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Employee Forum Agenda

December 7, 2011

8:45-9:15 a.m. —- Holiday Social in Wilson Library Lobby

9:15 a.m. —-Meeting: Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library

I. Call to Order

II. Welcome Guests & Members of the Press

III. Special Presentations

  • Chancellor Holden Thorp
  • Karol Kain Gray, Vice Chancellor for Finance & Administration

IV. Human Resources Update—Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone

V. Approval of November minutes

VI. Old Business

VII. New Business

VIII. Forum Committee Reports

  • Carolina Community Garden Advisory: Sarah Poteete (November minutes)
  • Communications and Public Relations: Jerry Waller
  • Education and Career Development: Gene Burns
  • Legislative Action: Ellen Donna Brooks
  • Membership & Assignments: Myra Quick (October minutes)
  • Recognition & Awards: Chris Meinecke
  • Staff Relations, Policies & Practices/Compensation & Benefits: James Holman (November minutes)
  • UNC System Staff Assembly:  Danny Nguyen/Jonathan Stephenson
  • Executive Committee: Jackie Overton (October minutes)

IX. Announcements/Questions

X. Adjournment


December 2011 Employee Forum minutes

Attending (who signed the roster): Kittie Allen, Teri Augustine, Tim Burke, Peggy Cotton, Brenda Denzler, John Gullo, Harold Hill, Todd Hux, George James, Carleta Long, Chris Meinecke, Jessica O’Hara, Jackie Overton, Sarah Poteete, Renee Sherman, Beverly Sizemore, Charles Sockell, Jonathan Stephenson, Charles Streeter, Marc ter Horst, Aaron Williams

Chair Jackie Overton called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m. She welcomed Forum delegates and their supervisors, and other guests from the pot luck celebration held that morning. She thanked James Holman for the idea to have the pot luck and Carleta Long for working to facilitate the event.

The Chair was pleased to introduce Chancellor Holden Thorp to make opening remarks. Thorp praised the Chair, saying he was fortunate to work with her and that she made work fun. Thorp noted the diligence and commitment of the Housekeeping unit and the PRM consultants. He said that the process was moving along more smoothly and quickly than it could have been running. He said that his office will try to bring Vice Chancellor Karol Kain Gray up to speed, saying that she would be a great asset to the University. He noted that Facilities Services was close to announcing the members of the advisory committee. He noted the new protocols with regard to recruitment and hiring and the new supervisory training program. He thanked employees for their receptiveness and candor through this process. Thorp recalled his meeting with President Barack Obama Monday. President Obama was interested in college access and reducing the amount of debt that graduates carry. He said that a student with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt will not likely be able to take a job as a teacher. He also noted that 14% of high school graduates are currently unemployed, as opposed to 4% of college graduates.

Thorp said that the University is committed to providing opportunities to all who deserve them. He said that 35% of UNC undergraduates borrow money to continue their education, with an average debt load of $15,000. Graduates of UNC’s peer institutions typically borrow twice that much. He noted that UNC graduates have $2500 less debt than they had in 2000. Thorp praised departing Vice Chancellor Dick Mann for his work in dealing with the various budget cuts the University has recently experienced. He praised the work of Carolina Counts for finding up to $50 million in administrative savings. He appreciated the buy-in of other departments for this important initiative. Thorp said that the University will be able to meet 100% of financial need for its undergraduates given the recently approved tuition increase. Most peer institutions meet only 75% of need. He said that the University will continue to set aside tuition increase for faculty salary increases. He also planned to lobby the General Assembly for staff salary increases.

David Schwartz asked Thorp to go into more detail about his meeting with the President. Thorp said that Fred Grabowski of UM-Baltimore County had spoken about that institution’s success in attracting underrepresented minorities to science education. He had heard also from Carnegie-Mellon representatives speak about on-line instruction. The discussion also touched on ways to maintain low tuition models as a way to maintain accessibility. He said that the high tuition/high financial aid model can often frighten poorer students away from higher education. John Heuer noted that this was the 70 th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, and that the 10 th anniversary of September 11, 2001 had recently passed. He asked if the University planned to prepare for America’s receding military presence throughout the world. Thorp said that the University has worked with community colleges to put together Physicians’ Assistant programs for returning medics, among other initiatives to place physicians, dentists and others in locations across the State. Thorp appreciated the futuristic nature of this question. Todd Hux asked about the $50 million the University had saved. Thorp said that these savings were reverted back to departments that had found their savings. He noted that 20% of these savings had come from Energy Services. Thorp thanked all for coming and for the work that they do.

Thorp introduced Vice Chancellor Karol Kain Gray. The Chair said that she had clicked with Gray during search committee discussions. Gray said that she had worked with SUNY-Stony Brook for many years. She appreciated the welcome she had received, noting that this was her only fifth day on the job. Brenda Denzler asked Gray’s impressions of the housekeeping situation. Gray said that she had read the PRM report and had received a quick briefing. She cared about how people feel about coming to work every day. She looked forward to working with the advance committee. She planned to concentrate on addressing staff turnover and recognizing people for the work that they do through appropriate salary increases. Carleta Long asked whether more administrative staff will be moved into the Health Care System from the School of Medicine. Gray said that this was the first she had heard of this issue. Sarah Poteete appreciated the work the University done supporting the community garden. Chris Meinecke asked Gray to comment on similarities and differences between UNC and SUNY-Stony Brook. Gray said that Stony Brook is a young institution. She said that New York State has undergone severe budget cuts. She looked forward to streamlining administrative functions at UNC. Schwartz asked if Gray could speak to any weaknesses she saw at UNC. Gray said that she was only on her fifth day and so had no opinion on this question. She praised UNC’s rich traditions.

The Chair welcomed Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone to present the Forum’s customary Human Resources update. Malone congratulated the Forum on its big crowd for the morning pot luck. She said that staff will be notified as to the composition of the Housekeeping advisory committee today and tomorrow. She said that the intention was to meet before the end of the year. In response to a Daily Tar Heel article that implied the University was moving slowly in this area, Malone said that the University was taking an appropriate pace. She noted language challenges in this area, and said that she was very pleased that Housekeeping would work with Orange County Literacy Council to obtain English as Second Language training for housekeepers. These classes will begin in January. She said that the University was in the first phase of offering supervisory training to managers. Human Resources will finish the first aspect covering basic supervisory skills then roll out the program to the rest of campus. The program will cover basic supervisory skills such as ethics, accountability, equal employment opportunity, harassment training, and other areas. Regarding layoff activity, Malone said that Human Resources had asked supervisors not to do layoffs before Christmas. She said that last year 90 employees were laid off. Jonathan Stephenson thought that these layoffs would track higher because of the nature of budget cuts. He said that the campus community was feeling the stress of budget cuts in increased workloads.

Malone noted that General Administration had decided to replace the Deer Oaks employee assistance program with Comsite. Comsite will now allow three visits for employees, as opposed to one visit for Deer Oaks. Malone said that Carolina Cares/Carolina Shares has a goal of 30% employee participation and had thus far obtained 2,561 donors or 22%, as opposed to 18% last year. She thanked all who participated in this extraordinary example of giving and caring for others in the community. Schwartz asked if faculty would be invited to supervisory training. Malone said that this program was not designed for faculty. She said that Human Resources would employ a different strategy to reach this population. Schwartz invited Malone to discuss this idea with the Center for Faculty Excellence to address. Malone noted the crazy interesting year the University and the Forum had experienced in 2011. She said that there is something special about this place and she noted the general effort to make things better here, in spite of differences. She said that the Chancellor and his Administration were working to solve problems. She issued a heartfelt thank you for all the work the Forum and University employees have done this year.

The Chair called for a motion to approve the minutes of the November meeting, with amendments. Todd Hux made this motion, seconded by James Holman. The motion was approved by acclamation.

Sarah Poteete reported that the Carolina Community Garden advisory committee had worked on a logo which was designed by a member of the Housekeeping department. She said that the group had worked closely with Housekeeping staff to deal with distribution issues. Interim Housekeeping Director Lea Holt had been enthusiastic about this work. The committee has worked to obtain sustainable fundraising and a different, permanent location in the distant future. Poteete noted that Claire Lorch has discussed the Garden giving cooking demonstrations. The Garden is still taking volunteers to work on Wednesdays and Sundays. She noted that the Garden had produced 5,000 pounds of produce this past year.

Carleta Long read a proposed letter of support for interim Football Coach Everett Withers. The Forum voted by acclamation that the letter should go forward, even though the University was on the verge of hiring a new coach.

Brenda Denzler said that she was willing to assist the Communications and Public Relations committee in its work. Gene Burns said that the Education and Career Development committee had not met. The Legislative Action committee had also not met. Myra Quick said that planning for the 20 th anniversary event of the Forum. Employees with ideas should contact her at John Gullo said that the Forum should contact invitees to ask about possible food allergies. The Chair said that the Forum plans to invite supervisors and chairs of past delegates as well. She said that the Chancellor had agreed to sponsor the event officially. Chris Meinecke said that the Recognition & Awards committee will meet again in the spring. James Holman said that the Staff Relations, Policies, and Practices committee had met with guests who presented on a possible payroll deduction program. He hoped to take this idea to the Vice Chancellor/Provost meeting. He noted that the Forum handbook was almost complete, thanks to Joshua Boone and other committee members. The Chair thanked Brenda Denzler for her proposed edits. Marc ter Horst noted the need for a discussion on the maximum number of hours delegates can use as work time.

Jonathan Stephenson said that UNC Staff Assembly representatives continue to meet with General Administration lobbyists on the personnel flexibility issue. He said that the Assembly had assigned UNC-Chapel Hill the issue of due process. Schwartz said that he had read that President Tom Ross had asked for input about future Human Resources systems. Stephenson said that the chair of the Staff Assembly had stopped the Human Resources committee in its tracks when it tried to discuss alternatives. Stephenson said that there is a big push in Raleigh for personnel flexibility. The Chair said that the Staff Assembly has said that it is neither for nor against personnel flexibility, but rather was seeking to look at components of an ideal system. Ter Horst said that he thought President Ross had been accommodating by asking for input. Stephenson said that weekly updates should continue between interested parties. Ter Horst asked about the charge the Chair of the Staff Assembly has given the Forum and whether the Forum should provide more information. Stephenson said that one could read Chapter 126, Article 16 and the various Supreme Court cases. He said that perhaps the Forum needed to compile this information. Gullo asked if the Forum had conducted a survey. Stephenson said that Staff Assembly delegates relied on forums on campus. He noted that a year ago the UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum had provided forty-two pages of feedback on the question. Gullo confirmed that there had been no attempt to quantify this information. Poteete said that she wanted the Forum to have some input on what will occur. Schwartz thought that President Ross had been responsive to employee questions. The Chair said that the Forum was done data gathering as it had provided the forty-two pages of documentation. Stephenson said that the Forum had done this work previously. He said that other Staff Assembly delegates had confessed to having no idea why the University was moving towards personnel flexibility in private conversations. Poteete asked for a recap as to what had been discussed previously. The Chair directed that the forty-two pages of documentation be placed on the Forum website. Delegates wanted to have some definitive statement of the Forum’s position. Danny Nguyen noted that the UNC-Chapel Hill Forum needed to make its presentation as factual as possible. Gullo said that these responses should be uniformly done from campus to campus. The Chair invited delegates to read the Forum’s resolutions on this subject.

The Chair said that she had thanked Vice Chancellor Dick Mann for his work in support of the Forum these past years. She said that she had worked on the Housekeeping Director search. She said that 15 of the 109 applicants were internal candidates. The search committee will undertake phone interviews and then in-person interviews with the final candidates. Finally, she thanked Forum delegates for their help with the many tasks that the Forum has done this year. She noted that she had invited delegates’ supervisors to the morning social in hopes that it will be more difficult for them to say ‘no’ to future Forum requests. She invited all to enjoy the upcoming holiday. She reminded delegates that the next Forum meeting will take place January 11, 2012.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:04 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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