederick Sharp, chancellor of the University from 1964 to 1966. Chancellor Sharp is remembered for his vow to “make the rediscovery of the student” the theme of his administration, and his courageous opposition to the Speaker Ban Law. He left Chapel Hill to become president of Drake University and later of the University of Oklahoma.

Turning to the University’s finances, Chancellor Thorp said that while we are in difficult circumstances due to current and anticipated reductions in state funding, matters have not gotten profoundly worse. He said that while we are gearing up to make difficult decisions, we are still waiting a number of details, among which are (1) the exact dimensions of Governor Beverly Perdue’s as yet undisclosed budget recommendations; (2) the uncertainty of the fiscal 2009-10 revenue forecast which depends on data on actual revenue collections that will not be known until the April 15 income tax filing deadline has passed; (3) exactly how the federal stimulus legislation just enacted will impact North Carolina and the University; and (4) when the decline in the value of the endowment will stabilize so that confident revenue projections from that source can be made. Having acknowledged the seriousness of the situation, the Chancellor said he is giving the following reassurances:

  • He is resolutely determined not to declare a state of financial exigency, which means that tenured faculty cannot be terminated, nor can fixed-term faculty be discharged before expiration of their terms of appointment.
  • Tenure-track faculty not yet having permanent tenure can be confident that financial considerations will have no effect on their tenure decisions when the time arrives.
  • The University’s central administration will be subject to the same degree of budget cuts, if not greater, as the academic units.
  • If the University secures permission from the General Assembly and General  Administration to consider furloughs as one means of coping with state funding reductions, the faculty should know that the vice chancellors and deans will support such a move and that he would be committed to a furlough system that affects highly paid employees to a greater extent that those at the lower end of the scale.
  • It is true that some University managers are contemplating layoffs of non-faculty employees; he and Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone have worked to create an Employee Assistance Fund with a principal of $445,000 comprising $250,000 from an unrestricted estate gift, $75,000 made available by cancelling this year’s Tar Heel Bus Tour, $100,000 contributed by the Department of Athletics, and a $25,000 personal gift from Patti and Holden Thorp.

The Chancellor said that most of the truly difficult decisions are likely to be made during the summer after the state budget has been finalized. He was worried, he said, about the potential lack of faculty advice needed at a time when many faculty members are not on campus, but was pleased to learn that one of the reasons for creation of the Faculty Executive Committee (which meets year-round) was to provide just such a forum. He pledged that he will continue to work with the Executive Committee, the Employee Forum, and Student Government over the summer.
Turning to the Campus Alert System, the Chancellor said that a recent bomb hoax had pointed up the need for some fine-tuning of the system and that the Emergency Management Committee has been meeting to do just that.

Prof. Scott Kirsch (Geography) asked for comment on the Efficiency and Effectiveness Project being undertaken by Bain & Company. The Chancellor replied that this study is being funded by an anonymous gift made through the UNC Foundation. It is directed at the University’s business procedures, such as human resources, information technology, development, and purchasing. The scope of work does not include any evaluation of course content or other educational activities.  He said that the final report would be made public and that the University will not be obligated to accept its recommendations. When Bain has done this kind of study in the private sector, he said, about 60% of its recommendations are typically accepted.

Prof. Templeton noted that plans are in place to be more stringent in controlling expenditures at the detailed line-item level. In the past, expenditures have been strictly controlled only at the personnel/non-personnel level.

Prof. George Sheldon (Surgery) asked for comment on the possibility of loosening strictures on expenditure of endowment funds. Chancellor Thorp replied that North Carolina state law now provides that when the value of an endowment declines to below the value of the original gift, nothing can be spent from it. In other words, only income can be spent; there can be no invasion of principal under any circumstances unless the donor agrees. This requirement especially affects recent gifts. He said that the University is supporting a bill recently introduced in the General Assembly that would replace the current law with the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act. This legislation allows more freedom of action and has been adopted by about half of the states.

Turning to the federal stimulus legislation, the Chancellor said that we have few details at the moment but there appears to be good news in that research funding will probably increase. He thought that it might be necessary to add temporary staff in the Office of Sponsored Research to handle additional federal research funds.

