Faculty Council discusses new Heels Care network, COVID-19 on campus

The UNC faculty board discussed updates to COVID-19 policy, the Kitty Hawk project and campus mental health issues at its meeting on Friday.

Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs Amy Johnson also announced the launch of the Heels Care Network, an online resource offering 24/7 support.

“It was what we said that was going to be our grand initiative and our audience’s presentation to foster and expand this campus-wide culture of compassion and care that we want here at Carolina,” said Johnson.

What’s up?

  • The University recently signed a contract with Uwill, a teletherapy service focused on student mental health and well-being, Johnson said.
    • The Heels Care Network was launched Feb. 9 to provide mental health and wellness resources to UNC students, staff, and faculty. The network will also provide links to 24/7 crisis prevention and assistance resources.
    • The website includes various centers that students can access, including student peer support and care referrals. The network was created based on community feedback at the Mental Health Summit in November.
  • Faculty President Mimi Chapman said the Faculty Governance Office is extending the nomination period for honorary degrees to be awarded in May 2023. The deadline will end Feb. 21.
  • “Your nominations are essential to the process,” she said. “Please consider nominating individuals in your discipline or field who you believe deserve such honor.”
  • Ronald Strauss, Distinguished Professor at the Adams School of Dentistry and outgoing Executive Vice Provost, provided an update on COVID-19 on campus and potential new variants.
    • According to Strauss, 94% of students and 93% of professors are fully vaccinated. There has also been a drop in the rates of students testing positive on campus, he said.
    • “This is a vibrant time for the epidemic, and it is certainly not the time to declare any victory,” Strauss said. “The message for you is really, I would say, let’s keep masking up,” Strauss said. “Let’s keep doing the things that have worked – let’s keep vaccinating people and providing boosters as needed.
  • The BA.2 subvariant – a new version of the Omicron variant – appears to be more transmissible than the omicron variant, Strauss said.
    • Strauss said monoclonal antibodies are relatively ineffective against the subvariant, so his team will work on treatment availability and monitor referrals. But young populations are generally not hospitalized, he said.
  • The faculty council also talked about the Kitty Hawk project, an online learning initiative for working adults. The Board of Governors discussed the project at its meeting last month.
    • Todd A. Nicolet, vice provost for digital and lifelong learning, said the Kitty Hawk project has received strong support from the Legislature and the Board of Governors. to create an affiliated entity to work with various UNC institutions.
    • “The academic achievement goal is for two million North Carolinas to graduate with a college degree or diploma by 2030,” Nicolet said.
  • According to Nicolet, Kitty Hawk-supported programs will be “off-model,” meaning they will not be part of the traditional on-campus tuition with stipend model.

How did the committee get started?

  • The Office of Faculty Governance was founded at the same time UNC was created, where faculty make decisions about academic matters and serve as advisors to the Chancellor and other administrators.

Who is on the committee?

  • The UNC Faculty Council is composed of 91 voting members. Mimi Chapman is the current faculty president.

And after?

  • The Faculty Council will meet again on March 11 in a hybrid format.

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