Parise, Kramer vie for UNC faculty chair post

Leslie Parise, PhD, professor and chair of the department of biochemistry and biophysics in the UNC School of Medicine is running for faculty chair against Lloyd Kramer, PhD, professor of history in the UNC College of Arts and Sciences. The elections will be held April 7–19 by electronic ballot emailed to all eligible faculty members.

Parise, Kramer vie for UNC faculty chair post click to enlarge Leslie Parise, PhD (photo by Jon Gardiner, UNC-Chapel Hill)
Parise, Kramer vie for UNC faculty chair post click to enlarge Lloyd Kramer, PhD (photo by Jon Gardiner, UNC-Chapel Hill)

April 3, 2017

This article was originally posted in the University Gazette.

Leslie Parise is professor and chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, joint professor of pharmacology and member of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and McAllister Heart Institute. Parise is currently serving a second term on the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC) and Faculty Council. She works extensively across campus to initiate and lead change. On FEC, she pushed for improvements to the campus work-life environment. She separately initiated discussions that led to creation of the Chancellor’s Science STEM Scholar’s Pro- gram in the College and served as co-chair of the Quality Enhancement Plan (2014-16). She is a strong proponent of efforts to increase university/industry relations and served on the vice chancellor’s Industry Funding Task Force. She interacts with UNC’s KickStart Program and strongly supports UNC’s entrepreneurial spirit. In addition to collaborations with basic and clinical units in the School of Medicine, she also works closely with the School of Pharmacy.

Parise received her doctorate from the University of Illinois Medical Center followed by postdoctoral work at the Gladstone Foundation/UCSF, and joined the Carolina faculty in 1988. She has received continuous research funding from the NIH and is highly published and recognized internationally in the areas of thrombosis, sickle cell disease and cancer. She has also successfully mentored numerous undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty, many of whom have moved into independent university, government or industrial positions.

Lloyd Kramer is a professor of history and the director of Carolina Public Humanities. His teaching and research focus on European history, with particular interests in modern France, the influencof transnational cultural exchanges and the history of nationalism.

He has published five books, including A History of Europe in the Modern World and Nationalism in Europe and America: Politics, Cultures and Identities Since 1775. He has also co-edited books on historical education and on changing conceptions of historical knowledge.

Kramer has received the Johnston Teaching Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching and a Chapman Family Fellowship (which honors outstanding teachers) at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities (IAH). He served two terms as chair of the Department of History, and he earlier served as both the associate director and acting director of the IAH. As director of Carolina Public Humanities, he now organizes outreach programs that connect UNC faculty to people outside the University.

Kramer is currently a member of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee. He previously served on the Faculty Council and the Council’s Executive Committee, the UNC-system Faculty Assembly, the Committee on Honorary Degrees and Special Awards, the Committee on Fixed-Term Faculty and the Faculty Athletics Committee.

He received his bachelor of arts from Maryville College in Tennessee and his doctorate from Cornell University. Before coming to Carolina, Kramer taught at Stanford and Northwestern universities.

What is your view of the role of faculty chair?

Kramer: The faculty chair is a public advocate for the core mission of the University. The chair represents this mission by leading faculty governance and affirming the essential work of faculty colleagues who teach students, develop new knowledge through their research, and serve North Carolinians far beyond our campus.

The faculty chair must stress the importance of all these activities because critics regularly question the validity or economic value of the liberal arts, scientific knowledge and careful, analytical thinking.

The faculty chair also serves as a liaison between professors, University administrators, the Board of Trustees, political leaders and outside groups that want to know what faculty are doing at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Parise: I believe that the faculty chair should listen carefully to faculty concerns and serve as a voice for the faculty to UNC’s upper administration. As chair, I would try to gain perspective on issues from diverse viewpoints and channel faculty concerns in the most productive way possible. The chair should also be an effective liaison with the provost, chancellor, board of trustees and public at large when appropriate. In addition to overseeing faculty council, I would strive to empower and facilitate the essential work of the many committees that make up UNC faculty governance.

If elected, what are your priorities or goals?

Parise: My goals would be to serve as a sounding board for faculty questions, issues and concerns. Recent examples include questions about roles of UNC centers, uncertainties raised by changes in federal policies, and concerns of our fixed-term faculty. More specifically, I would continue to build on efforts to improve work-life policies, protect UNC’s welcoming environment for diverse faculty, staff and student populations and encourage streamlining of procedures so that faculty can spend more time carrying out intellectual and educational pursuits and more easily create cross-campus programs and opportunities.

Kramer: I want to emphasize that the faculty plays an important social role in helping to prepare students for well-informed citizenship in a democratic society. We need to explain why diversity enhances our educational mission and why a liberal arts education provides a foundation for imaginative professional leadership and good jobs as well as a good life. I want to convey why the faculty favors robust support for graduate and professional students and why creative research in every field strengthens our teaching and enhances the quality of North Carolina’s cultural and social life. I would therefore encourage my colleagues to connect with communities outside the University and throughout North Carolina. I want to facilitate the work of talented colleagues who serve on faculty governance committees; and I want to listen carefully to other colleagues who serve the University in different ways. I want to promote a diverse student and faculty community in which people from all backgrounds and perspectives have a voice. I want to emphasize that teaching, research and service can be fun even in difficult times, and I want to encourage the pleasures of humor and laughter in academic life.

What are the three most pressing issues currently facing Carolina’s faculty?

Kramer: We need to show how scholarly traditions critically enhance contemporary calls for innovation, global studies, digital communications and economic utility. We need to explain why public policies such as HB2, travel or visa restrictions on international students and faculty, and concealed guns on our campus all go against the enduring values of the University. We need to reiterate often that both public funding and private gifts sustain the vibrant public educational institutions that serve our state. This support helps us attract the best students, offer the strongest possible preparation for future participation in a global economy and keep the best teachers and scholars at Carolina.

Parise: The UNC budget continues to be a major concern, not only due to continuing state budget cuts, but also because of looming cuts to federal agencies that support our research mission. Tight budgets make it more difficult to deploy new technologies, retain outstanding faculty and staff who may receive offers from elsewhere and increase deferred maintenance on facilities. New budget models for campus are also likely to generate questions and concerns. We need to continue efforts to maintain a welcoming community at UNC, including the creation of more family friendly policies and facilities and assuring the well-being of all our diverse campus members. On FEC, I worked with the Carolina Women’s Center and our administration to increase the availability of federally compliant lactation spaces across campus and would continue to advocate for changes that increase UNC’s competitiveness as a top institution to work and learn.Another concern is the level of regulatory and administrative burden that decreases efficient use of faculty and staff time. In addition to administrative burden from the federal and state level, the university can add bureaucratic procedures that may not always be necessary. This is not unique to UNC nor to most large organizations. Indeed, Cornell University recently launched an initiative to identify impediments and streamline their procedures as described in a publicly available white paper. Related to this, I applaud the efforts of the recently formed “red tape” committee to question and change time-consuming procedures.

How have these issues changed during your tenure at Carolina?

Parise: Since my arrival at Carolina in 1988, UNC has undergone tremendous change. The size and reputation of UNC has grown considerably such that it is now among the top 10 universities in the country in garnering federal research dollars and is well-recognized for high quality, affordable undergraduate, graduate and professional education. However, the financial pressures on the institution have also intensified; many faculty in the research enterprise must cover the majority of their salary from highly competitive extramural grants and staff positions have been cut. UNC continually faces the threat of loss of outstanding faculty to other institutions. Nonetheless, UNC has thrived, but we cannot take this for granted. Important cultural changes have occurred over the years; UNC has fully embraced entrepreneurship to a degree not seen at many other universities, making Carolina a very vibrant, exciting place to work and do research. New “makerspaces” on campus encourage creative intersections of art, design and technology. UNC has also nurtured strong interactions and cooperation between different schools related to faculty hiring and educational opportunities. These interactions must be nurtured and expanded to make us greater than the sum of our parts.

Kramer: Political support for public education has declined over the last two decades. Our faculty and staff have long expressed concerns about state financial support for the University, but recent changes in the state legislature, Board of Governors, social media and wider political culture have made the faculty feel more vulnerable to outside political interventions.

How will your professional experiences shape how you plan to lead the faculty?

Kramer: I’ve had the opportunity to teach and work with thousands of Carolina students over the last three decades. This experience shapes my desire to emphasize the public value of the humanities and a liberal arts education.My service as a department chair and as a faculty leader at both the Institute for the Arts and Humanities and Carolina Public Humanities has helped me understand the importance of listening constantly to faculty colleagues, supporting hard-working staff members and discussing ideas with people outside the University.

Parise: As a department chair, I am reminded to listen to multiple sides of issues and develop efficient solutions. I enjoy working not only with people in my department but across campus to accomplish goals, and I do not hesitate to reach out to whomever I think can help. On a national level, I have been involved in scientific public policy groups that visit Capitol Hill and NIH leaders to make a case for research funding—experience that will translate to advocating for faculty concerns across campus.

How will you approach representing the concerns and interests of faculty whose work lives differ significantly from those of faculty in your school or department?

Parise: I have been involved in many cross-campus initiatives that have provided insights into the functions of different departments and schools. For example, I initiated introductions and discussions between UNC faculty and key faculty from the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s (UMBC) highly successful Meyerhoff Program. This program is a national model for increasing the diversity of leadership in the sciences. These discussions resulted in a formal partnership with UMBC to create UNC’s undergraduate Chancellor’s Science Scholar’s Program in the College. I recently co-chaired the Quality Enhancement Plan, which allowed me to meet more faculty in the arts, humanities and social sciences and to learn about their amazing initiatives as well as their concerns. I separately stimulated a nascent “cryoEM” consortium between UNC and neighboring research institutions to bring new technology to our region. These and other experiences have helped me appreciate the similarities and differences in cultures, not only across our campus, but also between our institutional neighbors in RTP, and will shape my approach to working with faculty and staff outside my unit.

Kramer: I have worked often on committees and special projects with colleagues from Health Affairs, the Law School, the School of Education and other professional schools. Although we may pursue different kinds of teaching, research, and service, we all share a commitment to helping students succeed and to making UNC the best possible University in our respective fields.I believe that I can listen to and represent colleagues in every part of the University; I view the position of faculty chair as a place from which to advocate for the shared goals and aspirations of our whole community.

How can the faculty best respond to the reality of a future funding model more reliant on private support at a time when state and federal funding for higher education has declined?

Kramer: We should stress America’s historic achievement in developing world-class public universities, but we also need to explain why this achievement is now at risk. Our peer private universities now have more resources to recruit the best faculty and prospective graduate students. We therefore need to make sure that faculty are active in the upcoming Carolina Fundraising Campaign, because professors can explain how private funds enhance our teaching and research in all fields and also help us recruit outstanding students and faculty.

Parise: While Carolina does reasonably well compared to other state universities in terms of private philanthropy, there is still significant room for growth. For example, Carolina needs more endowed professorships, not only to recognize faculty excellence but also to help offset faculty salaries. UNC will be entering into a public phase of a major fundraising campaign; department chairs and faculty should be very open to assisting as necessary. UNC is also working hard to increase university/industry relations, which will benefit the entire institution.

How will you work with Carolina’s chancellor, provost and administration?

Parise: I will strive to be an effective liaison and communicator in both directions for the faculty, provost and chancellor and, as stated in the faculty code, “to represent the chancellor in all academic matters whenever requested.” It would be my honor to help the Chancellor’s office and upper administration with these important goals.

Kramer: I’ve been able to discuss faculty ideas and concerns with each of our chancellors since the early 1990s. In every context, I’ve viewed my interactions with chancellors, provosts and deans as collaborative exchanges rather than as confrontations.I recognize that administrative leaders face numerous challenges as they seek to advance UNC’s educational mission and collective interests, but we must count on these leaders to defend our academic principles when the University faces external or internal threats.Faculty members also need to describe and defend our intellectual values and traditions. During the University’s recent athletic/academic scandal, for example, I believed that a University-commissioned report had misrepresented the actions of the Faculty Athletic Committee at a time when I had served on that committee.I therefore spoke at Faculty Council meetings about the errors in a report that most University leaders wanted to embrace. The flaws were eventually acknowledged and addressed after other colleagues also joined in questioning specific aspects of the report.Administrators and faculty alike sometimes fail to understand the significance of emerging problems. The chair of the Faculty—who also fails to see some issues clearly—should thus raise challenging questions and expand the conversation whenever key University values, human needs or faculty interests seem to be at risk.When questions about such issues must be raised, however, I would strive to respect those who may disagree with my queries or oppose my own views. I have always believed that it is best to work with our administrative leaders through a process of mutual respect, and that would be my method for dealing creatively with the complex issues and controversies that will continue to develop.

The faculty elections will be held April 7–19 by electronic ballot emailed to all eligible faculty members. For information about eligibility to vote in the faculty elections, see facultygov.unc.edu/elections/. Look for faculty elections voter information in the April 5 issue of the Gazette.
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