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Meeting of the Faculty Council

Friday, November 7, 2008, 3:00 p.m.
Hitchcock Multipurpose Room
Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

Chancellor Holden Thorp and Professor Joe Templeton, Chair of the Faculty, presiding


3:00 Chancellor’s Remarks and Question Period

  • Chancellor Holden Thorp

3:15 Provost’s Remarks and Question Period

  • Provost Bernadette Gray-Little

3:30   UNC System Budget Outlook

  • Rob Nelson, Vice President for Finance, UNC System

4:00   Understanding the Millennium Generation of Students

  • Winston Crisp, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

4:30   Committee Reports

4:55   Presentation of Nominees for 2009 Distinguished Alumnus/a Awards (closed session)

  • Prof. Joseph Ferrell, Secretary of the Faculty

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 58 members of the Council attended: Aaron, Adamson, Bagnell, Bechtel, Bickford, Binotti, Blalock, Blocher, Bloom,  Boukhelifa, Conway, Copenhaver, Cornell, DeSaix, Egan, Gerber, Gulledge, Guskiewicz, Hartnett, Heenan, Hendrick, Kelly, Kendall, Kramer, Lee, LeFebvre, Leonard, Maffly-Kipp, Melamut, Moss, O’Connell-Edwards, Orth, Papanikolas,  Paquette, Parsons, Pruvost, Renner, Richardson, Rodgers, Saunders, Schoenfisch, Sheldon, Shields, Shomaker, Stein, Stotts, Sweeney, Sweet, Tobin, Toews, Verkerk, Visser, Wallace, Wasik, Weinberg, Whisnant, Wilder and Williams.

The following 29 members were granted excused absences: Andrews, Blackburn, Brice, J. Brown, P. Brown, Campbell, Chin, Coleman, Dilworth-Anderson, Earp, Ernst, Halloran, Hightow, Hobbs, Hodges, Katznelson, Kirsch, Koroluk, Lesneski, Lopez, Mauro, McCombs, Morris-Natschke, Oatley, Quinonez, Rhodes, Temple, Thorp and Van Tilburg.

The following 4 members were absent without excuse: Adler, Ashby, Catellier and Rosamond.

Call to Order

Chancellor Holden Thorp called the meeting to order promptly at 3:00 p.m.

Chancellor’s Remarks

Referring to his recent email to the University community about the state budget situation, Chancellor Thorp assured the Council that we are working collaboratively with President Erskine Bowles and the Office of State Budget and Management to manage the necessary reductions in state funding in ways that will have the least possible impact on the University’s core academic mission. There are no cross-purpose activities going on that complicate the situation, he said. Responses to his email have been very  reassuring. The Chancellor noted the following causes for optimism: (1) Carolina is in a much better financial position that most public institutions in other states; (2) private institutions are in more difficult situations due to their heavier reliance on investment returns; and (3) economic downturns often mean increases in student enrollment at all levels and a consequent  increase in tuition receipts. He said that the 5% state budget reduction totals $25 million and is being met so far from non-recurring appropriations for purposes such as repairs and renovation and planning for future capital improvements. Projects already under contract are being funded by financial instruments that will be issued on schedule. The Chancellor said that he is looking hard for funding sources for repair and renovation projects that are essential to keep existing programs in operation for 2009-10.

The Chancellor concluded his remarks on a happy note by announcing that that funding of contracts and grants is running 10% ahead of last year.

Provost’s Remarks

Provost Bernadette Gray-Little added that while the endowment has experienced a loss, our endowment fund’s performance has been better than many of our peer institutions due to its relatively conservative investment strategies.

The Provost called attention to the Faculty Mentoring Awards  sponsored by the Carolina Women’s Leadership Council and asked for nominations. These awards recognize faculty members who “go the extra mile” to mentor students and junior faculty. One award is given for faculty-to-student mentoring and another for faculty-to-faculty mentoring. Each recipient receives  $5,000. The deadline for nominations is January 28, 2009.

UNC System Budget Outlook

Robert O. Nelson, Vice President for Finance of The  University of North Carolina, briefed the Council on the overall financing of  the UNC System and UNC-Chapel Hill’s portion of the totals. His His PowerPoint presentation is posted on the Faculty Governance website.

