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Committee on Community and Diversity talks faculty nomination process

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Alec White, a first-year at the time, fills out a course evaluation for the Fall 2017 semester. The Committee on Community and Diversity discussed the impact of COVID-19 on faculty teaching evaluations and the upcoming faculty nomination process over Zoom on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021.

The Committee on Community and Diversity met virtually on Jan. 8 to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on faculty teaching evaluations and the upcoming faculty nomination process. 

Who was at the meeting?

  • G. Rumay Alexander, clinical professor at UNC School of Nursing
  • Marcus Collins, associate dean and director for the Center of Student Success
  • Terri Phoenix, director of the UNC LGBTQ Center 
  • Sheila Kannappan, professor of physics and astronomy
  • Sibby Anderson-Thompkins, special adviser to the provost and chancellor for equity and inclusion

What’s new? 

  • Alexander led the discussion. The committee covered challenges faced by faculty members during the pandemic.
  • After the fall 2020 semester, routine student evaluations were made available for the faculty to examine. 
  • “Some faculty felt that they got a lot of criticism on things they could not control,” Alexander said.
  • Some faculty members said they are concerned about how the tenure clock might be affected because the evaluations did not factor in teaching delivery and adjustments made for remote learning.
  • The committee said it is considering putting COVID-19 citations on evaluations, similar to citations on student transcripts.
  • Committee members also said they are working toward a clear path on how the evaluations might affect upcoming nominations for the Faculty Nominating Committee. 
  • “I do think that there are a lot of diverse candidates in the list, which is very long,” Kannappan said. "The problem is that people don’t necessarily know a lot of the people who have volunteered themselves, and there is not a great mechanism for people to introduce themselves.”
  • Phoenix said that names could be disassociated with qualifications in order to blind the nomination process.
  • “It’s not that (faculty) are not being nominated, it’s the way that people are educated or informed about the candidates — that’s really the issue,” Anderson Thompkins said. 
  • As the University transitions to a new secretary of faculty in 2021, Kannappan said she hopes there can be a stronger emphasis on diversity that would counterbalance the current focus on efficiency. 
  • “When you’ve been in diversity efforts for so long, it’s very complex." Collins said. "The complexity results in inaction, where it gets to the point where nobody knows what to do." 

What’s next? 

  • Although there is not an agenda for changes yet, Collins said the teaching evaluations will be a point of discussion at the next meeting. 
  • “If we do some work around the nomination process and around the teaching evaluations, if we set up action steps and focus on those two things, we can set up the next steps," Phoenix said. 
  • The committee is set to next meet on Feb. 15.

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