February 3, 2021
UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum
Zoom Remote Meeting: Connection Details Below
NOTE: This is a draft agenda and is subject to change without notice.
I. Call to Order & Opening Remarks: Chair Shayna Hill (9:15 a.m. – 9:20 a.m.)
- Welcome to Guests & Members of the Press
II. Round Table with Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Bob Blouin (9:20 a.m. – 9:40 a.m.)
III. Special Presentations (9:40 a.m. – 10:10 a.m.)
- Jen DeNeal, Administrative Director of Institutional Integrity and Risk Management, on the Policy Review Committee
- Cheryl Stout, Director of Transportation & Parking, on Parking Enforcement Practices
IV. Human Resources Update (10:10 a.m. – 10:35 a.m.)
- Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, Equal Opportunity & Compliance Becci Menghini
- Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler
V. Consent Agenda (10:35 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.)
- January Minutes (sent separately)
- Forum Committees
- Communications and Public Relations: Shane Brogan
- Book Club: Brooke O’Neal
- InTouch: Greg Smith, Editor
- Community Service: Jacob Womack
- Carolina Blood Drive: Jen DeNeal
- Carolina Community Garden Advisory: Arlene Medder
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Antonio Squire
- 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: Phillip Edwards/Stephanie Forman
- Recognition & Awards: Natiaya Neal
- UNC System Staff Assembly: Shayna Hill/Keith Hines/James Holman/Laura Pratt
- University Committee Representatives
- Advisory Committee on Transportation & Parking: Laura Pratt
- Buildings & Grounds: James Stamey
- Student Stores Advisory Committee: Keith Hines
- Executive Committee: Shayna Hill
- Communications and Public Relations: Shane Brogan
VI. Old Business (10:50 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.)
VII. New Business (11:10 a.m.-11:25 a.m.)
- Resolution 21-1 (First Reading)
- Vice Chancellor Representatives Meeting — Thursday, February 11th, 2020 at 10 AM
VIII. Announcements/Questions (11:25-11:30 p.m.)
February 3, 2021 Employee Forum minutes
Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 9:18 a.m. She observed that current circumstances are making everyone’s world more complex. She added that people across the University are struggling now. She reiterated the Forum mission. She summed up this commitment as “advocacy in action.” She noted that staff will begin moving people back into classrooms, offices, and communal spaces as vaccines become available. Staff will be asked to manage another major shift both mentally and physically even as some have lost loved ones to this horrible pandemic. She noted recent incidents on racism, anti-Semitism, and misogyny which have attempted to fill hearts with fear and hate.
Still, she recalled Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s admonition to “fight darkness with light.” She said that much remains to be done and that “we cannot be sidetracked by hate in any form.”
The Chair welcomed Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Bob Blouin in a roundtable discussion. Guskiewicz thanked the Chair for her leadership and her comments today and at the Board of Trustees last week. He noted the recent military coup in Burma and its possible effects on the local Burmese and Karan populations. He offered to support these families in any way possible during this difficult time.
Last week, Guskiewicz received on behalf of the University an award from the Red Cross recognizing the Carolina Blood Drive’s work as among the premier one-day drives in the country last year. He thanked the Forum and in particular the Drive’s chair, Jen DeNeal, for their important work.
Guskiewicz noted the progress of Vice Chancellors Nate Knuffman and Becci Menghini working with campus units on budgetary issues. He noted the recent announcement of cuts to personnel and operating funds to address a structural deficit at Carolina. He said that given the pandemic, the University must ensure financial stability given this uncertainty. He was impressed with how the deans and other unit leaders are engaging their constituencies on these difficult decisions. He cited the need to protect the University’s mission and its people.
Guskiewicz noted the University’s strength in enrollment, research funding, and its current capital campaign. He said that these positives will help offset current challenges. Spring in-person classes, for undergraduates, composing approximately 20% of all classes, begin Monday. Guskiewicz said that there has been no indication of any transmission in campus facilities beyond 46 students who were living in the residence halls this holiday. He praised the Carolina Together Testing program which has helped mitigate the spread of the virus. As of February 1st, there were 359 positive cases with students and 1,260 close contacts that are being closely monitored. One-hundred-sixty-eight positive cases were identified in prior-to-arrival testing. Carolina Together student service corps has logged over 5,000 hours of volunteer service with the free testing sites and analysis labs.
Guskiewicz said that the University continues to advocate for frontline essential staff employees to receive the vaccine during Phase 3. He was pleased that Campus Health has been approved as a vaccination distribution center once vaccines become available. He added that UNC Health and the Friday Center are current distribution sites. He thanked all for their help preparing the University for a safe and successful semester. He acknowledged the great work of campus staff and reminded listeners to submit nominations for the 2021 C. Knox Massey Service awards.
Provost Bob Blouin added that the University has conducted nearly 35,000 tests since the third week of January. He thanked all for their enthusiastic participation in this program. He reiterated the importance of frontline staff placement in the Group 3 vaccination category. The University had conveyed this importance in discussions with NC Health & Human Services. University faculty who teach students face-to-face would also be in that testing category.
Blouin noted continuing work on the University’s strategic plan, particularly given recent changes in American culture, among them COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement. He said that the plan has modernized its objectives given recent discussions with Black faculty, staff, and students. He praised Chief of Staff Amy Hertel and Interim Chief Diversity Officer Sibby Anderson-Tompkins for their work advancing Strategic Initiative One, Build Our Community Together.
Blouin added that READI, the Rapidly Emerging Antiviral Drug Initiative, is a new partnership among the Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy as well as the Eshelman School for Innovation. The goal of READI is to prepare the University, State, and world for the next pandemic. Another initiative will study what the University will look like in a data-driven society. This initiative will seek to build a world-class program in data science but also find ways to apply data science humanistically. All these initiatives must be revenue-generating to be self-sustaining.
The Chair reported a question from the chat asking what has changed with the Build Our Community Together aspect of the strategic plan. Blouin praised Anderson-Tompkins for rethinking the role of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion council to prepare for campus-wide discussions and solutions. The Chair noted feedback that the council appears to be top-heavy with Administration officials and not well-represented from front-line employees. She asked if there are plans to make the council more inclusive. Blouin said that the council’s original structure capitalized on existing structures in schools and units. He said that the original intent was to bring these leaders together. The actual work will be done by multiple teams populated by faculty and staff from all different levels.
A delegate asked if the data science initiative will involve humanities and liberal arts fields along with the data scientists. Blouin said this would occur. He noted the recruitment of data-science type faculty into liberal arts departments occurring now. The initiative will build on the strength of the pan-campus community, bringing together talents from all departments to study data science from a humanistic perspective. Katie Musgrove noted the case of a faculty member who accepted an appointment with the School of Law due to these data-driven initiatives.
Matthew Teal confirmed that the University plans to tie its data science work with the drive to optimize operations. Blouin said that Operational Excellence will benefit from this work. Arlene Medder asked if this work will lead to more interdisciplinary studies. Blouin said that data science already has a place in campus instruction. He looked forward to bringing campus talent together in a more strategic and integrated fashion. In response to a question from Phil Edwards, Blouin said that the University’s approach to education and research will change forever post-COVID. New processes like Zooming have become accepted as effective ways to carry forward with work. He looked forward to finding ways to maximize existing infrastructure and talent across common themes and interests.
The Chair shared a chat question asking how the University is working to communicate pandemic protocols with students. Blouin lamented that the reputation of the University is being determined by social media posts of student activity that might not even be true. He said that the University must continue to communicate with students about gathering and other public health rules. He invited listeners to share ideas about interacting with students to manage this concern. Blouin credited the many students who follow protocol while disciplining those who fall outside community standards. He outlined the enforcement mechanism worked out with local towns. Consequences for students include banishment from the dorms and even disenrollment from the University.
Jacob Womack asked about centralization of financial decisions and potentially effects on career advancement, as redundancies might be eliminated. Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance Becci Menghini said that creating opportunities while managing a budget in the State’s Human Resources system is a nuanced and complicated process. She said that the University must pull apart different policies to examine ways for improving efficiency and opportunity. She cited a set of approaches to this problem that will require employee input.
Guskiewicz added that the University has historically worked in a highly decentralized, non-integrated financial model. He said that many of today’s challenges exist because of the University’s decentralized, non-integrated financial model. He added that a goal of centralization is to establish an infrastructure to support the entire financial needs of this University. He envisioned many new opportunities to emerge from this integrated system. He said that there will be greater opportunity for advancement for those who are ambitious and want to do more in their job.
Kim Swain asked if the student body gets and respects safety protocols given representations in the local media. Guskiewicz noted common compliance with these protocols among students. He noted challenges in residence halls, but praised RAs and staff working in difficult conditions. He believed that students realize that they have a responsibility to maintain. The University will work to keep reminding them.
Gloria Thomas asked about national news of women dropping out of the workforce. She wondered what data show about women here at UNC-Chapel Hill. Guskiewicz noted that the University manages its vacant positions as part of its budget process, swapping them with another one deemed less essential or by just not filling them. He had not seen data related to Thomas’ question. He did note that Menghini’s office is working to manage the budget and possibly allow employees to work remotely even post-pandemic, perhaps at a reduce FTE if desired. This reduced FTE could be made up in the commuting and child-care savings resulting from consistent remote work.
