Q&A: Faculty Chair candidates share views
Mason tapped for U.S. justice department
Q&A: Faculty Chair candidates share views
Coble (left), Kalleberg
McKay Coble and Arne Kalleberg, both of whom have more than
20 years of faculty service at Carolina, are running for the position of Chair
of the Faculty. Coble is professor of design and chair of the Department of
Dramatic Art, and Kalleberg is Kenan Distinguished Professor of Sociology.
The elections will be conducted by electronic survey April
13–20 (Click here to read related Faculty Governance pdf file), and the new chair will
succeed Joseph Templeton, who will step down from the post June 30.
Following are responses from both candidates to questions the
Gazette asked about their views of faculty governance and some of the most
pressing faculty issues.
What is your view of the role of faculty chair?
Coble: The faculty chair represents the faculty to the Faculty
Council, the chancellor and the Board of Trustees. The chair also represents
the chancellor in academic matters, serves the faculty and addresses faculty
needs. I would like to see this role work with the department chairs' council
to ascertain whether the Faculty Council could offer more assistance to these
I also would like to continue a conversation with two
trustees who wanted to hear about faculty issues. Carolina excellence is
stronger than ever, but just imagine what we could do if we didn't have to
create three or four scenarios for what graduate student support might look
like in any given year, guess whether instructional budgets will stay the same
but prepare for changes, scrounge around for faculty support or student
research funds, calculate photocopy quotas, have enough computers and phones, and
so on. The best thing our trustees can do is provide stability and support.
Kalleberg: The faculty chair represents the faculty to the University
administration and campus, the Board of Trustees and to the public more
generally. The chair must be aware of the concerns of faculty members,
understand their opinions and needs regarding these issues, and develop
strategies, policies and recommendations to address these issues through
discussions with faculty members and their representatives (such as the Executive
Committee of the Faculty Council and the council itself). Occasionally, the
faculty chair should initiate discussions of topics and issues that the faculty
might want to address.
If elected, what are your priorities or goals?
Coble: First, fixed-term faculty. From teaching here as fixed-term
and from a chair's standpoint, I know these faculty do not have a clear
definition from department to department. There is no standard for how we
address their academic lives. Senior Associate Dean Bill Andrews is currently
heading a committee of which I am a member, and we are making great strides
toward solving many of the most egregious issues our fixed-term faculty face.
Second, faculty benefits. I get quite tickled when I hear
the urban legends of what UNC faculty receive as benefits: automatic college
acceptance for our children, free tuition, free health care! I would love to
say I will work to make all of that true, but on this planet I do think we can
do better for all of our employees, especially in terms of health care.
Graduate student support - enough said.
Textbooks. It is very clear that the challenges, processes
and mission of the textbook department are not well understood by the faculty.
There is a somewhat adversarial relationship here that could be solved fairly
easily with communication.
Kalleberg: My main priority is to make sure that faculty members are
aware of the key issues of the day and their options for addressing them. The
faculty chair should facilitate discussion and debate among faculty and then
make sure faculty members’ opinions are heard by the administration and the
public. At the same time, the faculty chair should facilitate administrators’
efforts to be transparent to faculty members about the decision-making process.
Another priority is to handle communication among the
faculty, administrators and other parties effectively. Faculty time is an
invaluable resource and I intend not to waste it. Some issues need to be
discussed at Faculty Council and at various venues in which all faculty members
are able to participate; others can be dealt with better in more targeted
meetings with interested parties.
A final priority is to recognize faculty achievements. We
must not lose sight of the fact that faculty members are Carolina’s primary
source of value, since they are critical to attracting and educating students. Facilitating
the ability of faculty members to teach well and conduct high-quality research
should be key yardsticks for evaluating the appropriateness of decisions.
What pressing issues face faculty members today,
particularly in the current budget climate?
Coble: People are genuinely worried about keeping their jobs. A few
months ago the worries were about having an increased course load and no travel
money, but the harsher realities of the situation are here, maybe even in an
office down the hall. What is also remarkable is the positive forward movement
we still see all around the campus. This is not stopping us; there is a group
dynamic forming that represents the fortitude of a really committed faculty.
I have seen individual units become more like private
enterprise. Fundraising at the unit level is now a primary function as communal
resources are unpredictable. Internal competition for funding is moving past
the collegial level.
Kalleberg: While we cannot anticipate some of the specific issues that
are likely to come up in the next three years, we know that the following
topics will be pressing: budget cutbacks that might necessitate strategic
reallocation of resources; building out Carolina North; increasing faculty (and
staff) salaries and benefits; managing growth in student enrollment; and
faculty recruitment and retention. In all these issues, it is important to have effective communication
among faculty members and between faculty and administrators, and transparency regarding
decisions is vital.
