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Thursday January 21st

Faculty Executive Committee discusses COVID-19's impact on UNC faculty

“It is very clear that our faculty are suffering during this pandemic," Executive Vice Provost Ronald Strauss said

Provost Bob Blouin addresses the Faculty Executive Committee at their virtually-held meeting on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020 where members discussed concerns among the UNC community regarding COVID-19 and the spring reopening.
Buy Photos Provost Bob Blouin addresses the Faculty Executive Committee at their virtually-held meeting on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020 where members discussed concerns among the UNC community regarding COVID-19 and the spring reopening.

The Faculty Executive Committee met Monday to address the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on faculty prospects of being tenured and other classroom concerns. 

Committee members also discussed issues they wish to bring to Friday’s Faculty Council meeting that will include Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Bob Blouin, such as when faculty will be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and concerns regarding the start of in-person classes, set for Feb. 8.

What’s new?

  • The committee favored creating a COVID-19 impact statement outlining the many ways the pandemic has affected the general faculty’s ability to teach, their mental health and other logistical issues, such as child care. 
    • “It is very clear that our faculty are suffering during this pandemic, and that there are circumstances of child care, homeschooling, parent care, spousal care, self care, lack of access to research archives, inability to travel,” Executive Vice Provost Ronald Strauss said. “The list is very long of ways in which faculty members have had impediments to their demonstrating performances.”
  • The committee also weighed possible reforms to the way student evaluations are used to determine promotions and tenures for faculty, specifically if they should be analyzed as a method of evaluation or as a way to monitor progress.
    • “While they are important and they help us to refine and change the way we teach and do better, there is an element of emotion that goes with it in terms of when the evaluation is done,” G. Rumay Alexander, a clinical professor at the School of Nursing, said. There was a strong recommendation to use the evaluations to monitor progress.

Who is on the committee?

The committee is comprised of 14 members representing a variety of departments at UNC, including Chairperson of the Faculty Mimi Chapman and Secretary of the Faculty Vincas Steponaitis. 

Who else was at the meeting? 

Strauss spoke at the meeting to put forth recommendations regarding the challenges faced by faculty amid the pandemic. He proposed that the committee should endorse tenure clock extensions as well as the COVID-19 impact statement specific to faculty concerns. 

What’s next?

The committee will meet again on Jan. 25 to continue its discussion of faculty concerns regarding the long-term effects of COVID-19. 

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