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August 20, 2013 Executive Committee minutes

Attending (those who signed in):  Dan Barmmer, Tammy Cox, Jill Crowder, Yvonne Dunlap, David Fraley, James Fuller, James Holman, Shelby Long, Matt McKirahan, Arlene Medder, Koyah Rivera, Charles Streeter, Katie Turner

Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 11:30 a.m.  He recalled receiving a letter from an irate employee regarding the information requested for health assessments.  He said that he had found health assessments to be personally useful.  However, he thought that the Forum needed to become more assertive and informed on the legislative front.  He feared that the Forum had lost some sense of its activist spirit.  Jill Crowder applauded the Chair’s response, saying it was best not to appear negative in these situations.  The Chair said that he had received another e-mail with regard to the new Vice Chancellor for Development earning a significant amount more than the previous holder of that position.  The e-mail asked what the Forum was going to do about this situation and from where the general raise for employees would arrive.  The Chair asked about handling these situations.  Tammy Cox asked if many people had raised these concerns or just one employee.  She noted the limited resources available to the Forum to respond to concerns.  Dan Barmmer noted that the Forum used to have a SEANC contingent to report back on legislative concerns.  He said that sentiment in the Forum ran about 50/50 with regard to SEANC activities.  He said that the Forum had lost its legislative focus in the last two to three years.  He also noted that this group came across as abrasive and irritated Forum guests and speakers.  He hoped that the correspondent would not contact the Forum with concerns after the fact.  Barmmer noted that former delegate Steve Hutton had sent out news stories daily via the listserv, but has since retired from the University.

Matt McKirahan said that there are resources on campus to allow the Forum to pay attention to legislative developments, particularly those generated by the School of Government.  He said that these resources can provide access without as much of a political focus.  McKirahan thought that the Forum needed to avoid spreading misinformation about particular topics, noting that Human Resources had asked the Forum to refrain from spreading information on the health plan changes until HR had produced a vetted statement.  James Holman said that the Forum could not have changed these policies in any way after the fact.  He asked what the Forum’s stance is on the health assessment question.  Yvonne Dunlap said that the Forum could give correspondents an opportunity to respond.  She said that the Forum could develop a general response asking correspondents to make their points during Forum meetings.  Katie Turner noted that the Forum has a comment form on its website.  She said that concerns are typically directed to the relevant Forum committee for consideration.  She noted that a number of issues, such as those related to the Affordable Care Act, are beyond the Forum’s control.  Dan Barmmer asked the cost of refusing to supply a health assessment to 80/20 subscribers.  Turner said the relevant question is whether the health assessment would be used to exclude subscribers, and the answer to that is no. Another delegate noted that the ACA will not allow exclusions for preexisting conditions.   Jill Crowder said that she had received many unsolicited phone calls from the HealthSmart people that she had requested to stop.  Mari Forbes said that Crowder should contact Ashley Nicklis to stop these calls.

Koyah Rivera thought that the Forum would be mistaken not to key into legislative developments.  She did not want the group to be blindsided on these questions.  James Holman hoped that John Gullo could take over the news distribution duties from Steve Hutton on the forum listserv in the near future.  The Chair noted the upcoming Human Resources sessions on the State Health Plan changes.  Katie Turner said that people may not realize that their premiums will increase given the increase in preventive care and coverage of subscribers with pre-existing conditions associated with the ACA.  Matt McKirahan said that the Forum should continue with its practice to invite correspondents to address the Forum if they wish, perhaps at the end of meetings.  Turner noted that sometimes correspondents desire a place to express their frustrations.  McKirahan emphasized that the Forum does not have to provide an instant response to correspondent concerns as it may need time to formulate a position.  Jim Fuller said that no one wants to see their health care costs increase.

The Chair noted that the Chancellor is scheduled to address the Forum in November, and to attend the Forum’s holiday celebration in December.  He said that the Forum has been asked to provide a list of issues and topics for the Chancellor’s November appearance.  He hoped that the Forum could provide this list before the end of September.  He noted also that former NC Senator Ellie Kinnaird is scheduled to attend the October 2 meeting.  Given belated changes to the July Executive Committee minutes, it was proposed that the committee wait to approve those minutes at the September meeting.  This was generally agreed upon.

Tammy Cox presented the Forum’s monthly budget report.  She noted that Human Resources decided that F&A accounts will be used for salary only.  This change has left the Forum’s overhead account without enough money to pay for the salary of the Forum Assistant and the salary support for the Forum Chair’s department.  She noted that the departmental salary support has increased $5,000 to $15,000 through an August addition to the budget.  It was asked whether the Forum really wanted to pay to set up tables.  Tammy Cox and others said that they did not want to set up and break down tables each month.  Katie Turner suggested that the Forum look into hiring a work-study student to handle this job as well as other work in the Forum Office.  The Chair also noted that the Forum Office’s main computer needs replacing as it has been in service since 2007 or 2008.  He said that he would check with other departments and surplus for possible better options.  Cox suggested that the Chair check with Vice Chancellor Karol Gray to obtain support for these efforts.

Tammy Cox noted that the Staff Development fund has around $120,000 in its account for staff development initiatives.  She said that the Forum is charged to produce an annual plan for its use.  The Chair said that the fund has supported printed copies of InTouch as well as payments to the educational assistance program.  Cox asked the reason for several transfers from the fund to Human Resources in May 2013.  The Chair noted that fund support for the Educational Assistance Program received renewed approval by the Forum in 2006.  Cox said that the Educational Assistance Program form allows graduate and undergraduate class attendees receive compensation.  She noted that the fund’s authority was initiated by the Coca-Cola Foundation in 1994.  The Chair said that the Forum needed to research the history of the fund and to develop an annual budget plan in accordance with the fund’s charge.  He urged the Education and Career Development committee to meet on this subject.

