Faculty Senate discusses changes facing UNCG

Photo courtesy of emily bruzzo

Photo courtesy of emily bruzzo

Faculty senators listen as Spoma Jovanovic, senate chair, explains the agenda.

By Emily Bruzzo, News Editor

Published in print Jan. 21, 2015.

Last Wednesday’s faculty senate meeting focused on several changes expected to hit UNC-Greensboro in 2015.

The meeting opened with Chancellor Brady discussing the first change that may come UNCG’s way: the possible renaming of Aycock Auditorium.

The building was named after Gov. Charles B. Aycock, who served as North Carolina’s governor from 1901-1905.

Though known as the state’s “education governor,” Aycock’s well-documented support of the white supremacy movement has left many questioning whether his name should be memorialized. 

Last June, demands from Duke University’s student body culminated in a decision to remove Aycock’s name from a residence hall and change it to East Residence Hall

Duke’s decision catalyzed discussions among other North Carolina institutions to remove Aycock’s name from their campuses.

East Carolina University and UNC-Chapel Hill both have residence halls named after Aycock, but UNCG’s situation is different.

“UNCG’s building,” Brady said, “is a historic auditorium highly visible, not only on the campus, but in the Greensboro community as well.”

And the Greensboro community has its fair share of city things named after Aycock, with a street named after him, a middle school and a neighborhood.

Though UNCG has not received any formal requests to consider renaming the auditorium, Brady said, “We believe the importance of this issue demands a thorough analysis.”

Brady has asked to form an ad hoc committee, which she will charge next Wednesday.

The committee will be asked to research the historical connection between Aycock and the university, as well as monitor the progress of other UNC system institutions as they make their decisions.

The committee will also be required to research the processes employed and the decisions made by other campuses in similar situations.

The committee will then go to the community and seek feedback.

Ultimately, the board of trustees makes decisions about the naming of campus buildings.

Brady said the committee is expected to present it findings and recommendation to the board in May.

“I will make it clear to members of the committee that they should take the time they need to thoughtfully consider the issue,” Brady said.

She continued, saying, “I want to make certain when the committee reports and presents options to the board of trustees, that the committee will be comfortable with their work and the board will be prepared to take action.”

Brady said that one of the contributing factors influencing the university’s decision to name the auditorium after Aycock was the significant help he provided President Duncan McIver after a campus fire in 1904.

However, Brady says that things have changed for UNCG.

“We recognize that the UNCG of today, with the incredible richness of diversity among our students, faculty and staff, is not the university it was in 1928,” Brady said.

“Governor Aycock has been widely recognized at UNCG and other institutions across North Carolina,” she said, “because of his leadership and support of higher education.”

Brady continued, saying, “Unfortunately, some beliefs regarding race that have been attributed to him were shared by others in a very different era in our history. Today, we reject such beliefs and would not support the naming of a building after an individual who would express it.”

As the university deliberates whether it should change the name of its auditorium, UNCG also continues to discuss its pending chancellor search.

Two faculty senators, Anne Wallace and Wade Maki, spoke to the faculty senate about the chancellor committee’s progress.

Susan Safran, chair of the board of trustees as well as of the chancellor search committee, also spoke.

Safran said the committee has added a member— Dr. Daniel Herr, professor and nanoscience department chair—to represent better UNCG’s sciences and maths.

Safran explained that Herr would help the committee to understand the special needs of UNCG’s Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering that it shares with N.C. A&T.

Concerning what the committee hopes to gain from the various listening forums that have and will take place, Wallace said that committee members would be looking to learn what qualities the community wants in a new chancellor so they can best design UNCG’s leadership statement—essentially, the university’s job ad.

“How do we,” Wallace said, “as the UNCG community talk about ourselves in ways that will attract candidates with lots of qualities that we want to come and apply and be our new chancellor.”

Faculty senators seem most concerned with assuring that the search committee decides to allow for open meetings with the final candidates and that many of the candidates have risen through the academic ranks.

Safran said she’s concerned, however, with how everyone’s wishes could be satisfied.

“You have asked for an open search, and if it is truly a hundred percent open and transparent where there’s no confidentiality, you are going to get the majority of applicants non-traditional.”

“These are politicians,” she continued, “Obama’s administration is finishing. There are people in his administration that are looking for alternative positions now.”

“ And some people I have talked to in our system, who are in the middle of searches right now, they said they are getting a large number of non-traditionals— a lot of politically affiliated people, either former public officials or current elected officials, as well as those working in administrative positions whether it be state or national,” she said.

Safran went on to say about the faculty’s push for an open search and the desire for candidates who have risen through the academic ranks, “You want both; you’re not going to get both.”

Safran said about the search format, “We do not want closed, we want more input at the end. We want to do the right thing. We want to get the best. We’re working on it.”

Categories: emily bruzzo, News

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