October 7, 2015
Hitchcock Multipurpose Room, Sonja H. Stone Center
NOTE: This is a draft agenda and is subject to change without advance notice.
I. Call to Order & Opening Remarks—Chair Charles Streeter (9:15 a.m. – 9:20 a.m.)
- Welcome to Guests & Members of the Press
- Approval of September Minutes (Sharepoint Link, Delegate-Only Access)
II. Special Presentations
- Chancellor Carol Folt (9:20 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.)
- Associate Vice Chancellor Taffye Clayton (9:50 a.m. – 10:05 a.m.)
- Brenda Denzler, Newly Elected Honorary Lifetime Delegate (10:05 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.)
III. Human Resources Update – Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity, and Engagement Felicia Washington (10:20 a.m. – 10:35 a.m.)
IV. New Business (10:40 a.m. – 11:20 a.m.)
- Student Stores
- Eric Johnson, Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid
V. Announcements/Questions (11:20 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.)
Delegates Present (those who signed in): Kim Andrews, Bonita Brown, Ronald Campbell, Clare Counihan, Lois Douglass-Alston, Phillip Edwards, Shantelle Ferrell, David Fraley, Jim Fuller, Emily Gomez, Lori Haight, Shayna Hill, James Holman, Kathy James, Karen Jenkins, Susan Lucas, Ronda Manuel, Arlene Medder, Kirk Montgomery, Natiaya Neal, Jackie Overton, Christopher Powe, Kelli Raker, Kathy Ramsey, Samara Reynolds, Nakenge Robertson, Charles Streeter, Nihei Tial, Ben Triplett, Katie Turner
Delegates Excused Absent: Chrissie Greenberg, Matt McKirahan, Whitney Mohr, Michael Penny
Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 9:16 a.m. Katie Turner noted that the Forum will hold a scavenger hunt in conjunction with Employee Appreciation Day on October 16th. She encouraged delegates to participate by tweeting clues for prize vouchers.
The Chair welcomed delegates and guests to the meeting. He noted that University Day would occur October 12th. Staff and faculty will march together under their own departmental flag this year. He noted that Staff Assembly delegates will attend the ceremony. He also noted that Forum delegates will attend the October 17th football game against Wake Forest that Saturday.
The Chair called for a motion to approve the September minutes of the Forum. Arlene Medder made this motion, seconded by Shayna Hill. The motion was approved without opposition.
The Chair welcomed Chancellor Carol Folt to make opening remarks to the Forum. The Chancellor was proud to share news about UNC Professor Dr. Aziz Sancar’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry. She noted that Dr. Paul Modrich of Duke University shares the prize with Dr. Sancar. She was very excited that the two universities are working together on the issues of the day.
Chancellor Folt noted the launch of the UNC advising corps that will allow active duty military to return to campus to complete a degree. She noted that the University must make an education more attainable and successful. She said that the University had found internal reserves to fund this program. She was proud that the University was working to improve access in this area.
Folt noted the influence of the arts in learning, particularly a psychological test that found that dance steps carry over to other parts of the brain. She said that the University plans to dedicate part of the Carolina Square as an arts incubator and performance space. She said that the University will encourage connections between the corridors of campus and Franklin Street. Folt noted how the Stone Center has incorporated art into its architecture and mission.
The Chancellor noted the success of the University’s annual giving campaign. She said that 69,000 UNC alumni donated this year, whereas in comparison Dartmouth College has 69,000 alumni in total. She said that the $447 million figure was the highest in UNC history. She noted that State contributions to the University has dropped around 38% in four years, leading the University to find alternative ways of support.
Folt recalled her recent meeting in Stockholm with Dr. Stephen Hawking as part of Dr. Sancar’s Nobel induction. She said that UNC-Chapel Hill received broad media coverage throughout Europe and Asia as a result of Dr. Sanjar’s achievement.
The Chancellor said that current statistics continue to show the University is working to the needs of its lowest income and first generation college students. She said that the University continues to prove its excellence in affordability, academic achievement, and high graduation rates.
Folt praised the Legislature for its move to increase the University’s flexibility with expiring funds. She said that the fix had resulted in the University gaining an extra $1 million, which it had used to train physicians in rural areas of the State. Folt said that the University had fought hard for staff and faculty raises, noting the $750 bonus due State employees in December. She noted that the University had worked to find internal sources of funding for raises last year. She said that the University will explore similar actions this year. She also praised the reduction in the SPA probation period from 24 months to 12 months.
The Chancellor noted the recent survey of sexual assault survey commissioned by the American Association of Universities. She said that the survey represents a first pass that the University would learn from as it goes forward. She said that there was much to improve as the University works on reducing these incidences while guaranteeing fair process for those accused. She thanked staff for their hard work on producing this data for the survey.
