Employee Forum Agenda

9:15 a.m.–Meeting: Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library

(Room Rearrangement Experiment; Please Comment During New Business)

I.   Call to Order & Opening Remarks—Chair Charles Streeter

  • Open call for announcements and questions for the end of the meeting

II.  Welcome to Guests & Members of the Press

III. Special Presentations

  • Clare Counihan, Program Coordinator for the Carolina Women’s Center

After graduating from Duke in 1999, Clare Counihan completed a Ph.D. in English Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her research interests focus on experimental southern African fiction that explores the relationship between the nation and excluded subjects. As program coordinator, she supports faculty and staff’s work by advocating for gender equity in the workplace.

  • Bruce Egan and Sharon Glover for the Carolina Family Need-Based Scholarship

Retiree Bruce Egan managed the ITS Response Center at Carolina.  In 2003, he asked the question, “Wouldn’t it be great if all Carolina employees could afford to send their children to college?”  He then took upon himself the notable challenge of creating the Carolina Family Scholarship, a fund to provide need-based scholarships to employees’ children attending a post-secondary public institution in North Carolina.  As the driving force behind the scholarship, Bruce organized grassroots efforts, sought support from development staff, the scholarship and student aid office, campus administrators and anyone else he could button-hole and convert to his cause. 

Sharon Glover now manages the ITS Response Center.  She is a former Forum delegate and current champion of the Scholarship Fund. 

IV.    Human Resources Update—Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity, and Engagement Felicia Washington

V.      Approval of October Minutes (Sharepoint Link, Delegate-Only Access)

VI.     Old Business

VII.   New Business

  • Room Rearrangement

VIII.  Forum Committees

  • Carolina Blood Drive: Todd Hux
  • Carolina Community Garden Advisory: Arlene Medder  (June, August minutes)
  • Communications and Public Relations: Katie Turner
  • Education and Career Development: Andy Eaker
  • Membership & Assignments:  Karen Jenkins
  • Recognition & Awards:
  • Personnel Issues:  Yvonne Dunlap (July, August minutes)
    • Compensation & Benefits:  Chrissie Greenberg/Kelli Raker
    • Legislative Action:  Kirk Montgomery
    • Staff Relations, Policies & Practices:  Everett Deloney/Rocky Riviella
  • UNC System Staff Assembly: Shane Hale/James Holman/Charles Streeter
  • Executive Committee: Charles Streeter

IX.     Announcements/Questions

X.      Adjournment

MINUTES

November 5, 2014 Employee Forum minutes

Attending (those who signed in):  Nancy Beach, Bonita Brown, Deborah Bush, Ronald Campbell, Tammy Cox, Andy Eaker, Teresa Etscovitz, Chrissie Greenberg, Matt McKirahan, Arlene Medder, Aluoch Ooro, Stacey Owen, Kelli Raker, Samara Reynolds, Anna Schwab, Tara Smith, Charles Streeter

Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m.  He asked delegates to write down their names for a drawing for UNC basketball tickets.  He asked delegates’ opinions on whether the Forum Chair should wear a cap and gown at University Day.  Anna Schwab thought that not wearing the cap and gown is more representative of staff as a whole.  She said that some could see this as elitist.  Andy Eaker thought that wearing the cap and gown is great for the Forum’ visibility and should not be seen as exclusive.  Ronald Campbell asked what type of cap and gown the Chair wore.  The Chair said that he had worn one associated with one of his two Masters’ degrees from Carolina.  Kirk Montgomery said that he had started at the University with an Associates’ degree but had worked his way towards a Bachelors’ then a Masters’ degree.  Chrissie Greenberg observed that people at the hospital expect leaders to be professionally dressed.  She said that interactions with leaders at the top level of the University are likely improved by the Chair’s wearing the cap and gown.  The Chair said that this conversation could continue later on, perhaps when the ULEAD management training group presents to the Forum in the spring.

The Chair shared a slideshow detailing Forum activities for the month.  He noted that the Forum has reserved the morning of Friday, November 21 for HAVEN training for Forum delegates.  He said that the training still needs delegates to sign up.  If not, the training will be opened to non-delegates.  The Forum will hold a potluck before its December meeting.  He urged Forum delegates to sign up to bring something for the event.  On December 9, the University will hold its winter blood drive in Fetzer Gymnasium.  He said that those who donated at the October 14 drive could donate again December 9.

