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Employee Forum Agenda — January 7, 2009

9:15 a.m.—-Meeting: Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library

I.            Call to Order

II.           Welcome Guests & Members of the Press

III.          Opening Remarks

IV.         Special Presentations

  • Brenda Malone of University Human Resources and Melanie Hibbert and Kathy Alberter of the Orange County Literacy Council on Developments in Literacy Issues

V.          Human Resources Update—Brenda Malone

VI.         Employee Presentations or Questions

VII.       December Minutes Not Yet Available

VIII.       Old Business

IX.         New Business

X.           Stretch Time

XI.         Forum Committee Reports

  • Communications and Public Relations: Brenda Denzler
    • Forum Newsletter
  • Community Affairs, Recognition, Awards and Outreach: Beth Bridger
  • Compensation & Benefits:  Alan Moran
  • Education and Career Development:  Liz Cahoon/Cate Cunningham
  • Legislative Action:  Mike Hawkins
  • Membership & Assignments:  Aluoch Ooro
  • Staff Relations, Policies & Practices:  Mike McQuown


XII.        Chair’s Report (Executive Committee):  Tommy Griffin

XIII.       Task Force/University Committee Reports

XIV.       Announcements/Questions

XV.        “Go Around the Room”:  A Chance for Attendees to Share the Issue Most on their Minds

XVI.        Adjournment


January 7, 2009 Employee Forum Minutes


The Chair Tommy Griffin called the meeting to order at 9:18 a.m.  HE welcomed guests and delegates.  He also noted the upcoming budget crisis and said that he wanted to do all possible to keep everyone in their jobs.

The Chair introduced Melanie Hibbert and Kathy Alberter of the Orange County Literacy Council to talk about campus literacy programs.  It was noted that the University had issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) and that the Council had issued the best of several bids.  Alberter said that the campus reception to the program had been very positive, with people continuing to call and ask about the enrolling.  In July and December 2008, 51 individuals participated in six classes of six weeks each that ran at varying times during the regular work day.  The Council bases its programs on participatory education with a learner basis.  Alberter said that initial success with the computer literacy programs will make it easier for employees to sign up for other classes.

The Council worked hard to provide second- and third-shift course opportunities, with English as a Second Language still presenting a major issue.  Human Resources has worked to promote these classes in zone meetings in Facilities Services.  Alberter said that the Council would welcome future funding, and Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Brenda Malone said that there would be an opportunity to analyze the program for future funding in the next couple of months.

Alan Moran brought up the computer loan program that occurs through the library that is free to employees in grades 50-61.  Lucy Lewis thanked Alberter and the Council for their work and asked what the Forum could do to help.  Alberter said that delegates could help address third-shift zone meetings at the Cheek-Clark building.  Malone said that employees were more reluctant to sign up for the newly renamed Reading and Writing for Opportunity classes than computer literacy classes.  Michael McQuown suggested using the ITS lab at the School of Public Health as another place for literacy courses.

Jill Crowder asked if there were plans to reach the Burmese population working on campus.  Malone said that the English as a Second Language classes were offered twice a year on campus and these were rarely full.  She said that it was difficult to find speakers of English and the different dialects of Burmese.  It was also noted that Durham Tech will not provide ESL instructors before 8 a.m., which makes it difficult to attract second- and third-shift employees.

The Chair hoped that delegates would be willing to attend zone meetings and said that the Forum might search through surplus to find computers for this purpose.  He invited delegates to stay until the end of the meeting to participate in a lottery for two tickets to that night’s College of Charleston basketball game.  He also invited delegates to attend the upcoming provost/vice chancellor “Trinity” meeting the next day.

The Chair welcomed Brenda Malone to provide the Forum’s customary Human Resources update.  Malone noted that the University had almost finalized plans for a comprehensive supervisory management training program to take place in late summer and early fall.  This had been an initiative of Chancellor Thorp’s.  Human Resources had delivered a version of this program to 130 supervisors in a three hour program I December.  Malone said that the Chancellor and Human Resources are excited about expanding the program University-wide.  Jill Crowder thought that the program was excellent but overcrowded somewhat.  Mike McQuown said that the implementation of a compulsory University-wide program had been talked about in the Forum for at least five or six years.  Malone said that Human Resources would commission a campus engagement survey to try to get 3,000 campus managers to participate.  Malone praised Rob Kramer’s design of the program.

Qun He raised a question about the possible increase in insurance premiums for employees.  He asked how the University would protect employees who might be affected Malone said that the University would have to follow the directives of the State.  However, she said that there had not been definite news yet of any increase, which she hoped would not occur.

