Minutes

January 19, 2001

(Friday Center Seminar Room)

Delegates Present

Chris Barfield

GeorgeAnn Bissett

Anita Booth

Keita Cannon

Andy Chrismon

Linda Collins

Donna Cornick

Suzan deSerres

Sue Dodson

Lee Edmark

Keith Fogleman

Pam Griffin

Tracey Haith

Glenn Haugh

John Heuer

Tom Jenswold

Fred Jordan

Karen Jordan

Ramona Kellam

Sheila King

Dave Lohse

Gary Lloyd

Connie McPherson

John Meeker

Clarence Peoples

Gail Plaisance

Rob Sadler

Jean Skelton

Sheila Storey

Diane Strong

Darian Sturdivant

Bonita Summers

Kay Teague

Joanne Terry

Robert Thoma

Elaine Tola

Mary Ann Vacheron

Chanetta Washington

Sylvia White

Kathy Dutton

Karen Geer

Joanne Kucharski

Laurie Charest

= Ex-Officio

Delagates Absent

David Collins

Jeffery Fuchs

Cathy Riley

Rita Stone

Excused Absences

Alternates Present

Gary Cocker

Ed Eldred

Martha Fowler

Tommy Griffin

Muffarah Jahangeer Andy Maglione

Tom Rhyne

Wendy Riley

Freida Rosenberg

Guests

Brenda Ambrose-Fortune

Eric Ferreri

Linwood Futrelle

Dorothy Grant

Ann Hamner

Terri Houston

Kay Hovious

Bobbie Lesane

James Moeser

Margaret Moore

Scott Ragland

Rickey Robinson

Jane Stine

Nancy Suttenfield

Rachel Windham

 

 

 

Call to Order, Welcome to Guests

The Forum began its meeting at 8:30 a.m. in the Seminar room of the William & Ida Friday Center, as part of its annual retreat. Brenda Ambrose-Fortune introduced Terri Houston, Director of On-Campus Recruitment and Support for the Office of Minority Affairs, to provide the keynote remarks for the retreat.

Houston spoke concerning the day’s reason and purpose, and the chance to fulfill positive possibilities. She mentioned a quote that she keeps in her office which said that nothing would happen that she and a higher power couldn’t handle. Similarly, she urged listeners to find a moment to enjoy life’s beauty, to find a bit of peace within the world’s pain.

Houston related a parable of two springs in Iceland, one of which boiled over with dirty water when disturbed, the other which gracefully received a stone into its depths. She thought that people also resemble these two types of springs, depending on their reaction to life’s disturbances. Many people tremble internally when hurt, but betray nothing, while others lash out in anger at the smallest remark.

Houston then told of how, when geese fly in ‘V’ formation, the geese switch off into the lead position to share the wind resistance. Each bird provides uplift for the bird behind it, adding 71% greater flying range to the entire flock. Geese in the back honk to encourage the front goose to keep up its speed. When a goose is wounded or sick, two others fly down to protect and stay with it until it gets better or dies. Similarly, plants that are planted together grow better than when planted separately.

These stories illustrate the benefits of working in a team, of valuing and respecting differences. A group is as only as strong as its weakest link. One can be either a force of nature, or a collection of grievances. One should want to be used up when one dies.

One can influence the world with a single word, such as Rosa Parks did when she said ‘no’ to the forces of segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. The morning after her arrest, 17,000 black people walked to work, refusing to take the bus system that perpetuated the Jim Crow system. When one is liberated from fear, one’s presence liberates others, and allows us to serve better the purpose for which we were placed on this world.

Joanne Kucharski thanked Houston for her remarks, and took a moment to outline the process of selecting Executive Committee members at the lunch later in the day. The Executive Committee makes decisions in lieu of the full Forum. Members select a representative from each of their electoral divisions, with the Vice Chair and Secretary designated the automatic representative from their respective division. The committee meets monthly with the Forum officers, committee chairs, and various University officials.

Kucharski introduced Chair of the Faculty Sue Estroff to make her remarks. Estroff presented Kucharski with a gift on behalf of the faculty, the first Tar Heel crowbar award. The award is to be presented to those who are committed to change and are willing to pry loose what needs to be torn apart. Estroff asked if Kucharski could bring this award to the faculty council meeting later that morning.

Estroff noted that council plans to work on the health insurance system are still underway. The faculty committee had written a letter to System President Broad asking to have a University representative appointed to the Board of Trustees of the State Health Plan. The committee has also met with System Vice President for Human Resources Ron Penny to provide campus viewpoints on the State Health Plan. The committee will continue to meet with Penny and to ask the Plan to provide more health insurance options and some help for family and dependent coverage.

Estroff said that many members of the faculty are willing to endorse a sliding scale for health insurance even if faculty have to pay a little bit more for coverage. She thought that the committee had made clear that University employees want to be informed customers rather than passive recipients of the State Health Plan’s services. She thought it important that University employees continue to assert aggressively their needs. Estroff thought that these efforts should continue in a collaborative way involving faculty and staff.

Similarly, Estroff lauded efforts to protect and improve retirement benefits, saying that these benefits are perhaps more important than annual salary increases in the long term.

Secondly, Estroff noted the upcoming shortage of parking spaces that will accompany campus construction in years to come. She estimated that the campus would face a net loss of 3-5,000 parking spaces. Staff and faculty will face a challenge not to fight with one another, and she called on Forum members as colleagues to try to work together to find some “equally inequitable” approach to this problem. One of Estroff’s fields of expertise is in distributive justice and ethics; she hoped that the campus could find an equitable way to work through the increasing scarcity of spaces.

Estroff was heartened by the recent community meeting with Chancellor Moeser in which employees asked that they be consulted on the course of campus construction. She thought that employees were heard in this case, but would need to be vigilant to insure that the period of construction does not become a period of deconstruction of the campus’ daily well being.

Another area of interest is that of the relationship between the University and the Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Estroff said that University Employees have a responsibility to engage with members of the Towns in the large decision-making processes of the next several months. She supported the chancellor’s efforts to develop the Horace Williams and other tracts, but reminded listeners that there is a time when each of us plays a dual role as citizen and University employee.

Estroff noted concerns about the campus as a workplace. She noted that faculty and students typically play a strong role in expressing concerns about University-corporate relations, such as the Nike athletic contract and partnerships with other major corporations. She noted that the Horace Williams tract would eventually lead to exploration of different kinds of University/corporate partnerships.

Estroff noted frustrations with the State Personnel System, and the difficulties with recruitment and operations. The System tends to undercut the University’s competitiveness in the local labor market.

Finally, Estroff took the opportunity to ask Forum members how she and campus faculty could be more helpful to University staff. She admitted that some faculty are not necessarily helpful in this sense, but she said that many do what they can.

A delegate thought that the State Personnel System was ripe for a complete overhaul of job classifications and procedures. Estroff agreed that the State System tends to hobble the University’s workforce, and said that campus faculty were ready to work with the Forum on this issue.

A delegate commented that memos to deans, directors and department heads should also include departmental managers, since managers often pick up on things that the former need to know. She wondered who decides which people are placed on the DDD list.

Dave Lohse noted that people are often quoted in the media as bemoaning the state of faculty salaries. He granted the strong need to improve faculty salaries, but asked that the campus talk about salaries in general, staff and faculty together. He regretted that the State had chosen to cut taxes during the economic boom rather than prepare itself for bad times, leaving the State with a looming budget deficit and no money for Employee raises this year. This lack of planning has an adverse affect on campus recruitment. He also wished that the Legislature would begin to address State Employee salaries in the same way that it has approached teacher salaries.

Estroff granted Lohse’s point, but noted that there are more opportunities for staff than faculty in the local labor market, since faculty serve a relatively specialized function. She noted that there had been a push to provide free tuition to children of public school teachers this year, and had wondered why System faculty and staff, and State workers generally, did not deserve a similar benefit. (The proposal eventually died in the Legislature, in any event.) She thought that the question of whether salaries or benefits were more important was open to question, given that retirement benefits are invested and compounded.

Matt Banks raised a question about supervisory training for faculty and high-level administrators. Estroff said that Human Resources has established a program for new faculty chairs. She thought that much of the issue came down to deans encouraging their charges to obtain such training, or at least encouraging them to consult closely with departmental administrators.

Tom Rhyne noted the problem some supervisors have with position management in filling SPA positions, with a delay of months leading to completely different specifications for a position. He asked what causes these variations. He also said that UNC finds itself unable to offer a competitive range of salaries compared to outside companies. Kucharski recommended that these questions wait until Laurie Charest, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, speaks next in the program. She thanked Estroff for her remarks.

Karen Jordan introduced Charest as a friend of the Forum who would provide an overview of the relationship between the Forum and Human Resources. Charest thanked Delagates for taking on the role of staff representatives. She noted that the Forum had become a wonderful vehicle for staff across campus to express concerns. She said also that staff Employees do not in fact all think the same thing about particular issues, and the Forum had done a good job in characterizing these differences.

With regard to the Forum, Charest’s formal role is as liaison between the Forum and campus administration, a job which has evolved over time. She assists the Forum in its work and helps find the right person to address staff concerns. She provides monthly Human Resources updates, a service that she is willing to continue if the Forum wishes. Finally, she said that the commitment to the Forum extends to any member of the Human Resources staff.

Charest urged Delegates to familiarize themselves with University policies and procedures. One method is to enroll in the supervisory resources training course, which provides a broad overview of policies. This course is useful to all Delagates, supervisory or not, since Employees will often ask Delagates the reason for a particular policy. Taking the course enables Delegates to be a more knowledgeable representative of staff Employees.

Secondly, she referred Delegates to consult the Human Resources manual on the web at http://www.ais.unc.edu/hr The current version is always available on the web, and EPA policies are on the web also. She noted that there are a lot of myths about personnel policies across campus, and the manual can help to differentiate fact from fiction. Delagates who do not have access to the web should feel free to give Charest a call.

Finally, Charest reminded Delegates that Forum meetings are generally subject to the open meetings law, which requires that there be a public notice of meetings a week in advance and that all meetings be open to the public. Meetings can move to closed session when discussing specific personnel issues, but this exception will generally not apply to Forum committee meetings. Forum committees must provide notice to news services to comply with the law for every meeting, even informal ones. Committee chairs can consult Charest or Banks for further information.

The campus currently has 630 job vacancies, and has had more than 600 vacancies for over a year now. However, this year the University filled more jobs by one-third than it had ever filled before. Part of that figure represents an extraordinarily high amount of internal promotion. In fact, half of the jobs filled came from internal promotions, which of course led to another job coming open. The University created 700 new SPA positions last year, and faces a 1% local unemployment rate.

The University competes with many top firms offering strong salary and benefits packages; thus the campus is competing for people looking to leave an employment situation, rather than people sitting around waiting for job offers. Given the difficulty filling positions, the campus must compete in a less tangible way, emphasizing the University as a good place to come to work. Charest said that the University might try recruiting staff in the same way that it recruits faculty.

Charest conceded that the extra workload resulting from the 630 vacancies makes this selling job a difficult one. She also referred to the recurringly bleak budget situation in the State. This budget situation is exacerbated by a looming 46% increase in the cost of health insurance. The State will search for different ways to address this problem, such as raising user costs, subsidizing premiums, or lessening benefits. Most likely, the State will choose a combination of these prescriptions that will affect Employees’ pocketbooks. Charest said that the State would listen to Employees about which combination of solutions is considered the lesser evil. She added that this issue should impact Employees much more than pay raises this year.

Charest moved to the issue of faculty salaries versus staff salaries. She noted that the University and North Carolina State have taken eight bids to study SPA salary levels in comparison to different labor markets. The request for proposals asked that firms provide salary data and some rudimentary benefits data for around 80 positions. It is hoped that having an external firm study these positions would provide credibility to concerns about salaries, particularly geographic-based concerns. This geographic area is thought to have a very different labor market than the rest of the State, and also competes nationally with other major universities in a wide variety of positions. However, when setting salary scales, the State does not take these considerations into account, instead making comparisons with other state universities and governmental agencies.

Charest was pleased to report that General Administration had included in its legislative agenda a couple of items submitted from this campus, namely a request for a partial subsidy for dependent health insurance and a proposal to extend the tuition waiver benefit to staff and dependents of Employees who have worked more than five years.

Charest noted a question from earlier in the meeting concerning position classification. She noted that the Office of State Personnel had delegated authority for classifications to the campus in the spring of 1999. She said that the University tries to use existing classifications first, but often the needed classifications do not exist. She said that the University regularly tries to offer the highest point possible in the salary range to its Employees, but is limited by available funds. Many campuses start at the minimum of their salary range, but UNC-Chapel Hill long before its time tried to start with as high a rate as possible to expedite new hirings. The University faces many constraints under the State’s seriously outdated classification system, but is trying new approaches to these problems. She offered to speak with the questioner further at another time.

Glenn Haugh asked whether the University is part of the effort to create new job titles. Charest said that many of the current specifications are archaic, and that there is a new effort to “broadband” specifications, which would have few classifications with a broader range of salaries. For example, the position “Accountant” would replace positions “Accountant I, II, and III.” She said that these little fixes are sometimes necessary to resolve large problems, citing a case in which child development specifications did not match State law. This is a slow method to approach this problem, however, and Charest hoped that the State would look at the bigger picture in the future.

Fred Jordan asked about the possibility of individual universities paying a supplement to Employees based on geographic reasons much as local school systems do. Charest said that the respective counties pay teacher supplements. She said that geographic supplements are a well-accepted principle in many labor markets, but have not been accepted by the State in its hiring practices.

A delegate asked about the proposal that public school teachers’ children receive free University tuition. Charest said that President Broad thought this was an interesting idea, but the suggestion caused some concern among employees of the University System. She understood that there is a legislative initiative to this end proposed for the upcoming session.

John Heuer asked about the prospects for replacing Jack Stone as University Director of Employment. Charest said that a national search should be completed by February 1, although this deadline might be extended. Mary March will chair this search committee. Kay Hovious asked if this position is considered EPA non-faculty, and Charest responded that it would be.

 

Karen Geer opened the floor for further nominations for the position of Forum Chair, Vice Chair, or Secretary. She noted that Tracey Haith would stand for Forum Secretary, Sheila Storey for Forum Vice Chair, and John Heuer for Forum Chair.

In the absence of further nominations, Robert Thoma moved that the nomination process be closed. Darian Sturdivant seconded this motion, which was accepted by acclamation. Geer congratulated the Forum’s 2001 officers, and asked each to introduce themselves.

Tracey Haith said that she had been employed with the School of Public Health for five years. She looked forward to serving as Forum Secretary.

Sheila Storey works currently in the medical science teaching labs, and has worked on campus for 23 years. She was excited about the upcoming year, and thought it was wonderful that the Forum served the campus as a united voice for staff. She invited Delagates and Employees to contact her at sheila_storey@med.unc.edu

John Heuer is a 20-year Employee who works with Facilities Services in the Architectural and Engineering Services Department. He felt it had been an honor to be elected as a delegate and now as Forum Chair. He thanked Storey and Haith for their commitment and also recognized 2000 officers Joanne Kucharski, Kathy Dutton and Karen Geer.

Kucharski noted that the outgoing officers would serve ex-officio roles to support the incoming group.

As the meeting was running ahead of time, Kucharski asked that the Forum consider developments in the area of campus transit. She said that many difficult choices face the campus in the next months. She and Forum delegate Chris Barfield are the Forum representatives on the Transportation & Parking Advisory Committee. This committee has increased its meeting schedule from once a month for five months to twice monthly year-round.

Of course, construction associated with the recent bond issue will make transit an issue of major proportions. Two weeks ago, there was an estimate that 2-300 spaces would be lost due to construction. Now, the estimate has risen to 500 spaces and possibly many more. The North Campus area will be primarily affected. If nothing changes in the way that the University allocates spaces, these deletions will come to affect everyone on campus.

The committee has asked Scott Ragland of the University Gazette to serve as a communications liaison, so as to keep Employees up to date on coming changes. There is also a representative from facilities services charged to keep the group updated on changes in the campus master plan.

Kucharski has worked closely with the Chair of the Faculty Sue Estroff and Student Body President Brad Matthews on coming to a consensus on various transit issues, most notably those related to town-gown concerns. She asked Delegates what thoughts they had for the Transportation & Parking Advisory Committee to deal with the specter of losing so many parking spaces. She particularly urged Delegates to speak their negative thoughts about the process, since the committee needs to hear what is on people’s minds. The committee’s responsibility is to get people to work quickly, safely, and efficiently.

Karen Geer asked about the possibility of combining with UNC Hospitals to use their smaller buses to transport Employees. These buses seem to run more frequently, enjoy more ridership, and pollute less than town buses. She pointed out also that the University and UNC Hospitals are both State institutions. Could University Employees “hop” Hospital shuttles in the future? Kucharski said that she would explore this question with the Hospital representative on the committee.

Robert Thoma asked about a plan that was proposed eight years ago to build a parking deck at McCauley and Pittsboro streets. He thought that this deck would serve North Campus nicely. Geer said that Employee parking fees fund all parking spaces. The campus has just finished completion of the second Health Affairs deck. Paying for all of these decks is expensive; it is estimated that it costs $15,000 per parking space to build an indoor deck. She hoped that plans for parking decks would become part of the upcoming fundraising campaign.

Thoma pointed out that facilities services technicians must use State vehicles to do their jobs, and so unfortunately take up campus parking spaces that Employees might desire. He said that oftentimes technicians must carry all of their tools in one truck, and so cannot easily carpool with fellow workers. The need for technicians has risen given the recent increase in campus renovation activity. One technician often must move from place to place in a separate truck during the day, and so cannot spare a parking space until their work is complete.

Kucharski said that the impact of campus construction, notably the number of private contractors, could take away many more than 500 parking spaces from Employees. She thought that 500 spaces lost was a low number in any event. Lee Edmark asked if the 500 spaces would be lost temporarily through the life of a project or would these be permanent losses. Kucharski responded that the campus could end up with a net gain of spaces overall once all of the construction is complete. However, this gain would mean little to staff if the spaces were reserved for increased student enrollment and visitors. She thought that the staff leaders would need to continue to educate decision-makers about the effect that losing parking spaces will have.

Dave Lohse commented that the campus is expected to see student enrollment to rise from 24,000 to 28-30,000 by the end of the decade. These extra 4-6,000 students must have faculty and staff to educate and support them. He asked where the University might find open space to build more park and ride lots. Geer said that the University owns some land around town, but runs into environmental concerns when proposing these lots. The master plan has placed an emphasis on securing safe storm water drainage, and certain areas face underground springs drainage, which make them cost prohibitive.

Geer said that to keep the parking ratio the way that it is now, the University would need to build 13,000 additional spaces. She said that number represents a lot of asphalt and is not plainly realistic. Geer said that lacking these spaces would not be a problem if the local transit system were reliable. She praised the University of Michigan system.

A delegate said that the University should do more to promote vanpools to reduce campus traffic. She noted that the City of Raleigh pays a fee to support van pooling. Geer said that the University is exploring creation of a van pool coordinator position for this purpose. However, this idea awaits the new fiscal year. Kucharski said that the committee is working with campus administrators to promote flexible scheduling and tele-working options as another means to reduce traffic.

A delegate wondered why the University reduced its emphasis on vanpool promotion. This delegate recalled difficulties with providing rides to people who did not work in one’s department, which led to some difficulty in coordinating rides.

Kucharski said that the committee had reviewed different transit systems around the country. She thought that people must emphasize to the administration that the campus must make transit an administrative priority on the level of the health benefits cost increase. She cited the need for resumed P2P intracampus service as an example of a way to address campus transit concerns. She asked rhetorically how the campus could be expected to buy into an off-campus park and ride system when Employees cannot move easily around campus now when doing their jobs.

A delegate said that she had either ridden buses or vans for eighteen of the twenty-three years she had worked at the University. She thought that the University would place its best foot forward to promote these kinds of mass transit ideas.

A delegate asked how many students drive on campus, and asked whether freshmen park their cars here. Keith Fogleman observed that some freshmen park their cars on campus in satellite lots such as near facilities services. Delegates wondered about setting a restriction on how close students should be allowed to park near campus.

Kucharski noted that the committee had commissioned a survey on nighttime parking permit options. She said that oftentimes around 5:30, cars are perched waiting for Employees to leave so that they can park for free for the night. This fact galls some Employees who feel that they are subsidizing people who park at night. She anticipated that students will oppose this idea, but thought that the coming transit situation might give more strength to a nighttime parking permit proposal.

Andrew Maglione said that many students take cars to class because they find the bus system unreliable and inadequate. Kucharski said that she had been part of Chapel Hill/Carrboro/University meetings about the transit system, and said that reforming the system is a complex process. The working group has split into two subcommittees to look at service level and technical/operational needs.

Dorothy Grant pointed out that some students work on campus at night and might face some danger walking back their parking spaces. She cited Law School’s location in a surrounding forest as one example.

Dave Lohse stated his opposition to charging for nighttime parking, noting the convenience it provides. He noted that Purdue University charges a sliding scale for spaces based on how close a space is to central campus. The marketplace then distributes parking space distribution. Lohse noted that there might be some loopholes in the plan, but thought that it might be effective. Thoma wondered how the geography of the two campuses compared.

Geer noted that part of the master plan includes putting parking spaces under new buildings, with a placement of green space on top. The buildings scheduled for the Ramshead lot have been designed to follow this plan. She noted that facilities services representatives Gordon Rutherford and Anna Wu are scheduled to make a special presentation to the Employee Forum in February on just this topic.

Kucharski said that Employees at other universities pay much more than Employees at UNC do for their parking. Delagates asked what the proportionate salary scale is at these other institutions.

Kucharski moved on to the Forum annual report. She noted the adverse weather that had started the year, and the adverse decision from the Office of State Personnel on whether days lost due to the snow would count against Employees’ vacation balances.

She recalled William McCoy’s stewardship as interim chancellor and the eventual selection and installation of James Moeser as University chancellor in place of Michael Hooker.

Kucharski recalled how the Forum had looked for partners to collaborate with in the Faculty Council and Student Government. She praised Suzan deSerres for her work on the Forum newsletter InTouch, and encouraged her to keep this enterprise active. She noted other efforts to keep the Forum in the forefront of the University’s consciousness. She recalled the number of special presenters who spoke on campus, including UNC System Vice President for Human Resources Ron Penny and State Senator Howard Lee. She noted that much of the work for her year remains to come to the surface.

Kucharski noted the creation of the StarHeels award program and the Prize Patrol. She said that the Forum Community Award would be presented at the February Forum meeting. She said that the year had been an education for all involved, and chose to scrutinize self-imposed policies and procedures that might impede campus efficiency. She recalled the passage of the University bond initiative and the progress of the campus master plan. She noted changes in the University budget review process, and the placement of staff Employees on a great number of University committees.

Karen Geer and Kathy Dutton spoke regarding their work as Forum Secretary and Vice Chair, respectively. Dutton encouraged Forum members to work together and seek partnerships through campus. She also praised de Serres for her work on the Forum newsletter. Geer directed Employees with questions about the progress of the bond construction initiative to access http:// www.fac.unc.edu/cip for more information.

[At this point, Chancellor Moeser arrived to make a few remarks.]

Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Nancy Suttenfield noted the similarities and differences between UNC-Chapel Hill and Case Western Reserve University, her last place of employment. She had worked hard to develop a partnership with the Case Western Reserve Staff Advisory Council, which she saw as advocating good two-way communication and understanding between staff and administration.

Her first assignment at Case Western was to oversee reduction in a staff benefit, the tuition waiver for faculty and staff, a change resulting from federal moves to tighten costs. She had worked closely with faculty and staff to find ways to compensate for the loss of this lucrative benefit, eventually settling on a matching program for supplemental retirement annuities. Employees ended up feeling very good that the University had put more money into this benefit program, and felt more of an incentive to contribute on a pretax basis.

She worked to establish a domestic partners benefit which the large majority of faculty and staff supported. In addition, her office worked with the council to establish a “training on wheels” program to bring training materials to departments so that staff could access them more readily than before. In addition, all available training materials were moved to the campus library so that staff could borrow them more often.

In terms of recognition programs, the campus solicited nominations for outstanding staff performance. The three winners were entitled to select a gift of their choosing from a number of options. The council also helped with signage and safety around campus construction sites. She urged Employees with ideas on how to increase communication and safety to contact facilities services or her office.

The council also issued calls for charity work on behalf of AIDS relief, diabetes study, and Habitat for Humanity. Council members organized these activities to demonstrate how Case Western Reserve is a good citizen of the Cleveland community. Suttenfield organized a 300-person retreat to establish a tradition of building good things for the university and making the campus a better place for students to learn. She looked forward to working on similar partnerships here in Chapel Hill.

Suttenfield outlined her goals for the next several months, saying that she had spent the last two months listening and learning from people on campus. She would hold a retreat at the Friday Center at the end of March to discuss the mission of the Finance and Administration division, so that all involved can follow common goals in a unified manner.

Suttenfield noted dissatisfaction with the inflexibility of the State Personnel System, and some dissatisfaction with the Human Resources department. She hoped to make operations more responsive to the campus community, and to find ways to obtain regulatory relief from the State. There is the possibility that the campus might opt out of the State personnel system altogether, if it becomes necessary to attract and retain the best possible staff for the University. She was surprised at the amount of regulations and inflexibility in the State system, even in comparison to the federal civil service system.

