Two weeks away from the beginning of faculty elections, the candidates for the Faculty Council chairmanship are looking ahead to trying times.
Lecturer Jan Boxill and professor Vin Steponaitis will be the only two candidates on the ballot for an election that will span from April 13 to April 22.
Steponaitis, professor of anthropology and director of the Research Laboratories of Archaeology, said the council’s chairman will be forced to consider the long-term implications of any budget cuts.
“We’re under a great deal of financial pressure now. The University is going to have to change a lot of things about the way it operates,” Steponaitis said.
“The faculty chair will play some role in ensuring that those changes will take place in a way that doesn’t harm the University in the long run,” he added.
In Boxill, faculty have the option of electing a fixed-term faculty member to succeed McKay Coble, chairwoman of the council and department of dramatic art.
Coble, once a fixed-term faculty member herself, will step down June 30.
Boxill, a senior lecturer in philosophy and director of the Parr Center for Ethics, expressed concern for the growing pressure to reduce administration.
Jean DeSaix, chairwoman of the council committee on fixed-term faculty and a senior lecturer in biology, said cuts to fixed-term faculty could be disproportionate to those seen by the administration.
Fixed-term faculty are particularly vulnerable to cuts because they are hired on contracts that must be renewed upon expiration.
DeSaix said Boxill has a history of initiating conversations with administrators about the concerns of fixed-term faculty.
As director of the Parr Center — a position she said has allowed her to interact with faculty members and professional schools — Boxill said she is also concerned about the fate of centers and institutes.
“Although they are not considered part of the academic core, they are essential to the academic synergy,” she said.
In addition to budgetary issues, Steponaitis said that the new chairman could face challenges with ConnectCarolina.
“We want to make sure that the initial problems with ConnectCarolina are fixed right away, and that involves having good faculty input about the process,” he said.
Steponaitis said he, like Boxill, is concerned for the fate of fixed-term faculty — and the University’s reputation amid budgetary stress.
“The key is to protect the core missions of the University, which are teaching, research and service,” said Steponaitis, who has been at UNC since 1988.
“I feel a lot of loyalty to this institution. I’ve been here a long time and I feel like it was a great honor to be asked (to run),” he added.
Boxill said she is also grateful for the opportunity to lead the University’s faculty.
“It’s an exciting time but a time of anxiety as well because of the budgetary fix,” Boxill said.
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