Carolina is a big, diverse campus, and faculty members in
the various schools and units have different concerns along with common ones. Tenure-track
faculty on nine-month appointments may see things differently from tenure-track
faculty on 12-month appointments, and fixed-term faculty will see things still
differently. Moreover, faculty members with relatively heavy teaching
obligations may have different priorities from those with a different balance
of teaching, research and service obligations. The faculty chair must seek to
balance these differences in representing the faculty.
How have the key issues changed in the 20+ years
you've been a member of the Carolina faculty?
Coble: Some issues seem cyclical and come up every so many years. Tenure
review is a good example; budget, always. Reassessment and self-evaluation are
Curricular issues are cyclical as well and I have been
disappointed by the latest iteration of undergraduate core requirements. Many
of the First Year Seminars and courses that develop creative modes of inquiry,
research and thinking across disciplines are spot on. I do see creativity,
particularly as it affects the curricular arts requirement, being minimized. I
see it all around us, not just at Carolina.
Diversity (I prefer the term “inclusion”) has become a very
important issue at Carolina. It is essential that we speak and hear all
The size of the University – enrollment growth and the
subtle shift from Carolina being comprised mainly of the best North Carolina
students to seeking out the best students in and out of state. A superior
student body should always be the goal.
One of the issues I hear more and more about is the
"Carolina way” - what does it mean? What did it mean? Is there one? This
is a fascinating discussion.
Kalleberg: Many of the issues are similar to those faced by the faculty
two decades ago. We have gone
through tough economic times before, though the severity of the current crisis
is probably unprecedented. Given the current economic climate, however,
insecurity has increased and faculty members (like everyone else) are more
concerned than ever about making ends meet (though faculty members are in a
fairly privileged position relative to other employees at UNC).
The expansion of dual-earner families has increased
pressures to balance work and family and to design accommodations (flexible
scheduling, leave policies and other “family friendly” practices) to alleviate
these stresses. Competition among universities for faculty members and students
has increased in recent years, making issues of recruitment and retention more
severe as universities (especially private ones) are providing lucrative
There has been an increase in the importance of private
sources of income for University operations, bringing with it opportunities and
challenges as to the conditions underlying the solicitation of these funds and
their expenditures. And, while
advances in information technology have made communication easier, they have
also raised a host of issues that need to be addressed, including copyrights
and intellectual property.
What isues are raised by our changing faculty demographics?
Coble: I think we are going to see more and more fixed-term faculty
joining us - that is why I feel strongly that their issues need to be addressed
system-wide. I think we are really looking for a paradigm shift when it comes
to fixed-term faculty.
Kalleberg: There has been an expansion in fixed-term faculty in society
in general, and in academia and UNC in particular. There are good economic
reasons for this, given funding pressures and the need to fill in gaps on a
temporary basis. But the widespread use of non-tenure track faculty also brings
with it significant dangers, such as the negative consequences for teaching
quality, faculty cohesion and erosion of community.
And as faculty approach retirement age, we need to make
crucial decisions about how to replace them. The faculty must have a voice in
making decisions about these strategic choices and the opportunity to shape
Carolina’s future direction.
How does being involved in faculty governance benefit both our faculty members and the University as a whole?
Coble: I am not sure how many folks realize how Draconian faculty
governance is at some other institutions. We have an administration that cares
what the faculty think. I have appreciated the transparency with which the
University has worked with budget decisions.
There are always going to be decisions that make people
unhappy or maybe even seem capricious - we have the ability here to react and
act in those times. The more faculty get involved or even simply listen to
faculty governance issues, the more they will understand that our chair and
council system is there to buttress UNC as a true community.
Kalleberg: The University has a long, proud history of faculty
governance. Being involved in it helps faculty members contribute to solving
issues and ties faculty more closely into the University’s needs and mission.
The faculty chair should ensure that faculty members from all parts of campus
have the opportunity to have their voices heard and provide input by, for
example, serving on key committees.
Faculty governance and input into key decisions also give
the University administration the benefit of faculty expertise. Faculty members
are a bottomless well of ideas and inspiration for tackling the issues Carolina
will face in the coming years.
Faculty elections by the numbers
Number of offices open this year: 64, including:
of the Faculty: 1 position
committee positions: 35 on 11 elected committees
Council seats: 24
& Sciences Division chairs/vice chairs: 4
Number of candidates running for those offices: 118
Number of faculty members with voting privileges: 3,562
Voter turnout in the last decade
Number who voted
Percentage of eligible voters
Mason tapped for U.S. Department
Karol Mason, a member of the Board of Trustees since 2001,
has been appointed as deputy associate attorney general in the U.S. Department
of Justice. She will be among the deputies reporting to the associate attorney
Mason, a partner at the law firm Alston & Bird LLP in
Atlanta, is a 1991 recipient of the Distinguished Young Alumna award.
She has been a member of the Board of Visitors, the Arts and
Sciences Foundation, the National
Development Council and the National Black Arts Festival board.