Around Campus

Communications, absence policy top Faculty Council agenda

In the Jan. 20 meeting, council members also received COVID-19 updates and presented the Thomas Jefferson Award.

Kamrhan Farwell
Vice Chancellor of Communications Kamrhan Farwell introduces herself during the Jan. 20 Faculty Council meeting held in person and virtually. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

The new vice chancellor of communications introduced herself to Faculty Council at its Jan. 20 meeting and shared her plans for the Office of University Communications and how it supports the faculty.

Kamrhan Farwell, who came to Carolina from the University of Missouri in late September, said University Communications will focus on these goals:

  • Sharpen public messaging.
  • Enhance vibrant storytelling.
  • Audit communications to stakeholders.

To help with storytelling, Farwell encouraged faculty members to make sure their departmental communicators know about their work. She asked faculty to take advantage of University Communications media training and join the office’s list of faculty experts to share their expertise with media outlets and the public.

“A lot of what our team thinks about is how we give visibility to the work of the faculty,” Farwell said. “That’s the magic here. That’s why the students come here.”

University Approved Absence Policy

Dean of Students Desirée Rieckenberg and professor Meg Zomorodi of the School of Nursing used their presentation to raise awareness of the University Approved Absence Office and the University Approved Absence Policy. They urged faculty members to contact the Educational Policy Committee as they continue to clarify areas not covered by the policy and answer frequently asked questions.

They addressed confusion about the absence policy, clarifying that:

  • The 2018 policy covers only three specific categories of absences outlined in the Class Attendance Policy:
      • Authorized university activities.
      • Disability, religious observance and pregnancy, as required by law.
      • Significant health conditions and/or personal family emergencies.
  • Faculty do not need permission to approve and/or excuse any absences.

COVID-19 update

Infectious disease experts Dr. David Weber, medical director for UNC Medical Center’s infection prevention department, and Dr. Amir Barzin, medical director for UNC Health virtual care services, shared this information and more:

  • COVID-19 is still the third leading cause of death in the U.S., causing 500 deaths each day.
  • Even if they get COVID-19, those who have been vaccinated and received boosters run a much lower risk of death from the disease, symptoms of long COVID and COVID-related heart problems.
  • Those with COVID-19 symptoms should seek treatment right away because medications like Paxlovid are now readily available and underused.

Jefferson Award

Geoffrey Sayre-McCord received the 2022 Thomas Jefferson Award, presented annually to the faculty member who best exemplifies Jefferson’s values of democracy, public service and the pursuit of knowledge. Sayre-McCord is the Morehead-Cain Alumni Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and director of the philosophy, politics and economics program in the College of Arts and Sciences. Look for an interview with Sayre-McCord coming soon in The Well.

Watch a recording of the Jan. 20 Faculty Council meeting.