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March 4, 2020

UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum

Hitchcock Multipurpose Room, Sonja H. Stone Center for Black Culture and History

NOTE:  This is a draft agenda and is subject to change without notice.

I. Call to Order & Opening Remarks—Chair Shayna Hill (9:15 a.m. – 9:20 a.m.)

II. Special Presentations (9:20 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.)

  • James Leloudis and Patricia Parker, Co-Chairs, the Commission on History, Race, and a Way Forward

III. Human Resources Update (9:45 a.m. – 10:05 a.m.)

  • Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance Becci Menghini
  • Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler

IV. Consent Agenda (10:05 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.)

 

V.  Old Business (10:20 a.m. – 10:40 a.m.)

VI. New Business (10:40 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.)

VII. Announcements/Questions (11:10-11:30 a.m.)

VIII.  Adjournment

MINUTES

March 4, 2020 Employee Forum minutes

Attending:  Darren Abrecht, L.E. Alexander, Dzenita Blackwell, Rich Brandenburg, Shane Brogan, Tiffany Carver, Adrienne Cromwell, Jen DeNeal, Morgan Douglas, Shakeya Ducksworth, Phillip Edwards, Nicole Eggleston, Adrianne Gibilisco, Karen Gilliam, Chrissie Greenburg, Zebadiah Harris, Shayna Hill, Keith Hines, Todd Hux, Mary King, Arlene Medder, Kadejah Murray, Katie Musgrove, Natiaya Neal, Ayla Ocasio, Joe Ormond, Jim Potts, David Rogers, Greg Smith, Allison Standard, James Stamey, Tracy Wetherby Williams

Excused Absences:  Ashley Belcher, Stephanie Brown, Sarah Carrier, Stephanie Forman, Laura Pratt

Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m.  She welcomed faculty members James Leloudis and Patricia Parker, co-chairs of the University Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward, to make the day’s opening presentation.  Parker thanked the Forum for its invitation.  She noted that she had served the Communication department as chair and faculty member for twenty-two years.  She was honored to co-chair the Commission during this critical time in the University’s history.

Parker said that the Commission’s charge is to explore, engage and teach the history of race relations at the University.  The Commission will serve for three years and will focus on three areas:  1) archives, history, research and curation; 2) curriculum development and teaching; and 3) engagement, ethics and repair.  Leloudis also thanked the Forum and hoped this would be the first of many visits.  He said that the Commission will work to keep itself open and transparent to the public, sharing its discussions and inviting participation from local communities and the State.  He noted the common responsibility to lift each other to greatness and the goal that the Commission’s work should make a tangible difference in the life of the University.

Parker invited questions and challenges from Forum delegates and employees.  She said that the Commission will work on past and future questions, to help create an ethical institution and to build lives that we want for ourselves here at UNC.  Arlene Medder asked about revisiting the moratorium on name changes for campus buildings.  She asked if the Commission planned to submit a recommendation or to do something else in this area.  Parker expects that recommendations of the Commission will be taken seriously.  She asked what context such a recommendation would emerge from, saying that the Commission would find a way to move forward together on these questions.

The Chair recalled her three years as head of the Forum. She said that delegates are all passionate and yet all frightened to raise concerns in this highly charged environment.  She hoped that the campus would find a way to unify itself through the arts.  She hoped that difficult conversations would occur and lead to some celebration and unification of campus interests.  She recalled an in-person meeting between employees on different sides of the Silent Sam question that led to mutual respect and innovation following that difficult conversation.

Leloudis said that the full range of institutional resources will be available to the Commission, including the arts.  He noted that there are vast numbers of voices who may feel silenced by history and recent events.  Parker said that the arts can start meaningful conversations and possibly dissipate fears.

Katie Musgrove thought that the Commission’s establishment represents a good first step in this area.  She asked about expanding the accessible areas of campus.  Parker said that the Commission will work to elevate things already underway while bringing new ideas to the fore.  She noted a danger in taking on tasks bigger than it can handle.  The Commission will seek to define its work by expertise and to integrate its ideas into campus curricula.  Leloudis said that the University should seek an honest reckoning with history.

Keith Hines thought that the Commission’s work seems to give lip service to marginal groups.  He thought that the request for further conversation means that the Commission neither sees nor understands necessary goals.  He asked where conversation alone would bring the University in fifteen years.

Parker thought that Hines’ question was a fair one.  She recalled similar questions when she was considering agreeing to serve as co-chair.  However, she saw the Commission as an opportunity to make real change.  She had faith that Commission members can identify problems and solutions.  She noted that her reputation, and co-chair Leloudis’ reputation, are at stake in this matter.  She would count on people like Hines to raise questions and identify gaps in Commission goals and actions.

Natiaya Neal suggested changing the décor of older areas of the University given feedback from students who declined to enroll at UNC-Chapel Hill.  She said things like changing old photographs in an area can make the institution more welcoming.  Parker said that as chair of the University’s Communication department, she has had to deal with these concerns.  She said that this issue is not without controversy and said that what is welcoming to millennial students may also engage them.  She hoped that the Commission will engage with who we are and want to be.

Allison Standard asked about internal pressures and the degree of buy-in from the UNC Board of Governors.  She asked what the Forum can do to support the Commission’s work.  Leloudis said that the Silent Sam issue notwithstanding, the Board has been supportive and sees the Commission as a clear part of the University’s mission.  He noted that the Board of Trustees is closer administratively to campus.  Leloudis felt confident in that Board’s support, particularly that of Trustees Chair Richard Stevens.

Adrianne Gibilisco noted the history of underrepresented minority groups on campus extends to Asian, Jewish, and Muslim populations, among many others.  She asked how the Commission will involve these groups in its work.  Leloudis said that the focus on history and race means a construction around power, economics and culture.  He said that groups are differently positioned in the construct of race.  He sought to think of race not as an identity but as part of the power structure.  He said that Asian groups, for example, hold a different position in the power structure of the University.

Gibilisco said that all groups are disadvantaged in some way by the existing power structure.  Parker replied that the Commission will address questions about how race produces inequities and how different identities are pitted against one another.  She noted that white people are also positioned in power structures, something the Commission will seek to disentangle as well.

An employee asked about presentational aspects of the Commission’s work, related to the heritage question and the recent agreement around the Silent Sam issue.  This employee noted the opportunity to change but also wondered if the University will do so given the input of those who make gifts to campus.  Leloudis said that nothing lasts forever, and decisions can be revisited.  He said that the Commission will bring forward its brief with evidence to make its case for change.  He noted that people know the histories of the University but not in-depth.  As an example, he raised the point that research from the University archive was critical in changing the minds of Board of Trustees members to rename Saunders Hall.  He said that making similar arguments will compose an important part of the Commission’s work.

The Chair said that a challenge is in identifying the gap between where we are and where we want to be.  She asked how staff could help in this endeavor.  Leloudis said that the roles of prodder and gatherer are ways in which staff could shine.  Parker said that she was excited about this work and looked forward towards bringing in voices as part of the study of slavery.

Karen Gilliam worried that the Commission could only stand as one group to study this question among many others.  Leloudis said that in the Commission’s three years of study, it must establish a sustaining conversation.  He thought it more important for the Commission to hear it was wrong than to hear when it is right.

Adrienne Cromwell asked if the Commission has established metrics to determine its success.  Parker said that much will depend on Commissioners’ development of metrics and guidance at a granular level.

The Chair thanked Leloudis and Parker for their remarks.  She invited them to return whenever practical.  She then welcomed Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance Becci Menghini to provide the Forum’s customary Human Resources update.  Menghini thanked Leloudis and Parker for their remarks.  She noted that the participation rate in the employee engagement survey had increased slightly from 37% in 2018 to 38% in 2020.  However, Carolina did not meet the 71% participation goal for the campus.  She said that data from the survey will likely be available in the summer.  She looked forward to comparing findings with the 2018 survey.

