Agenda — February 2, 2005

9:30 a.m.—-Meeting: School of Social Work Auditorium, Tate-Turner-Kuralt Building

I.          Call to Order

II.         Welcome Guests & Members of the Press
III.            Opening Remarks

IV.       Special Presentations

· Norm Loewenthal on University’s Part-Time Degree Pilot Program

· Diane Kjervik from Carolina Women’s Center

· Libby Evans on Resumption of Computer Training Courses

V.        Employee Presentations or Questions

VI.       Human Resources Update

· Laurie Charest, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources

VII.      Minutes of the January 14 meeting P

VIII.     Old Business

· Proposed Resolution 05-01 Concerning Health Benefits (2nd Reading)

IX.        New Business

X.         Stretch Time 6

XI.        Forum Committee Reports

· Community Affairs, Recognition and Awards:

· Employee Presentations:  Ernie Patterson

· Nominating: Patti Prentice

Þ    Forum Elections

· Orientation:  Meredith Clason

· Personnel Issues:

· University Assignments:  Tom Arnel

· Career Development: Leon Hamlett

· Communications: Brian White

Þ    Forum Newsletter

 

XII.       Chair’s Report (Executive Committee):  Tommy Griffin

XIII.      Task Force/University Committee Reports

XIV.     Announcements/Questions/”Around the Room”

XV.      Adjournment

P = Included in Agenda Packet

MINUTES

February 2, 2005 Minutes

Chair Tommy Griffin called the meeting to order and welcomed Norm Loewenthal to speak on the University’s new part-time degree program for campus staff employees.  Loewenthal recalled that he had been a founding Forum delegate and felt good to return to the Forum.  He said that the new part-time degree program was a direct result of the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace.

The Task Force has also produced a policy statement on learning and development that underscores the need for supervisors to support and encourage learning endeavors.  The statement emphasizes increasing professional development plans for staff employees.  The Task Force has also supported creation of a website on staff opportunities for education and training, rejuvenated the Employee appreciation event and restored the basic clerical skills program.  The University will also create certificate programs geared to professional advancement and offer increased financial support to class offerings in English and Spanish as a second language.  The University will create programs in computer literacy and award prizes to supervisors who support their Employees’ educational advancement.  Loewenthal said that more projects of this nature are also in the pipeline.

Concerning the degree program, Loewenthal said that previously, one could either enroll in a full-time degree program or a part-time non-degree program through Continuing Studies.  He said that both tracks have their own advantages, but the Task Force acted to create a part-time degree program on a pilot basis.  The program will allow Employees to earn an existing UNC degree in new ways.  The program will be limited to those Employees who have demonstrated the high level of ability typical of UNC students.  It is not designed for those who are starting their education from scratch.  Loewenthal cautioned Forum members that the program was the result of a political process that involved several compromises.

The pilot program will begin in Fall 2005 and as a target will enroll ten students a year for a three-year period.  Once admitted, students can work in the program until they complete their degree.  The program is open to permanent UNC Employees who have been employed on campus for at least one year.  Enrollees must have 51 transferable hours of credit earned at the Friday Center or elsewhere.  Employees interested in more information can check the Continuing Studies website at fridaycenter.unc.edu.

Applicants should apply through Undergraduate Admissions as transfer students with the application process running from March 1 to May 1.  Undergraduate Admissions will have specific on-line application information available by February 18.  Applicants will need a letter of recommendation concerning their academic abilities, preferably from an instructor of a previous course although there are other alternatives.  They should submit high school and college transcripts and should have taken the SAT within the previous five years.

Applicants must also verify that they have discussed enrollment with their supervisor.  They need not obtain approval, but must indicate that they have at least discussed the matter with their supervisor.

The regular criteria for transfer students applies to program applicants with the same graduation requirements as any other UNC-Chapel Hill undergraduate.  The program will have the same level of quality as any other program at UNC-Chapel Hill and will not embrace different or lesser standards for its students.  Similarly, in the application process, work experience will be taken into account but will not substitute for normal academic criteria.  Applicants will not have to pay application fees or normal student fees.

The program will commit enrollees to maintain continuous enrollment in classes each fall and spring, taking between 3-8 credit hours a semester.  Enrollees can rely on various forms of financial support such as the Educational Assistance Program, which offers $350 a year to qualifying students.  Applicants should look to file a financial aid application (FAFSA) as soon as possible.  Loewenthal added that degree seeking programs will have the same priority as any other Carolina student in enrolling for classes.

The Office of Institutional Research will measure the success of the program based on the performance of participants, their achievement of their degree and their reported satisfaction with the program.  The Office will also survey teaching faculty, academic advisors and supervisors to determine their satisfaction.  Loewenthal said that the program will be heavily supervised and monitored.

Among other issues, Loewenthal said that the support of supervisors is crucial to the program’s success.  While the Chancellor’s Task Force has urged supervisors to accommodate enrollees seeking their degree, enrollees must maintain their performance in the workplace as well as the classroom.  The pilot program provides an important opportunity to show that one venue need not sacrifice for the other.

Finally, Loewenthal said that the pilot program has large implications for the world of part-time study.  The program can show how part-time students can enrich the Carolina classroom and show that the University can meet the needs of part-time degree students.  He urged delegates to spread the word about the program and consider applying for enrollment as well.

Camilla Crampton asked if the program will be open to those Employees holding an undergraduate degree and seek a second degree in a different field.  Loewenthal said that the University typically prefers to enroll these applicants in its masters’ programs but said that he would defer to the judgment of Undergraduate Admissions.  Crampton asked if enrollment was barred even to those seeking a degree in a completely different discipline.  Loewenthal thought that was the case but was not absolutely certain.

Rebecca Ashburn reminded potential applications to apply for financial aid by March 1.

Kirk McNaughton voiced concern that the program was not open to those already holding a current degree.  He said that those not holding a degree might not meet the 51 credit hours and other high academic criteria for admission.  Loewenthal said that the Friday Center offers part-time studies for undergraduate or graduate work.  Students can also take classes on-line or enroll in other programs to bolster their academic background.  He said he would confirm with Will Farmer of Undegraduate Admissions that second degree candidates are barred from the program.

Mike McQuown commented that Employees can always audit desired classes if “they are more interested in knowledge than paper.”  The Chair thanked Loewenthal for his presentation and work on this important program.

The Chair invited Diane Kjervik, director of the Carolina Women’s Center, to address the Forum.  Kjervik said that the Forum had played a great role in the founding and work of the Center since its inception in 2001.  The Center works to support and advocate for women and is open to men and women interested in issues of concern for women.  The Center has worked to increase campus safety and also oversees a child care advisory committee, among many other initiatives.  The Center, located at 134 East Franklin Street, recently opened a lactation room in which Employees can breast-feed their children.  She said that the only other place designated for private breast-feeding is in the School of Public Health.  Unfortunately, Employees in other locations have had to make use of closets and spare offices.

The Center hosts leadership and mentoring programs, brown-bag speakers and a local writers’ series.  Additionally, the Center hosts book discussion groups and discussions on career transitions.

Kjervik asked historical buffs in the audience to research the role of female staff at the University through time.  She recalled that the University had commissioned historical research on the role of female faculty and students during its Bicentennial celebrations and she hoped that the Center could coordinate a similar study on female staff Employees.

Kjervik encouraged Employees to stop by the Center and to submit nominations for the Women’s Advocacy Award.  The next brown bag lunch will take place noon, March 4 featuring Sheila Stoval speaking on Financial Facts.  Kjervik noted that Chimi Boyd, the Center’s assistant director, had put together a nice brochure listing the Center’s spring programs.

David Brannigan suggested that Kjervik’s proposed historical study would touch on the University’s historical link to female slaves.  He said that Yonni Chapman had done some work on this topic.

A delegate asked how Employees could participate in the student mentoring program.  Kjervik said that Employees are welcome to mentor junior, senior and transfer students.  Penny Ward asked if the programs are open for men to attend.  Kjervik said that men are welcome to attend and comment on programs.  She recalled that Dean Bresciani had served in a critical role on the Center’s advisory board.

The Chair introduced Libby Evans to speak about the University’s resumption of in-person computer training courses.  Evans said that she had served as a charter delegate of the Forum and had also served a second term, just as Loewenthal had done.

Evans recalled that the University had closed its computer training classes around a year ago due to budget cuts.  In its reorganization, Information Technology Services’ (ITS) training and education group will ramp up work to reconstitute these courses.  Currently, Evans is the only member of this group but will get more staff soon.

Evans said that the new classes will offer both training and education, providing skills-based classes in Excel and Access as well as symposia, conferences and other panels.  She said that the group will work to meet the needs of faculty, staff and students as best as it can.  The creation of the training and education group came about upon the hiring of Dan Reed and the work of the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace.  This group is one of many ideas to be realized by the Task Force.

