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November 18, 2014 Executive Committee minutes

Attending (those who signed in):  Gena Carter, Yvonne Dunlap, Andy Eaker, Oscar Fleming, Michael Highland, Todd Hux, Karen Jenkins, Matt McKirahan, Arlene Medder, Charles Streeter, Katie Turner

Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 11:30 a.m.  He noted that he had been misquoted in the recent issue of the Daily Tar Heel.  He noted that the monthly budget report for the Forum was unavailable from InfoPort.  Katie Turner said that the Inforport report system was difficult to understand given its multiple listings of some expenses and lack of encumbrance of other expenses.

The Chair asked the committee’s opinion on taking over the Carolina Family Scholarship.  He noted that the faculty and staff committee members determine the scholarship winners.  The Forum’s job would be to make sure that the committee meets and to solicit for additional funds for the scholarship.  Oscar Fleming asked if this effort is sustainable.  Matt McKirahan said that without more infrastructure finding more funding, the Scholarship Fund will soon run out of money.  He said that the Forum would need to work to increase the Fund’s endowment.  Andy Eaker said that the Forum could publicize this effort as a good cause.  Katie Turner asked how committee members are appointed to select Fund winners.  The Chair said that the selections are made in late fall or early spring.

Katie Turner asked about requesting Human Resources help with this effort.  She thought that the Fund support should be a joint faculty/staff effort.  Gena Carter said that she was not volunteering to house the effort, but she granted that the Fund resembles other educational assistance programs supported by Human Resources.  Turner thought that the Fund would fit naturally among work-life benefits such as educational assistance and tuition waiver.  Matt McKirahan thought that the Fund needs outside funding, and by implication should be administered outside the Human Resources system.  Todd Hux said that staff need this aid more than faculty.  Turner pointed out that 40% of courses are taught by contingent faculty at the University.  The Chair thought that the Fund needs someone to take a lead on the project or it would simply dissipate.

Matt McKirahan asked about creating a subcommittee in charge of administering the professional development grant applications as well as the Carolina Family Scholarship fund duties.  He thought that this group would logically handle media relations and advocacy on behalf of these efforts.  Andy Eaker thought that this effort would be a good one and could bring in other efforts.  The Chair asked for a formal motion to submit this proposal to the full Forum.  This motion was approved with one voting in opposition and one abstention.

Katie Turner was concerned that this effort might fall by the wayside if the committee is not strong.  She said that this shift could place a lot of responsibility on the Chair and Matt Banks to accomplish these tasks in lieu of the committee’s work.  The Chair said that the nominations and processing of applications will not occur under the Forum’s purview.  Turner said that she supports the nomination process for awards through her position as assistant for Faculty Governance.  She is asked to provide support for awards unless she has a particularly active chair.  Matt McKirahan said that the Education and Career Development subcommittee should handle submissions itself, and Financial Aid should still handle the financial aid piece of the scholarships.  Turner pointed out that someone will need to ensure these groups meet their deadlines and obligations.  She thought that Human Resources could provide better communication about the Fund and better infrastructure to handle the various tasks.  The Chair said that this option is not off the table.  He recalled that he and Andy Eaker met with Bruce Egan and Sharon Glover earlier in the month.  He said that the Faculty Council should contribute to this effort if faculty are to remain eligible for the award.  Eaker said that the infrastructure is already available to take care of the Fund’s needs.  Gena Carter offered to take this question to Vice Chancellor Felicia Washington for further consideration.  Oscar Fleming thought that the Forum should outline the basic criteria for these kinds of commitments, including the amount of administrative burden and principles governing involvement.  The Chair said that Forum delegates are not currently using their full complement of allotted hours.  He thought that the Forum could accomplish these goals with only a few delegates more committing themselves to the effort.   Michael Highland commented that Financial Aid faces limited returns from its efforts with smaller scholarships given the administrative work involved.  He said that these efforts sometimes involve more work than organizers typically realize at first.

The Chair said that the Forum should consider advising delegates on media relations, particularly the difference between speaking as a delegate versus speaking as an individual or individual employee.  He said that the Forum could discuss this question in the New Year, perhaps inviting Director of Public Affairs for the University Jennifer Willis to speak on the question for 30 minutes at a Forum meeting.  He thought that delegates should speak on political concerns outside their duties as Forum delegates, for example outside the legislative meet and greet scheduled for December 3.  Matt McKirahan said that he would not be surprised if the media attend Forum events more often.  Ben Triplett suggested providing a briefing on media relations at the Forum’s new delegate orientation.  He did not think that individual delegates should put their Forum delegate status into article bylines when commenting as individuals.

Gena Carter noted that the University has revised its media relations into a more centralized approach.  She suggested that delegates could direct all requests for comment to one central source, perhaps the Forum Chair, for comment.  She said that this person would be accountable for the Forum’s media relations.  Matt McKirahan noted that the Chair is the only person who speaks for the entire body.  The Chair noted that the Chair has the right to choose a delegate to speak on his or her behalf if needed.  Katie Turner said that speaking with the new Vice Chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs Joel Curran could be a good path for the Forum.  She thought that delegates could prevent adding Forum delegate status to Daily Tar Heel bylines, for example.  She noted that the Board of Governors has begun asking that University affiliated personnel leave off their affiliation in any public communications.  She did not want to create the impression that delegates have been told not to talk with reporters, but rather that the Forum is working to speak with one voice in the disorganized noise of the media cloud.  Matt McKirahan said that the Forum could also contact the Associate Vice Chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs Rick White for more insight into this topic.

The Chair noted that the Forum will need to hold its spring community meeting soon.  Michael Highland asked for advice on topics and speakers.  He thought that inviting the UNC System President and the UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor would be good ideas to focus on moving Carolina forward.  He thought that asking these dignitaries to focus on the next two to five years would work well as a starting point for discussion.  The Chair noted that the Forum is allotted two community meetings per year.  He recalled that the Forum held a community meeting on the data breach matter in January 2014.  Andy Eaker suggested that the Forum focus on discussing the viability of establishing a Center for Staff Excellence at the meeting.  The Chair thought that the Forum should move this question to a future Vice Chancellor/Provost meeting.  He noted that the Forum will need to ask the staff for questions for the meeting.  Andy Eaker proposed that this feedback could be imported into a database for analysis.  The Chair asked what questions President Ross and Chancellor Folt should be prepared to answer from such a list.

Arlene Medder suggested that the Forum hold a community meeting on race and gender and the University’s plans for diversity and inclusion.  Andy Eaker noted feelings that the University’s Veterans’ Day communications left out staff veterans from general mention.  The Chair said that the Forum’s mission should include highlighting the accomplishments of staff, perhaps through commissioning statistics about the amount of higher education degrees staff have obtained.  Oscar Fleming agreed that the timing seems to be right to highlight staff accomplishments.  Andy Eaker pointed to the proposed Forum dinner honoring mentors as a means to increase awareness of staff accomplishments.  Michael Highland suggested that the Forum raise the question of institutional support for finding these statistics in a future Vice Chancellor/Provost meeting.  Katie Turner noted that Lynn Williford of University Research and Assessment would be a critical resource in this effort.  Michael Highland said that the University Gazette has also been a critical resource.  The Chair said that the Communications and Public Relations committee could also work to report staff accomplishments first.  Turner suggested contacting Patty Courtright about increasing coverage of Forum committee work in the Gazette’s news briefs section.

The Chair noted that Belinda Locke in Student Affairs will lead the Executive Committee’s discussion of Goals and Objectives on January 13, 2015.  He noted that the Forum had been asked to supply a report on outcomes, similar to that required of Faculty Governance.

Katie Turner noted that the faculty and students each have a special advisory committee that meets directly with the Chancellor.  She asked why the Faculty Council and Student Government have these direct lines to the Chancellor, whereas the Forum does not.  She noted that the Chancellor typically meets one to one and a half hours with each committee.  The faculty committee is selected from the faculty at large.  Matt McKirahan asked if this would be a good question for the Vice Chancellor/Provost meetings.  He confessed he was curious about the discrepancy.  Turner noted that the Chancellor presides in Faculty Council meetings and may use the advisory committee discussions to help in preparation for those meetings.  The Chair asked how often these committees meet with the Chancellor.  Turner said that originally the committees met monthly but now they meet bimonthly.  Matt McKirahan asked who would house a staff advisory committee to the Chancellor.  Turner observed that the Office of Faculty Governance supports the parallel staff committee.

Gena Carter asked how the proposed staff advisory committee would function differently than the Employee Forum, aside from the Chancellor’s presence.  The Chair said that the Forum would have direct access to the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor Washington that it does not currently now have.  Michael Highland asked the practical different between the two entities, noting that the Chancellor receives input from the Forum on which she can use in the formation of policy.  The Chair proposed asking for a hybrid committee composed of a part of the Forum’s leadership along with other staff members.  As another route, he suggested inviting the Chancellor to meet twice a year with the Forum Executive Committee.  Turner observed that this event would need placement on the open meetings calendar.  Arlene Medder thought that having the Chancellor come to 134 East Franklin could result in some improvements to the Forum Office.  Andy Eaker suggested asking the Chancellor about creating a Center for Staff Excellence.  The Chair said that he would contact Debbie Dibbert to test the waters about this idea.

The Chair noted that the Executive Committee will hold a half-day retreat Tuesday, January 13 at the Friday Center to discuss goals and objectives for the coming six months.  He asked that members notify him if they are able to attend.

Todd Hux noted that the next blood drive will take place Tuesday, December 9 at Fetzer Hall.  He said that there has been some difficulty with too many volunteers overwhelming donation facilities.  Andy Eaker, who has experience in these matters, said that often drives will overbook in order to ensure full use of facilities.  Hux said that employees typically will not sign up in advance to donate but rather will walk in to donate on the day of the event.  Hux said that the Forum had agreed to send out a mass e-mail requesting donations from faculty and staff, but not from students, in order to not overwhelm the drive once again.  Eaker said that Red Cross officials typically have limited staff available.  Hux said that there must be more staff to accommodate donors if necessary.  He noted problems with walk-ins being seated before appointments at the last two drives.  Matt McKirahan agreed that this practice looks bad.  He noted the great need for platelet donations, and urged creation of a philanthropic committee to address these other concerns.  The Chair commented that the Forum could consider this idea in the spring.

Arlene Medder reported that the Carolina Campus Community Garden shed is almost finished, needing only a door and other finishing touches.  The governing committee will look to broaden food distribution to other employees beyond housekeepers in the same pay grade.

Katie Turner reported that the Communications and Public Relations committee said that the group had experienced success with its recent Twitter classes.  She noted suggestions for Facebook, LinkedIn, and social etiquette classes, among others.   Andy Eaker said that he plans to meet with prospective professors who might teach these classes.  The Chair said that the Forum eventually hopes to pay for these classes from the Staff Development fund.  He noted that Information Technology Services has moved away from the in-person training model in favor of computer based training.  Matt McKirahan suggested that the Forum partner with Human Resources to place classes on the training calendar.

Andy Eaker said that the Education and Career Development committee had taken on the responsibilities of the Recognition and Awards committee for this year.  He said that the committee looked to finish details around the professional development grants, with the goal of presenting the final version in December.  He hoped that the grants will become live in January.   Matt McKirahan had some formatting recommendations for the grant application.  He advised that the Forum coordinate with Human Resources to obtain placement of the grants on their website.

Karen Jenkins said that the Membership & Assignments committee said that group is working on plans for the December Forum potluck.  The committee will work on room layout and prize distribution at the meeting.  Jenkins consulted with members about the length of the event and the presence of local legislators.

There was no report from the Personnel Issues committee.

The Chair noted that the UNC System Staff Assembly will meet in February at UNC-Charlotte.

The Chair asked for suggestions for the December 11 Vice Chancellor/Provost meeting.  Andy Eaker noted his proposal for a Center for Staff Excellence.

Matt McKirahan suggested that the Forum reduce its agenda for the December potluck in order to free up time for the social event.  Katie Turner suggested that the Forum could hold part of the potluck in 504 Wilson Library, across the hall from the Pleasants Family Assembly room.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 1:24 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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