Finally, Chancellor Thorp mentioned the recent Council discussion on setting tuition by the credit hour. He had said in December that he opposed the idea, but had agreed to it under the impression that General Administration was adamant on the subject. After the Council discussion, and the resolution moved by Prof. Judith Wegner (Law), he said that he had raised the subject again with President Erskine Bowles. After thinking over their conversation, President Bowles agreed to make the change optional. At that point, the Chancellor said that he decided that Carolina would not change our current practices.

Honoring George Moses Horton

Prof. Joseph Ferrell, on behalf of the Committee on Honorary Degrees and Special Awards, laid before the Council the following resolution:

Resolution 2009-1. On Recognizing the Accomplishments of George Moses Horton

The Faculty Council resolves

Let it be known that George Moses Horton, having been prevented by the institution of slavery from pursuing formal education during his lifetime, but nevertheless having demonstrated accomplishments worthy of admission to the degree of Bachelor of Arts, we, the chancellor and faculty of the University, have deemed him worthy of enrollment among those upon whom that degree has been hitherto conferred.
Prof Ferrell explained that the Committee had been asked to seek a waiver of the trustee rule against awarding posthumous honorary degrees in the case of George Moses Horton (1797-1883). Mr. Horton had been born into slavery in Northampton County and relocated as a child to Chatham County. As a young man, he formed associations with students and faculty at the University that led to a remarkable career as a published poet and writer. Horton’s Hope of Liberty was the first book published in the South by an African-American man. Instead of an honorary degree, the Committee recommended that Horton’s accomplishments be formally recognized by the Faculty Council in manner that does not establish a precedent for posthumous honorary degrees. Prof. Ferrell said that the nominator had suggested that this resolution, if adopted, be printed, framed, and placed on display in Horton Hall.

The resolution was adopted without dissent.

Discontinuation of Computer-Based Training

Mr. Charles Green, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Teaching and Learning, Information Technology Services, reported that the computer-based training program had been discontinued. There were no questions.

Annual Report of the Administrative Board of the Library

Prof. Reid Barbour (English & Comparative Literature), Chair of the Administrative Board of the Library presented the board’s annual report.

Prof. Jane Brown (Journalism & Mass Communication) asked about the proposed relocation of the Center for Faculty Excellence to Davis Library. Prof. Barbour replied that there has been some concern about locating administrative functions in Davis, and that the state Department of Insurance had raised insurmountable obstacles. University Librarian Sarah Michalak added that the Department of Insurance will not approve any further modifications of Davis Library because it lacks a sprinkler system.

Annual Report of the Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Admissions

Senior Associate Dean Bobbi Owen presented the Annual Report of the Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Admissions.
Prof. Ed Halloran (Nursing) asked for comment on the number of African-American students who enroll. Director of Admissions Steve Farmer said that the number of enrollees in this category has remained steady over time at the rate of between 400 and 440 annually. This has consistently placed Carolina either first, second, or third nationally in the percentage of African-American students in the first year class. He agreed that he would like to see improvement, but noted that we have done well in competition with Duke, Johns Hopkins, and Ivy League institutions.

Prof. Brown asked whether we anticipate increasing first year admissions in view of the budget situation. Mr. Farmer replied that this year’s class will be a bit larger than last year’s. We do not know yet, he added, whether enrollment growth funding will be forthcoming from the General Assembly for 2009-10. Chancellor Thorp added that as long as enrollment growth funding continues, we will continue slight enrollment growth, but that projections to grow to 30,000 or more students are definitely on hold.

Panel Discussion on Centers and Institutes

Prof. Templeton introduced a panel discussion on the role of centers and institutes in the University. The panelists were Vice Chancellor Tony Waldrop, Dean Jack Richman (School of Social Work), Dean Barbara Rimer (Gillings School of Public Health), and Prof. Barbara Entwistle (Carolina Population Center).

Vice Chancellor Waldrop opened the discussion by pointing out that centers and institutes serve as homes for focused areas of research, typically multi-disciplinary in nature. Some have roles in public service or policy development, such as the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center or the Institute for Marine Sciences. All of them attract considerable research funding. He said that the terms “center” and “institute” are interchangeable and do not connote differences in mission, organization, or administrative location within the University. Some, such as the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, are administratively a part of one of the professional schools (these are informally called small “c” centers); others, such as the Sheps Center for Health Serivces Research, are administratively independent (and are informally called large “C” centers).

Vice Chancellor Waldrop said that the University houses at least 80 centers and institutes at one level or another. In almost all cases, faculty have their primary appointments in an academic department (one major exception is the Institute of Marine Sciences). Others, such as the Frank Porter Graham Center, appoint many researchers to EPA Non-Faculty positions without primary faculty appointments.

