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BOG hears concerns about inclusion at Strategic Planning forum

The Board of Governor's meeting on Thursday hosting a strategic plan forum.

The Board of Governor's meeting on Thursday hosting a strategic plan forum.

Board members presented the plan at the forum, hosted at the Center for School Leadership Development in Chapel Hill, then opened up discussion to the public on the plan’s five themes — access, student success, affordability and efficiency, economic impact and community engagement, and excellent and diverse institutions.

“It’s important to bring a voice to the faculty and to the strategic plan, especially the fixed term faculty,” said Nancy Fisher, professor of microbiology and immunology at UNC-Chapel Hill.

She said nearly half of the faculty across the UNC system, including at UNC-CH, are not on tenure track.

Andrew Kelly, UNC-system senior vice president for strategy and policy, said while the UNC system has been responsive to student issues, it hasn’t heard as many faculty opinions.

“We don’t just want to produce diplomas, we want them to mean something,” Kelly said at the forum.

He said surveys and campus forums will improve community engagement and provide a medium for responses from faculty and staff, current and former students and other community members.

James Peacock, a former anthropology professor at UNC-CH, said fixed terms leave faculty with low benefits, low pay and insecurity. He also said faculty are critical in producing the research the UNC system is pushing for.

Kelly said the UNC system is interested in producing more graduates with credentials in health sciences, STEM and teacher education.

Andrew Perrin, a professor of sociology at UNC-CH, said the UNC system should have a degree of intellectual humility when predicting which credentials will be important in the future.

“These need to be experiences that expand students’ minds, not just experience for experience sake,” Perrin said.

Trude Amick, director of technology commercialization at the office of Commercialization and Economic Development at UNC-CH, suggested UNC-CH create entrepreneurial opportunities for students as well.

“If we make it safe to fail, more students might go out and start companies,” Amick said at the forum.

Don Hobart, associate vice chancellor for research at UNC-CH, said during the forum that research and business endeavors create jobs and educational opportunities in the state.

“(Research) is a source of workforce for many of our businesses in the state,” he said.

Hobart said the faculty are the source of the UNC system’s success.

“If they’re not happy, they’ll pick up and leave,” he said.

Kelly said the Board will continue to seek comment to improve the draft of the plan.

“North Carolina is a growing state,” he said. “It will continue to grow — the system should grow with it.”


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