The election for the next chair of the faculty takes place this week. Bruce Cairns and Andrew Perrin are running for the position. Gabriella Kostrzewa sat down with the candidates to talk about some of the most pertinent issues for faculty, students and the entire UNC community. The interviews were edited for brevity.
What makes you the most qualified candidate to be faculty chair?
I have a lab. I am also involved in providing services to the citizens of the state as well as collaborating with all of these enterprises in the institution and most importantly perhaps really connecting with the people of the state and embracing these new ways of doing things so that we can connect with the people who support us.
All of the experiences that I have had over my lifetime have allowed me to develop these sorts of skill sets but ultimately when I think about everything I have done and why I want to serve as faculty chair it really is about service and it is making sure whether you are a student, a faculty member or staff that the faculty are working together to make this the best possible place it could be.
What is the role of the faculty chair in the greater context of the UNC community?
The chair’s role is to create an environment and a community at large that serves the mission of the University.
The faculty chair’s job makes sure that we have the process of faculty governance in place. Occasionally we will speak to the media about a comment on an issue and we have to be careful ... we really have to think about the context of UNC as a whole.
I think for the most part the job of the chair is to ensure that that the faculty have a process to address, resolve and implement the kinds of policies and procedures that are necessary to have the University function properly.
Do you think that UNC is handling the academic scandals any better than it has in the years past?
I think that there is a lot of pressure because of the issues related to the NCAA. One is what happened, the reforms and more contemporary issues about whether or not our students at UNC are academically capable ... It will take time for us to be able to sort these things out because any careful research particularly when it relates to people it requires.
I think that we have tried to strike a balance, and I think it is most important that faculty are involved.
What can UNC do to help retain more faculty, especially students?
I think it is important for people to be valued. I think that is really a part of the culture. Having the whole community feel valued makes people feel that whatever their role is in the institution then you can feel like UNC is the right place for you ... There will be people where this is not the right place for them but we don’t want someone to feel disenfranchised and leave because we haven’t addressed some issues that could have kept them here independent of budget. Students should simply be who they are.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing faculty at UNC today?
I think figuring out how for us to be one University. We have a new chancellor and a new provost and great vision to move this forward ... but for the most part UNC has been around for over 200 years. It is extremely well run, it has really delivered ... We just have to be responsive to the changes that are occurring.”