January 17, 2017 Executive Committee minutes
Attending (those who signed in): Bryan Andregg, Phillip Edwards, Lori Haight, Kathy James, Kelli Raker, Greg Smith, Kewana Smith, Charles Streeter
Excused Absences: Bonita Brown, Clare Counihan, Katie Musgrove, Ben Triplett
Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 11:35 a.m. He welcomed Steve Farmer, Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions. Farmer noted his work on Thrive@UNC and that he had met the Chair at a recent meeting of the Faculty Council on this topic. Farmer said that Thrive grew out of an initiative from Chancellor Thorp and the Board of Trustees to think about what kind of University UNC-Chapel Hill desired to be in the future. He said that the report resulting had gone on the shelf but had recently been revived. He saw the Thrive@UNC project as something that friends can do together that he hoped would become a movement and an attitude.
Thrive@UNC is the idea that all students are worthy, have a right to be here, and thus deserve adequate levels of support. Farmer had carried this general idea to different school and deans, receiving endorsements from all over campus as well as from the Faculty Council on December 15, 2016. He said that other groups have also endorsed the project such as Workplace Strategy, Equity and Engagement and Diversity and Multicultural Affairs. He hoped that the Employee Forum could be added to this list of endorsees.
Lori Haight asked if Thrive will be promoted at the coming Student Success Conference. Farmer said that Thrive will not try to displace or dictate events, but will instead support each other and students. The next goal of Thrive is to make its goals more concrete with respect to faculty and students, by looking at the University’s history, graduation rates and other ways to measure student success. Thrive organizers will try to engage faculty more directly but do not intend to make headlines. Farmer said that the process will be based on one on one conversation. He admitted that the project sounds a bit mushy, but said this was by design. Bryan Andregg asked how Thrive was doing on social media. Farmer said that the program needs to do more but had received some support funding.
Phillip Edwards said that the founding principles could be broader to include staff interests in the community appeal. Farmer said that he was with Edwards, noting that the University needs Thrive for faculty and staff meaning. Kelli Raker said that faculty and staff measurements of helping students seem to overemphasize graduation rates. She noted that some students need time away from college as part of their personal growth. Farmer said that graduation rates are the coin of the realm in academic discussions. He said that the rates are a meaningful basis for public policy discussions, along with tuition costs and good and bad debt for students.
Bryan Andregg offered his support for a resolution of support, but was not particularly certain how Thrive works. Farmer appreciated the feedback. The Chair said that Finance & Administration is working to define student success. He noted general difficulties in measuring success in this area. Farmer thanked the committee for the opportunity to speak. He welcomed any advice or criticism and pledged to keep the Forum informed of progress.
The Chair called for a motion to approve the December minutes. Kathy James made this motion, seconded by Natiaya Neal. The motion was approved unanimously.
Matt Banks presented the Forum’s monthly budget report. Kathy James noted the need to choose a date in order to set a budget for the upcoming 25th anniversary event. Kelli Raker asked if Andy Bechtel had been paid his honorarium for his social media class taught in the winter. Matt Banks said that he would check with Human Resources Accounting about the status of this payment.
The Chair noted that delegate David Rogers had offered the Forum free use of the challenge ropes course. He would create a Qualtrics form to allow delegates to sign up for the course. Members discussed various dates and course choices. It was noted that the course is located on South Campus near Ridge Road, near the baseball stadium in the woods. One would get there by taking the Law School bus (‘RU’ bus).
The Chair said that las week he had not yet received an e-mail from Matt Fajack regarding Carolina Services. He planned to call his office soon to ask about the prospect of a presentation on this subject at a future Forum meeting. He noted possible difficulties with central staff understanding departmental needs and site-specific software. Bryan Andregg noted concerns that the initiative will reduce staff. He asked how the University will measure success in this area.
Kewana Smith asked about obtaining a leave donation form for James Holman. Matt Banks said that he would forward this form onto the listserv. Natiaya Neal asked if the Chair wished to include Green Events organizers as a future speaker. He would reach out to this group to speak in February if they are available.
Kelli Raker asked about having Human Resources leaders discuss life after the seemingly inevitable dissolution of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The Chair said that much depends on the course Congress eventually takes. Raker noted the general level of anxiety among staff. The Chair said that he would bring up the issue at the Staff Assembly meeting in February. He noted that changes to the ACA could affect employee premiums, making the issue a question of interest for the Forum. Natiaya Neal noted concerns about employees being disqualified for coverage due to pre-existing conditions. The Chair proposed to invite UNC Professor of Social Medicine Jonathan Oberlander to discuss possibilities surrounding the ACA at a future meeting, perhaps in March. The Chair said that Chuck Stone of SEANC could possibly give some background from the State government point of view, but Stone has retired.
The committee discussed including a resolution of support for Thrive@UNC in the consent agenda of an upcoming meeting. Phillip Edwards suggested that including some type of background for the award similar to the Rebecca Clarke information sheet would be useful. Lori Haight commented that she liked the Thrive verbiage and the focus on student success. The Chair said that including how faculty and staff will participate in this initiative is also important.
Phillip Edwards said that a resolution endorsing Thrive would not normally go on a consent agenda, which is reserved for routine business. He suggested perhaps using the committee report section for this task.
Kelli Raker said that the Communications and Public Relations committee sought some guidance on whether to commission another social media class this year. Natiaya Neal commented that Instagram and Snapchat courses are of interest to staff. Kewana Smith said that these platforms are of interest to students as well. Raker said that she would put the question in an upcoming issue of InTouch. The committee will also work on recruitment of new delegates in its next InTouch issue.
Ricky Roach asked that Matt Banks post the Community Service meeting minutes.
Clare Counihan said that the Education and Career Development committee will meet January 25th.
Kathy James said that the schedule for delegate nominations is now in place, with a February call for nominees, March contact with nominees, April elections and orientation for new delegates, first meeting in May, June officer elections and July retreat to come. She said the committee will try to post fliers in Facilities Services areas encouraging employees to run.
The Chair noted that the Chancellors’ Cup golf tournament will take place May 24th in Sanford. He said that Winston-Salem State University has won the tournament every years since its founding. He hoped to find good players to represent UNC-Chapel Hill. Kathy James confirmed that players must be UNC employees. The Chair confirmed that the Forum had purchased its own tent for the event.
James said that the question of the 25th anniversary event’s date and cost still remained to be determined. The Chair asked to discuss this question off-line. James said that the committee still need volunteer help.
Bryan Andregg said that the Personnel Issues committee would meet Thursday to discuss supervisory review processes at the School of Pharmacy. He noted concerns about the absentee policy in Housekeeping that had been discussed at the October Vice Chancellors’ meeting. The Chair recalled that discussion, in which employees who had been approved for a doctor’s appointment later received a counseling letter. Andregg asked how this policy fell within the continuum of policies enacted by Facilities Services. Lori Haight asked if Kim Strom-Gottfried’s policy office would be involved in this discussion. The Chair noted that her office has yet to be staffed.
Natiaya Neal said that the housekeeping attendance policy could lead to confusion as to which absences are approved or not. Bryan Andregg said that it would be good to hear from Human Resources on this question. The Chair said that the Forum could raise this as an issue at the February Vice Chancellor representatives’ meeting.
Kelli Raker noted that the Fair Labor Standards Act revisions have led to some employees receiving pay raises while others have not. Post-docs have had their raises preserved. Natiaya Neal proposed raising this question also at the upcoming Vice Chancellor representatives’ meeting. Raker commented that there are inequalities between people in comparable positions who received or did not receive the FLSA raises.
Phillip Edwards suggested inviting the new Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Clayton Somers to speak with the Forum. The Chair said that he planned to meet with Somers soon.
Natiaya Neal said that the Recognition & Awards committee will open its registration forms in April for the peer recognition awards. Kelli Raker offered to help publicize the peer recognition event.
The Chair encouraged delegates to nominate their colleagues on the Forum for the various University awards now open. He noted that Chair Emeritus Jackie Overton won the Advancement of Women Award last year. He hoped that delegates would nominate their colleagues this year also.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 1:06 p.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary