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Friday March 31st

University committee hears concerns of inequality in faculty governance

<p>Screenshot from the Faculty Committee on University Government meeting held on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021.&nbsp;</p>
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Screenshot from the Faculty Committee on University Government meeting held on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. 

The Faculty Committee on University Government met Wednesday afternoon to discuss concerns of racial and gender inequality in the position of secretary of the faculty at UNC, addressed in an op-ed published in The Daily Tar Heel. 

What’s new?

  • Signatories of the op-ed joined members of the committee to discuss concerns about the lack of racial and gender diversity in faculty governance, specifically in the role of secretary of the faculty. 
    • The op-ed notes that every person that has held the position has been a white man.
    • “A lot of frustration that faculty of color have faced — and I'm sorry to be the person who has to do this, but that's what I have to do, which is kind of exhausting — is because certain institutional memories have been delegitimized,” Michelle Robinson, associate chairperson of the American studies department and one of signatories of the op-ed, said.
  • The signatories also discussed the amount of responsibility that the secretary of the faculty holds and the process through which someone is elected for the position. The Advisory Committee is responsible for nominating one member of the voting faculty for the role. Faculty have a chance to put forth additional nominees, and the Faculty Council votes for its preferred candidate. 
    • Bruce Cairns, one of the faculty appointees of the committee, agreed that the secretary of faculty labor should be divided, but that there is the issue of recruitment and coordination. 
      • “It's one thing to change the code, it's a whole other thing to transition faculty governance from what it's been to what it needs to be when there's a lack of resources,” Cairns said. 
    • The signatories then brought up concerns about the selection process of the secretary of the faculty and recommendations on how to revise these processes. Some of these recommendations include:  
      • To start revisions for the code earlier
      • To look at the responsibilities of members of the Faculty Council 
      • To look at opening the selection process beyond just the Advisory Committee

    Who is on the committee?

  • The committee is made up of seven faculty members who are appointed by the chancellor. The secretary of the faculty serves as an ex officio member. 
    • Vincas Steponaitis is the current secretary of the faculty. 
  • The committee focuses on the continuing development, adaptation and interpretation of the Faculty Code of University Government, according to its website. The code represents legislation regarding forms of internal organization and procedures at the University.  

What’s next?

  • The committee will continue to research how to resolve the concerns brought up by the signatories of the op-ed and to flag down other issues. 
  • The Faculty Committee of University Government will meet again on March 24.

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