December 11, 2014 Vice Chancellor/Provost Meeting
Attending: Matt Brody, Gena Carter, Andy Eaker, Michael Highland, Jackie Overton, Kelli Raker, Charles Streeter, Felicia Washington, Anna Wu
Charles Streeter followed up regarding the Forum’s proposed spring community meeting. He noted that this event usually takes place around April, and any member of the University can attend on worktime with the cooperation of their supervisor. Michael Highland noted that the students will graduate on May 11 of 2015. Jackie Overton suggested that the Forum try to get on the Chancellor’s calendar then it can move to invite other speakers. Michael Highland suggested topics including campus morale, moving Carolina forward, Carolina North plans in development, among other ideas. Matt Brody suggested that the presentation could review the University’s accomplishments over the previous six months, particularly the stories behind the University’s recent gifts. He thought that focusing on departments that help the county and state would be a good approach. Felicia Washington added that the TEACCH and PAS programs have gained national and international acclaim.
Charles Streeter noted the recent demonstrations against police related to the Ferguson, Missouri events. He asked what the Forum could do to assist in this area. It was noted that there had been comments raising tensions on the social website Yik Yak as well as the University’s Facebook page. Felicia Washington said that the Chancellor was working to create conversational spaces to deal with these difficult questions. It was recalled that the Forum had held “chilly climate discussions” on racial matters in the late 1990s. Washington noted that there would soon be a prayer vigil at the Stone Center with clergy, administration, students, staff, and faculty.
Matt Brody noted the need for a safe space and dialogue about policing issues. The University has upwards of 70 sworn police officers, most of whom go out of their way to treat everyone with respect. He worried that these police officers could feel the weight of stereotypes. Anna Wu said that there have been incidents with the Chapel Hill police suffering disrespect. Jackie Overton said that there have also been incidents with the UNC-Chapel Hill police. She thought it important for the Forum to express thanks to these officers for their work. She noted that some officers have begun changing into street clothes to avoid reprisals before leaving for home. Anna Wu noted the anti-police graffiti and vandalism that has cropped up around campus and the general community. Matt Brody commented that it is not unfair to ask the police to explain itself to the community. He urged that this message be one of mutual appreciation. Andy Eaker suggested production of videos showing police officers doing good things in the community as a way to overcome this mistrust. Michael Highland suggested that the Forum hold a coffee and conversation with Public Safety officers to counter the tendency of some to demonize the police. It was noted that an emphasis on community policing techniques might allow the Forum to acknowledge general anger emanating from national news events while spotlighting positive work done locally. Highland suggested that the Forum cultivate what Public Safety does well, perhaps inviting representatives to a community meeting.
Felicia Washington thought that inviting Public Safety officers to a Forum meeting or community meeting might not be a good idea at this juncture. She thought it would be good for the Forum to express appreciation to Public Safety officers for their service. Kelli Raker added that some community members could feel distraught at such a public show of concern given recent events, and that the idea could seem defensive. She applauded the idea to hold a conversation on these topics.
Andy Eaker raised the concept of a Center for Staff Excellence, seeking to plant seeds for this idea. He noted that some of the University’s Centers have been under review by the Board of Governors. He thought that promotion of the brand of a Center for Staff Excellence would help to tie together initiatives such as the Carolina Family Scholarship and the Professional Development Grants. He hoped to cultivate a culture of mentorship and collaboration, and hoped to foster other initiatives in this area. He thought that centralizing University processes would serve the future well, and he hoped that the Forum could work with Human Resources on these initiatives. He asked what the Forum could do today to promote an eventual Center for Staff Excellence. Michael Highland asked what issues the staff would bring forward regarding career advancement. He said that some employees feel that the career ladder has broken. He praised the idea of the Center as a branding mechanism to build awareness of staff achievement. He commented that many staff do not know what they should do to advance. Matt Brody commented that these are complicated questions that sometimes require the emulation of others who have succeeded in advancing their career at the University. Eaker said that he had invited Senior Director for Human Resources Communications and Talent Development to attend a future Education and Career Development committee meeting.
Charles Streeter noted conversations regarding the revised adverse weather policy among staff. He noted concerns about the meaning of the new policy in the context and circumstance of severe adverse weather, particularly for Facilities Services employees. Matt Brody said that employees are expected to use reasonable efforts to come to work during adverse weather, and are expected to check in when they cannot make work. He said that the University cannot insure employees’ travelling to and from work. He said that there must be a good faith effort on the part of employees to get to work in these circumstances. Gena Carter said that the State Human Resources Commission had filled in some of the pieces of the revised policy. She said that Chris Chiron would conduct a fuller conversation on this question with the Forum Executive Committee.
Anna Wu noted the necessity of Title IX training, noting that some employees in Facilities Services do not have access to computers. She said her office would remind and sensitize employees about this requirement, perhaps by conducing this training as a class rather than relying on individual on-line trainings.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:04 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary