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Faculty Council talks vaccination data and faculty awards at Friday meeting

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In the zoom screenshot, Faculty Chairperson Mimi Chapman speaks at the Faculty Council meeting on Sept. 3.

Committee members on the UNC Faculty Council met last week to discuss current COVID-19 vaccination data and present faculty awards — the Thomas Jefferson Award and the Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prizes for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement.

What’s new?

  • Faculty Chairperson Mimi Chapman said while COVID-19 cases on campus are not as low as she hoped, the University is not in full-out disaster mode.
    • “We may not have everything we would want in terms of a vaccine mandate or complete choice in our instructional modes, but we do have a strong mask mandate,” Chapman said. 
  • Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said that over 90 percent of students on campus are vaccinated. He added that staff vaccination rates are approaching 85 percent and faculty vaccination rates are above 95 percent. 
    • “There are some good models there for us to follow with the hope that this will peak very soon and level off and/or we can see a downward trend in cases and hospitalizations”
  • Amir Barzin, medical director at UNC Health Virtual Care Services, said his team is looking at where viral caseloads are more prominent and are trying to implement targeted outreach and assessment testing for those individuals or areas.
    • “We have had no positives this week for employees on (the) CTTP (Carolina Together Testing Program),” Barzin said. 
  • Chapman also discussed possible solutions to address the problematic racial history of the Thomas Jefferson Award. Annually, this award is presented to one faculty member for exhibiting Jefferson's values of democracy, public service and the pursuit of knowledge. 
    • She said one option is to give the money back and no longer have the award to give. A second option is to change the wording around the award to reflect the history and reality of Thomas Jefferson. However, the final decision lies with the faculty.
    • The 2021 award was presented to Lloyd Kramer, a history professor at UNC. 
    • “I would like to accept his award by emphasizing Jefferson’s ideals, rather than his contradictions and his racist flaws,” Kramer said. 
  • Guskiewicz presented the Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prizes for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement to professors Nicholas M. Law, Alice Marwick, Daniel R. Matute and Cleo Samuel-Ryals. 

What are the responsibilities of the council?

  • The UNC Faculty Council consists of members from the libraries and each school on campus. The Council operates in two areas: legislative and advisory.
  • The Council’s responsibilities include voting on educational policies and rules, discussing degree and award recommendations and reviewing governing student conduct. 
  • They also provide advice to the chancellor and other academic units. 

What’s next?

  • The Faculty Council will further discuss the language used in honorary awards and degrees during their next meeting on Oct. 1. 
  • Guskiewicz said he will continue to engage with the Campus Community Advisory Committee to discuss the high levels of COVID-19 spread across North Carolina.

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