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     G O V E R N A N C E

* *Q&A: Faculty Chair candidates share views
* *Mason tapped for U.S. justice department

Q&A: Faculty Chair candidates share views

Coble, Kalleberg
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 unsung heroes.

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 important.

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 tongues.

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 opportunities elsewhere.

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:
* *Chair of the Faculty: 1 position
* *Standing committee positions: 35 on 11 elected committees
* *Faculty Council seats: 24
* *Arts & 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

Year

2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2000
1997

Number who voted

800
395
676
683
683
727
957
874

Percentage of eligible voters

23%
14%
22%
23%
24%
25%
36%
37%

* *

Mason tapped for U.S. Department
of Justice
* *

 

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 general.

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.

INSIDE THE PRINT EDITION:
APRIL 1, 2009

April 1 pdf
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april 1 issue as a pdf

TOP STORIES

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