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The Daily Tar Heel

Bruce Cairns elected as UNC faculty chairman

The turnout rate for this year’s election was the highest on record.

Bruce Cairns will assume the role of chairman of the faculty once current chairwoman Jan Boxill’s term ends on July 1.

“I see this as an opportunity to continue the great tradition of service and leadership,” Cairns said.

Cairns, a surgery professor in the UNC School of Medicine and director of the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center, ran against sociology professor Andrew Perrin.

Anne Whisnant, the secretary of the faculty, said this was the greatest voter turnout ever.

She said in an email that 2,094 members of the faculty voted in the election, which exceeded last year’s record of 1,605 voters. She said this represents a 55 percent turnout rate, the greatest since the office began keeping records in 1997. Whisnant added the turnout rate for the medical school this year also increased dramatically from 32 percent last year to 53 percent this year.

The Office of Faculty Governance has more than 20 standing committees which handle faculty matters, such as educational policy, research and the status of women.

Cairns said he will be able to better prioritize the issues facing the University once he has met with all of them.

“Each one of them has an agenda and almost every issue that affects the faculty is addressed by those committees,” he said.

He said he would be working closely with Boxill until she steps down to ensure a smooth transition. In an interview conducted before Cairns was elected, Boxill said he has shown a passion for faculty governance.

“He makes it his business to understand, because he is just struck by the vibrancy and the brilliance of the campus,” she said.

Before the election, Cairns said he has much experience bringing many voices to the table and that’s something he hopes to do as chairman of the faculty.

“This is a really important time for the University, with a lot of changes,” he said. “It’s really important that we’re able to respond to those changes and support the faculty in all of its wonderful diversity.”

Staff writer Colleen Moir  contributed reporting.

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