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June 23, 2015 Executive Committee minutes

Attending (those who signed in):  Bonita Brown, Gena Carter, Clare Counihan, Phillip Edwards, Chrissie Greenberg, Shayna Hill, Kirk Montgomery, Kathy Ramsey, Charles Streeter, Katie Turner

Excused:  Bonita Brown, Arlene Medder

Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 11:30 a.m.  He noted that the UNC System Staff Assembly is due to meet August 5-6 in Asheville, the same date as the Forum’s August 5 monthly meeting.  He asked if the Executive Committee wanted to move this meeting, as Vice Chair Kirk Montgomery will also be committed to Staff Assembly duties.

The Chair noted that the Forum needs more delegates.  He planned to ask for recommendations from the various divisions soon.  He noted that Clare Counihan wanted to send out a letter directly to her constituents in Division 1.  He hoped that all of the delegates in a particular division could contribute to this letter.  He also suggested that the Forum website contain pictures of delegates so that employees can communicate more easily.

The Chair asked for a motion to approve the May minutes.  Kirk Montgomery made this motion, subject to possible grammatical corrections from Arlene Medder.  The motion was approved.

Shayna Hill and Matt Banks presented the Forum’s monthly budget report.  The Chair noted that the Forum has two budgets, one operational from a trust fund account and one Staff Development fund the use of which must be approved by the Chancellor.  The Chair asked the various committee chairs to prepare preliminary budgets for the new fiscal year.  He noted that the Chancellor had once suggested providing funds to pay for a “name” speaker.  Chrissie Greenberg confirmed that all ideas are fine for this step in the process.  The Chair said that the Forum had tried to use its funds purposefully through the last fiscal year.

Clare Counihan suggested that the Forum could hold its monthly meetings in the Sonja H. Stone Center instead of the Wilson Library.  In the Stone Center, the Forum would not need to pay to have the tables moved into and out of formation each meeting date.  The Chair said that he liked the Pleasants Family Assembly room, but said that he would agree with the majority.  Chrissie Greenberg liked having a table to lean and write on during a long meeting.  The Chair commented that the Forum could do a lot with the more than $1,000/year now designated for table moves in the Pleasants Family Room.  He asked committee chairs to submit their budgets in July.

Clare Counihan noted that Ronda Manuel had led the Carolina Family Scholarship ad hoc committee in a meeting two weeks ago.  The committee has received eighteen applications, some new applications and some renewals.  Counihan said that the committee had worked on the rubric for the Scholarship application.  She said that the group hoped to obtain results from the faculty-staff committee by the middle of July.  She said that the committee plans to award two scholarships of $8,000 ($2,000/year for four years, renewed annually).

The Chair said that NC State University has a similar program managed by its Development office.  He said that the Forum must find better ways to manage and fundraise for the UNC-Chapel Hill program.  He asked Gena Carter if Finance and Administration had anything concrete to report concerning commitments to fund the Scholarship this year.  Carter said that Gwen Norwood is the contact person for this effort.  She said that the Forum would not manage funds but rather would manage the process for distribution.  Carter ascertained that there would be a process to dedicate these funds for the four-year period for each recipient.  The Chair hoped to present the Scholarship funding question to the Board of Trustees at a future meeting.

Regarding strategic planning in 2015, the Chair said that the Forum should set its goals in August.  He asked that Executive Committee members use the Outlook Exchange calendar to schedule meetings.  Chrissie Greenberg said that the Personnel Issues committee plans to schedule its meetings through the year soon.  Phillip Edwards emphasized that Forum committees should keep minutes at each meeting.  The Chair commented that perhaps the Forum minutes are more detailed than they have to be.

The Chair led a discussion of goals for the upcoming year.  He said that the Executive Committee have usually vetted matters to come before the full Forum, although he granted that any delegate can bring an issue to the floor on their own.  He noted that the Forum has been asked to submit a report for the University’s accreditation.  Committee members settled on Speakers, Issues, and Activities as areas central for Forum planning.  The Chair said that he hoped to have Joel Curran of University Communications at the August meeting.

Clare Counihan said that the Forum could support the increase in family care scholarship program.  She said that the Carolina Women’s Center wants to invite Felicia Washington and Ashley Nicklis to a meeting.  Katie Turner suggested discussing sustainability.  Kirk Montgomery suggested placing energy conservation under the Forum’s goals.  Counihan asked about limits on the Forum’s activities with the Legislature.  The Chair said that the Forum does not want to participate in partisan activities as there are some areas in which conservative employees feel they are not given a voice.  Turner suggested Marco Barker of the Provost’s Committee on Diversity and Excellence.

Kirk Montgomery asked about addressing employee morale concerns.  Katie Turner noted the campus climate survey due to go out in the fall.  The Chair hoped to advise the Center on Diversity and Multicultural Affairs to include more staff-related questions in their survey.  He cited the number of employees without college degrees as one example in which the University can learn more about its employees.  He said that the Forum also has a need for this demographic information.  For instance, he wondered how many employees have families.  However, he cautioned that the Forum does not want to inundate employees with surveys.  Gena Carter expressed caution about the uses of this information.  She emphasized planning the eventual purpose of every question raised.  Clare Counihan said that Terri Phoenix is very particular about protecting the information and anonymity of respondents.  Turner said that this information could be one argument to make to retain the University’s GED program for employees.  The Chair thought that the Forum in its role supporting staff has a strong argument that it needs this data.

Shayna Hill asked how the Forum can ensure employees that the time taken to respond to these surveys is worth the trouble.  She recalled the climate survey 3-4 years ago that some staff felt did not have a discernable impact on their lives.  Chrissie Greenberg said that the Forum could state that it needs this information to be more responsive as staff representatives.

The Chair noted that James Holman had authored proposed resolution 15-03 concerning making former Forum Vice-Chair Brenda Denzler a lifetime honorary delegate.  He hoped that Holman would be available to answer questions about the resolution at the July meeting of the Forum.

The Chair noted that the Education and Career Development committee planned to work on issues affecting peers and supervisors, Human Resources, mentoring, and connecting employees to campus resources.  The committee also plans to work on advocacy issues.  The committee plans to develop the higher education panel discussion into a half-day symposium.  The committee also will study the alignment of Human Resources training goals with the nine institutional goals for staff.

Chrissie Greenberg said that the Personnel Issues committee will work on finishing its resolution on the 9.9% limitation on staff salary raises.  The committee also seeks to investigate increasing higher education degree options available for permanent staff.  The committee hopes to talk about maternity benefits, the fate of the career banding initiative, and the digital divide between Facilities Services employees and other staff.  Kirk Montgomery noted that Housekeeping has training for its employees at the Cheek-Clark building.  The Chair noted that these housekeepers can often forget their Onyen and password if they do not use them often.  He wanted to insure that every employee has access to communications at work or at home.

Shayna Hill noted the old sandbox program in which Information Technology Services would provide general training on any software package.  Gena Carter said that this kind of walk-in training is very appealing, but she recalled that the program ended when budget cuts interceded.

Kathy Ramsey said that the Membership and Assignments committee will work to obtain demographics data on the Forum membership this month.

Gena Carter asked about the historic communication of SEANC benefits by the Forum.  The Chair said that the Forum has not communicated more than should be known by every employee.  It was noted that the Forum used to communicate information about SEANC more actively.  The Chair noted that SEANC officials have come to Employee Appreciation Day and Arts & Sciences managers’ meetings, among other University activities.  The Chair noted that SEANC officials can do things with regard to the Legislature that the Forum cannot as a representative body of the University.

The Chair emphasized the importance of maintaining momentum following the June 10th retreat.  He would send out a draft agenda to the Executive Committee before the July 8th meeting.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 1:20 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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