The Chair asked for comments on a proposal to use the Staff Development fund for creation of a new Forum brochure.  Katie Turner said that UNC Creative has done work for the Office of Faculty Governance leading up to a total rebranding campaign.  She said they created a cohesive look for all publications, the logos for the website, mugs, pens, and other items as well.  UNC Creative provides guidance on what colors and logo modifications are permissible under University guidelines.  She said that the provided estimate did not include print materials.  James Holman asked if the plan is to change completely the Forum logo.  The Chair said that the Forum could spruce up the logo but not completely change the logo.  He wanted a logo that was appropriately detailed to allow use in e-mail signatures, among other uses.  Arlene Medder said that the Forum needs to produce new brochures.  Turner asked if the proposed redesign is in the Staff Development fund plan.  Tammy Cox proposed that the Forum ask and see.  Turner noted that asking staff designers to volunteer to do the redesign for free can lead to difficulties with licensed logos, typesetting, and printing specs. She said that the Forum should not ask for staff to work for free when other departments are regularly allocated funds to design professional print materials.   She thought that the Forum is entitled to ask for support to create professional materials.  She thanked others for ideas for Plan B but she did not want to settle just yet.  Cox said that she would be surprised if the Chancellor refused this budget request.  Arlene Medder officially moved that the committee go ahead with this request.  The committee agreed, with Matt McKirahan abstaining.

Katie Turner said that the Communications and Public Relations committee had decided to highlight a particular book each month rather than institute a formal book club.  She said that the committee hoped to pick books based on work or other themes.  She thought that the committee could vote and perhaps summarize the books in five minutes at Forum meetings.  The Chair suggested that the Forum consider possibilities in a Sharepoint discussion thread.  He thought it was a great idea to pursue this proposal without setting out requirements of delegates.  Turner said also that the committee might publish short reviews in InTouch.

The Chair noted that Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone was very sympathetic to the idea of professional development grants, with the caveat that the Forum produces a serious, well-thought out proposal for the Chancellor’s approval.  He hoped that the Education and Career Development committee could prepare a proposal by the end of the semester.  Katie Turner noted that the Bylaws committee has drafted an electronic voting proposal which would allow the Executive Committee to take formal action between full Forum meetings.  Dan Barmmer proposed postponing his criticism of the idea until the next Bylaws committee meeting.  Turner said that the Executive Committee has the power to act on behalf of the full Forum in emergency situations as long as the Forum approves this action at the next full Forum meeting.  Barmmer thought that there were serious flaws with this provision.  Turner said that Barmmer’s concern is with the current language of the bylaws, and not changes that are being proposed.   Matt McKirahan raised concerns about quorum, vote counts, and the time allotted for Executive committee members to vote.

Arlene Medder noted that the Carolina Campus Community Garden committee had invited the Chair to a working group on August 29.  The committee has experienced difficulties with mildew problems with crops.  Medder had written an article on the beehives in the Garden for InTouch.

Katie Turner reported that the Communications and Public Relations committee had met August 8 to discuss the proposed roadmap for the year.  Turner said that the committee had scratched off some of the ideas on the list due to experience and impracticability.  For one instance, the committee is not able to moderate a discussion board on the website.

Matt McKirahan reported that the Education and Career Development committee had gained information on the proposed professional grants and had looked into the LiveMocha language instruction software.  He raised the possibility of the Forum partnering with Library Services.  He proposed that the committee create a needs assessment to find out what employees want.  He noted sentiment in favor of finding scholarship money for a third tuition waived class per year.  The Chair proposed the committee contact Kathy Bryant of Human Resources Communications to piggyback on a possible survey of employee concerns.  McKirahan noted concerns about employees without e-mail access.  The Chair said that the committee should discuss this question with Facilities Services.  Katie Turner asked about getting hard numbers of people on campus without any web access whatsoever.  Jill Crowder said that many Facilities Services employees do not have access or are made nervous about using the technology without help.  She said that her office has processed three people a day to complete Hazardous Materials certification.  She said that many employees in her area need access, assistance, and guidance.  Turner asked how many employees use cell phones and wondered if they are accessing websites on their phones.  Crowder estimated that 70% of employees use Facebook which does not seem to require extensive technical ability.  The Chair said that the Forum could use its donated laptops for electronic voting.  The Chair said that the Membership and Assignments committee with likely make a decision on whether to hold a social September soon.

Yvonne Dunlap reported that the Personnel Issues committee will meet August 27.  Senior Director Gena Carter will join the group.  There was no report from the Recognition & Awards committee.  The Chair noted that the Staff Assembly will hold two full-day meetings in September.  The Forum Office will soon send out information on Assembly representation for prospective candidates.  There is a difficulty in that the hours allocated to a regular Forum delegate are not enough to allow Assembly service.

The Chair said that he had been contacted by EmPowerment Inc., the affordable housing group, to talk about possible ways of partnering to increase affordable housing in Chapel Hill/Carrboro.  He said that former Chancellor Holden Thorp had worked with creating a land trust for this purpose.  The Chair would soon meet with Vice Provost Taffaye Clayton.  In September, the Forum will host first Forum Chair Kay Hovious, Student Body President Christy Lambden, Graduate & Professional Student Foundation Kiran Bhardwaj, and Red Cross representative Beth Walden.  He noted that University Day will take place October 12 and Employee Appreciation Day October 18.  He looked forward to the Forum social in December.

In the absence of further discussion, Arlene Medder moved that the meeting be adjourned, seconded by Jill Crowder.  The meeting adjourned at 1:26 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary


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