By Emily Bruzzo, Staff Writer
Published Oct. 8, 2014
Against the backdrop of a frustrated and confused university community, UNC Greensboro’s Faculty Senate met in the Virginia Dare Room last Wednesday, where several speakers offered a miscellany of presentations.
Prior to the meeting, news reports brought to light the termination and arrests of three UNCG University Relations employees— David Simmons Wilson, Christopher Woodrow English and Lyda Adams Carpen—unsettled UNCG faculty and staff members alike.
According to Greensboro’s News and Record, Wilson and English are facing various charges of obtaining property by false pretenses due to their freelance work for the Artisan Photography Group while working on the clock for UNCG.
The News and Record reports that the warrants for English and Wilson’s arrests stated both employees falsified their time sheets.
Carpen is being charged on the basis of aiding and abetting obtaining property by false pretenses after approving said falsified time sheets.
Within the last week, Chancellor Brady, in an attempt to dissociate the university from the employees’ arrests, stated in campus-wide emails that the charges were initiated by the UNCG Police Department and the Guilford County District Attorney’s office, clarifying these were not administrative decisions.
Creating only more disquiet amongst staff and faculty members was the circulation of a letter written by three other former University Relations employees accusing the university of creating an unfair work environment.
With the number of questions building and the number of answers dwindling, Spoma Jovanovic, chair of the Faculty Senate, opened Wednesday’s meeting with an outline of the queries Faculty Senate and Staff Senate leadership would pose in a specially called meeting with the Chancellor, which took place on Thursday.
These questions focused on the administrative procedures that lead up to the employees’ termination and criminal charges, as well as what other actions could have been taken to remedy the situation.
Additionally, the questions centered on Associate Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Strategic Communication Paul Mason’s experience in handling personnel issues.
Though the initial intention of Wednesday’s meeting was not to concentrate solely on the recent events, some faculty members just could not seem to help themselves.
Dr. Ben Ramsey, associate professor of religious studies and the director of UNCG’s new University Teaching and Learning Commons, began his presentation by stating, “I am, when all is said and done, profoundly sad about today.”
Going on to talk about his personal connection to Carpen, Ramsey said, “That sadness, is in general with the events, but also because a friend and former student, and colleague for many years, was taken out in handcuffs in front of her children because of this university.”
After a wave of gasps erupted from the audience, Ramsey continued by saying, “That may have been necessary. It may even have been right. But I hope and I pray that the leaders of this university will be able to bend down on their knees and face eye to eye that child and say, without lying, what we did was just.”
Looking directly at Brady, Ramsey said, “I charge that to the leaders as part of their responsibility.”
Faculty senators broke out in applause, to which Ramsey replied, “And now just to academic business…because you never know when your last time up here is going to be.”
Besides talk about Wilson, English and Carpen’s terminations, the meeting focused on various topics such as: salary administration and budget planning, voting laws, the new University Teaching and Learning Commons and reports on the UNC system’s general education.
A notable update came from Ramsey, who explained the structure of the new University Teaching and Learning Commons, which is modeled after the system used by the Teachers’ College of Columbia University.
The new organization will consolidate Undergraduate Studies and the Registrar’s Office, with the purpose being to better prepare new faculty members for the perils of college teaching and provide veteran faculty members with new tools to maximize their teaching and research capabilities.