Folt noted that she had been asked to make remarks at University Day. She thought that the University had undergone two extraordinary years in her time as Chancellor. She looked forward to continuing strategic thinking efforts with regard to the upcoming capital campaign, the campus master plan, and an effort to define the workplace of the future. She was excited about these upcoming challenges.
Katie Turner asked about the proposal to privatize Student Stores, which could lead to a decline in workplace conditions and service quality. The Chancellor said that the University faces difficulties in providing need-based aid, as the federal Perkins scholarship program had recently been discontinued. She did not want to trade off this need for employee lives, but said that it would be irresponsible not to study all possible sources of revenue. She was not involved in the details of the Request for Proposals but said that this stage did not constitute an agreement to privatize. She said if the University does not see the benefit to the effort, it will not make the change. She also thanked the Forum for its politeness in registering its disagreement during this process.
Arlene Medder asked about upcoming details of the campus master plan and the incorporation of environmental details in that plan. Folt said that the concept of the edible gardens outside Davis Library represented a part of the effort to incorporate environmental thinking. Shayna Hill asked if there are other areas in which the University was considering outsourcing. The Chancellor said that she did not know of any areas, but she noted that the University must consider all areas of revenue given the 40% State budget cut over the last four years. The University will figure how to right-size its budget in a sustainable manner.
Ron Campbell asked the University’s use for the money raised in the recent annual campaign. The Chancellor said that these funds are not usually available immediately to the University as certain terms attached to the gifts must be met. Most gifts have some special designated use that the University must observe and administer.
Clare Counihan asked if Folt could share some details regarding the UNC System President search. Folt said that she read the same papers as others do. She had not been involved in the process but said that the search was close to completion. She said that the University must embrace its commitment to providing the best public affordable education.
The Chair welcomed former Forum Vice Chair Brenda Denzler to mark her placement as a lifetime honorary delegate of the Forum. Denzler said that she considered her work on the Forum to be one of the best jobs of her life. She thanked her co-workers and supervisors for their support of her work on the Forum. She also voiced her gratitude for this experience. She urged the Forum to continue to represent employees well. The Chair presented Denzler with an honorary plaque.
The Chair noted that the UNC System Staff Assembly would mark the departure of Susan Colby from the Assembly the following weekend. He thanked Colby for her leadership and friendship.
Vice Chancellor for Workplace Strategy, Equity and Engagement Felicia Washington presented the Forum’s customary Human Resources update. She noted that this is a busy month, citing October’s designation as Hispanic Heritage Month and National Disability Awareness Month, among others. She reminded employees that the University officials have decided to close for a one-week period for Winter Break 2016: Monday, Dec. 26, through Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. During this period, four days are designated as paid holidays, and one day — Thursday, Dec. 29 – is designated as a University Closed Day on which employees must use leave. Similarly, the University will close for one week for Winter Break 2017: Monday, Dec. 25, through Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. Four of those days are designated as paid holidays, and one day – Thursday, Dec. 28 – is a University Closed Day and employees must use leave. Employees must take this day as vacation leave. Employees without vacation leave may borrow against future earned leave.
Washington noted that the State Human Resources Office has renamed the EPA and SPA designations as EHRA (exempt from State Human Resources Act) and SHRA (subject to State Human Resources Act). She hoped that employees will adopt this terminology in the future.
Washington noted that this month is the time for employees to donate to the Carolina Cares/Carolina Shares charitable gift program. She hoped that employees would find a way to give during the only solicitation campaign the University undertakes each year.
Senior Director for Benefits and Worklife Ashley Nicklis made a short presentation on annual enrollment in the State Health Plan. She referred to a PowerPoint presentation which can be accessed here: https://employeeforum.unc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/3208/2015/10/20151028-EE-Forum-AE-2016-State-Health-Plan.ppt
Jim Fuller confirmed that employees will receive a package detailing the Health Plan changes in summary form in campus mail and in detail from the post office. Nicklis said that the NC Flex plans will undergo several rate reductions this year. There is a guaranteed issue for the cancer plan this year, with no Evidence of Insurability (EOI) form required. Nicklis noted the free core AD&D and vision coverage available for employees. She noted that employees should use Connect Carolina to enroll or change their enrollment. Employees should complete their wellness credits and other attestations to qualify for the 80/20 plan. She encouraged all employees to review their dependent and beneficiary information and to save and print their information.
Nicklis noted the high deductible health plan for temporary employees which will undergo annual enrollment into November. University administrators have been adamant that increases in costs will not be passed on to these employees.
The Chair noted the need for discussion of the Student Stores issue. He said that it is vital for the Forum to investigate what has happened in order to represent staff employees properly. He noted that Forum delegates will meet with Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Matt Fajack and Associate Vice Chancellor Brad Ives to discuss this question in more detail. He thought that the Administration had not explained where the problem is exactly. He did not think that the $3 million Follett has mentioned in its unsolicited proposal was guaranteed.
The Chair introduced Assistant Director for Policy Analysis for Scholarships and Student Aid Eric Johnson to discuss financial aid policies related to the Student Stores matter. Johnson said that Student Stores’ annual contribution of $400,000 makes up an unrestricted and flexible part of Student Aid’s $75 million budget. He also noted that Student Stores employs many scholarship students on payroll, paying $8.75 an hour. He said that Student Aid wishes to acknowledge its appreciation for this support.
Johnson noted that it is becoming more difficult for Scholarships and Student Aid to fund its commitments to need-blind aid meeting students’ full need. He said that the University normally provides 70-75% of its aid through grants, a very generous program. He noted that the demonstrated need has increased among UNC students, from 37% to 43%. He noted that sustained tuition increases have undergirded this financial need. The University has been very supportive in committing tens of millions of dollars to provide need-blind aid. He said that it is definitely true that the University is hunting for new sources for need-based student aid.
Katie Turner asked about private contributions in this area. Johnson said that these contributions have increased but are less than 6% of need. He confirmed that this total included the University’s capital campaign. He said that the University has kept its focus on need-based aid over merit-based aid to secure the best possible class of students. Kelli Raker asked about changes to the FAFSA forms and their relations to the need-based aid effort. Johnson said that there have been increases in year by year costs. In addition, 13% of all UNC undergraduates are Carolina Covenant Scholars, entitling them to graduate debt-free. He noted that 20% of the University is Pell Scholarship eligible, a good number for a University of this size.
The Chair asked that the Forum approve a proclamation concerning privatization at the University to follow what had been approved by the Forum 20 years ago. He said that reaffirming the Forum’s formal stance would provide a context for discussion with Administration officials. He asked that the Forum consider this question before considering resolution 15-04 on the Student Stores question. Clare Counihan asked the Forum to consider whether it opposes privatization altogether or only in certain circumstances.
Katie Turner asked if the proclamation is addressed in the Forum Bylaws. The Chair said that the proclamation is not addressed but is available to the Forum. He said that the proclamation would put forth the conditions under which privatization would be acceptable to the Forum. Turner asked that the words “rather than ideology” be struck from the proclamation. The Chair agreed to this friendly amendment. Ben Triplett voiced concern that the proclamation would affect discussions with the Administration in a negative way. Turner moved to close discussion, which was approved with two against. The motion to adopt the proclamation was made by Katie Turner and seconded by Jackie Overton. Twenty-two delegates voted in favor, with two opposing and two abstaining. The motion was approved.
Katie Turner asked to allow Student Stores employees the opportunity to speak on their work supporting students. Don Hamm from Accounts Payable said that he did not want to lose his job through privatization, which did not seem right to him. Don Morelock of Accounting said that he had worked 18 years with Student Stores. He said his seniority would be lost if the Stores were privatized. He loves his job and works hard to meet the needs of students. He said that staff at other institutions in which Follett has taken over have seen skeleton staff providing inferior service to customers. He said that the Bull’s Head Bookshop represents the public face of the University. Another Student Services employee said that the University had fired Follett for being too expensive in a previous effort. He said that the company did not deliver savings to pass onto students.
Kathy Ramsey asked if the unsolicited bid was on-line. It was noted that the bid had been leaked and was available through the internet.
Katie Turner read resolution 15-04 regarding the Student Stores situation, on first reading. Shayna Hill asked if the University had received proposals from companies other than Follett. Turner said that Barnes & Noble and Amazon have each submitted proposals. The Chair said that the Forum’s duty as an advisory body to the Chancellor is to establish what should be done with respect to these issues. Turner recalled obtaining details for the resolution from meetings with Clerical/Secretarial employees (Forum Division 6). The Chair said that Forum delegates have the power and responsibility to find out what is going on in this matter.
Ben Triplett objected to the rapidity with which the resolution was being introduced and submitted for approval. He saw no compelling reason for the rush. Turner said that there are estimates that the RFP process will be completed by February.
The Chair asked if the Forum wanted to wait for more information or to do something now. He said that the Forum needs more background to represent staff. He thought it best for the Forum to draw a line on this question now.
Katie Turner moved to suspend the rules and consider resolution 15-04 on second reading. There were 24 votes in favor of this motion with two abstentions.
Shayna Hill moved to approve the text of resolution 15-04, seconded by Jackie Overton. Twenty-five delegates voted in favor, with two abstaining. The resolution thus passed.
Ron Campbell confirmed that the resolution would be sent to the Chancellor and her designees.
Clare Counihan noted that the Forum usually has a procedure for discussion of issues of substance, involving discussion two weeks prior to general meetings at Executive Committee meetings. The Chair said that the Bylaws were not violated by the Forum’s action to consider this issue given the urgent need for action.
Jim Fuller noted that the October 13th Carolina Blood Drive would take place in the Great Hall of the Student Union. He asked delegates to participate if possible.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned by acclamation at 11:39 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary