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Founded in 1789 as the first public university in the United States, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a long history of shared governance at all levels. The faculty has played a key role in making decisions about academics and policy or, as Secretary of the Faculty Emeritus Joseph S. Ferrell has often said, regarding “who shall teach, what shall be taught and who shall be taught.”

Office of Faculty Governance

The UNC Chapel Hill Office of Faculty Governance, coordinates and facilitates faculty participation in governance at the campus level. The office maintains historical and current information about faculty governance at the university, including meeting schedules, rosters for the Faculty Council and faculty governance committees and other information. One of the main responsibilities of faculty governance staff is to conduct the annual spring campus-wide faculty elections via an electronic ballot. All members of the Voting Faculty, described in Section 1-4 of the Faculty Code of University Government are eligible to vote.

The Faculty Code of University Government

First adopted in 1950, The Faculty Code of University Government outlines the roles and responsibilities of faculty in the system of shared governance operating on the campus. Notably, the Faculty Code established the Faculty Council, the legislative body of the UNC Chapel Hill faculty.

Secretary of the Faculty

Secretary of the Faculty Vin Steponaitis (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

The office of the Secretary of the Faculty was established with the university’s founding. The secretary was also responsible for keeping student records until 1886. As stated by Section 3-2 of The Faculty Code, the secretary of the faculty has the following responsibilities:

  • To keep minutes of all meetings of the General Faculty and of the Faculty Council and enter them in the permanent minute books of the faculty,
  • To conduct all elections of the General Faculty and the Faculty Council,
  • To conduct correspondence pertaining to elections and actions of the two faculty bodies,
  • To maintain files of all nominations and citations for honorary degrees and special awards and
  • To maintain records of the charge, membership, and duration of all committees about which (s)he is notified.

The Secretary of the Faculty serves a five-year term and is eligible for re-election. The Chancellor’s Advisory Committee nominates one member of the voting faculty for the position. After the opportunity for additional nominations from the floor has been given, The Faculty Council elects the Secretary of the Faculty.

Interim Chair of the Faculty Lloyd Kramer (2019-2020) addresses the Faculty Council.
(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Chair of the Faculty

The position of Chair of the Faculty is elaborated in the Faculty Code of University Government. In the Spring 2020 Faculty Election, Mimi Chapman (Social Work) was selected to serve as the faculty chair. According to Section 3-1 of The Faculty Code, the Chair of the Faculty has the following responsibilities:

  • To serve as chair pro tempore of the Faculty Council and of the General Faculty,
  • To make an annual report to the Faculty Council on the state of the faculty and
  • To represent the chancellor in all academic matters whenever requested by the chancellor.

The Chair of the Faculty serves a three-year term and is ineligible for immediate reelection. Nominations take place every third year and are made by the Advisory Committee. The elected chair takes office the following July 1. Interim vacancies in the office of Chair of the Faculty are filled through appointment by the Advisory Committee.

Faculty Council

The Faculty Council serves as the legislative body of the faculty. Although The Code of the Board of Governors of the UNC System (which authorizes the Council) designates the Chancellor as the Council’s presiding officer, at Chapel Hill, the Chair of the Faculty has traditionally presided over Faculty Council meetings. The Council meets monthly from September to April each year. Section 2-8 of The Faculty Code outlines the legislative powers vested in the Council:

  • To determine the educational policies of the University and the rules and regulations under which administrators and faculty will conduct the educational activities of the University;
  • To prescribe the requirements for admissions, programs of study, and the award of academic degrees by the University in the context of the basic educational policies of the University and the special competencies of the faculties of particular colleges and schools;
  • To recommend persons for honorary degrees and special awards; and
  • To advise the chancellor and other officers of administration and the student body in matters of student conduct and discipline, and to approve any rules and regulations governing student conduct that affect academic standards or performance.

The Council also has power, concurrently with the General Faculty:

  • To provide for such standing and special committees as the Council may deem necessary or useful for the effective and expeditious conduct of its business;
  • To act upon reports from and to make recommendations to the General Faculty, faculty committees, colleges, schools, institutes, and other units of the University;
  • To request information and reports from and to give advice to the chancellor and other officers of administration with respect to any matter affecting the life of the University; and
  • To discuss and resolve upon matters relating to the life of the University.

Resolutions passed by Faculty Council from 1997 to the present

Standing Committees of the Faculty

Campus-level faculty governance work at Chapel Hill also proceeds through the activities of more than two dozen elected and appointed standing committees of the faculty, as well as through occasional ad hoc committees and task forces. These committees are constituted independently of the Faculty Council, although they report to the Council annually.

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