March 5, 2009
March 5th, 2009
Members Present: Matthew Cullinan [chair], Gary Alwine, Randy Cockerham, Mary Cranfill, Ann Flynn, Nicolle Gaillard, Julie Griffin, Cynthia Hall, Bob Hebert, Ellen Makaravage, Patrick Morton, Gale Newport, Carolyn Potts, Jim Rae, Mike Tesh, Jean Trowbridge
Members Absent: Ann Gordon
Guests: Derrick Boone, Carolyn Winebarger [recorder]
Conversation with Dr. Derrick Boone, University Senate President
Dr. Boone provided a brief history of the University Senate’s role in providing a means for staff members to enjoy representation and have a voice in matters pertaining to the general welfare of the University. He noted that the Staff Advisory Council, which was established in 2006 at the direction of Dr. Hatch, replaced the Senate’s Staff Issues Council. However, the SAC continues to have representatives on the University Senate, currently Gary Alwine, Randy Cockerham, and Patrick Morton. Dr. Boone led a discussion which focused on several issues which may merit further consideration:
- Parallel term limits for SAC and University Senate members (SAC members currently serve two-year terms, while Senate members serve four-year terms.)
- Possibility of a stand-alone SAC separate from the University Senate to provide a more independent voice for the staff
- Adoption of formal by-laws for the SAC which address leadership, election processes, composition, reporting procedures, etc.
- Establishment of procedures which negate fear of reprisal or retaliation for those who bring issues to the attention of the SAC
- Enhancement of SAC visibility
- Improvement of communications with staff via web site and/or e-mail lists
- Establishment of standing committees
- Expansion of the meeting schedule
Campus Climate Survey
Mike Tesh reported that staff will be receiving a letter from President Hatch encouraging their participation in a campus climate survey. Mike also noted that, as recommended by the SAC, several forums will be sponsored by Human Resources staff to provide information and address questions regarding the campus climate survey. The survey, which will be conducted by an outside facilitator, will be available on-line and in various other formats for those who do not have computer access or need special accommodations. Results of the survey will assist the administration in assessing the staff’s perception of the current work environment to determine areas of strength as well as opportunities for improvement. Confidentiality of individual responses will be maintained by the outside facilitator, and only aggregate summary data will be reported back to the appropriate department head.
The question was raised as to whether department heads would then in turn share the results with staff. Mike stated that he was not aware of any mandate in this regard; however, he will bring this matter to the attention of the Campus Climate Survey Committee for a recommendation. He thanked Mary Cranfill and Jim Rae, who served as the staff representatives on this committee. Mike also noted that this initial survey will provide benchmark data to monitor progress, and plans are to conduct future surveys every two to three years.
Dr. Boone suggested that personal data regarding the responder, i.e., gender, race, etc., might also be constructive in evaluating results. Mike noted that these questions are included in the survey, but responses by survey participants will be optional. He will provide Dr. Boone with a copy of the survey instrument.
Mike Tesh reported that the existing contractual relationship with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina has been successful in providing services while containing costs, and the administration will be recommending to the Board of Trustees a reduction in employee premiums for both the core and value plans. Mike encouraged employees to contact Human Resources if assistance is needed in selecting the best plan to meet individual needs. Mike also indicated that other employee benefit contracts (dental, life/disability, flexible spending, COBRA, legal services, etc.) are being carefully evaluated, and, when appropriate, bids from alternate providers will be solicited in an effort to improve services and control costs.
Several staff members indicated they had elected to participate in the pilot program for biometric screening and expressed appreciation for the efforts on behalf of the University to promote wellness. It was suggested that announcements of future opportunities not be limited to e-mail, since all employees may not have e-mail access. All employees are encouraged to participate in the upcoming Benefits Fair scheduled for April 21 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In response to a recommendation from the Staff Advisory Council, staff from Human Resources and the Legal Department have developed a proposed policy to establish a PTO bank. The intent of the PTO bank would be to allow employees to donate PTO to other employees who are experiencing critical circumstances and who have exhausted their own leave balances. Copies of the proposed policy were distributed, and SAC members were asked to review it and provide feedback to Mike Tesh. Upon endorsement by the SAC, the proposed policy will be forwarded to the President’s Cabinet for consideration.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 1:55 p.m.