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The following letter was sent to Richard Y. Stevens, UNC Board of Trustees Chair, on June 21, 2021.

Dear Mr. Stevens:

We write this letter in response to the call for action of our elected Faculty Chair, Frank A. Daniels Distinguished Professor Mimi Chapman. We are unified in our faculty voice in response to the threat of an assault on the very integrity of our academic process. We love the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and we wholeheartedly believe in the missions and values of this beloved institution. It is in this spirit that we are speaking out in full support of Lux Libertas.

It is a matter of great honor and pride to all of us that, as the nation’s first public university, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the birthplace of public higher education in this country. The stated mission of our university is to “serve as a center for research, scholarship, and creativity and to teach a diverse community of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students to become the next generation of leaders.” Our commitment to our founding principles—lux, libertas—light and liberty—led us to “chart a bold course of leading change to improve society and help solve the world’s greatest problems” ( Our ability to attract and retain the exceptional faculty necessary to achieve these lofty mission goals is interwoven with our institutional commitment to academic freedom. This promise of academic freedom is stated clearly in the Trustee Policies and Regulations Governing Academic Tenure in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (adopted by the Board of Trustees on April 9, 1976 and last amended September 24, 2020).

“Academic freedom is the right of a faculty member to be responsibly engaged in efforts to discover, speak, and teach the truth. It is the policy of the University to maintain and encourage full freedom, within the law, of inquiry, discourse, teaching, research, and publication and to protect any member of the faculty against influences, from within or without the University, which would restrict the faculty member in the exercise of these freedoms in his or her area of scholarly interest.”

We fully concur with this policy, and we aspire to promote and guard the exploration of scholarly thought and discourse that the promise of academic freedom ensures.

As department chairs and center directors in the UNC School of Medicine, we have moral and ethical obligations to uphold the stipulated and written values and principles of the Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure (APT) process. Our values govern our principles and act as the foundation for the APT process that, at its most fundamental core, is to protect academic freedom. We face complex issues in running our diverse departments and centers. As clinical department chairs, we must provide excellence in health care delivery to the patients we serve. As center directors and clinical and basic science chairs, we must continually push the boundaries of scientific discovery and innovation. As an academic medical center, we must also foster and support our outstanding academic missions in training the next generation of learners and leaders. The APT process is a fully articulated system of checks and balances that requires participation and feedback from Department Chairs, Center Directors, Division Chiefs, Professors, APT committees at the department, school and university levels, Dean of the School of Medicine, the University Provost and the UNC Board of Trustees. Consequently, our APT process is utilized to achieve our stated mission and values, and has allowed us to attract, retain, and promote exceptional faculty who are invited and encouraged to explore heterogeneous thinking. Many have become nationally and internationally recognized drivers and thought leaders of their field.

As institutional leaders, we must have the full confidence and trust of our faculty that we have assiduously guarded the integrity of the APT process. Without the integrity of our academic processes, our promise of academic freedom is broken and will be tarnished. Educational excellence will wane. We fully understand that our University’s greatness is directly proportional to our clinical, research and educational excellence, and we deeply cherish and safeguard the distinction we have achieved through the merits of our faculty. Lux Libertas!


Ronald J. Falk, MD
Nan and Hugh Cullman Eminent Professor and Chair
Department of Medicine
Founder and Co-Director, UNC Kidney Center
Stephanie Duggins Davis, MD
Charles and Katherine Brewer Professor and Chair
Department of Pediatrics
Physician-In-Chief, N.C. Children’s Hospital
Kathleen Caron, PhD
Professor and Chair
Department of Cell Biology and Physiology

Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH
Assad Meymandi Distinguished Professor and Chair
Department of Psychiatry
Director, UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders

And with the declared support and on behalf of:

SOM Clinical and Basic Science Chairs:

Joshua Alexander, MD
Sidna Chockley Rizzo Distinguished Professor and Chair
Department of Pediatric Rehabilitation
Director of Pediatric Rehabilitation

Jane H. Brice, MD, MPH
Professor and Chair
Department of Emergency Medicine

Russell Broaddus, MD, PhD
Joe W. and Evelyn M. Grisham Distinguished Professor and Chair
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Donald L. Budenz, MD
Kittner Family Distinguished Professor and Chair
Department of Ophthalmology

Craig E. Cameron, PhD
Jeffrey Houpt Distinguished Investigator
Professor and Chair Microbiology and Immunology

Paul A. Dayton, PhD
W.R. Kenan Distinguished Professor and Interim Chair
Department of Biomedical Engineering

Henrik Dohlman, PhD
Professor and Chair
Department of Pharmacology

Gwenn A. Garden, MD, PhD
Houston Merritt Distinguished Professor and Chair
Department of Neurology

