The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday January 20th

Faculty Executive Committee makes plans for academic responsibility

Monday's Faculty Executive Committee meeting opened with closed voting and proceeded to address the agenda.

Bruce Cairns, faculty chairperson, said he wants the committee to make a statement in the near future endorsing the principles of a statement regarding academic ethics. The proposal involves academic responsibility that goes along with academic freedom. 

"How many of you think that I am talking in code?" Cairns asked. "I'm talking in code in particular because this is one of these issues regarding an ongoing thing."

The committee has plans for a future reading on enlarging both the Faculty Athletics Committee and the Faculty Grievance Committee, but the reading is not a final vote. Cairns said these expansions are not controversial. 

"The expansion of the athletics committee allows us to have, for lack of a better term, the firepower and the capacity to have faculty engage in this more vigorous and ongoing evaluation of the status of implementations," Cairns said. "In some ways, it's to show people that the faculty are absolutely engaged in this process and that we take ownership of this."

He said the grievance committee's enlargement is necessary because of the growth in fixed-term faculty members.

"It's going to be an over 50 percent share soon," said Cairns. "It has grown from 25 percent to 47 percent in the past 10 years or so."

Susan Irons, a member of the Faculty Executive Committee and the Fixed-Term Faculty Committee, raised concerns about the seeming delay for a document of best practices, which she said pushes for longer contracts and a clear review system of fixed-term faculty members. 

The document will regularize titles of fixed-term faculty members, who will either be called assisting teaching professors or associate teaching professors. 

Another upcoming amendment addresses how committees are affected by the incapacitation of their respective committee heads. There is currently only one sentence in faculty provisions about the subject. Cairns was recently absent from his position as faculty chairperson following a heart attack. 

"It didn't make any distinction between, for lack of a better term, what you might call permanent vacancy versus temporary vacancy," committee member Vin Steponaitis said.

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