Prof. Richard Whisnant (Government) asked why expansion budget requests targeted for environmental issues experienced disappointing results in the legislative budget process. Mr. Nelson replied that General Administration did not receive as many good requests as anticipated and those which did come in tended to be heavy on administration and low on impact.

Prof. Diane Leonard (English & Comparative Literature) asked about the condition of the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System. Mr. Nelson replied that he does not conduct routine analyses of TSERS, but he thinks that it is well managed and that there is no danger of crisis there.

Prof. George Sheldon (Surgery) asked whether North Carolina’s bond rating has suffered. Mr. Nelson replied that while North Carolina bonds had been down-rated a few years ago, our AAA rating has now been restored. He said that campus-specific revenue bonds have experienced increased ratings and that the UNC System has done a good job of managing relatively low debt.

Prof. Joe Templeton (Chair of the Faculty) observed that when UNC Tomorrow was being developed, it was not entirely clear how tightly budget requests would be mapped to its recommendations. He asked for comment. Mr. Nelson replied that the UNC System has always had a long-range plan, but that campus budget requests have tended to be developed solely from a local  perspective. He said that UNC Tomorrow provides a system-wide map; slavish compliance with its goals and objective is not required, but it will become an influential road map.

Prof. Lloyd Kramer (History) asked whether a change in gubernatorial administrations has much impact on the UNC System; will a new governor bring new priorities to the table? Mr. Nelson replied that insofar as concerns higher education he doesn’t expect to see much difference in emphasis between Governor Easley and Governor-elect Perdue; both are friends of the University and both appreciate our impact on the state’s economy. He added that the University needs to build more support in the state House of Representatives; for many years we have relied mainly on our base of support in the state Senate.

Prof. Laurie Maffly-Kipp (Religious Studies) asked whether we could expect that budget cuts in response to the economy might mean enrollment freezes. Mr. Nelson replied that there is always a tension between managing  growth and budget availability, but that quality is the driving force. Chancellor Thorp added that there is no basis in fact to the belief held by some that General Administration intends to dictate Carolina’s enrollment policies.

Prof. Richard Weinberg (Cell and Developmental Biology) questioned Mr. Nelson’s data indicating seemingly low percentage of income from institutional receipts. Mr. Nelson pointed out that his data does not include receipts of UNC Hospitals.

Understanding the Millennium Generation of Students

Mr. Winston Crisp, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, spoke to the Council about the current generation of students. He said that his presentation grows out of a recent meeting with the Faculty Executive Committee where, at the request of Prof. Templeton, he had talked about his experience in understanding the pressures and stresses felt by today’s students—the Millennium Generation.

Mr. Crisp said that he would focus on three categories: technology, driven stress, and mom and dad.

Technology. Mr. Crisp said that the Millennium Generation lives in a completely different technological world that the one in which most of the faculty grew up. They are in communication with others around the clock. He said that it is not unusual  for him to receive a student’s email message at 3:00 a.m. and for the sender to expect a prompt response. They are also accustomed to multi-tasking and get most of their news from the web, not from television or newspapers. Today’s students have a staggering breadth of knowledge, he said, but depth of knowledge may be rather shallow.

Driven stress. Mr. Crisp said that the Millennium Generation is much more pushed and driven to succeed than its predecessors. The level of accomplishment of entering students is almost staggering. We have a group of students, he said, who think that good  grades are not good enough; extra-curricular accomplishments are needed to set one apart from the crowd. Our students today are extremely ambitious and their drive to succeed is enormous. On the whole, the Millennium Generation at Carolina has little or no experience with or concept of failure; they are often not able to cope with their first B grade or their first lost election. They are a generation that has grown up in an environment where no one is left off the team and, as students at the top of their peer group, they have never faced failure to reach their goals.

