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InTouch:  UNC Employee Forum News
Volume 3, Number 2 March 2002

From the Chair, Tommy Griffin…
A True Value
HELLO FRIENDS, its nice to have another chance to talk to you again this month. Spring and beautiful weather are on the way and I am ready for it and I know that you are too. What I want to talk about this month is the TRUE VALUE of a good employee. What is a good employee worth: their pride, their hard work, and loyalty and their love for this University. Webster’s dictionary defines TRUE VALUE as reliable, accurate, genuine, real, faithful, and a fair price for services provided and many more things that are too numerous to mention in this article.

Every employee on this campus can lay claim to all of the above items talked about in this article and more. When will the state of North Carolina begin to recognize how valuable we all are and begin to provide the funds needed so that we can be compensated in pay and benefits for our TRUE VALUE and maintain our campus like it needs to be and so that we can do our jobs to the best of our abilities?

This will only happen when we unite all our voices together loud and strong and to the point. We must be united in our efforts in order to be heard. We must send word to Raleigh that they cannot keep cutting our budgets and expect us to provide quality education and research. Some of time I believe that they forget that we are tax payers and voters, too. State employees are a TRUE VALUE to the state. We are a big part of the support of this State and they need to listen to us. We have good ideas and solutions to many of the state’s financial problems if they would just listen to us. The EMPLOYEE FORUM is your voice so let us stand together to be heard. The people of this University are great people and we must be united and we must be heard.

Community Meeting with Chancellor Moeser June 27
The first 2002 Community Meeting, sponsored by the Employee Forum, will feature Chancellor James Moeser. It will be held on Thursday, June 27th from 10:30 until noon in Hamilton Hall, Room 100. Watch for more details in upcoming issues of InTouch.

Earth Day April 22
Earth Day is usually celebrated on or about April 20.  This year is no different and UNC is organizing a full week’s worth of events to try and give as many people as possible the opportunity to participate.

Starting Monday, April 22, there will be a guided walking tour from campus to the Botanical Gardens.  The walk will highlight landscape and new protection policies on campus. On Tuesday, there will be a two-hour seminar on smart growth and sustainability starting at 2:00 at Tate-Turner-Kuralt. Wrapping things up on Thursday will be a series of events highlighted by a sustainable office and dorm room demonstration in the Great Hall of the Student Union. Other events on Thursday are the presentation of the Sustainability Coalition’s annual report, TTA and Chapel Hill Transit promoting commuter alternatives and the awards for GreenGames – the annual residence hall conservation competition.

More information, including times and locations for all of these events is located on the web at, or

VOICE OF CAROLINA: An Unexpected Treat
Editor’s note: the following is excerpted from a submission by Lee Edmark,facilities planner with ATN and chair of the University Committee Assignments Committee.

 Volunteer for service on a Bryan Fellowship Award Committee. Yeah, that sounded like it might be interesting.  What the heck, I’d get a chance to meet some new people and give back just a tiny bit to the University that I work for. Boy, was I in for an unexpected treat.

 The Bryan Fellowship Awards are given annually to deserving UNC Carolina students to pursue worthwhile study projects. Students compete for $1,500.00 Academic Year Awards and $4,000.00 Summer Awards, a program sponsored by the Apples Service- Learning Program and the Carolina Center for Public Service.

 Once we introduced ourselves to one another and shared a meal we broke up into our interview teams. After concluding the three half-hour interviews I was assigned to, and reconvening as a group to complete the final selection process, I must admit that I was truly moved. As a member of staff here at UNC we can easily forget why we are here every day. Many of us are so disconnected from the mission of our University that we lose sight of what goes on here.

The selection committee met with and interviewed eight bright, motivated, articulate and inspiring young adults each with a firm commitment to give back to the world and this University in ways that touched my heart. As the selection committee struggled to select this year’s Fellowship recipients I could not help but think to hope that my own daughter Sarah Louise, only six and still in kindergarten, might be so inspired in her life to follow in the noble footsteps of these candidates.
Such is this Staff person’s experience as a volunteer on a University Committee.

Please consider serving yourself the next time you get a chance. It just may be a great experience!

New Electronic Application Form for Staff Employment
The process for applying to job openings changed on February 1, 2002.  Human Resources created a new form that replaces both the Application for Staff Employment and the Transfer Opportunity Program (TOP) applications.

Now, you must submit an application for each position you apply for (no more TOP form).  The good news is you can fill out an electronic copy of the form and submit it by email.  Print copies of the form are still accepted and can be mailed to Human Resources.

