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Community garden yields 1,300 pounds of produce this summer

July 28, 2015

The Carolina Campus Community Garden is bursting with fresh produce this summer. The long days of sunlight and warmth mean more growth and more to harvest. Summer also means fewer students on campus to volunteer. However, this summer new staff members regularly attend the weekday volunteer workdays. Their presence and hard work has made a huge difference in the workload.

Claire Lorch, director of the garden, extends her gratitude to the hardworking volunteers who have not let soaring temperatures keep them away. One volunteer stops at the Weaver Street in Southern Village to pick up a generous donation of food scraps for the compost piles on her way to attend the Wednesday workdays.

The current garden crops include a variety of tomatoes, mostly Big Beef and Sun Golds; an assortment of peppers; Japanese eggplant; Zephyr summer squash; yard long beans; that Southern staple, okra; Italian and Thai basil; sweet potatoes; purslane; watermelon and green beans. Some of these are ready for harvest now and some of them are still ripening. So far 340 pounds of tomatoes have been harvested, and over 1,300 pounds of food have been distributed to staff in the housekeeping department since June 1.

For more information about the garden or to receive garden updates, please contact Claire Lorch at The garden’s website is and the garden itself is located at 236 Wilson Street, which is off Cameron Street between Pittsboro Street and Ransom Street. If you leave campus, pass the Carolina Inn on Cameron and turn left on Wilson Street, you will not have to go very far before you see it.


Story contributed by Arlene Medder, Employee Forum delegate and Administrative Support Associate in Auxiliary Services.

Cheek family believes in paying it forward

July 28, 2015
Kyle and Kevin Cheek with their mother, Karen Jenkins-Cheek. Photograph by Ronda Manuel.
Kyle and Kevin Cheek with their mother, Karen Jenkins-Cheek. Photograph by Ronda Manuel.

UNC Pembroke juniors and identical twins Kevin and Kyle Cheek spend their summers in Chapel Hill working at the University to make their college experience possible. For the past two summers, the Sanford natives performed maintenance work throughout residence halls across campus with the UNC Facilities team. The opportunity to work on campus not only provides funds for their education, but it also gives them the to opportunity to spend summers with their mother Karen Jenkins-Cheek, a 15-year veteran with the Department of Parking and Transportation.

The Cheek brothers work hard to stay in college and maintain high grades. In recognition of their outstanding academic credentials and in order to ease the financial burden of paying tuition, they have been awarded $2,000 for each of the past two years from the Carolina Family Scholarship.

“The Carolina Family Scholarship has been extremely helpful because it provided us with money that we did not have,” Kevin said. “We probably would not have been able to go to school if we didn’t have this scholarship.”

The Carolina Family Scholarship Fund, which was established over 10 years ago, provides need-based scholarships to dependents of employees attending any of the 16 UNC institutions or community colleges in North Carolina. This fund creates a sense of community among UNC Chapel Hill faculty and staff by working toward the common goal of furthering the education of employee children.

Saving the scholarship

A year ago, the future of the Carolina Family Scholarship appeared tenuous. Bruce Egan, one of the original organizers of the scholarship, wanted to retire but wanted to ensure the continuation of the scholarship. He requested that the Employee Forum administer the scholarship going forward, and the forum membership agreed.

Jenkins-Cheek, a long-time Employee Forum delegate herself, said that she is “extremely excited that the Employee Forum has taken a stand to keep the scholarship going. I am honored that someone paved the way and now the Forum can continue to carry the torch.”

Several years ago, Karen, who is approaching 20 years as a state employee, learned about the Carolina Family Scholarship through a mandatory training in her department. With two children attending college at the same time, she knew the scholarship could provide much-needed funds.

The Cheek family was elated when they were notified that the brothers had received the scholarship. Because of the financial assistance provided for Kevin and Kyle’s academic career, a huge burden was lifted from their family.

Paying it forward

With the help of this scholarship, Kevin and Kyle are both majoring in biology and minoring in psychology. They are active in Life Group, a student organization that provides them with the opportunity to discuss life situations from a biblical and religious perspective. They have participated in the university’s gospel choir and have set their sights on graduate school. Both brothers aspire to attend the UNC Physician Assistant Program through the Department of Allied Health Sciences. They believe this will be a chance for them to give back to their community, an important value in their family.

“If someone is able to provide and help you, then you pay it forward. You give back and donate money to help someone that is in financial need. Paying it forward is a big thing for me and my family,” Karen said. As a mother of four children, including two daughters who are currently in high school, Karen always taught her children the importance of getting a college education.

“All of my children have excelled in their academics, A/B honor roll, and have done really well in their scholastic achievements. I am proud of all of them and encourage them to get scholarships, scholarships, and more scholarships,” she said.

