The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Professor Hassan Melehy criticizes Faculty Council insider culture

French professor Hassan Melehy spoke at the December meeting about problems with faculty governance he feels are a result of “insider culture” in the council — something he said is displayed clearly in the $3.1 million investigation.

“When I’ve gone through the faculty governance rosters, a few of the same names turn up repeatedly — often on multiple committees,” he said at the meeting.

“If this isn’t an insider culture, what is it?”

Melehy said he’d like meetings to include more debate — something there’s less of now, said Secretary of Faculty Joseph Ferrell, who has been involved with the the council since the 1970s.

“It does seem tamer than it did back then — not sure that that’s an improvement,” he said.

Melehy said the involvement of Jan Boxill, former chairwoman of the faculty, in the academic improprieties and their subsequent cover-up exemplifies how insider culture can create problems, citing a statement signed by every member of the Faculty Executive Committee in July 2013 that stated their full confidence in Boxill’s integrity.

Melehy feels the insider culture is the result of the nonrepresentative nature of the the council because of selection bias that favors larger departments.

He said he attempted to get involved with faculty governance multiple times but was only elected in 2013 when his opponent — from the larger and better-represented English department — withdrew.

“Familiarity is a factor. People choose people they know,” he said. “A body of faculty that is more willing to be challenging would be healthier for the University.”

Faculty Chairman Bruce Cairns expressed interest in improvements to the current system of faculty ?governance.

“If someone is critical, we need to give them the opportunity to share what their concerns are so we can have an open and transparent dialogue,” Cairns said.

“We need to be honest about what the challenges are so we can work together to create the best University possible.”

Ferrell said Melehy’s idea of a more senatorial council, where each department would be equally represented, is not practical because of the number of departments and the variations in their sizes.

“In smaller departments, you would have difficulty finding people who have the time to serve or have any interest in serving,” he said.

Dorothea Heitsch, a senior lecturer in the Department of Romance Languages, serves on the council as a representative of fixed term faculty in the College of Arts and Science and agrees that insider culture is something that needs to be addressed.

She said she feels the the council should focus on creating diversity, change and a more critical environment with higher member ?turnover.

“In order to bring that about, it would be nice if everyone on campus who is eligible to contribute to faculty council would take this opportunity seriously and consider their willingness to serve,” she said.

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a previous headline for this story mischaracterized Hassan Melehy's feelings toward the culture of the Faculty Council. Melehy is criticizing what he describes as an insider culture. The headline has been updated to reflect this change. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.