April 6, 2022
UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum
Zoom Remote Meeting Only: Connection Details Below
NOTE: This is a draft agenda and is subject to change without notice.
I. Call to Order & Opening Remarks: Chair Katie Musgrove (9:00 a.m. – 9:05 a.m.)
- Welcome to Guests & Members of the Press
II. Special Presentations (9:05 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.)
- Gender Violence Services Coordinator Holly Lovern on University Prevention and Response to Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment
- Clery Compliance Manager Jenn Scott and Director of Emergency Management Darrell Jeter on the Carolina Alert System
- Graduate and Professional Student Government President Theodore Nollert and Past President Neel Swamy
III. Human Resources Update (10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.)
- Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance Becci Menghini and Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler
- Director of Benefits & Leave Administration Joe Williams
- Senior Work/Life Manager Jessica Pyjas
IV. Roundtable with Provost Chris Clemens (10:30 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.)
V. Consent Agenda (10:50 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.)
- March Minutes
- Forum Committees
- Communications and Public Relations: Shane Brogan
- Book Club: Brooke O’Neal
- Community Service: Jacob Womack
- Carolina Blood Drive: Jen DeNeal
- Carolina Community Garden Advisory: Arlene Medder
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Joseph Nsonwu-Farley/Janet Steele
- DEI Council: Janet Steele
- Education and Career Development: L.E. Alexander/Laura Pratt
- Carolina Family Scholarship: L.E. Alexander/Laura Pratt
- Professional Development Grants: L.E. Alexander/Laura Pratt
- Membership & Assignments: Tiffany Carver
- Personnel Issues: Stephanie Forman/Matthew Teal
- Recognition & Awards: Tiffany Carver/Laura Pratt
- Rules: Jacob Womack
- UNC System Staff Assembly: Shayna Hill/Katie Musgrove/Keith Hines/James Holman/Laura Pratt
- University Committee Representatives
- Advisory Committee on Transportation & Parking: Shane Brogan
- Buildings & Grounds: James Stamey
- Carolina Peer Support Collaborative: Joseph Nsonwu-Farley
- Policy Review: Evan Marsh
- Student Stores Advisory Committee: David Bragg/Evan Marsh
- Executive Committee: Katie Musgrove
- Communications and Public Relations: Shane Brogan
VI. Old Business (11:00 a.m. – 11:05 a.m.)
VII. New Business (11:05 a.m. – 11:25 a.m.)
- Resolution 22-02, Addressing Serious Retention, Morale, and Resource Problems in University Housekeeping Services (Second Reading)
- Resolution 22-03, Concerning Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment (Second Reading; First Reading Accomplished at March 22nd Executive Committee Meeting)
VIII. Announcements/Questions (11:25-11:30 p.m.)
- Vice Chancellor Representatives Meeting – To Be Determined
Please contact the Forum Office at firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain Zoom password information by 8 a.m. Wednesday.
April 3, 2022 Employee Forum minutes
Delegates Attending: Jessye Bongiovanni, Randall Borror, Sharron Bouquin, David Bragg, Rich Brandenburg, Alicia Brandt, Shane Brogan, Tiffany Carver, Timothy Carville, Emma Dehne, Jen DeNeal, Elizabeth DuBose, Shayla Evans-Hollingsworth, Jaci Field, Stephanie Forman, Adrianne Gibilisco, Chrissie Greenberg, Leah Hefner, Shayna Hill, Keith Hines, James Holman, Brigitte Ironside, Mary King, Anthony Lindsey, Evan Marsh, Amber Meads, Arlene Medder, Mandy Melton, Manisha Mittal, Katie Musgrove, Joseph Nsonwu-Farley, Ayla Ocasio, Joseph Ormond, Sara Pettaway, Laura Pratt, Kelly Scurlock-Cross, Theresa Silsby, Janice Singletary, Jake Stallard, James Stamey, Matthew Teal, Sarah Wackerhagen, Tracy Wetherby Williams, Alice Whiteside, Tracey Wiley, Michael Williams, Jacob Womack
Excused: L.E. Alexander, Vanessa Blake, Jessi Hill, Robert Smith III, Janet Steele
Chair Katie Musgrove began the meeting at 9:15 a.m. She welcomed Gender Violence Services Coordinator Holly Lovern to speak on University prevention and response in sexual assault and sexual harassment cases. Lovern noted that April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, with many events and programs occurring across campus. Lovern spoke on advocacy and support available on campus through her position as well as other prevention efforts.
