Tag Archives: UNC system

We Will Defend Civil Rights

We Will Defend Civil Rights

In post-Charlottesville U.S.A., everyday is a fight for civil rights. University of North Carolina System students and faculty realize this acutely, as the ongoing battle to remove the Confederate statue of Silent Sam illustrates. It appears that UNC cares more about protecting a racist statue than it does defending civil rights. This is the time for visionary leadership and action. We look to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors to avoid undue political influence and protect stud ...

Meeting with the UNC Board of Governors

Meeting with the UNC Board of Governors

Collie Fulford, associate professor of English at North Carolina Central University, spoke during the public comment session following the January 13, 2017 UNC Board of Governors meeting. Her comments and follow-up email may serve as a model for other faculty considering similar action.


Dear Chancellor Akinleye,

I used your prior title when I greeted you at the January 13 Board of Governors meeting in Chapel Hill. I hope you will forgive my faux pas. Chancellor Saunders-White's passing still seems rather raw, and we all are adjusting.

My attendance at the BOG was to contribute to the public comments period following the meeting. I attach those comments here for your review as well. In them, I have asked the Board to take a close look at the quality of contingent instructional labor contracts within the UNC system. Although the trend toward piecemeal contingent labor is a national and state-level problem, it is at the local level that we must address it most urgently because this is where we can document the effects of such misplaced austerity measures, as I attempted briefly in my attached remarks.

While I understand the need for some degree of flexibility in our instructional scheduling and contracting, I do not believe that we are so poor at planning at NCCU that we need to keep 48% of our faculty on contingent contracts.  Our enrollments are far more predictable than that. We could and should become an employer of choice in the UNC system by leading the charge for instructional stability. This will have benefits to our ongoing student-centered goals as well, since the heart of our institution is formed by positive relationships between faculty and students. Labor and learning conditions are intimately tied.

I therefore hope that you will do all that you can to argue for sufficient instructional funds for NCCU, to consolidate a significant percentage of contingent contracts into more stable tenure lines, and to place an internal budgetary priority on the academic core. We can become the kind of ethical employer and driver of the middle class we would want for our alumni, but our current labor practices undermine that goal. I look to you for leadership on this and I would gladly meet with you at your convenience to discuss the issue in more depth.

Respectfully,

Carolyn (Collie) Fulford, PhD
North Carolina Central University

_____

Remarks prepared by Collie Fulford for the public comment period following the January 13, 2017 UNC Board of Governors meeting

Vice Chairman Aiken, Secretary Perry, and members of the board,

Thank you for having me here today for public comment.

I am an associate professor of English at NCCU. I direct the first year writing program there. And I am a member of Faculty Forward Network.

I speak today about connections between our goals for students and employment practices in the UNC system.

There is much emphasis currently on recruitment, retention, completion, and workforce readiness in the UNC system. I listened to some of your December meeting, so I know these are on all your minds, too. I’ll discuss why these emphases require that the UNC system take an uncompromising look at its own employment practices and ask these hard questions:

  • “What are we doing to value the credentials we have designed?”
  • “When we hire highly qualified people for professional positions, are we providing working conditions and salaries that are commensurate with their work and their qualifications?”
  • “Are we modeling the kinds of ethical employment practices that we want our own graduates to experience in their careers?”

Unfortunately, by these criteria, the UNC system currently falls far short of its promise. For almost half of the instructional positions in the UNC system, I rate our employment practices at a C, D, or F, depending on variations in contingent contracts across our system.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics IPEDS, in 2014, 48% of NCCU's instructors were contingent. I was shocked to learn that, but it’s not unusual in North Carolina. Indeed, per the AAUP, more than half of the nation's faculty appointments are now contingent.

Here’s what that looks like up close.

My own department recently offered an instructor $4,000 per course to teach two classes. If this were full time, the contract would equal just a $32,000 salary. That’s far from commensurate with the level of work we expect from our faculty.

This instructor is a graduate of our MA program. She earned a competitive fellowship and completed a PhD recently.  I’m so proud of her accomplishments. But I am deeply ashamed of the position we offered her. It will require that she teach at three different institutions in order to make ends meet this year. And she will have no benefits.

The UNC system can do better and it must.

We faculty are urged to market our programs aggressively, to encourage students to seek advanced degrees. Yet at the same time, our system radically undervalues advanced degrees by suppressing the wages of faculty and relegating half of them to the insecurity of contingent positions.  Under this model, how can we in good faith urge our promising undergraduates to pursue Masters and PhDs?

It’s simple.

We can live up to the promise of higher education by providing professional wages for all academic labor.

I thank you for your time.Read More

Compartmentalizing Dissent: Transparency, Austerity and the Soul of UNC

Compartmentalizing Dissent: Transparency, Austerity and the Soul of UNC

In North Carolina, the struggle for higher education has taken the form of protest against the appointment of Margaret Spellings to the position of University of North Carolina (UNC) president. For months, student protestors attended Board of Governors (BOG) meetings to show their absolute displeasure at the opacity of governance within their university system. Faculty have also voiced their concerns, especially with Spellings’ lack of qualifications for her new role. In an effort to quiet the d ...

To Lead or Not to Lead: Spellings' Hesitation is Questionable

To Lead or Not to Lead: Spellings’ Hesitation is Questionable

Newly appointed University of North Carolina (UNC) System President Margaret Spellings has sided with what may fairly be described as an absurd and discriminatory state law, North Carolina House Bill 2 (H.B. 2), rather than take a stand for transgender students, which negatively affects the entire campus community. Spellings’ lack of leadership is apparent when compared with Duke University President Richard Brodhead’s decisive leadership that calls for a full repeal of H.B. 2. Brodhead did not ...

Spellings' First Day

Spellings’ First Day

As Margaret Spellings walked onto the UNC campus, hundreds walked out and rallied to demand accountability. We have the momentum to keep up the pressure this week. Students and faculty are traveling to Fayetteville for the next Board of Governors meeting at 8am March 4th. Can you join us? RSVP here to let us know! The Board of Governors fast-tracked the appointment of Margaret Spellings to be the next UNC President  to oversee 17 schools across the state. Given Spellings’ connectio ...

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