An open letter to Margaret Spellings and Tom Ross

An open letter to Margaret Spellings and Tom Ross
Governor Cooper’s newly-formed commission on governance has gotten the attention of Dr. Timothy Kaufman-Osborn.  He submitted an open letter to NC Policy Watch’s The Pulse blog urging co-chairs Spellings and Ross to recommend a dramatic overhaul of UNC System governance.  We view the commission’s work as very important and reached out to Dr. Kaufman-Osborn for permission to share his open letter, in entirety, with you and that permission was granted. We thank Dr. Kaufman-Osborn for the opportunity to share this important perspective.

An Open Letter to Margaret Spellings and Tom Ross
Congratulations on your appointment as co-chairs of the newly-formed Commission on the Future of Public Universities in North Carolina. Governor Cooper’s executive order charges you with evaluating the governance structure of the University of North Carolina system and making recommendations for its improvement. I write now to urge you to consider this charge an invitation to consider a fundamental question that is often left unasked but should in fact inform every inquiry into how higher education is to be governed: Given the mission of our public universities, what form of rule will best facilitate that end’s accomplishment? 

The governor’s concern with UNC’s governance came as no surprise, I trust, since both of you served (only to resign under duress) as that system’s president. Each of you, moreover, knows all too well the recent fiascos that have bedeviled UNC, including but hardly limited to the botched tenure bid of Nikole Hannah- Jones and disposition of the Confederate statue known as “Silent Sam.” These embarrassments have sullied UNC’s reputation and sapped the morale of those whose statutorily-prescribed mission is “to discover, create, transmit, and apply knowledge to address the needs of individuals and society,” whether through teaching, research, or public service.

Nor did it surprise you, I’m sure, that Governor Cooper blamed North Carolina’s Republican legislators for the “undue political influence and bureaucratic meddling” that now afflicts UNC’s governance. For over half a century, all members of UNC statewide board of governors have been appointed by the General Assembly. Since 2016, moreover, the trustees of each university within the UNC system have been selected in part by the state’s senate and house of representatives and in part by the board of governors whose members are appointed by those same elected officers. UNC’s subordination to partisan purposes is thereby structurally enabled, as is its domination by what Cooper opaquely characterized as a “singularity of political thought” but more candidly might be labeled a right-wing political agenda bent on bringing UNC to heel. Insofar as this campaign succeeds, UNC loses its capacity to sustain the free inquiry that is an indispensable condition of its mission’s fulfillment. Resecuring the university’s autonomy must therefore be a central objective of the commission’s work. 

To achieve that end, the governor has suggested that the commission might consider recommending that members of the minority party be permitted to appoint several governing board members or, alternatively, that a few “education leaders” might be seated on that body. Mere tinkering with the method of appointing the board’s members, however, will not meet the challenge at hand. What these incremental proposals neglect is the internal organization of UNC’s rule in autocratic form. Because that constitution of power is itself at odds with fulfillment of the university’s mission, it too must be placed on your agenda. 

UNC’s current governance system represents the worst of all possible worlds. Members of the board of governors, according to state statute, are to be selected on the basis of “their ability to further the educational mission of The University through their knowledge and understanding of the educational needs and desires of all the State’s citizens.” In fact, however, governors are now selected by the General Assembly to promote the parochial interests of the party in power and, once in office, are given virtually unlimited authority to do so. 

The scope of that authority is a function of the board of governors’ constitution as a “body politic and corporate” that is granted sole responsibility “for the general determination, control, supervision, management and governance of all affairs” of the UNC system as well as the full panoply of powers necessary to execute that rule. Lest there be any doubt about this power’s extent, the Policy Manual and Code adopted by the board of governors affirms its exclusive authority to adopt any “policies and regulations as it may deem wise,” subject only to the proviso that they not contravene state law. The board, moreover, is authorized to amend or suspend any provision of the manual itself, thereby enabling it to modify its own policies but also the procedures by which those policies are made. 