Interested Employees can find out more about the group’s work at http://help.unc.edu/tracs  Eventually, the web site will offer an on-line registration system for classes and will provide a database of class titles and workshops.  Evans said that the group will rely on ITS volunteers to teach classes and will gradually expand its work over time.  The group will host classes on making websites accessible to those disabilities and reducing “spam” e-mails, among two ideas.  Additionally, Evans plans a course on how to give a UNC look and feel to one’s Powerpoint presentation.  She said that the group will offer the basic introductory courses in Microsoft Word Office when additional resources are available.

Evans noted that often Employees sit through introductory computer courses and learn only 30% or so of what they have been taught.  She hoped to give targeted workshops, such as the use of tables and outlining in MS Word.

Michael McQuown asked if these courses will have handouts.  Evans hoped so but said that she must work out some details.  She planned to rely on available resources on help.unc.edu.  She hoped to update these documents with the assistance of volunteer staff from Academic Technologies & Networks (ATN).  She said that these staff are not generally teachers but she hoped to draw on their skills to develop and maintain a curriculum.

Evans invited Employees to send comments and questions to learnit@unc.edu for questions and comments.

Kirk McNaughton asked if Employees can download shareware from the University for use on their computers.  Evans said that shareware.unc.edu stores non-commercial software for the use of the University community.  Commercial software such as MS Word typically comes installed on all CCI machines.

David Brannigan asked if Evans planned to make accommodations for lower-paid Employees’ computer training,.  Evans said that these courses are very important to moving these Employees up out of the lowest-paid positions.  She had discussed with Human Resources training in association with the clerical skills program but said that staffing problems will limit these offerings for the immediate future.

The Chair thanked Evans for her work and urged supervisors to provide opportunities to help their Employees learn.  Evans said that one of the difficulties with the clerical skills program has been placing graduates into positions in which they can use their new skills.  She said that Employees interested in the clerical skills program should contact Felicia Harris for more information.

The Chair welcomed Katherine Graves to give an update on the UNC Systems’ study group on a new insurance program for UNC faculty and staff.  Graves said that the group has met every two weeks for four hours a session with Hewitt, an actuarial company.  The group has discussed rates for several types of programs covering Employees and their families.  Graves said that the cost of these programs project as much less than the State plan as the plans provide different options.  The group has also discussed disease management and wellness programs in addition to the community care network in place at East Carolina University.  Graves said that the study group could not release all of its work yet given the state’s political process.  The group does consist of representatives from all 16 University campuses.

Chuck Brink asked why the group was consulting with only one actuary.  He asked when the information developed would be available to all Employees.  Graves said that the group was working with one actuary to formulate different types of plan options.  Once the UNC System has its options and legislative permission to pursue them, it will decide on 3rd party billing.  She welcomed delegates to attend and listen at future meetings.  Kirk McNaughton said that it was difficult to find meeting times and dates on the University calendar.  She urged Employees to check the Human Resources website for meeting dates and times.

McNaughton said that he would want more input from University campuses before the study process is finalized.  Graves recalled that each campus had had the opportunity to provide input at various community meetings last year.  McNaughton said that the final product of these study groups does not always take into consideration the full picture.  Graves said that the Legislature will decide whether to establish the pilot program after all.

A delegate asked if the study group had sought to reduce the deductible for services.  Graves said that the actuaries had generated several different plans based on talks with universities across the country.  David Brannigan thanked Graves for her work and said that the information under discussion should be public and shared with members of the Forum.  Graves said that she would need to consult with Kitty McCollum and Leslie Winner of the Office of the President before releasing this data.  Brannigan said that the discussions of the study group are public information and so should be available to the Forum.

McNaughton thanked Graves for her work.  He said that lower premiums, copayments and deductibles will not necessarily lead to a better health plan.  He wanted to see if the final plan meets the health care needs of all Employees, not just the need to lower costs.  He wanted a really good health plan and said that the Forum should stick up for these benefits.  Graves said that Employees have the choice not to participate in the plan.  She noted that State plan director Jack Walker was leaving State service five years to the day from his hiring, just allowing him to qualify for retiree health benefits.

Brink hoped that the study group will provide information to the University community before the proposals are sent to the State Legislature.  He said that the Forum needs to have some input on the plan.  The Chair thanked Graves for her work.  He would prefer that information come to the University before it goes to the Legislature.  He noted that any plan must go out for quotes and bidding following legislative approval.

