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January 21, 2014 Executive Committee minutes


Delegates Attending (those who signed in):  Dan Barmmer, Tammy Cox, Jill Crowder, Lois Douglass-Alston, Yvonne Dunlap, Paula Goodman, James Holman, Charles Streeter, Katie Turner


Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 11:32 a.m.  He welcomed Taron Mattox of Information Technology Services to speak on the recent data breach.  Among other institutions, he had worked at East Carolina University, which had experienced a similar data breach.  ECU developed a comprehensive approach to dealing with the problem that UNC-Chapel Hill would do well to replicate, he said.  Mattox asked why a server with Facilities Services would have all of this information.  Dan Barmmer surmised from the Forum’s recent community meeting that the server had access to the University mainframe that contained the data.  Mattox asked how the University got an outwardly facing server.  The Chair said that this question was not answered or disclosed.  He noted that Google had picked up this data when it was exposed on the Internet when it crawled through.  The community meeting did not specify a particular URL that the data was stored on.  Mattox asked about the procedures for a central server, and whether the people in charge of the data were qualified to administer it.  Barmmer said that the community meeting showed that each department has its own rules and regulations for administering data.  Mattox said that ECU developed its own centralized IT structure.  He said that ECU immediately strengthened its procedures in the wake of a similar exposure of data, making sure that sensitive data was not included on the servers at all.  He said that all data at ECU were encrypted.  He questioned whether UNC-Chapel Hill is strong enough to protect its employees’ data.

Lois Douglass-Alston said that these suggestions should be directed to information technology personnel.  The Chair noted that Google had said that it would not reveal if the information has been accessed or not from its servers.  Taron Mattox noted the Carolina Mammography compromise among other problems with data storage at UNC and he recalled the hits to the University’s public image that have resulted.  Mattox said that a joint project of IT and engineering would scan every computer on campus.  Tammy Cox said that departments are already undergoing such scans.  Mattox wanted a proactive, not a reactive response, noting that departments fight changes.

Jill Crowder noted that Windows XP will soon no longer be supported, and said that the University could design the new machines to make data less vulnerable.  She estimated that the University will need to replace 12,000 machines between now and April.  Dan Barmmer said that departmental policy is that there is no requirement for punishment of employees who have made an honest mistake.  Tammy Cox said that community meeting presenters were rather sketchy on what, if anything, has been done to discipline the responsible employees.  She noted that the University must act in accordance with State policies.  The Chair said that he had signed a document acknowledging his responsibility for data within his purview through his job.

Mattox recalled that there have now been six exposures of data at UNC-Chapel Hill, including the Facilities Services data breach, Carolina Mammography, the Lineberger Cancer Center, the Julius Peppers transcript, and the University Honor Court.  He thought that the University could do better as it serves the entire State of North Carolina.

The Chair welcomed Deputy Secretary of the Faculty Anne Whisnant to speak on alternative career paths for EPA-non-faculty scholars with Ph.Ds.  She noted that UNC-Chapel Hill currently has many Ph.Ds. working outside their fields in administration.  She noted the number of adjunct faculty and the overproduction of Ph.Ds. generally around the nation.   She said that the University could make small changes to its procedures to expand opportunities to this source of leadership.  She noted that the alt-ac group dealing with this question had members from Arts & Sciences, IT, the School of Medicine, the Humanities, and the Social Sciences.  Group leaders have met every three weeks or so with the Provost’s office and the Dean of the Graduate school.  Members noted that EPA-non-faculty librarians have their own career path.  The issue for all of these employees is advancement. Many of these employees deal with faculty regularly and speak their language.  They often work on research publications, gaining credit at the penultimate level.  However, these employees feel their careers have basically stopped with their current levels, with no place left to go.  They feel below administrators and current tenured faculty, Whisnant said.  She noted the example of a position formerly available to these employees that has been reclassified now to be available only tenured faculty.

Tammy Cox asked if this effort included EDDs.  Whisnant said this is so, saying that many are hired to research in their field.  She said that around 130 employees are in this situation.  Whisnant said that she and an associate had written the proposal for presentation to the administration, and welcomed additional input.  Whisnant said that the effort for now would be limited to Ph.Ds.  She hoped that those in alt-ac positions could have a developed career track, perhaps a portfolio of options in research and teaching, and perhaps a small stipend to pursue these questions.  She asked why top positions at Centers and Institutes must always go to tenured faculty. Yvonne Dunlap noted that there are many SPA Ph.Ds. as well.  Whisnant said that there are severe restrictions on SPA employment.  Cox said that SPA employees can teach classes when their departments can demonstrate that there is no one else available to teach.  Dunlap said that SPA Ph.Ds. at the Lineberger Center do regulatory and clinical research through Human Ethics while not being exempt.  Whisnant said that the School of Medicine has defined a career ladder for faculty position but this has not occurred in the College of Arts & Sciences.  Lois Douglass-Alston noted that some SPA exempt employees are perfectly fine with their current positions.  She said there should be a need to broaden perceptions that these employees are not just second best.

Gena Carter said that the SPA exempt versus non-exempt question for employees doing research did not follow.  She said that there are restrictions on SPA non-exempt employees doing certain work.  Whisnant said that Ph.Ds. are required for some staff positions and are in fact preferred for these positions.  There was some question as to whether Ph.Ds. are in fact required for SPA positions.  Whisnant said that this qualification should be contained in these employees’ annual reviews.  Marc ter Horst noted that different departments have different policies, but said that most have little advancement opportunity or encouragement for advancement, even for long-term employees.  Yvonne Dunlap said that these employees provide the University institutional knowledge but does not offer career advancement in return.

The Chair welcomed Amy McCrea and Kaitlin Powers to speak on proposed revisions to the Forum’s bylaws.  He noted that the Forum is charged to review its bylaws every three years.  McCrea and Powers said that they had reviewed all relevant North Carolina law with regard to the Forum’s officer elections and had found that the Forum is not in compliance with the State’s open meetings statute.  The law requires that the Forum record the ballots for officers in its minutes.  It was noted that delegates wanted to keep their vote private.  Dan Barmmer said that one option is for the Forum to use a voice vote to determine its officers, although this solution raises its own problems.  Barmmer said that the Forum would not have to record individual votes during a voice vote, but there would be the question as to what would occur if the vote was not unanimous.  The Chair noted that the Forum would need to present proposed Bylaws reviews in February or March for completion at the April meeting.  James Holman noted that the Forum could elect its leaders by vote of the entire staff population, but he did not like this approach.  He also felt that new delegates should not have the option to vote for new officers.  Katie Turner noted that the Forum Bylaws as written do not allow newly elected delegates to vote at their first Forum meeting in May.  She opined that the Forum’s system of alternating terms is very confusing.  Gena Carter noted that continuing Forum delegates are able to guide the Forum while the newly elected delegates become accustomed to the work.  Matt Banks said a past elections event had led the Forum to write its Bylaws to allow outgoing as well as incoming and continuing delegates to vote.  Katie Turner summed up that the committee desired the voice vote option for electing officers.

Katie Turner brought up the question of the succession of officers, noting that McCrea and Powers had recommended that the Forum Chair serve a three year term:  first as Chair-Elect, then as Chair, then as past Chair.  She noted that Chancellor Folt would have to sign off on these changes.  It was questioned as to whether this course would solve the problem of officer succession, given that this change would actually expand the time required of the newly elected officer.  Turner surmised that the Chair-Elect would serve a different function than the Vice Chair.  Gena Carter confirmed that there would be no true obligation for the Chair-Elect to serve as Chair, given personal and professional circumstances.  The Chair agreed, but said that the Forum wanted to plan ahead as much as possible.  The Chair-Elect will be expected to be the next Chair.

Katie Turner said that the Bylaws committee would need to change the draft resolution.  She noted that the law students’ recommendations included doing away with absentee ballots.  Turner said that she would work with the committee on the resolution.  The Chair thanked McCrea and Powers for their contributions.

The Chair called for a motion to approve the November Executive Committee minutes.  Katie Turner made this motion, seconded by Tammy Cox.  The motion was approved by acclamation.  The Chair then called for a motion to approve the December minutes.  Turner made this motion, seconded by Cox.  The motion was approved by acclamation, with Turner abstaining.

