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Faculty Council passes resolution updating University Approved Absence policy

UNC's Faculty Council meets on Sept. 9, 2022 in Karr Hall.

On Friday in Kerr Hall, the UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Council had its final meeting of the academic year. 

Here’s the rundown:

  • Faculty Chair Beth Moracco gave a summary of faculty members’ responses to a survey about a motion to repeal and replace the current UNC System’s policy on diversity, equity and inclusion that was passed on April 17 by the Board of Governors Committee on University Governance.
    • Moracco said that out of the 34 Faculty Council members who completed the survey, the majority were opposed to the new policy. She said the results also showed “universal dismay” that the committee passed the resolution unanimously and with no deliberation.
    • Roxana Perez-Mendez, an associate professor in the department of art and art history, said she has seen firsthand the widespread benefits of the University’s diversity and inclusion efforts, such as sensitivity trainings.
      • “I wonder how effective we will be in the future if folks are not trained to engage with each other equitably while they’re here,” she said.
    • The new policy will be on the consent agenda at the Board of Governors’ meeting on May 23.
    • “The final contours of the policy, and its implications, are hard to know until we get the final policy and the implementation guidelines,” interim Chancellor Lee Roberts said.
  • On Friday, an ongoing pro-Palestine protest began at Polk Place, where students set up an encampment to demand the University to divest from purchasing products that support Israel military action.
    • Roberts said while the right to free speech is broad, especially in a public university, the protestors must comply with University policy.
    • “We have a long and noble tradition of peaceful protests here on this campus, and within the broad constraints placed on protests and demonstrations, we encourage peaceful and respectful protests from the students and from the rest of the community,” he said.
  • The council unanimously approved a resolution to repeal and replace the policy regarding University Approved Absences in an effort to give more flexibility for faculty members to make accommodations for missed classes.
    • Over the past year, the Educational Policy Committee has been working to review and revise the class attendance policy for clarity.
    • Committee Chair Lorraine Cramer, a teaching assistant professor at the UNC School of Medicine, said there have been a number of misconceptions about UAAs, including a belief that students are required to have a UAA to receive accommodations in class.
    • The policy was updated to clarify the parameters of an Authorized University Activity, absences regarding Equal Opportunity and Compliance, adding language to address short-term military leave, setting a requirement for the qualifications of a significant health condition and allowing for additional flexibility when determining appropriate make-up work.
      • “We took a six-page policy down to two and a half pages, hoping to clarify and be able to make it such that people — the students — knew what they actually could do and could not do and would understand it, and made it accessible,” Jennifer Weinberg-Wolf, a physics and astronomy professor on the committee, said.
  • Moracco said there will be a faculty listening session and open forum on the chancellor search during the first hour of the Faculty Executive Committee meeting at 3 p.m. on Monday in Kerr Hall. The forum will be open to all UNC faculty members.
  • Provost Christopher Clemens said he will name an interim dean of the UNC School of Education next week to replace Dean Fouad Abd-El-Khalick, who recently announced that he will depart at the end of June.
    • Clemens said a search committee for a permanent dean will be assembled over the summer.
    • “This school has grown and prospered under Fouad’s capable leadership, and we will protect it by seeking the best possible new leader for that school,” he said. 

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