UNC employees have many reasons to admire Chancellor James Moeser. During his installation presentation, the Chancellor displayed considerable grace in the face of a group of protesting chanters. He interrupted his remarks to declare that the (2000) University Day event was in fact a celebration of the protestors’ rights to free speech.
Even before his official installation, Moeser introduced himself to the Employee Forum with the groundbreaking promise to respect employees as co-governors of the University, alongside faculty, students and administrators.
And who can forget the extraordinary leadership the chancellor provided after 9/11, with a campus-wide convocation on Polk Place for sharing the community’s grief and dis-belief.
Other examples of his leadership include a stalwart defense of academic freedom, steady resolve in support of global and environmental education, and of course, the Carolina Covenant.
Having acknowledged examples of the Chancellor’s leadership, we must now express our regret over his endorsement of Dental School Dean John Williams’ alleged “cost cutting” decision to outsource dental lab work and terminate the University careers of 15 laboratory technicians.
There now appears to be a gulf between the soaring rhetoric of Moeser’s State of the University address (Chancellor inspires with challenge to Carolina to be ‘great and good’ – University Gazette, 9/13/06) and the firing of a team of loyal employees with a combined 346 years of service to the University.
We suspect that Chancellor Moeaser’s endorsement of Dean Williams’ decision was given before he had the opportunity for a thorough review of the outsourcing decision process. The recommendations by a committee of six Dental School administrators included the astonishing caveat that “…there was no way to accurately determine the number of removable [prosthodontic] units fabricated because of the manner in which the data are recorded for removable cases.” This statement sounds like a call for a Dental School audit rather than justification for firing employees.
How does the termination of 15 staff members based on incomplete and questionable data square with the Chancellor’s exhortation that “our mission includes the development of the heart, as well as the mind”?
Even if the alleged cost savings to the University proved correct, longstanding precedents for deliberate, public and inclusive review of outsourcing decisions have been ignored. Of equal importance is the absence of considerations of the educational and public service impacts of the decision. The outpouring of faculty, staff, student and alumni criticism of this decision making process points directly to these concerns. (http://forum.unc.edu/documents/dentaltechs.htm,) For staff, especially, endorsing such an outsourcing decision could lead to a general collapse of morale. Surely that is not what our chancellor wants.
During an interview with some of the threatened employees, lab supervisor Barry Lee shared his philosophy, his aspiration “to emulate the good nurse who never flinches from challenging the doctor’s orders when those orders are in contravention of the patient’s chart.” Mr. Lee’s words inspire employees and the Employee Forum to challenge this administration
And so we entreat Chancellor James Moeser to reconsider a very ill-concieved and dangerous decision and declare a 12 month moratorium on Dental School outsourcing, as recommended in the Forum’s 11/1 resolution (http://forum.unc.edu/resolutions/2006/res0611.htm).
We also encourage all members of the University to express your concerns to the Chancellor both in writing (link to Moeser’s email address) and in person. (http://forum.unc.edu/documents/dentaltechpetition.pdf) (PDF)
******The Forum will co-sponsor a march for Fairness and Accountability Wednesday, November 15 from 1-2 p.m. starting at the Dental School and ending at South Building. Marchers will then present petitions calling for a twelve-month moratorium to Chancellor Moeser.
As a Forum delegate, I am supposed to be open to my fellow staff employees and help bring their concerns to the attention of the Administration. Fulfilling that duty sometimes gives me the chance to hear some pretty amazing things.
Given a private, protected place to talk, staff employees can tell remarkable stories about what goes on behind the scenes in departments all across the campus. Usually these stories are not the kind you write home about. Instead, they’re the kind that are whispered among co-workers. Like as not, they involve specific instances of employee mistreatment, questionable management practices in general, and sometimes even outright wrongdoing—the kind that, if true, could require the involvement of the law.
But what’s an employee to do, other than murmur in the halls or find a Forum delegate and whisper in their ear? Actually, there are several options.
Two years ago, the first recommendation of the report of the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace was that an ombuds office should be created to “deal with disputes equitably and confidentially.” Last year that office opened. For matters with potential legal ramifications, the Office of the University Counsel has contracted with an independent service to run a hotline where UNC employees can report wrongdoing. In addition, reports can be made to North Carolina’s Office of the State Auditor.
Each of these resources provides whistleblowers (and the plain old disgruntled) with the opportunity to make reports not just confidentially but also, if desired, anonymously. Yet despite the existence of these resources, Forum delegates continue to hear stories from people who want to see wrongs righted, but are afraid to speak up.
One reason for this reticence is probably because the resources to address workplace issues at UNC anonymously or in confidence are relatively new and may not be widely known. Another reason may be that even though employees know about these resources, they are afraid to use them. UNC has a strong culture of unfettered management authority, as recent events have shown yet again, and employees can be understandably concerned that promises of confidentiality or anonymity will not (or cannot) be kept and that they could wind up losing (or being quietly forced out of) their jobs.
Should people be afraid when it comes to dealing with workplace problems or reporting wrongdoing at UNC? Let us know what you think (anonymously, of course!) by going to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=521492867101. In next month’s issue of InTouch, we’ll share some of your responses.
Reporting Information& Reporting Resources
(Anonymity or Confidentiality Assured)
State of NC (and UNC) Policy on Protection for Reporting Improper Activities — http://www.unc.edu/campus/policies/protect_report.html
Ombuds Office – (919) 843-8204
University Compliance Line (managed by EthicsPoint in Portland, OR) —
(1) Internet access: http://www.ethicspoint.com
(Click on “File a New Report or Follow-up on a Report”)
(2) Telephone access: 1-866-294-8688
NC Office of the State Auditor –
(1) Internet access: http://www.ncauditor.net/WebProject/formshottip.aspx
(2) Telephone access: 1-800-730-TIPS during regular business hours
In response to David Brannigan’s Volume7/Number 6 InTouch opinion piece, “Where Your Treasure Is,” I would like to make several points of clarification about the Carolina First Campaign.
First, know that 99.5 percent of the funds raised by the campaign are restricted by the donor. We use the remaining unrestricted funds to meet a large number of needs all across campus. While not sufficient to make any appreciable difference in staff salaries overall, unrestricted funds can be – and are – made available to programs aimed at employee well being.
Chancellor Moeser, who chooses how these funds can be used, has committed $200,000 from an unrestricted estate gift to endow the Carolina Family Scholarship Fund, which gives need-based scholarships to the children of University faculty and staff to attend any UNC system school.
That, combined with $4,000 in employee gifts, enabled the children of four employees – a campus security guard, a construction estimator, a social research assistant and a dental assistant – to enroll in 2005 at N.C. Central University, Carolina, UNC-Greensboro and UNC-Charlotte, respectively.
Then, this past spring, Chancellor Moeser committed another $32,000 in unrestricted dollars to the scholarship fund. These funds, designated to be spent rather than put in an endowment, created four scholarships that could be awarded in the near term.
Chancellor Moeser also was the driving force behind increasing the value and number of the C. Knox Massey Distinguished Service Awards, among the largest and most prestigious for Carolina employees. The chancellor proposed that growth in the private endowment supporting the Massey awards be used to raise each stipend from $5,000 to $6,000 and that the number of annual recipients grow from four to six. Both happened in 2004.
Also in 2004, a $25,000 private gift enabled the University to establish an Emergency Loan Program for employees facing severe financial hardships, such as eviction or loss of electrical service. In its first six months, the program granted 115 loans to employees.
Individual departments, too, have looked to support staff with private funds. Take the School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery. The department has created a Staff Fund for SPA employees to provide resources for professional development, such as training, meetings and seminars, as well as to help build an endowment to fund a staff recognition program.
In a similar vein, and in this case an example of campus-wide support, a gift from TIAA-CREF funded the Star Heels employee recognition program administered by the Office of Human Resources.
We realize such support does not equate to higher salaries for staff. But it is inaccurate to say that private support in general and Carolina First in particular have not benefited staff, within the framework of donor wishes.
Matthew G. Kupec
Vice Chancellor for University Advancement