Here are the steps for locating and using the new form:

1. Go the Human Resources web site
2. Put your cursor on Employment in the horizontal list of choices under the blue Office of Human Resources banner on the right side of the page.
3. Pull the cursor down to Staff (SPA) Positions and over to Application Forms
4. Click on Application forms.
5. When the next page opens, scroll down until you see Document (in blue) and then Application for Staff Employment.
6. You can either choose Word document or PDF document
7. If you want to submit an electronic application then choose Word.
8. If you are using a computer that has Microsoft Word, this will open up the form in Word.
9. SAVE the form to a disk or to the drive of your choice before you fill it out.
10. Fill the form out.  You can move from blank space to blank space by using the mouse or the tab key.
11. When you get to a check box you can use the spacebar or the mouse to check it.
12. Email your application as an attachment to
13. If you apply to a second job all you have to do is change the position number, department number and position title at the top of page 3 and submit the revised form.

Policy Response:  Enron, Investments, and You
These responses were prepared by the Office of Human Resources for the limited purpose of employee education and awareness of the issues involved in retirement planning.   This information is specifically not intended to provide any individual investment advice or direction.

This Enron stuff is terrifying.  These people have lost their life savings.  Could this happen to me at the University?

Enron employee retirement funds were caught up in the stock collapse and subsequent bankruptcy of Enron, the largest bankruptcy case ever filed in America’s courts.  Like many companies in the for-profit sector, Enron employees were permitted and may have even been encouraged to purchase Enron stock as part of their 401(k) retirement plan.  In the course of the financial collapse, it is alleged that inside stockholders sold their large holdings of stock and stock purchase future options (further dampening the price of the stock) and also prevented employees from selling their stock by using a plan blackout period.  These blackout periods are permissible under federal law and are used to facilitate administrative changes in plans when it is necessary to stop transfers and sell-offs in order to move the assets to new funds, etc.

The University is not a for-profit company.  University employees either participate in a defined benefit plan (TSERS) or a defined contribution plan (ORP).  Within the TSERS system, UNC-Chapel Hill and the State of North Carolina do not have any significant control or inside influence on the value of an individual stock and other assets in the defined benefit retirement plans.

Your State Retirement benefits are not directly dependent on the performance of the market, but instead are determined by the formula adopted by the plan.  You may get more information about the formula by accessing the TSERS website at

In the defined contribution and voluntary supplemental retirement plans, the University does not require employees to purchase any particular stock as part of their portfolio.  However, it is important to remember that these types of investments (401[k] or 403[b] plans, for example) are subject to market changes.  Every employee should stay informed about the value of his/her retirement assets and take steps to modify their investment options in these plans, as appropriate.  Experts suggest diversifying investments in order to minimize risk.  If you participate in the ORP or have a supplemental retirement plan, you may want to contact the vendor to discuss your current investment strategy.

How do I know my 401(k) or 403(b) is being managed correctly?

You have an important role in being informed about where your funds are invested.   The State 401(k) plan is managed by the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System and overseen by its Board of Trustees who meet regularly to review the plan and its performance.  The University’s 403(b) plan is administered by the Office of Human Resources as directed by the University Insurance Committee.  There are a variety of choices in both plans.  In making a choice of investments, the following information may be helpful:

1. Investment Philosophy? Review the plan’s investment philosophy to see if it matches your own philosophy and goals.   Generally, there is a close association between risk of investment losses and a positive financial return on that investment.  In other words, the higher the risk of loss, the higher the rate of financial gain.   The lower the risk of loss, the lower the rate of financial gain.   Because these plans are sponsored for the purpose of retirement, emphasis should be given to a long term investment strategy that may take advantage of risk over the course of your working life, but also includes reducing that investment risk as you approach retirement.
2. Periodic Statements from your Plan — You should open and review these as you receive them (usually quarterly) and check your contributions and the investment performance.  Call the plan’s representatives if you have questions, and make adjustments as needed.
3. Periodic performance reports and investment advice:  Read the periodic reports that you receive from your plan and seek investment advice from the plan’s representatives.
4. Plan’s representatives — Get to know the plan’s representatives and use their expertise to help you manage your retirement funds.
5. Complaint procedure — If you think that your account has not been handled properly, first contact plan’s representatives, local or at their home office and place your complaint and insist on prompt resolution.   If the concern is not resolved to your satisfaction, contact the plan sponsor (the University or the State Retirement System) and place your complaint and request an inquiry.  You may also make your own independent inquiry about your investments and the funds included in your plan.