UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum Agenda
Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library
I. Call to Order & Opening Remarks—Chair Charles Streeter
- Open call for announcements and questions for the end of the meeting
II. Welcome to Guests & Members of the Press
III. Special Presentations
- Antonio Baines, Brent Blanton, Sonia Davis, Keith Gerarden, Maura Murphy, Patrice ParrishTransforming Staff-Faculty Relationships: Closing the Great DivideWorking relationships between staff and faculty are a pillar on which the success of every university depends, but often these crucial, interdependent relationships are poorly understood. Faculty are frequently not trained in management, and staff often encounter challenges in communicating and collaborating with faculty. How are staff-faculty relationships different from workplace relationships in non-academic organizations? How can we promote better understanding between faculty and staff in our universities? What are effective ways to engage both staff and faculty in working collaboratively?
IV. Human Resources Update—Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity, and Engagement Felicia Washington
VI. Old Business
VII. New Business
VIII. Forum Committees
- Carolina Blood Drive: Todd Hux
- Carolina Community Garden Advisory: Arlene Medder
- Communications and Public Relations: Katie Turner
- Education and Career Development: Andy Eaker
- Recognition & Awards
- Membership & Assignments: Karen Jenkins
- Personnel Issues: Yvonne Dunlap
- Compensation & Benefits: Chrissie Greenberg/Kelli Raker
- Legislative Action: Kirk Montgomery
- Staff Relations, Policies & Practices: Everett Deloney/Rocky Riviella
- UNC System Staff Assembly: Shane Hale/James Holman/Charles Streeter
- Executive Committee: Charles Streeter
January 7, 2015 Employee Forum minutes
Delegates Attending (those who signed in): Deborah Bush, Andy Eaker, Chrissie Greenberg, Shane Hale, Victoria Hammett, Karen Jenkins, Ronda Manuel, Matt McKirahan, Arlene Medder, Kirk Montgomery, Shamecia Powers, Samara Reynolds, Christina Rodriguez, Tara Smith, Charles Streeter, Katie Turner
Excused Absences: Jo-Ann Blake, Tammy Cox, Stacey Owen, Christopher Powe, Kathy Ramsey, Kelli Raker
Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 9:20 a.m. He welcomed guests and delegates of the Forum. There was a question as to whether the Forum had a quorum, but it was noted that the Forum could meet but not conduct business as a committee of the whole.
The Chair shared a slideshow of upcoming activities that the Forum will participate in over the next six months. The slideshow noted the upcoming panel on careers in higher education, the professional development grant program rollout, Forum elections, social media classes, the Forum’s monthly book club, a proposed tour of the community garden with University administration, the June Blood Drive, the annual retreat, the Chancellor’s Cup golf tournament, the peer recognition banquet, the Carolina Family needs-based scholarship, and a proposed visit to the Legislature with Director of State Relations Jennifer Willis.
The Chair hoped that the Forum could receive an update on events related to the University data breach, given the community meeting which had taken place a year ago on this topic. The chair then welcomed Antonio Baines, Brent Blanton, Sonia Davis, Keith Gerarden, Maura Murphy, and Patrice Parrish to present their ULEAD training presentation: Transforming Staff-Faculty Relationships: Closing the Great Divide. This presentation involved staff and faculty members from UNC-Chapel Hill and NC Central University. The presentation began with a short video, making the case for a joint faculty-staff committee to address questions of common concern. It was noted that improvements in innovation often are accompanied by questions of efficiency. The presentation examined total quality management and other organizational management structures, then sought to bring in data driven decisions to augment the case for a joint faculty/staff committee. It was noted that Stanford University and Guilford College have similar bodies on their campuses. Texas A&M University has won a National Science Foundation to carry out their faculty/staff transformation. Faculty/staff interaction is measured by a Chronicle of Higher Education survey.
Benchmarking staff satisfaction with the workplace arose through an employee engagement survey first commissioned at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2005 then again in 2010. The survey showed marked improvement in employee satisfaction in the latter survey. The presentation team hoped that the 2015 survey will show even more progress.
