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Sunday June 26th

UNC Faculty Executive, Advisory committees propose faculty governance changes

DTH Screenshot. Screenshot of the Advisory Committee and Faculty Executive Committee joint meeting on Feb. 14, 2022.
Buy Photos DTH Screenshot. Screenshot of the Advisory Committee and Faculty Executive Committee joint meeting on Feb. 14, 2022.

In a joint meeting of the UNC Faculty Executive Committee and the Advisory Committee on Monday, members discussed potential changes to faculty governance, including shortening the terms of the faculty chairperson and secretary of the faculty.

Conversations also focused on prioritizing diversity within the election and selection processes.

Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said the joint meeting of the committees could be healthy and helpful for faculty when discussing University matters.

What’s new?

  • Chairperson of the Faculty Mimi Chapman opened the meeting by reminding participants that it was for open discussion rather than strict decisions. 
    • “I don’t see this as a decision-making day in any way, shape or form," Chapman said. "I see this as just a discussion day — a chance to react to some of these things. We don’t have to come to any kind of conclusion. It’s useful just to get some reactions and some thoughts.”
    • All changes proposed during the meeting, including specific qualifications for positions, are still being discussed and processed, said FEC member Joy Renner, the director of the Division of Radiologic Science in the UNC School of Medicine.
  • One proposed change was shortening the term length for the faculty chairperson from three years to two.
    • Renner said though the term would be shortened by one year, two new positions would be added — the chairperson-elect and the immediate past chairperson.
    • The chairperson-elect would serve a one-year term prior to assuming the role of chairperson, and the immediate past chairperson would serve during the year following their term as chairperson.
      • “Hopefully, with the role being not much on the chair-elect and immediate past chair, it would make this look attractive to more faculty and a broader group of faculty that would consider running for chair," Renner said.
  • The committees also discussed changes to the election process, term length and appointment for the position of secretary of the faculty.
    • In order to allow for more preparation and to create a longer adjustment period before taking office, some FEC and Advisory Committee members suggested moving the election for the faculty secretary position to the fall. Currently, the election takes place during April, a few months before the new term begins in the summer.
      • “I wasn’t onboarded to see my own budget until November, when the job started in July,” Secretary of the Faculty Jill Moore said. “Having the runway is important for other processes, as well as personal learning.”
    • The current term for secretary of the faculty is five years and renewable with no term limits. Renner presented possible term changes, including shortening the term to three years, renewable with term limits, or five years with a one-term renewal. 
    • Updated roles and responsibilities of the secretary of faculty will be discussed in a future meeting.
  • Committee members also discussed diversity and inclusion within University government and the faculty governance election process. 
    • FEC member Rumay Alexander, clinical professor in the School of Nursing, spoke about creating an equal and unbiased selection process for choosing new members for governance and committee positions.
      • “My experience is that we have very long memories on this campus and we like comfort,” Alexander said. “As we talk about diversity and those pieces, how do you eliminate the biases? They can come from who is sitting at the table and talking about whom, and through what lens. We’re human so it’s going to seep in.” 
    • Candidates for governance positions are typically selected by the members of committees, which can sometimes create limitations, Advisory Committee member Sharon Holland said.
      • “We do, like any other organization, suffer from the ‘in-crowd’,” Holland said. “People talk about who they know. They don’t talk about or consider who they don’t know, but there are so many people in this University who are incredibly talented.”

What’s next?

  • The next FEC meeting will be held Feb. 21 from 3 to 5 p.m. The next Advisory Committee meeting will take place March 24 from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

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