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.

Free Speech at UNC Reaffirmed

During our faculty tenure webinar Dr. Lloyd Kramer spoke about the common good as it relates to faculty and tenure.  In making his point, he shared a warning and valuable historical insight into free speech and what happens when faculty is punished for speech.  Below are his comments: 

“One other point about the common good…and I’ll be historical about this. 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–as we saw with the case of Professor Hedrick at UNC in 1856. He didn’t go along with slavery and he was fired…. Just as we don’t fire judges every year or say judges shouldn’t stay in their position, we assume that democracy–the functioning of our system—requires continuity and people who are in a long-term position. And, I’m not saying that tenured faculty are like judges, but they are in some sense in that they shouldn’t be vulnerable to every passing wind or current of political pressure economic downturn. So, the common good for the university as a whole and for the society [is a need to have]… independent creative people who are securely positioned. Both of these elements of the common good are served by a tenure system that also helps individuals have more stable lives and careers.”

On July 27, 2022 the Trustees passed two resolutions related to speech.  (Follow this link for a news story about the meeting and resolutions.) One of the resolutions affirmed what is known as the “Chicago Principles” outlined in the “Kalven report.” The Kalven report was created in 1967 at the University of Chicago when students were pressing the institution to take a stand on the Vietnam War.  The Kalven Report states in part that a university

 “is a community which cannot take collective action on the issues of the day without endangering the conditions for its existence and effectiveness. There is no mechanism by which it can reach a collective position without inhibiting that full freedom of dissent on which it thrives. It cannot insist that all of its members favor a given view of social policy; if it takes collective action, therefore, it does so at the price of censuring any minority who do not agree with the view adopted. In brief, it is a community which cannot resort to majority vote to reach positions on public issues. The neutrality of the university as an institution arises then not from a lack of courage nor out of indifference and insensitivity. It arises out of respect for free inquiry and the obligation to cherish a diversity of viewpoints. And this neutrality as an institution has its complement in the fullest freedom for its faculty and students as individuals to participate in political action and social protest…the instrument of dissent and criticism is the individual faculty member or the individual student. The university is the home and sponsor of critics; it is not itself the critic.”

The neutrality described in the Kalven report complements and reinforces the full freedom for faculty and students, as individuals, to participate in political action and social protest.  The report makes clear that “the instrument of dissent and criticism” is not the university, but the individual faculty member or the individual student, but also makes clear that the university is the “home and sponsor of critics”.  This is certainly reasonable and should not be threatening or limiting to individual free speech, academic freedom, or the free expression of faculty and students at UNC Chapel Hill.  

Here at the Coalition for Carolina we strongly affirm the democratic and academic value of free speech and are happy to report on an encouraging development from the UNC-CH Board of Trustees.

An Affordable Carolina For All

“Benefits of public institutions of higher education. The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.” (Article IX, Section 9 of the NC Constitution)

North Carolinians have the RIGHT to an affordable  higher education mandated by our state’s constitution. According to a report by LendEDU, over the past twenty years, the cost of college in the US has doubled and in some cases tripled.  The largest increase has been for those attending private schools or those who are out of state enrollees at public schools. This rapid increase in cost has far outstripped inflation which has recently been reported at a 40-year high.    

While the cost of college student debt has soared, so far, the state of North Carolina has weathered the storm and in 2020 ranked “19th in terms of lowest average debt per student with a figure of $26,866 — an increase of nearly 3% from the previous year.” About 57% of the NC’s 2019 college graduates reported having student debt. For that same year, Carolina reported average student loan debt of $22,466, and only 40% of our graduates with student loans.  

How does Carolina do it? The constitutional mandate has been upheld by visionary leaders like former UNC System President William C. “Bill” Friday who “famously called the University a “mighty engine,” driving opportunity, prosperity, invention, and innovation across the state.  Affordability is the fuel that gives this engine its horsepower, ensuring that all North Carolinians have the means to take advantage of the many higher education options across the state.”  Friday’s work was followed by President C.D. Spangler who worried that increasing tuition could result in “…an elitist university — an elitism of net worth, not brains.” Later, former President Erskine Bowles would promise to keep tuition in the wake of planned tuition increases from the then Board of Governors.

