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January 22, 2013 Executive Committee minutes

Attending (those who signed in):  Dan Barmmer, Gena Carter, John Gullo, Christina Lebonville, Chris Meinecke, Danny Nguyen, Jackie Overton, Myra Quick, Charles Streeter

Chair Jackie Overton called the meeting to order at 11:30 a.m.  She noted that the committee did not have a quorum and so could not approve the November or December minutes.  The committee considered the Forum budget.

The Chair took a moment to discuss the Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions report.  She said that Faculty Assembly and the Student Body Presidents have submitted input statements on the draft report.  The Staff Assembly has been asked to submit a similar input statement.  She said that the strategic plan will determine the next five to ten year path for the University System.  She urged Forum delegates and staff to speak now as now is the time for comment.  She said that the draft report, if implemented, will impact staff through the reduction of staffing levels.  She said that the advent of on-line courses, particularly massive open on-line courses (MMOCs), will change the dynamic of how UNC campuses look and function.  She said that the report would particularly impact student services managers.  Charles Streeter commented that on-line courses lose the quality of student interaction that now exists on college campuses.  He said that the proposed changes will now work and will instead change the level of knowledge for U.S. students versus the world.

Danny Nguyen said that he did not see the proposed changes as a threat at all.  He said that on-line courses are an opportunity to reach students who could not otherwise get to campus while providing a cash cow for the University.  He asked how the University could continue to increase enrollment while having limited physical space.  Streeter said that on-line courses can function well as an alternative, but not as a replacement.  Dan Barmmer noted that a majority of western North Carolina does not have internet access.  The Chair said that under new leadership, the State will look to cut as much cost per student as possible, down to the bare bones.  She said that this change will impact faculty and staff as it has nationwide.  She said that public universities nationwide have seen their state funding drop to the point at which they could be considered private institutions in all but name.  She noted the North Carolina constitution’s admonition that the General Assembly provide higher education “free of expense, as far as practicable.”    Nguyen thought that on-line courses would provide the University more revenue while serving the same amount of students.  The Chair did not think that this is the approach the current General Assembly would take.  She reported concerns that staff jobs will be going away.  She did not think that this change would happen tomorrow.  She said that the changes would focus more resources on making higher education more vocational, following the cues of business to determine the skills needed.  Nguyen thought that this part of the strategic plan makes sense, as the purpose of college is to prepare students to get a good job.  He thought that the University should foster preparation for the right career, noting the success that NC State has had in securing internships for its students.

The Chair asked what will occur if NC State is doing well in securing these internships but UNC-Chapel Hill is not.  She said that the new system could decide that entire disciplines are not necessary, such as Latin, Greek, Religious Studies, English, Philosophy or foreign languages.  She thought it was fascinating to forecast what the North Carolina economy will need fifty years from now.  Charles Streeter said that North Carolina’s citizens will still want services such as the School of the Arts even if the University does not provide them.  Dan Barmmer commented that educating business minded people without a supplementary background in ethics or liberal arts seemed scary.  Chris Meinecke said that the University must do something to adapt to changing trends.  The Chair said that the Forum should participate in some way in the Staff Assembly’s formal response.  She said that the Board of Governors will vote on the draft report on February 8, so the Forum should produce comments by next week.  She asked Matt Banks to capture the day’s comments for inclusion in the Forum’s response.

The Chair noted that UNC System Staff Assembly Chair Chuck Brink had gained a non-voting seat at the Board of Governors meeting, along with Faculty Assembly Chair Cathy Riggsbee.  She noted that Brink wants UNC System staff organization chairs to press for similar seats on their respective boards of trustees.  The Chair did not think she would pursue this goal as she already had enough meetings to attend each week.  Gena Carter asked if the Forum or the University should publicize Brink’s action.  The Chair said that the Forum has fought for a voting seat on the Board of Trustees since the Forum’s founding in 1992.  She noted that the students have held a voting seat through Student Government.  Chris Meinecke asked if placing the Forum Chair as a non-voting member would be the start of the process to obtaining a voting seat.  Dan Barmmer said that the Chair’s position at the table could be the turning point for votes, even if the Chair could not vote.  Meinecke noted how difficult it must be to serve in the Chair’s position given the need for a supportive supervisor and flexible work schedule.  John Gullo asked if the non-voting member would remain in the room during executive session.  The Chair did not think so.

Gena Carter noted that UNC General Administration Vice President William Fleming had sent out notice about the UNC System Staff Assembly Chair’s non-voting seat on the Board of Governors in a memo twelve or so days ago.  John Gullo asked if campuses would rely on Brink’s own judgment when he makes comments or would he canvas the 17 institutions before making a statement.  Charles Streeter thought that the Chair was a good person to start this conversation.  The Chair discussed possible restructuring of the Forum Chair’s position.  She said she had worked very hard and been very fortunate to have supportive supervisors to allow her to serve as Forum Chair.  She noted the immense demands on her time from all quarters of the University.  The Chair noted that she felt that she should sit in the galley at Board of Trustees meetings if she does not hold a voting seat.  The committee agreed to publicize notice of Brink’s ascension to a Board of Governors non-voting seat in the upcoming edition of InTouch.  The committee also agreed to publicize the Staff Assembly response to the Strategic Directions report in InTouch.

