March 4, 2015
- Open call for announcements and questions for the end of the meeting
- Proposed Resolution 15-01, Concerning Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment (second reading)
- Current Issue Facing UNC and Statement from the Chair
- Proposed Resolution 15-02, Concerning Actions of the Board of Governors (first reading)
Attending (those who signed in): Bonita Brown, Deborah Bush, Ronald Campbell, Tammy Cox, Lois Douglass-Alston, Andy Eaker, Oscar Fleming, David Fraley, Jim Fuller, Paula Goodman, Christine Greenberg, Shane Hale, Victoria Hammett, Michael Highland, Todd Hux, Karen Jenkins, Ronda Manuel, Jackie Overton, Shamecia Powers, Kelli Raker, Samara Reynolds, Tara Smith, Charles Streeter, Ben Triplett
Excused Absences: Jo-Ann Blake, Yvonne Dunlap, Matt McKirahan, Arlene Medder, Kirk Montgomery, Anna Schwab, Katie Turner
Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 9:18 a.m. He asked delegates and guests to avail themselves of the morning buffet. He encouraged listeners to run for Forum delegate this year, as the Forum needs more nominations and more competitive races. The Forum will produce posters asking delegates to run in Facilities Services for those without computers.
The Chair asked for a motion to approve the February minutes. He had some grammatical corrections, as did Arlene Medder. Jackie Overton made this motion, seconded by Andy Eaker. The motion to accept the minutes with revisions was approved with three abstentions.
Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Gena Carter presented the Forum’s customary Human Resources update. She noted the recent onslaught of poor weather had led to questions about the University’s new adverse weather policy. She asked Interim Senior Director Chris Chiron to explain the changes in the policy which were enacted on January 1, 2015.
Chiron said that the University’s worries about the policy in practice seemed to have been vindicated by the recent snowstorms and the Governor’s exception to the policy. He noted that the Chancellor, Provost, Public Safety Chief, Office of Human Resources, Office of Student Affairs, and Grounds Department conferred late at night and early in the morning to make adverse weather decisions. He noted that ITS and Communications officials such as Joel Curran also were involved in these discussions. Chiron said that the University had experimented with not sending out text messages regarding adverse weather before resuming the practice.
Todd Hux asked about the status of emergency employees. Chiron said that the default for these employees is to come to work unless notified not to do so. Hux asked if these employees had to call, and Chiron said that these employees should check with their manager. Tammy Cox confirmed how to record time in adverse weather situations. Chiron said that adverse weather leave is not meant to place an employee above their maximum work schedule or into overtime. Cox said that she had received a contrary e-mail from TIM, and Chiron encouraged her to send him this e-mail to resolve the question.
James Holman asked about employees who choose to come into work during the adverse weather Condition 3 event. Chiron said that the University was officially closed during these times. Only emergency employees and crew leaders should have come to campus during this time.
Shamecia Powers asked why the adverse weather decisions seem to have been made so late. Chiron said that the State and the University have new leadership dealing with new rules. He thought that the second week of adverse weather had gone more smoothly than the first week. He said that the University does not want to send two contradictory messages within a few hours of one another. Powers noted that she had been forced to deal with an hour and a half in the car when the decision was made to close the University at 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Chiron said that the University decided at 6 a.m. to close until 10 a.m. as a default setting. He said that the Chancellor had made the final decision to close. Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Gena Carter noted that the University must justify a decision to go to Condition 3 (closed) before the State, the General Assembly and the Office of State Human Resources.
Tammy Cox thanked Chiron and others for their good judgment. Chiron noted a further concern that the University not send all of its employees out onto the roads at the same time. This was the reason why the University asked that those who live closer to campus leave later in the day in the event of a Condition 3 closing.
Ronald Campbell said that it would be useful if the State and the University were to agree on terminology. Chiron agreed and said that these efforts are underway.
Senior Director Ashley Nicklis reported on State Health Plan changes for this coming year. She noted that premiums will likely increase this year. There will also likely be an increase in health credits needed to decrease premium or out of pocket costs. These credits will require employee engagement requiring employees to participate in initiatives to better their health. Deborah Bush asked what initiatives will be enacted. Nicklis said that these were not yet defined but will likely assign chronic care managers for chronic illnesses, for example. Bush asked if employees who are already healthy will receive lower premiums from the start. Nicklis said that the intent is not to target healthy employees but rather to reduce costs associated with chronic care. Chronic care employees would need to certify that they are doing certain things in order to receive credits.
Kelli Raker read resolution 15-01 concerning sexual harassment and sexual assault. The Chair confirmed that this was the second reading of this resolution. Ronald Campbell asked why “LGBTQI” was not spelled out in the resolution. Raker agreed to make this change. Oscar Fleming asked about removing a particular percentage citation because this point was not clarified elsewhere. Raker agreed to this change. Jackie Overton said that the resolution was very well-written. Lois Douglass-Alston said that situations in which students have accused others of stalking behavior have created a huge problem for the perpetrator. She thought that the University needs to institute more delicate training on this subject than a simple webinar. Raker agreed with Douglass-Alston but said that HAVEN training is a good first step.
The Chair called for a motion to approve resolution 15-01. Michael Highland made this motion, which was seconded by Tammy Cox. The resolution was approved by acclamation. The Chair directed that it be sent to the Chancellor that week for her consideration.
The Chair moved onto discussion of the recent changes related to President Tom Ross’ forthcoming departure, the pressure on University centers and institutes, and the question regarding the naming of building. He noted that he had issued a statement that Katie Turner had helped draft and distribute to media outlets. The Chair commented that this is a very troubling time for the University following the Wainstein report. He thought that the Forum should not set policy in these questions but should have a voice. Andy Eaker said that the Center for Work, Poverty, and Opportunity should not have been closed as poverty questions influence all of society. Oscar Fleming thought that this step was taken to quell the voice of faculty and staff. He did not think that the closing would generate any cost savings to the State.
Todd Hux said that if a supervisor tells an employee to work on a building, one is not allowed to ask why. Andy Eaker believed that transparency should be the watchword of University operations. Jackie Overton said that job description of good managers is to explain decisions but then to implement them. Christine Greenberg said that the Forum cannot expect to control those in positions of power. She said that the University should look for a patron who travels in similar circles of power, such as perhaps former System President Erskine Bowles. Michael Highland wondered about accountability at the different levels of the institution. The Chair clarified that the Board of Governors is the governing body for the 17 institutions of the University System. He thought that the Board needed more perspective from ground level. He thought that much could be told from the way that the Board conducts its meetings.
The Chair confirmed that the Forum can act formally as a group as an advisory body to the Chancellor. Todd Hux saw the Board as parents of the University household. Clare Counihan saw a problem with this analogy as it suggests that the relationship is rightful and natural, which she did not agree was so.
The Chair introduced the Chair of the UNC System Faculty Assembly Dr. Stephen Leonard. Leonard thought that the actions of the Board of Governors constituted a line in the sand for many University faculty. He contended that these actions were only the most recent of concerns of faculty running back to previous Boards of Governors. He said that one can often conflate particular issues with the broader principal at stake for decades.
Leonard said that the Faculty Assembly has worked with the Staff Assembly to coordinate advice and try to sustain precedent for joint summer retreat for their executive committees, inviting President Ross to address the joint groups, and other measures. He noted the problem is that the Staff Assembly does not really have a seat at the table aside from advising the Vice President of Human Resources on issues of concern. He said that the Faculty assembly tries to take account the concerns of staff, but he hoped that the Staff Assembly will be able to take its own place at the shared governance table.
Leonard emphasized that the current controversies are not a Republican or Democratic problem. He said that these questions stretch back at least 30-40 years and go to the heart of good governance of the University System. He said that the difference between partisan administrations of the University System are different in degree but not in kind. Leonard said that these controversies are not necessarily completely partisan but rather got to questions about the erosion of government. A student noted that the current composition of the Board is almost entirely Republican, with one registered Democratic. Leonard observed that the Board is not representative of the demographics of North Carolina. The Board’s members are almost all wealthy, white men.
Lois Douglass-Alston asked how the members of the Boards of Governors are educated for their roles. Leonard said that Democratic and Republican boards have regularly reached down into campuses to micromanage their operations. He said that the situation is now more egregious as the Board’s actions ignore the expertise of those who manage and do the work at these institutions. He believed that this interference is antithetical to public and private enterprise governing practices. However, this conversation about the Board and the University System has been put off 30-40 years, since the establishment of the System. He noted that trends show that higher education is in decline due to bad governance, not by faculty, staff, or students, but by the responsible governance bodies that oversee them.
Victoria Hammett noted suggestions from the media that the faculty have been quiet in these debates. Leonard disagreed, saying that the faculty have not been quiet. He said that the Faculty Assembly has been involved but indirectly. He noted that the UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Council meetings have been highly contentious.
A student noted that the Board’s micromanagement has affected students also, for example as in the issues of gender specific housing and lower-income student financial aid. He thought that the Board has not represented the people of North Carolina or the System’s faculty, staff, and students. He thought that the Board was unresponsive as it has not allowed stakeholders to attend its meetings and used police officers to remove faculty and students from meetings. Finally, he thought that the Board should change to represent all constituencies.
Tammy Cox asked if Leonard had target actions for the faculty and staff to take in response to the Board’s targeting of governmental structures. Leonard said that there must be a push on the specific issues as well as on the broader question of governmental structures. He thought that the State should find ways to de-politicize the Board of Governors, perhaps by removing it from the control of the parties. He noted that some members of the Board act according to their conscience, while others act on party concerns and interests.
Cox asked how to resolve this tension between the two groups. Andy Eaker called for establishment of another committee to work with the Faculty Council and student government groups. The Chair said that the Forum needs to collect its own stance as a governing body. Leonard emphasized that the Faculty Assembly’s actions are not collaborative but are complementary. He said that the Assembly does not speak for all faculty but does not have that role. He said that campuses themselves must weigh in on the questions of the day. He thought it best for faculty, staff, and student groups to maintain their autonomy, given these groups’ specific institutional perspectives. He was confident that common voices will emerge.
Oscar Fleming thanked Leonard for his remarks. He asked how the Forum could take these problems and concerns to a broader stage, perhaps by finding concrete alternatives or steps for action. The Chair said that the Forum could not resolve these questions in the next few minutes. He said that the Form must reach a consensus via informed decision-making. Leonard noted that faculty and student groups have worked to enumerate the ways that the Board’s decisions have been destructive. He said that this approach is a matter of identifying threats and implications of policies. He said that these groups need evidence, data, and facts to influence the debate, as the Board will dismiss those who speak in platitudes.
Shane Hale asked about the role of the Board of Trustees in this question. Leonard said that there have been calls for Chancellor Holt to not close the Center for Work, Poverty, and Opportunity as mandated by the Board of Governors. He said that Holt cannot refuse as she is bound by her job to do what the Board directs. She is appointed by and removed by the Board. He confirmed that the Board has the legal right to close the Center. Leonard thought that depoliticizing the Board was absolutely necessary, otherwise the State depends on the Board’s exhibition of self-restraint.
Clare Counihan thought that this Board is not driven by data as it could not provide a data-driven reason for President Ross’ departure or the closing of the three Centers. Leonard said that data is important because it reveals the gap between what is done and what is contended. Board members may only see what they believe unless they are shown these beliefs are at odds with the facts.
Todd Hux asked how many UNC System Presidents left office at age 65. Leonard said that every president has voluntarily left office at age 65. Hux asked how Leonard could be certain that Ross had not left voluntarily, or that other presidents had left voluntarily. He thought that the contention that Ross left involuntarily was speculation. Leonard said that he based his assessment on statements made in the public record.
Andy Eaker proposed that the Forum take a vote of confidence in the Board’s actions. The Chair asked that this vote occur at the next meeting. He suggested that the Forum try to find a different approach to Resolution 15-02 considering the actions of the Board of Governors, at its April meeting. He did not want to speak out of turn.
Ashley Nicklis noted that the University’s Health and Wellness Expo will take place March 11 in the Ramshead dining hall and recreation center. The Forum’s panel on Careers in Higher Education will take place March 18. On March 20, the Forum will co-sponsor a seminar on social media branding.
Clare Counihan noted that the Women’s Center will host the first of a series of events on women’s relations to the workplace on March 31 in the Hitchcock Center at 11:45 a.m.
It was noted that ULEAD will soon accept applications for participation in that program.
Andy Eaker announced that his last day at the University will be April 3. He appreciated the chance to work with everyone on the Forum. He was working to find an interim chair for the Education and Career Development committee.
Todd Hux moved that the Forum adjourned, seconded by Andy Eaker. The meeting adjourned by acclamation at 11:32 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary