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Meeting of the Faculty Council

Chancellor Carol Folt and Acting Chair of the Faculty Peter Mucha presiding

Friday, November 13, 2015
3:00 p.m.
Kerr Hall Room 2001 — this is the UPSTAIRS ROOM (Eshelman School of Pharmacy)  Map here

Twitter:  Follow @UNCFacGov or use hashtag #FacCouncil

Watch remotely at this link


3:00 Opening Remarks

  • Prof. Peter Mucha, Acting Chair of the Faculty

3:05 Chancellor’s Remarks

  • Chancellor Carol Folt

3:10 Carolina Metrics Project

  • Provost Jim Dean

3:20 Chancellor’s and Provost’s Question Period

3:30 VOTE: Resolution 2015-3. On Admission Standards for Athletic Recruits (referred on February 27, 2015 to the Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Admissions)

3:50 VOTE: Resolution 2015-14. Statement on Academic Freedom and Responsibility

  • Presented by Secretary of the Faculty Joe Ferrell for the Agenda Committee

3:55 Diversity Syllabus: Diversity Issues among Fixed-Term Faculty

4:25 Student Government and Faculty Council

4:35 Standing Committee Annual Reports (All received by title)

4:45 Adjourn

Journal of Proceedings of the Faculty Council

Watch the meeting here.

The Faculty Council of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill convened on November 13, 2015, at 3:04 p.m. in Kerr Hall, room 2001.

The following 69 members attended: Able, Aikat, Ammerman, Babb, Beck, Beltran Lopez, Berman, Boettiger Cooney, Cairns, Chapman, Chavis, Cravey (AAUP Representative), Cuddeback, Day, Provost Dean, Dobelstein (Retired Faculty Representative), Estigarribia, Ferrell, Filene (Undergraduate Student Representative), Fisher, Chancellor Folt, Foster, Fry, Furry, Gilchrist, Giovanello, Gucsavas-Calikoglu, Gulledge, Hall, Halladay, Hannig, Hart, Hill, Irons, Ives, Jones, Kang, Koonce, Kris, Larson, A. Levine, C. Levine, Livingston, Loehr, McBride, Melehy, Metz, Mitran, Moracco, Nelson, Neta, Osterweil, Parise, Persky, Platts-Mills, Polk, Porto, Pruvost, Pukkila (Retired Faculty Representative), Ramaswamy, Salyer, Steponaitis, Sturm, Thompson Dorsey, Upshaw, Wallace, Weight, Willett and Williams.

The following 29 members received excused absences: Baumgartner, Caren, Cook, Cox, Divaris, Dolan, Drake, Driscoll, Edwards, Gerhardt, Gilligan, Hobbs, Joyner, Kim, Miller, Moreton, Palmer, Perelmuter, Rial, Savasta-Kennedy, Segars, Tepper, Thompson, Thorpe, Viera, Webster-Cyriaque, Welty and You.

The following members participated via teleconference: Birckhead.

Members absent without excuse: Mauro and Stavas.

Call to order

Secretary of the Faculty Joseph Ferrell called the Council to order at 3:04 p.m.

Chancellor’s remarks and question period

Chancellor Carol Folt commented on recent events at the University of Missouri regarding racial tensions that led to the resignation of Missouri President Timothy Wolfe. She attended a rally at UNC-Chapel Hill in support of students at the University of Missouri. She said that the most recent Carolina Conversations panel addressed how to discuss issues related to diversity in the classroom. She announced that a town hall event will be held during the following week to discuss race and inclusion at Carolina.

The chancellor announced the appointment of Professor Rumay Alexander as special assistant to the chancellor for race relations. She said that Professor Alexander will help the administration respond more quickly to diversity issues as they arise and expedite the work that is currently being done.

Provost Jim Dean’s Carolina Metrics presentation

Provost Jim Dean thanked the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment and Dr. Lynn Williford, assistant provost for institutional research and assessment, for creating the Carolina Metrics website at

The provost explained that the goal of the website is to display data over time to see if there are trends in certain areas and to compare our data with peer institutions. He gave an overview of the section of the website titled “Faculty quality and outcomes.” He said that there are a number of issues that the administration is working on as a result of the data. Faculty compensation is one area that the administration wants to ensure is competitive with its peers. He noted that Carolina is highest among its peers for the percentage of women faculty members.

