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Faculty Council wraps up 2014-2015

Faculty Council discussed student athletes, contextualized transcripts and more at final meeting of the academic year

UNC's turbulent year was on the minds of many at the final Faculty Council meeting of the academic year Friday.

Significant time was devoted to the Student-Athlete Academic Initiative Working Group, financial aid and contextualized transcripts. However, some faculty members expressed concern that issues relating to diversity did not receive enough discussion throughout the year.

Several committees present at the meeting brought up the possibility of a mandatory University 101 course, in which incoming students would be taught how to navigate the University. 

Binge drinking

Jim Dean, executive vice chancellor and provost, said a University 101 course would allow the University to take preventative educational measures against high-risk alcohol and drug consumption. 

Dean said the binge drinking task force found that education and support are the keys to combatting alcohol and substance abuse among students. The task force will rewrite the campus alcohol policy, which has not seen significant revision in 20 years.

Plan for the sciences

Kevin Guskiewicz, professor of exercise and sport science, said a University 101 course could include ways for science and math majors to experience the arts and improve their writing. 

Integrating science, technology, engineering and math courses with the arts is one of the goals of the Quality Enhancement Plan for the sciences, which is required for reaccreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. 

The report is due next spring, and the final decision from SACS will be in fall 2016. 

Scholarships and awards

Don Hornstein, chairman of the Committee on Scholarships, Awards and Student Aid, announced that 43 percent of students received need-based aid in 2013-14, which is consistent with past years. 

Of the aid distributed, 71 percent was in the form of scholarships and grants, and 27 percent were loans. This is a slight change from the previous three academic years, when aid was 74 percent scholarships and grants and 24 percent loans. 

"There are marginally more students having to borrow and get loans," Hornstein said. "This is something that is worrisome to us."

Those who took out loans in the class of 2014 had an average four-year federal loan debt of $17,113. This number has been steadily increasing for the past five years. 

"It's not nothing, but on the other hand, it's not terrible," he said.

Contextualized transcripts

Jennifer Coble, chairwoman for the Educational Policy Committee, said there may be a test period for contextualized transcripts. During this test period, students would have access to their contextualized grade reports, but the official transcript would not change. 

Contextualized transcripts were supposed to be implemented in December of 2014, but errors in the calculations prompted a delay.

Coble said the test period would give the Office of the University Registrar an opportunity to troubleshoot any errors that might arise. The committee also wants to conduct research on how transcript consumers will interpret the contextualized grading.

Student-Athlete Working Group

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Dean said the student-athlete academic working group will prepare a website rather than a report. The website has been designed and the group is working through the final edit of the text. It is expected to launch soon. 

The working group spent the past 18 months reviewing and revising student athlete policies. The group has identified and described 21 different processes that affect student athletes.

"This took a lot longer than we thought it would — a lot longer. I did not imagine it would take a year, but here we are 18 months later," Dean said. 

Faculty diversity

The meeting ran late, so time scheduled for the Community and Diversity Committee was cut short and faculty were directed to view the report online. 

The chairwoman of the committee, Rumay Alexander, a professor in the School of Nursing, was offered time to speak but declined. 

Shielda Rodgers, an associate professor in the school of nursing, voiced concern over the lack of time devoted to the committee.  

“I’m really concerned because we have had several issues relating to diversity on campus this year and also to end last year and to not hear within this forum, an opportunity for discussion, for me, marginalizes the issue even further,” said Rodgers. “As a person of color, but speaking only for me, I feel really shammed that this particular item has not had any place on the faculty council agenda this past year.” 

Alexander took the floor and announced plans for the first faculty diversity plan, which will be completed in the 2015-16 academic year. Alexander said she declined to speak initially because she wanted to focus on talking about true change. 

“If I give you a dollar and you give me four quarters, well, you’ve given me some change,” Alexander said. “But if I give you a dollar and you give me three dollars, now we’re talking a transformation.”

university@dailytarheel.com