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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Diversity from a dean’s view

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In his first year as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Kevin Guskiewicz has been asking his colleagues what “diversity” means to them. At the Jan. 27 Faculty Council meeting, he presented what he learned in “The Diversity Imperative from a Dean’s Perspective.”

“It’s not just checking the boxes,” Guskiewicz told the council. “It has to do with creating an environment, a culture, that really represents the diversity of the world we live in.”

Kevin GuskiewiczGuskiewicz, who has been guiding the development of a new general education curriculum, said that diversity is essential to the “modern, global, innovative, inclusive curriculum” scheduled to go into effect in 2019. As the University’s student body grows more diverse, faculty must follow – partly to serve as role models and mentors.

Diversity also leads to better education and research results. Guskiewicz quoted from a TEDxUNC talk by professor Joseph M. DeSimone, one of Carolina’s best known researchers and entrepreneurs: “A successful scientific endeavor is one that attracts a diversity of experience, draws upon the breadth and depth of that experience and cultivates those differences, acknowledging the creativity they spark.”

He pointed to a chart that showed a gradual increase in the diversity of tenured/tenure-track faculty over the past 10 years in the College of Arts and Sciences. Women now make up 37 percent of the faculty; 24 percent are minorities and 15 percent are non-Asian minorities (black, Latina/o, American Indian). “It’s important to show the progress that we’re making,” Guskiewicz said. “We’re committed to continuing to work on this.”

Guskiewicz has his own Dean’s Faculty Diversity Advisory Group. One of the group’s recommendations was to create a diversity supercourse. Co-taught by three faculty, “Intersectionality: Race, Gender, Sexuality and Social Justice” was introduced this semester. The class was filled to its enrollment capacity, 250 students.

He commended programs that help underrepresented students achieve success, such as the Finish Line Project and Chancellor’s Science Scholars, as well as initiatives to make classes more structured and interactive.

TIME TO GRADUATE

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost James W. Dean Jr. also touched on diversity in his presentation on academic performance, pointing out that the University is near the top of a list of peers in the percentage of American Indian and black undergraduates and near the middle in percentage of Latina/o students.

The chart that drew the most attention, though, was the graduation rates for the students entering in 2008. Carolina was sixth among its peers in its four-year graduation rate (80.4 percent) and 10th in its six-year graduation rate (90.4 percent).

Lee Berkowitz of the School of Medicine said that he found it “a little disturbing that one in five students doesn’t graduate in four years. I’d like to see a 99 percent graduation rate.”

Dean explained that Carolina’s graduation rate was “extraordinarily high” by national standards and that many factors affect the graduation rate. Students may transfer to other universities or have to take more classes because they have a double major or changed majors. It’s also difficult for many junior transfers to graduate on time because some of their previous classes don’t transfer.

“Sometimes people don’t graduate because of nonacademic reasons,” Dean added. “They may have to go home and get a job to support the family.”

VOTES AND POLICIES

Faculty Council members passed two resolutions from the Education Policy Committee. Students are not granted permission to enroll in a ninth semester just to complete a second major or a minor. The first resolution would allow students who are permitted to enroll for another reason to be able to retain a secondary major or minor.

The second resolution allows students with disabilities or medical conditions that make it difficult for them to register for classes even with priority registration to be allowed to register 30 minutes before seniors. Eligibility for this enhanced priority registration is rare, and the University extends this to students as an accommodation under the American with Disabilities Act, said committee chair Kristin Reiter.

Kim Strom-Gottfried, director of ethics education and pol- icy management, and Robin Cyr, associate vice chancellor for research, presented three items related to the Research Code of Conduct for the council’s information. The executive summary item has been finalized but the policy statement and standard are still in draft form.

Charlotte Boettiger, chair of the University’s Faculty Assembly Delegation, reported that her group met to discuss the Board of Governor’s strategic plan and agreed that body had listened to faculty representatives. “The administration and the president are open to hearing what faculty have to say,” Boettiger said. “Two matters are important to us: Faculty salaries are not OK, and we are concerned that the actions of the legislature will impact jobs here and may affect our accreditation.”