Steponaitis said that at many of UNC’s campuses, these principles are not followed. For example, he said that at some institutions, the chancellor does not attend faculty senate meetings or faculty committees are not elected.
“For a number of campuses, this is kind of an aspirational document,” Steponaitis said. “I have been saying for years that it has been my understanding that faculty governance at UNC-Chapel Hill is really strong compared to the way that it is at most other universities.”
Steponaitis said he also believes UNC does a good job of giving the faculty a voice in the current system of governance.
One deviation from the system standards is that UNC-Chapel Hill denotes its faculty senate as a faculty council.
“I really like that we call ours a faculty council,” Joy Renner, director of the Division of Radiologic Science in the Department of Allied Health Sciences, said. “The term itself really implies collegiality and discussion within a council instead of a senate."
The committee also brainstormed issues and factors to consider when discussing changes in faculty governance. The committee plans to bring in former chairpeople of the faculty and look to other institutions for inspiration.
Steponaitis presented to the collective what he believes to be some of the most important ideas: continuity of leadership, institutional memory and adherence to a process that advances goals.
Anne Klinefelter, professor of law and director of the law library, agreed that process plays an important role in achieving the goals of faculty governance.
“Process itself is not the goal,” she said. “The goal is that the process brings us fairness, especially for a public institution.”
Other ideas brought up during the meeting were faculty-driven governance that includes adequate planning, manageable workloads, representativeness, sustainable costs and relationships.
“This is helpful for us to think about some of the tradeoffs and impacts of the way we structure things,” Klinefelter said. “Process and structure seems like it’s neutral — but it’s not. It should try to create positive changes and nudge things in the right direction.”