Menghini said that the Board of Trustees had approved the Carolina Next strategic plan at a recent meeting.  A formal kickoff will take place later this week.  Menghini noted that Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jon Sauls had worked to leverage a faculty resolution to bring concerns like alcohol and drug intervention and mental wellbeing into the sexual violence policy.  She said that students are drivers of a change in the sexual violence conversation, demanding increased training, resources, and expertise in this work.  Menghini was proud to note that the University had committed resources up front to hire a senior position and do this work.

Menghini noted that March is Women’s History Month and is an opportunity to nominate community members for the University Award for the Advancement of Women.  These nominations are due March 20, 2020 in four categories:  faculty, staff, students, and post-doctorates.

Menghini noted administrative changes at the University which include the hiring of Terry Rhodes as the Dean of Arts & Sciences and Mike Barker as Interim Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer.  She noted that other position searches including Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and Dean for Student Affairs are currently underway.

Menghini noted the ongoing response of the 17 UNC System institutions to the covid-19 virus question.  She said that IT planning will address issues of server capacity for the number of students logging in from off-campus.  She said that employees will need to update plans to work remotely if possible.

Menghini reported that the average corona patient transmits the infection to three other people, with some infecting as many as twelve others.  The elderly and immune-compromised are most at risk.  Currently the outbreak has a 1.5% death rate, much worse than the flu. She urged listeners to wash their hands often and well for at least 20 seconds by singing “Happy Birthday,” “Landslide,” “Jolene,” “Raspberry Beret,” or “Love on Top” for the duration of their time under the faucet.

Menghini said it is important for employees to stay informed and pay attention to the progress of the virus.  The UNC System will provide information about resources available to campuses.  She said a UNC System group will meet today to discuss further preparations.

Jen DeNeal asked what the University considers essential travel.  Menghini said that her office has been in discussions with the UNC System Office to find answers to such specific questions. She hoped to have more information available shortly.  Chrissie Greenberg noted one University unit had suspended air travel until the end of March.  Menghini understood this urgency and added that national organizations are also canceling events.  Adrianne Gibilisco asked if a tipping point would emerge soon.  Menghini said that there is no established limit yet on the allowed size of gatherings.  She said the allowed number of students in residence halls is another decision point for administrators.

Adrienne Cromwell asked what the University will do when students return from everywhere after spring break.  Menghini did not yet know what the University will do but said that areas affected may grow rapidly.  Katie Musgrove noted the recent cancellation of UNC-Chapel Hill’s study abroad programs in Italy and South Korea, with enrollees required to self-quarantine upon return to the USA.

Jim Potts asked about adverse weather provisions governing employee attendance.  He recalled that a shared service of excellence administrator had ruled that an employee is not allowed to use adverse weather absences in current circumstances.  Instead, the employee would need to use vacation time.  Potts worried that this decision-maker and possibly others do not understand the difference between compensatory time off and vacation time.  Menghini said she would follow up with Potts after the meeting.

Jessica Pyjas, Work-Life Manager for the University, noted the Well-Being expo scheduled for April 11.  She listed the activities and programs scheduled for the Expo.  Natiaya Neal noted that the massages scheduled for the day are usually run out early.  She asked about increasing these opportunities.  Pyjas said that the Expo had added an extra massage chair but could not afford to add more chairs as these are paid stations.  She encouraged employees to sign up for the massage chair waitlist to obtain an appointment if another employee should cancel.

The Chair called for a motion to approve the January and February minutes of the Forum.  Tiffany Carver made this motion, seconded by Adrienne Cromwell.  The motion was approved with Chrissie Greenberg abstaining.

Greg Smith, chair of the Communications & Public Relations committee, said that InTouch had been published that week.  He said that the committee’s podcast had been completed and would be available soon.

Natiaya Neal noted that the Book Club will feature The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica on March 26th at noon in 2005 Hooker Research Center.  She said that lately the Book Club has had impressive turnouts for discussion.

Jim Potts reported that the Carolina Blood Drive committee will ramp up its work this week.  The summer blood drive will take place in the Dean Dome on June 2, 2020.  The drive has a goal of 800 units.

Arlene Medder said that the Carolina Community Garden will hold tomato planting event on May 12 with a rain date of May 14.  Employees are invited to register for this event.

Joe Ormond reported that the Education & Career Development committee had received 763 responses to its professional development survey this month.    Ormond said that the survey had received many good comments in its free response section.

The Chair asked delegates to sign a card for Laura Pratt, who is in the hospital that morning.

Tiffany Carver encouraged delegates to run again if their term in office is due to finish on June 30, 2020.  She said that the nomination period has been extended to March 27th.  Carver noted that the Forum’s nomination video should be completed soon.  Final edits to the video are due March 20th.  The Chair was very excited about the video and thanked Carver, Katie Musgrove, Phil Edwards, Katie Turner, Charles Streeter and Chancellor Guskiewicz, among many others, for their participation.

Phil Edwards said that the Personnel Issues committee will establish a meeting time and date soon.

Natiaya Neal said that the Recognition & Awards committee will open nominations for the Peer Recognition Awards in April.  The Chair praised Neal for refreshing this program, increasing funds awarded and renaming some of the awards.  She thanked all for their hard work on the program.

The UNC System Staff Assembly is scheduled to meet March 26-27 in Chapel Hill.  An event will take place at the UNC President’s House presenting the Erskine Bowles Award to a System employee.

The Chair had no report from the Executive Committee.

There was no Old Business before the Forum.  In New Business, Director of Housekeeping Herb Richmond outlined the use of disinfectants on campus and accompanying data sheets.  He noted that commonly used surfaces such as door handles can commonly spread infection.  Employees should wash hands frequently and keep social distancing.  Chrissie Greenberg said that the amount of student traffic near her area had led her to wipe down door handles and other areas near her office.  Richmond said that disinfecting wipes are better for this purpose.  He said that Housekeeping could provide these wipes upon urgent request.

Arlene Medder asked if staff exposed to the virus while at work will receive workers’ compensatory time pay for this injury.  Richmond said that housekeepers will wear gloves and goggles.  If an employee becomes sick, they will be sent to Employee Health, with particulars worked out later.  He invited employees to call 962-6586 if in need of Housekeeping assistance.

The Chair reminded delegates to reduce casual contact with other people as much as possible.  She said that she would need to work to change her own hugging habits in this regard.  Tracy Wetherby Williams noted that keyboards and computer mice also need cleaning.

The Chair noted the upcoming Chancellors’ Cup golf tournament and the question of whether the tournament would indeed take place.  She said that employees working the event can code community service leave for the event but may not consume alcohol there.  Employees playing in the tournament must code compensatory time or vacation time and may avail themselves of alcoholic beverages.  The Chair hoped to convince UNC Student Stores to sponsor a hole at the event.  She noted that SEANC had increased its sponsorship from $10,000 to $15,000 this year.  The tournament is scheduled to occur May 13, 2020 at the Tobacco Road golf club in Sanford.

Tracy Wetherby Williams asked if Matt Banks and the Forum would work a table at the April 11 Wellness Expo.  Banks said that he was very reluctant to work the table in an event that will feature hundreds of people in an enclosed space, given covid-19 virus fears.  He asked leave to avoid this work duty.  The Chair and Williams understood this reluctance.  They asked anyone wanting to work the Forum table to contact the Chair.

Keith Hines said that the Student Stores Advisory Committee had held two town halls with 600 students filling out surveys.  He had not yet seen the results of these surveys.

Katie Musgrove said that the Blood Drive will also seek Forum representation at its table at the Wellness Expo.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned by acclamation at 10:58 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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