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Chairperson of the faculty nomination process discussed at advisory committee meeting

Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz hears from the Chancellor's Advisory Committee in the conference room of South Building in Chapel Hill on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019.
Buy Photos Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz hears from the Chancellor's Advisory Committee in the conference room of South Building in Chapel Hill on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019.

Members of the Chancellor's Advisory Committee met on Thursday to discuss concerns regarding the procedure of nominating the chairperson of the faculty and the lack of diversity among nominees. 

At-Large Constituent Suzanne Gulledge presided over the event with nine other attendees, including Secretary of the Faculty Vin Steponaitis and interim Chairperson of the Faculty Lloyd Kramer. 

Due to the policy of the Faculty Code, interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz cannot be present at any meeting discussing the nominations for the Chairperson of the Faculty, Gulledge said.

Following announcements of revised future meeting times, Gulledge said the purpose of the meeting was to review the process of identifying two candidates to run for the chairperson of the faculty in a general election that will occur in the spring.

Gulledge shared the thoughts of UNC’s Faculty Executive Committee concerning the nomination process for the chairperson of the faculty from this informal meeting.

“A couple of the comments made was to note the disparity of numbers plus the preponderance of leaders outside fine arts and humanities in representation among people who have been chair of the faculty,” Gulledge said.

Gulledge said that various FEC members suggested looking at peer institutions for examples of disproportionate representation, examining explanations of why health affairs have such a large voting proportion compared to academic affairs. She also said that FEC members suggested considering new roles like a vice chairperson. 

“So, my takeaway was that they are concerned," Gulledge said. "They recognize that this is our responsibility, but they had ideas and it was clear that some of the ideas they had do not fit the current structures of our current policy and would require an amendment to the Faculty Code."

If any changes are made to the nomination process, Steponaitis said it is important to acknowledge that it is a process that cannot be executed before the next election.

“There is no magic solution to this,” Kramer said.

Members from the advisory committee said they will keep the discrepancy between nominees from health affairs and academic affairs in mind as they consider future amendments of the Faculty Code. 

Steponaitis said committee members created a ranked list of candidates for chairperson of the faculty last year. Toward the end of January, candidates were then approached in rank order. 

Enhanced communication with candidates would greatly improve the process so that the advisory committee can have a better sense of the candidates, Steponaitis said. This would include asking for direct submissions from potential candidates. 

Malinda Maynor Lowery, an at-large constituent, said that any individual of the voting faculty is eligible to be a candidate. However, she said being eligible and encouraged are two different things.

The list of previous chairpersons of faculty consists of individuals who have held high leadership positions. 

“There are people that have definitely contributed to this campus in multiple different ways of leadership, but when you look at the culture of promotion, it is very disparate from department to department," Keisha Gibson, an at-large constituent, said. "So, somehow making sure it’s clear that this is open for the full faculty: I think the message has to get out there.” 

Although professors do not need to be full-time or tenured to apply for the position, Gibson said that's not the message that tends to get out.  

“Something that I have learned from this that I appreciate is that I have had the opportunity to talk to diverse individuals and articulate the faculty’s perspective on current issues," Kramer said. "I think that maybe this could say more clearly that it’s not just a job but it is a responsibility to put forward a vision of what the faculty means to the University."

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