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Thursday October 28th

Advisory Committee discusses improving diversity in faculty leadership, reopening plans

<p>Screenshot from the UNC Advisory Committee meeting held virtually on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020.</p>
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Screenshot from the UNC Advisory Committee meeting held virtually on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020.

UNC Advisory Committee members met Wednesday to discuss the process of naming a new Secretary of the Faculty, the potential formation of a staff advisory committee and how to safely reopen campus in the spring.

Members shared thoughts on how to make the process for vetting and nominating a new Secretary of the Faculty open to a wider pool of candidates of more diverse identities. 

This position, held in five-year terms, is important among faculty because the selected faculty member will serve on 10 committees and play an important role in conducting elections and keeping records.

Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz explained that rigorous COVID-19 testing is a large aspect of the plan to reopen campus in the spring. He said there will be four COVID-19 testing centers on campus, with more information coming in the next couple of weeks. 

Guskiewicz also said he wants to get more input from staff when planning for the spring and is trying to form a committee of staff members to advise him on campus operations.

What’s new?

  • Robust COVID-19 testing will be a focus for the spring, Guskiewicz said. He said another goal is to reactivate the campus and give students a better college experience. 
    • “We have to be sure that students recognize that there’s more that happens beyond the in-classroom experience,” he said. “It’s the access to the other resources that we want to try to provide, but to provide safely.”
  • Tom Kelley, a professor at the UNC School of Law, said there are different metrics to consider in determining a safe return to campus. He also said the University needs to be very transparent with students and the community. 
    • “We need a robust testing program,” he said. “We need programs that are going to help support the mental health of our students. But, we also need to be extremely clear about the ways in which we are going to very strictly enforce these rules.”
  • In searching for a new Secretary of the Faculty, multiple members of the committee emphasized the need for diversity among nominees, including identities such as gender orientation, race, ethnicity and others. 
    • Dr. Kenya McNeal-Trice, a professor of pediatrics, said the initial nomination form, which currently does not ask for a nominee’s race or gender, should include more identifiers.
    • Dr. Wanda Nicholson, a professor of general obstetrics and gynecology, said the committee should make the process of reviewing nominations more open, not just the call for nominations. 
      • “The process is what we review and make more open, so that we’re able to cast a wider net and that it’s obvious that we are interested in a broad range of applicants,” Nicholson said. 
  • Committee members also discussed amending the Faculty Code, which includes no term limits on the secretary position. Some members said the committee should try to amend the code during the nomination process. Others agreed that the code should be amended, but that it would take too long and should be done after a new secretary is elected. 
    • Suzanne Gulledge, clinical professor at the School of Education, said she will circulate the proposed amendments to the code among the committee members and they will discuss it more at the next meeting.

Who is on the committee?

  • The committee is made up of the chancellor and faculty from various schools and departments at UNC.

What’s next?

  • The committee aims to call another meeting in early December to discuss the nomination process for the Secretary of the Faculty in more detail.
  • The committee did not reach a consensus on the process for this nomination. Members decided to push the original deadlines to call for nominations, turn in nominations and consider candidates until later, possibly into the spring semester.

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