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Meeting of the Faculty Council

Friday, October 10, 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 Faculty Athletics Committee and Faculty Athletics Representative Annual Reports

3:50 Fixed-Term Faculty Committee Announcement

  • Prof. Shielda Rodgers, Fixed-Term Faculty Committee representative

3:55 Resolution 2008-3: On Bachelor’s Degrees

  • Prof. Andrew Perrin, Chair, Educational Policy Committee

4:00 Changes in Post-Tenure Review Policy

4:10 Changes in the 403-B Supplemental Retirement Program

  • Mr. Brian Usischon, Senior Director of Benefits and Employee Services

4:35 Resolution 2008-4: On Commending the Scholars at Risk Program

  • Prof. Judith Blau

4:40 Closed session: Honorary Degrees and Special Awards Committee Report

  • Prof. Joseph Ferrell

4:45 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 50 members of the Council attended: Aaron, Adamson, Bagnell, Bechtel, Binotti, Blackburn, Blalock, Brice, Pauline Brown, Campbell, Catellier, Chin, Conway, Copenhaver, Cornell Dilworth-Anderson, Earp, Gerber, Guskiewicz, Hartnett, Hendrick, Hobbs, Katznelson, Kelly, Koroluk, Lee, Lesneski, Lopez, Melamut, Oatley, Orth, Papanikolas, Paquette, Pruvost, Renner, Rhodes, Richardson, Rodgers, Saunders, Schoenfisch, Shields, Stein, Stotts, Sweeney, Tobin, Van Tilburg, Visser, Wallace, Weinberg and Williams.

The  following 38 members were granted excused absences: Adler, Andrews, Ashby, Bickford, Blocher, Bloom, Boukhelifa, Jane Brown, Coleman, Desaix, Egan, Ernst, Gulledge, Halloran, Heenan, Hightow, Hodges, Kendall,  Kirsch, Kramer, LeFebvre, Leonard, Maffly-Kipp, Mauro, McCombs, Morris-Natschke, Moss, Parsons, Quinonez, Sheldon, Shomaker, Sweet, Thorp,  Toews, Verkerk, Wasik, Whisnant and Wilder.

The following 2 members were absent without excuse: O’Connell-Edwards, Rosamond.

Call to Order

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

Chancellor’s Remarks

Chancellor Thorp spoke briefly about the national economic crisis and its impact on the University. He said that the Office of State  Budget and Management has implemented a reduction in State funding and that he and the vice chancellors are working hard on making the right decisions in response to that cutback. “We will be rewarded by doing the right things now,” he said.

Prof. Steven Bachenheimer (Microbiology & Immunology) observed that one of the implications of the national economic downturn is that many people are delaying retirement. He asked what impact this might have on the University’s planning for the future. Chancellor Thorp said that he thinks retirements will be fewer than previously estimated, and that faculty will continue working longer for reasons other than the economy. Provost Bernadette  Gray-Little added that each year the Office of the Provost sends out a “feeler” to faculty nearing retirement age to get a rough estimate of how many retirements to anticipate. Results of that inquiry should be available later in  October.

In response to a question from the floor, Chancellor Thorp said that the University is still committed to building a new general aviation airport.

Provost’s Remarks

Provost Gray-Little said that the University has already received a 2 percent cutback in State funding and anticipates another 2 percent cut in non-recurring funding within the next few days.

The Provost said that in response to General Administration  projections of enrollment growth across the System, Carolina had commissioned a study of how enrollment growth would affect this institution. One of the key findings of the study is that student perceptions of Carolina as a desirable place to live and study are heavily influenced by the impression that students  of high quality choose to enroll here. To assure that we continue to attract  outstanding students, the University has asked a group of faculty and staff to consider ways to assure that programs offered to incoming students provide a high-quality experience. The group, which is co-chaired by Director of Admissions Steve Farmer and Prof. Steven Reznick (Psychology), will also consider ways to continue to attract high-quality graduate students.

The Provost reported that the Search Committee for Dean of  the School of Nursing has begun to receive applications, and the Search Committee for Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences continues to receive applications but has not yet reached the stage of reviewing and evaluating them.

Finally, the Provost reported that she has appointed an ad hoc committee chaired by Prof. Jane Brown (Journalism and Mass Communication) to review the University’s policies and procedures governing academic tenure. Executive Associate Provost Ron Strauss will work closely with that study.