Dr. Ron Strauss, executive vice provost, added that we don’t have comparison data from peers on ethnic diversity among faculty.

The provost said that he was surprised to find that only 37 percent of Carolina’s faculty are tenure-track. Nearly 88 percent of faculty are full-time. He said that students are satisfied with the quality of faculty and view faculty as accessible. He noted that there will be more data available on the workplace climate for faculty once the university-wide faculty/staff climate survey is deployed. The provost noted that UNC-Chapel Hill ranks fifth among its peers in research and development expenditures.

Professor Paul Jones (School of Media and Journalism) asked why the Carolina Metrics website requires a username and password to login.

Provost Dean replied that the group who prepared the site was worried about publicizing peer institutions’ data.

Professor Nancy Fisher (Microbiology and Immunology) asked if the non-tenure-track faculty percentage includes adjunct faculty.

Provost Dean said that he will find out and get back to her.

Chancellor Folt said that she was excited to find out recently that graduation rates for students on Pell grants have risen as result of recruitment and retention efforts.

Professor Bruce Cairns (Surgery), chair of the faculty, thanked the chancellor for her response to recent local and national events. He attended the last Carolina Conversations event, and he noted the need for members of the Carolina community to be like a family. He congratulated Professor Alexander on her new position, and he thanked the chancellor for creating an atmosphere and climate on campus where we can have open discussions about difficult issues.

Professor Hassan Melehy (Romance Studies) asked the chancellor to comment on the recent Board of Governors decision to make strategic salary increases for chancellors across the UNC system.

Chancellor Folt said that the legislature ultimately decides whether raises can be given. The Board of Governors has allowed some flexibility this year and in past years to give raises for faculty and staff out of central funds. This year the University cannot give any increase to Subject to the Human Resources Act (SHRA) employees without legislative approval, but there is flexibility for Exempt from the Human Resources Act (EHRA) employee raises. The chancellor said that the Board of Governors was in the process of reevaluating the hiring ranges for chancellors because the guidelines were 15 years old. The raises for chancellors are an attempt to make salaries more competitive and equitable.

Resolution 2015-3. On Admission Standards for Athletic Recruits

Professor Abigail Panter, senior associate dean for undergraduate education and chair of the Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Admissions, explained that Resolution 2015-3 was referred on February 27, 2015 to the Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Admissions from the Faculty Council to provide a recommendation for Council action. The committee unanimously recommends not adopting the resolution.

Professor Panter explained that the committee’s decision was informed by admissions and performance statistics. She said that the committee felt whole-file review for all prospective students should occur during the admissions process and that faculty should be in control of that review process. The committee also wants to ensure that they receive regular reports from the Subcommittee on Special Talent.

Professor Hassan Melehy (Romance Studies) asked if anyone from the Athletics Reform Group was present at today’s Council meeting. No one responded.

Professor Melehy asked if there are differences between student-athlete special admits and other admits in terms of academic performance.

Professor Panter said that the committee addressed the resolution as written and did not consider it to reach the issue Professor Melehy raised.

Professor Jan Hannig (Statistics and Operations Research) said that he plans to abstain from voting because the the resolution does not address whether the University wants to treat student-athletes like students who play a sport or like athletes who are forced to take classes in order to play a sport. He cited a recent student-athlete protest at the University of Missouri that contributed to the resignation of its president.

Professor Jonathan Engel (Physics and Astronomy) said that he serves on the Advisory Committee for Undergraduate Admissions. He spoke to Professor Jay Smith (History), head of the Athletics Reform Group (ARG), to get a sense of where the resolution came from. He said that the ARG would like to see the number of tier one students remain low. His sense was that the resolution would provide a policy statement from the faculty.

Professor Eileen Parsons (School of Education) said that she would feel more comfortable if she had more information about the general student body to compare with special admits.

In response to a question from Professor Vin Steponaitis (Archaeology and Anthropology) Professor Panter said nine tier one students were admitted through the Subcommittee on Special Talent in the current academic.

Professor Panter said that the Subcommittee on Special Talent has observed a sharp decline over the past several years in the number of students reviewed for admission. Professor Adam Persky (School of Pharmacy) asked if a random sample of non-student-athletes and student-athletes has been pulled to compare academic performance.

Professor Panter said that this has been done and that the selection of curricular offerings that the students enroll in is similar.

Professor Daniel Gitterman (Public Policy) said that he has served on both the committee and the subcommittee. He said that the Subcommittee on Special Talent spent one hour and a half every other week reviewing cases. He asked the Faculty Council members to consider their colleagues who are doing this work. He asked them to trust the faculty to determine who is a good fit for the university.

The original resolution was unanimously rejected.

Resolution 2015-14. Statement on Academic Freedom and Responsibility

Secretary of the Faculty Joe Ferrell presented a resolution on academic freedom on behalf of the Agenda Committee. He read the resolution and explained that the resolution was drafted in response to the SACS monitoring report. He noted that the resolution presents an opportunity for faculty to take a position on the responsibilities that come with academic freedom on their own initiative. Professor Ferrell said that despite the Board of Governors and Board of Trustees documents that protect academic freedom, academic irregularities have occurred.

Professor Nancy Fisher (Microbiology an Immunology) asked what constitutes an irregularity.

Professor Ferrell replied that listing an independent study course incorrectly as a lecture course or having a departmental secretary grade papers are two examples.

Professor Altha Cravey (Geography) said that the faculty are aware that those examples are indeed improper activities. She asked why a resolution to that effect is necessary.

Professor Ferrell said that University policy with respect to academic freedom is based on policy statements by the Board of Governors and the Board of Trustees. The faculty ourselves have never taken a position on the responsibilities that come with academic freedom.

Professor Ram Neta (Philosophy) said that he agrees with the spirit of the resolution, but he is concerned about the word “integrity” and how the word has been used by the media and conservatives lately to discredit classes that present points of view with which they differ.

In response to a request to clarify the connection between academic freedom and the abnormalities outlined in the Wainstein Report, Professor Ferrell said the report seems to suggest that the faculty, in the name of academic freedom, will not tolerate any oversight of the manner in which courses are taught.

Professor Andrew Dobelstein (Retired Faculty) asked what kind of mechanisms are in place to ensure that academic freedom is being exercised with integrity.

Professor Ferrell said that there are many initiatives going on to be sure that faculty exercise academic freedom responsibly.

Chancellor Folt said that there are currently 70 initiatives that provide oversight.

Professor Dobelstein asked if there is a list of those initiatives.

Professor Ferrell said that such a list is being compiled in response to the SACS monitoring report.

Professor Melehy said that Professor Neel Ahuja’s course on 9/11 literature was accused of not having integrity, but academic freedom does not mean that faculty have to present certain points of view. He said that a certain understanding of the word “integrity” could be used by outsiders to argue that faculty are not acting with integrity when they do not include in course materials all possible points of view abut the subject matter.

Professor Steponaitis said that the resolution is intended to be a statement of general principles. The faculty will make sure the spirit of the resolution is upheld through the mechanisms that have been put in place.

Professor Melehy said that he likes the spirit of the resolution, but he’s met others who have been impacted by politicized interpretations of “integrity.”

Professor Ram Neta moved to to change the word “integrity” to “transparency.”

Professor Steponaitis said that substituting “integrity” with “transparency” could imply that as long as a faculty member makes it clear she is doing something bad, then it’s acceptable. He said that adding “transparency” could open the resolution to abuse and misinterpretation.

Professor Ferrell said that he understands the definition of integrity, but has never been clear about what constitutes transparency.

The amendment to substitute “transparency” for “integrity” was adopted.

The amended resolution was unanimously adopted.

Diversity Syllabus: Diversity Issues among Fixed-Term Faculty

Professor Rumay Alexander (School of Nursing), chair of the Community and Diversity Committee, showed a brief video that addressed the use of labels to define people’s identities. She said that often labels can cause healing, hurt and separation. She reminded the Faculty Council that “fixed-term” is a label that can carry negative connotations.

Professor Nancy Fisher, chair of the Fixed-Term Faculty Committee, presented some additional analysis of a 2014 survey on fixed-term faculty at Carolina. Professor Sarah Birken examined the responses of minority fixed-term faculty to compare differences in the responses between minorities and other fixed-term faculty. Minority fixed-term faculty identified compensation as their top concern.

Professor Fisher said that there was a 2012 salary equity study at Carolina that found disparities between different groups. She said she would like to look into that salary data a bit more. She said that minority fixed-term faculty were also concerned about job security and contract length. The Fixed-Term Faculty Committee is currently discussing recommendations that could be made to administrators regarding contract length. Other minority fixed-term faculty concerns included parity with tenure-track faculty and valuation.

Professor Fisher noted that the label “fixed-term” separates non-tenure-track and tenure-track faculty. The tone of text responses was largely negative among minority fixed-term faculty. Some issues respondents identified were a lack of clarity about promotional guidelines and a lack of communication about expectations.

Professor Fisher said that the committee is planning to add additional wording to fixed-term best practices to encourage communication, sensitivity to difference, professional development and leadership development. She thanked Bruce Cairns, Sarah Birken, Katie Turner, Anne Whisnant, Rumay Alexander, Wayne Blair and the Fixed-Term Faculty Committee.

Professor Colin Wallace (Physics and Astronomy) asked how the recommendations will be communicated to departments.

Professor Fisher said that while they cannot tell departments and schools what to do, they can empower faculty to ask for improvements and clarity.

Professor Alexander said that she plans to communicate with deans and department chairs about best practices for fixed-term faculty.

Professor Muge Gucsavas-Calikoglu (Pediatrics) said that improving conditions for fixed-term faculty should be an institutional commitment.

Professor Steponaitis asked if the survey data has been broken down by department and analyzed to see which departments have an issue with climate.

Professor Fisher said that the committee has looked at data by school and the trends are similar.

Professor Cairns said that he has been working closely with chancellor and provost to address the issues effectively.

Professor Jennifer Larson (English and Comparative Literature) asked if there is information available about contracts that aren’t renewed or exit interviews.

Dr. Strauss said that it is difficult to get exit data on fixed-term faculty, but he suggested partnering with the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment to look at contract renewal rates.

Professor Leslie Parise (Biochemistry and Biophysics) said that fixed-term faculty positions are used differently across departments. Some departments use these positions for former postdocs who are looking for a more permanent faculty position.

Professor Larry Chavis (Business) said that the University forgets its values when it comes to how it treats fixed-term faculty. He has been a fixed-term faculty member in the School of Business for a number of years and is currently being recruited by a number of other universities. He said once you are labeled “fixed-term,” it is easy to begin to think you are being taken for granted.

Professor Rumay Alexander noted that once you are put into a certain category, your career trajectory is being defined for you.

Professor Patricia Pukkila (Retired Faculty) said that the same is true for targeted hires. The perception is that once a minority faculty member is hired, the culture of the department can stay the same. She suggested that is why targeted hires leave.

Professor Alexander said that the “Walking on Eggshells” article distributed at the previous meeting has some profound information about why departmental cultures should change.

Student Government presentation

Ms. Eliza Filene and Ms. Allie Polk, undergraduate representatives to Faculty Council, introduced themselves. They said that Student Government has a complex organizational structure that is rarely understood by outsiders. As external appointees, they are working to improve communications between Student Government and Faculty Governance. Among their goals are innovation, diversity and inclusion and improved communication between groups.

Standing Committee annual reports

The annual reports of the Faculty Hearings Committee, Faculty Grievance Committee and Research Committee were received by titled. There was no discussion.


Having completed its business, the Faculty Council adjourned at 4:46 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Kathryn Turner
Faculty Programs Specialist

Joseph S. Ferrell
Secretary of the Faculty

Storify Summary of Tweets Covering Council Meeting

We’ve published a “Storify” summary of the (mostly) live-tweets covering the November 13, 2015 Council meeting.  Check it out for a minute-by-minute overview of what transpired.

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