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March 17, 2015 Executive Committee minutes

Attending (those who signed in):  Gena Carter, Andy Eaker Oscar Fleming, Todd Hux, Matt McKirahan, Arlene Medder, Charles Streeter, Katie Turner, Ben Triplett


Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 11:34 a.m.  He asked for a motion to approve the December minutes.  Arlene Medder had one correction.  She moved that the minutes be accepted.  The motion was approved with two abstentions.  The Chair then asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the January meeting.  Andy Eaker made this motion.  The motion was approved with three members abstaining.

The Chair welcomed Clare Counihan, Program Coordinator for the Women’s Center, to present a report on child care initiatives.  Counihan had presented before at the Forum’s Personnel Issues committee.  She outlined her methodology in producing a report comparing UNC’s practices with its peer institutions.  She recalled sharing several drafts with the Forum, and had been scheduled to attend the February meeting of the Executive Committee.  She hoped that the Forum would produce a vote of approval or a motion of support for the plan.

Counihan outlined the different areas in which the University could improve its support of child-bearing employees.  She noted that many employees have indicated that they do not feel they can take their entire allotted leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), either because of ignorance of the leave or their supervisor does not share information about the leave.  She noted that staff are not paid for this leave, something that she hoped that the University would work to change with existing resources.

Counihan said that the report’s recommendations include increasing the number and quality of lactation spaces on campus.  Additionally, she noted that many employees lack accessible child care.  She hoped that the University would eventually build a new child care facility that is less expensive than Victory Village.  She proposed that the University seek partnership with a national child care advocacy association to provide referral services and other help.  She also proposed that the University increase its child care subsidies for faculty and staff.

The Chair asked how many employees have dependents in their households.  Counihan said that the University does not have this information.  She thought that an upcoming climate survey could provide an estimate.  Todd Hux asked the cost to supply child care for employees.  Counihan said that the cost for child care for an infant in Orange County is $1350/month.  She said that Health and Human Services have found the Statewide average for infant care to be $900/month, which increases to $1100-1200/month for infants in the Triangle.  She said that the national benchmark is that child care should not exceed 10% of income.  She hoped that the University could work to find funds to hold child care costs for employees below this 10% standard.

The Chair asked if Counihan was ready for the full Forum to discuss this document.  She said that she would hopefully be ready the following month, perhaps after meeting with the Executive Committee again.  She said that she had a more recent draft to share with the committee.  Gena Carter commented that employees feeling uncomfortable with the unpaid nature of the FMLA leave can have paid leave run concurrently.  She said that those without paid leave could find that FMLA poses a hardship.  Counihan proposed that the University put in a bid on an income replacement plan which employees could use to sign up to subsidize their FMLA leave.

Oscar Fleming praised the organization and reach of the report.  He asked how the Forum could help frame the report for outside consumption.  Counihan said that she drew on existing information to put together the report.   He asked if Counihan had cost information for the report.  She said that she would include as much as she could.  Ben Triplett suggested addressing better access for activities such as discounts and subsidies for local events.  He said that night parking plan changes would affect access to these events.

The Chair reported that he, Andy Eaker, Ronda Manuel, Clare Counihan, Bruce Egan, and Debbie Dibbert met in the Chancellor’s Office to discuss possible avenues for funding the Carolina Family Need-Based Scholarship.  The committee discussed the possibility of using the Staff Development fund for this purpose, only to learn later that fund guidelines prevent such use.  Katie Turner urged the committee to maintain eligibility for adjunct faculty, who make very little income.  Andy Eaker confirmed that the Scholarship’s criteria are income based for permanent employees of the University.  Turner noted that approximately 60% of campus faculty are fixed-term or on one-year contracts.  She said that the Scholarship should clarify its eligibility criteria with respect to these employees.

The committee discussed the amount of money needed to keep the Scholarship viable.  The Chair proposed approaching the Administration and the Board of Trustees to discuss funding.  Turner noted that the University should make a four-year commitment to any Scholarship recipients to keep with previous practice.  The Chair noted that the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid had done a great deal to handle selection details for the past ten years.  The committee discussed possible publicity options for the Scholarship, including Athletics events and Employee Appreciation Day.

The Chair asked that Matt Banks draft a letter requesting support from the Chancellor’s Office for the Scholarship Fund.  He asked for a vote from the Executive Committee approving this course.  The committee voted in favor with one vote opposing.

The Chair noted that planning for the Spring Community Meeting on Wednesday, May 6th is ongoing.  The Chancellor has agreed to attend.  He said that the meeting will take place in the Pleasants Family Assembly room, since meetings in the Great Hall have been sparsely attended.  Members discussed possible topics for the meeting, including the recent controversy regarding President Ross’ imminent departure from the University.  The Chair would meet separately with the Vice Chair to discuss proposed topics and the format for the meeting.

The Chair said that the Forum’s survey regarding qualities needed in a UNC President received 47 responses.  He discussed different ways of increasing the response rate.  Members worried that these could replicate the Forum’s monthly newsletter.  Katie Turner observed that 47 responses was not a bad figure given the topic, if the quality of responses is good.  Todd Hux thought that employees may have many other closer concerns.

The Chair asked what else the Forum could do to support University centers and institutes in the wake of the Board of Governors’ decision to close the Center for Work, Poverty, and Opportunity.  Katie Turner noted a working group’s missive lamenting the persistent threat to staff political freedoms that the Board’s actions represent.  The Chair noted that staff representative bodies like the Forum are not included in the University Code, meaning that these groups must work with other bodies to create positive change.  Members discussed the adequacy of the Chancellor’s response to the Board’s action.  It was noted that the Legislature does have the power to review University centers and institutes which it exercised through the Board of Governors.  This action was not a policy that could be overruled, but rather represented legislative action.

Matt McKirahan asked what the Forum could do to represent the staff members who may lose their jobs as a result of this decision.  He thought that the Forum has an obligation to represent these employees as well as to keep up to date with developments with the Board affecting employees.

An employee mentioned possibly coded language in the Board of Governors working group draft associated with centers and institutes.  This language conflated political and legislative activity for State employees, potentially chilling freedom of speech for these people.

The Chair noted that there was a movement to rename Saunders Hall.  Campus meetings on this topic continue through March.  The Chair proposed to invite leaders of this movement to a future Forum meeting for further discussion.

Gena Carter updated the Executive Committee on the fate of the 180-degree evaluations.  She noted that the Office of State Human Resources had notified State agencies o fa new performance management system.  She said that the Chancellor will decide with her cabinet the future of 180-degree initiatives.  Ben Triplett noted that Housekeeping had been part of the pilot effort in this area.  Carter said that other large organizations that have not implemented proper training for their employees have faced difficulty with supervisors not prepared to accept feedback evolving into punitive action.

Todd Hux reported that the Carolina Blood Drive will occur June 2nd all day in the Dean Dome.  He said that appointments are available now.

Arlene Medder reported that the Carolina Campus Community Garden had received all of its approvals for the solar greenhouse.  The Garden had also received a donation for creation and maintenance of a compost pile.  The Garden plans to issue a survey to employees about its activities.

Katie Turner said that the Communications and Public Relations committee had received 23 registrants for the social media class.  She said that InTouch had a feature on female administrators at the University.  She said that the book club will take place the following Friday.  The committee is on the verge of selecting books through February 2016.  The committee has sent out requests for peer recognition award nominations.

Andy Eaker reported that the Education and Career Development committee will see Shane Hale take over as interim Chair until the end of the fiscal year.  The committee will discuss the Peer Recognition Awards event to take place on Friday, May 15, with the last day for the awards being April 15.  He thanked Matts McKirahan and Banks for their work on the professional development grant applications.  He also noted that the Higher Education panel discussion has been completely filed up.  Eaker hoped that the committee could continue work on a Staff Excellence Program.

Karen Jenkins noted that the Forum elections will soon take place.  The Chair provided members with posters detailing the option to nominate candidates for the upcoming elections.

The Chair reported that Yvonne Dunlap and Kirk Montgomery of the Personnel Issues committee would join him in a visit to the Legislature with Jennifer Willis March 25th.

The Chair noted that the Staff Assembly met February 23rd and 24th.  The Assembly will hold its Chancellors’ Cup golf tournament in Greenville April 7th.  He said that the Chancellor has agreed to sponsor a team for the event.

The Chair asked what the committee would like to occur at the April 1st Forum meeting.  Matt McKirahan suggested moving committee reports forward in the agenda.  The Chair hoped that Board of Trustees members would be available to speak on campus developments from their perspective.  Katie Turner hoped that the Forum could discuss the drive to “right-size” University campuses.  McKirahan stressed that the Forum should limit the time for speakers.

Gena Carter said that the Human Resources update in April will likely be very general.  The Chair said that the Forum will invite employees to use their community service leave to volunteer in the Campus Community Garden on Earth Day, April 22.  He asked that the Forum spend programming money from the Staff Development fund to supply lemonade for this event.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 1:38 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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