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Tuesday June 6th

Faculty Executive Committee talks publication access in wake of library budget cuts

Screenshot of the Faculty Executive Council meeting on Nov. 1.
Buy Photos Screenshot of the Faculty Executive Council meeting on Nov. 1.

UNC faculty concerns over upcoming University Libraries budget cuts continue to grow. The library system will face a total of $5 million in budget cuts over the next two years, according to an October campus message.

"I really am worried about whether or not I’m going to be able to do my work,” Barbara Entwisle, a sociology professor and member of the Faculty Executive Committee, said at a meeting Monday.

The committee also discussed mental health and wellness days and the Caregiving Work Group during the meeting.

What’s new? 

  • Elaine L. Westbrooks, University librarian, said University Libraries needs more permanent funding. 
    • “We have this immediate budgetary problem that has to be addressed,” Westbrooks said. “But we also, I think, have a responsibility to be looking long term into the future and be thinking about open access and thinking about a more sustainable, scholarly ecosystem.”
    • Westbooks, along with Chairperson of the Faculty Mimi Chapman and Secretary of the Faculty Jill Moore, met with representatives from the University of California System Monday to discuss the UC system’s unique approach to open access publications.
      • Westbrooks said universities and researchers often pay both journal subscription fees and article processing fees, which give individual articles open access. The University of California System is pioneering a system that would mean only paying once, Westbrooks said. 
      • “It's not a perfect model — it’s merely flipping the budget system, the way it's paid for,” Westbrooks said. “I actually think that Carolina could be unique and not only flip that business model, but also look at some of these other challenges — what I would say greed and equity in the scholarly publishing system.”
  • The committee also expressed concerns about mental health and discussed how to better support the mental health of the campus community for the spring semester.
    • Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Amy Johnson and psychiatry department Chairperson Samantha Meltzer-Brody will lead an all-day Mental Health Summit on Nov. 15. 
      • Chapman said she planned to cancel the FEC meeting also scheduled for Nov. 15 so committee members can attend the summit. 
      • “I'm glad we are not holding our FEC meeting, but shouldn't our students get a reprieve from classes and faculty members?” Deb Aikat, a professor in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, said. “How can we expect people to attend a summit when there are other commitments upon our shoulders?”
    • Chapman said there has been discussion about including wellness days in the spring academic calendar.
      • Meg Zomorodi, a professor in the School of Nursing, said she hopes there is a campus culture shift of self-advocacy and understanding related to mental health. 
      • “To give students advocacy to say, like, 'Today's the day that I need a break,' or faculty to be understanding of that — that's the culture that I hope we can kind of shift to," Zomorodi said.
  • Betsy Olson, chairperson of the Department of Geography and a chairperson of the Caregiving Work Group, gave an update report on the group. 
    • The group began to meet earlier this year to identify, evaluate and propose changes to support for student, faculty and staff caregivers in the campus community, especially in light of the changes to the caregiving experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Olsen said. 
    • “We would love to have you make recommendations about any groups, processes or practices that are difficult to discover, again, because we're looking across the entire broad community of our campus and looking at every caregiving experience,” Olsen said. 
    • The group plans to continue to meet through the spring semester and will then compile its final report.


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