The Chair introduced Vicki Brantley to present the Forum’s customary Human Resources update.  Brantley said that Laurie Charest had asked her to step in and make her report.  First, she said that the on-line job application system had launched in late November.  Reports have been that the new system functions very well with no major glitches and excellent feedback.  The system handled an 80% increase in applications between December 2003 and 2004, a rise from 2,379 to 4,341 applications.  Applicants can still come in person to the Office of Human Resources for assistance with their applications.

A delegate said that she understood that the University had lost 30% of its applications through its previous system.  Brantley said that may have been an issue.  She said that there was a very large increase in the number of processed applications, from 3,734 in January 2004 to 5,720 in January 2005.

David Brannigan asked if Human Resources had monitored the number of applications from Facilities Services personnel, since the on-line only application system might exclude Employees unfamiliar or intimidated by this computer requirement.  Brantley said that she could not address the question but said that she would report back to the Forum in March or April.  Mike McQuown confirmed that applicants can call as well as check on-line for the status of their applications.

Jill Hartman said that requiring an e-mail contact from applicants makes it difficult for those not conversant with computer work.  Brantley said that Human Resources provides instructions to applicants in setting up hotmail accounts and applicants with questions can contact Human Resources directly for personal assistance.

Brantley said that the University will hold five Carolina Kids’ Camp sessions this summer.  Employee Services works with the Department of Exercise and Sport Science and the UNC Health Care System to host the camp.

Jill Hartman asked why job applicants often have to fill out a criminal background form twice, once for the department and once for the University.  Connie Boyce said that the application system would accommodate electronic signatures in June or July 2005, which would eliminate the need for double submissions.

Brantley said that the grievance panel and support person training sessions will take place February 8 and 23.  The University had adopted a new grievance policy as of February 1.  Those interested in obtaining training can check the Human Resources Training & Development website.  Brannigan commented that panelists might serve on only 2-3 cases a year, a number which might drop as more panelists are trained.  He urged Employees to participate on these panels.  Brink asked whether Human Resources had contacted those delegates who signed up for panel training at a previous Forum meeting.  Brantley said that Human Resources would eventually contact all of these delegates soon.

Mike McQuown pointed out that one can serve as a support person to grievants instead of a panelist.

McNaughton asked if Brantley could provide a timetable of the typical grievance, emphasizing the time commitment of panel members.  Brantley said that Employees have up to twelve hours of paid leave to prepare a grievance case.  Sometimes the materials involved in a grievance are very complicated.

Linc Butler said that in straightforward cases, there might be only one meeting between grievant and respondent.  Other cases can last much longer.  Brantley said that the two step grievance process first goes to the supervisor of the respondent for a decision then a grievant can appeal to a panel.  Three panel members work with the grievance coordinator position, who prepares much of the administrative burden associated with each grievance such as scheduling meetings and obtaining materials.

Ernie Patterson asked if the University would require the same level of write-ups for each grievance case.  Brantley said that there was no change in paperwork required, and Patterson said that panelists might spend between eight and thirty hours writing up materials.

McQuown confirmed that after the panel makes its recommendation for a decision, that recommendation goes to the Chancellor who makes the final decision on the grievance.

Brantley reminded the Forum that the University’s summer blood drive will take place Tuesday, June 7.  Employees earning $36,000 or less should have received a flier outlining opportunities to file for an earned income tax credit.  University graduate students will offer volunteer tax assistance to Employees whose gross household income is less than $50,000 and who are not itemizing their forms.  Employees can make appointments through Employee Services by calling 962-1483.  Employees can make appointments for weekdays, evenings or Saturday afternoons.

The Chair asked for any corrections to the January minutes.  A delegate said that paragraph two and three should contain the word “delegate.”  Additionally, the final paragraph stating that resolution 05-01 had been considered on first reading without discussion was inaccurate.  Instead, the Forum voted on a motion by Chuck Brink, seconded by David Brannigan, to send that resolution to the Personnel Issues committee for refinement and clarification.  Patty Prentice said that the word “sunset” was improperly used in the first paragraph of the minutes.  The Forum voted to approve the minutes with the noted corrections, with one abstention.

At this point the Forum took a ten minute break.

The Chair opened discussion on resolution 05-01 on employee health insurance.  As the author of the resolution he withdrew it from consideration.  Instead, he noted the groundswell among members in favor of resolution 04-02 and hoped that the Forum would reaffirm that resolution on health care if it suited the delegates.