The Chair was pleased to describe the criteria for the Forum’s Community Award, also known as the 3-Legged Stool, which represents the faculty, staff, and students who make up the University community.  He welcomed winner Glynis Cowell, the Director of the Spanish Language Program.  Jennifer Washington, Cowell’s nominator, noted Cowell’s contributions as a mentor and supervisor to her department and to her personally.

The Chair welcomed guests and members of the media to the meeting.  He then welcomed Clare Counihan, the Program Coordinator for the Carolina Women’s Center, to present to the Forum.  She noted that her position had been created to respond to faculty and staff concerns.  She said that the Center works to address and improve gender equity issues on campus.  In her programming capacity, Counihan responds to what faculty and staff would like to experience based around gender equity issues, such as panels on salary negotiation and preparing kids for college.  Counihan said that listeners should feel free to contact her with programming ideas.  She also noted her role as an advocate for policies that will improve the climate of gender equity on campus.  She said that gender equity issues also affect men, such as in cases involving paternity leave.  She encouraged listeners to contact her at 843-2423 with ideas.  She also said that the Women’s Center will hold three Title IX information sessions on December 10 at 11 a.m. in the Hitchcock Room in the Stone Center, December 17 at 4 p.m. in the Toy Lounge, and December 18 at 1 p.m. in Toy Lounge.  She also said that the LBGTQ Center will hold a program on salary negotiations at the Medical School at 5:30 p.m. that evening.

The Chair introduced retiree Bruce Egan to speak on the Carolina Family Scholarship program.  Egan said that he had greatly enjoyed his 25 years at UNC, particularly working with fellow staff members.  He said that the Family Scholarship had been going ten years now to help staff who could not afford to send their children to college.  He approached then Chancellor James Moeser about obtaining start-up support for the fund.  Moeser was very enthusiastic, pledging $300,000 for this purpose, to be followed by another $20,000 from Moeser’s administration and $20,000 from Chancellor Holden Thorp’s administration.  Egan clarified that the Fund spends the interest on this money for the scholarships, approximately 5% of the overall figure.

Egan praised Pat Crawford, Shirley Ort, and Dan Orton, among others, for providing assistance with FAFSA forms and other support.  He said that a faculty/staff committee ranks applicants in the order of need, with the scholarship totaling $2,000 a year for four years of study.  Egan recalled the case of a Burmese family who were able to send their son to school because of the scholarship.

Egan said that fundraising for the Fund is the biggest problem right now.  He said that the Fund needs upward of $1 million to continue.  He said that the Fund is awarded to approximately seven students each year.  Faculty and staff are eligible to win the award, but the award typically goes to staff families.  The Chair said that the Forum is needed to back up the effort to raise money for the Fund.  He asked if there were any questions for Egan.  Ben Triplett asked if the Fund were part of the Carolina Cares campaign.  It was noted that the Fund would be one of a hundred other worthy charities in the Carolina Cares database, making it difficult for prospective donors to participate.

Ronda Manuel said that employees can contribute to the Fund through the main Development page.  Christina Rodriguez asked if the Fund tracked outcomes for scholarship winners.  Egan said that the Fund has not done this formally but has publicized winners.  Matt McKirahan asked if the Forum would truly own and run the Fund program or if its responsibility would be limited to fundraising.  Egan said that Sharon Glover has done a great deal to support the Fund since his retirement.  However, the Fund needs someone to knock on doors and approach the Chancellor, among other parties, for funding.  Christine Greenberg commented that supporting the Fund would be a great way for the University to show staff that they are appreciated.  Egan agreed, but noted that the Fund has only received $40,000 in University funds in the past ten years.

Egan asked about having a presentation on the Family Scholarship opportunity in new employee orientation.  Arlene Medder asked how many scholarship winners are at each campus.  Egan said that scholarship winners are all over, and he recalled students attending Appalachian State, NC Central, and NC State, among others.  He said that anyone on campus is eligible for these scholarships except Health Care System employees.  Clare Counihan suggested that the Forum pursue an undergraduate class gift for the Fund.  Egan said that the idea was brought up previously but never pursued.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Matt Brody presented the Forum’s customary Human Resources update.  He noted that the Vice Chancellor for Workplace Strategy, Equity, and Engagement Felicia Washington had sent a notice to all EPA employees letting them know about the $1,000 raise granted all these employees across the board.  A 2% meritorious award for performance will be distributed by department heads.  Brody noted that these raises will likely be implemented in December but will be retroactive to July.  EPA employees will receive an itemized lump sum payment along with their regular check.  Deborah Bush asked if Human Resources has guidance on how departments can notify different EPA employees of their different amounts.  Brody said that the e-mail or letter will come from each different Human Resources or Finance office associated with particular units.  Bush asked if Brody knew the time in which the raises will be implemented.  Brody said that EPA employees can expect notification around a week or two before payroll, possibly into December.  He said that he could not commit to a firmer deadline.  He advised Bush to contact local administrators for more details.