Menghini said that her office had found that turnover among women was not higher than previously. She thought that was because these employees were able to work remotely, with flexible supervision, and accompanying resources during the pandemic. There has been a recent raise in the number of retirements, probably due to the end of the year and the onset of the pandemic. She noted the legislative proposal to provide early retirement for those who are eligible. Early retirement would make departmental vacancies available for budget management.
The Chair welcomed Director of Transportation and Parking Cheryl Stout to speak on parking enforcement issues. Stout noted her department’s core responsibility to keep fire lanes clear for emergency responders. ADA Access spaces and service spaces also must be managed through the pandemic. Stout said that the department has relied on attention and warning citations during the pandemic.
Stout thought that the department needs to do more communication about parking regulations going back into effect, given the changes implemented to be responsive to new University operations. She said that citations with fines associated with them have been a last resort recently but are increasingly being used as the new semester begins. Stout shared a timeline of enforcement practices during the past year, noting that from March 18—July 31st, the only enforcement done on campus was enforcement of reserved spaces. Otherwise, there were no permanent regulations in place and no citations issued through July 31st.
Stout noted that as of August 1st, the department only issued citations and notices for people who did not have a valid permit. The department did not issue tickets except for egregious violations of parking policies. After October 14th, the department began to enforce all aspects of the ordinance and the regulations again. The department reduced pricing to allow for teleworking and hybrid schedules as well, and daily permit options increased. She noted changes related to Point-to-Point services, after-dark services, and ADA services.
Stout noted ongoing changes with Chapel Hill Transit as well. The safe ride service has been discontinued as it runs from 11 p.m.-2 a.m. during weekends, a time of reduced use due to pandemic measures. She noted the need for masks on buses and ongoing sanitation measures.
A delegate asked about the department’s blocking meter parking options early in the day even when no events are scheduled, and no construction is taking place. This delegate said that employees and visitors with disabilities need to use these spaces and cannot take public transportation from elsewhere. She related a personal incident that resulted in a ticket and asked about possible revisions to this policy. Stout asked that this delegate communicate with her office directly following the meeting. She would study what was in place given details about the incident.
The Chair shared a question from the chat asking who enforces the passenger limit on buses. Stout said that Chapel Hill Transit drivers do not enforce passenger limits. She noted that there has been very good compliance with declared limits to this point. She offered to respond to specific information about occurrences in conversation with the director of Chapel Hill Transit. It was noted that the question referred to times when employees were getting off work, from 4-5:30 p.m. in the Health Sciences area. In addition, the question noted that Chapel Hill Transit had just increased its passenger limit from 10 to 16 passengers, with a move from a six-foot to a three-foot capacity on the buses based on health department recommendations.
Stout offered to work with delegates who have issues in their units. A delegate thanked Stout for finding a way to offer reduced parking fees for those only on campus once or twice a week. Stout thanked the Advisory Committee on Transportation for its advice in putting together this new policy.
The Chair welcomed Associate Director for Ethics and Policy Jen DeNeal to speak on the University’s Policy Review committee (PRC). DeNeal described the process for electronic policy management in Policy Stat, the electronic policy repository for the University. This resource was created around four years ago to centralize policies from departmental storage. Now, Policy Stat is the authoritative source for University policies. Many unit-level and school-level documents are also stored in Policy Stat.
DeNeal outlined the University’s policy life cycle through a flow chart. She noted the work of Matthew Teal, who does a “Policy 101” training for University stakeholders unfamiliar with this process. DeNeal offered to work with Teal to perform trainings for campus units or the Forum.
DeNeal said that any policy to be presented to the review committee has likely first been vetted thoroughly internally and checked with University Counsel, as well. The Policy Review committee advises only on substantive changes, not grammatical changes. Members of the committee come from across campus. The committee is not an approval body but instead provides feedback to issuing officers on how to make policies clearer, what questions people might have, how the policy might affect outside constituencies, and communication of policy changes. DeNeal recognized Stephanie Brown, the Forum’s representative on the committee. Brown hopes to create monthly updates on the PRC’s work for the Forum with interactive forms to allow feedback on upcoming policies.
DeNeal noted that employees can communicate through their units or in other ways with the PRC. She revealed that Policy Stat is set to go away this spring, replaced by a new policy management system which is a bit more user-friendly, intuitive, and cooperative with other University websites.
