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Meeting of the Faculty Council

Friday, April 23, 2010
3:00 p.m.
Hitchcock  Multipurpose Room
Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

Chancellor Holden Thorp and
Professor McKay Coble, Chair of the Faculty, presiding


3:00 Chancellor’s Remarks and Question Period

  • Chancellor Holden Thorp

3:10    Academic Plan Update

  • Prof. Sue Estroff and Sr. Associate Dean Bill Andrews, Academic Plan Committee Chairs

3:30    Committee Report: Educational Policy Committee

4:00    Committee Report:  Faculty Council Committee on Fixed-Term Faculty

  • Prof. Jean DeSaix, Chair

4:15    Annual Update on the Quality Enhancement  Project: Making Critical Connections

  • Prof. Bobbi Owen, Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education

4:25    ConnectCarolina Faculty Page

  • Candy Davies, ConnectCarolina Functional Team Head, ITS

4:35     Remembrance of Deceased Faculty

  • Prof. Joseph Ferrell, Secretary of the Faculty

4:40     2009 Faculty Elections Results

  • Prof. Joseph Ferrell, Secretary of the Faculty

4:45    Adjourn


The General Faculty and 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 54 members of the Council attended: Anderson, Bagnell, Bechtel, Blalock, Blocher, Bloom, Brice, Carlson, Catellier, Coleman, Cornell, Earp, Gerber, Gerhardt, Gilliland, Greene, Guskiewicz, Halloran, Hartnett, Hayslett, Heenan, Irons, Janken, Katznelson, Kelly, Koomen, Lee, McMillan, Mieczkowski, Morris-Natschke, Morse, New, Owen, Papanikolas, Persky, Renner, Richardson, Rodgers, Schoenfisch, Shea, Shields, Stearns, Stein, Stotts, Sweeney, Syzpszak, Thorp, Thrailkill, Tobin, Toews,  Troster, Van Tilburg, Wallace, and Yankaskas.

The following 23 members were granted excused absences: Aaron, Andrews, Ashby, Bickford, Binotti, Blackburn,  Bowdish, C. Brown, DeSaix, Egan, Fuchs Lokensgar, Gehrig, Gulledge, Hershey, Hodges, Koroluk, Lothspeich, Maffly-Kipp, Mauro, Melamut, Paul, Rhodes, and Sheldon. The following 13 members were absent without excuse: J. Brown, P. Brown, Dilworth-Anderson, Kendall, Lopez, Montmeny, O’Connell-Edwards, Paquette, Quinonez, Sweet, Tisdale, Verkerk, and Williams.

Call to Order

Chair of the Faculty McKay Coble called the meeting to order  promptly at 3:00 p.m.

Chancellor’s Remarks and Question Period

Chancellor Thorp began by speaking warmly of the many faculty, student, and staff awards recently bestowed. He mentioned especially the 20-year service awards presented to employees who have reached that milestone. The chancellor said that presenting awards is the most enjoyable part of his job. He next thanked the faculty for helping to recruit this year’s recipients of Morehead-Cain Scholarships. The Foundation was able to award more than the 64 scholarships it had anticipated. He singled out Prof. Marianne Gingher and Dean Karen Gil for special praise of their work in recruiting outstanding students.

Noting that Governor Beverly Perdue has transmitted her  2010-11 budget recommendations to the General Assembly, Chancellor Thorp briefly reviewed the steps toward final enactment. The Senate will take up the budget first. Next, the Senate’s version goes to the House of Representatives which can be expected to make significant changes to it. The House version will  then be returned to the Senate, which will not concur. A conference committee will be appointed to develop a final compromise. Both chambers then vote on the  compromise to complete the process. The chancellor said that as President Erskine Bowles had already responded to the governor’s recommendations, he did not see the need to issue a statement. He warned that cuts of the magnitude  being proposed, when added to the cuts already experienced last year, would  have serious negative impacts on the classroom, library resources, and a variety of student services. He said that we are hopeful that the president’s reputation with the General Assembly will stand us in good stead in a difficult  financial climate.

Chancellor Thorp said that the emergency drill earlier this  week was a huge success. It demonstrated how the administrative team (i.e., the chancellor and senior administrators), the Public Safety Department, the Chapel Hill Police Department, and Orange County Rescue officials would work together in a real emergency. He said that one issue that the administrative team has struggled with is how long we could sustain a directive for everyone to stay in place if that became necessary. He said that under some scenarios a “stay in place” order could last four or five hours. Part of the difficulty is that information is not always easily shared among the active parties. He said that it has been difficult to reach consensus on this issue.

Chancellor Thorp said that he and the Provost are extremely excited about the development of a new academic plan. He said that he will be posting a video about the process and what he hopes the plan will achieve. The chancellor said that the 2003 academic plan had had a major impact on our mission. He cited as examples our global initiatives, the honors program, the  Center for Faculty Excellence, leadership programs across the campus, and curriculum revision. He said that the committee’s first step is to put in place efforts to ascertain from the faculty what the major foci of the plan.

Prof. Shield Rodgers (Nursing) said she did not hear the sirens. The chancellor replied that they are designed to be heard outside, not  inside. Prof. Rodgers added that the text message was late. The chancellor acknowledged that it was four minutes late. He said that we have learned that it takes 105 seconds to deliver the message once it’s sent, but we were late in initiating the send process. He thinks we now have that system smoothed out.

A faculty member asked what kind of real emergency would call for a four to five hour “stay in place” order. Chancellor Thorp gave as an example a situation reporting gunshots at two different locations without  clarity as to whether the shooter was the same person.

Academic Plan

Prof. Sue Estroff (Social Medicine), co-chair of the Academic  Plan Steering Committee, began by speaking of why she had agreed to become  involved in the process. She said that in her area of scholarly interest, people with disabilities, a key concept is “nothing about us without us.” In  this context, this means that the plan must be one generated by the faculty in  interaction with the senior administrators, the trustees, and the council of  deans. She characterized the ultimate goal of the plan as balancing “the  liberation of aspiration with the tyranny of pragmatism.”

Turning to the committee’s work, Prof. Estroff said that the  committee is organized into subcommittees, each addressing one of the six  themes of the 2010 Academic Plan. Each subcommittee is being asked to identify  its information needs and to identify people on campus with whom it should be  meeting. Each committee’s task is to produce a report of not more than three  pages that identifies no more than five concrete, doable, feasibility-tested  ideas. The goal is to complete this phase by this fall.

Strongest possible academic experiences. Prof. Estroff said that this subcommittee’s assignment is creating a transformative educational experience. One of the things under discussion is class size. She said we would like for every  first-year student to be in a classes of not more than 20. Another is  development of foundational, cross-departmental, interdisciplinary course that  would address large ideas such as “water in the world” or “life in the  diaspora.”

Faculty prominence, recruitment, development and scholarship. This subcommittee is addressing  faculty concerns. Some of the things under discussion there are assistance with  mortgages or housing allowances, tuition assistance for children, reinvigorating the spousal hiring policy, and gender salary equity.

Interdisciplinary teaching, research, and public engagement. This subcommittee is addressing  interdisciplinary issues. This group is talking a hard look at getting administrative rules and regulations out of the way of nimble interdisciplinary  scholarship.

Advance campus inclusivity and diversity. This subcommittee is addressing campus inclusivity and diversity. Its goal is to reconceptualize how inclusivity and  diversity is practiced. She said that we have a legacy of thinking about  diversity solely in the context of ethnicity. A broader approach is needed.

Engagement with the  profound challenges of state, national, and global communities. This subcommittee  will address engagement. This group will work with the Committee on Appointments, Promotion, and Tenure to help clarify how school and departmental policies recognize engagement, particularly in articulating what is scholarly about engagement.

Extending Carolina’s  global presence in research and teaching. The final subcommittee will address our global presence.

Other topics under consideration include the libraries and the Innovation Circle, she said.

Annual Report of the Educational Policy Committee

Prof. Andrew Perrin (Sociology), chair of the Educational  Policy Committee, briefly reviewed the committee’s annual report. Highlights  included consultation with the Office of the Provost and the Council of Deans  on eligibility for dean’s list, an ongoing project in conjunction with the Committee on Student Conduct to develop a survey of teaching faculty about  their experiences with the honor system, and the committee’s continuing  evaluation of grading practices.

Prof. Perrin laid before the Council proposed Resolution  2010-3: On Enhanced Grade Reporting. He briefly reviewed the chain of events leading up to development and presentation of this proposal, especially the  discussion at the October 9, 2009, Council meeting which culminated in adoption of Resolution 2009-4 endorsing the committee’s efforts to investigate grading policy reforms and asking that the committee develop a specific action proposal  for consideration by the Council. Resolution 2010-3 is the result of that process.

Prof. Perrin said that the committee is concerned that  Resolution 2010-3 does not go far enough, but proposes it now as a helpful  first step toward more effective action. Essentially, this resolution reports contextual information about grades; it does not call for changes in how grades are assigned. He said that taking this step at this time recognizes the limited resources that the University is able to commit to grade reform and the wide range of faculty opinion as to whether “grade inflation” is in fact a cause for  concern. “It is a good beginning to a long-term conversation and strategy about grading policy,” he said.

Prof. Coble granted privileges of the floor to Mr. Hogan Medlin, President of the Student Body, for remarks. Mr. Medlin thanked the Council for involving students in policy decisions that affect them. He said that students recognize how much work has been put into analysis and discussion of grading policy over the past decade, and he sees the proposal now before the  Council as a necessary first step. Many questions remain to be addressed, he said, but the implementation committee put in place by the resolution is an appropriate and adequate means of weighing competing issues. He said that the committee should approach its task in a productive and useful manner with an aim of developing fair grading practices that improve the intellectual climate.  There will be difficult conversations ahead, he said, but “together we can work  this out.”

Prof. Coble opened the floor for questions and debate. Prof. John Sweeney (Journalism & Mass Communication) asked for comment about grading policy in “elite” courses in which enrollment is selective. Prof. Perrin replied that this will be taken into account in the implementation phase.

Prof. Christopher Lee (Information & Library Science)  asked for comment about the possibility of compromising confidentiality of  grading information in small classes. Prof. Perrin replied that an appropriate response to this problem is to set an enrollment cutoff point, below which  information about grade distribution would not be reported.

Dean Bobbi Owen (Arts & Sciences) said that in her view  (informed as it is by chairing the stakeholders committee  of Carolina Connects implementation), it will  not be possible to implement immediately the kind of reporting envisioned. She  has about expectations as to when implementation would begin. Prof. Perrin said that the implementation committee would work closely with the University  Registrar on implementation issues.

Prof. Diane Leonard (English & Comparative Literature)  said she was having a hard time conceptualizing exactly how this information  would appear on the transcript. Prof. Perrin replied that he did not have a sample to demonstrate, but that it is his understanding that at Indiana University, where a similar system is in place, detailed information is  obtained from a website, not from the transcript document itself.

Prof. Jeff Greene (Education) pointed out that Section 1 of  the resolution mentions specific examples of information to be compiled and  reported, and concludes with reference to “similar information.” He asked what  that might include. He also asked whether the implementation committee would address the philosophy of grading at Carolina. Prof. Perrin replied that as to  the first question, the Educational Policy Committee assumes that the  implementation committee will develop a specific proposal for consideration by the Council. As to the second question, there is no intent in Resolution 2010-3 to alter existing grading policy, which is criterion-bsed.

Prof. Ed Blocher (Business) asked whether Indiana and Cornell (who have similar systems in place) have experienced any change in grade  inflation as a result. Prof. Perrin replied that he has no information about Indiana, but that Cornell and seen a very small change in the rate of increase in grades, but the change is probably not significant.

There being no further discussion or debate, Resolution 2010-3 was adopted by voice vote with a few audible dissents.

Annual Report of the Fixed-Term  Faculty Committee

Prof. Jean DeSaix (Biology), chair of the Council Committee on Fixed-Term Faculty Committee briefly summarized the committee’s annual report. There were no questions or comments.

Annual Report on the Quality Improvement Plan

Dean Bobbi Owen presented her annual report on the  implementation of the Quality Improvement Plan that was adopted in response to the most recent accreditation study by the Southern Association of Colleges and  Schools.

ConnectCarolina Faculty Page

Ms. Candace Davies, Director of Information Technology Services, demonstrated the faculty page in the new ConnectCarolina website.

Remembrance of Deceased Faculty

The Secretary of the Faculty called to remembrance members of  the faculty who had died in the past year. The Council rose for a moment of silent tribute.

2010 Faculty Elections Results

The Secretary of the Faculty reported briefly on the results  of the 2010 faculty elections. The Chair of the Faculty recognized members completing terms on the Council and thanked them for their service.


Its business having been completed, the Council adjourned at  4:22 p.m.

Joseph S. Ferrell
Secretary of the Faculty

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