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UNC’s academic planning committee moving forward

As the implementation committee for the University’s Academic Plan enters its third month of slow progress, a pending meeting with the provost and a recently hired administrative assistant could help push the plan into high gear.

The committee has struggled to find its footing, frequently deferring to subcommittees or members of the administration as it works through the ins and outs of permissions and policymaking.

But as the group begins to take more active steps forward, big-ticket items in the University’s comprehensive 10 year to-do list could start to emerge from the monthly meetings.

“It’s important that we find ways to publicize our efforts and make clear that the University considers this a top priority,” said Bill Andrews, a committee member and senior associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Some of that work might fall under the jurisdiction of Stephen Barber, a recent UNC graduate, who has been charged with the more managerial and research-orientated aspects of the plan.

Most significantly, the committee’s co-chairwomen are set to meet with Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bruce Carney this Friday to discuss ways to better propel the committee and its plans forward in a fiscally conscious era.

“The provost is not averse to policy recommendations that cost money,” said Ron Strauss, executive associate provost and chief international office and a committee member.

“Santa Claus does not live in the provost’s office, but money is available.”

Strauss also acknowledged what he called the inherent difficulty of pursuing policy change through top-down direction.

“We don’t do very well on top-down change,” Strauss said.

Some of the six pilot projects selected for immediate consideration focus on policy areas that are already active parts of conversation on campus.

A call for improved dialogue on diversity and inclusion at the University squares neatly with some of the semester’s big issues — the Psalm 100 investigation, gender neutral housing petitions and student fee increases.

Gina Carelli, one of the committee’s co-chairwomen, was upbeat in her assessment of the planning committee’s future.

“The provost, the administration and the campus are dedicated and engaged in this plan,” Carelli said. “This is important to them.”

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