True, the board has elected to cede certain “duties and powers” to the trustees of each individual campus just as it has delegated certain tasks to the system president as well as the chancellors of specific universities. Yet the board of governors also asserts its unilateral right to rescind any powers delegated to others and so, in the last analysis, these subordinate officers remain just that.

About the class of employees designated as faculty, the manual authorizes each campus to create a Faculty Council or Senate but is quick to note that the only role of these bodies is to “advise the chancellor on any matters pertaining to the institution that are of interest and concern to the faculty” (emphasis added). About the class we call staff, the manual says virtually nothing, which is not surprising given that these at-will employees are effectively irrelevant when it comes to UNC’s governance. Rightly understood, in short, faculty and staff alike are subjects of an incorporated “body politic” ruled by outsiders selected by and beholden to other outsiders; and that constitution of rule is more akin to an imperial relationship than one befitting a nation built on a revolutionary rejection of English absolutism and endorsement of the principles of republicanism.

An alternative to UNC’s autocratic corporate constitution is readily available within the state’s statutory code, and I offer it for the commission’s consideration. Like other states, North Carolina law distinguishes between membership and non-membership corporations. UNC is an example of the latter insofar as its board of directors rules over those who are not members but, rather, employees bound by contract. Within a membership corporation, by way of contrast, those who are now employees become members who, as such, are granted certain essentially political rights to participate in its governance. Although these rights vary depending on the specific terms of a membership corporation’s articles and bylaws, they typically include the right to elect and remove governing board members; to adopt, amend, or rescind the rules that regulate this corporation’s internal affairs; and to debate and resolve matters of collective concern at regular membership meetings. 

Within this corporate form, members exercise the powers of self-rule that, today, are monopolized at UNC by a governing board defined by its unaccountability to those it commands. Within a membership corporation, moreover, unless its articles of incorporation or bylaws distinguish between different classes of members, state law requires that all “shall have the same designations, qualifications, rights, and obligations” and, furthermore, that “each member is entitled to one vote on each matter voted on by the members.” The hierarchical and authoritarian structure of power that now characterizes UNC is thereby replaced by an egalitarian and democratic constitution that complements rather than contradicts the core tenets of the Republic to which it belongs. 

Reconstitution of UNC as a membership corporation will advance the system’s autonomy and hence its capacity to sustain the academy’s status as a home to free inquiry. This corporate form is better equipped to do so precisely because it does not place ultimate authority in the hands of an external board whose appointees rarely understand the distinctive purposes and practices of higher education and, too often today, are so many hacks bent on enacting the anti-academic agendas of red state legislatures. Governing board members selected by and hence beholden to a corporation’s members are far more likely to remain fiduciaries in the true sense of that term, i.e., custodians who understand that fulfillment of the university’s mission requires the institutional independence that is a prerequisite of its work. 

To offer this recommendation is not to say that the academy should be organized in strict conformity to the practices that define democratic rule. The scholarly community is not composed of so many equal citizens whose differences on specifically intellectual matters are to be resolved by tallying votes. But it is to say that, like a democracy, the university is predicated on an ideal of a self-governing community; and it is to say that the end of free inquiry cannot be realized so long as the power to regulate that community’s affairs is monopolized by a head that remains sundered from the body it superintends.

In closing, let’s be realistic: Any recommendations advanced by the Commission on the Future of Public Universities are almost certainly doomed from the get-go. No matter how bipartisan its composition, so long as the Republican Party remains in control of North Carolina’s legislature, proposals to modify the appointment process for the board of governors will not fly: “There is no interest in changing the structure of the UNC system,” declared a spokesperson for the house speaker, “regardless of whatever report this politically-motivated commission produces.” 

Given this unfortunate truth, how might North Carolina’s Commission on the Future of Public Universities most productively spend the eight months before its final report is due? In accepting the governor’s appointment, one of you rightly affirmed that “people need to be able to feel that they are represented in this enterprise. That sadly is not the case at the moment.” That trust might be partly restored by adopting piecemeal reforms that encourage creation of a less partisan and more diverse board of governors. This accomplishment will remain stunted, however, until those now ruled as subjects in the guise of employees are genuinely “represented in this enterprise,” and that requires structural changes that, happily, are already available in current law. If nothing else, should you reopen the question of UNC’s corporate identity, you will initiate a much-needed conversation about the form of rule that is best suited to further the university’s unique mission. 