Regarding the Chancellor search, the Chair said that the search firm has narrowed the original 150 applications to a more manageable 50.  The search committee met for four hours Friday to narrow this number to 16.  The committee will likely undertake interviews with all of these candidates via Skype or airport interviews.  She was pleased that the committee was on track to have a new Chancellor appointed by July 1.  The Chair noted that the Provost search committee was also moving forward, with Forum Treasurer Tammy Cox appointed to the group.  That search and the Vice Chancellor for Development search are all taking place concurrently, with the Chief Information Officer search to take place after the Chancellor’s appointment.

Dan Barmmer reported that former Forum delegate Alan Moran had pressed for adoption of a Forum resolution in support of students affected by the mishandling of sexual harassment cases.  Christina Lebonville said that James Holman, Lawrence Giffin and she were involved in the drafting of the resolution.  The Chair noted that the University employs a dual process for handling reporting of sexual assault cases.  She said that reports made to Public Safety must be reported to the Dean of Students, but the reverse is not true.  She said this is a reason that these figures never seem to add up.  She said that decision-makers must be certain that these figures are inconsistent for this reason or find that they have been changed.  Gena Carter noted that complaints used to go to honor court but are now handled by Equal Opportunity/ADA Officer Ann Penn’s office.  Barmmer said that he planned to gear this resolution towards April to recognize Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  Christina Lebonville said that she hoped the resolution would deal with general ideas more than specific cases.  The Chair said it would be good to see this resolution done next month in support of April.

Christina Lebonville noted that James Holman was not happy with the administration’s response regarding the lack of a legal right to privacy in campus mail.  Dan Barmmer said that Holman may have plans to pursue other avenues to find an expectation of privacy for campus mail.  The Chair recalled that Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone and Legal Counsel had found that there is no expectation of privacy for mail delivered by the University Mail System.  She added that the University owns every piece of mail delivered through its mail system.  Dan Barmmer suggested that the Forum not work to change this policy but rather could educate employees about the policy.  Gena Carter noted that handling of mail is done on a departmental basis.  She said that the case Holman mentioned was being looked into, but she said that it does not seem to represent a global issue.  Danny Nguyen asked if faculty were affected by this situation.  The Chair said that staff typically open faculty mail, meaning faculty are aware that they have no expectation of privacy.  Carter said that there are different expectations by department.  She said that if an employee expects confidential mail, that person should ask that it be designated “for address only” or “confidential.”  She said that employees should not have personal mail delivered to their workplace.  Charles Streeter thought that employees would be very surprised to learn that they do not have a right to privacy.  He thought some supervisors could become very nosy if they knew the law.  The Chair thought that supervisors who open others’ mail could be seen to have a personal or moral failure.  Chris Meinecke said it was good to see discussion of the law.  Lebonville said that employees generally expect that their University mail is their own.  Lebonville asked about a hypothetical in which a doctor sends a private medical report to a University employee via University mail.  Would there not be an expectation of privacy in this case?  The Chair said that this error would be the doctor’s office’s fault, not the University’s.

Charles Streeter reported the Education and Career Development committee will meet Thursday to discuss electronic voting and peer recognition.  Streeter said that he preferred to use Qualtrex for this project.  Streeter said that the Communications and Public Relations committee had two articles available for InTouch publication.  Myra Quick said that the Membership & Assignments committee will meet that week.  Christina Lebonville said that the Personnel Issues committee was working on the sexual assault support resolution and the University mail issues discussed earlier.  Chris Meinecke said that the peer recognition event would take place Thursday, May 30 at 3 p.m. in Hyde Hall.  Matt Banks will send him criteria for the Forum’s Community Award.

John Gullo noted that as UNC System Staff Assembly parliamentarian, he has responsibility to chair the Assembly’s Governance committee.  He noted that the Assembly’s Have a Heart campaign will take place in February.  Danny Nguyen said that the Human Resources, Diversity, and Benefits committee could receive a draft of the sexual harassment resolution for consideration.  Gullo noted that the Assembly’s Chancellor’s Cup golf tournament will take place this spring to raise money for staff scholarships.  The Chair noted that the Forum’s participation in the Have a Heart campaign may not take place in February.  She said that the Forum planned to hold a food drive with the cooperation of Student Government, Faculty Governance, and Athletics. The food drive will benefit the Interfaith Council’s food banks.  Preliminary plans are for the food drive to take place at the men’s basketball game against Florida State University March 3.  She said that participants will not receive any recompense for their participation.  The Chair noted the staff benefit to attend non-revenue sports at the University free of charge.

Christina Lebonville reported that the Carolina Campus Community Garden wanted more staff and faculty volunteers.  She noted that there will be a vegetable gardening class on Sunday, March 3 from 2-3 p.m. and a perennial vegetables class on April 23, also from 2-3 p.m.  These courses will cost $15/person.  March 23 the Garden will host “weed dating” for prospective singles.

Gena Carter noted that Human Resources was looking to implement a pilot program of 180 degree feedback in the Housekeeping Department.  She said that Darius Dixon will work with Human Resources to implement the pilot, which will spread to other parts of campus in segments should it prove successful.

Christina Lebonville asked about getting agenda status and volunteer assignments for the NC Vision Coalition.  The Chair said that this question should go on the Forum’s agenda for February.  The Chair said it was important for there to be a full house for Board of Governors Chair Peter Hans, who is scheduled to address the Forum in February.

The Chair was pleased that her oncologist had given her a clean bill of health in her recent examination.  She hoped to resume a full working schedule soon.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 1:25 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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