With so many retired faculty members
wanting to help, Strauss stressed that the
association can be selective in who it asks
to return. “There is an incredible variation
in who is in the retired faculty group,” he
said. “The only request we have is that the
liaisons from Retired Faculty Association
take into account the readiness of the faculty returning.”
Strauss emphasized that neither the
administration nor Chancellor Holden
Thorp ’ 86 is equipped to partner specific
retirees to tasks without knowing departmental needs. So, Strauss said, that process is
being handled on a departmental basis.
Strauss said he alerted department heads
across campus this fall and plans to again in
the spring. Then decisions are up to individual department heads to evaluate needs
and whether a retiree is the right match for
“[W]e feel this is a process that has to
bring a department and a faculty member
together,” Strauss says. “It would not be a
good idea for the University to make that
match. That is a very special match, and it
doesn’t need someone who doesn’t know
anything about the two units to make that
decision. It takes a lot of magic to it.”
William Andrews ’ 73 (PhD), senior associate dean for fine arts and humanities, is one
of those people looking for a match.
Andrews formed an informal committee of
retired faculty this year to discuss how they
could maintain a connection with UNC and
the College of Arts and Sciences. The committee also is examining how such a connection could be coordinated by departments.
“The things we thought about were the
retired faculty being able to present their
research in an ongoing symposium,” said
Andrews, who predicts discussions will
continue. “We talked about retired faculty
serving as mentors for new faculty” and
serving on dissertation committees.
The College of Arts and Sciences has
had to be creative in finding solutions to an
8 percent budget reduction over the past
two years. Karen Gil, dean of the College
of Arts and Sciences, says she is planning
for another 5 percent cut.
Gil said that in 2008-09, the college
suspended 30 faculty searches. There were
60 job openings that year. The college, she
says, cut 25 staff positions — 15 were layoffs
and 10 were unfilled positions. So far, faculty members have avoided being cut,
though some class sections have larger
numbers of students than in the past.
“The mission is to create new knowledge, to find solutions to problems, to educate the student body,” Gil said. “[The
budget] doesn’t change that, but it threatens
to erode it.”
It’s that erosion that Lubker hopes to
help stop. “We recognize an opportunity
for those who would like to to offer their
academic and professional skills in a time of
stress,” she said.
Lubker says much of the discussion so far
has focused on retired faculty returning only
to teach. But she sees other possibilities.
“We want to emphasize some trans-departmental skills,” Lubker said. “We could
help young professors get published.”
UNC’s law school has used retired faculty
to sit in mock trials as witnesses and jury
members. Omar Rushdee, the administrative support specialist for the school’s clinical programs, oversees the trials and has
appreciated resources the retired faculty
have provided. “We got connections from
the retired faculty,” he said. “They helped
us branch out to the University network
and put us in touch with resources that I
didn’t even know were there.”
The desire for retired faculty to stay
active at Chapel Hill, Dobelstein says,
comes from “a yearning, a hunger, to stay
involved with young people.”
And it is that hunger, not the money,
that keeps Steiner in the mix at UNC.
Cultivating relationships with students in
and out of the classroom is his reward.
“Every week, I have intensive discussions with students where I go to Caribou
Coffee [on Franklin Street],” he says. “We
discuss where they want to go in life.”
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