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

A Step-by-Step Political Power Grab

The News and Observer reports: The North Carolina House passed a bill last week, “just hours after it became public, that would take some power from the governor and give it to the legislature. It is the latest move by the Republican-majority General Assembly to take power from Democratic Governor Roy Cooper. The bill would take control from the governor — and give it to the House and Senate’s top elected officials — to appoint seats on a local community college board, a move that has been done before. It is a local bill, meaning it cannot be vetoed by the governor.”

Last week we shared concerns from current and former Board of Governors members about a planned $115 million expenditure to relocate the UNC System office. The news about community college governance changes demonstrates that legislators are determined to find a way around the Governor’s veto power to work their will when it comes North Carolina’s public education systems and we have to ask; to what end? 

A look back at several public education governance actions paints an alarming and dangerous picture; especially when you consider Senator Berger’s expressed desire to create “synergies between the UNC System, the North Carolina Community College System, the state Department of Public Instruction and the state Department of Commerce”. He goes on to say that 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,” he said. “But I think they need to be in close proximity.”  Since the NC Community College office is right next to the legislature, “close proximity” could mean easy access for legislators. 

Recent actions, combined with those listed below, lead to this question; are these efforts part of a plan to completely transform public education in North Carolina?

  • An increased number of political allies running for local school boards–even in progressive areas like Durham and Chapel Hill–to exert more influence over K-12.

It’s Time for Action

If you are concerned about this, we urge you to make your concerns known.  You can do this by writing opinion pieces, contacting legislators, contacting members of the governing bodies, sharing content on social media platforms, and/or sharing your written comments with the Coalition so that we can republish them. You can find more contact information on our website

The time to act is now.  If you have something to say, The Coalition for Carolina will do what we can to amplify your message, but it will take more than just one voice to have an impact.  We urge you to speak up.

Dr. Lloyd S. Kramer: Historical examples of why tenure became so important to academics

There was a famous case in 1900 at Stanford where a sociologist named Edward Ross was fired at the request of the main trustee Jane Stanford, the wife of the founder of the university, after Ross made public comments opposing Chinese immigration and favoring public ownership of utilities.  Both of these ideas were deemed to be socialists at the time because they were positions by held by labor unions.  The president of the university fired Ross. He lost his job.

The second famous case James Cattell and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana were both fired at Columbia University

in 1917 for writing and speaking against US involvement and policies in World War I.

These are examples that aroused enormous outcry among faculty because people were speaking in the public square and they were losing their job within the university.

I want to give one other example and it has to do with UNC Chapel Hill and it’s especially relevant,  I think, because we know the history of our own university. This is an account of what happened in 1856 during the lead-up to the US presidential election.

An attack was made in the local press on an unidentified professor whose name was Benjamin Hedrick. He allegedly supported the anti-slavery candidate John C. Fremont, the Republican,  and the Raleigh Standard, the newspaper, said this would lead to a disaster, a separation of the states, and this was the quote;

 “Let our schools and seminaries of learning be scrutinized and if black Republicans [i.e., Fremont supporters] are found in them, let them be driven out.  That man is neither a fit nor a safe instructor of our young men who even inclines to Fremont and black Republicanism.” In this same newspaper shortly afterwards a letter to the editor appeared from someone calling himself an alumnus of UNC who said;  “Can the trustees of our own state university invite pupils to this institution under their charge with the assurance that this mainstream of education contains no deadly poison at its fountain head? We have been reliably informed that a professor at our state university [this man Hedrick] is an open and a valid supporter of Fremont and declares his willingness–nay his desire–to support the black Republican ticket. … Is he a fit or safe instructor for our young men?  …[O]ught he not be “required to leave,” at least be dismissed, from a situation where his poisonous influence is so powerful, and his teachings so antagonist to the “honor and safety” of the University in this State? …We must have certain security,… that at State Universities we will have no canker-worm preying at the very vitals of Southern institutions.

And what happened? The newspaper immediately said this (It’s like Fox News in 1856.):

 “We take it for granted that Professor Hedrick will be promptly removed.

And the next week the faculty disowned him; the parents threatened to withdraw their sons; and alumni joined the public in calling for his dismissal. He refused to resign and… he was terminated within a week, though his salary was paid to the end of the term.  The only faculty member to defend him was a French instructor named Henri Herrisse who was also terminated immediately at the same time. Hounded by a mob, Hedrick left his native state.

So, I have shared these historical examples because I want to suggest that tenure came about for two important reasons:

  • Number one, to protect the security and freedom of people to present whatever they believe to be the truth based on careful evidence in their classrooms and in their research
  • And secondly, to prevent trustees from arbitrarily firing any member of the faculty who exercises free speech rights outside the university.

Silence Won’t Save Carolina

To say that UNC Chapel Hill faculty salaries have not kept pace with peers over the past 10 years is quite the understatement.  The accompanying graph paints a picture of not just an an ever-widening pay gap relative to peer schools, but an inflation adjusted pay cut.  This is concerning and unacceptable. The recently announced pay increases will not fix the problem and this pay gap versus peers is not limited to full-time professors at UNC-Chapel Hill. 

How did this happen over 10 years without someone raising the alarm or doing something about it?  The lack of visibility to this data was one factor, but with the negative headlines, governance overreach, and meddling in day-to-day operations, the silence of those who care was also a factor.  

The Coalition for Carolina will do all we can to shed a light on issues like this, but we need your help, your voice, your activism.  Those who love Carolina can reach out to the trustees, members of the Board of Governors, state legislators, and education policy makers to let them know how you feel about the policies and practices that are hurting the university.   As long as there is no pushback, the problems will continue. Silence won’t save Carolina.

Data Source: Chronicle for Higher Education: https://data.chronicle.com
Data Source: Chronicle for Higher Education: https://data.chronicle.com

The state has the resources to address faculty salaries and underfunding of public education in general.  See the related news below:

NC Gov. Cooper proposes more raises for state employees and teachers:

“North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called for Medicaid expansion and more money for state employees and teachers this year in his budget proposal ahead of the legislature’s spring session.

The state passed a two-year budget in 2021, but the General Assembly may pass additional spending bills during its short session, which begins on May 18.

The Republican-controlled legislature is unlikely to model those bills on the Democratic governor’s recommendation, but they will have to negotiate with Cooper to avoid a veto of their priorities.

Cooper presented his proposal to reporters Wednesday afternoon with State Budget Director Charlie Perusse.”

NC Republicans are currently considering state employee and teacher raises, tax cuts this session – Reach out and let them know you are in favor of this funding: 

The first signs of the Republican-majority General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper agreeing on something this year sprang forth on Wednesday: Raises for state employees and teachers.

What isn’t clear yet: how much they might be.

House Speaker Tim Moore told reporters on Wednesday, the first day of the legislative session, that House Republicans want to look at “some increases” for state employees and teachers.

While the state budget is passed every two years, smaller budget bills in between can adjust spending. Republicans are looking at both money for employees and some sort of possible tax relief, Moore said.”

Higher Ed Works calls on state leaders to use a $6.2 billion surplus to “Make education a priority again”.

“RALEIGH (May 18, 2022) – As the NC General Assembly reconvenes today with a $6.2 billion state budget surplus, it’s time to make education a priority again in North Carolina.

Officials announced last week that the state will take in $4.24 billion more than projected in the budget year that ends June 30 – a 15% increase. And they revised revenue projections for the budget year that begins July 1 upward by $1.96 billion, or nearly 7%.1 

Meanwhile, North Carolina ranks 34th among the states in average teacher pay and 41st in K-12 per-pupil expenditures.2 Community college faculty are paid even worse. Turnover among faculty and staff at UNC System campuses has spiked dramatically in the past year.3 

And inflation continues with an 8.5% increase in prices in the past year, devouring the 2.5% raises state workers received last year.4

Why is this Happening?

What a week!  We are proud to welcome the class of 2022 to their new status as UNC-CH alumni. Last week was filled with celebrations.  Frank Bruni and Chancellor Guskiewicz gave excellent remarks at the commencement ceremony and, coming off the heels of our fantastic men’s and women’s basketball season, things felt pretty good. 