Kevin Robinson asked if DeNeal’s office offers guidance to units on writing policy. DeNeal said that her office is building out online training but also can meet in person to discuss best practices. Rose Thorp asked if the PRC is looped in before schools change their policies. Rather, are PRC representatives automatically involved in these discussions? DeNeal clarified that her office deals with administrative, not academic policies. This division was established when the Office of Institutional Integrity and Risk Management was formed in the wake of the academic and athletic scandal several years ago. Academic policies are created by the faculty governance system. However, in practice, PRC representatives are often looped in for the sake of collaboration on University-wide policies. However, federal policy changes do not offer much room for leeway. Gloria Thomas asked a question about search capabilities of Policy Stat. DeNeal pledged to work on this question further. It was noted that trainings are available through the PRC webpage. DeNeal would work on providing these to Carolina Talent.
The Chair welcomed Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance Becci Menghini and Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler to provide the Forum’s customary updates. Menghini emphasized that the University will not administer the provision of vaccines to students or employees. Employees in eligible categories should sign up to get the vaccine wherever they can. She said that the University is not responsible for the distribution of vaccines and is also not responsible for determining who gets the vaccines when. All these questions are navigated through the NC Department of Health and Human Services and individual county health departments. The University is not administering vaccines or making decisions about vaccines.
Still, the University is trying to advocate on behalf of employees to insure those who want vaccines can get them. A question still exists as to how the word “educator” will be defined under Phase 3 of the vaccine distribution. She said that these definitions continue to change, and she hoped these will include those who teach in the classroom and those who might have direct contact with students or in a workplace environment with spatial distancing of less than six feet. Employees working remotely will not be eligible in that phase. Only frontline employees who are onsite most of the time could be eligible in Phase 3.
A delegate asked about the practice of some departments providing a survey of their employees to the Orange County Health Department. Menghini said that these surveys are done to give the Health Department an idea of the numbers of people on campus in general. The Chair proposed inviting Cathy Brennan of Environment, Health, and Safety to a future meeting. Menghini noted that Occupational Health is another resource to respond to questions.
Menghini said that her Office has not seen many additional requests for shared leave, even as employees continue to donate to the leave bank. Human Resources continues to provide resources for those who need help in this complicated time. Menghini also noted questions about career banding rules which do not allow additional duties pay for work done below one’s band. She characterized this as a foolish policy but not one that the University has direct authority to change. She noted other concerns about salary increase limits when taking a promotion to a new State job. She hoped to see some change in this area soon.
Work/Life and Wellness Manager Jessica Pyjas noted that February is Black History Month and American Heart Month. She noted that the first Friday in February is Wear Red day, marking cardiovascular disease as the number one killer of women. She related the different Wellness Wednesday Webinars to come in February which can be found in Carolina Talent. The Helping Heels registration list allows community members to advertise provision of part-time child-care, pet care or elder care for a fellow Tar Heel. In addition, the total well-being interest survey is a once-a-year opportunity to collect information from faculty and staff on interests and availability for programs.
The Eat Smart, Move More, Prevent Diabetes program is for prediabetic or people at risk for diabetes. The $30 fee is refunded with good attendance and meeting certain goals. The Total Well-Being Expo will be virtual this year in a week-long format, from March 8th-12th. All sessions will be free although preregistration will be required. Governor’s Awards nominations will open in February also. Pyjas noted various discounts available to employees through the Working Advantage program.
The Chair asked for a motion to approve the consent agenda, including minutes from the January meeting. Katie Musgrove made this motion, seconded by Arlene Medder. The Chair noted that the Chancellor’s Cup golf tournament has been moved to Wednesday, September 29th. A UNC System Staff Assembly HR update will occur Friday, February 12th.
The Chair moved to the first reading of Resolution 21-01, Regarding Combined Impacts of the Suspension on HR Actions and the University’s Acute Budgetary Challenges on Compensation Equity and Career Progression. She noted that the Forum Bylaws do not require two readings of proposals of substance, but added that the Forum had instituted this rule to allow adequate time for consideration of these proposals in consultation with employee constituencies. She said that the two-reading rule has been in place for the last 25 years.
She asked Phil Edwards to present the first reading of Resolution 21-01. Edwards read the resolution, then opened the floor for questions or concerns. He noted that the resolution’s contents were still being developed and he offered to include further developments in the second reading next month. He noted also questions as to whether this is the best time to ask for things requested in the resolution. The Personnel Issues committee will next meet to discuss the resolution on February 4th from noon-1 p.m. The committee has also discussed the possibility of holding open office hours to allow discussion of the resolution’s ideas. The deadline for resolution revisions will be February 24th, Edwards said. He welcomed all to join the authoring process. The Forum moved to accept the resolution at first reading and would consider eventual passage on second reading in March.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned by acclamation at 11:33 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary