PFN members ask UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Thorpe to act now on sexual assault- and sexual harassment- related allegations

In response to student and staff complaints to the U.S. Federal Department of Education on Wednesday 1/17 that UNC-CH had ignored and/or mishandled cases of sexual assault and harassment on campus, (see full article in the UNC-CH Daily Tar Heel here: http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2013/01/5-submit-complaint-against-unc-over-sexual-assault), members of the Progressive Faculty Network are writing letters to UNC-CH Chancellor Thorpe requesting information and quick action.  Here are some of our letters:

Dear Chancellor Thorp,

Given what is reported in this morning’s Tar Heel and alleged in the complaint against UNC to the U.S. Department of Education[,] I respectfully request that you immediately place [UNC administrators and legal staff]  Jonathan Sauls, Winston Crisp, Leslie Strohm, and Kara Simmons on administrative leave–or ask for their resignations.

It is bad enough to hear about the terrible treatment the sexual assault victims received, but the alleged actions of those who tried to stop Melinda Manning from reporting those crimes and from improving the university’s policies is unconscionable as well as illegal.

If our university is to be perceived as having any integrity–and as being at all a safe place for women to work or study–you must act quickly and decisively.

Altha Cravey,  Associate Professor, UNC Geography Department

Dear Chancellor Thorp,

As a faculty member, HAVEN advocate, and member of the UNC Chapel Hill community, I am saddened, outraged, and frustrated after reading (in today’s DTH) about former dean Melinda Manning’s treatment by her supervisor, Jonathan Sauls, and other administrators at UNC Chapel Hill.

Every semester I have at least one student tell me about a sexual assault that either the student has experienced or that his/her roommate/friend has experienced here at UNC Chapel Hill.  When I was an undergraduate at UC Santa Barbara in the late 1980s, 2 of my roommates were victims of sexual assault my junior year of college.  In college I did not have a single friend who didn’t know someone who had been raped‹and unfortunately I knew (and continue to know) too many women who had experienced sexual violence directly.

This has to end.  We have to end the culture of silence and intimidation and lack of support that is described in the DTH article.  We need to provide as much support–concrete, emotional, and legal support–to victims of sexual violence.  We need to end rape culture.

To that end, one thing you can do is to immediately place Jonathan Sauls, Winston Crisp, Leslie Strohm, and Kara Simmons on administrative leave‹or ask for their resignations.

This will not solve the problem of sexual violence at UNC Chapel Hill, but sending a strong message that you, as our campus leader, will not tolerate any members of the UNC Chapel Hill community to violate the trust and respect of women who are victims of sexual assault is one small step we can take to changing the climate on our campus.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Ho, Associate Professor, Department of English & Comparative Literature UNC Chapel Hill

Progressive Faculty Network and others speak out on North Carolina’s Strategic Directions Planning

A partial draft of the NC Strategic Directions Plan can be found at: http://www.northcarolina.edu/strategic_direction/meetings/index.php?mode=browse_premeeting&code=strategic&mid=3795

Other background materials and stories can be found at the following sites:




Raleigh News and Observer, January 14, 2013

Faculty feedback

Missing from your coverage of the UNC system’s five-year planning is that the Advisory Committee for Strategic Directions has not revealed its plans for two sections of the report: “Maximizing efficiencies” and “Ensuring an accessible and a financially stable university.”

These documents will appear just two days before the systemwide Faculty Assembly meets Friday, its only meeting before the Board of Governors’ vote Feb. 8. That leaves no time for the Assembly to examine the final draft or to gather feedback from faculty across the system.

Judging from a video of the Jan. 9 meeting of the Advisory Committee for Strategic Planning, the section of the report on “Maximizing efficiencies” will likely call for larger classes and the merging and elimination of some programs. These actions directly affect teaching and curricula, responsibilities of the faculty.

UNC System President Tom Ross should direct the committee to present the final draft for a vote in April. Extending the timetable will allow faculty to read the document and respond. The current haste short-circuits faculty feedback, itself a serious consequence of valuing efficiency over education.

Mark Driscoll
President

Altha Cravey
Vice president, American Association of University Professors, UNC-Chapel Hill Chapter

UNC-Chapel Hill Daily Tar Heel, January 15, 2013:  Strategic Plan Draft Needs Faculty Input
http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2013/01/strategic-plan-draft-needs-faculty-input

TO THE EDITOR:

The UNC Advisory Committee for Strategic Directions is largely made up of politicians, CEOs, administrators and only one faculty member.