Prof. Templeton asked the panel to respond to how heading a school or department differs from directing a center or institute.

Dean Richman replied that a school or department has faculty who are expected to teach and undertake service as well as conduct research. Centers and institutes do not, on the whole, engage in teaching or have student advising responsibilities. Schools have a much broader mission. He pointed out that when a member of his faculty affiliates with a center and works exclusively for that entity, they are drawn away from the core mission of the school.

Prof. Entwistle said that a center director’s job is much more fun than a department chair’s. She said the Population Center’s mission is to facilitate faculty research. The Center collaborates with schools and departments and has 55 elected faculty fellows. The fellows are equally balanced between the health sciences and the social sciences.

Prof. James Peacock (Anthropology) observed that all of the top universities in the nation have a richness of centers. He asked whether there is validity to the argument that centers siphon off funds from regular academic departments, and whether there are good arguments to be made against encouraging their proliferation.

Dean Rimer said that one of the major reasons for creation of a center or institute is to facilitate interdisciplinary cooperation. But, she added, sometimes there is a temptation to create a new center as a means of retaining a faculty member who is being recruited by another institute. She thought the University needs to be careful about doing that too often.

Vice Chancellor Waldrop observed that universities are good at starting things, but not so good at stopping things. He said that the Provost has recently established a routine procedure for periodic evaluation of each center or institute as an entity in addition to five-year review of center and institute directors.

Dean Richman said sometimes faculty associated with centers or institutes are not clear about their institutional status in attributions in their scholarly work. He said that he does not like it when a faculty member whose primary appointment is in the School of Social Work fails to credit the school when grants are received or articles published. He said that this problem has now been addressed, but was an irritant when he first became dean.

Vice Chancellor Waldrop said that research funding reports are sometimes presented by academic home department and sometimes by the entity that is administering the grant.

Prof. Entwistle said that the Population Center likes for the home department to take credit for work being done through the Center.

Dean Rimer said that it is easy for departments with scarce resources to think that they might benefit by “bringing the dollars back home,” but in cooperation with Prof. Entwistle she has found that working to increase the total is much more productive.

Prof. Templeton asked about resource re-distribution by centers and institutes; how are departmental teaching responsibilities affected, for example?

Prof. Entwistle said that her teaching responsibilities are unaffected by her position as director of the Population Center.
Dean Rimer said that she has heard department chairs complain about center service interfering with teaching, but she has no evidence that this is a major problem.

Vice Chancellor Waldrop said that this concern is something to be settled by the department chair or dean; it is not something to be addressed at the University level.

Dean Richman said that the School of Social Work has a 2/2 teaching load expectation. Faculty members who get grants are allowed to “buy” themselves out of up to three courses. This means that those who are fully grant funded are teaching only one course per year. He said that faculty members who are not that productive in terms of grants may well think that they are pulling more of the load insofar as teaching is concerned.

An unidentified Council member asked how one becomes affiliated with a center or institute.

Prof. Entwistle said that this depends on the unit. At the Population Center, faculty members are both nominated and elected by a majority of the current fellows. More commonly, membership in a center or institute is by appointment of the director. A faculty member who is interested simply asks for the appointment.

Vice Chancellor Waldrop agreed. He said that in most cases one simply approaches the director if one is working in a field relevant to the center or institute’s mission.

Prof. Brown pointed out that a central committee evaluates requests to establish new centers and institutes that are not completely housed within an existing academic unit. To start the process, one simply contacts one’s immediate administrative superior.

Prof. Templeton asked whether one could say that the most significant intellectual developments at the University originate in centers and institutes and, if so, is that due to cause or effect?
Vice Chancellor Waldrop replied that he did not think intellectual fertility is more closely associated with any particular type of entity.

Dean Richman said “you’re playing with semantics; faculty members create ideas and centers bring them together.”

Honorary Degrees for Commencement 2010

The Faculty Council went into closed session to consider award of honorary degrees.

Prof. Hodding Carter (Public Policy), Chair of the Committee on Honorary Degrees and Special Awards, presented five nominees for honorary degrees to be awarded at Commencement 2010. Each nominee was approved.

The Faculty Council returned to open session.


Its business having been completed, the Council adjourned at 4:38 p.m.

Joseph S. Ferrell
Secretary of the Faculty

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