Friday’s Faculty Council meeting ended with applause for the unanimous approval of a resolution supporting academic freedom and English professor Neel Ahuja, whose “Literature of 9/11” first-year seminar drew national attention in earlier September due to a blog post on a conservative forum.
But the meeting, the first full council of the academic year, was not without discord. Debate broke out before a final vote on a resolution to start a new committee on the future of academics and college sports.
Friday’s resolution was a substitute for an original proposal by history professor Jay Smith. The main change made in the substitute version was to ensure Faculty Athletics Committee would have a voice in the new committee.
The substitute resolution, which did pass, said Faculty Athletics Committee “shall establish” the new committee, and at least of its members are required to sit on the new committee members. The original resolution did not mention the athletics committee at all.
Joy Renner, chairperson of Faculty Athletics Committee, said she wants her committee to be involved so that the new group’s work is sustainable beyond the end date for its work, which is June 2017.
History professor Harry Watson, who voted against the substitute resolution, said the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges criticized UNC for problems in its faculty governance. He said that means the new review group should be unconnected to Faculty Athletics Committee.
“The athletics issue badly, badly needs a set of fresh eyes to investigate the problem,” he said.
Andy Dobelstein, who represents retired faculty, said the faculty athletics committee has been tone-deaf to problems in the past.
“The general mood of the retired faculty, particularly when the Wainstein report came out, was hurt, shock,” he said.