She believes the Carolina Family Scholarship shows great support from the University to their employees by providing an opportunity to receive money for higher education for their children. “It would be helpful for faculty and staff to give to the fund through payroll deduction so that the money is continuously available. It is a great chance to pay it forward to another family in need that would truly benefit from those funds,” Karen said. “I would strongly encourage all faculty and staff members that believe in education for our future to financially support the Carolina Family Scholarship Fund.”

If you’d like to learn more about ways that you can support other families in the UNC community through the Carolina Family Scholarship Fund, please visit or contact the Employee Forum at

RondaStory contributed by Ronda Manuel, Employee Forum delegate and Associate Director of Development for the Arts and Sciences Foundation.

Streeter elected to Forum Chair position for third term; Montgomery elected Vice Chair

June 24, 2015

kirkstreeterEmployee Forum delegates re-elected Charles Streeter to another term as Chair of the Employee Forum. Streeter has served as Chair since June 2013. He currently works as a database analyst in the Department of Student Affairs. He grew up in Fayetteville, N.C. and holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill, as well as an M.B.A. from Pfeiffer University. Streeter is one of three recipients of the inaugural Kay Wijnberg Hovious Outstanding Forum Delegate Award. He is ineligible to run for a fourth term as chair.

The Chair of the Forum conducts Forum and Executive Committee meetings. He or she also has the authority to appoint committee chairs and is expected to serve on a variety of standing university committees. The chair is regularly asked to represent staff to the Board of Trustees.

Kirk Montgomery will serve in the Vice Chair position. He is responsible for serving in the absence of the chair, and he will plan community meetings. Montgomery is currently a project manager in the Energy Services Department. He coordinates all project management and IT processes, including budget development and management. He has over 15 years of project and IT management experience.

Montgomery holds a master’s degree from Keller Graduate School of Management in Morrisville, N.C., and a bachelor’s degree from N.C. Central University. He serves as the Treasurer of the Executive Committee of SEANC District 25. He’s a founding member of the Project Management Institute Toast Master’s in Durham. He has a black belt in martial arts and enjoys weight lifting in his spare time.

In addition, delegates elected Kathy Ramsey (Dental Research) as Secretary, Shanya Hill (Dentistry) as Treasurer, and Phillip Edwards (Center for Faculty Excellence) as Parliamentarian.

Three honored with Kay W. Hovious Award for outstanding delegates

June 24, 2015
From left to right: Karen Jenkins-Cheek, Yvonne Dunlap, Tammy Cox and Charles Streeter. Photograph courtesy of Jackie Overton.

Three outstanding Employee Forum delegates were honored for their work at the June 10, 2015 at the annual Forum delegate retreat. Yvonne Dunlap, Karen Jenkins-Cheek and Tammy Cox received the Kay W. Hovious Award in appreciation of their exceptional service to staff at Carolina.

Yvonne Dunlap has served as chair of the Personnel Issues Committee and has been an active contributor to the Employee Forum’s InTouch publication. Dunlap has been a tireless advocate for staff and an outspoken supporter of fair access to education, employment, housing, healthcare, and equal treatment under the law. She is currently Regulatory Associate at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Karen Jenkins-Cheek is well-known to Parking Coordinators across campus. She is the Parking Services Manager in the Department of Transportation and Parking. Beyond her daily job duties, Jenkins-Cheek has helped to organize food drives, recruit staff to the Employee Forum and organize meetings and events for Forum delegates. She has served as the chair for Membership and Assignments Committee.

Tammy Cox is currently Assistant Dean of Administration in the School of Information and Library Science. Although Cox has been at Carolina for only six years, she has an impressive 23 years of state service under her belt. She has served as Forum Treasurer for a number of years and has been vital to helping plan and budget for Forum events and activities. In addition, she is a regular contributor to InTouch. She is currently working toward a master’s degree in adult education and plans to teach college-level courses in the future.

The Forum would like to thank these three dedicated members for all they have done for staff on this campus and for their friendship and congeniality.

Chair of the Forum issues statement on Charleston shooting

June 20, 2015

streeterandshawDear fellow staff,

I am deeply saddened and troubled by the shooting deaths of congregates at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church yesterday evening. I want to reach out to you and echo the Chancellor’s message that our UNC Chapel Hill community is dedicated to ensuring that all who are affected by this tragedy have the resources and encouragement to speak out about this event and obtain any needed counseling. Employees may contact the UNC Employee Assistance Program at 877-314-5841.

Violence that stems from racially-motivated hatred is unacceptable. As a staff, we stand for principles of fairness, justice and equality.

If you ever feel as if you are treated unfairly because of your race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or any other identity-based factor, please file a report with the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office.

As always, feel free to reach out to your Employee Forum representatives with comments or concerns. As your representative body, we are “committed to fostering an open and positive environment throughout the university community.”


Charles Streeter
Chair of the Employee Forum

Forum honors 2015 Peer Recognition Award Winners

May 28, 2015
Winners of the 2015 Peer Recognition Awards. Photograph courtesy of Charles Streeter.


