Skip to main content

Employee Forum Agenda — November 5 , 2008

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

  • Linda Carver on 403(b) Situation
  • Dr. Malcolm Tutchin of Allied Health


V.          Human Resources Update—Brenda Malone

VI.         Employee Presentations or Questions

VII.        September Minutes;  October Minutes

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


November 5, 2008 Employee Forum minutes


Chair Tommy Griffin called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m.  He welcomed retiree Linda Carver to make an employee presentation on the 403(b) situation.  She felt upset that employees will now only have two choices for their 403(b) vendors.  She wanted to be sure that she could access her 403(b) monies readily in emergencies.  She also noted that Brian Usischon, senior director of benefits and employee services, had previously served as a representative of TIAA-Cref, one of the two companies that employees can still use under the new plan.  She noted reports that TIAA-Cref subscribers had needed two and a half months to get an emergency loan.  She said that the University needs to review its decision to limit the number of companies eligible to offer 403(b) benefits.  Brenda Denzler noted that three people had contacted her with questions about the decision-making process and possible conflicts of interest.

Dr. Malcolm Tutchin made the Forum’s next employee presentation.  He was leading a project on preventative home visits for older adults.  This project will seek relatives or friends 75 years or older who live alone in the community to be divided into one of two groups receiving either full or minimal intervention.  Those who complete the fifteen month study will receive $50 gift cards.    The study will concentrate on preventive intervention and what these older people say is important to them.  Tutchin asked Forum delegates to help find elderly people who could use these services.  The area served is limited to Durham, Orange, and northern Chatham counties.  Employees with concerns about elderly people outside these areas should contact their county’s Department on Aging.  Tutchin confirmed that the study must screen people to insure they meet certain criteria to qualify for the study.

Chair Tommy Griffin recognized former Forum Chair Ernie Patterson for his years of service, presenting him with an engraved picture frame portraying the Forum class of 2008.  He praised Patterson as one who had gone beyond the call of duty and who had been a great chair and a great friend.

The Chair introduced Shamelle Ingram of Fighting Against the Digital Divide (FADD).  The purpose of FADD is to provide University employees with the necessary technology skills to succeed in the workplace and in the future.  FADD is organized in the Campus Y.  Tutors are available to help employees learn computer skills or check their bank statements.  They are available to work with employees’ schedule.  Interested employees can write to,,  or, or phone Ingram at 919-259-3316.  Alan Moran asked if Ingram could talk about people FADD had helped in the past.  Ingram recalled one mail services employee who had wanted to learn to send and receive e-mails and to learn to format resumes.  Ingram said that there are also opening for prospective tutors who can check FADD’s website at


Associate Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone presented the Forum’s customary Human Resources update.  She introduced Brian Usischon to make a presentation on how the 403(b) program decision was made.  She said that the decision was made through General Administration and there was no influence, undue or otherwise, conflict of interest or pressure.  Usischon said that the IRS had issued finalized regulations governing 403(b) tax deferred savings programs.  These regulations require the University System to increase its oversight of these programs.  Previously, the University has had between 50 and 100 vendors of 403(b) programs.  If these programs fall out of compliance there are tax implications for subscribers.  Also, loans from the 403(b) programs cannot exceed $50,000.  All documents issued by 403(b) plans must coordinate with the University’s plan document.

Thus, administrators in the University System got together collectively to study changes to the system.  Eighty-two percent of contributions go to three vendors:  TIAA-Cref, Fidelity, and AIG.  Eighteen percent go to other vendors.  Without reducing the number of vendors, the University would have to administer seventeen plan documents.  Instead, the University issued an RFP in July.  Two companies did not meet minimum specifications and five of the six others elected to give presentations.  The evaluating committee studied fee structure, staffing, technology base, market share and financial stability of each company.  Usischon said that AIG received an $85 billion bailout from the U.S. Government, and ING received a $10 billion bailout from the Dutch Government.   He noted that 403(b) contributions are not backed by FDIC or other insurance.

The administrative committee also looked at other states undergoing a similar process of winnowing 403(b) programs because of the compliance and complexity of these programs.  The committee submitted its recommendations to President Bowles.  There were concerns about how the situation with AIG would play out, but the University has received assurances that these funds are safe.  Usischon described a four-tier system of investment choices offered by Fidelity and TIAA-Cref, ranging from life cycle fixed investments in Tier 1 to access to any mutual fund desired through these companies’ brokerage windows.  He outlined the possibility of Roth contributions allowing investors to claim earnings tax-free, a large consideration for those who want to protect their earnings for their heirs.

Usischon said that Human Resources would send out enrollment materials for Fidelity and TIAA-Cref in the next week.  Human Resources will hold informational meetings in November and December with the University and the UNC Health Care System.  Employees wishing to continue their contributions into their new programs without interruption must make elections by December 15, but they can enroll at any time.

Employees will still be able to get loans and hardships from their 403(b) accounts.  Usischon said that the two month period cited earlier in the meeting was unusual and that he would work to get that solved as soon as possible.  He added that employees do not have to move their money and can keep their funds in their current accounts.  The UNC System has worked with other vendors to sign master agreements to have loan options available.  However, they cannot make any additional contributions after the first of the year if their company is not Fidelity or TIAA-Cref.  Usischon noted that some other companies have surrender fees and charges and that employees should make sure they know what they are doing before moving their funds.

