NC Council of Churches Director: Support Duke Faculty

As members of the Duke community, we’re honored to receive ongoing support from inside the university gates and beyond. This month, Jennifer Copeland, Executive Director of the North Carolina Council of Churches, wrote a letter to President Richard Brodhead calling for neutrality from the administration.

The letter reads:

Dear Dick,

In my new capacity as the Executive Director of the North Carolina Council of Churches, I have occasion to meet with and work on behalf of an interesting array of folks who are a force for social justice matters. Recently, that has included the people involved in the Duke Teaching First campaign who are advocating on behalf of adjunct and contingent faculty. It’s ironic, I suppose, that I have taught at Duke in this category for nearly a decade while serving as the United Methodist Chaplain, but only became aware of their—our—efforts to unionize after moving to this position.

Of course, there are all the usual reminders I could offer about Duke’s relationship to The United Methodist Church, an institution that stands solidly behind the rights of workers to organize, but you already know that. You might not know (because I didn’t before I took this job) that the NC Council of Churches was organized on the Duke campus in 1935 by Shelton Smith and it has, since its inception, always stood on the side of worker’s rights.

And so, I write to you from my office in Raleigh, but also as a three-time alumna of the University, former Religious Life staff member, and current adjunct instructor. My request is simply that you and the Duke administration be supportive, or at least neutral, as this group attempts to organize. In so doing, you will provide them the same support all faculty have come to appreciate about the Duke community.

Many thanks for your time in this busy first week of classes.

Blessings in this Season of Epiphany,

Jennifer E. Copeland

Cc: Provost Sally Kornbluth

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