Suttenfield said that she would consult with a former associate at the Smithsonian to compare how the University handles its facilities operations with the University of Virginia. This would not be a formal benchmarking process, but rather an information sharing exercise.

Suttenfield will work with new provost Robert Shelton to refine the planning, priority setting, and resource allocation process. She would make sure that the University has a good process by which it allocates its dollars and make sure that all understand the decisions at the end of its process. Forum representatives will have the opportunity to participate in that process.

Finally, Suttenfield will embark on a complete assessment of areas desiring regulatory relief. She would hold discussions with areas and identify opportunities for improvement in personnel, Human Resources, purchasing, construction, and surplus property, among others. She will then tally the inventory and take the highest priority items, those areas in which increased flexibility would have the greatest impact on campus, and forward them as proposals to System President Molly Broad.

At this point, Forum members retired to have lunch. Following lunch, Kucharski asked that business items on the agenda be deferred until the February meeting.

Margaret Moore introduced Kay Hovious to speak about the Forum’s founding and her experience as Forum chair in 1993. Hovious said that her term spanned 1.5 years, given the time involved founding the Forum. She had served as state president of SEANC from 1988-89, prior to the Forum’s development.

Hovious represented the Forum on the platform during Chancellor Hardin’s inauguration. She noted that the Housekeepers’ Association lawsuit had an impact on the University during that time. She had been asked to participate in the Bicentennial Celebration of the University during her term in office, and was a member of the platform party in Kenan Stadium that marched in the processional. She was the only female among the platform party, while today there are a number of female vice chancellors. Hovious also participated in the dedication of the Old East cornerstone.

The 1993 Forum dealt with many of the same issues as today, such as compensation, health care costs, parking, and the retirement system. The Forum established its guidelines and established its first contact with the Faculty Council, naming Chair of the Faculty Jim Peacock the first winner of the Forum’s Community Award. The Forum established its committee structure and began the process of installing staff on University committees. The Forum established a link with Chancellor Hardin and began the resolution process. The group also achieved the first P2P funding.

The Forum also spent time on smaller matters such as the arrangement of the room for meetings. Kucharski interjected that the Faculty Council now has adopted the Forum’s seating arrangement.

Hovious cautioned that the elimination of the SPA system on campus might not be a total cure for the University’s difficulties, and noted that this step had been under discussion for a number of years now. Hovious said that the SPA system offers a number of protections to Employees that might not best be thrown away in the effort to obtain flexibility. She urged Delagates to consider this move carefully.

Hovious noted that the Forum and the University are still greatly affected by the financial and political moves of the General Assembly. The Legislature represents the biggest roadblock to improvement of anything on campus, and the biggest opportunity for change. She noted that the Forum lobbies the General Assembly through the Chancellor and General Administration, but she also urged the Forum to organize citizen-lobbying efforts. She added that the State Employees’ Association is a big player in State politics, and needs to be on the list of Forum partners.

Moore noted that Margaret Balcolm, the Forum chair in 1994, was retired and in California. She introduced Rachel Windham, the Forum’s 1995 chair.

Windham noted that Hardin left office that year to be replaced by Chancellor Hooker. The Forum changed its method of signing up for committees in 1995, asking that Delagates sign up at the January retreat. The Forum obtained an office and a half-time assistant in 1995, and set up its accounting and budget systems. The Forum also put together resolutions requesting equitable salary increases for Employees.

Windham strengthened partnerships with the students and faculty, and worked to address the chilly climate for individuals and groups at the University. She established meetings for groups to talk about issues that divide and unite us. She was invited to address the Faculty Council about ways that staff could work better with faculty, and let them know that the question applies both ways. She noted that a Forum chair has never been invited back to speak until this year.

The Forum replicated the Faculty Council practice of reading resolutions to honor deceased Employees, but this practice has waned over the years. The Forum also worked on domestic partner benefits with the Faculty Council, and representatives spoke at two SEANC rallies. The Forum worked to establish a staff audio/video training library, and had a huge presence at the Employee Appreciation Fair. Windham also started its acquaintance with Chancellor Michael Hooker, highlighted by his installation on University Day. Windham made stirring remarks on behalf of the Forum that day.