Margaret R. Helton, MD
Professor and Chair
Department of Family Medicine

Stephen R. Hooper, PhD
Professor and Associate Dean of Medicine Chair
Department of Allied Health Sciences

Melina R. Kibbe, MD, FACS, FAHA
Colin G. Thomas, Jr. Distinguished Professor and Chair
Department of Surgery

Maureen P. Kohi, MD
Professor and Chair, Department of Radiology

Lawrence B. Marks, M.D.
Dr. Sidney K. Simon Distinguished Professor of Oncology Research
Professor and Chair, Department of Radiation Oncology
Executive Medical Director of Care Redesign, UNC Heath Care System

Genevieve S. Neal-Perry, MD, PhD
Robert A. Ross Distinguished Professor and Chair
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Matthew Nielsen, MD, MS, FACS
John Sloan Rhodes and John Flint Rhodes Distinguished Professor and Chair
Department of Urology

Nelson Oyesiku, MD PhD Professor and Chair
Department of Neurosurgery

Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, PhD
Oliver Smithies Investigator, Professor and Chair
Department of Genetics

James O. Sanders, MD
Frank C. Wilson Distinguished Professor and Chair
Department of Orthopedics

Brian D. Strahl, PhD
Oliver Smithies Investigator, Professor, and Interim Chair
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics

Nancy E. Thomas MD, PhD
Irene and Robert Alan Briggaman Distinguished Professor and Chair
Department of Dermatology

Wendell G. Yarbrough, MD, MMHC, FACS
Thomas J. Dark Distinguished Professor and Chair
Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery

David Zvara, MD
Professor and Chair
Department of Anesthesiology

SOM Center Directors:

Adaora A. Adimora, MD, MPH
Sarah Graham Kenan Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Professor of Epidemiology
Co-Director, UNC Center for AIDS Research

Victoria L Bautch, PhD
Beverly Long Chapin Distinguished Professor of Biology
Co-Director, UNC McAllister Heart Institute

Wendy R. Brewster, MD, PhD
Director Center for Women’s Health Research Professor
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Jan Busby-Whitehead, MD
Mary and Thomas Hudson Distinguished Professor and Director
Center for Aging and Health

John B Buse, MD, PhD
Verne S. Caviness Distinguished Professor
Co-Director, NC Translational and Clinical Science Institute Co-Director, NC Diabetes Center
Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Research

Myron S. Cohen, MD
Yeargan-Bate Professor of Medicine, Microbiology, and Epidemiology
Director, UNC Institute for Global Health and Infectious Disease

Claire M. Doerschuk, M.D.
Professor of Medicine and Pathology
Director, Center for Airways Disease

Shelton Earp, MD
Lineberger Distinguished Professor and Director
UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Research Center

Timothy Elston
Jeffrey Houpt Distinguished Investigator
Co-Director, Computational Medicine Program Department of Pharmacology

Ilona Jaspers, PhD
Professor; Departments of Pediatrics, Microbiology & Immunology, and Env. Sci. & Engineering
Director; Curriculum in Toxicology & Environmental Medicine
Director; Center for Env. Med. Asthma & Lung Biology

Nigel Key, MD
Harold R Roberts Distinguished Professor
Director, UNC Blood Research Center Department of Medicine

Richard F. Loeser, Jr., MD
Joseph P. Archie, Jr. Eminent Professor of Medicine Division of Rheumatology, Allergy, and Immunology
Director, Thurston Arthritis Research Center

David M. Margolis MD
Sarah Graham Keenan Distinguished Professor of Medicine
Director, UNC HIV Cure Center

Ben Philpot, Ph.D.
Kenan Distinguished Professor
Associate Director, UNC Neuroscience Center

Joseph Piven, M.D.
Thomas E. Castelloe Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics
Director, Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities

Prabir Roy-Chaudhury MD, PhD
Professor of Medicine
Co-Director UNC Kidney Center

Robert S. Sandler, MD, MPH
Nina C. and John T. Sessions Distinguished Professor of Medicine
Director, Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease

Ronald Swanstrom, Ph.D.
Charles Postelle Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry
Co-Director, UNC Center For AIDS Research

Jenny Pan-Yun Ting, Ph.D.
William Rand Kenan Professor of Genetics, Microbiology and Immunology
Director, Center of Translational Immunology.

Mark J. Zylka, Ph.D.
W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor
Director, UNC Neuroscience Center


Kevin M. Guskiewicz, PhD
Chancellor, UNC at Chapel Hill
Office of the Chancellor

Wesley Burks, MD
Dean, UNC School of Medicine
Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs
CEO, UNC Health

Christy Page, MD, MPH
Executive Dean, UNC School of Medicine

Mimi V. Chapman
Chair of the Faculty

Office of Faculty Governance