While the General Assembly recently passed a state budget and Gov. Roy Cooper signed it, details about when University employees will receive the 2.5% pay raises and bonuses are still being worked out, Becci Menghini, vice chancellor for human resources and equal opportunity and compliance, told Employee Forum delegates during a Dec. 1 virtual meeting.
University employees will receive a 2.5% salary increase in each of the next two years (fiscal years 2021-22 and 2022-23), Menghini said, along with a one-time $1,000 bonus in the first year and an additional one-time $500 bonus for any employee making less than $75,000 per year. The 2.5% raise is retroactive to July 1, 2021.
Menghini said she expects employees to receive payments in January or February 2022, though the timing depends on guidance the University receives from the Office of State Human Resources and the UNC System.
COVID-19 vaccination rates
Provost Bob Blouin provided an update on COVID-19 vaccination rates. Across the United States, 59% are fully vaccinated and 70% are partially vaccinated, with lower numbers in North Carolina, where 57% are fully vaccinated and 61% are partially vaccinated. North Carolina has an 8.3% positivity rate for COVID-19 cases, he said.
In Orange County, there’s a 1.8% positivity rate, Blouin said, and 71% are fully vaccinated and 77% are partially vaccinated.
“As a campus community, our numbers are even stronger than that,” he said. On Carolina’s campus, 94-95% of faculty and students have attested to being fully vaccinated, while nearly 89% of staff have attested to being fully vaccinated.
“Thank you to everybody for what you’ve been doing with regard to keeping the campus open, healthy and viable, and doing your fair share to keep the campus safe,” he said. “Those are all great numbers.”
The University falls under President Biden’s federal mandate that requires employees of federal contractors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no later than Jan. 18, 2022, Menghini said. Because Carolina receives $165 million in federal contract funding that supports research, educational programs and other initiatives, that makes the University subject to these requirements. (The original federal deadline of Dec. 8, 2021, was recently extended to Jan. 18, 2022.)
She added that she expects to see vaccination numbers increase in the second week of December because to count in the federal mandate, employees must have received both doses of the vaccine and uploaded proof of vaccination to the Environment, Health and Safety certification system.
The University is also reviewing requests for medical and religious exemptions for the vaccine.
Employees who do not comply with the federal mandate will be subject to a disciplinary process. The University is seeking further guidance on that process from the federal government and the UNC System, Menghini said.
Receiving a third dose, or a booster, for the COVID-19 vaccine is not part of the requirement, Blouin said.
“In talking to infectious disease experts, the booster is a very powerful addition to your own self-protection,” Blouin said.
Blouin added that the University and UNC Health Care experts are monitoring the new variant, omicron. Blouin said he meets once or twice a week with health care experts to ensure the University has the latest information.
Mental Health Summit
Blouin thanked Forum delegates for their support and ideas shared during the recent Mental Health Summit. “I am mindful of the fact that a lot of you, along with faculty and students, are experiencing the stress of things going on around us, and I hope we can work together to minimize the stress and improve the overall mental health and well-being of our community,” he said.
Blouin said he and other leaders are looking to see what can be done in the short term and what should be done longer term.
Future of Work project
An Operational Excellence Design Team is examining the future of work at Carolina, looking to grant flexibility in work arrangements while continuing to meet the University’s mission of a world-class on-campus experience for students.
The priority is maintaining the student experience, Operational Excellence Transformation Manager Candace Reynolds said, while the second priority is to ensure an exceptional employee experience to retain and attract top talent. Thirdly, the project seeks to identify opportunities to save and consolidate resources, such as office space.
The design team is working to establish central guardrails for flexible work arrangements, provide guidance for supervisors and ensure consistency in similar roles across the University, Reynolds said. Faculty and the School of Medicine are out of scope for this project.
The team is developing a playbook that offers schools and units a framework to use in decision-making and provides resources to support a successful implementation, Reynolds said, with the goal of getting the guidance out in January.
Employee Forum Chair Katie Musgrove, who serves on the design team, said the playbook is a 2.0 of the Future of Work and leaves room to improve on the playbook. “Eventually we will build upon this and make it bigger and better,” she said.
In other news:
- Blouin said search committees for deans for the Adams School of Dentistry, College of Arts & Sciences, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Hussman School of Journalism and Media and the School of Nursing are all proceeding. The search for a vice provost for admissions should be wrapping up soon. He added that he had “kept his distance” from the provost search but that Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz is eager to make an announcement soon.
- The Holiday Carolina Blood Drive, sponsored by the Forum, is set for 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 8, in Fetzer Hall. While appointments to donate blood are full, walk-ins will be accepted. Opportunities to volunteer at the drive are open.
- Registration is open for the Jingle Bell Jog, set for 11:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 3, both in-person leaving from Fetzer Gym and online using the Strava app.