Skip to main content

Meeting of the Faculty Council

Friday, December 17, 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    Provost’s Remarks and Question Period

  • Provost Bruce Carney

3:20    Annual Reports

3:30    Update from Faculty Athletics Committee

  • Prof. Steve Reznick, Chair

3:45    Resolution 2010-6: On the Making Connections Curriculum Presented by the Educational Policy Committee, Prof. Andrea Biddle, Chair

4:00    Discussion: Academic Plan Draft

  • Senior Associate Dean Bill Andrews, Co-Chair, Academic Plan Steering Committee
  • Background reading: Academic Plan Draft

4:30    Resolution 2010-5: On Supporting a Resolution of the University of North Carolina Faculty Assembly on Academic Freedom Presented by the UNC-CH Faculty Assembly Delegation, Prof. Stephen Bachenheimer, Chair

4:35    Open Discussion:  IT Issues and Concerns; April Meeting Date

  • Faculty Council and members of the UNC Voting Faculty

4:50    Closed Session: 2011 Edward Kidder Graham Faculty Service Award and 2011 Distinguished Alumnus/a Award Nominees

  • Handouts will be provided to Faculty Council members at meeting

5:00    Adjourn


The Faculty Council of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill convened December 17, 2010, 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 attended: Anderson, Bachenheimer, Bagnell, Balaban, Blalock, Brice, Chen, Coble, Copenhaver, Cornell, DeSaix, Egan, Ferrell, Gerhardt, Gilland, Greene, Gulledge, Hayslett, Hess, Irons, Kramer, Lee, Leonard, Linden, Maffly-Kipp, McMillan, Mieczkowski, Miller, Moracco, Morris-Natschke, Morse, New, O’Shaughnessey, Palmer, Paul, Renner, Richardson, Rodgers, Schoenbach, Schoenfisch, Shanahan, Starkey, Stearns, Steponaitis, Stewart, Tisdale, Toews, H. Thorp, Verkerk, Wallace, Webster-Cyriaque, and Yankaskas. The following 20 members were granted excused absences:  Bechtel, Betts, C. Brown, J. Brown, Crowder, Eaker-Rich, Earp, Friga, Gallippi, Gerber, Heenan, Lund, Persky, Powers, Shea, Swogger, Thrailkill, Tobin, Troster, and Van Tilburg. The following 19 members were absent without excuse: Catellier, Chapman, Cohen, Dilworth-Anderson, Fuchs Lokensgar, Gehrig, Gilliland, Guskiewicz, Lopez, Koomen, Krome-Lukens, Mayer, Milano, Milone, Papanikolas, Stotts, Sunnarborg, Szypszak, and J. Thorp.

Call to Order

Chair of the Faculty McKay Coble called the Council to order at 3:00 p.m. Prof. Coble asked Prof. Joseph Ferrell, Secretary of the Faculty, to preside in her place as she had laryngitis.

Chancellor’s Remarks and Question Period

Chancellor Holden Thorp began by thanking faculty members who made it to campus yesterday to give exams despite the snowstorm and to the members of grounds crew who made that possible. He said that some consideration had been given to cancelling classes, but that would have meant that some students would not have been able to graduate on time at the December commencement. He said that cancelling classes during exams is nearly impossible unless the roads are completely impassable. He encouraged the faculty to support our students by attending the December Commencement ceremony. The speaker will be Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, Morehead Alumni Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Philosophy.

The chancellor reported briefly on a recent trip he had taken to visit the work being done by our faculty in Malawi. He said our work there is “an extraordinary example of research and service being totally synergistic.”

Chancellor Thorp thanked the faculty for supporting the State Employees Combined Campaign. Although final results were not yet available, the goal was 25% participation to raise $825,000.

The chancellor reminded the Council about the Carolina Family Scholarship, which provides need-based tuition scholarships to the children of qualifying Carolina employees. He said that on an annual basis, the program supports twelve to fourteen students of Carolina parents.

The chancellor noted that as of today we have a new president of the UNC System, Tom Ross. He is excited by the opportunity to work with President Ross, but sad at the departure of President Erskine Bowles.

Chancellor Thorp next spoke of the legislative environment as the newly-elected North Carolina General Assembly prepares to convene in January. Noting that party in control of both houses had changed, and that new leadership would be in place this session, he emphasized that the University always takes a bipartisan approach with members of the General Assembly. He said that the University has good relationships with the new leaders and that he has been encouraged by some of their public statements on topics such as allowing institutions to retain tuition increases. The chancellor reported that the latest projections from the legislative staff put the state’s budget gap at around $3.7 billion. He indicated that we are anticipating a budget cut of at least 10 percent, but that protecting the academic mission of the University will continue to be his top priority. He pledged continuing transparency as we respond to budget developments.

The chancellor next turned to the Carolina Counts initiative headed by Prof. Joe Templeton and Mr. Mike Patil. Carolina Counts is our effort to implement the recommendations of the Bain report which was commissioned by the Board of Trustees as a means of identifying administrative efficiencies. Chancellor Thorp emphasized that his goal is to manage budgets and not let them manage us. The best way to do that, he said, is to use what we’re learning from Carolina Counts. It is a tool to manage budget reductions while making long-term, positive changes to how we structure campus operations. When the initiative began, Carolina Counts focused on ten areas identified in the Bain Report for major improvements. The first year focused on information technology, finance, and human resources. To date, the initiative has achieved cumulative savings of more than $30 million through such things as cutting energy consumption, consolidating procurement and information technology procedures, and reducing organizational layers. The second year is beginning to look to at the professional schools and the College of Arts & Sciences. The chancellor said that ultimately it will be up to the deans and vice chancellors to recommend how best to manage costs associated with programs and people in their areas. Carolina Counts is not prescribing specific actions, he said, but only helping point out how we can manage better.

Prof. Thomas Linden (Journalism & Mass Communication) asked whether fixed-term faculty will “be on the chopping block” as a result of budget cuts. The chancellor replied that fixed-term faculty have tenure for the duration of their term of appointment, but those whose appointments are expiring this year have cause for concern. While we will try to protect our fixed-term faculty, we cannot promise that none of them will be affected, he said. He emphasized that he prefers to make cuts in administrative positions rather than eliminate fixed-term faculty positions.

Provost’s Remarks and Question Period

Provost Bruce Carney said that he has been in discussions with each of the deans about the consequences of state budget reductions. He said that he usually defers this until the spring, but this year he had to begin the discussions in the fall in order to be able to inform the General Assembly as to what would occur if budget cuts exceed what the University can absorb without impairing its academic mission. The provost said that it has been his goal to protect faculty positions, including fixed-term, so we can meet our responsibility to provide access to the credit hours that students need to progress toward their degrees.

Provost Carney reported that he and the University Registrar are working on calendar revisions that will build in a day or two between the end of exams and commencement in order to give everyone something of a cushion for reporting grades and certifying students for award of degrees.

The provost said that there have been ongoing discussions as to the desirability of adding a third tier rank for lecturers. Initially, there was only one lecturer rank. Several years ago senior lecturer was added as a means of recognizing career accomplishment. Recently, discussion has focused on adding a third rank to correspond to the assistant, associate, and full ranks currently in use for clinical, research, and adjunct fixed-term appointments. The provost said that many possible titles had been discussed for the new lecturer position, all of which were subject to objection from various quarters. He said that “whether through acceptance or just resignation,” he has found a path forward with three rank titles: lecturer, senior lecturer, and master lecturer.” Provost Carney said that he will soon begin the process of bring this proposal to the faculty for its consideration and then to the Board of Trustees.

Prof. Steven Bachenheimer (Microbiology & Immunology) asked whether there is talk of the General Assembly recouping all or part of the Facilities & Administrative (F&A) portion of federal grants. The provost replied that the legislature will be looking at every possible means of solving short-term budget problems, and F&A funds will definitely come under scrutiny. He said that the University will be making the case that there is a clear correlation between allowing the University to retain this funding source and our ability to attract more research funding which ends up creating jobs. Prof. Bachenheimer remarked that in highly-leveraged departments, any reduction in F&A receipts would be devastating. Chancellor Thorp said that retaining F&A funds will be a high priority for us, which may mean that we have to give up something else in return.

Annual Reports of Standing Committees

Faculty Executive Committee. On behalf of the Chair of the Faculty, Prof. Joseph Ferrell reviewed the origins of the Faculty Executive Committee. There were no questions

Chancellor’s Advisory Committee. Prof. Abigail Panter, chair of the Advisory Committee, presented the committee’s annual report. There were no questions.

Update From the Faculty Athletics Committee

Prof. Steven Reznik, chair of the Faculty Athletics Committee, spoke to the Council about the role and work of the committee, which falls into two basic categories: keeping the faculty informed about intercollegiate athletics, and advising the chancellor. The committee meets monthly in open session. A reporter from the Daily Tar Heel usually attends. Prof. Reznik listed topics that have been discussed this year: the academic support program; student athlete leadership development; and exit interviews and surveys for graduating student athletes. He said that he had been interviewed by a NCAA representative during the current investigation of the football program. The representative asked about the faculty role in athletics, went over the committee’s annual report, and wanted generally to know “how we do business.” Prof. Reznik said that four members of the committee are serving on a task force co-chaired by Dean Bobbi Owen and Mr. John Blanchard that is reviewing all aspects of our academic support programs for student athletes.

Prof. Reznik concluded by saying that he wished every member of the faculty had the opportunity to serve on the committee. He said that what members learn is very striking to those who thought they knew everything about the athletic program.