Higher Ed Funding, Paul Fulton, and The Cooper Commission

Paul Fulton

Huge congratulations to Coalition for Carolina advisor Paul Fulton! 

Paul, former dean of the Kenan Flagler business school and NC business executive, is a tireless advocate for North Carolina public education.  He was recently honored by theNorth Carolina Society of New York at its annual Dinner Dance.

Since 1947, the Society has recognized 79 honorees, including John Motley Morehead III, John M. Belk, Dean E. Smith, Richard Hampton Jenrette, Julian and Josie Robertson, Gov. James Baxter Hunt, Jr., Dr. James and Ann Goodnight, and Thomas W. Ross.

Below is a video of Paul’s remarks.  This video was submitted by an attendee at the event. If it is difficult to hear what Paul is saying, please follow this link to read Paul’s full remarks.

Funding Higher Education

The funding of public higher education is facing challenges around the country.  In a recent post, we celebrated Carolina’s milestone achievement in raising private funds to support the university and noted that such “once in a generation” funding is no substitute for state funding. This thinking is underscored in a Chronicle for Higher Education opinion piece written by James Nguyen H. Spencer. He considers the importance of funding and investing in our youth and discusses the importance of public higher education as a public good.  Spencer goes on to

 point out how public higher education is facing funding challenges across the country and proposes a novel solution that would enable us to invest in our young people’s education, address current funding challenges, and realize a favorable return on the investment.

From the article:

 “In years past, public-college tuition was kept very low by state investment in public universities. But today, levels of investment have in many cases dropped from about half of a university’s budget to less than 10 percent. In some states, these aggregate reductions have been mitigated by the creation of state programs funding individual tuition support for residents, as in South Carolina and Louisiana, yet it’s still clear that states will no longer be the primary source of public-university support.

Financing an equitable higher education can be done: The U.S. has near-universal water supplies, transportation, and electricity for even its poorest residents. What would happen if we applied the same principles to the public goods that universities provide?

This could be done with the financial support of state-supported bond programs — or less preferably through the private capital markets (after all, student debt is a $1.5-trillion market), like most conventional forms of infrastructure. Upon graduation, a graduate would be asked to pay a small percentage of income back to the university for the duration of the graduate’s career — let’s say 3 percent to 5 percent. The graduates who become millionaires will financially outweigh those who drop out of the labor market. This mechanism should ensure that the monthly costs aren’t too burdensome.

The economic fundamentals of “investing” in our young people in this way are solid.”

Read more here: https://www.chronicle.com/article/higher-ed-is-a-public-good-lets-fund-it-like-one

Support for The Governance Commission

The Winston-Salem Journal has published an opinion piece in support of Governor Cooper’s commission on university governance.  They view the new commission as “a necessary first step to protect taxpayers’ investment in our university system and to right a ship that has listed starboard. We’ll watch for their recommendations with interest — and with hope that the legislature will be persuaded to take their recommendations seriously.”  

In supporting the commission, the Journal highlights some of the problems that have arisen as a result of one political party having “a lock on the UNC System”. They cite incidences where lawmakers used their power “at times to turn students into political pawns, as in the era of the HB2 ‘bathroom bill,’ when they tried to impose harmful limitations on where some UNC students could relieve themselves. Questions have also arisen over Republican-appointed board members who have improperly tried to influence university hiring and contract decisions, as well as, in one case, a student election. A couple of board members sought university chancellorships for themselves.”

The piece includes quotes from Governor Cooper and co-chair Margaret Spellings.

  Follow this link to read more of the Winston-Salem Journal’s point of view on the new commission.

FIVE BILLION DOLLARS!

What a milestone!

We’re absolutely delighted that more than 215,000 people who love and want to support Carolina students, faculty, research, and financial aid were motivated to contribute to the Campaign for Carolina.  Because of their generosity, Carolina has raised an eyepopping FIVE BILLION DOLLARS with a month to go in the fundraising campaign!

The press coverage of this milestone achievement has been glowing and well deserved.  Here’s a sample of what they’re saying:

  • News and Observer –  “The milestone makes UNC the first university, public or private, in the South to raise $5 billion in a single campaign. UNC joins five other public universities, and becomes one of 16 universities total, in the country in reaching that amount. The university described the milestone in a news release as one of ‘the most successful efforts ever in higher education.’”

This achievement is a much-needed boost of encouragement for our university leadership, faculty, and staff at a time when they’ve been bruised by headlines highlighting issues related to university governance and overreach.  This kind of support from those who love Carolina demonstrates tremendous confidence in the chancellor, administrators, faculty and staff.  It also helps to address some of the challenges the university has faced as a result of funding cuts over the past decade.  On a per student funding basis, the UNC system is still not back to pre-recession (2008) levels. (“The state spent $2,900 less per student in the University of North Carolina System in 2020-21 than it did in 2006-07, when adjusted for inflation.”)

Chancellor Guskiewicz expressed his gratitude in a press release saying; “I am immensely grateful for the community of donors and volunteers who have supported us on this journey….” Their generosity represents a strong affirmation of our mission of teaching, research and service. Reaching this milestone ensures that Carolina will continue to prepare generations of students and scholars to solve the grand challenges of our time.”

While we are absolutely delighted at this achievement, we are mindful that this is “once in a generation” kind of fund raising. Carolina remains a public university created for all the people of North Carolina and our sustainability is dependent on taxpayer support administered through the General Assembly.  In a previous post we pointed out how private fundraising has helped keep Carolina as affordable and accessible as possible, but private fundraising is not a substitute for consistent, sufficient, reliable state support. 

In this Thanksgiving season, we are grateful for the generosity of our Carolina community.   We have come together to support our great university at an unprecedented level at a critical time.  This fundraising vote of confidence speaks volumes. Thank you to all who supported, and will support, this effort.

UNC Performance Based Funding

The UNC System Board of Governors is looking to implement a new performance-based funding model that has potentially negatively effects on research-intensive schools and lower-income students.  They are also considering raising the out-of-state cap for some system schools, which have faced enrolment declines, but not for Carolina. These changes need more public attention and comment.  They are going to be considered for implementation at the November 16 – 17 meeting.

According to a WUNC article, the new funding formula prioritizes graduating in-state students in four years and with lower levels of debt. This is a great goal, but should it be a metric for allocating funds, especially when there are sound reasons for certain students to take longer to graduate?  These priorities align with the UNC System’s strategic goals, according UNC System President Peter Hans.   Board of Governors member Lee Roberts said, “UNC System universities would lose a total of $62 million in state funding based on this year’s enrollment. Under the new model, they would lose $36 million. But Lee also admits that  “13 schools do better under the performance funding model than under the old enrollment model, two schools do slightly worse.” He did not specify which institutions would do worse.  

Schools being rewarded for graduating students in four years — regardless of the student’s chosen fields of study, changes in major, need to work to pay for college, unexpected personal concerns, etc. and being rewarded when students graduate with less debt sounds good, but can be problematic. Both of these changes can make it harder for first generation or lower income students to attend and graduate from more expensive schools like Carolina and State. It also makes it challenging when students shift fields of study due to exposure to a larger world view one experiences with higher education. We recently learned of a real-world example of how a students seeking to change his major was negatively impacted:

John Doe entered Carolina as a freshman enthusiastic about majoring in economics. Between sophomore and junior years, he became very excited about computer science and wanted to change his major.  (This type of exploration, discovery and enlightenment is a good thing and one of the reasons parents send their children to college.) Because he had to take two prerequisites courses, which were not offered the same semester, he couldn’t dive into his new major until senior year.  He would need two more courses to earn enough credits to major in computer science, thus requiring him an additional semester beyond four years. Because he had enough credits to earn an economics major and had completed General College requirements, UNC told him he had to graduate in May with an economics major and meet the four-year graduation goal.  It is wrong to deny this, or any, student the ability to major in their desired field because the university is afraid of losing funding when it is the student who chooses to take more than four years to graduate. 

As for the model providing the schools an incentive to limit the debt students have upon graduating, Carolina is already focused on this and Carolina student debt is lower than the state average. Setting aside the fact that some of the increased debt load is a result of reduced state per-student funding over the years, less debt is a good thing and should be pursued. But, when students run into unexpected life changes, desire to change their major and spend more time in school, or even choose to attend a “stretch” school that requires them to borrow a little more, the school should not be punished with funding cuts.

As for the Board of Governors indicating that some schools will fare worse with the new funding model, while others will do better; why move forward without public transparency on exactly how each school is going to be affected? 

One of the ways schools can, potentially, get around the punitive impact of the proposed funding model is to raise more funds from non-public sources.  Carolina has proven to be very successful at this, however, the UNC Board of Trustees wants to reduce the amount of funding given to the development office. Why the handcuffs?

Why is the new funding model being considered? Historically funding has been based on enrollment and there has been a decline in enrollment across the country and the UNC system. (Carolina has not experienced such a decline.)  The decline in college enrollment was projected after the great recession of 2007-2008.  The birth rate declined during this period as people put off having children.  When the recession was over, the birth rate did not recover.  As a result, analysts began to warn colleges to prepare for enrollment declines projected to start around 2025.  According to their projections, after 2025, some college consolidations and closures could be expected to occur across the country as a result of fewer college-aged students in the population.  Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic was not anticipated in those projections and has only accelerated enrollment declines. So, we are experiencing the projected decline three years earlier and at a rate higher than expected. We are not disagreeing with the idea of altering the funding model. We just think the metrics chosen are ill-advised and also that they need more public awareness.

Randy Woodson, Chancellor of NCSU responded to the proposed funding changes saying; This is probably the most critical decision this board will make in a decade, because it has the impact of how the campuses operate for years into the future….I’ve got a CFO that’s been the CFO of three institutions in the [UNC] System, and he’s struggling with this.”

Follow this link to read WUNC’s entire analysis

Other News:

“The Public School Forum of North Carolina has released the 2022 North Carolina Education Primer, which serves as a fact-based guide to public education in North Carolina. The Primer provides a comprehensive overview of how education policy is made, along with the current state of public education and the policies guiding it. The Forum produces this guide in order to inform current policymakers, candidates for public office, and voters.

Education policy involves a wide range of interconnected issues such as school finance and facilities, accountability and assessment, technology, teachers and so much more. In order to make well-informed and evidence-based decisions, policymakers and voters face the challenge of understanding complex educational issues.”

In a piece entitled The Myth of Political Neutrality, Volt asks the question; “As higher ed becomes increasingly politicized, can college and university presidents afford to remain silent?”

Carolina – #5 In the Country

The US News and World Report 2022–2023 Rankings are out and once again our beloved Carolina ranks #5 in the country for best public university in a tie with University of Florida. Peer public university UVA rose to the No. 3 spot to tie Michigan after three consecutive years at #4. UCLA and UC Berkeley maintained their rank in the top two spots.

Nationally, Carolina ranks #29 out of 443 universities in a three-way tie with Wake Forest and Florida. This is a slip for all three from a rank of #28 in 2021-2022. Part of this slip might be attributable to a methodology change that US News and World Report made in 2020 and 2021. The new methodology “reduced the weight of SAT/ACT standardized tests to 5% (7.75% previously) and reduced the weight of high school class standing to 2% (2.25% previously) toward schools’ overall scores. The weight of alumni giving was reduced to 3% (5% previously) toward each school’s overall rank.” Additional changes included adding additional measures for graduate indebtedness as well as an increase in the weight for overall outcomes.