Brenda Malone noted that employees can get investment advice from TIAA-Cref or Fidelity representatives for free or may pay for advice from other independent advisors by check or payroll deduction.  TIAA-Cref and Fidelity will have offices on campus to facilitate the process.  It was noted that the UNC System Legal Counsel, the UNC System Vice President of Human Resources, and representatives from UNC-Wilmington, Appalachian State University, UNC-Greensboro, East Carolina, UNC-Chapel Hill, the UNC Health Care System, and NC State University all served on the administrative committee that heard proposals and made recommendations to President Bowles on which companies to employ.

Linda Carver raised concerns about the amount of return that TIAA-Cref investments have earned as well as the perceived need for more staffing from TIAA-Cref and Fidelity.  Usischon said that in the current market the ability of companies to pay their enrollees’ claims was paramount.  He said that TIAA-Cref had received the highest rating by Moody’s and other ratings agencies.  Fidelity was also very well rated.  Usischon did acknowledge some past slips in the service aspect of TIAA-Cref that accompanied a technological modernization but he said that President Bowles had pledged to contact the chairs of these companies directly if problems reemerge.

Usischon confirmed that there are no IRS rules on converted 403(b) plans to Roth plans.  He noted that there are not the same limits on 403(b) contributions as there are on Roth contributions.  Carver asked if one who rolled in their 403(b) contribution to TIAA-Cref must stay with that plan.  Usischon said that one can move funds out when one is 59.5 years old or have some disability without charge.  Both companies have no surrender charges.  If one is now contributing to a discontinued fund, one must choose either TIAA-Cref or Fidelity to continue to make contributions.  Brenda Malone said that Human Resources would distribute more information on these changes soon.  The Chair said that it would pay to ask questions about these concerns before acting.

The Chair introduced Associate Provost Ron Strauss, with whom he had served on the Carolina Committee for Public Service.  Strauss noted that he had taught at the Dental School since 1974 and had also been trained as a sociologist.  He continues to work at the Craniofacial Center and the AIDS Center, as well as the Carolina Center for Public Service.

Strauss noted the emotional connection that students make with Carolina and the new ways of learning that students expect in the 21st century.  He noted the generational changes that face the University and questions about promotion and tenure.  He noted the fundamental question of how the University can respect and reward labor.

Strauss noted that the UNC Tomorrow initiative raised questions about how state universities remain dedicated to the people of North Carolina.  He praised the Carolina Center for Public Service as a prime example of serving the people of North Carolina and the world.  Brenda Denzler asked if the Center had sought to keep track of staff public service.  Strauss said that this figure was not in the system to document but was very important to tell the story of what has been done.  He said that the Center’s staff would be very responsive to a request of this nature.

A question arose as to career banding.  Brenda Malone clarified that career banding is a classification structure but is not a reward system.  She noted that the State system does not allow the University to reward performance as such.  Marshall Dietz raised the idea of requiring public service from students.  Alan Moran suggested expanding the number of community service hours and increasing advertising of community service opportunities.  Dietz suggested that the University do more to prepare students for the realities of today’s economy.

The Forum took a five minute stretch break.  The Chair called for a motion to approve the minutes of the September and October meetings.  Todd Hux made this motion, seconded by Jackie Overton.  The motion was approved without opposition.

A call was made to see if the Forum had a quorum.  Since the Forum had 22 of 53 members present, the Forum was said to have a quorum.

Brenda Denzler read the first reading of the resolution concerning staff priorities in the next University development campaign.

Communications committee chair Brenda Denzler noted that group had published its first print edition of InTouch and would go back to its on-line version in November.  Community Affairs, Recognition and Awards committee member Angela Lyght reported that 850 employees had stopped at the Forum’s Employee Appreciation event booth.  The committee proposed inviting peer recognition award winners to a Forum meeting in December or January.  After consulting with legal counsel, the committee will not be able to collect money for a University family and will instead donate collected funds to the Combined Campaign.  Compensation and Benefits committee chair Alan Moran noted that group had drafted the University development resolution and planned to draft a wage resolution for consideration by the Legislature in 2009.  There was no report from the Education and Career Development, Legislative Action, Membership and Assignments or Staff Relations, Policies and Practices committees.

The Chair reported that the UNC System Staff Assembly will now meet four times a year, rather than twice a year.  He invited all delegates to attend the Provost/Vice Chancellor meeting November 13.  He urged all delegates to attend the meeting in December and to bring a fellow delegate to the meeting.  Brenda Denzler asked if the Forum should not represent retired employees.  The Chair noted that the Guidelines specify that represented employees must be permanent and work over 20 hours a week.  He hoped that the Forum would work to find ways to protect temporary employees if possible, but not at the expense of full time employees.  He urged delegates to thank their co-workers and supervisors for their contributions.  He thanked the Human Resources staff for their efforts on behalf of University employees.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned by acclamation at 11:30 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,



Matthew Banks, Recording Secretary

Comments are closed.