The University Affairs Committee of the UNC Board of Trustees met on Wednesday, March 22 at the Carolina Inn to hear an update from faculty chairperson Mimi Chapman on recent University issues.
Much of the discussion focused on tensions between faculty and the Board regarding the development of the School of Civil Life and Leadership, which the Board voted to accelerate earlier this year.
Compelled speech and DEIA actions
Chapman began by sharing data from the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment that showed between 80 and 96 percent of undergraduate students across schools expressed satisfaction with their academic experience. She then expressed faculty concerns over a few different issues.
- Chapman said faculty are concerned that a revised UNC System policy on employee political activities would inhibit the types of questions that can be asked during the hiring process.
- The Board of Governors updated the policy in late February to advise University representatives to avoid questions that would solicit applicants to share viewpoints or beliefs — such as a diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility statements or political perspectives.
- Faculty members feel “worried, anxious and devalued,” Chapman said after the North Carolina General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations requested documents related to DEIA training and activities in a March 14 letter.
Dispute over SCiLL timeline
Chapman spoke about an op-ed, written by Trustee Perrin Jones, that was published in the Greensboro News & Record on March 17.
- In the op-ed, Jones asserted that SCiLL was introduced by faculty and administration over several years.
- He also wrote that the Faculty Council voted on the Program for Public Discourse twice, in September and October meetings in 2019.
- “Based on the op-ed, it appears that there is still considerable confusion about what happened when and what votes have been taken by faculty,” Chapman said.
She said the Faculty Council voted to approve the IDEAs in Action curriculum in April 2019 and voted on a motion, which she said failed in October 2019, to delay the implementation of the Program for Public Discourse.