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Faculty Debates Award Criteria

The resolution would give special consideration in determining teaching awards for professors using information technology in innovative ways.

The move to redraft was prompted by members of the Teaching Advocacy Committee of the UNC Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars, who adopted a statement last Thursday condemning part of the resolution.

"Information technology is simply one of many sources that instructors use to communicate effectively with students," the committee wrote in a statement. "If students or colleagues judge a faculty member as deserving of a teaching award, they will recommend that award on the basis of overall teaching excellence, regardless of the methods and tools used by the faculty member."

This is not the first time members of the UNC Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars have been upset about the University's emphasis on information technology. This summer, faculty expressed concern when the Center for Teaching and Learning was merged with the Center for Instructional Technology.

Both centers now fall under the jurisdiction of Marian Moore, vice chancellor for information technology, and faculty said they were worried traditional teaching methods were being devalued in favor of technology when the two were combined.

Kevin Stewart, a member of the committee, said he understands why the FITAC drafted the resolution but that he does not believe effective use of information technology is enough to make a teacher great. "No single teaching tool should be singled out as evidence for excellent teaching," Stewart said.

But Bill Balthrop, chairman of the FITAC, said he stands by the committee's proposal to reward individuals who use information technology in the classroom. "We found the sense that there were not adequate rewards to encourage faculty to innovate with information technology in their classrooms," he said.

Balthrop said he is aware of the opposition to the resolution, which is now in the process of being redrafted by the FITAC.

Balthrop said members of the Teaching Advocacy Committee have approached him seeking ways to accomplish the resolution's goals, and he stressed the committee only is opposed to part of the resolution.

Joel Schwartz, professor of public policy, said he agrees with the FITAC that individuals who are effective users of information technology should be rewarded because it takes time to learn information technology and utilize it.

But Schwartz said he disagrees with the FITAC proposal and that the Faculty Council is ignoring the real issue -- rewarding professors for classroom performance. "At this moment there has never been a time in my 36 years (at UNC) when the educating of students has been more devalued than it is right now."

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