The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday April 13th

Letter to the editor: Response to Monday's Secretary of the Faculty article

To the editor:

Regarding your important story on the history of the Secretary of the Faculty, I am extremely disappointed with the photo that accompanies this article. 

I understand having two white men not socially distancing and not wearing masks subtly advances the premise of the story, but the image is deceptive. Even worse, the caption on the online edition claims that the Faculty Executive Committee discussion was “on Monday afternoon.” This statement is grossly inaccurate, needs to be acknowledged and immediately changed.

Most importantly, I (and several members of my family) are at extreme high risk for COVID-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been meticulously following all public health guidelines, and strongly recommended others do the same. This image suggests otherwise. 

This is not just my observation. Earlier this morning, I received an email from a member of the community extremely concerned about the message this image sends. I wholeheartedly agree with her. A picture paints a thousand words, and the message this image sends is all wrong during this dangerous time.

In addition, I’ve not been chair of the faculty since 2017, and this picture is several years old. Any number of more contemporary pictures could have been chosen, since four of the last six chairs of the faculty have been women (including our current chair, Mimi Chapman). Especially appropriate would have been a recent screen capture of the Zoom format, since that’s how FEC meetings have been conducted been for months now.

Finally, it is widely known that I was Chair of the Faculty when the current Secretary of the Faculty was selected. I would have been happy to comment on the issue for this story had I been contacted.

Bruce A. Cairns, M.D.

John Stackhouse Distinguished Professor of Surgery, UNC School of Medicine

Chair of the Faculty, 2014 to 2017

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