Annual Report of the Faculty Athletics Committee

Prof. Steven Reznick, Chair of the Faculty Athletics Committee, presented the committee’s annual report. He reviewed the committee’s  charge, noting that it is specifically directed “to inform the faculty” on matters relating to intercollegiate and intra-mural athletics. He said that attention understandably focuses on the major revenue-generating sports, but that this year the committee hopes to do more to inform faculty and students about the other 25 intercollegiate teams that Carolina fields.

Prof. Bachenheimer called attention to the portion of the committee’s report stating that the average team Grade Point Average is 2.95 and that Carolina is tied for third in the Atlantic Coast Conference in that measure. He asked for comment. Prof. Reznick replied that Carolina ranks at the top of the ACC in student athlete academic performance, and that the ACC as a whole generally ranks higher in academic achievement than many of the major conferences across the nation. He said that this reflects the quality of our Academic Support Program and the academic commitment of our students. He added that each  year the committee reviews the distribution of majors among student athletes. This year there is no undue concentration in any particular major, a pattern  that has held steady for many years. Prof. Bachenheimer asked how we compare to  other schools in that regard. Director of Athletics Richard Baddour replied  that that information is not available. Prof. Garland Hershey added that the Athletics Committee is concerned that our student athletes have the same academic experience as other students.

Prof. Richard Weinberg (Cell & Developmental Biology) asked about the academic performance of student athletes in the non-revenue sports (“the other 25”). Prof. Jack Evans (Business), speaking as Faculty Athletic Representative, said that the national pattern is that male athletes  perform less well academically than do female athletes. As for differences among the various sports, Carolina’s data indicates that the football team is doing well, but not as good as men’s basketball, and that the baseball team is doing well. He felt that the good news is that our student athletes in the high-profile sports are doing quite well across the board.

Prof. Templeton asked whether there has been a change in the Department of Athletics’ policy with respect to student athletes who have been arrested on criminal charges. Mr. Baddour said that there has been a slight change. For some twelve to thirteen years, the Department has had a policy that a student athlete who is charged with a felony offense is excluded from competition but not from practice. After discussing this policy with the Athletics Committee and General Counsel Leslie Strohm, the policy has been modified to allow waiver of the exclusion from competition in unusual circumstances.

Annual Report of the Faculty Athletics Representative

Prof. Evans presented his annual report as Faculty Athletics Representative to the Atlantic Coast Conference, in which capacity he casts the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s vote as a member of the  conference. He emphasized that he does not vote on important issues without  first consulting the Chancellor and the Director of Athletics. Prof. Evans said  that over the years he has been actively involved in governance of the National Collegiate Athletics Association, especially with respect to academic reform. He concluded by reporting that Chancellor Thorp had instructed him to keep the Chancellor informed on athletics matters, but, he hastened to add, he is confident that by the time the news had reached the Faculty Athletics Representative, Mr. Baddour would have already alerted the Chancellor to anything requiring the Chancellor’s attention.

Prof. Templeton thanked Prof. Reznick and Prof. Evans, and observed that the Athletics Committee is among the most active and effective of our faculty committees.

Fixed-Term Faculty Committee Announcement

Prof. Shielda Rogers (Nursing), a member of the Fixed-Term Faculty Committee, announced a forum on fixed-term faculty issues to be held on November 7, 2008, in the Anne Queen Faculty Commons at 10:30 a.m.

Resolution 2008-3. On Bachelor’s Degrees

Prof. Andrew Perrin (Sociology), Chair of the Educational  Policy Committee, introduced and moved adoption of Resolution 2008-3. He  reported that the Diploma Task Force, a body appointed by the Provost and  chaired by Registrar Alice Poehls, had recently compiled a comprehensive listing of all degrees awarded by the University. The Task Force noted that the official name of the bachelor of arts degree has been Artium Baccalaureatus (A.B.) throughout the University’s history, even though all diplomas have been  in English, rather than Latin, since the reopening of the University in the 1870s. The Task Force recommended that the official title be changed to Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) to reflect modern usage. Resolution 2008-3 implements that recommendation. He said that if adopted, the resolution would affect B.A. degrees awarded in December, 2010, and thereafter, but would not change the  name of A.B. degrees awarded before that date.

The resolution was adopted without dissent.

Changes in the Post-Tenure Review Policy

Prof. Templeton called attention to revisions in the  Post-Tenure Review Policy recently adopted by the Board of Trustees in response to modifications in the Code of the Board of Governors. Copies had been distributed to Council members in advance. Prof. Templeton said that he and the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee had reviewed the changes and found all to be  helpful and appropriate with no cause for concern. He invited questions or  comments. There were none.