By Clare Counihan, Forum delegate

The Employee Forum hosted the Peer Recognition Awards on Friday, May 15, 2015, in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room of Wilson Library. Twenty members of staff from across the University won nine awards, with multiple winners in several categories. Winners received a certificate, an Employee Forum mug, and a small cash prize. Shane Hale, chair of the Education and Career Development Committee (ECDC), emceed the ceremony, assisted by Charles Streeter, chair of the Employee Forum, and Samara Reynolds, ECDC member. Following the ceremony, guests and award winners mingled and enjoyed a reception.

Since 2001, the Peer Recognition Awards have enabled staff to recognize and celebrate the hard work, dedication, and excellence of their peers in a number of areas. The ECDC, comprised of Forum delegates, selects winners from nominees submitted by co-workers and supervisors.

Please congratulate this year’s winners, and start thinking about who to nominate for next year!

Awards and Winners
Back Office Activity Award, for employees who work behind the scenes: Kay Babel, DG Eide, and Margarita Helms.

Big Buddy Award, for employees who have taken the time to mentor a fellow employee: Martin Chavious and John Gorman.

Call of Duty Award, for employees going above and beyond the expectations of their jobs:
Troy Cates and Emily Gomez.

Congeniality Award, for employees who improve office morale and are a pleasure to be around:
Violet Anderson and Karen Gilliam.

Customer Service Award, for employees who serve the University on the front lines: Marlene Drummond and Jacqui Holmes.

Rookie Award, for employees who have worked on campus more than 3 months but less than 1 year: Irina Olenicheva and Leslie Whitfield.

Self-Improvement Award, for an employee who has accomplished a personal, academic or professional goal: Taylor King.

Unsung Heel Award, for employees who serve the community and make a positive impact: Christina Crockett, Jill Fallin, Jeannene Pacheco, and Lars Sahl.

Carolina Blood Drive volunteer shares her experience

May 28, 2015

arleneArlene Medder, Division 6 delegate

I have been donating blood since I was 18 years old, but I am not always able to donate blood during the annual Carolina Blood Drive. For anyone who is unable to donate, but who still wants to contribute to the blood drive, volunteering is an excellent option. There are many tasks handled by volunteers, including directing donors to donation stations, escorting donors to the canteen, serving in the canteen and driving donors in the golf cart.

In my assorted volunteer stints, I have stood on the floor of the Dean Dome, looking to see which donation pod has a chair available and directing donors. I have looked for donors who have completed their donation and need an escort to the canteen. I have served in the canteen, greeting donors and bringing them refreshments. I once stood at the table by the exit and handed out free t-shirts.

The volunteer shift lasts about two and a half hours. When you sign up to volunteer, state your preference for the kind of work you want to do. I list “flexible” so the event organizers  can assign me to where I’m most needed. At the end of the day, there’s usually a need for clean-up crew, in addition to the other volunteer tasks.

If you are able, I urge you to donate blood. However, if that’s not possible, consider volunteering your time. With your supervisor’s permission, volunteering at the Dean Dome is considered work time.

I’ll be volunteering and then donating blood this year. I hope to see you there.

Chancellor addresses staff at community meeting; stresses importance of embracing change

May 27, 2015

The Employee Forum’s annual community meeting took place this year on May 6, 2015, in the Pleasants Room at Wilson Library. Chancellor Carol Folt began the meeting by recognizing the innovative spirit of Carolina’s staff and stressing the importance of service to the university and the community. Her primary message to staff was to prepare for changes in the year ahead. Folt described Carolina employees as “change agents” and said that the university community must “honor and respect change and embrace it.”

Among the positive changes that the chancellor referred to were record-breaking numbers of prospective student applicants, increasing philanthropy and high levels of student engagement. She mentioned that there will be changes to how funds are allocated in the upcoming budget process, but she was unable to provide details about what those changes will entail.

Forum delegate Matthew McKirahan asked the chancellor whether future funding for schools and departments will be determined by the numbers of student enrolled in those programs. Vice Chancellor for Finance Administration Matt Fajack responded that his office is “in the process of deciding whether to look at enrollment to base budget models on, but there are no definitive plans” at the moment. The chancellor added that the university is planning to change the current budget model, but she was quick to assert that the administration “won’t be stupid about it.”

Fajack provided a brief update about this year’s expected budget. He reported that the university is bracing for a two percent cut, despite a state budgetary surplus of $440 million. He predicted that Carolina will not receive additional operational funds this year. As for salary increases, Fajack said that the state is unlikely to provide funds for across-the-board increases, but the administration has requested flexibility with allocating increases on other fund sources.

Since the community meeting, the NC house passed a budget proposal that includes two percent raises for state employees, 40 hours of bankable leave and a cost of living adjustment for retirees. The proposal is still pending debate and passage by the senate, which is expected to occur in the coming weeks. For more information about the house budget, please visit SEANC’s website.

For more coverage of the community meeting, please read the University Gazette’s article, “Forum focuses on budget, ConnectCarolina.”



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