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Chapman prepares to speak before BOT, faculty discusses relationship with board


Mimi Chapman, Chair of the Faculty Executive Committee, listens at a faculty council meeting in Karr Hall on Sept. 9, 2022.

Chairperson of the Faculty Mimi Chapman has been invited to speak before the UNC Board of Trustees this coming Wednesday, March 22.

In Monday’s Faculty Executive Committee meeting, Chapman asked faculty leaders about what she should include in her address to best represent the faculty. Here’s the breakdown: 

What’s new? 

  • In response to criticism from some national media outlets that professors at UNC share largely liberal political views in the classroom, Chapman said she plans to highlight faculty achievements before the BOT. The discussion came after community backlash surrounding a January resolution by the board to accelerate the development of the proposed School of Civic Life and Leadership. Faculty members have said they were not included in the decision.
  • The committee members present agreed with Chapman’s planned approach, and conversations continued regarding the content that should be included within her talk with the board. 
    • FEC member Eric Muller addressed community members and media outlets that have called the faculty left-leaning. He said the research, authorship and teaching by UNC faculty are proof of the professional and unbiased approach most professors take in the classroom. 
      • “I do think it’s important for (the board) to hear that faculty are feeling very much disrespected in this whole process and that that’s affecting our ability to do what it is that we’re passionate about doing, and that’s teaching and research,” FEC member Rumay Alexander said.
      • A recent report conducted by professors at UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC-Greensboro revealed that conservative students are more likely to self-censor in the classroom due to fear of being judged by others. 
  • Committee member Jean Cook said she would be curious about what members of the board would like to know specifically about classroom settings at the University. 
    • “It’s really just to showcase the kind of excellence, is my thought, rather than get into their argument in any way, but just to say this is demoralizing to people that are doing important excellent things that are being recognized and bring honor to this University,” Chapman said. 
  • Chapman said that one of the greatest constraints with the BOT’s invitation is the time limit posed for her speech – about ten minutes.
    • Chapman said she has not seen the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting. 
    • However, Cook questioned whether or not recent requests from the legislature and the Board of Governors concerning diversity, equity and inclusion training will be included in the agenda.
    • According to Alexander, who is also the former chief diversity officer at UNC, some people are concerned that too much money is being put toward DEI efforts. 
      • “I’d be surprised if it didn’t come up,” Alexander said. “It is about the accumulation of money. It’s not about the fact that we have our own experts, it is about why we are spending money on this.”
  • Despite the time limit and some fear of not receiving the desired outcome, the consensus amongst FEC members was that Chapman should bring up the diversity requests in some capacity. 
    • Alexander said not talking about diversity makes it seem like the University is avoiding the topic. This is not the case, she said. 
    • “It’s this piling up of issues that is creating this trust and demoralizing piece and it has this chilling effect on people,” Alexander said.
  • Overall, the faculty want to engage and collaborate with the BOT, Beth Mayer-Davis, professor of nutrition and medicine, said.
    • This address is an opportunity for Chapman to highlight topics that will excite members of the Board, FEC member Barbara Entwisle said. 

What’s next? 

The next FEC meeting will be held April 3 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. 


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