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FEC discusses faculty response to conflict in Gaza in Monday meeting


South Building stands on Wednesday, March 29, 2023.

In the wake of violence in Gaza, the Faculty Executive Committee addressed faculty response to heightened tensions on campus on Monday. 

Committee members also discussed new strategic directions for the Office of Faculty Affairs, which aims to retain and strengthen opportunities for faculty, in addition to new faculty evaluation policies. 

Here’s the rundown.

What’s new?

  • UNC Provost Christopher Clemons updated the committee on the University’s actions following the Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) lawsuit. 
    • A "working group" charged with implementing changes required by SFFA will continue to review the University’s admissions practices. Though the group has recently started discussing financial aid and pipeline issues, the application of the changed law is still unclear.
    • The Valuing Inclusion To Attain Excellence programis still funded and will evolve alongside new programs to meet the needs of faculty recruitment and retention in a post-SFFA world. VITAE is an existing program that aims to recruit new faculty members from underrepresented and other groups for tenure track.
  • The Office of the Provost is using an additional $30 million fund to make counteroffers to faculty who are being recruited elsewhere.
    • “The better we are at getting ahead of recruitments with an offer, the better we do at the retention,” Clemons said.  
  • The chancellor and provost met with Lynn Williford, head of the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, to discuss implementing new accreditation regulations passed in House Bill 8.
  • Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Giselle Corbie presented new strategic updates from the Office of Faculty Affairs and Leadership Development. The updates were developed by Corbie, Assistant Provost for Faculty Affairs Lachonya Thompson and Associate Provost for Faculty Development and Success Erin Malloy.
    • The Office of the Provost will update its new website, which went live last week, with new faculty initiatives and resources.
    • The ELEVATE program is a suite of faculty support programs, including peer mentoring circles for early-career faculty and professional development programs.
  • Faculty Chairperson Beth Moracco began a discussion on the war in Gaza and the role of faculty members in managing related conversations and on-campus response.
    • Professor within the UNC School of Medicine Anthony Charles referred to a response letter from a faculty member that said the chancellor had taken Israel’s side in the conflict, instead of the Palestinian side. 
    • “[Does the FEC] need to comment on every national crisis?" Charles said. "Bodies are being killed in the southside of Chicago every day, and we don’t make comments about that. And that is just as important as what’s happening in Gaza and Israel… once we go down this road, it is a slippery slope."
    • Professor of Persian studies and director of the Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies Claudia Yaghoobi said students have reported feeling unsafe in classrooms because faculty are targeting them. She said she recommended creating a guidelines document for faculty and graduate students.
    • “We have to protect both sides of the students. It doesn’t matter where we stand personally. It matters how we are protecting our students,” Yaghoobi said. 
    • The FEC said that a statement on the war did not seem necessary or appropriate but that there were actions the committee could take instead. 
  • Professor in the Department of Statistics and Operations Research Jan Hannig wrapped up the meeting by discussing a new teaching evaluation introduced by the UNC system. He said the new policy has a very inclusive definition of teaching but doesn’t offer specific metrics for evaluation.
    • “After carefully reading everything, I’m not too worried about these policies, other than that, it would be nice to have more details about non-classroom teaching,” Hannig said. 

What’s next?

The FEC will meet next on Oct. 30 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. virtually. 

@dailytarheel |

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