Below is a chart depicting how Carolina and the three schools it tied with nationally have fared between 2015 and 2022. Taking into account the latest 2022-2023 ranking of 29, since 2015, Carolina has moved up one spot, Wake Forest has fallen 2 spots and Florida has climbed 21 spots.
Here is how Carolina fared in additional rankings with nursing and business programs ranked among the top 10 in the country.#5 in Top Public Schools (tie)#5 in Nursing (tie)#8 in Management (tie)#8 in Business Programs (tie)AccountingAnalytics#9 in MarketingProduction / Operation Management#10 in Real Estate#10 in Entrepreneurship#11 in FinanceComputer Science#12 in Best Colleges for Veterans (tie)#15 in Best Value Schools#19 in Service Learning (tie)#24 in Study Abroad#29 in National Universities (tie)#61 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (tie)At schools whose highest degree is a doctorate#66 in Best Undergraduate Teaching (tie)#160 in Top Performers on Social Mobility (tie)
Other News:
In a surprising announcement, Kenan-Flagler Business School dean Doug Shackleford announced his resignations.

In a video message to faculty and staff, Shackleford reportedly said; “Serving as dean has been the greatest honor of my life,” …. “This decision has not been easy and I know it will be surprising to many of you. In brief, I’m very tired. I’m not physically ill and I’m sure I’ll be fine with some rest. But I need to hand the baton to another who can run at the pace this school deserves. Please know that this school is far bigger than any single person and it will continue to thrive….”

“In an interview with Poets&Quants, Shackelford says he had been actively considering leaving the job before his vacation but as the phone calls, emails and text messages piled up while he was trying to get away, he made the final decision to call it quits.” Read more about how and why Doug Shackleford announced his resignation in the Poets&Quants article.

What requests does the Coalition for Carolina have for the UNC-CH Board of Trustees?

Our request to the Board of Trustees (BOT) is that they focus their actions on what is good for UNC-Chapel Hill.  Period.  When making decisions ask, “is this good for Carolina” instead of asking if it is what some legislator or Board of Governors (BOG) member wants.  

The BOT at each system institution is to be an advocate for that institution.  At Carolina this doesn’t seem to always be the case. Some of our trustees seem to want to be conduits of information going from the General Assembly (GA) or BOG to Carolina.  It should be reversed.  Take the interests of Carolina to the GA and BOG.   Be stronger and more forceful advocates for the things that Carolina needs to enhance and fulfill its opportunity and potential for the people of North Carolina.  Stop micromanaging into affairs that are delegated to university administrators and faculty.  Trust the people who have been chosen to lead UNC-CH and help make them succeed.   

This request is emphasized in this video from our co-founder Roger Perry.

“We would like them to be stronger and more forceful advocates for the things that Carolina needs to enhance and fulfill its opportunity and potential –whether that’s faculty compensation [or] the multifaceted issues of academic freedom and autonomy for the administration.  But also, to learn and become educated about the university and to get into a comfortable place in terms of leadership and…[whatever] they can provide that is of the greatest benefit.  

In addition to [being advocates, our governing bodies need to be]…counsel to the chancellor and provost, supportive and laudatory of the faculty, and engage the state in promoting the really enormous benefit that Carolina brings to the state.  Generally, [they should become] a more positive influence and put aside and…behind them  their partisan ideology and recognize that what Carolina is and what it does is… teach,…research, discovers,…and transmits knowledge, information, and benefit to the people.   And, it really isn’t, as often portrayed by some folks, the boogeyman of dark, deep, liberal ideology that some people fear.  It simply doesn’t happen.  There’s not enough time for that. Our faculty and students are engaged in so much more important, interesting and more vital [work].  …Close scrutiny tells you that that’s what goes on here and that’s what should go on here.  There should [be] a platform that makes that even easier to do.”

 

What can people do to support the Coalition for Carolina’s efforts?

“I think that there are a number of things that people can do to help in this effort. 

First and foremost is to join the coalition. Second is to use your power at the ballot box to support candidates who believe in the benefit of higher education…who understand the tremendous value of Carolina and the whole system. In addition to that,  spread the word locally among your friends, associates and colleagues to where they come to understand [what’s happening to Carolina] and become engaged…. 

If you get really passionate about it, run for office…and make a change yourself.   Also be willing to directly confront members of the boards and the legislature when you feel like they’re doing things that are harmful.”

What else you can do to make an impact:

Write, call and/or visit your representatives to tell them you need them to support Carolina!

Click here for links to contact them.

The Chaos Continues

Governing chaos is not limited to Carolina or the UNC System. This week the NC Community College System president Thomas Stith III announced his resignation after little more than 18 months in the job.  With this departure, the state’s community college system will have had seven presidents or interim presidents in seven years!   During this same seven-year period the UNC System has had five presidents or interim presidents.  This level of chaos and turnover is simply unprecedented, astounding, and deeply damaging to North Carolina. Not only that, but according to WRAL; “the state community college system has lost nearly all of its top-level leadership in recent years, with high turnover throughout the system’s central office. Nearly half of the system’s 58 schools have also changed leadership.”  Prior to Stith, current UNC System President Peter Hans was the president of NC Community Colleges.

So, what’s next?  The departure of Stith and ongoing chaos in both systems has revised speculation that legislators might take advantage of the chaos to merge the NC Community College System with the UNC system.  Such a potential move was first reported in the Assembly in late 2021 and followed up by Education NC.  The latter provided a copy of an email signed by Thomas Stith which seemed to confirm that such a merger was under consideration.   Senator Phil Berger gave fuel to the speculation when he referred to : “synergies between the UNC System, the North Carolina Community College System, the state Department of Public Instruction and the state Department of Commerce…..[He’d] like to see them all in one building – or at least one campus….Maybe just one building, it may be a couple of buildings, …But I think they need to be in close proximity.”  We now know that “close proximity” means across the street from the legislature.  We have not seen evidence that such a merger would be good for either system and Mr. Paul Wiles, current Chair of the Board at Forsyth Technical Community College, implores us “not to be seduced into a false belief that the establishment of a sole governing body for public education in North Carolina would benefit our students.”

Meanwhile at our beloved Carolina, we’ve lost our revered dean of the Graduate School, Suzanne Barbour, to our athletic rival Duke.  Hired in 2019, Dean Barbour has been at UNC-CH less than 3 years.  While she has not said why she decided to leave, we hope that the numerous reports of low faculty morale on campus—particularly among faculty of color—did not contribute to such a huge loss.

Don’t like what’s happening?  Say something.  Follow this link for information on how to contact state leaders.  https://coalitionforcarolinafoundation.org/contact/

Daughtry: Gone from the BOG After Criticizing the BOG

On June 13, 2022 we shared comments from several Board of Governors members who were critical of the BOG’s decision to move the UNC System headquarters. One of those members was Leo Daughtry.  Here is part of what he said:

  • “IT SEEMS TO ME that politics has seeped under our buffer”. He added that the UNC System keeps a “political operative” on a retainer. 
  • “It is my opinion that the move from here to Raleigh was done purely on the basis of politics,” 

Now NC Policy Watch reports that “[a]fter six years on the UNC Board of Governors, Leo Daughtry is moving to the North Carolina State Board of Transportation.”  Mr. Daughtry said that NC House Leadership offered him a position on the new board and he “believed it was time to leave the Board of Governors”. In a phone interview with NC Policy Watch, Daughtry “declined to address whether political conflict was at the heart of his change in appointment. But, he [said that he] stands by his concerns about the relocation to Raleigh.

Here at the Coalition for Carolina Foundation we thank Mr. Daughtry for his courage to address this dangerous instance of politicization in the UNC system and wish him well in his new position.  

While the budget for the move has been approved, change can still happen. We can and must work to persuade our legislators to not follow-through with this bad idea. What can you do? Write them, call them, email them, submit opinion pieces, or share your thoughts on social media.  We must continue to speak out.

Other News:
The UNC System Office Move

In addition to the news about Mr. Daughtry moving to a different board, we’ve learned where legislators and the BOG want to move the UNC System headquarters to. And, unfortunately, we were correct about politicization possibilities. Higher Ed Works reports that the new location will be right across the street from state legislators and cost taxpayers several hundred million dollars. 
 
The 2022-23 State Budget

Higher Ed Works has published comments about the recently adopted state budget. 
They conclude that Carolina faculty and staff will not receive the much-needed pay raises we advocated for.  Instead, they will likely receive yet another inflation adjusted pay cut. 
 
UNC and Roe v Wade?

A recent news article highlighted our very own Dr. Mimi Chapman’s response to the Supreme Court abortion ruling, but questioned Carolina’s “silence” or lack of a response. 

“One week after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade with its landmark ruling in Dobbs v. Women’s Health Organization, public and private colleges and universities across the country have weighed in the elimination of a constitutional right to abortion.

From the University of North Carolina System and its flagship campus, UNC-Chapel Hill: total silence.”


The article references Dr. Rimer’s statement of The Gillings School as a reaction to UNC’s “silence”. We are looking into this further, but so far have not been able to find a UNC response comparable to this response from Duke.
 

What’s Up with The Faculty?

Today the American Association of University Professors came out with their annual report on faculty salaries showing that wages for professors increased 2% “consistent with the flat wage growth observed since the Great Recession of the late 2000’s.” Despite the first raise in several years occurring this year in the UNC system, salaries at UNC Chapel Hill remain behind our peers particularly for women and people of color. Combined with so much scandal and unrest, our faculty is highly vulnerable to poaching from better funded universities – often private, but not exclusively so – that can pay them better and perhaps provide a less politicized working environment.

Last week, someone asked a faculty member what they were doing this summer, “since you’re not teaching.” Faculty are asked versions of this question all the time, whether it’s summer or not. The implication is that if they’re not in the classroom, they’re gardening, playing golf, or on a multi-month vacation.  But a faculty member’s job both at research and teaching-focused institutions extends far beyond the classroom and is a year-round endeavor.  

Faculty come to an institution like UNC Chapel Hill because it is a research institution, a place that will support scholarship and allow them to contribute to solving current problems and to understanding both the past and the present. The faculty’s research mission is two-fold. First, to create knowledge through data collection, archival research, field studies, the use of artificial intelligence; work that happens at the bench and at the bedside, in the library and in the community. And next to disseminate the resulting knowledge through every imaginable channel – white papers on a website, peer-reviewed journal articles, interviews, and conferences, lay publications and twitter threads.  That dissemination is critical, because that is how the knowledge created here gets put to use by the larger society.  Much of that concentrated research work and dissemination happens after the typical 8 to 6 day and over “holidays” when the demands of the classroom are not as pressing. 

In addition to the classroom teaching most associated with faculty life, faculty members also spend copious hours with graduate students as they are becoming researchers in their own right. Chairing, editing, or otherwise overseeing their thesis or dissertation committees, writing letters of recommendation, helping graduate students prepare for presentations and job talks, supervising them in the classroom or in professional internships among other mentoring responsibilities also accounts for large chunks of faculty time. 

Faculty are regularly engaged in running the institution through hiring and awards committees, through curriculum revisions and updates, promotion, and tenure committees, just to name a few. For their disciplines and professions, they are editing journals, reviewing papers and grants for foundations and federal agencies. The number of hats most academics wear is astounding, and there is so much we’ve left out. No doubt being a faculty member is a privilege, just as being a CEO, a small business owner, or a partner in a law firm is a privileged position. But that does not make those roles easy or cushy as some may believe. Here at the Coalition for Carolina we want the public to have a better understanding of academic life to fully appreciate what UNC Chapel Hill does for our state. Understanding faculty life is one part of that. Send your questions and comments and we’ll attempt to address them.  

Submitted by:  Dr. Mimi Chapman – Chair, UNC Chapel Hill Faculty

Click the link below to access the full AAUP Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2021-22

AAUP Annual Report 2021-22