Lovern spoke about her work as a Gender Violence Services Coordinator (GVSC). GVSC’s serve as victims’ advocates, providing free confidential support and advocacy for all members of the campus community who have been impacted by sexual violence, personal violence, stalking, exploitation, or sexual and gender-based harassment. “Confidential resources” allow for a person sharing their experiences to not make a formal report to the University or to law enforcement. Information shared stays within the GVSC office unless the person releases the information or the information’s release is required by law.
GVS coordinators provide a range of services, from emotional support, to identifying reporting options, to navigating related processes to planning accompaniment to meetings, among others. Support extends to academics in campus housing workspaces and referrals to community partners and resources. Support can be very flexible depending on what is required. Individuals can reach out in whichever format is most comfortable for them. Lovern and her office will respond with information about confidentiality, services, and availability to connect. The office has protocols for phone contact.
Lovern said that her office is in the Carolina Women’s Center which is in the Stone Center for Black Culture and History. However, staff are available to meet wherever is most comfortable for clients. More information is available on the GVSC website [https://gvsc.unc.edu] or on the organization’s Instagram site.
Lovern said that GVSC offers outreach education and consultation for the campus community, responding to questions and offering support. GVS coordinators are happy to meet with different campus groups in short sessions or longer trainings if requested. Presentations generally focus on supporting individuals impacted by violence and harassment, with options and resources available on campus. GVS officials are also happy to do presentations with other campus offices.
The GVSC office has a healing library which was launched following the return to campus after the first onslaught of the pandemic. This library provides book check-outs related to experiences of violence and trauma responses and healing. People have shown great interest in accessing this information in different ways, either in-person or on-line. The office has also created a therapy support guide offering information about finding a therapist and considerations for starting therapy, including information on resources specific to the community and on trauma-informed therapy and providers.
Another resource available is the faculty guide for supporting students impacted by violence and harassment, which aids faculty uncertain how to help students who have reached out for help. This guide compiles practices seen in classes across disciplines with ideas and considerations for faculty to think through in the trauma-informed learning environment. Lovern welcomed questions and comments about these materials and her office’s work as general practitioners of these strategies.
Lovern noted that the University’s new violence prevention coordinators started this past fall overseeing campuswide awareness, education and prevention efforts in violence and harassment. These programs range from the “one act” bystander intervention program to Haven support training, as well as other various programming around healthy relationships and consent. GVSC employees have just created a student advisory board to inform prevention work as well as peer ambassador and educator programs.
Lovern added that the University commissioned a gender-based violence prevention advisory group in June 2020 to study violence prevention work and draft recommendations for improvement. The group is composed of students, faculty, and staff. A related report is available at the https://safe.unc.edu website. Lovern said that safe.unc.edu is the greatest online hub for information about response, support, and prevention information. She led a tour of this page for the Forum noting programming associated with the sexual assault awareness month calendar for April.
Jacob Womack asked if physical resources are available to replace relevant items in restrooms and elsewhere. Lovern said that these inquiries would best go to email@example.com to obtain updated brochures and other materials. The Chair thanked Lovern for her informative presentation and her help with the upcoming Forum resolution on this topic to be considered later in the meeting.
The Chair then welcomed Clery Compliance Manager Jen Scott and Director of Emergency Management Darrell Jeter to speak about the Alert Carolina system. She noted that this presentation followed a well-received talk at a Personnel Issues committee meeting on this topic this past winter.
Jeter thanked the Chair for the invitation. He provided an overview of the Alert Carolina emergency notification system. Administrators have sought partners for the system to promote preparedness and awareness about Alert Carolina notifications and resultant actions by the campus community. Jeter said that Alert Carolina is based on the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act of the Clery Act, mandating that higher education institutions have a system to immediately notify the campus community anytime there is confirmation of a significant emergency or dangerous situation that poses some form of threat to the health or safety of the campus community. The intent of Alert Carolina is to provide information about what actions are needed should these events occur.