Vicki Bradley, Senior Director for Human Resources, noted that ConnectCarolina had gone live in October.  She said that the effort has gone well so far, although there have been bumps in the road.  She noted that given the many thousands of checks and transfers in the system so far, there are bound to be a few errors occurring.  She said that Human Resources and Finance employees have monitored ConnectCarolina processes and have worked to correct errors.  She did note a slight miscalculation of employee deductions which have affected overall pay packets but have not affected premiums or benefits.  ConnectCarolina administrators will work to correct the problem in the next paycheck.  Employees who find other errors in ConnectCarolina programs should contact 962-HELP or help.unc.edu for more help.  She said that administrators were pleased that the great majority of paychecks have gone out on time and accurately.  Deborah Bush asked if there were any report about non-Human Resources functions.  Bradley said that Rich Arnold, Kathy Bryant, and Gena Carter, among others have been active in leadership of this changeover, along with Betsi Snipes of Payroll and Fran Dykstra of Information Technology Services.  She praised the many hundreds of staff who have worked to make ConnectCarolina happen, working all hours of the day and night during the run-up to the October 1 implementation date.  She thanked all staff who participated in this effort.  Ashley Nicklis had worked to make sure no benefits were interrupted by any payroll errors.

Matt Brody noted that the 180 supervisory evaluation model had undergone a pilot in Facilities Services, Housekeeping, Human Resources, and the School of Pharmacy, among other areas, during former Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone’s tenure.  Brody said that remaining staff have worked to keep this idea on the radar as the University has installed a new Chancellor and Vice Chancellor for Workplace Strategy, Equity, and Engagement.  Senior Director for Human Resources Gena Carter recalled that the Housekeeping pilot had gone very well, leading to the question of whether to expand the program to the remainder of campus on a total or partial basis.  He noted that the Human Resources Council has asked for additional feedback from Human Resources leads in divisions and schools.  The Council will meet to discuss feedback submitted at its November 10 meeting.  The Council will share information with the Employee Forum to let delegates know what is in the works.  He noted changes associated with PeopleSoft and the University’s performance management system, and he hoped to have more to share in December.

Andy Eaker asked since the pilot had gone well in Facilities Services, would there be concrete actions taken as a result.  Gena Carter said that the survey was done via Qualtrics, breaking data down by zone to cover supervisory aspects of each role.  The data was assembled by zone and presented to the Assistant Director and Director of Housekeeping on an aggregate level.  Eaker asked if the Forum could follow up on the Qualtrics improvements.  Carter said that anecdotally Human Resources had seen improvements in the leadership there as well as the reduced number of complaints about unfair decision making in leadership.  Eaker asked if the Forum could have access to the ten questions posed in the survey, and Carter said that she would supply this information.

Yvonne Dunlap noted concerns in the Daily Tar Heel with the campus culture.  She asked if the leadership has taken a step back to do more than just address problems on the surface.  The Chair said that this question will be addressed in a discussion at the end of the meeting.

Gena Carter said that the University’s performance management program had been formed in anticipation of changes to be implemented by the Office of State Human Resources and the General Assembly.  She noted that these changes will create a new performance management program University-wide.  UNC-Chapel Hill’s Office of Human Resources will move to a new work plan with all elements developed in anticipation of what the State will propose.  The University will submit its new policy to the State Personnel Commission in December, with implementation to take place in 2015 if approved.

Carter said that there have been some high level changes associated with the performance management review process.  She said that there has been a change in the cycle date to March 31.  Interim reviews will now be required for all SPA employees.  The new work plan’s structure will focus on goals and values aligning with the Office of State Human Resources’ values which the University is required to use.  Traditionally, trainings for performance management reviews were handled in-house but now there will be State-wide trainings.  Carter said that she will provide more information as it becomes available.

The Chair asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the October meeting, pending any updates from Arlene Medder.  Arlene Medder made this motion, seconded by Anna Schwab.  The motion was approved with none opposing and four abstentions.

The Chair noted there was no old business before the Forum.  He asked for comments on the room arrangements for the meeting.  Matt McKirahan said that the Executive Committee sought to build a structure similar to other University committees such as the Faculty Council.  Arlene Medder commented that having more room for guests was a positive innovation.  Ronald Campbell said that the new alignment provides three aisles of evacuation for attendees, a definite improvement over the ‘U’ shape.  Kelli Raker said that the current alignment was difficult to access and depart.  Renee Sherman proposed that the Forum try the new alignment again next month.

Todd Hux reported that the Blood Drive Committee will assist with the December 9 drive through the month of November.

Arlene Medder said that the Carolina Campus Community Garden committee had not held a meeting in October.

The Communications and Public Relations committee had been active updating the Forum website.  The committee published InTouch this month.

Andy Eaker reported that the Education and Career Development committee wants to hold a panel on careers and higher education, possibly involving representatives from different units including Student Affairs, Human Resources, and Information Technology Services.  He hoped that this event will take place in March, 2015.  Samara Reynolds suggested making this effort open to staff and students.  Ronda Manuel said that having someone from Development present would also be a good idea.  Kelli Raker noted the existence of a Ph.D. and master’s program in higher education administration.

The Chair said that no one had come forward to chair the Recognition & Awards committee.  The Executive Committee proposed to combine this committee with the Education and Career Development committee to insure that needed events will still occur.  The Chair had made an executive decision to combine these committees and he asked if delegates were willing to chair the committee.  Deborah Bush said that she could not chair the committee but she could help out.

Yvonne Dunlap said that the Personnel Issues committee had met with Director of Public Affairs for the University Jennifer Willis.

The Chair said that Purnell Bartlett of Elizabeth City State University is the Chair-Elect for the UNC System Staff Assembly.  Kirk Montgomery reported that he had been very impressed by the set-up of the Assembly.  The Chair said that he had attended Faculty Assembly meetings on student success, stating that staff have a real input into this question.

The Chair noted that minutes from recent Executive Committee meetings were included with the Forum’s monthly agenda packet.  He said that the committee had discussed the process for taking issues to the full Forum agenda at its last meeting, among other items.

The Chair noted that the Employee Forum had not added its voice to the University-wide conversation regarding the Wainstein report.  He had read the report and, as an 1989 graduate of the University, he found it dealt with things that students certainly knew not to do.  He had taken time over his recent vacation to read and think about the report.  He noted that staff were implicated in the report and so the Forum needs to address how staff feel about the report.  He hoped that the Forum could hold an open frank conversation on this question.  Yvonne Dunlap thought that the University’s prevalent culture allowed these abuses to happen.  She thought that the leadership should look at the University’s culture, saying that people fear speaking up due to worries about being blackballed or fired.  Matt Brody said that the University’s leadership is responsible for addressing the questions raised in the report.  He said that various feedback loops are available for employees with difficulties.  Given his experience with different organizations such as Duke and MIT, Brody thought that the Wainstein report does not define the totality of UNC-Chapel Hill.  He thought that campus leadership will take a moment to step back and look at the facts involved systematically.  He noted Provost Dean’s remarks that the University is in a different place than where it was when these events occurred.  Nonetheless, there is still ground to cover to address community concerns, needed oversight.  Institutional soul-searching will last for many months in the future.  Brody made it clear that he did not speak for the Chancellor or the Provost.  He thought that the University’s many tools, including the Ombuds office, allowed employees to express concerns constructively and effectively.

Ombuds officer Wayne Blair said that there are a number of perspectives to this question.  He noted that the Carolina Way means different things to different people.  He noted a general tendency to avoid difficult topics and conversations.  He emphasized that everyone present makes up the culture of Carolina, not just leadership.  He thought that Carolina was in the process of a cultural shift, which can be complex.  Why change when things worked before?  This way of thinking can disenfranchise by avoiding difficult conversations about how winning could become so important as to compromise integrity.  He said that everyone present has power to address these questions.  He noted that some ways are hard and frustrating, which can lead some to choose not to do anything.

Ombuds officer Laurie Mesibov said that her office does not investigate or adjudicate concerns, but is able to bring information to those able to do so.  The office has done so in areas of financial mismanagement, personal and supervisory misconduct, and sexual assault, among other areas.  She said that the Ombuds office serves as a place to get information.  Deborah Bush said that on the periphery of the Wainstein report is the matter of staff member Mary Willingham, who was decimated by UNC administrators.  She thought that there was no blackball list but said that the matter had certainly had a negative effect on her career.  The Chair said that the Forum had not discussed this question in deference to the faculty’s expertise in academics issues.  He thought that this deference should continue, but that the Forum should concern to represent staff concerns.  He thought that something could have been done in this matter.

Andy Eaker said that this question presents a tough topic for discussion.  He noted the saying that whistleblowers are applauded from afar but usually not hired.  He thought that Willingham exhibited courage to bring these matters to light.  He wondered what could be done in support of her efforts, to address these things for her and in future problems.  He said that if the Forum does not advocate, it cannot ignore problems and still move forward.  The University needs the culture to bring these things to light, head on, Eaker said.  Teresa Etscovitz said that these things were not necessarily known in the moment that they occurred.  The Chair said that the staff could have been part of making things right.  He cautioned not to assume that Willingham was correct.  He said that the forum must investigate and find out things on its own as part of the solution.  Matt McKirahan cautioned that the Forum, while supporting whistleblowers in general, should not support specific people in these questions given dangers that it may back the wrong person.  He noted that there are multiple sides to this question.

Kirk Montgomery said that the Forum should work to help staff as part of its overall purpsoe. Matt McKirahan said that the Forum can investigate these issues without tying itself to a specific person. Tammy Cox thought that the Forum should avoid a broad policy of supporting whistleblowers, asking if it should support every single one. Chrissie Greenberg said that she felt personally affected by the scandal as she has family ties to Division I athletes. She said that staff know things that are not in the report. She said that there is a reason to involve the Employee Forum and that is that things occur on campus that should not occur. She observed that faculty do not answer to upper administration. She understood why this occurs in the academic arena, but she was uncertain whether this freedom should occur with faculty administrators. She observed that staff are placed in a difficult position of saying ‘No’ to faculty administrators. She knew of staff who used the Ombuds office to think through situations that if allowed to occur would endanger the staff member or cause that person to go to jail. She said that it is difficult to say ‘No’ when one is exhorted to ‘Just Do It.’

 

Tammy Cox emphasized that the Forum should make sure it supports staff in the right way. Paula Goodman said that the scandal has hit hard in her area. She observed that those above administrative staff might not understand the ins and outs of Human Resources. She knew a staff member who had visited the Ombuds office in this context. She said that faculty members need training in management and Human Resources responsibilities. Ronald Campbell noted that people lost their job as a result of this report. He said that he has a son who plays Division 1 football, and he said that people often do not know what real authority they possess.

The Chair said that the Forum’s charge is to provide advice on staff concerns to the Chancellor. He noted that the Chancellor has handled the scandal in an apologetic way with an emphasis on creating real change. He said that the Forum should decide as a collective body what it wishes to do in a reasonable fashion. He said that if the Forum wants to make a strong statement on questions of faculty training, observance of rules, and supporting staff who work with faculty, it can create a joint statement for consideration and approval. He noted that the day following the Wainstein report there was a general silence in the air as people tried to absorb the impact of the report and what it meant. He thought that staff feel the scandal is academically related but also feel implicated in the report. He asked how the Forum can become a vehicle for positive change at the University.

 

Christina Rodriguez observed that most academic chairs have a hands-off management style, delegating a great deal of responsibility to their administrative support. She said that faculty chairs often have no understanding or training for their role. She had heard of instances in which a staff employee must deal with not wanting to go to jail for following a faculty order. The Chair thought that things are in place whereas the University will not allow the same hands-off approach as before.

 

The Chair asked what the Forum should do from here. He said that the Forum could send a letter to staff asking for them to look at the report. He said that the Forum could use this information to develop a stance as an organization. Anna Schwab asked if the Forum is developing a response to the Wainstein report or a general response to campus issues. The Chair thought that the culture of faculty supervisors acting with adequate training needs to change. Paula Goodman suggested working with the campus Ombuds office to create a format for feedback in which employees can talk about these issues without fear. The Chair said that the Forum could collect resources such as the State reporting hotline for general distribution. He said that the Forum should talk further as a group until it felt it could brings its concerns forward. Chrissie Greenberg thought that staff are willing to accept the responsibilities of their role but cannot share the brunt of responsibility if faculty are not accountable. The Chair said that the Forum would continue this conversation.

 

The Chair reminded listeners about the Forum book club event on November 26 in the Bull’s Head Bookshop.

 

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:31 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

 

 

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