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.
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
Darryl J. Gless
Sharon L. Milgram
Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure
Ann G. Matthysse &
R. Mark Wightman (Arts & Sciences)
Kathleen K. Sulik (Medical School)
Ruth C. Walden (Other Professional Schools)
Rachel A. Willis
J. Steven Reznick
Gwendolyn B. Sancar
Andrew J. Perrin
Kevin G. Steward
Judith W. Wegner
Bonnie C. Yankaskas
Rebecca S. Wilder
Suzanne A. Gulledge
John V. Orth
Barry S. Roberts (Professors)
Victor J. Schoenbach (Associate Professors)
Wendy Wolford (Assistant Professors)
Suzanne Havala Hobbs (Fixed-Term)
Michael Votta Jr.
Steven S. Birdsall &
Melisa L. Saunders (Academic Affairs)
Anthony N. Passannante &
George F. Sheldon (Health Affairs)
Hodding Carter III
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
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
“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
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
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.