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November 6, 2019

UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum

Hitchcock Multipurpose Room, Sonja H. Stone Center for Black Culture and History

NOTE:  This is a draft agenda and is subject to change without notice.

I.  Call to Order & Opening Remarks—Vice Chair Katie Musgrove (9:15 a.m. – 9:20 a.m.)

II. Special Presentations (9:20 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.)

  • Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bob Blouin on Rollout of Carolina Next: Innovations for the Public Good

III. Human Resources Update (10:00 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.)

  • Interim Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity and Engagement Becci Menghini
  • Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler

IV. Consent Agenda (10:20 a.m. – 10:40 a.m.)

V.  Old Business (10:40 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.)

VI.  New Business (11:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.)

VII. Announcements/Questions (11:15-11:30 a.m.)

VIII.  Adjournment


November 6, 2019 Employee Forum minutes

Attending:  Darren Abrecht, L.E. Alexander, Emma Beckham, Rich Brandenburg, Stephanie Brown, Tiffany Carver, Timothy Carville, Adrienne Cromwell, Jen DeNeal, Shakeya Ducksworth, Phil Edwards, Nicole Eggleston, Adrienne Gibilisco, Karen Gilliam, Chrissie Greenberg, Zebadiah Harris, Keith Hines, Mary King, Arlene Medder, Clinton Miller, Kadejah Murray, Katie Musgrove, Ayla Ocasio, Joe Ormond, Laura Pratt, Kevin Robinson, Kelly Scurlock-Cross, Greg Smith, James Stamey, Rose Thorp, Tracy Wetherby Williams

Excused Absences:  Ashley Belcher, Sarah Carrier, Shayna Hill, Todd Hux, Natiaya Neal, Jim Potts

Vice Chair Katie Musgrove called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m.  She chaired the meeting in the absence of Forum Chair Shayna Hill.  Arlene Medder noted that a discussion about the future of the Forest Theater will take place that week at the Current in Franklin Square behind Target.

Musgrove welcomed Provost Bob Blouin to speak on Carolina Next:  Innovations for the Public Good.  Blouin said that the University’s move towards a strategic plan began with Chancellor Carol Folt’s Blueprint for Next.  As a result of that, individual units began their own strategic plans.  However, the anticipated lifecycle of these plans was 5-7 years, and units were not faithful to the plans’ projected outcomes.

Historically, Blouin said that UNC has not had a strategic plan but rather an academic plan of departmental wants.  The Blueprint for Next was the first attempt towards strategic planning for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Blouin noted the popularity of the one-page document that was visual and visionary.  However, implementing the Blueprint’s ideas was not an easy task as the Blueprint did not differentiate among projects.  Blouin noted the University’s responsibility to be thoughtful, careful and strategic with the State’s finite resources.

Blouin said that a strategic plan needs a translator to move from a vision to an executable strategic plan.  He said that the strategic plan presents an opportunity for senior leadership to connect with faculty and staff at the University and to create a “Delta,” an opportunity for organizational change.  Blouin recalled that some areas bemoaned their exclusion from the text of the strategic plan: “you don’t love me anymore.”

The University has a $3.3 billion budget and can create change in a three- to five-year horizon.  In order to hold the university accountable to the people of North Carolina, Blouin and his team expanded the Blueprint for Next from two pages into the twenty-two-page document Carolina Next:  Innovations for the Public Good.  This latter document contains strategic initiatives and opportunities involving highly creative innovations for the public good.  The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is proudly public, with many outfacing centers and institutions as evidence of this orientation.

Blouin noted that Carolina Next’s final draft remains to be approved by the Board of Trustees..  Once the document is approved, the document will be posted on the University website.

Carolina Next details the means of identifying strategic initiatives and the process for moving forward, selectively in conjunction with the greater policy environment.  The plan is not a cash grab and is not a way to capture revenue from centers and institutes, Blouin said.  Instead, the idea is to coordinate across schools, centers and institutes to advance the University’s mission with relatively few resources.  These resources are acquired over time through tuition, fundraising, and reapportionment to meet existing demand.

Carolina Next has eight strategic initiatives.  The first of these is to “Build Community Together.”  Blouin noted that the University has undergone a lot of turmoil these last few years and historically.  The University cannot undergo a big strategic push without building cohesion as an inclusive and diverse community.  While the strategic initiatives are not listed in priority order, Blouin emphasized that  this initiative is first for a reason.

The second strategic initiative is to “Facilitate Student Success.”  Blouin said that UNC-Chapel Hill attracts the best students and must make sure that these students have the best opportunity to succeed.  The lives of today’s students are very different from those of his time, Blouin said.  One part of this difference is the major issue of mental health support for students.

The third strategic initiative is to “Promote Career Development” of faculty, staff and students.  Blouin noted that the University provides a clear path for faculty professional development but not so much for University staff.  Staff need education and training opportunities that open career moves into higher positions or jobs without too much difficulty.  Blouin said that the University must continue to recruit but must also retain its world-class staff.

The fourth strategic initiative is to “Discover.”  Previously, this initiative was termed “Research” but it was felt that this term did not speak to work done by every department and school.  Blouin noted that more traditional areas already have an outstanding record in research enterprise.  In fact, the University’s $1.2 billion in research funding is even more impressive given UNC-Chapel Hill’s lack of an engineering or agriculture school.  The University aspires to raise $2 billion for research over the next ten years.  Blouin asked how the University can accomplish this task with limited resources.

The fifth strategic initiative is to “Renew Democracy.”  Blouin said that this bold initiative sought to accept responsibility for the country’s fragility while bringing discussion and common integration back into the democratic process.  Blouin said that these efforts will be non-partisan.

The sixth strategic initiative is to “Serve to Benefit Society.”  Blouin said that the University serves society through research, the creation of new knowledge, intellectual property, and jobs in the State of North Carolina.  UNC-Chapel Hill works closely with the State to realize this cooperation and to drive the creation of jobs.  Direct service also describes the work of UNC-Chapel Hill’s many centers and institutes and the work of students who venture into North Carolina communities to help address common problems.

The seventh strategic initiative is to “Globalize.”  Blouin noted the recent appointment of Barbara Stephenson as the new Vice Provost for Global Affairs as the captain for this initiative.

The eighth strategic initiative is to “Optimize Operations.”  Blouin noted the work of the Senior Vice Provost for Business Operations Rick Wernoski on the Operational Excellence initiative for Carolina.  He praised the advances that group has made in less than ideal circumstances.

Blouin noted that each initiative has three governing objectives and will feature a team captain and three team leads to implement and execute action plans.  He emphasized that Carolina Next will be a living document that will refresh itself every six months.  He noted the “hub and spoke” system of the initiative teams and the schools that will provide input to these teams.  Each school will engage in its own exchange of ideas from the top and the bottom of the organization.  Ideas from these exchanges will be classified into categories, with some worthy of prioritization and implementation by initiative teams.  This system is the mechanism to bring new ideas into the University’s strategic plan.

As a result, the University will not redo its strategic plan every five years but will instead refresh its work every six months or so in an evergreen process emphasizing contact between center and individual units.

Emma Beckham was heartened by Blouin’s presentation.  She hoped that the Forum’s Education and Career Development committee would have a chance to provide input to the Promote Career Development initiative.  She hoped that the Forum’s various committees would merit inclusion in the University’s strategic plan.  Blouin replied that he got “chills” from Beckham’s positive reaction and he hoped to have demonstrated the complex web of opportunities facing the University.  He said that the strategic plan would be open to all ideas touching on opportunities to improve.  However, he emphasized that the University cannot carry out all ideas suggested.  Still, the plan will look at all opportunities and make its decisions on each idea.

Blouin said that the strategic plan must decide 1) why to do an initiative and 2) when to pull the trigger on implementation.  He noted the political environment of the University, State and nation provide a background for these strategic decisions.

Blouin also emphasized that the strategic plan will undergo complete revisions every six months to address new possibilities and turnover.  Rose Thorp asked when the strategic plan will be available online.  Blouin said that it would not be posted until after the Board of Trustees has given its final endorsement.  Thorp offered the help of the Personnel Issues committee in working through the Career Development and Operational Excellence initiatives.  Blouin said that University administration seeks to get as many reactions as possible to the plan.

Jen DeNeal asked if the plan will commit to metrics.  Blouin said that the plan will find its home in Institutional Research.  Annual reviews of campus deans will include a scorecard as to how deans have contributed to the plan’s success.  DeNeal confirmed that these findings will be made public.

Clare Counihan appreciated Blouin’s framing the plan within the short- and long-term history of the University.  She asked how the plan will deal with racial and LGBTQ issues.  Blouin recalled that many institutions have not come to terms with these matters.  He noted the challenge that the Confederate Monument has presented the campus over the past two years.

The UNC-Chapel Hill campus is a diverse community.  How can this community reach its full potential, Blouin asked.  He anticipated that many awkward conversations must occur before reaching this final reckoning.

Adrianne Gibilisco asked how the University determined its team leads.  Blouin said that administrators sought recommendations from deans and other employees.  The administration tried to identify subject experts who would create good chemistry with other team leads.  He noted that faculty will not gain release time for these positions, meaning that team leads are truly working on this project on top of their day jobs.  Katie Musgrove thanked Provost Blouin for his remarks.

Musgrove introduced interim Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity and Engagement Becci Menghini.  Menghini noted the opportunities that will arise given the strategic plan’s emphasis on career development.  She noted efforts to include talent development as a part of performance reviews.  She also anticipated that Forum delegates and committees will have a part to play in developing these initiatives.

Menghini asked about the quality of food at Employee Appreciation Day, which was generally considered “good.”  She thanked Student Stores and everyone else who made the day possible.  She noted the ice cream, the talent show, and the general opportunity for employees to interact with one another as highlights of the day.

Regarding the State Legislature, Menghini said that the last budget bill had received a gubernatorial veto which the House overrode but the Senate did not override.  This activity means that the State still does not have a budget.  Various bills designed to meet salary needs of University employees and teachers will not undergo action until after the holiday recess.  Menghini hoped that any University salary increase would be retroactive to July 1, 2019, but she could not be certain about the timing of this legislation.

Menghini said that the hiring freeze has been lifted for previously approved reasons that now extend to execution of existing budget plans.

Menghini noted that the Tar Heel Tribute to campus veterans will occur Monday, November 11th.  She urged listeners to contribute to the Carolina Cares/Carolina Shares campaign through mid-December.  She noted that UNC-Chapel Hill ranks first among State agencies in funds raised.

Keith Hines asked why the unspoken rule exists that no one may receive “exceed expectations” on their performance review.  He thought that this limitation conflicts with the promotion of career development.  Menghini said that the data does not support this assertion, although there could be a departmental study of this question.  She said that the University could challenge State Office of Human Resources rules to provide a career development trajectory.  Hines replied that he had heard of several occasions in which an employee was told that their supervisor could not give an “exceeds expectations.”  Tracy Wetherby Williams said that this supervisory response is typically followed by the statement that “there would be nowhere to grow from there [exceeding expectations].”

Menghini said that performance reviews used to be separate from salary increase discussions.  Combining the two has led to a complication for the Office of Human Resources.  Chrissie Greenberg asked about the issue of competencies related to performance reviews.  Menghini reiterated that the University must take direction from State government on performance review forms directed from the UNC System.  Greenberg asked if the University used to have flexibility to develop its own forms.  Menghini said the UNC System opted out of flexibility in its classification and performance ratings. She clarified that UNC-Chapel Hill cannot carry out a separate performance review process from the UNC System.

Laura Pratt asked if the Education & Career Development committee should wait to hear from team leaders regarding the Career Development initiative.  Menghini said that Pratt should contact her if the committee has not received notification soon.  She said that the strategic plan is a very large project, but she anticipated that the Forum would be involved as it moves forward.

Rob Stevenson of Benefits & Leave Administration noted that 21% of University employees have completed the open enrollment process for the State Health Plan.  The deadline is November 19, meaning thirteen days remain for employees to make enrollment decisions.  Stevenson said that the 70/30 plan will now be compliant with the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), meaning some procedures are covered for free that were not covered previously.  Stevenson encouraged employees to begin their enrollment soon.  He noted that Human Resources will hold labs to help employees through the enrollment process.

Jessica Pyjas, the University’s Work-life Wellness Manager, listed courses that will begin in November.  These include Secrets to Self-Motivation, From Smoker to Smoke-Free, and Managing Holiday Stress.  The University is also beginning weight loss classes and diabetes prevention courses.  Pyjas noted that 80/20 plan subscribers receive free in-network nutritional counseling.

Tracy Wetherby Williams brought up the inability to use health insurance or flex plan funds for a number of these courses, making them unaffordable to lower-paid employees.  Pyjas noted that the dietician consult offered without cost to 80/20 subscribers will expand to 70/30 subscribers in 2020.  Wetherby Williams asked if Human Resources could highlight this expanded benefit.  Pyjas said that a mention will be included in the January 2020 WorkWell.

Katie Musgrove asked for a motion to approve the consent agenda.  Laura Pratt made this motion, seconded by Arlene Medder, given that there were some grammatical errors in the minutes to be corrected.  The consent agenda was approved.

Greg Smith said that the Communications & Public Relations committee had announced and distributed prizes related to the Appreciation Day scavenger hunt.  Keith Hines asked if the Forum provides an official thank you to donors.  Smith said that these thank you’s typically occur over social media.

The Community Service committee’s November meeting is cancelled.  It was noted that the Winter Blood Drive will occur Tuesday, December 10th from 7:30-1 p.m. in Fetzer Gym.

Arlene Medder reported that the Carolina Community Garden will hold its ten-year anniversary in 2020.  She invited suggestions for the upcoming festivities.

Laura Pratt noted that the Education & Career Development committee had received 65 professional development grant applications.  The committee will soon read and score these applications.  The committee also plans to hold a 2021 mini-conference on professional development in higher education.

Tiffany Carver reported that the Membership & Assignments committee would meet following the day’s events to discuss the December potluck.  She also asked delegates to confirm their appearance on the attendance list.  Katie Musgrove said that delegates may have the chance to attend the November 23rd football game.  She would have more information as it becomes available.

Rose Thorp noted that the Personnel Issues committee had met October 22nd.  The committee discussed possibilities for donation of voluntary shared leave.  She proposed raising this topic at the December 10th Vice Chancellors’ meeting.

Keith Hines reported that the UNC System Staff Assembly was seeking employee input into the upcoming presidential search.  He asked that links to this survey be distributed via the Forum listserv.  He also noted a second survey specifically designed for staff employees.  The UNC System hopes to decide on a leader by spring 2020.

James Stamey reported that the Buildings & Grounds committee had met to discuss placement of signs for the Ackland Art Museum and the Visitor Center.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:06 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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