skip to main content
return to Gazette front page about the Gazette publication schedule links complete contents search the Gazette; browse back issues
more stories news briefs faculty and staff news photos
Wegner lauded for service as faculty chair

Employees earn Massey Awards for achievements

Wegner lauded for service as faculty chair

UNC taking proactive steps for water conservation

Special insert: 2006 University Teaching Awards

 

CONTACT THE GAZETTE:
(919) 962-7124
FAX (919) 962-2279
gazette@unc.edu

The Gazette staff is always looking for ideas for
interesting feature stories.
Do you have one to share?

University Gazette

 

 

Moeser and Wegner photo
Chancellor James Moeser presents a plaque and flowers to outgoing Faculty Chair Judith Wegner.

Nobody works harder. Nobody cares more about this University, or gives more of herself. Those qualities, taken together, are what has made Judith Wegner the kind of trusted and respected leader she has been these past three years as faculty chair, said Chancellor James Moeser.

They are among the many reasons why colleagues say she will be sorely missed when her service as chair ends. Wegner presided over what was her final regularly scheduled Faculty Council meeting April 21. Effective July 1, her successor will be Joe Templeton, a chemistry professor at the University since 1976. School of Government Professor Joseph Ferrell, meanwhile, was voted to a third five-year term as faculty secretary.

Joe Templeton
Templeton

Templeton, appropriately, punctuated the meeting with brief remarks of his own. As he put it, “Joe Ferrell allocated me two minutes of on-the-air time. I aim to use both of them completely.”

For his thoughts on his new job, Templeton said, “I believe I am cognizant of the responsibilities that you, the faculty of UNC-Chapel Hill, have entrusted to me as your faculty chair-elect. Your trust is essential, and I will try to maintain and nurture the health of our joint enterprise at every opportunity.”

In his remarks to the council, Moeser described Wegner as being not only a friend, but also an invaluable adviser from whom “I always knew I was going to get the unvarnished truth.

“Sometimes, Judith gave me advice that I didn’t want to hear, but she has the courage to speak truth.”

FACULTY COUNCIL ELECTION RESULTS  

Standing committees and college divisional officers

Advisory

Darryl J. Gless
Sharon L. Milgram
Cam Patterson

Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure

Ann G. Matthysse &
R. Mark Wightman (Arts & Sciences)

Kathleen K. Sulik (Medical School)

Ruth C. Walden (Other Professional Schools)

Athletics

Rachel A. Willis
J. Steven Reznick
Garland Hershey

Educational Policy

Gwendolyn B. Sancar
Andrew J. Perrin
Kevin G. Steward

Faculty Assembly

Judith W. Wegner
Bonnie C. Yankaskas

Faculty Executive

Rebecca S. Wilder
Bill Balthrop
Suzanne A. Gulledge
John V. Orth

Faculty Grievance

Barry S. Roberts (Professors)              
Victor J. Schoenbach (Associate Professors)
Wendy Wolford (Assistant Professors)
Suzanne Havala Hobbs (Fixed-Term)

Faculty Hearings

Michael Votta Jr.

Financial Exigency

Steven S. Birdsall &
Melisa L. Saunders (Academic Affairs)

Anthony N. Passannante & George F. Sheldon (Health Affairs)

Honorary Degrees

Hodding Carter III
Jodi Magness

Division of Fine Arts

Jim Hirschfield (Chair) 
Terry E. Rhodes (Vice Chair)

  Division of Social Sciences

Helen V. Tauchen (Chair)
John W. Florin (Vice Chair)

Administrative Board of the Library

Megan M. Matchinske (Humanities)
Paul H. Frampton (Natural Sciences)
Thomas M. Whitmore (Social Sciences)
Mark Weisburg (Professional Schools)

Moeser said Wegner also had the grace to speak truth in a gentle way.

It was Wegner’s creative thinking that led to a new funding model involving trademark licensing revenues and student athletic fees to support additional merit-based academic scholarships for students, Moeser said.

Moeser also credited Wegner with focusing on the critical issue of faculty retention. She spearheaded a comprehensive faculty survey that pinpointed a range of factors — some measurable, some not — that influence a faculty member’s decision to stay or leave. More important, Moeser said, she brought the issue to the attention of University trustees, who have responded with policies that have led to progress on this important front, he said.

Recently, she has launched a similar effort of elucidating trustees about graduate students, from the invaluable contributions they make in teaching as well as research to the financial circumstances they face to the need to do a better job of making them feel a part of the broader campus community.

Moeser said he has joked at times that the University needed to add a separate server to the computer system to accommodate the reams of information Wegner sent to South Building on issue after issue. The e-mail missives, he said, sometimes arrived at 2, 3 or 4 in the morning, until the in-boxes were full.

“I don’t know when Judith sleeps,” Moeser said. “But I do know, and I think you know, that she is tireless in her dedication to this university. She is incredible. She is passionate about her values and the things that she believes in and about this being a democratic, inclusive institution where people are treated fairly.”

Moeser said Carolina is a better university today because of Wegner’s service, not only as faculty chair the past three years, but also as a longtime member of the law faculty and as a former dean of the law school.