As of their Jan. 9 meeting, two key sections of the plan — “Maximizing efficiencies” and “Ensuring an accessible and a financially stable university” — were unavailable.

The full draft will appear on Wednesday, just two days before the system-wide Faculty Assembly meets to provide feedback.

That is the only meeting of the assembly before the plan is brought for a vote before the Board of Governors in February. And this schedule leaves no time for the assembly to gather responses from its constituents.

Because faculty are the ones who best understand our concerns, we think it crucial to have the Faculty Assembly receive comments and respond.

In addition, there should be a public forum with President Ross and members of the working group who wrote the document.

This would give faculty, students, staff and committee members a chance to discuss plans that will affect us all.

On Jan. 9, Charles Perusse, chief operating officer of UNC, gave hints of what’s to come.

He spoke of increasing “efficiencies” with regard to education, including class size and “low enrollment and low productivity programs.”

Mr. Perusse has spoken earlier of consolidating programs.

Increasing class size, putting programs together and getting rid of programs with a low number of degrees would have far-reaching consequences for teaching and curricula, and hence are matters in which faculty should be centrally involved.

What is most efficient may not be the best for teaching and learning, or for having a university with intellectual integrity.

The Progressive Faculty Network calls on President Tom Ross and Board Chairman Peter Hans to direct the Advisory Committee to present the final draft to the Board of Governors in April.

That timetable will allow faculty to read the document and respond. The current haste itself reflects the problem of valuing efficiency over education.

This letter was endorsed by 46 members of the Progressive Faculty Network of UNC-Chapel Hill.

Sherryl Kleinman
Professor
Sociology

John McGowan
Professor
English

Debate over North Carolina Strategic Directions Planning: Plan-in-process threatens faculty control over curriculum and faculty autonomy

UNC-Pembroke Faculty Senate Resolution, October 3, 2012

UNCP Faculty Senate Resolution to President Tom Ross and the UNC Board of Governors, Passed unanimously

 WHEREAS The UNC system is initiating a strategic planning process for 2013-18 to set current and future priorities, resource planning and allocation, program planning, review and refinement of academic missions reflecting the University’s deep commitment to help North Carolina respond to changing state needs and economic challenges, and

WHEREAS the UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions fails to give fair and equal representation and participation by faculty and administration of the University’s only historically Native American university, and

WHEREAS the Advisory Committee fails to give fair and equal representation and participation by faculty and administration of smaller UNC campuses;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that, the Faculty of the University of North Carolina fully endorses the Resolution on the UNC Strategic Plan passed by the UNC Faculty Assembly on September 21, 2012, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, in order to define and support measures that advance the quality of the entire University system, the Faculty of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke request that the membership of the UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions be expanded to include both faculty and administrative representation from this university specifically and from other smaller UNC campuses, including Historically Minority-serving Institutions.

UNC-Chapel Hill adopts UNC System’s Faculty Assembly Resolution on the Strategic Directives Planning, with slight emendation, October 5, 2012

UNC Strategic Plan Input, Approved by the UNC Faculty Assembly September 21, 2012

WHEREAS

The UNC System is initiating strategic planning process for 2013-18 to set current and future priorities, resource planning and allocation, program planning, review and refinement of academic missions reflecting the University’s deep commitment to help North Carolina respond to changing state needs and economic challenges, and

WHEREAS the Faculty of the UNC system have responsibility for developing, delivering, and assessing the curriculum, and

WHEREAS the Faculty develop, pursue, and publish original research expanding the knowledge foundation on which our future depends, and

WHEREAS the Faculty advise, mentor, and engage students in the activities that lead directly to their future occupations and improve their quality of life, and

WHEREAS all these components contribute immensely to both current job creation and our citizens’ preparedness for the future, and

WHEREAS the Charter of the Faculty Assembly provides “The Assembly shall, through appropriate channels, advise the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina, the General Assembly, and other governmental agencies and officers on matters of University-wide importance, and The Assembly shall advise and communicate with the President of the University of North Carolina with regard to the interests of the faculties and other matters of university-wide importance.”

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Faculty be informed of strategic planning activities and a mechanism be created to solicit input at the campus level throughout the process so as to achieve effective outcomes and the strong faculty buy-in, and

RESOLVED that in order to define and support measures that advance the quality of the University system[,] representatives of the Faculty Assembly be informed during the strategic planning process, and that the President of the University, in collaboration with the Chair of the Faculty Assembly, create a faculty group to interact and collaborate with the Business/Political community advisory committee for the University’s strategic planning.

[Amended paragraph]:  Be it further resolved that, to fully embrace the University of North Carolina mission “to discover, create, transmit, and apply knowledge to address the needs of individuals and society,” the faculty of UNC-Chapel Hill request that the membership of the UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions be expanded to include faculty representation from this university and from THE other UNC campuses.

Summary of Key Points from Faculty, Student and Staff Forum on Strategic Directions Plan, October 23, 2012

The university is first of all accountable to its students—not simply that it owes its students jobs at graduation, but that the university owes its students unfettered access to the best teachers the school has to offer in whatever area of study they choose to pursue.

In this way, and only in this way, can the university be serve the people who live in North Carolina, those who fund the university through their labor and their tax dollars. The people of North Carolina are those who benefit from the long-term returns on public investment in education—returns that are not calculable in terms of profitability, maximized efficiency, and the logic short-term gains that influences the private sector. The private sector cannot by its very nature make the kinds of long-term investments that lead to an educated, free, and engaged citizenry necessary for a future of broadly shared prosperity.

The third group the university is accountable to is the faculty and staff of the university, who should be encouraged and supported, not demoralized and exploited. Faculty should be encouraged to develop their respective fields without interference from administration. Staff should be able to work without fear of reprisal, having benefits slashed, or having their employment status determined at the whim of an unaccountable administration.

The mission of the University of North Carolina and its 16 institutions of higher education, as articulated in its mission statement, is “to address the needs of individuals and society,” and it does this through instruction, which imparts the skills and values needed “to lead responsible, productive, and personally satisfying lives.” The university has pledged in its mission statement to “seek an efficient use of available resources” only in order “to ensure the highest quality in its service to the citizens of the State,” that that service is defined as “teaching and instruction,” which we believe should be determined and guided by teachers and instructors and not by administrators.

The university’s purpose is to create a well-informed and critically engaged public through its curriculum and through a productive engagement with the community.

The university serves the state by graduating the brightest citizens and residents of North Carolina, by serving as a cultural hub for the public, by sharing cutting-edge research, by increasing the public’s access to education and health care, and by promoting respect for the diversity of North Carolina—the varied cultural backgrounds and cultural practices of its citizens and residents.

The university serves its students by giving them a wide range of options for study; for cultivating an atmosphere of collaboration and mutual respect among fields of study; for emphasizing well-rounded, critical, and adaptable skills, skills that assist students in attaining a fulfilling and engaged presence in their communities (not just to score a job).

The university should protect its vulnerable programs, such as those in the liberal arts, ethnic studies, and gender studies. The university should foster more cross- and inter-disciplinary work on its campus to prepare students for a challenging and volatile future. The university must provide more financial support for students and more support for graduate teaching assistants and adjunct instructors. The future of the university should be decided not by politicians and businessmen, but by teachers, students, and staff who have a vested interest in the future of this institution.

Letter to the Raleigh News and Observer, November 11, 2012

http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/11/14/2483737/carry-on-in-uncs-proud-tradition.html

Carry on in UNC’s proud tradition
By Steven Bachenheimer and Stephen Leonard
Published in: Other Views

The UNC Strategic Planning process has always been an occasion to recommit ourselves to the ideals for which public higher education in North Carolina was established. Today, it appears to have become the occasion for implementing radical changes favored by a handful of individuals.

Against all evidence to the contrary, and against the long and venerable tradition that has made public higher education in North Carolina a model for the nation and the world, the changes being promoted suggest that the widely available, broadly accessible and readily affordable system of higher education we have is an extravagance North Carolina does not need.

Some “leading the charge” for radical change have been repeatedly quoted saying that only 19 percent of North Carolinians holding college degrees need them for their jobs. Perhaps those who don’t understand the aspirations and lives of regular folks might conclude that this proves that a college education is a wasteful expense for police officers, firefighters, carpenters, mechanics, preschool teachers, receptionists, small business owners and many others who don’t “need” a degree for their jobs.

It is doubtful, however, that they would find much agreement from the firefighter with the degree in art history – who also volunteers at the local senior center to lead visits to museums and galleries. Or the print shop owner with the degree in anthropology – who has built a prosperous and respected business because her customers appreciate her interest in their lives and their culture and their faith.

It is also doubtful that those whose commitments have built UNC, and indeed American higher education itself, would agree. The names of some of these people are perhaps familiar enough: Friday, Chase, Graham, Venable, Battle and Caldwell, not to mention Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Adams and Franklin. Most important, however, are those many thousands of North Carolinians, rich and poor, educated and illiterate, native born and immigrant, black, brown, red, yellow and white, who sacrificed so much of their blood and treasure – and for many, life itself – so that their fellow and sister citizens might develop their unique talents and abilities, and use them to make their state a better place.

It is just this sort of popular common sense that informed the commitments of the university’s founders, that has been sustained by many of its favorite sons, like the late Bill Friday, and that has been supported by generations of elected officials of every political stripe. They knew that an educated citizenry was the bulwark of social happiness, economic prosperity, and political liberty.

That is why these ideals are enshrined in our state constitution.

And our predecessors have been proven right, right down to the present. North Carolina colleges and universities have been magnets for entrepreneurial energy and engines of prosperity that cultivate talent and send it to every corner of the state. The institutions of UNC are part of the reason that so many North Carolina cities and towns are listed as among the “best places to live” in America.

This is because we expect our colleges and universities to educate citizens who are adept, adaptable, inventive, creative, motivated and confident in their ability to make a real difference in their communities. Not surprisingly, this is also what the most dynamic job creators today expect from their employees, and from the communities where they invest.

The university system is a major reason why North Carolina has been consistently ranked among the top states for business climate. And our return to the No. 1 spot this year is no doubt due in part to the fact that while other states have slashed their support for public higher education, North Carolina citizens have told their elected officials to hold the line.

Despite all of this history and all of this evidence, the proponents of radical change have somehow failed to grasp what so many thoughtful North Carolinians value most about their university.

Perhaps some of the reformers don’t understand the debates North Carolina has been having since the founding of the university: that the right changes for UNC have to be those our constitution demands, and that is that “knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools, libraries, and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

Steven Bachenheimer and Stephen Leonard both teach at UNC-Chapel Hill. Eight children from their respective families have been students in North Carolina public colleges and universities.

Commentary in the Raleigh News and Observer, January 6, 2013

The best college education? Reading, writing and thinking
By Bruce B. Henderson

The debate about whether the University of North Carolina system should place more emphasis on career training or knowledge is expected to return to the front burner early this month when an advisory committee tasked with helping chart the future direction for the state’s 16 university campuses resumes its work.

While a concern for job preparation is not surprising after a serious recession, universities need to be careful about designing undergraduate educations that are too closely tied to particular jobs. Direct job-education connections are dangerous for several reasons.

Although universities traditionally have had a role in some relatively specific training (for example, teaching or engineering), the lives of most of our graduates will be too complicated to assume that narrow training will provide all the formal education they will ever need. Most students graduating today will experience life trajectories that involve multiple jobs and even multiple, varied careers. The pace of change will only accelerate during the lifetimes of those who enter college in the future.

Moreover, some of those career changes will result from changes in those graduates that occur after their college years. Most people’s identities, including their commitments to vocation, values and beliefs, are not completely formed by age 22 or even age 30. A college education often is a mediator of the developmental process, not the producer of a final outcome.

Another reason for caution is that predictions of what jobs are going to be available, even in the near future, are notoriously unreliable. Marketable skills and future demand are two variables that are difficult to coordinate. Talk with North Carolinians who prepared for jobs in tobacco, textiles or fiber optics. Or talk with students who just a few years ago decided to become educators to help alleviate our teacher shortage and then found there were no jobs for them when the shortage disappeared with a simple increase in class-size limits.

Also to the point, we should be cautious about tying university education to jobs because specific job training is brittle education. Because it is tied to specific protocols, technologies and skills, when the job changes or the person changes jobs, the training becomes obsolete.

In the western part of the state, we now have educational programs for card dealers and beer brewers. While a boon to specific employers who need workers at a particular time and place, it is hard to imagine there is much transfer of those skills gained from such narrow training to other jobs. Employers are not interested in the employee’s next job.

For more than a century, the Americans who received the most long-lasting, flexible educations have been those who have learned to read, write and think. The students who are most likely to be able to learn new skills are those whose curiosity and creativity have been stimulated in a wide variety of subject areas. Students need to learn how to learn, and to learn to want to learn more.

Finally, we need to be careful not to neglect the arts and humanities in a rush to prepare students for jobs. Many of us had our lives changed by college courses that were remote from job training. I never once considered a job in art history, but no course in my own college experience changed my life more than the “art in the dark” course that led me to a life-long appreciation of great art.

The UNC system is one of North Carolina’s greatest assets. While change is essential in higher education, radical change in a system admired around the nation is risky. The people of North Carolina are right to hold the state’s universities to high standards.

There is nothing magic about a liberal arts education. It works when students are required to read a lot, write a lot and think a lot. A good college education educates for a willingness to adapt to, and even embrace, change. A rigorous education, not narrow job training, is what we should demand from the constituents of the UNC system. A rigorous education will ensure that our citizens are prepared not just for their first jobs, but also for their second jobs, especially for those kinds of jobs that do not yet exist.

Bruce Henderson is a professor of psychology at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.

Report in the Raleigh News and Observer, January 8, 2013

UNC wants to pump up degree production
By Jane Stancill – jstancill@newsobserver.com

The UNC system aims to make North Carolina among the 10 “most educated” states, with a larger share of the population with four-year diplomas by 2025, according to a draft report obtained by The News & Observer.

A partial draft of the UNC system’s five-year strategy calls for lifting the state’s proportion of degree holders from 29.5 percent today to 32.2 percent in 2018. Ultimately, the plan calls for 36.2 percent of North Carolina adults to have at least a four-year degree by 2025.

The proposed bump in degree earners may sound modest, but it would mean higher education institutions would have to turn out some 93,000 additional diplomas by 2025.

The projected goals will be discussed this week by the UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions and the UNC Board of Governors, which will eventually vote on the plan. The effort has drawn criticism from some faculty and students who say they haven’t had enough representation in an advisory committee made up mostly of higher education, corporate and government leaders.

It’s unclear how much the initiative would cost; dollar figures are not attached to the goals. And though it sounds expensive, the UNC system plans to accomplish the goal in a variety of methods that could be cheaper than providing a four- or five-year education to the typical high school graduate.

Some ideas include improving graduation rates of its students, enrolling more community college transfers, serving more military veterans who have GI benefits and recruiting some of the estimated 1.5 million North Carolinians who have some college credit but no degree. The system also wants to worth with public schools to increase the college readiness of an increasingly diverse and economically challenged pipeline of students.

The report cautions about too aggressive a push such as other states have adopted. Oregon, for example, has a goal of reaching 40 percent of adults with a college degree by 2020.

“The (UNC) system should not grossly overshoot, however, thereby running up costs and saddling students with debt, only to find that they are unemployed or under-employed,” the draft report said.

The strategy is not just about pumping out more degrees. It also focuses on improving relevance and quality of education, so graduates have the skills they need to be successful in tomorrow’s careers. And it promises to guarantee students minimum competency in general education courses, so that students can transfer easily among campuses.

Accountability is also part of the plan, so that students can know before they enroll what their learning outcomes and job prospects could be based on published data from each university, even down to specific majors on specific campuses. With that is likely to come a greater emphasis on testing students to measure how well campuses are doing. In the fall, the report proposes a pilot program on five campuses to give students the College Learning Assessment, a standardized test used nationally.

Business and alumni will also be regularly surveyed to measure the perception about the value and quality of a UNC education.

Online learning is expected to play a greater role at the state’s public campuses, which already offer 313 online degree and certificate programs. The report proposes establishing partnerships with companies that host large open online courses and eliminating extra charges for residential students who also want to take an online course.

It recommends developing an online flexible liberal studies degree with courses from various campuses and 10 online courses as an alternative to high-demand lecture courses that often fill quickly and slow down students’ progress. But online education isn’t necessarily cheap, and it would require training for faculty, money to design courses and implement testing procedures to guard against cheating.

The report also includes goals for better advising to keep students on track and proposals to increase teachers and health care professionals in the state.

Though the focus is on turning out more undergraduate degree earners, the strategy cites goals aimed at the state’s capacity for innovation. It recommends targeted spending to develop expertise in seven “game changing” fields, including defense, advanced manufacturing, tourism, “big data,” public policy, energy and pharmacoengineering, which involves the use of new technology in the development and delivery of drugs in humans.

The report recommends hiring 24 “rainmaker” faculty, star researchers who can bring in research grants in certain areas in which the universities aim to excel.

“UNC cannot be good at everything,” the report said, “but there are some areas where, working in partnership with each other and with businesses, the university can ‘move the needle,’ making new discoveries and helping to create new jobs and opportunities. Investments must have a high probability of yielding game-changing results and return on investment.”

Stancill: 919-829-4559

A partial draft of the Plan can be found at: http://www.northcarolina.edu/strategic_direction/meetings/index.php?mode=browse_premeeting&code=strategic&mid=3795