Brenda Denzler relayed a question from a constituent, asking the status of review of the RIF policy.  Malone said that there could be reductions in force (RIF) if the budget crisis grows deep enough.  Human Resources will study the policy and any alternatives before recommending layoffs.  The policy is available at, then under a search for “layoff policy.”  Alan Moran asked if the Forum could see the scenarios involved in possible 3, 5, or 7% budget cuts?  Malone said that she had only submitted the input of the cuts on her office to her personal boss, and she did not have access to the other cuts.  Denzler encouraged delegates to attend the “Trinity” meetings for more information.

Denzler asked about making the current RIF policy more readily available on the Human Resources website.  Malone said that Human Resources has a goal to address and make changes, but that the department had been hit with a 2% reduction in one-time dollars.  Ernie Patterson and Brenda Denzler suggested implementing either an alphabetical index or a site map for that web site.

The Forum took a ten minute break

The Chair opened old business, namely discussion of the proposed resolution concerning staff priorities in the upcoming University development campaign.  Alan Moran noted that University employees had donated $9.5 million since the beginning of the campaign in 1991.  He read the resolution.  Brenda Denzler moved to accept the resolution, seconded by Mike McQuown.  Jackie Overton thought that it was a good resolution.  Moran thanked Dan Barmmer and Brenda Denzler for their contributions.  The resolution was approved unanimously.

There was no new business

Brenda Denzler, chair of the Communications committee, said that group would publish its on-line edition of InTouch in February.  Debbie Dehart of the Community Affairs, Recognition & Awards committee said that group had distributed peer recognition awards from Target and Southern Season.  The group looked forward to the Unsung Heel awards to take place in the spring.  Alan Moran of the Compensation and Benefits committee said the group’s next task after the development resolution would be a pay raise resolution.  Cindy Stone of the Education and Development committee said that group had not met.  Mike Hawkins of the Legislative Action committee said that group would meet January 14 at noon in Wilson Hall.  Aluoch Ooro of the Membership and Assignments committee said that group would meet at the end of the month to discuss upcoming elections.  Mike McQuown of the Staff Relations, Policies and Practices committee said that group had worked on several things, including an “Ask Human Resources” section for InTouch which would feature anonymous questions from University employees.  Lucy Lewis said that committee would work on the grievance procedure for employees without good English and computer skills.

The Chair said that the Advisory Committee on Transit had not met for the previous two months.  The committee was looking at the policy for use of electric carts and mopeds.  The Chair was sick and had experienced deaths in the family and so had missed the previous Board of Trustees meeting.  He noted that the UNC System Staff Assembly would meet via videoconference on February 5.  Brenda Denzler asked about the task force regarding commuting costs.  The Chair said that the next step would be to ask the Chancellor the next steps of how to proceed on this subject.  Jonathan Stephenson asked whether Article 16 would come up at the UNC System Staff Assembly meeting.  Alan Moran said that the question had moved out of General Administration’s hands and had gone to the General Assembly.

Mike McQuown recalled that an idea had been raised to have employees give back some of their salary to avoid job cuts.  Rene Sherman said that more pedestrian caution signs were needed near the Bioinformatics building.  Sherman also thought that the 403(b) question should have gotten more attention before it occurred.  Brenda Malone pointed out that Human Resources had sent out several noticed on the question and had mentioned the changeover at Employee Forum meetings previously.  A delegate wanted to know how the Forum could have influenced that decision.  Malone said that the Forum was not likely to have been able to influence that decision since it was made at the General Administration level.  She said that Human Resources would place more emphasis on sending out notification about vendors in the future.

Mike McQuown supported having total community access to computers.  Malone said that not all employees have desktops and so need computers for their jobs.  It was said that Human Resources resists sending out paper messages.  Brenda Denzler said that it was not adequate to advise employees to check the breakroom bulletin board for notices.  Lucy Lewis thought that with the ailing economy those employees earning more than $250,000 a year should have to give back more than other employees.  Todd Duncan hoped that the Forum would monitor the benefits of the comprehensive managerial training.  Mike Hawkins thought that the last way to cut a budget is to lay off people.  Debbie Dehart pointed out that employees paid on grants often face layoffs all the time.  She herself had been laid off once but had been fortunate enough to get picked up via the Bridge program.  Aluoch Ooro pointed out that a grant employee’s job is often only as good as a researcher’s success in attracting grants.  Ooro urged that the University do more to increase pedestrian safety near the dental school given recent accidents and near-accidents.  Jackie Overton pointed out that the pedestrian safety committee meets the third Wednesday of each month at 2 p.m.  Employees can access the committee via the pedestrian safety hotline 919-843-PEDS (7337).

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:38 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,



Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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