The presentation team sought to synthesize the goal of including staff in the leadership of the University, and to increase mutual understanding and respect for the work of both faculty and staff. The team urged finding other mechanisms to measure the level of recognition and respect among both faculty and staff, the strength of these ties, the leadership in this area, and the connection to the University’s mission.
The team recommended the creation of a 14-20 person committee composed of faculty and staff leaders as well as representatives from the Provost’s Office, Human Resources Training and Talent Development and Employee and Managerial Relations, the Ombuds Office, and other areas. The committee would meet three times a year, during the fall, spring and summer semesters. The committee would develop subcommittees and programs to work on issues of particular concern facing faculty and staff. Benefits of the committee would include addressing issues of common concern, resolution of common problems, an increase in dialogue, and creation of a team-like atmosphere among the two groups. Additional benefits include faculty and staff managerial and leadership training, a partnership award for those participating in this endeavor, and a clearinghouse website to support these activities.
Anna Schwab asked if these proposals were mainly faculty or staff generated. She asked because of the perceived snobbery among some faculty members. It was noted that there was more interest among staff in this work, with some faculty not seeing the issue as a concern. However, the head of the faculty was very interested in the concept of a joint faculty-staff committee.
Katie Turner noted that faculty and staff with terminal degrees who are not on tenure track often are shut off from resources. She wondered if a faculty committee would be receptive to this presentation on the joint need to educate both sides. It was noted that the Forum had already been active in many of the areas described by the presentation’s report.
Shamecia Powers asked if senior administrators or faculty and staff would be most needed to keep this effort going. It was noted that all parts of the University would be needed to contribute to this effort, including senior leadership.
Susan Colby, chair of the UNC System Staff Assembly, invited the group to present at the Assembly’s February meeting. Dr. Steve Leonard said that the group had also been invited to present to the Faculty Assembly. It was noted that Western Carolina University has created a joint leadership program that addresses these questions on a monthly basis, bringing these questions to the surrounding counties to show their general impact.
Matt McKirahan asked if the joint committee would report directly to the Chancellor or to senior administration. This question would be best tailored to specific campuses’ administrative structure, it was thought. Steve Leonard said that a joint retreat and common session with UNC System President Tom Ross had been helpful. Susan Colby said that a new committee on student success mentioned faculty and staff contributions. She noted that all UNC faculty chairs on the Faculty Assembly have been asked to collaborate with staff groups. The Chair asked when the staff climate assessment survey would go out. Senior Director Kathy Bryant said that the survey will likely go out in the spring on a staggered basis.
Vice Chancellor for Workplace Strategy, Equity, and Engagement Felicia Washington presented the Forum’s customary Human Resources update. She thanked the ULEAD presenters for their report. She also thanked Kathy Bryant, Will Frey, and Verita Murrill for their work with the ULEAD program, adding that sadly Murrill would soon depart for Princeton University.
Washington noted that Associate Vice Chancellor Matt Brody will soon leave the University for a position with UNC General Administration. Brody thanked the Forum for its welcoming spirit and candid discussion. He said that the Forum had been very valuable in his work.
Washington asked employees to check their paycheck stubs through Connect Carolina for any benefits problems. She noted that Title IX training has reached 59% participation campus-wide already. Those who have not carried through with the training will receive reminders soon.
Felicia Washington noted that she always sets personal goals each New Year. She encouraged listeners to set their own development goals, and measure how they progress through the year. She read a story about the “best little violet one can be” and the idea that only you can do your great work. She recalled the passing of Stuart Scott and her time on campus with him. She said that Scott was courageous enough to be himself in his contributions through the media and the Carolina community.
Washington thanked the Forum for its voice, stating that it has been very helpful to hear what employees think. She then asked Manager Chris Chiron to present the University’s revised adverse weather policy.
Chiron said that the current policy has been affected by changes in the State policy. He would discuss these changes and their implications for UNC-Chapel Hill. He noted that the adverse weather policy is always in effect.
Regarding State policy changes, it was noted that of non-critical employees in adverse weather situations, 12% used adverse weather leave while 88% code the leave as it came up as vacation leave or paid time off. This practice has led to some confusion.
Now, under State rules, the adverse weather policy is limited to warning situations only, not watches. The policy does not allow for school closings. If an employee has paid time off, such as comp time, paid leave, or some other leave, the employee must use this leave first before adverse weather leave. The choice to allow make up time or coded leave for this practice lies with the supervisor, not the employee.
Under the University’s interpretation of these changes, the University has decided that adverse weather leave is not worth the time to administer. Instead, the University will discontinue adverse weather makeup leave for employees. If an employee is away due to adverse weather, they must code compensatory time such as vacation or bonus leave. The University can advance leave if needed, but it must be repaid otherwise the employee could receive a dock in pay. The University will still pay employees if it is declared closed due to Condition 3, such as a toxic spill. The adverse weather policy will cover Conditions 1 and 2. Chiron noted that when administrative facilities do not allow employees to work, such as in the case of a malfunctioning air conditioner on a summer day, employees can no take leave in this situation.
An employee who lives in Guilford County asked about differences in weather between Orange County and employees’ home counties. What weather should govern employee decisions? Felicia Washington noted that UNC-Chapel Hill has been active in pursuing modifications of the State policy. Chiron said that UNC had provided feedback to the State on the impracticality of the policy given the difficulty in tracking time frames for the wide range of employees’ home counties.
An employee asked if one could use sick leave in adverse weather situations. Chiron said that employees cannot use sick leave or adverse weather leave for adverse weather purposes. He further noted that the University will encourage departments to be flexible in cases of school closings, given that the employee’s child cannot stay at home alone.
Chrissie Greenberg said that this policy could create some bad feelings among staff who are expected by their supervisors to report to work, regardless of their personal safety concerns or childcare issues under Condition 2. She thought it would be helpful for employees to speak with their supervisors about how the supervisor interprets Condition 2 and what qualifies as acceptable reason to remain home under this condition (unsafe conditions at home, school closed, etc…).” She thought that there could still be pushback from supervisors about the new policy. Chiron said that the University encourages managers to think in advance about adverse weather situations as a consistent practice. Matt Brody said that under the University’s new leadership, the University did close during adverse weather last year. He thought that the Administration is sensitive to these concerns, and he expected that the leadership of the campus will be prudent. He emphasized that the conversation about this question with the State has not finished. Chiron said that the State has decided to monitor agency closings more closely in recent years.
Chiron said that Condition 2 now represents the “suspension of non-mandatory operations.” He said that employees in this situation must make their normal best efforts to get to work. Kirk Montgomery asked if the University will house employees. Chiron said that these questions will be left to departments to think through in advance.
Clair Counihan suggested that the policy encourage employees to work at home during adverse weather events. She asked if there was a survey done about the adverse weather policy. Chiron said that one was done, but he had not seen the actual survey.
Deborah Bush suggested that Human Resources update its website to reflect the new policy given the prospect of adverse weather the following day. Chiron said that the policy will be posted later that day.
Todd Hux asked about his status as an emergency employee which he contended had been added as a condition of employment. He asked if the University will provide transit for adverse weather emergency work, given that the University will not insure against bodily harm or vehicle damage travelling to and from work. He said that if the University expects anyone to show up it should provide this transportation. Chiron said that the University cannot provide this transportation. He said that departments can provide accommodations that they can afford and see fit. He noted that all employees are responsible for making contingency plans to insure that they can get to work. He said that Hux’s issues present a conversation for Facilities Services. Hux said that a month ago he received a letter detailing a policy change. He said that the policy regarding emergency workers has changed so much that no one is clear about their current status. He observed that conditions in other departments seem better defined. Chiron said that the vanilla version of the policy does not apply to everyone.
Christina Rodriguez asked if the onus is on departments to prepare for adverse weather events, would the University provide any financial support for this preparation. She noted that employees have been housed in hotels or even in co-workers’ houses. She noted that some employees will not want to use vacation leave in these situations. Chiron recalled the example of the January 2014 adverse weather event, when conditions began to deteriorate quickly before the decision to close the University at 2 p.m. He said that these situations are necessarily tricky. He said that the University must prioritize services that absolutely must be taken care of, such as the care of research animals. There is no central fund for this purpose, unfortunately.
Anna Schwab asked how an employee is considered an emergency employee or an “essential” employee. Chiron said that the nature of the work determines this designation.
Andy Eaker recalled the experience of the Craig Deck and the Chapel Hill Transit bus systems during the January 2014 storm. He asked how well-equipped these buses are for severe adverse weather events. Todd Hux observed that buses cause impassibility of roads. He said that the Town around the University causes most of the traffic difficulties. He thought that the burden to clear the roads lay with the Town. Chiron said that the University always consults with the Town and Chapel Hill Transit when making decisions whether and when to close.
Felicia Washington recalled her first week at work when the streets were frozen. She said that the University needs to conduct more conversations about this question. Chiron said that the University will give employees until the end of March to make up any adverse weather leave taken. He reminded full-time employees that they can make up this time only in a week in which they do not work 40 hours to avoid taking overtime. Chiron said if the balance is not made up, it can be taken from vacation leave or docked from one’s pay.
The Chair declared that the Forum had achieved a quorum during Chiron’s remarks. He asked for a motion to approve the November minutes of the Forum. This motion was made and approved by acclamation, with one abstention. The Chair called for a motion to approve the December minutes. . It was noted that Kathy Ramsey was incorrectly identified, and Tammy Cox was incorrectly found absent in the December minutes. Todd Hux moved that the minutes be approved. The motion carried with three abstentions.
The Chair called for Forum committee reports. Todd Hux said that the next Blood Drive committee meeting will take place February 3 at 9:30 a.m. in the School of Pharmacy board room. He noted that the winter blood drive had met 87% of its goal in a wintry day. The next drive will take place June 2, 2015.
Arlene Medder reported that the Carolina Campus Community Garden had completed its shed and hopes to achieve approval for its solar panels for the greenhouse in March. Pictures of the proposed changes will be put on the Forum website.
Katie Turner said that the Communications and Public Relations committee has translated the Forum website into the new Heelium template. She asked that listeners inform her of problems or errors on the site. The Chair took a moment to thank Turner for her work on the site.
Samara Reynolds reported that the Education and Career Development committee will meet with Human Resources to finalize plans for the Professional Development grants program. Matt McKirahan hoped that the Forum could roll out the program officially in February. Reynolds said that the Panel on Careers in Higher Education will take place in March, and the Peer Recognition awards will take place in the spring.
Karen Jenkins said that the Membership & Assignments committee will conduct a canned food drive on January 15 during the UNC Women’s Basketball game. The committee will follow up with a February departmental drive with the cooperation of the Interfaith Council.
Chrissie Greenberg said that the Personnel Issues committee has not met recently due to the holidays. Committee representatives Greenberg and Kirk Montgomery sit on the welfare committee of the UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Council. Greenberg observed that the faculty welfare committee chair, Tim Ives, has been very engaged with the committee’s work.
The Chair reported that the UNC System Staff Assembly will meet in Winston-Salem on February 23rd and 24th. He said that the Assembly will host the Chancellors’ Cup golf tournament in April. He hoped that UNC-Chapel Hill would be able to recruit two teams again for this event.
The Chair noted that the Executive Committee will hold a half-day retreat on January 13 featuring facilitator Belinda Locke from Student Affairs. The retreat will flesh out assessment measures and goal planning for the Forum as well as project management for the next six months. Delegates were welcome to join the retreat.
Ronda Manuel noted that former Forum Vice Chair Dan Barmmer had his last day at UNC-Chapel Hill on Monday, January 5. He had taken a position at Elon University.
The Chair presented Matt Brody with a certificate of appreciation and gift bag for his work with the Forum and the University. Brody thanked the Chair for the gifts and said that he still planned to visit when possible.
The Chair was excited for the activities of the next six months. He asked for a motion to adjourn. Arlene Medder made this motion, which was approved by acclamation. The meeting adjourned at 11:24 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary