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Faculty Executive Committee continues conversations on BOT's recent proposal

The Old Well is pictured on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023, in Chapel Hill.

The Faculty Executive Committee, in their Monday meeting, continued their discussion of the new School of Civic Life and Leadership proposed by the UNC Board of Trustees. 

This conversation continues from last week's meeting. 

Here’s the Rundown:

  • Members of the committee worked on a list of questions to ask the BOT about its decision to “accelerate” the development of an SCLL without consulting the faculty. 
    • David Boliek, the BOT chairperson, was expected to answer faculty questions during the meeting but could not attend due to scheduling conflicts. 
    • Sue Estroff, a professor of social medicine, asked to hear the entire timeline of the School’s creation and the BOT’s decision — from the beginning of the process until the proposal.
      • "If I had a chance to ask a question, I would ask for a narrative of how this happened. A timeline, who was involved, what the impetus was, who reviewed it, so that we can understand how this somewhat unusual track appeared in front of us," she said. 
    • Other committee members proposed questions about how the academic need for the School was identified and how it would be distinguished from programs such as public policy, history, communications or political science.
      • “What are the career paths that will open for our graduates who come through this program that are not really open to them now? How will this expand the post-Carolina options for our students?” Eric Muller, a professor of law, said.
    • Committee members questioned how the SCLL would solve the problem of “self-censorship” on UNC’s campus. 
      • Francesca Dillman Carpentier, professor of journalism and media, asked if the school would address the psychological stigma around expressing polarized political views.
    • Barbara Entwisle, a professor of sociology, contrasted the surprise announcement of SCLL with the creation of the School of Data Science and Society, which was launched in the fall of 2022. She pointed to the long process and numerous planning committees that were necessary in the creation of the new school. 
      • “Maybe that’s a good model for us to think about as we think about this new school. I do think that if there’s going to be something along these lines, it would need to come out of the faculty, and the faculty should be the ones to push and pull and prod and figure out next steps,” she said.
    • Muller asked what role the BOT expected to have in the future process of creating the SCLL. 
    • Instead of debating about the potential curricula of the School, committee members said the FEC should try to focus on why the BOT accelerated the creation of the SCLL without consulting the faculty.
      • “If the rules have changed, we’d like to know who changed them and why and how, and how come we didn’t get to have a conversation about it,” Estroff said. 
      • Chairperson of the faculty Mimi Chapman described the BOT’s actions as a “terrible breach.”

What’s Next?

The FEC has scheduled a tentative meeting next Monday, Feb. 13, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., but it may be canceled due to the University well-being day, Chapman said. 


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Emi Maerz

Emi Maerz is a 2023-24 assistant lifestyle editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously covered UNC for the university desk. Emi is a sophomore pursuing a double major in journalism and media and dramatic art.