Faculty senate sets UNC Strategic Plan

Joshua Farmer

Faculty senate passed the new UNC Strategic Plan on Monday with various concerns from faculty about the committee responsible for the plan.

Many expressed concern with the plan’s focus away from the arts and toward science and economics in the general education curriculum.

“What I’m not hearing in the document is a strong basis for liberal arts,” theatre and dance professor Ray Miller said. “I’m not seeing a commitment to those areas that promote imaginative thinking.”

The committee, called the UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions, is made up of 32 individuals whose professions range from CEOs to legislators and include members of the Board of Governors. There are only eight members who work directly with students in the education field.

“This is one of the most depressing times in the higher ed[ucation] of North Carolina,” guest speaker Georgie Donovan said at the meeting. “I’d like to see a little bit better balance of people that actually work with students, ever.”

This year’s plan is called “Our Time, Our Future.” The previous plan was created in 2007 and was called “UNC Tomorrow.”

“UNC Tomorrow was much more holistic,” said Andy Koch, the chair of the faculty senate. “This was largely targeted toward the business community, their needs and their issues.”
English professor Holly Martin said she found the document “disturbing.”

“Art seemed to be only listed in the document as a means for increasing tourism,” Martin said.
Marketing professor Jim Stoddard suggested a diplomatic approach by appealing to the members of the Advisory Committee’s business backgrounds.

“The arts and crafts bring tremendous amounts of income to this area,” Stoddard said. “Hundreds of millions of dollars are brought into Western North Carolina. There is value in talking to these people about this type of thing in their terms because there is a tremendous amount of cash flow in the arts and crafts.”

Every five years, the 16 schools in the UNC-System update their cohesive plan that attempts to determine how each school handles things, such as general education requirements and standardized testing and clarifies how much autonomy each university has.

The plan is in the revising stages now with plans to be approved by Friday, Feb. 8.

Story: EMMA SPECKMAN, Senior A&E Reporter