December 12, 2007 edition

TOP STORIES:

University officials will make a presentation to the Chapel Hill Town Council on Jan. 23 of the concept plan for a privately owned innovation center at Carolina North as a first step in seeking a special-use permit.

Carolina’s Innovation Center would be built, owned and managed by Alexandria Real Estate Equities of Pasadena, Calif., which specializes in this type of business and research development accelerator. The University would provide the site for the 85,000-square-foot center and would own the building after Alexandria’s 40-year leasing rights were up.

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The University Board of Trustees on Nov. 15 approved Chancellor James Moeser’s recommendations for campus-based tuition increases for the 2008-09 academic year. But trustees had questions about the largest increases before approving them.

If approved by the UNC Board of Governors and later by the General Assembly next year, tuition will increase by $1,250 for nonresident undergraduates, $800 for nonresident graduate students and $400 for resident graduate students.

Fees for both undergraduate and graduate students will increase by 3.5 percent, which breaks down to an additional $57.19 for all undergraduates and $56.89 for all graduate students.

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Soprano Jessye Norman, one of America’s most celebrated performing artists, will give the University’s spring commencement address. Chancellor James Moeser will preside at the ceremony, set for May 11, 2008, at 9:30 a.m. in Kenan Stadium.

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People from virtually every background came to a series of forums this past year to share their current frustrations and their hopes and fears about the future.

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At a Nov. 14 dinner, the Board of Trustees recently presented four alumni with the William Richardson Davie Award, the board’s highest honor.

The trustees presented the awards to N.C. Rep. Joe Hackney of Chapel Hill; Mike Overlock of Greenwich, Conn.; Ken Thompson of Charlotte; and Patricia Timmons-Goodson of Fayetteville.

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  Today's date:

GOVERNANCE

* * Faculty Council News: Council endorses priority registration proposal
* * Employee Forum News: SPA jobs to make the switch to career banding

Faculty Council News:
Council endorses priority registration proposal

A small number of undergraduates could qualify to register for courses ahead of their classmates. In a 35-17 vote, the Faculty Council at its Dec. 7 meeting endorsed moving forward with a regulated, transparent priority registration process.

Students with special needs and those whose University requirements or obligations create unusual academic challenges can apply for an early registration time within their cohort. That means a sophomore granted priority registration will register before other sophomores but not before juniors or seniors.

Besides students with disabilities, groups who could qualify for priority registration include varsity student-athletes who are required to practice the NCAA maximum of 20 hours per week, students who spend at least one semester off campus for licensure and students who devote significant time to clinical practice. Officials responsible for other groups facing comparable registration challenges may also apply for priority registration for their groups.

Chancellor James Moeser endorsed the proposal. “There is no perfect system, but this is a thoughtful approach,” he said. If the council did not approve the proposal, he said, the issue would remain cloudy and murky.

Under the approved process, a University official responsible for potentially eligible students will forward students’ names and a rationale to the registrar. A tally and the rationale statements, but not the students’ names, will then go to the Priority Registration Advisory Committee (PRAC) for final determination. All meetings of the PRAC — comprised of faculty, administrators and students — will be open, with decisions a matter of public record. The registrar will create an annual report of the PRAC’s decisions.

While most universities have such a system, Carolina’s process will be unique, said Steve Reznick, director of developmental psychology and chair of the Priority Registration Task Force.

“It is clear that our peer institutions have priority registration; however, we did not find a single peer institution with a system that we would want to wholeheartedly adopt here,” he said. “We are proposing a priority registration system that other schools will view with awe and respect.”

The overall goal is to optimize students’ schedules, not to cherry-pick courses, he said. In reality, only a small number of students will be affected. For example, if the policy had been in effect this fall, about 1,300 students, or 8 percent of the student body, would have been eligible, he said.

An approved change introduced by Ellen Peirce, adjunct professor of business, called for setting a goal of no more than 15 percent of the seats in a course section for priority registration. The original proposal called for 25 percent.

Those opposed to the proposal were concerned about favoritism toward student-athletes over other students with extracurricular or work demands. More than 500 students signed a petition opposing the concept.

Susan Bickford, associate professor of political science, said the athletics department should loosen constraints on athletes instead of asking the University to adapt to their schedules.

Mike Tarrant, student body vice president, said the proposal seemed to run counter to Carolina’s fundamentally egalitarian culture because other groups, including students in the marching band, those engaged in public service and those in ROTC, also faced similar obstacles in registering for courses.

Supporters endorsed the proposal’s transparency and oversight mechanisms.

Peter Gordon, professor of psychology, said, “This requires that the athletics department put on the table the things student athletes are required to do, and this gives everyone in the broader University community a chance to look at them — something we don’t have now.”

The approved priority registration process will be reviewed in four years.

After the meeting, Moeser praised the council’s debate as an excellent example of faculty governance in action.

“What impressed me most about this debate was the thoughtfulness that was apparent in each of the presentations,” he said in an e-mail later. “It was clear that many were undecided as the discussion began and that minds were changed during the course of the discussion.”

Davis contract
Moeser was asked about the decision to extend head football coach Butch Davis’s contract for an eighth year with a total compensation increase of about $291,000 annually. The Board of Trustees recently approved the extension.

Moeser said it was fundamentally a business decision based on Davis’s ability to make Carolina’s program nationally competitive. “Football in my view was sliding into mediocrity, and we are a university that expects excellence in everything we do,” he said.

He acknowledged faculty members’ frustration with the situation.

But, he said, because athletics is self-supporting, it does not compete with funding for core academic functions — instruction, research and public service. Further, he said, revenue from a successful football program helps support all of Carolina’s 28 varsity sports. UNC’s program is one of the most extensive in the country.

In the last 20 years expenses for core functions and athletics have grown at roughly the same rates, but the dollar differences are striking. Core functions grew from $290 million in 1986–87 to more than $1 billion in 2006–07, while athletics grew from $15 million to about $55 million during the same period.

The UNC program is done the right way, with integrity, and helps promote a positive image, Moeser said. The leadership academy for coaches and student-athletes is copied by schools like West Point and the Naval Academy.

Employee Forum News:
SPA jobs to make the switch to career banding

There are still many unanswered questions about the new career banding system, but one thing is known for sure: It is going to happen — and soon.

During a presentation at the Dec. 5 meeting of the Employee Forum, Vicki Bradley, a senior director with Human Resources, said transition teams have been at work to begin developing career banding materials so that employees may be phased into career bands next year, with a tentative startup date of May 1.

Career banding is a compensation plan designed to place SPA employees (those whose jobs are subject to the State Personnel Act) into banded classes where career paths are identified and the emphasis is on career development. The new system is designed to:

* * Identify required skills and competencies and initiate the development of skills and competencies that enhance employees’ careers;

* * Reduce the number of job titles and broadly define classes of work;

* * Set pay ranges for classes based on the average pay for the occupations;

* * Allow employees to move within their pay range based on achieving new job skills and duties;

* * Allow managers and employees to determine career development plans and hold managers accountable for making appropriate pay decisions; and

* * Simplify the process for changing employee pay to make it easier to use and understand.

The new system will reduce the number of classes in the state personnel system based on the nature of the work, similar jobs in the market, the training and experience needed and the competencies needed on the job, Bradley said.

Under career banding, all University SPA jobs will be organized into broad job families: administrative and managerial; information and technology; law enforcement and public safety; human services; information and education; medical and health; institutional services; operations and skilled trades; engineering and architecture; natural resources and scientific.

Bradley said performance reviews would continue as usual next year. She also said the career banding initiative currently has no additional money associated with it.

Mike Hawkins, a network specialist with Information Technology Services, said career banding had already been completed with ITS. Based on his experience so far, he said, “My fear of it is much less.” In fact, some people within ITS have been given small raises because of pockets of money that were available, he said.

Although career banding gives employees and managers a bit more control, in some ways it is not very different from the system it is intended to replace. “There is still the human element, there is still the political element and there is still the financial element,” he said.

Hawkins also said that career banding would co-exist with the performance review process that will continue after career banding is implemented. Hawkins said it would be better to have one integrated evaluation system instead of two.

In other matters, Brenda Denzler, editor of the forum’s electronic newsletter “In Touch,” said the forum had gained support from Student Action with Workers (SAW) on collective bargaining.

In October, SAW submitted a petition to UNC President Erskine Bowles advocating the rights of workers at UNC and in the Triangle area to exercise collective bargaining and asked Bowles to reverse a decision by the University Gazette not to publish a column on collective bargaining.

Bowles responded to the petition in a Nov. 6 letter. “First of all, I don’t believe in censorship — period,” Bowles wrote. “I also want to make it clear that I will always advocate for and support fair and open communication and debate, both written and verbal, on any topic, including collective bargaining, within our University.”

Forum Chair Ernie Patterson said he interpreted Bowles’ statement as support for open discussion in the future without “trying to straighten the past out.”

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