Content warning: This article contains mention of suicide and self-harm.
As the University community settles into the fall 2022 semester, the UNC Faculty Executive Committee gave updates on campus efforts toward mental health, the removal of The Daily Tar Heel’s recent op-ed and changes to the position of chairperson of the faculty.
Members also discussed faculty hiring and retention rates at their Monday meeting.
Here’s the rundown.
- Amy Johnson, vice chancellor of Student Affairs, updated meeting attendees about mental health efforts on campus.
- In a partnership, UNC Health and the School of Medicine received a $25 million dollar donation to create a suicide prevention institute.
- UNCCounseling and Psychological Services has established a formal relationship with the UNC Department of Psychiatry to provide direct patient care, Johnson said, and has received a $1 million dollar donation to extend the telehealth contract with Uwill for an additional five years. She also said that another counselor will also be added to the CAPS Multicultural Program.
- A searchable database for mental health resources is now available through the Heels Care Network website. The platform is a gateway for the UNC community to find mental health and wellness resources including student peer support, suicide prevention strategies and care referrals — according to their website.
- “We’re trying to pursue a bold approach to creating a culture and really fostering and extending a culture of compassion and care at Carolina,” Johnson said.
- Mental health seminars — a series that was launched as a follow-up to a day-long mental health summit held last November — will continue throughout the 2022-2023 school year, starting with a mental health colloquium on Sept. 14.
- UNC has been designated as a JED campus as of Feb. 2022. The Jed Foundation seeks to prevent suicide and strengthen the emotional health of teens and students by equipping communities with mental health resources. As part of the JED program, the Healthy Minds Survey, a campus mental health assessment, will launch in fall 2022.
- FEC members raised concerns about hiring and retention, faculty workload and class sizes at the University.
- UNC is struggling with the ability to hire technical and postdoctoral scholars although there is ample grant money, Chairperson and Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics Jean Cooke said.
- Rumay Alexander, clinical professor in the School of Nursing, said she continues to hear from faculty members from underrepresented groups about their invisible workloads.
- “That weathering that occurs, wearing away at people is what I’m concerned about — and particularly when we're talking about mental health” she said.
- Many faculty members have seen increasing class sizes without recognition of extra administrative work, said Viji Sathy, academic leadership program director for the Institute for the Arts and Humanities.
- “We do not have enough teaching spaces," Sue Estroff, professor of social science and psychiatry, said. "We do not have enough faculty to teach. We’re completely and totally unprepared, for all the reasons everyone’s been talking about to manage that much of an increase."
- The committee also spoke about how faculty should best move forward in promoting healthy public discourse after the recent removal of an op-ed from the Daily Tar Heel. Further conversation will be held at the Faculty Council meeting on Sept. 9.
- “I think we have to have conversations with our students both in the classroom and outside the classroom about what the campus is about, and not wait for an incident to happen but to make it an ongoing commitment we have to each other,” Estroff said.
- The Faculty Committee on University Government put forth a final draft of a revision to the responsibilities of the chairperson of the faculty and secretary of the faculty. The topic will be discussed at the Faculty Council meeting in September, with plans to be voted on in October.
- Revisions would include allowing the chairperson to lean on the immediate past chairperson in their first year, as well as helping integrate the chairperson-elect in their second year.
- “The nuts and bolts of it is moving to the chair position having a chair-elect and then sitting in the chair position for two years and then serving as an immediate past-chair,” Joy Renner, director of radiologic science, said.
The FEC will meet again on Monday, Sept. 19 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.