The efforts continue through the hard work of Carolina administrators, faculty, staff and alumni who’ve developed several laudable programs to lessen the cost of college to families.  A few examples:

  • Carolina Covenant: In 2003 and 2004 then Vice Provost and director of student aid Shirley Ort and Chancellor James Moeser launched Carolina Covenant to provide support to low-income students from households up to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level so they could graduate free of debt.  These students comprise about 13% of each entering class.
  • The Red White and Blue Challenge: Carolina alumni Steve and Debbie Vetter of Greensboro committed $20 million for need-based aid to support students from military families—many of whom are first generation college enrollees. The goal is to double the total to $40 million.
  • Blue Sky Scholars: Former UNC System president Erskine Bowles helped launch this program to support “middle-income students who make up the majority of North Carolinians receiving need-based aid at Carolina.” 

These are exceptional efforts that deliver on the constitutional promise. The vision, unity, collaboration and generosity that keeps Carolina affordable IS the promise of Lux Libertas. We can maintain a high performing, affordable, accessible Carolina for all.  This is the spirit that the Coalition for Carolina seeks to preserve and protect.  Join us.

https://www.northcarolina.edu/impact/affordability-efficiency/

https://www.ncleg.gov/Laws/Constitution/Article9#

https://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/news/2020/08/21/heres-how-student-debt-in-n-c-compares-nationally.html

https://campaign.unc.edu/story/blue-sky-scholars/https://www.higheredworks.org/2022/01/campaign-for-carolina-reaches-4-25b-goal/

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

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.

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…

Former UNC-CH Chancellor Thorp on the Tenure Process

The Nikole Hannah-Jones debacle at Carolina brought faculty tenure into the national spotlight last year. In this short video, former Chancellor Holden Thorp shares his thoughts on the historical role of the board of trustees in tenure decisions.

While the process for how tenure is awarded is important and has received much air time, there is so much more to know about faculty tenure.  

Join us next Wednesday April 27, 2022 at 3:30 pm for discussion about how and why faculty tenure was created and why it strengthens Carolina.

So far, over 200 supporters have consented to have their names listed on our website!

Thank you again for your support of the Coalition for Carolina.

There is still time to add your name!

Follow the link below to do so.

Faculty Tenure, Sustainer of Free Speech and More

One of the best-known benefits of faculty tenure is that it protects academic freedom. 

There was a time in this country when educators were restricted in what they could cover in class, speech and writing.  (Think the 1850s when Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin was banned for pro-abolitionist views as one example of such a time.) As a result, and out of fear of retribution, faculty stayed away from controversial or questionable topics. Tenure, and the protections it provided, changed that. With tenure, professors could speak freely, write freely, and encourage debate on the controversial or questionable issues of the day.

While the concept of tenure has been around since the founding of Harvard in 1636, modern tenure began to develop in the early 20th century. Tenure especially gained ground in the period around World War I (in part because some professors who criticized that war, or the developments of modern economic systems, lost their jobs).  Over the past century, academic tenure has helped to protect free speech on college campuses, foster research on difficult or controversial subjects, enhance the free exchange of ideas in university classrooms, and strengthen enduring connections between professors and the universities they serve.

Join our discussion about how and why tenure benefits Carolina. Featured speakers are UNC Chapel Hill professors Dr. Karin Pfennig, Dr. Lloyd Kramer, Dr. Patricia Parker, and Dr. Mimi Chapman.

March Madness Memories

Highlights from the UNC-CH versus Baylor Game

How about those Heels!

While we are always proud of Carolina, March is a special time for basketball fans. This year is no exception. We are especially proud to see both our men’s and women’s basketball teams in the Sweet 16!  As we root for the Tar Heels to go all the way, we are mindful of the privilege we’ve had through the years to be able to watch many exciting March Madness games, and other NCAA Championship events, right here in North Carolina.

While we’re able to watch our women’s team play just down the road in Greensboro this month, we are reminded that the same politics doing harm to Carolina and the UNC System today drove the NCAA to pull seven championship events from North Carolina in 2016.  Just like the Silent Sam and Nikole Hannah-Jones incidents, coverage of the so-called “bathroom bill” made for embarrassing national headlines. In 2016, the NCAA issued the following statement and Twitter post with their decision to pull the games:

“Based on the NCAA’s commitment to fairness and inclusion, the Association will relocate all seven previously awarded championship events from North Carolina during the 2016-17 academic year,”

So, as we go into the weekend to cheer our men’s and women’s teams into the Final Four, let’s be mindful that even the joy and excitement of March Madness can be ruined by politics.   

Here at the Coalition for Carolina, we will continue to do all we can to reduce the level of politicization and overreach currently taking place at Carolina and throughout the UNC System.

Go HEELS!