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Mission Statement

The Department of Marine Sciences shares the University’s strong commitment to research, teaching and public service. In practical terms we strive to describe, understand, and predict the interactive processes that regulate marine systems and connect these to the other components of the Earth System, to quantify change in marine systems and assess its consequences for humans and other organisms, and to inform the decisions of policy makers, legislators and the people of North Carolina to achieve optimal protection for and utilization of our marine resources. To achieve this mission, we carry out field-based observational work and innovative modeling and laboratory studies, all of which involve undergraduate and graduate students as integral members of our research teams.

Diversity Statement: The Department of Marine Sciences supports the University’s core values encouraging diversity and equal educational and employment opportunities throughout the University community. These values are articulated in the University’s non-discrimination policy and by the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.

In response to recent actions by the North Carolina legislature the Marine Sciences Program has drafted and endorsed a Diversity Affirmation Statement.


Letter to UNC Board of Trustees:

June 24, 2021

Dear Members of the UNC Board of Trustees:

As Chair of UNC’s Department of Marine Sciences, I urge you to approve the Provost’s recommendation to hire Nikole Hannah-Jones with tenure in the Hussman School of Journalism. Doing so will reaffirm the University’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and restore confidence in the tenure process at our university.

As I am sure you are aware, the tenure process is deliberate, multi-faceted and time-consuming, involving appraisal by experts external to UNC, as well as our own faculty, from within the faculty member’s department as well as from across campus. The Board of Trustees’ failure to consider Hannah-Jones dossier devalues this process and leads to the perception that the integrity of the process has been sacrificed for political considerations. Your inaction is having a chilling effect on potential new hires and will make it more difficult to retain faculty. Considering upcoming tenure and promotion cases in my department, I am also concerned that potential reviewers will be unwilling to invest their time and effort for a university that appears to pay little heed to expert reviews. Continued inaction by the Board of Trustees will irreparably damage the reputation of this great university and the State of North Carolina. I call on you to restore trust in the tenure process by approving the Provost’s recommendation to hire and tenure Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Harvey Seim
Professor and Chair of Marine Sciences

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