Jeter noted that Alert Carolina uses four different alert types depending on the situation’s severity and whether immediate action is required. The highest tier is emergency notification, an indication of significant emergency or dangerous situation posing an immediate threat to the campus community, requiring an immediate response action on your end to safeguard yourself. This is the only alert type that will activate the outdoor sirens on campus in conjunction with other Alert Carolina system components, excepting siren tests. Hearing sirens in the absence of a test means that one should consult their mobile device or email for instructions on what to do next. Situations that would warrant this response would be an armed or dangerous person on campus or a major hazardous materials incident, for example. The issuance of a tornado warning is another example. Other dangerous emergency situations might also justify activating the highest tier of warning.
The next tier of warning is crime alerts denoting something that has occurred and is posing a serious or continued threat. This information is shared to allow community members to take necessary precautions to minimize chances of being victimized in similar fashion.
The third tier is adverse conditions, including adverse weather conditions in the winter or during hurricane season, for example. These notices advise that the campus will change its operating schedule to suspended or reduced operations, due to weather or adverse conditions such as major utility outage or failure for an extended period.
The final, catch-all tier is the informational tier, used to follow-up on previous notifications or send out updates that do not rise to the level of a threat or significant ongoing activity. These communications are thought to be of interest to the campus community, and thus Alert Carolina shares this information. Texts are not issued for informational communications, but these are posted in email and shared on the Alert Carolina website.
Jenn Scott spoke on the University Clery Act requirements, which are a smaller set of Alert Carolina notification efforts. The Clery Act determines circumstances under which the University must send crime alerts and emergency notifications. Clery Act qualifying crimes must occur on Clery Act geography, which is property that the University owns or controls. Clery Act crimes include arson, aggravated assault, stalking, burglary, some sex offenses, and hate crimes.
Emergency notifications are much broader in the type of events covered, but Clery Act crime alerts are much more specific, dealing with a particular type of incident occurring in a particular location that poses a serious or ongoing threat. Case-by-case considerations include the circumstances of a situation, the likelihood of a serious or ongoing threat, the emergence of a weapon, the identity or custody of a suspect, and suspect’s known direction of travel, among other concerns.
One other factor assessed in whether to send crime alerts is whether the incident has been reported in a timely manner, or how long ago the incident occurred. People affected by crime make reports when they are ready to do so, not always immediately after the event occurred. Delays in reporting are particularly common in sexual or relationship violence cases. Scott emphasized that these delays are okay as people have the right and freedom to make reports when they are ready, but one practical effect is to reduce the likelihood of issuing a campus alert on an incident no longer posing an immediate threat to the community. This assessment might shift again if a pattern of criminality emerges, such as multiple burglaries happening in a residence hall.
One individual committing repeated acts of violence would trip the Clery Act’s ongoing threat requirements. In this case, each individual incident composes part of a pattern that was not by itself deemed a serious threat because of delayed reporting or some other valid reason. The first event in a pattern is not generally known to start the pattern until it is replicated.
Scott added that Alert Carolina cannot send messaging to the campus community that might in any way compromise efforts to assist people during an incident, or by compromising efforts to investigate, gather evidence or conduct interviews. In these instances, messages cannot go out. Additionally, messages will not include information which identifies a victim, either by location, name, or other specific information.
Jeter said that Alert Carolina does feature mechanisms to provide alert texts and notifications regardless of location. Among other methods, Alert Carolina now has a mobile safety application for cell phones, which can provide push notifications for Chapel Hill residents or even people off campus.
Jeter noted that Emergency Management teams with UNC Police and other partners across the community to ensure that framing and messaging and system effectiveness remain relevant. Emergency Management relies greatly on a partnership with Information Technology Services to keep up with changing technology. This technology is overseen by an advisory group made up of students, faculty, and staff.
Jeter walked through the general process governing activation of the Alert Carolina system, outlining individual responsibilities in reaction to ongoing events. He thanked listeners for being ambassadors for safety and asked all to register to receive Carolina text alerts. He offered to take suggestions on process improvements or other questions.
The Chair related a question from an employee about being on campus while several members of a racist group were armed and in the Pit that day. The only way that this person knew about these people was through informal warnings to bypass the area. This person thought that the campus should be alerted in these situations. Jeter confirmed that no one is allowed to have weapons on campus and those who find someone has a weapon on campus should notify campus police immediately.
In general, Jeter said, absent a weapon, officers would respond and use their discretion to determine if individuals are compliant and are willing to leave the area. The campus community would not necessarily be informed, or a follow-up acknowledgment might occur to notify people about the situation and actions taken to mitigate it. An immediate or ongoing threat would lead to activating the emergency notification system. However, absent a weapon, groups of various viewpoints are welcome at the University, a public institution. A group exercising their First Amendment rights would not necessarily activate the system. The determining factor is the presence of an immediate or significant ongoing threat.
The Chair followed up the question with another question. What if the Ku Klux Klan were given a permit to meet and speak? Jeter reiterated his previous statement about people representing various groups that some may feel pose real threats because of what they represent. Jeter said that the University must be cautious to ensure that it does not infringe on rights of free expression. On the other hand, if community members are experiencing a true threat, they should notify campus police immediately. He cautioned that people sharing thoughts and opinions about their ideology do not on their own compose real threats. However, students should not hesitate to reach out with concerns about individuals or actions taking place.
The Chair noted that some wished to have a prevention protocol in place to provide awareness and knowledge beforehand to allow avoidance of situations involving these types of groups. She suggested making permitting information public to give all individuals agency, awareness, and tools to feel safe on campus and make informed decisions. Jeter thanked the Chair for this clarification and said he would discuss this idea with campus partners.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Amy Johnson thought that this particular request would not necessarily fall within the purview of the Alert Carolina system. She said that the University is working on a more discretionary notice system which would be “opt-in” rather than “opt-out.” These improvements will require additional testing this semester.
The Chair raised a question as to who grants groups approval to come onto campus and speak, regarding facility and space requests. Jeter said that either the Student Union or Facilities makes these approvals depending on location. Groups must submit a request form requiring approval from various campus organizations.
Arlene Medder asked about people living a distance away from campus being able to opt out of informational alerts. Jeter said that Alert Carolina notifications do not have geographical boundaries. People off campus thus can choose to respond to the information and avoid coming onto campus more easily than those already on campus. Jeter encouraged all campus community members to sign up to receive these notifications.
Jenn Scott added that there are spatial reasons why the University does not limit the geographical scope of notifications, as the campus has locations all over the country which are subject to notification requirements.
The Chair welcomed Graduate and Professional Student Government current President Theodore Nollert and immediate past President Neel Swamy. She noted that this week is graduate and professional student appreciation week on campus. Swamy spoke on the structure of the GPSG, featuring graduate and professional students from over 100 master’s degree and over 60 doctoral degree programs, as well as seven professional degree programs. Some doctoral students may receive teaching stipends and thus serve in instructional modes, while professional students might take coursework and complete clinical rotations.
Swamy said that the goal of the GPSG is to advocate and recognize the diversity that makes up the body of these students. He noted the difference between graduate students straight out of undergrad versus others who have been in the workforce for a time. Swamy recalled difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that the GPSG is structured after the federal government, with legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The GPSG Senate is composed of 110 graduate and professional student senators from 77 academic departments. Swamy outlined the structure and composition of the executive branch and the accomplishments of his team this past year. These included creation of an $80,000 emergency relief fund for graduate students whose timeline was disrupted by the pandemic and increased funding for interpersonal violence prevention and mental health resource triaging on and off campus. Swamy also noted the participation of the GPSG in planning and follow-through associated with the University’s mental health summit.
Nollert thanked Swamy for his words and the Chair for making time for the duo. He noted work that representatives are doing with administrators to prepare for the University’s all-funds budget discussions. He hoped to partner with the Employee Forum and undergraduate student government to coordinate an approach to these talks. Additionally, the GPSG will launch a mentorship program for first-year graduate and professional students designed to create a sense of community belonging and well-being, in addition to professional development opportunities. The GPSG will work on stipend advocacy representation on the Board of Trustees. GPSG representatives meet with State legislators also on issues facing graduate students through the State.
Nollert emphasized holding important conversations early with decisionmakers in order to create smart, effective plans. He noted that graduate and professional students also must deal with isolation in the wake of the pandemic. He offered to take questions or comments from the Forum. The Chair said that she looked forward to working on these items. She also thanked Swamy for his leadership and allyship this past year.
