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October 19, 2021 Executive Committee minutes

Attending: L.E. Alexander, Sharron Bouquin, Shane Brogan, Tiffany Carver, Jen DeNeal, Phil Edwards, Shayla Evans-Hollingsworth, Stephanie Forman, Adrianne Gibilisco, Shayna Hill, Keith Hines, James Holman, Kira Jones, Brigitte Ironside, Anthony Lindsey, Arlene Medder, Katie Musgrove, Brooke O’Neal, Natiaya Neal, Laura Pratt, Kevin Robinson, Antonio Squire, Matthew Teal, Alice Whiteside, Tracy Wetherby Williams, Tyrone Williams, Jacob Womack

Chair Katie Musgrove called the meeting to order at 11:38 a.m. She asked for a motion to approve the September minutes. Kevin Robinson made this motion, seconded by Stephanie Forman. The motion was approved by unanimous consent.

The Chair invited Tracy Wetherby Williams and Matt Banks to present the Forum’s monthly budget report. Williams confirmed that the Forum will receive the full $3,000 allotment for blood drive expenses this year. Shayna Hill confirmed that a budget item for the Chancellors’ Cup golf tournament is to serve as a placeholder for funds dedicated to the Vice Chair’s activities by the UNC System Office. She asked that Banks forward the expense to Cheryl Gerringer who can then forward on to Chris Chiron in the System Office to reimburse the Forum for this charge.

The Chair confirmed that the Forum will continue its hybrid meetings in the School of Social Work at least through December. She also said that the UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum will not have to host the System Staff Assembly meeting coming up in October. Any future use of Forum resources must be supported by System Office funds and coordination.

The Chair spoke about the first Future of Work Design Team meeting which occurred that morning. She noted guiding principles to engage the entire UNC community through a structured, collaborative, and transparent process. The team will establish a desired end date and will work backwards from that date, building a culture of continuous improvement into the process. The Chair said that the Design Team will evaluate the effectiveness of available pilot data and create a plan for a sustainable and equitable model moving forward. She had pushed in the meeting for extending the pilot program through spring 2022 to allow broader data collection. Laura Pratt noted the recent survey on the pilot program distributed to employees earlier in the month.

Delegates thought that the survey seemed imprecise, and a bit thrown together. Some delegates thought that the questions were worded in a leading way to support an immediate return to campus. Others thought that the survey did not consider whether a particular job can effectively be done remotely. The Chair noted possible difficulties with meeting timelines given the paucity of data currently available.

Stephanie Forman thought that the Design Team process should be more closely aligned with the work of the Employee Forum. The Chair proposed advocating for an Economics student survey as a basis for finding more data. She thought it important that the Design Team make use of academic expertise to study these problems. Forman proposed asking Rick Wernoski of Operational Excellence to update the Forum on the Design Team’s progress. Forman also asked if these meetings fall within the Open Meetings policy. The Chair did not know but she recalled that the in-person meeting was not recorded.

James Holman asked how the Design Team’s work will affect departmental processes during the summertime. The Chair offered to bring forward this concern. She also confirmed that the University will not be going to the 80% remote work and 20% in-person model like School of Medicine is adopting. Laura Pratt asked if the Chair planned to create meeting notes for delegates’ reference in Teams. The Chair said that she would and hoped that delegates would provide questions via Teams.

Matthew Teal reported that the Office of Emergency Management would like to present to the full Forum at its November meeting. Teal and Jen DeNeal are working with the Office to develop a new omnibus emergency management policy for the University. This policy would fold in items like Alert Carolina. The plan will include a new computer-based training course, among other features. Teal thought the presentation would allow delegates to provide context about these plans. He recalled the concern about communication associated with the armed gunman on South Campus that occurred a year or two ago. He asked how the University can learn from this experience. The Chair agreed to invite this group to present in November.

Matthew Teal also spoke in favor of having a presentation on Mental Health First Aid training, given recent events. He wanted to have a full training provided for the Forum, but training requires eight hours of work over two mornings. He asked what resources already exist regarding emergency management and how might these resources be superseded by new guidance and best practices. The Chair thought that the Forum could balance its agenda to accommodate three speakers for November. Laura Pratt asked if the Forum would consider any resolutions in November.

Teal brought up an idea about creating a sustainability committee on the Forum, given current developments. He thought that the committee could address broader questions associated with campus sustainability. The Chair thought that at least an ad hoc committee is a possibility. Teal noted that OSHA heat standards for employees working outside was one concern. Antonio Squire asked Teal to speak with him further about the idea that sustainability is an equity issue and might fall within the DEI committee as a sub-group. Shane Brogan applauded the idea. The Chair invited Teal to bring forward a more developed proposal on this subject to a future meeting.

Discussion moved to plans for the Employee Appreciation event this month. Delegates expressed disappointment with the decision to postpone the in-person event. One delegate asked about the possibility of the Forum authoring a letter to the editor on this question for the Daily Tar Heel. Members asked about the possibility of holding a last-minute event to aid employee morale.

Shane Brogan noted the difficulty that the Communications & Public Relations committee had with obtaining prize gifts for the scavenger hunt associated with Employee Appreciation Day. Members discussed various suggestions to salvage the event for this year.

Shayna Hill reported that the UNC System Staff Assembly golf tournament raised money for 131 scholarships totaling $89,752. She noted that the UNC team made a special donation to the event as well.

Brooke O’Neal reported on the Book Club’s plans for 2022. She encouraged delegates to sign up for a meeting or two. She hoped that delegates with access to departmental listservs would reach out to the Book Club for fliers and content. Meetings will occur on the fourth Thursday of the month at noon.

Jacob Womack reported that the Community Service committee will work this fall on the toy drive with UNC Hospitals. He said that the committee is investigating cooperation with Ronald McDonald house to aid homeless people.

There was no report from the Blood Drive Planning committee. Arlene Medder said that the Carolina Community Garden had no report for this month.

Antonio Squire said that he had met with Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Leah Cox towards establishing a relationship between her office and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee. He will soon participate in a College of Arts & Sciences panel on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The committee will also hear from the Botanical Gardens regarding DEI concerns and the strategic plan for the garden.

L.E. Alexander hoped that the professional development grants would open November 1st. The Education & Career Development committee has worked to incorporate the new Concur travel system into the process for grant reimbursements. Alexander thanked all who volunteered to help review applications. She also hoped to write a monthly InTouch column regarding professional development opportunities. Laura Pratt noted The Well will likely do a story on previous professional development grant winners coming soon.

There was no report from the Membership & Assignments or Recognition & Awards committees.

Matthew Teal had no report from the Personnel Issues committee. Shayna Hill reported on UNC System Staff Assembly happenings, most notably the process for passing a resolution in that body.

Keith Hines noted recent news concerning passage of the State budget this year. Arlene Medder announced that her knitting had won ribbons at the North Carolina State Fair. Delegates congratulated her. The Chair shared news of her cute baby nephew Andrew’s recent entry into the world.

Shayna Hill raised a concern about lunch-time employee events turning personal time into worktime matters. Jacob Womack said that he regularly misses these events because they occur during his lunch break. A few delegates related that they could bend their schedule to accommodate these events and preserve personal time. They granted that this option is not open to all.

Hill clarified that she was discouraged by the messaging that encourages employees to take a break to take care of themselves while seizing personal time for events. Members lamented the lack of resources appropriate to the current moment in the Employee Assistance Program mental health collection. L.E. Alexander added that Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) seems to be overwhelmed now.

Jacob Womack thanked the Chair and James Holman for their work obtaining and distributing football tickets to delegates for the November 20th game. The Chair noted that delegates still have time to submit their number of tickets for the game. She said that delegates will also be recognized on the field at some point during the game. She noted also that employees will have the chance to purchase discounted single-game tickets for certain basketball games. James Holman noted that delegates have been invited to a basketball game before and have been introduced on the floor as well. The Chair said she would ask about this possibility for this year.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:20 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,                                               Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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