The Forum also invited Chancellor Julius Chambers of North Carolina Central University to address the 1996 Forum meeting. Finally, the Forum presented its Community Award to Windham herself, the Executive Committee making its decision in secret.

Ann Hamner became the Forum chair in 1996. She noted the adverse weather that plagued the campus, and the storm of protest that followed the decision that State offices being closed did not mean that the University was closed. The Forum worked with Elson Floyd to construct an adverse weather policy for campus. The campus established an adverse weather and disaster hotline.

That year, the Forum established its first web page and video, which was shown at the last meeting of 1996. The Forum began its first presentations to Supervisory Resources, and began also to meet regularly with other System campus staff organizations. Forum members played a major role in the Hurricane Floyd cleanup.

Hamner asked about the Forum obtaining a place on the Chancellor’s Executive Council. She was rebuffed in this request, but joined Hooker, the chair of the Faculty Council, the Student Body President and the Graduate and Professional Student President for regular meetings.

Hamner began work with the campus outsourcing steering team, which continued for around three years. She and the committee met Employees in studied areas and established procedures for outsourcing consideration. Hamner also secured the Forum a full-time assistant position.

Bob Schreiner was the Forum chair in 1997. He noted that the Forum obtained a seat on the budget priorities committee. He urged the Forum to fight continually against the perception that the campus is made up solely of faculty and students. He urged Delegates to inform themselves about campus policies and procedures, and to outwork others to excel in negotiations and decision-making with other campus groups.

Delegates must say something, since the tendency is to ignore staff. Delegates also should ask questions of presenters who have taken the time to speak, to find out their point of view. Schreiner acknowledged the limitations of an organization that serves at the will of the chancellor. He also noted the role of staff as the University’s institutional memory.

Linwood Futrelle, the Forum’s 1998 chair, noted that the Forum had played a role in lobbying for a System-wide staff organization, similar to the faculty and student organizations. While President Broad did not grant this request, she did send a letter to all 16 UNC campuses requiring that each form a staff organization by the fall of 1998.

In May 1998, the Forum was invited to give a presentation on staff concerns to the University Board of Trustees, at the invitation of BOT Chair Richard Stevens. Following Futrelle’s presentation, Vice Chair Jeffery Beam read his poem “Song of the University Worker,” which made a tremendous impact.

The Forum underwent a legislative writing program that spring, and was represented on the University Priorities and Budget committee. The Forum also met with the Faculty Council Executive Committee. The Forum worked mightily to change the compensatory time policy for SPA exempt Employees.

Futrelle noted that Anne Montgomery took another turn as the chair of the University Committee Assignments Committee, and had been very active pushing for staff representation on University committees. He said that now is the time to push for multiple representatives on these committees.

Jane Stine, the Forum chair in 1999, remembered her year as a time of transition and sorrow, given Chancellor Hooker’s death, Provost Richardson’s heart attack, and Vice Chancellor James Ramsey’s entrance and exit. The University found itself with a significant budget shortfall that summer. She was glad to accept an invitation to serve on the Horace Williams advisory committee, after some public prodding.

Stine was sorry that the P2P service and Employee Appreciation Fair took hits that year, but said that the move to eliminate use of nonrecurring funds for continuing services made these cuts inevitable. In addition, the choice to cut these services was brought about by the desire to avoid layoffs. Eventually, the University lost 13 people through the layoff process, although a number of these found other jobs either within or outside the University.

Stine recalled that she was the first staff Employee to ever serve on a chancellor’s search committee, the natural culmination of the efforts of previous Forums. She noted that her vice chair and secretary had retired that year, so again 1999 was a time of transition. She thanked Joanne Kucharski for stepping up to serve as Forum chair in 2000, and John Heuer for doing the same in 2001.

In the absence of the Forum gavel [since found], 2000 Forum Chair Joanne Kucharski turned over the keys to the Forum Office to 2001 Forum Chair John Heuer. Heuer said that he was excited to join the league of predecessors. Kucharski said that she would work with the University Managers’ Association and the Forum Recognition & Awards committee. She would continue also with the Human Resources Counseling Service.

At this point, Delegates went to different parts of the room to sign up for Forum committees. Following this step, the meeting time of each committee was tentatively announced. The meeting adjourned by acclamation at 4:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

 

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

 

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