Resolution 2010-6: On the Making Connections Curriculum.

Prof. Andrea Biddle, Chair of the Educational Policy Committee, presented a resolution amending the Making Connections Curriculum.  She said that the changes were all minor and had the unanimous support of the committee. The resolution was adopted without dissent.

Resolution 2010-5: On Supporting a Resolution of the University of North Carolina Faculty Assembly on Academic Freedom.

Prof. Steven Bachenheimer, Head of the Faculty Assembly Delegation, presented a resolution endorsing a recent resolution of the UNC Faculty Assembly concerning support for academic freedom. The resolution was adopted without dissent.

Academic Plan

Dean Bill  Andrews reported generally on the ongoing development of the new academic plan. He said that a draft now circulating contains a few changes from the one recently made available to the Council but is not radically different. He said that he and Prof. Sue Estroff, co-chair of the steering committee, have been meeting with various constituencies such as the academic deans, representatives of fixed-term faculty, the Employee Forum, representatives of non-faculty EPA personnel, the Faculty Executive Committee, and the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee. He said that the basic question being asked in these encounters is whether the plan as presented speaks to the University that each constituency would like to see develop over the next five years.

Prof. Victor Schoenbach (Epidemiology) observed that the plan does not mention UNC Tomorrow (an initiative launched by President Erskine Bowles several years ago). He asked whether that initiative is still relevant. Dean Andrews replied that no one has mentioned it and the steering committee has not discussed it, but he is open to hearing about how it might be relevant. Chancellor Thorp added that he has not heard much about UNC Tomorrow in recent months. It was a framework for “growing the University,” he said, which is not the mode in which we have been operating since the economic downturn.

Prof. Lloyd Kramer (History) observed that many faculty have been involved in discussions about engaged scholarship, entrepreneurship, and innovation. He asked how the plan exemplifies such initiatives. Dean Andrews replied that the plan addresses engagement to the extent that it is about the application of ideas, research, and knowledge to communities outside the university. As for innovation, he said that nothing in the plan will say that it is unimportant.

Prof. Steven Bachenheimer (Microbiology & Immunology) asked about how the plan will recognize the likelihood that increasing numbers of students will be transferring to Carolina for a three-year experience on this campus after spending their first year in the community college system. Dean Andrews replied that currently about 800 undergraduates per year transfer to Carolina from the community colleges. He said that the academic plan will not take a position on whether this number should be larger or smaller, but it will speak to improving retention and graduation rates, especially for groups of students for which this has been an issue. He said that the steering committee is aware that transfer students from the community colleges have more difficulty than other students and that graduation rates are significantly lower. Chancellor Thorp added that we have relied mostly on our own C-Step program, which is a sophisticated plan for helping students make the transition from a community college to Carolina. He said that we currently have C-Step programs in cooperation with the community colleges in Fayetteville, Wake, Durham, Alamance, and Carteret.

Prof. Schoenbach observed that the plan makes no mention of distance education. He asked whether that is seen as part of the future. Dean Andrews replied that insofar as undergraduate education is concerned, distance education is not viewed generally with approbation, but, he said, the steering committee has been receiving feedback on how to make e-learning work in the undergraduate environment. Prof. Schoenbach replied that the School of Public Health, the School of Nursing, and perhaps others have successful distance education programs. Dean Andrews added that the School of Journalism & Mass Communication plans to start such a program as well.

Prof. Suzanne Gulledge (Education) said she had been startled recently to learn that it is possible for a student to drop out of high school, take the GED exam, attend a community college for one year, and then transfer to Carolina. This speaks to the importance of having support available when we admit such students, she said. Prof. Gulledge said that merely passing a test as a route for admission to the university experience is alarming. She hoped that the academic plan would encourage priority status for courses that allow such students small-class experiences, emphasize writing skills, and provide a real university experience. Dean Andrews replied that the steering committee is committed to focus on making “the campus experience” for our students the primary goal toward which we intend to strive.

Edward Kidder Graham Faculty Service Award and 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award Nominees

On motion of the Secretary of the Faculty, the Council went into closed session to consider nominees for the Edward Kidder Graham Faculty Service Award and Distinguished Alumna and Alumnus Awards to be presented at the University Day 2011 Convocation.

On behalf of the Committee on Honorary Degrees and Special Awards, Prof. Ferrell nominated a candidate for the Edward Kidder Graham Award. The nominee was approved.

On behalf of the Committee on Honorary Degrees and Special Awards, Prof. Ferrell nominated five persons for Distinguished Alumnus or Alumna Awards. Each nominee was approved and will be submitted to the Board of Trustees for final approval.

The Council returned to open session.


Its business having been completed, the Council adjourned.

Respectfully submitted
Joseph S. Ferrell
Secretary of the Faculty


Pdf of meeting materials

Print Friendly, PDF & Email