David Brannigan asked to consider this step as points of order related to the previous motion.  Chuck Brink proposed to give some background on the work of resolution 04-02.  Karen Rowe said that she had read resolution 04-02 briefly during the retreat and would appreciate some background on its work.  Brink said that the Personnel Issues committee had worked to generate resolution 04-02 for presentation to the Forum so that it might be available to the State Legislature during the long session this year.  He noted that the deadline for session bills is March 23.

The Chair said that legislators would need at least ten days in advance of that date to prepare a bill.  Karen Rowe said that the University would need to develop an action plan to support 04-02.  Ernie Patterson said that the should include a statement with its resolution with additional stories and background information on the effects of these health care costs.  Brink added that the Forum should include additional materials such as hyperlinks to any materials sent to the Legislature through the University.

McNaughton asked about the clause addressing provision of “affordable health care coverage.”  He asked if this would signify a plan with limited benefits at a lower price.  He felt uncertain about that provision.  Others noted a fuller description of affordable coverage later on in the resolution.  McQuown said that last year’s Personnel Issues committee had worked hard on the definition of the word “affordable.”  Brink said that the Forum could send up friendly amendments to the resolution as it saw fit.

John Adams proposed that the Forum include supplementary materials with the hard copy of its resolution.

The Chair proposed that the State charge its employees only up to 1% of gross pay for dependent coverage.  He said that the Forum needed to reaffirm resolution 04-02 to have something to present to the State Legislature, particularly the 43 new members of the House.  Brannigan proposed that the Forum create a workshop on legislative procedures, particularly deadlines for action, so that employees could share information with legislators at timely periods in the session.

McQuown asked where resolution 04-02 was in a physical sense.  The Chair said that the Chancellor had sent it to the Office of the President who had sent it to Raleigh.

Martha Fowler asked that the resolution carry a designation that it had been first passed in 2004 then reaffirmed in February 2005.  The Forum heard a motion to reaffirm resolution 04-02 and a second.  Thirty-one delegates voted in favor with none opposing or abstaining.

Kirk McNaughton asked if the other 15 University campuses had approved a versions of this resolution last year.  The Chair said that the institutions had approved a pay resolution but not a health care resolution.  The Chair said that he would raise the question at the UNC System video conference February 11.  He invited other members to attend the conference, to be held in the basement of Peabody Hall.

Debbie Galvin, the chair of the Community Affairs, Recognition & Awards committee, said that group would meet February 23 at 11:30 a.m. in the Forum Office.  Ernie Patterson, chair of the Employee Presentations committee, said the committee was working on scheduling its spring meeting.  The Personnel Issues committee had voted David Brannigan as its chair and Chuck Brink as its vice chair.  Tom Arnel, chair of the University Assignments committee, said the group would meet February 24 at noon in the Forum Office.  Leon Hamlett, chair of the Career Development committee, said that the group would work with Loewenthal and Evans on the subjects of their presentations earlier.  He noted that only three members had shown up for the committee’s first meeting.  The Communications committee would meet February 3 at 1 p.m. in 042 Sitterson Hall.  Employees wanting to submit articles should do so by February 17, said Communications chair Brian White.

The Chair said that the Executive Committee had held a very productive meeting in January.  The Board of Trustees had heard a presentation on health care concerns and the possibility of an 18% increase in health care costs.  He noted the different revenue projections the State has advanced this year and possibilities for a sales tax extension and lottery vote in 2005.

The Chair had distributed minutes from the Advisory Committee on Transportation (ACT).  Brink urged the Chair not to allow the ACT to raise parking fees once again.  The Chair said that the University would be badly hurt if it lost the case which would require it grant all fees to the local school system.  Brink said that the Chair should not vote for any increase at all.  The Chair said that he had voted for a five-year plan of scheduled increases in order to establish a precedent for a sliding scale of increases for lower paid Employees.  Employees earning under $25,000 a year pay only a 2.5% increase over the previous year, as opposed to a much larger increase for Employees earning over $100,000 a year.  He said that one vote would not turn the rest around and said that representatives must sometimes compromise to gain benefits elsewhere.  Brink asked that the Chair send out the date of the next ACT meeting to the eforum listserv.

Kirk McNaughton thought that the Forum should e-mail resolution 04-02 to the other System campuses in the same motion as sending it to the Chancellor.  Ernie Patterson urged Employees to speak with their legislators about issues of concern to them and to ask friends and family across the state to do the same.  David Brannigan suggested that the School of Government or some other body might provide a map detailing which legislators represent which parts of the State.

In the absence of further discussion, the Forum adjourned at 11:24 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email