Changes in the 403-B Supplemental Retirement Program

Mr. Brian Usischon, Senior Director of Benefits and Employee  Services, reported on recent changes in the University’s 403-B Supplemental Retirement Program. He was assisted by Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Brenda Malone and Ms. Kitty McCollum, UNC Vice President for Human Resources. Vice Chancellor Malone said that the change resulted from issuance of final IRS  regulations affecting the 403B program, and that President Erskine Bowles had decided that the UNC System would adopt a uniform policy rather than delegate  the matter to individual campuses.

Mr. Usischon explained that the temporary regulations issued  in 1964 had cast on the individual employee the burden of complying with the statutory requirements of the 403B program. The final regulations, which become effective January 1, 2009, place the burden of compliance on the employer. At present, throughout the UNC System there are dozens of authorized vendors, a situation that would have made it very difficult for the System to ensure compliance. UNC-Chapel Hill currently has 2,700 employees participating in a 403B program. About half of these employees use either TIAA or Fidelity products, and 80% of all employee contributions are managed by these two vendors. After soliciting and receiving proposals for all current vendors, it  was decided to contract with only two vendors: TIAA and Fidelity, both of which  had submitted very good proposals. He said that the University will stop sending contributions to all other vendors after December 31, 2008, and that employees who wish to continue to have contributions withheld by the University will have to choose from products offered by either TIAA or Fidelity. He said  that employees who have been using other vendors will have the option of leaving their accumulated contributions with the current vendor or withdrawing them for transfer to one of the approved vendors.

Prof. Gregory Copenhaver (Biology) asked whether the maximum contribution will change. The answer was no.

Prof. John Sweeney (Journalism and Mass Communication) asked whether assets held by a de-selected vendor could be retained indefinitely. The  answer was yes.

Prof. David Gerber (Surgery) asked why only two vendors were  chosen. Mr. Usischon replied that the two that were selected were clearly  superior to the others who submitted proposals and that limiting the field to two greatly simplified administration of the plan.

Prof. Joy Renner (Allied Health Sciences) expressed strong  objections to the change.

Prof. Bachenheimer, Chair of the University Benefits  Committee, said that the committee was kept informed as the selection process  went on. The committee understood that the IRS had placed the onus on the  University, and that the decision under discussion was a reasonable response to the IRS demands. He pointed out that limiting one’s choice to two vendors does  not limit choice of investments, since each vendor has access to literally  thousands of investment choices.

Prof. Joseph Ferrell (Government) asked whether the University will provide a list of local financial advisors who are experienced in dealing  with the two vendors selected. The answer was yes.

Prof. Weinberg asked about the consequences if major  insurance companies begin to fail, as has been the case with several large  investment banking firms. Mr. Usischon replied that most of the investment vehicles offered by TIAA and Fidelity (and other vendors) provide no safety net. Vice Chancellor Malone said there is always a risk with any investment,  but that the two vendors selected have a consistent record of stability.

Resolution 2008-4. On Commending the Scholars at Risk Program

Prof. Judith Blau (Sociology) presented a resolution commending the Scholars at Risk Program. (See Minutes of the March 28, 2008, meeting of the Faculty Council.)

Prof. Jessica Katznelson (Pediatrics) observed that finding funding for a Scholar at Risk in a departmental budget could be a difficult problem to surmount. Prof. Blau replied that applicants are carefully screened  and referred to departments where their expertise would be useful. She emphasized that the scholar would be working to earn any support provided, and that the program is not a charity. Generally, support is for only one semester, she said.

Prof. Andrew Chin (Law) asked whether there are formal connections between the Scholars at Risk Program and immigration networks. Prof. Blau replied that the program works closely with Amnesty International, and that there are also European counterparts.

Resolution 2008-4 was adopted without dissent.

Special Report of the Committee on Honorary Degrees and  Special Awards

Prof. Ferrell, on behalf of the Committee on Honorary Degrees and Special Awards, presented a recommendation by the committee for award of a sixth honorary degree at Commencement 2009. The recommendation was unanimously  approved and will be forwarded to the Board of Trustees for final approval.


Its business having been completed, the Council adjourned at  4:30 p.m.

Joseph S. Ferrell
Secretary of the Faculty


Pdf of meeting materials

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