The Chair welcomed Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, Equal Opportunity, and Compliance Becci Menghini to present the Forum’s customary Human Resources update. She also noted that Director of Benefits and Leave Administration Joe Williams and Senior Work/Life Manager Jessica Pyjas will also speak. Menghini wished the Forum well and thanked the previous speakers for their contributions. She emphasized that the Equal Opportunity and Compliance office is a big part of the campus’ response to gender-based violence. She recognized the team there. People experiencing these situations can make reports through campus police or through the EOC office, or both. Menghini added that employees will soon receive additional required gender-based violence training, which occurs every other year. This training differs from that given to CSA or responsible employees.
Menghini recalled the two-and-a-half percent salary increase coming this July. She noted discussion of additional pay flexibilities. She serves as part of a task force with the Office of State Human Resources which is working to add flexibility to the SHRA employee process. She said that conversations are occurring at the State level about things that might be done to protect and preserve our employee base and ultimately, to identify more resources for financial compensation.
In addition, the Board of Governors meets today in Cullowhee to discuss two sets of personnel rules. One of these is to delegate more authority to the local boards of trustees, to act on items requiring System Office or Board of Governors approval. She hoped these changes would speed actions and limit steps needed to approve needed changes. Authority delegated to the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees will need in turn to be further delegated to the campus, Menghini said.
The other item is that previous salary will no longer be considered in promotional increases for internal candidates. As of now, this change is limited to EHRA employees, but conversations are taking place to extend the change to the SHRA side with the approval of the Office of State Human Resources (OSHR). Menghini characterized this step as good news should it receive approval by the Board of Governors today. If approved, the policy would go to the System Office for implementation guidance, with UNC-Chapel Hill receiving final guidance in a month or two.
On another subject, Menghini noted that many campus units have submitted their future of work proposals which were due at the end of March. Some units have requested extensions to this deadline. Central units are considering these proposals with the expectation that plans will go into place by the end of June. She hoped that employees have held conversations with supervisors on this topic. Menghini praised the future of work design team and particularly the Employee Forum Chair for their work putting this proposal together, along with the many people who rolled the proposal out to campus.
Menghini also praised Jessica Pyjas and her team among the many units who contributed to the success of the Employee Wellness Day event March 18th. She was pleased to see so many employees participating in this event. Menghini added news about the “no meetings” day on Thursday the 14th of April coinciding with the wellness day for students. She hoped that this day would provide a bit of mental health to employees on campus before the long weekend. She asked listeners to move meetings from that date if at all possible.
The Chair welcomed Joe Williams to speak on benefits and leave, particularly in response to a question on virtual mental health coverage. Williams said that messaging had been misinterpreted that telehealth visits would no longer be covered on the State Health plan. He had inquired about this subject to the UNC System Office as well as to the State plan.
Williams clarified that what had changed during the state of emergency associated with the pandemic had been the reimbursement rates to providers. During the pandemic, reimbursement rates were paid equally for telehealth visits and in-person visits. Telehealth visits are more cost-efficient from a medical standpoint but were paid at an equal rate as in-person visits during the pandemic. Now, the telehealth reimbursement rate has returned to its normal levels. State Health plan subscribers still pay the same co-payment for services, but hospitals and doctors’ offices now receive different reimbursement rates for in-person and telehealth visits.
The Chair thanked Williams for his remarks. Williams noted his participation in a conference on setting up personal emergency funds that he hoped to develop soon in coordination with the Forum.
The Chair welcomed Jessica Pyjas to provide wellness updates and events for April. Pyjas thanked all who attended Employee Wellness day and all who helped out with the different activities. That week, her office conducted 15 virtual opportunities, including fitness and health education sessions and cooking demonstrations. Over 350 people participated in these sessions.
Around 2,300 people were estimated to attend the March 18th event, which saw 78 people participating in wellness screenings. UNC Police collected ten pounds of unwanted medications, and around 120 people livestreamed virtual cooking demonstrations. Around 200 people engaged in fitness sessions that week, with on-site music and dancing occurring as well.
Pyjas noted the upcoming activities planned for April, which are posted on-line at https://hr.unc.edu/benefits/work-life/. Pyjas pledged to send information about these opportunities to the Chair for her to share with the Forum virtually. She noted that Arts Everywhere day will occur Friday, featuring the collective campus big scream on Polk Place.
The Chair thanked Menghini, Williams and Pyjas for their remarks. She particularly hoped that the State would soon begin implementation of the new career banding structure, or else fully support the existing structure. Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler agreed, saying that the new structure implementation may be used as a reason not to adjust salary ranges. He said that the University and the UNC System Office continue to push for both items. The Chair said that the Forum hoped to aid this effort.
Shayna Hill said that the UNC System Staff Assembly had been told that the new structure is at least 18 months away. Butler said that was his understanding, but he did not have a definite date. Menghini said that OHR has looked to plan for the move to the new structure, but the question has not received enough focus from the Office of State Human Resources to move forward yet. UNC-Chapel Hill continues to raise the question.
Jacob Womack raised the point that other smaller UNC campuses might not be on the same page as UNC-Chapel Hill regarding this issue, mainly because of differences in costs of living. Menghini said that UNC-Chapel Hill has had authority delegated to set its own ranges up until now. This fact will change under the new policy as the System Office will take that over. UNC-Chapel Hill and other urban universities will need to make sure that some range variance continues.
Menghini understood that the main problem with hiring is getting people to market rate beyond the lowest part of the ranges. As the System migrates to a new banding structure, market rate and size and scope will be contributing factors. Some campuses will necessarily service larger numbers of people. Menghini said that the University hopes to influence Human Resources Council deliberations in this direction.
The Chair welcomed Provost Chris Clemens to the meeting, thanking him for pivoting quickly from teaching class earlier that morning. Clemens noted that the Provost’s transition team is still working hard to open as many access channels to the office as possible. The office is seeking to institutionalize more points of access, especially for staff, towards creation of a reorganization plan featuring permanent access points.
The Provost’s Office will soon put forward approvals for new positions such as the new Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement and Success which should allow expansion in new directions in this area. This position will be mainly devoted to faculty interests but will also look with intentionality at nominations and recognition for staff and students. The Office will gather a cohort of faculty to work on leadership training under this new Vice Provost.
Clemens noted that he has been meeting with various faculty candidates under Dr. Joseph Jordan’s leadership. He had met with candidates for the director of the American Indian Center as a part of interviews that should finish in the next few weeks. Dr. Jordan just announced the search for the new director of the Stone Center, a search for his replacement. The University is also interviewing candidates for the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Gillings School of Public Health. The Nursing School search has completed with an offer accepted but no announcement has been made yet.
Clemens said that the University is still in negotiations with a very strong candidate to lead the Adams School of Dentistry. Search committees for the School of Government and UNC Libraries have just been launched. In all, Clemens said that he feels he spends a lot of time interviewing candidates. Still, he was very pleased with the very strong candidate pools for these positions and the resultant conversations. He added that the University is also interviewing nominees for the academic lead of the new School for Data Science.
Clemens noted questions about the future of the outdoor tents, and he commented that the campus looks great due to the work of the groundskeepers. He noted that the Undergraduate Student Senate had passed a resolution last week calling for the removal of tents on Polk Place and the restoration of green space there. He was pleased to announce that the tents will be removed following graduation. He hoped that this was a sign that the COVID era was drawing down. He then offered to take questions from the Forum.
The Chair asked about Tom Shanahan, the new interim chief administrative officer who will take on administrative issues for campus. She asked if Clemens could help clarify the breakdown of duties involving this new position. Clemens said that the replacement of Ron Strauss as executive vice provost of campus necessitates handling a broad range of issues. The new vice provost will be a senior rank tenured faculty member, allowing a seat on the appointment, promotion, and tenure review committee and also possibly health affairs work as well.
Clemens noted consideration of raising the Center for Faculty Excellence in prominence, perhaps to a Vice Provost level due to the work done there in leadership and mentoring. Clemens recalled discussion about expanding the scope of faculty skills and programs through the reach of the Provost’s Office. He said that Shanahan will work on administrative matters that have fallen through the cracks but that need attention, such as the affiliation agreements between the Medical School and the main campus, and the Adams School of Dentistry and main campus.
Accomplishing these items will make life at the University easier, as will an ascertainment as to who the main decisionmakers are on campus. Clemens noted complaints that people do not know how or why approvals take place. Shanahan will work to create a standard operating procedure for these approvals, to make this process more visible.
The Chair appreciated this explanation but thought it would be helpful to announce Shanahan’s duties in conjunction with his role. Clemens thought that the duties were part of a trial run, thus the reason for the lack of an announcement. He would pass the point to the Chancellor for his consideration. The Chair emphasized the need for transparency in the wake of these many changes. Clemens thanked the Chair for this feedback and noted that sometimes the administration is simply trying to get its act together.
Arlene Medder asked if the University’s tents will go into storage in the case of future emergency. Clemens said that the tents are rented and are quite expensive. Senior Vice Provost for Business Operations Rick Wernoski clarified that the tents are considered temporary structures under State law and thus must come down at some point anyway. Other discussions have touched on the accompanying furniture, some of which currently belongs to the University.
Shayna Hill thanked Clemens for his presence at the Forum, noting that the Roundtable with the Chancellor and the Provost began while she was Chair of the Forum. She was thrilled to hear of the strong candidate pools for leadership roles but shared that the exact opposite is occurring in staff hiring pools. Postings that normally get 50-60 candidates now are receiving only three to five. Even with external advertising some searches are failing and having to be reposted.
The University is now in a position in which it cannot attract people as an employer of choice anymore. Hill said that many employees who are left are trying to cobble together several jobs. She said that staff want to support these great new leaders, but “we’re just dying here.” She asked if Clemens could strategize in any way to alleviate this shortage in hiring, noting with gratitude the recent, limited movement on salaries. Still, benefits have been dwindling.
Clemens thanked Hill for creating the Forum Roundtable, which gives attendees a chance to participate in these discussions. He asked for as specific as possible a set of action items in this area, possibly echoing what Vice Chancellor Menghini has done. He said that if money were the main issue, he would hammer that point with stakeholders and the Legislature. Hill noted that Clemens had received many responses from listeners in the meeting chat. She said that the Forum is representative of every work classification on campus. She had heard similar concerns among UNC System Staff Assembly leaders as well. She hoped that the University System would soon offer benefits to keep talented people employed on campus and said that the University is at a crisis point now.
Clemens summed up that the problem seems to be a lack of money and a lack of authorization. The Chair thought that the classification structure at the State level is very limiting and outdated. Menghini noted that problems affecting turnover data and the hiring challenges mentioned are showing up all over campus. She has spoken with her counterparts at NC State University and serves on an OSHR task force along with Linc Butler and others. As a campus, UNC-Chapel Hill has very little authority in this area and thus must rely on advocacy. The University is doing all it can to stretch every area of the rules but until there is some change there will not be latitude to address the real problems raised that morning.
The problem with shrinking candidate pools is a real concern for campus Human Resources as well as the rest of the University. Failed searches and repeated searches are leading to the conclusion that that no one is available to fill vacant positions. The largest impact, of course, is on employees still working on campus. These employees do more work, must serve on search committees multiple times in an often-vain effort to fill positions, all without additional compensation. All of these parts of the classification structure make it difficult to change this pattern.
Menghini said that task forces are working, but the things that are happening are not happening fast enough. Clemens asked who decides when the new structure that would provide more flexibility will be implemented? Menghini said that OSHR decides. She added that the new structure likely will not provide new flexibility, as it is still a competency-based system. This is the reason the University System is not in it now is that the State transition to the current structure was very worrisome, leading to the System Office fighting against moving into that structure. Menghini said that the transition was very difficult for State employees, but she added that things have gotten better for the few years since implementation.
Still, the current structure is by no means excellent. OHR officials and the UNC System Office continue to express concerns about this structure, but absent a move by the State Office of Human Resources (OSHR), the choice is to either enter the State structure or continue to support our current structure.
Menghini claimed personally that the State should have created a UNC System-based HR personnel structure for University employees around a decade ago during discussions then. Even if the University were to enact this change today, any point of meaningful migration is probably six or eight years out. Clemens commented that the State needs to get its act together, drawing on his daughter’s experience as a schoolteacher under similar circumstances. He pledged to open a channel of communication on this question with people in high offices, including Chancellor Guskiewicz and the UNC System Office.
