A special May 10 meeting of the general faculty was
cancelled following modification to a funding proposal pending with the John W.
Pope Foundation of Raleigh and the withdrawal of two proposed resolutions
scheduled for discussion.
At issue is concern by some faculty about a $5 million,
six-year College of Arts and Sciences proposal for studies in Western cultures
to the Pope foundation.
The proposal includes additional first-year seminars, undergraduate
research and study abroad fellowships, faculty fellowships and visiting faculty
and speakers. Another portion of the proposal involves an Honors Foundation
Last week, Dean Bernadette Gray-Little wrote outgoing
Faculty Chair Judith Wegner saying that the college had asked the Pope
Foundation to delay consideration of the Honors Foundation component of the
overall proposal until the Honors Advisory Board and the college’s
Administrative Board could fully review and approve the curriculum.
The other proposal components, which have been reviewed by
the Faculty Council, continue to be considered by the Pope Foundation, she
said. A final decision by the foundation about those proposals could come later
Andrew Perrin, assistant professor in sociology, withdrew
the resolution he introduced at the April 21 Faculty Council meeting that
called upon the University to remove its proposal from consideration by the
Pope foundation, which funds a higher education center that has been critical of
some faculty and the University in the past.
In a letter to Faculty Secretary Joseph Ferrell, Perrin said
the withdrawal was prompted by the administration agreeing to most of the
requests outlined in the resolution.
The special meeting was required under Faculty Council rules
because Perrin did not provide proper advance notice when he tried to introduce
it in April.
Wegner also withdrew an alternate resolution scheduled for
discussion at the special meeting that dealt with issues including intellectual
inquiry, the role of faculty, departments, schools and advisory bodies,
external support and the pending Pope proposal.
Gray-Little, who will replace Robert Shelton as executive
vice chancellor and provost in July, wrote that she understood the concerns of
some faculty members.
“Apart from the specifics of the program contained in our
proposal to the Pope Foundation, I understand there is an important issue at
stake concerning academic freedom, which is intended to protect the rights of
all faculty to freely engage in their academic research and teaching,”
“Neither the political views of our donors nor those of
University colleagues should be used to obstruct the academic freedom of any
faculty member. Please be assured that I remain fully committed to academic
freedom for all members of our faculty.”
Wegner, in an e-mail to faculty, said Gray-Little provided
information detailing the history of funding deliberations for Western cultures
initiatives. That information has been added to the faculty governance web
site, www.unc.edu/faculty/faccoun. The site includes the Pope proposal, drafts
of which previously were shared widely.
In e-mail to faculty, Chancellor James Moeser said Provost
Robert Shelton had charged Steve Allred to work with the development office,
deans and other senior leaders to implement the recommendations of an April
report outlining guidelines on donations and curriculum development. Those
guidelines stress the need to involve faculty early in the process when
potential donations affect the curriculum. That work is expected to be
completed this fall.
“I believe we are all committed to the principles of
productive discourse,” Moeser wrote. “We pride ourselves on a collegial
environment. I believe this is a moment to reaffirm our commitment to that