Yet, as our great University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill successfully launched the class of 2022, ugly headlines related to university governance once again appeared. A damning report from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) was followed by a downgrading of the journalism school accreditation from The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).  This rollercoaster of good times followed by bad news is frustrating and as we work our way through a series of emotions, many ask; why?  With respect to our governing bodies being so often at the center of the controversies, we asked former Chancellor Thorp for his opinion on what has changed.  It turns out that our governing bodies are not following what is known as good governance practices of “noses in and fingers out”.  Check out Chancellor Thorp’s opinion in the video below.

I would say, based on what I’ve observed, that the legislative bodies are much more involved in areas of university operation that they’ve never been involved in before. Particularly the hiring of administrators and the deciding on tenure and also on the curriculum.  This has never really been the case it’s always been true that the administration was responsible for hiring other administrators and the faculty were responsible for deciding on tenure and on the curriculum.  So, what you have now is kind of an incursion of the governing boards into areas that are not within the responsibility of the governing boards.  

There always has been incursion of various kinds from the UNC system and the governing boards.  During my time that was mostly in athletics.  And, you can see there that all of that interference really didn’t help matters very much and it’s not helping matters very much now to have the governing boards working on parts of university operations that are not in their remit.

Links to Recent News:

UNC-CH Journalism School Re-Accreditation Threatened

In the wake of the AAUP report that criticized “pervasive and overly partisan political control” at Carolina, The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, ACEJMC, sent another shot over UNC’s bow by downgrading the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media’s accreditation to “provisional.” https://www.wral.com/questions-about-diversity-inclusiveness-threaten-accreditation-of-unc-journalism-school/20261803/

After its review of UNC in 2021, the ACEJMC dinged the Hussman School for its lack of faculty diversity and inconsistencies enacting a 2016 diversity and inclusion plan.

It was an unexpected rebuke for what is widely recognized as the best school of journalism in the United States. Hussman students have won seven out of eight of the last annual Hearst Awards Competitions, the Pulitzer Prizes of student journalism, and the current Daily Tar Heel editor was just hired by the Washington Post even before her graduation.

Last year, in a widely-hailed coup, Pulitzer Prize winning author and McArthur Genius Grant recipient Nikole Hannah-Jones was hired as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism by Dean Susan King. But, instead of granting her the tenure offered to previous Knight Chairs that had been approved by the Hussman School’s faculty and the University’s Committee on Appointment, Promotions and Tenure, the University only offered her a five-year contract. After an outcry from faculty, students, and national media, the UNC Board of Trustees, working through its sub-committee on University Affairs, relented and finally voted to offer tenure in June. Hannah-Jones declined the position and took a Knight Chair at Howard University.

The accrediting team noted that in the aftermath of the Silent Sam controversy and the Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure debacle, “The UNC Hussman School is dealing with an existential crisis both internally and externally. The controversy surrounding the decision by Nikole Hanah-Jones to turn down a tenured, endowed chair at the school exposed long-standing problems. Several faculty members and staff, particularly those of color, said morale is low and they are considering leaving the school.” What we are experiencing here is yet another example of governance overreach that we alluded to in previous posts and Opeds. “Just as termite destruction can go undetected until the building starts to collapse, persistent politicization and governance overreach is taking a toll on Carolina.” The cumulative effect of politicization and overreach is now showing tangible damage to one of Carolina’s most respected schools.

Webinar Recording: How and Why Tenure Strengthens Carolina

If you missed our “How and Why Tenure Strengthens Carolina” webinar on April 27, 2022, you missed a great discussion.  Like business career paths, tenure is a 10-to-15-year highly competitive process designed to prepare talented and committed scholars for coveted leadership positions. 

Tenure plays a critical role in preserving academic freedom and protecting free speech.  Webinar moderator and UNC Faculty Chair Dr. Mimi Chapman shared examples of how tenure has been threatened around the country.  Several audacious actions are underway around the country to proactively eliminate tenure; replace tenured professors with those without tenure’s protection; or simply reduce the number of tenure- track professors.  If these efforts are successful, there would be a serious erosion of both academic freedom and free speech rights. Additionally, such a move could be yet another dangerous step in governance overreach. Dr. Lloyd Kramer shared an ominous historical fact during the webinar: “One of the most common characteristics of authoritarian societies is that when teachers or faculty go against some reigning ideological or political position, they are dismissed. They are removed.” Tenure prevents such acts of retaliation and retribution.  

Check out the webinar recording for more…