FACULTY COUNCIL NEWS:
Carolina works toward full textbook buyback in large classes
Escalating textbook costs are driving stepped-up efforts
throughout the UNC
system to make books more affordable
“The cost of books is rising faster than the cost of
tuition, and it is hitting students hard,” Chancellor James Moeser told the
Faculty Council last week. “I want faculty to take this
UNC President Erskine Bowles asked each campus to establish
a system to ease the textbook burden for students.
“One thing we can do to help control costs, primarily in our
large undergraduate sections, is to order textbooks on time so that students
can sell books back at the end of the semester and buy used textbooks the
following semester,” Moeser said.
At Carolina, he said, the goal is to have
100 percent buyback next year. This semester the faculty set a record —
at 80.5 percent — for meeting the deadline to adopt textbooks.
In his response to Bowles, Moeser said that Carolina
administrators would meet with faculty and department chairs in each of the
large introductory courses to gain their commitment to the buyback
program and would post a weekly compliance update to encourage full
ordering books on time.
That is the key to maximizing savings, said John Jones,
director of the Student Stores. When faculty place their textbook orders on
time, Student Stores can buy books back from students at 50 percent of the cost
and sell them the following semester for 75 percent of the cost.
“Often we are caught between a rock and a hard place with
the student constituency and the faculty constituency,” Jones said.
The end of March is the deadline for
submitting textbook requests for next fall, and the end of September will be
the submission deadline for the spring 2009 semester,
The buyback program applies to paperbacks as well as hard
cover books, Jones said. It can also apply to books faculty use to teach a
course only in the spring or fall instead of in consecutive semesters as long
as faculty members notify Student Stores. But it does not apply to books sold
in the Health Affairs Bookstore — only books for arts and
Jean DeSaix, senior lecturer in biology, asked what would
happen if faculty selected a new book for a course, but decided after one
semester not to use it again.
Jones said Student Stores would not impose penalties, but it
would feel the financial effect in its contributions to scholarships. All
Student Stores’ revenues go toward student scholarships.
Moeser said that Carolina’s commitment to the buyback
program was beneficial for faculty
as well as students. “I’m concerned about
protecting your right to choose your textbooks,” he said. “I’m concerned that
that right could be in jeopardy if we don’t take this issue seriously. So I
encourage you to be responsible in making those textbook decisions and getting
your order to Student Stores on time.”
UNC Tomorrow response
Moeser also reassured council members about the University’s
upcoming response to the UNC Tomorrow Commission.
“There seems to be a lot of anxiety and concern about what
this really means to
individual faculty members and their departments,” he said. “But UNC Tomorrow
will not distort in any way the depth or breadth of what we do at UNC-Chapel
Hill. In fact, we are well positioned to be the flagship institution
in this effort.”
Earlier this month, Executive Vice Chancellor
and Provost Bernadette Gray-Little notified faculty about six committees
working toward preliminary reports on topics ranging from the environment and
health to public schools and global readiness. Soon faculty will receive a Web
survey that asks about their teaching, research and service and how it directly
affects North Carolinians. The results of the survey will help form the basis
of Carolina’s UNC Tomorrow response, which is due May 1, Moeser said.
“This is an enormous opportunity for us to show the state of
North Carolina the depth of the contribution we make across our state,” he
said. “We don’t do a very good job of telling our story. We’re modest, to say
the least, in letting people know all that we do.”
There is no contradiction in becoming more focused on the
state while also being a global university, Moeser said.
Steve Farmer, assistant provost and director of admissions,
said undergraduate applications this year topped 21,000, up from 17,900 five
years ago. The quality of the applicant pool has continued to increase as well,
with this year’s average SAT score rising above 1300 for the
Hispanic enrollment has quadrupled over the last 10 years,
and the enrollment of Asian students has doubled in that time. In six of the
last nine years, Carolina has had the highest percentage of African-American
students in the first-year class among the top 50 colleges, Farmer said. By
comparison, the percentage of Native American students is low, but that figure
mirrors the percentage of Native Americans in the state, he said.
In other action, the council passed a first reading of a
resolution to amend the Faculty Code of University Government. The resolution
calls for limiting the faculty chair’s term to three years and not allowing
immediate reelection. The resolution must be read a second time, said Joe
Ferrell, faculty secretary.