It is important that the University community has an informed and accurate understanding of two issues about which there has been much recent misinformation: 1) the selection process for this year's Commencement speaker; and, 2) what I said about the process, speaker, and why.
First, the process. A Commencement speaker committee of five students (one from the GPSF), two faculty members (myself and Joe Ferrell, secretary of the faculty), and two administrators met twice to consider potential speakers. At each meeting, the students representing the senior class provided a list of nominees from their e-mail polling of the class. We sorted through this list several times, and generated shorter lists within the committee. There was not a great deal of overlap between the faculty suggestions and the student list, but we reached some compromises.
There were no more committee meetings after the second gathering, but on several occasions I inquired of administrators as to where we were in the selection process. Each time, the answer was that we had not yet secured a speaker. Weeks later, the next thing I heard about the speaker was the article in The Daily Tar Heel naming Stuart Scott. Thus, it is inaccurate to say that I was involved in selecting Scott as the speaker. I was not.
Second, as to my comments. I made it clear to Mr. Ferreri, and to WRAL News, that my concerns were not about Scott personally. Both the article and the TV news story accurately reflected that the issues were about the place of athletics within the academy, this year, in the wake of the turmoil surrounding coaching changes and salaries at UNC. Scott and I have been trading very cordial voice mails, and I am certain that he and I will emerge with a mutually respectful take on this. I enjoy sports as both a spectator and a participant, and in my view, campus life would be much less rich without the achievements and energies surrounding athletics. What troubles me and others on the faculty is the balance between athletics and academics, and the high stakes financial and corporate entertainment aspects of college athletics. I will be delighted to hear Scott's perspectives on these and other Carolina challenges.
And I am saddened by the petulant invective that has marked the on-campus reporting of and response to these events.
Faculty Council Chairwoman
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