Many of those same qualities and achievements were cited in a resolution of appreciation that Wegner received from the faculty — a resolution that reflects “a chorus of voices” among members of the Faculty Council’s Executive Committee that captured the great heart Wegner put into her work.

“She has been tireless and thoughtful in her effort to be inclusive of all people and points of view,” the resolution stated. “She has an extraordinary memory for the members of our community. She can make critical connections among them to serve the better purpose. She has her fingers on the University’s pulse, and she hears, interprets, and reconciles different opinions, resulting in creative ideas and novel proposals. She is relentless in the pursuit of information and research to develop a knowledge base to strengthen her ideas and proposals, and she advocates forcefully and courageously for their potentially positive outcomes.”

One hallmark of Wegner’s leadership has been an ability to embrace the notion that disagreement is less a symptom of dysfunction than a healthy sign that the University is doing its job, which is to confront contentious issues in an honest and open and constructive way.

Toward that end, Wegner was a co-principal investigator in a successful bid to secure a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation in December to develop programs designed to promote a campus environment in which sensitive political, religious, racial and cultural issues can be discussed in a spirit of scholarly inquiry, academic freedom and respect for different viewpoints.

Wegner thanked faculty members for their willingness to get involved in faculty governance.

“We together are the faculty,” Wegner said. “No single one of us, no single discipline, no single viewpoint. Together we are stewards of the future, and of knowledge and what counts as knowledge — what is rightly to be thought deeply about. We serve as examples to our students about that. We serve as reminders to the body politic. That’s a high calling for all of us.”

Wegner said there are so many competing pressures, so many other worthy things to be doing that the University values that keep too many faculty members participating in faculty governance.

But it is through such involvement that they transcend the bounds of their own disciplines and departments and see the University — and experience it — as one community joined together in common cause.

It is that feeling, she said, that “was one of my greatest pleasures in serving as your chair.”

Pope Foundation funding discussed
Wegner said her last scheduled meeting as chair included more discussion about a controversy involving a pending proposal in the College of Arts and Sciences to seek funding from the John William Pope Foundation to expand the University’s offerings in Western studies.

A member of the Faculty Council, sociology professor Andrew Perrin, passed out copies of a two-page resolution that called upon the administration and the College of Arts and Sciences to withdraw the proposal. The resolution asserted that the proposed program, “by requiring disproportionate attention to ‘the West,’ is intended to have a lasting influence on the direction of the curriculum which would reflect negatively on the quality, reputation, and image of the University.”

The resolution also made a claim that Moeser and others strongly challenged - that the University administration has “repeatedly misled faculty members and violated explicit promises that instructional faculty would be consulted on all stages.”

Moeser urged Faculty Council members to be reflective, not reflexive, in the way they proceeded. “Consider the facts very carefully and the first fact you must consider is that this administration has not misled anyone,” he said.  “... I hope that this faculty in its best judgment will not send the signal that certain perspectives, or that certain subjects are unwelcome at Chapel Hill.”

Instead of acting on Perrin’s resolution, the council voted instead to hold a special meeting of the general faculty before classes end this semester. Ferrell said voting on the resolution — without benefit of the 24-hour notification that council bylaws created by council members call for — would be bad precedent.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert Shelton also objected on grounds of fairness because some of the people behind the proposal, including his successor — Bernadette Gray-Little, the current dean of the College of Arts and Sciences  — were not present.

“We need to allow for sufficient discussion whether it is today or another time and I think people who are party to the proposal, who have been involved in these activities, should be present and be able to give their perspective on it,” he said.

Wegner said she hoped that a special meeting to discuss the funding proposal to the Pope Foundation offered that kind of opportunity. As she put it, “I like difficult dialogue, so we are going to have some and I think that is perfectly fine.”

But Wegner said she could not support Perrin’s resolution. “In keeping with what the chancellor said, I would not vote for this resolution myself because I think it really tars people with ill conduct that I have no evidence that has occurred.”

The proposal requests nearly $5 million over six years to fund additional undergraduate classes and opportunities in four areas: honors, first-year seminars, undergraduate research and study abroad, Gray-Little later explained in an e-mail to college faculty that was also shared with all faculty campuswide. Funding would also pay for faculty fellowships, distinguished scholars-in-residence and distinguished visiting professors. A faculty committee would review and approve classes or awards in each of the four program areas; any resulting courses would be subject to normal review and approval processes.

All these programs reflect the priorities of the college and the academic plan of the University, she said. The proposal was revised in late February to include a full description and budget for the honors component and included components to the new proposal that had not been included in the proposal that the Pope Foundation chose not to fund in mid-2005.

Gray-Little acknowledged that some faculty members have special concerns about the proposal because the foundation also funds the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, an organization that has publicly criticized some faculty members.

“For these reasons I have publicly reiterated my firm support for academic freedom for our faculty and our position that members of the faculty are responsible for the content of our academic programs,” she said. n

A Task Force to Develop Guidelines on Donation and Curriculum Development has been at work since last year to develop a related policy proposal. The College of Arts and Sciences has posted a link to the current draft of the proposal, “Studies in Western Cultures,” including appendices at www.unc.edu/~deereid/PopeProposal/. The proposal remains under review by the John William Pope Foundation. The proposal in progress has been shared with College faculty three times including the current version April 21.


Return to Top