Matt Banks presented the committee’s monthly budget report.  The Chair noted that the Forum had received a deal in purchasing thank-you cards from a local printer.  He said that the Forum had sent copies of its brochure to Human Resources to use in new employee orientation.  He thanked Katie Turner for her work on the brochure.

The Chair reported that he had made three requests of the Chancellor regarding the Staff Development fund:  professional development grants, a stipend for the community garden, and programming budget for the Forum’s book club discussions.  Lois Douglass-Alston noted that the Education and Career Development committee had used a scholarship application as the basis for the professional development grant application.  She said that the committee had placed a $2,000 limit on proposed grants.  Jill Crowder asked if the grants would be given as an advance or a reimbursement.  She said that Grounds employees have difficulty affording hotels and meals.  The Chair said that the original proposal was modified at the Chancellor’s insistence to allow for larger grants to accommodate these situations.  Katie Turner was glad that the application form was in a PDF format for posting on the web.  Crowder said that Grounds training functions as a loan program, with reimbursements not due until the employee returns from training so as to avoid lower-paid employees having to front funds.  She said that departments in Facilities Services must devote 6% of budgets to training for employees and departments are responsible for covering training costs.

Gena Carter asked if the committee could be more specific about professional opportunity aid in the workplace.  Tammy Cox noted that only employees working 32 or more weekly hours are eligible for the grants.

Gena Carter said that Human Resources would present on grievance changes enacted by the State recently.  Sharise Jones is the new grievance officer for the University.  She said that the University Human Resources council will meet January 29 to talk through what is needed to modify University grievance policies following the State’s revisions.  She said that UNC-Chapel Hill hopes to get something out about the revisions by January 24.  Carter outlined the State’s changes to agency grievance policies as enacted in House Bill 834.  She said that a grievant has 15 days to file from the event, down from 30 days.  Step One mediators will come from different institutions than those of the grievant.  The State will train mediators for this purpose.  Carter said that employees can grieve inaccurate and misleading information in one’s personnel file only at the University level.  Overall, only ‘Below Good’ and ‘Unsatisfactory’ ratings will be henceforth grievable.  Similarly, written warnings will no longer be grievable.

For Step Two of the process, the Office of State Human Resources must review and approve each decision before those get to the Chancellor.  This requirement raises the question as to what will happen if the two groups disagree.  Gena Carter said she would get clarification at the Human Resources Council January 29.  She said that she and Sharise Jones will present at the Forum’s February meeting on this question.

Tammy Cox asked about the performance review discussion.  Gena Carter said that the University has permission to institute a pilot program.  Training will begin for the pilot session after March.

There was no further report from the Bylaws committee.

The Carolina Campus Community Garden committee should receive its $1,000 transfer from the Staff Development fund soon.

The Communications and Public Relations committee will publish InTouch in February.

The Education and Career Development committee had worked on the professional development grants application process at its last meeting.

The Membership & Assignments committee will work to plan the upcoming spring event.

The Recognition and Awards committee will work on planning the peer recognition event.  Michael Highland has indicated that he will probably step down as chair of the committee.

James Holman said that the Personnel Issues committee will need to find a new Chair at its January 27 meeting.

The Chair said that there had not been a response to the request for members of the Forum’s speaker committee.

The Chair will forward talking points from Forum discussions for the upcoming VC/Provost meeting February 13.

The Chair said that the Executive Committee should discuss drafting a statement on the position of the Employee Forum regarding the recent data breach.  Jill Crowder said that there will be a series of presentations to Grounds and other departments starting this week.  The Chair said that certain constituents were not happy with all of the answers provided at the January community meeting.

Jill Crowder asked who makes the decision concerning what goes into Alert Carolina campus alerts.  She recalled the case of a campus vehicle being stolen that had not been rated pressing enough to be the subject of an alert.  She said that this act represents a felony, compared to the larcenies of theft that are regularly the subject of alerts.  She noted that the vehicle was stolen over Thanksgiving and may have been the subject of a student wanting to get home for the holidays.  She said that her appeal to Public Safety for publication of the alert had been received poorly.  Gena Carter proposed that the Forum bring in the administrators of the Alert Carolina series to speak to these questions.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 1:37 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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