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UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum

Hitchcock Multipurpose Room, Sonja H. Stone Center

NOTE:  This is a draft agenda and is subject to change without advance notice.

I.  Call to Order & Opening Remarks—Chair Charles Streeter (9:15 a.m. – 9:20 a.m.)

  • Welcome to Guests & Members of the Press

II. Special Presentations (9:20 a.m. – 9:55 a.m.)

  • Joel Curran and Natalie Vizuete, Communications and Public Relations (9:20 a.m. – 9:40 a.m.)
  • Tanya Shields, Association for Women Faculty & Professionals (9:40 a.m. – 9:55 a.m.)

III. Human Resources Update – Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity, and Engagement Felicia Washington (9:55 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.)

IV. Old Business (10:15 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.)

  • Approval of December Minutes (SharePoint Link, Delegate-Only Access)

V.  New Business (10:20 a.m. – 10:3a.m.)

  • Approval of January Minutes (SharePoint Link, Delegate-Only Access)
  • Changing June Retreat to July
  • Chancellor’s Cup Golf Tournament
  • Elections: Run for an Office

VI.  Forum Committees (10:35 a.m. – 11:0a.m.)

  • Carolina Blood Drive: Jim Fuller
  • Carolina Community Garden Advisory: Arlene Medder
  • Communications and Public Relations: Katie Turner
  • Education and Career Development: Samara Reynolds
    • Recognition & Awards
  • Membership & Assignments:  Kathy Ramsey
  • Personnel Issues:  Chrissie Greenberg
    • Compensation & Benefits:  John Williams
    • Legislative Action:  Christopher Powe
    • Staff Relations, Policies & Practices:
  • UNC System Staff Assembly: Kim Andrews/Shane Hale/Charles Streeter/Victoria Hammett
  • Executive Committee: Charles Streeter (December minutes)

VII. Announcements/Questions (11:00 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.)

VIII.  Adjournment


Attending (those who signed in):  Bonita Brown, Ronald Campbell, Clare Counihan, Mary Dahlsten, Phillip Edwards, Shantell Ferrell, Jim Fuller, Lori Haight, Victoria Hammett, Kathy James, Susan Lucas, Arlene Medder, Jackie Overton, Michael Penny, Christopher Powe, Krista Prince, Kathy Ramsey, Samara Reynolds, Nakenge Robertson, Charles Streeter, Ben Triplett

Excused Absences: Kim Andrews, Jo-Ann Blake, Christine Greenberg, Ronda Manuel, Kelli Raker

Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 9:16 a.m.  He welcomed Director of State Relations Jennifer Willis to speak on the upcoming UNC Bond Issue referendum.  Willis noted that the bond issue was created by House Bill 943 and would raise $2.0 billion, 70% of which would go to higher education.  She said that the bond would be a general obligation bond that would mainly go to fund STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) projects.  Willis said that the bond would fund projects in 71 North Carolina counties.  She noted that the last major education bond had been approved in 2000.  She also noted that interest rates are currently at historic lows but are forecasted to rise again soon.  She said that the State should be able to issue its bonds at a rate not above 4%, with no tax increase for North Carolina citizens.

Willis noted the need for a new medical education building to meet the shortage of North Carolina physicians projected for 2020.  Around one-third of all North Carolina physicians are set to retire by that date.  The Berryhill education building met the needs of medical education in the 1970s.  It was designed to educate 350 students a year.  In 2014, UNC-Chapel Hill educates 2,400 medical students a year.  Willis said that competitors with UNC-Chapel Hill have invested in their capital facilities, making it difficult to recruit new students and professors to our campus.  Willis said that this $90 million project would be supported by $68 million from the bond issue and another $22.6 million from the UNC Medical Foundation.  She noted that voters can vote on the bond during the March 15th primary.

She then shared a video regarding the bond issue with the Forum.

Clare Counihan asked to what degree units can mention the bond issue on their social media.  Willis said that University units can share the bond issue video and other details, but cannot direct readers to vote one way or another.  Providing information is all right, but advocating a position is not.

The Chair was pleased to introduce Vice Chancellor for Communications and Public Relations Joel Curran and Director of Social Media Natalie Vizuete.  Curran said he was honored to address groups like the Forum.  He recalled his background as a University graduate and an ad agency representative with Disney Corporation.  He worked with Purdue and Northwestern Universities in the mid-2002, then was asked to run the University’s new Communications Office.

Curran said that he hit the ground running in his new capacity, faced with repercussions related to the recent UNC scandal.  He said that it is difficult to do promotion work while also engaged in protection work.  Curran said that he had rebuilt his staff structure to consistently collect stories about the University, publishing as many as four times a day on various websites and social media.  He said that Communications tries to reach all constituencies.  He said that the office works to craft language and obtain photos and videos to get stories on social media, with the overall goal to promote the activities of faculty, staff, and students at the University.  Communications also works with communicators in other campus units on best practices and tips, and provides customer service to those interacting with the University from the outside.

Regarding content creation, Curran said that Communications officers plan each day to post content from all corners of the University of North Carolina.  He said that content going on the website is mainly meant to remind people why they love the University.  He noted generational differences in the use of social media platforms.  He also said that these efforts have resulted in growth in subscribers on all platforms.  He emphasized the importance of engaging in conversation with social media users by responding to comments on these platforms.

Michael Penny asked how much a communicator could use the pronoun “I” when sending out communications on behalf of a University unit or department.  Natalie Vizuete said that communicators are encouraged to use “we” when possible and not share personal opinions on school accounts.  At the same time, communicators should attempt to display personality in their postings to avoid becoming boring.

Ronald Campbell asked about when commenters make inflammatory posts about particular departments.  Vizuete said that generally, Communications will leave these comments alone, but will not hesitate to respond to inaccuracies.

The Chair noted a delegate’s question regarding the former UNC men’s wrestling coach who had posted inflammatory comments on social media during his own time.  He asked if the University has a policy on what employees may do on their own time.  He noted that employees are still learning their way with regard to social media platforms.  Curran said that while many organizations are very strict with their social media policy, higher education employees traditionally have enjoyed very broad freedoms.  He said that employees should specify in their profiles that they do not speak for the University when using their personal accounts.  He urged employees to use good judgment.

Ben Triplett asked if Communications will defend staff or departments called out by local media in ill-informed or poorly written stories.  Curran said that Communications will typically involve itself in cases of misinformation.  He said that the office will respond or ask the relevant department to respond when needed.

Tanya Shields of the Association of Women Faculty and Professionals invited Forum delegates to join her group.  She said that the organization had been in place at the University since 1978.  She said that the AWFP advocates for increases in salary and child care provisions, among other items.  She said that the AWFP had worked with the Carolina Women’s Center to create a benchmark measure on salary equity and dependent care.  More information is available at  Shields noted that the organization awards the Mary Turner Lane faculty award.  The organization will hold several events this semester.  Victoria Hammett asked if monthly meetings are open to non-members.  Shields said that monthly meetings are open to board members.  Jackie Overton said that the board frequently seeks to recruit new members.  Shields confirmed that membership costs $30/year for the fiscal year.

Senior Director for Employee Management Relations Gena Carter was proud to introduce the newly installed Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler.  Butler was previously at the University from 1997-2009.  He served previously at NC Central University as chief Human resources officer and at NC A&T University as Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources.

Carter noted that February is African American History month.  She noted the proud Martin Luther King celebration and lecture in January, and she hoped that employees would participate in the Town Hall event on race, power, and privilege that evening.  More details are available about University happenings during African American History month at

Carter noted that the University had undergone an adverse weather event in January.  She hoped that the University had made the best decisions possible regarding starting Condition 1 on the evening of Thursday, January 21st, then moving to Condition 2 at 3 a.m. that Friday morning.  She noted difficulties in communication at NC State University regarding closure of that institution.  This decision had retroactively been changed, as all employees must either take leave or make up the time lost due to adverse weather.  She asked if delegates had comments regarding the adverse weather event.

Arlene Medder thanked Carter for the early notice about the Condition status.  She said it was a relief to k now that she would not have to go to work under the policy.  Director Kathy Bryant said that Human Resources communications had sent messages to supervisors reminding them to provide as much flexibility to employees as possible.  Carter said that Human Resources has not received much feedback that supervisors have not been flexible.

Ombuds officer Wayne Blair said that Human Resources has done a great job with getting information about the policy out to the community.  He noted that there are sometimes inconsistent or wrong interpretations of the policy reported to his office.

Shantell Ferrell said that newer Mail Room employees face difficulties making up the lost leave within the 90-day window.  She asked what they could do.  Carter said that this is a difficult case, as it opens the possibility of these employees losing shifts of pay if they have not earned leave or made up the time.  Linc Butler said that some jobs will not have an opportunity for makeup time.

The Chair noted a question about earning the extra time to make up for the lost adverse weather leave.  Carter said that this question is also tough as employees are forbidden from working in excess of 40 hours a week.  Kathy James suggested that employees attempt to earn compensatory time to make up the lost hours.

An employee had a question about leave which had already been coded on their time sheet.  Carter offered to discuss this question with the employee following the meeting.

Ronald Campbell asked about confusion regarding who is a central or mandatory employee.  Carter said that there are many definitions but the University should look at who is designated each year.  She noted that the University’s Human Resources Council will meet Monday, February 8th to make edits to the list of mandatory employees.

Krista Prince said that her job allows her to work from home but found the State policy to be unfair and equitable given that other employees do not have this option.  Carter said that she had heard this concern voiced elsewhere.  She would carry forward comments to General Administration about the workings of the policy.

Carter said that the University learned late yesterday afternoon of State Health Plan discussions to eliminate the 80/20 plan option or to eliminate the spousal coverage option.  She said that General Administration has voiced its vehement disagreement with these proposals.  She said that employees would have to stay tuned to see what the State Health Plan will do.  [These proposals have since been rescinded for this year.]

The Chair noted that the President of the UNC System Staff Assembly Pernell Bartlett has begun to put together a letter against these proposals.  The Chair has also reached out to the State Employees’ Association regarding legislative developments in this area.

The Chair called for a motion to approve the December minutes.  Kathy James made this motion, seconded by Arlene Medder.  There was no opposition and the motion was approved with one abstention.  The Chair then called for a motion to approve the January minutes.  Jackie Overton made this motion, seconded by Arlene Medder.  The motion was approved with one abstention.

The Chair noted a need to change the Forum retreat to July, in order to allow the newly elected Chair time to plan their year.

The Chair noted that the Forum needs to find sponsors for the upcoming Chancellors’ Cup golf tournament in Sanford.  He noted that the Forum will receive a portion of all funds donated to the Royster Staff Development fund.  He hoped that the University would sponsor teams to participate and win in the tournament.

The Chair asked delegates to think about finding new candidates to run for the Forum and for Forum office.

The Chair noted that Gaylan Bishop, the employee hurt in a recent accident on North Campus, has had a gofundme page dedicated in his honor.  He hoped that employees would donate to this effort.

Ben Triplett noted that Will Frey of Training and Talent Development will donate profits from a February 26th book reading to the Gaylan Bishop fund.

Jim Fuller reported that the Carolina Blood Drive had had its January meeting canceled due to bad weather.  Similarly, the Carolina Campus Community Garden had not met in January.

Phillips Edwards said that the Communications and Public Relations committee had published InTouch on the previous Monday.

Samara Reynolds reported that the Education and Career Development committee will host its annual higher education mini-conference March 18th.  In addition, the committee will host another professional development brown bag lunch in February.

The Chair noted that the Forum will host Dante Peace at its February book club event.

The Membership and Assignments committee will receive delegate nominations from February 15th-March 7th.

Christine Greenberg reported that the Personnel Issues committee has discussed outsourcing concerns and tuition credit for masters’ program issues.

The Chair noted that the UNC System Staff Assembly will meet at UNC-Pembroke on February 28-29th.  New UNC President Margaret Spellings will convene her first Board of Governors meeting in March.

Clare Counihan encouraged employees to nominate their co-workers for the University Awards for the Advancement of Women.

The Chair noted that the Vice Chancellors’ representatives meeting with Forum delegates will take place Thursday, February 11th.

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

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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