Mom and Dad. Mr. Crisp said that the greatest influence on students of the Millennium Generation is their parents. Gone are the days when Mom and Dad dropped Junior off at his dormitory and headed home. Today, parents move in the furniture, make the beds, and negotiate agreements with roommates. Some students are in contact with  their parents multiple times every day. He said that it is not unusual for the  Dean of Students to receive a call from a distraught parent whose child has not telephoned or sent a text message within the past few hours. Mr. Crisp also noted that parents today are more connected with the institution than in the past. As the cost of higher education rises, parents are more and more bringing a consumer’s point of view to their interaction with the University.

Positives. Mr. Crisp said that today’s students are accepting, inclusive, globally oriented, and highly motivated around community service issues. They are definitely not apathetic; they “just care about different things,” he said. He cited the 2008 presidential election as an example.

Challenges. Mr. Crisp noted several challenges faculty face in understanding the Millennium Generation. First, there is a problem getting today’s students to focus on an issue or topic. Attention span is often brief.

Second, the transition to independence is taking longer than it once did. This is a very sheltered generation whose parents have been involved in decision-making about their  lives “almost at the atomic level.” Consequently, the transition to adulthood  is taking longer.

Third, this is the most medicated generation in history. Many of today’s students would never have graduated from high school without medications. As a result, the University finds that we need to deal with pre-existing mental and physical health problems to an extent previously unknown.

Prof. Kramer asked whether these patterns of behavior are connected with alcohol and drug abuse. Mr. Crisp said that there definitely is a connection. While this is not the first generation with alcohol and drug abuse problems, more young people are coming to college today as experienced drinkers. The alcohol and drug problem has shifted back into the high schools. He said that he felt that a part of the problem is that society doesn’t treat alcohol consumption the same as drug use. That sends a message to young people that under-age drinking is O.K. Mr. Crisp said that the on-going debate about Friday classes is definitely related to the week-end drinking culture.

Prof. Donna LeFebvre (Political Science) expressed astonishment that students conduct so much of their email exchanges through FaceBook. She asked whether faculty members should consider opening an account there. Mr. Crisp said that students will always be a step or two ahead on technological issues. He acknowledged that both he and the Dean of Students are  on FaceBook. “We have it,” he said, “because it’s an effective means of communication.”

Prof. Margot Stein (Dentistry) asked for comment on student perceptions of ethics and the Honor Code. Mr. Crisp said that there are three  impacts: (1) the drive to succeed has a negative effect on the temptation to cheat because students are so driven and overwhelmed; (2) today’s students have become acculturated to the idea that all rules are negotiable; and (3) students often have become accustomed to the ideas that everyone cheats; that cheating is acceptable if you can get away with it; and that you can escape penalization if you have status and prestige.

Annual Reports of Standing Committees

Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure. Prof. Ruth Walden (Journalism), Chair of the Committee on Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure, presented the committee’s annual report. There were no questions or comments.

Faculty Hearings. Prof. Richard Whisnant (Government), Chair of the Faculty Hearings Committee, presented the committee’s annual report. There were no questions or comments.

Faculty Grievance. Prof. Suzanne Havala Hobbs (Health Policy & Management), Chair of the Faculty Grievance Committee, presented the committee’s annual report. There  were no questions or comments.

Advisory. Prof. Charles Daye (Law), chair of the Advisory Committee, presented the committee’s  annual report. He reported briefly on the committee’s process for nominating candidates for election as Chair of the Faculty in the 2009 faculty elections.

Prof. Templeton complimented Prof. Suzanne Gulledge (Education), chair of the Council Committee on Fixed-Term Faculty, for today’s forum on issues of concern to fixed-term faculty. Prof. Gulledge replied that today’s events exceeded expectations and went very well.

2009 Distinguished Alumna and Alumnus Awards

The Council went into closed session to consider a special report from the Committee on Honorary Degrees and Special Awards. Prof. Joseph  Ferrell, Secretary of the Faculty, on behalf of the committee, presented one nominee for an honorary degree to be presented at May Commencement, 2009, and five nominees for Distinguished Alumnus and Alumna Awards to be presented at  University Day 2009. All nominees were approved unanimously.


Its business having been completed, the Council adjourned at  4:52 p.m.

Joseph S. Ferrell
Secretary of the Faculty

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