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Beth Moracco named as next faculty chairperson, to begin role July 1

The Old Well stands tall on Wednesday, March 29, 2023.

Beth Moracco has been elected as the next chairperson of the UNC faculty, succeeding current chairperson Mimi Chapman. In her new role, the associate professor of health behavior will update the Faculty Council on the state of the faculty and represent the chancellor in academic matters.

Moracco's platform focuses on community equity and faculty engagement in University decision-making. 

Chapman said at the Faculty Executive Committee meeting on Monday that she plans to step back as she comes to the end of her term. She has served as chairperson of the faculty since 2020 — and been active in conversations around shared governance, University leadership decisions and the proposed School of Civic Life and Leadership.

Moracco’s term will begin July 1. 

FEC members also spoke about a recent town hall held by the faculty, as well as the UNC Board of Governors’ proposed changes to the UNC Policy Manual.

What’s new?

  • A faculty town hall was held on April 10 and hosted by Chapman. About  200 University faculty and staff members were invited to ask faculty leaders questions regarding diversity, equity and inclusion on campus, employee retention, the recent BOG policy on compelled speech and more. 
    • FEC members said the town hall was a success and hopes they can continue to engage with the University community more in the future. 
  • FEC members also spoke about proposed changes to the UNC Policy Manual by the BOG, to be voted on in their meetings this week. Committee members said the UNC System heard feedback from multiple campuses in the development of their policy revisions. 
    • Currently, boards of trustees at individual institutions adopt policies and regulations regarding academic tenure. The chancellor is required to review the University policies every five years and are expected to include the faculty in discussions. 
      • A proposed BOG adjustment to the code clarifies that the chancellor makes final decisions regarding proposed institutional appointments and revisions. 
      • Other proposed changes include specifying the potential grounds for a non-disciplinary separation from employment of a faculty member. The policies would apply to faculty members with permanent tenure or appointment to a specified term of service. 
      • Sue Estroff, a professor of social medicine, said she has concerns that the non-disciplinary separation policy does not consider the accessibility needs of employees, especially regarding medical conditions. 
      • "It's all in the interpretation," she said.  
      • Committee member Beth Mayer-Davis, professor in the Gillings School of Global Public Health and dean of the UNC Graduate School,  also questioned the safety of academic freedom within the current code, especially as non-disciplinary separation specifically applies to tenured faculty. 
      • "What are the protections around academic freedom apart from tenure?" she said. "Because that's one of the foundations of tenure, but academic freedom is for anyone, any faculty or students."
  • Committee members suggested including questions regarding compelled speech in admissions and hiring positions at the University. 
    • Viji Sathy, a professor in the department of psychology and neuroscience, said Human Resources and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance should be consulted when considering compelled speech questions in applications. 
    • Chapman said faculty may not always receive consistent messaging in HR and compelled speech conversations on campus. 
    • "I can imagine a situation, getting different advice from different HR within different places within the University," she said.

What's next?

  • The Faculty Executive Committee will meet again on May 1. 
  • The BOG, which will vote on the proposed policy manual and code changes, meets April 19 and 20.