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Forum Chair, 2002-05, 2008-10

A native of Chatham County, Tommy Griffin has served the University of North Carolina for over thirty-one years, first in its Housing Department and now in the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning unit of Facilities Services.

He and his crew are responsible for thousands of square feet of building space and hundreds of air handlers, vents, blowers, air conditioners and heaters throughout the Health Affairs campus.  You will find him on campus working any hour of the day or night.

Literally thousands of Carolina students, faculty and staff have come to know him by name or appearance over those thirty-one years.

He currently lives south of Pittsboro.

Mr. Griffin has chaired the University’s Employee Forum the past two and a half years and has become arguably the pivotal figure in campus labor relations today.

He serves on a myriad of University boards and committees, most notably as the co-chair of the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace and as the first ever elected staff representative on the Board of Trustees Finance Committee.

Mr. Griffin also is a standing member of the University’s Priorities & Budget Advisory Committee, its Advisory Committee on Transportation, its advisory task force on tuition and the advisory board of the Carolina Center for Public Service, among many others.

During his term as Forum chair, the University has turned its attention to staff concerns to a degree unsurpassed in University history.

Through the Forum’s work, administrators, students and faculty alike have come to acknowledge the difficulties that staff employees face due to turnover, budget cuts and most of all, inadequate pay increases and benefits.

(The University currently ranks bottom or near-bottom in most staff pay and benefit measures compared with similar institutions nationally and in the Southeast; the State Legislature has not voted staff employees a pay increase since the 2000-2001 legislative session.)

Last year, faculty and students demonstrated their new awareness by voting to reserve a portion of tuition increase dollars for increasing staff salaries.  Similarly, faculty and staff on the advisory committee for transportation moved to create a sliding scale for parking permit increases based on income.   Both times, Mr. Griffin’s eloquence carried the day for University Employees.

In his optimism, perseverance and love of the University, Mr. Griffin has created a oasis of calm in which the University can address even the most rancorous staff concerns.

Through his gentle prodding, the University has found means formal and informal to resolve disagreements, improve processes, clarify policies and, in short, achieve more efficiently its missions of teaching, research and public service.

Mr. Griffin represents a living link to the University’s immediate past and to the local people who have sustained it these past two-hundred-ten years.  As you have heard, he also represents the University’s future.  I hope you will join me in welcoming him.

(Biographical sketch from June, 2004.)