The Chair praised the efforts of senior leadership to back Menghini and her team in these advocacy efforts. These changes are needed to effectively carry out the University’s mission. The more voices, the better. Clemens added that the Board of Trustees could also work to raise this question as well. Menghini asked if the University could obtain the short-term capacity to do one-time bonus payments lacking a change in salary ranges or a move into a new structure. This step would provide something for Employee pockets while the University waits for relief.
Laura Pratt asked if there is an update on the University’s COVID testing system now that the shift from the internal QA testing system has occurred. She asked if the new system is working well. Clemens understood that the transition had been fairly seamless, looking much the same to students although the online tool is slightly different. He was happy to provide the most recent report on this subject to anyone requesting it.
Pratt then asked if there is any plan to stop campus testing altogether at some point. Clemens did not think that the world had reached the point where we could shut down testing entirely. Much depends on how the summer develops. He thought it was good that the University had moved to external testing, as maintaining the staff to test at current, lower levels becomes cost prohibitive.
Clemens asked that the Forum chat and video stream from the meeting be sent to him for his reference. He hoped to reflect the concerns shared in the voices of those most affected by these concerns. He noted concerns about inflation in Chapel Hill, which has escalated as fast as it ever had during his 23 years in town. He voiced a frustration to hear bureaucratic answers to these critical needs.
The Chair moved on to the consent agenda. UNC System Staff Assembly, Recognition & Awards and Education & Career Development leaders asked that their committee reports be made separate from the consent agenda. The Chair called for a motion to approve the consent agenda for April. Arlene Medder made this motion, seconded by Dr. Jen DeNeal. The motion was approved by acclamation.
The Chair noted that voting for the Kay Wijnberg Hovious Outstanding Delegate awards will take place in April via Qualtrics. Past winners of this award cannot win again. Laura Pratt shared that Natiaya Neal had recently left the University. She and Tiffany Carver will attempt to substitute for her as co-chairs of the Recognition & Awards committee. The committee will soon open nominations for the Peer Recognition awards, which will be bestowed in June. She asked for volunteers to review these nominations. The review date will be Wednesday, May 11th.
The Chair thanked Pratt and Carver for stepping into this new role. Pratt reported on behalf of the Education & Career Development committee that the professional development grant application process will also open in April. In addition, the Carolina Family Scholarship will open applications in mid-April. Dependent children of employees of the University are eligible for this scholarship.
Shayna Hill reported that the Chancellors’ Cup golf tournament would likely move this year from Tobacco Road golf club in Sanford to Finley Golf Course here in Chapel Hill. The final vote will occur this week. Keith Hines hoped that the entire Employee Forum would work to support the tournament should it be placed in Chapel Hill. Charles Streeter recalled that the tournament was originally set for Finley but moved due to construction. He noted that employees can use worktime to volunteer for the event. Secondly, Hill hoped to bring a resolution on pay bands to the Assembly this month, possibly beginning in the Chairs’ meeting next week.
The Chair moved to old business, being the second reading of Resolution 22-02 addressing serious retention, morale, and resource problems in University Housekeeping Services. The second item, Resolution 22-03, deals with sexual assault and sexual harassment, given that April is the awareness month for these concerns.
Stephanie Forman read Resolution 22-02. She thanked all who had worked on the resolution in the Personnel Issues committee over the past many months. She also thanked all who provided feedback to this work. Jaci Field echoed Forman’s comments and thanked Housekeeping staff who continue to do their jobs through these conditions. Jacob Womack moved that Resolution 22-02 be approved, seconded by Jaci Field. The motion was approved on voice vote. The Chair thanked Forman and Matthew Teal for their work on the resolution.
Matthew Teal read Resolution 22-03. The Chair recalled that the Forum had passed such a resolution annually in the past. She thanked Holly Lovern who spoke with the Forum and helped refresh language in the resolution. Charles Streeter recalled that the defunct campus safety commission had referred to some of the items under consideration. Laura Pratt confirmed that the resolution received its first reading through consideration at the March Executive Committee meeting, and thus could be approved on second reading today. Parliamentarian Jacob Womack confirmed that this step was allowable under Forum rules and bylaws.
Arlene Medder moved that the motion be approved, seconded by Jacob Womack. The motion was approved without opposition.
In the absence of further discussion, Laura Pratt moved that the meeting adjourn, seconded by Arlene Medder. The motion was approved by acclamation at 11:30 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary