Around Campus

Employee Forum delegates hear COVID-19 vaccination, testing updates

The chancellor and provost also provided updates on searches for deans, a new police chief, vice chancellor for communications and provost.

Katie Musgrove on Zoom screen
Katie Musgrove on Zoom screen (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Employee Forum delegates heard updates on COVID-19 vaccinations and testing and honored delegates for service during Wednesday’s meeting, which took place in person and on Zoom.

Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz said he was optimistic and encouraged by Carolina’s progress halfway through the fall semester and offered his thanks to employees for their commitment.

While Guskiewicz acknowledged a fair amount of anxiety on campus around COVID-19, he felt confident in how Carolina is managing the pandemic. Trends nationwide and across the state show COVID-19 cases are leveling off.

On campus, 93% of students attested to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination, while 93% of faculty and 85% of staff have attested.

“We’re a highly vaccinated campus community, and we’re feeling good about that,” he said.

He added that infectious disease experts predicted there would be cases on campus, and the low number of cases is encouraging.

Testing for employees who have not attested to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination began Oct. 4, he said.

Overall, the positivity rate for asymptomatic testing is 0.44%, which is down from 0.54% last week. Symptomatic positivity testing is at 2.5%, down from 3.3% from the previous week.

“I think our success this semester is a testament to the commitment of everybody,” he said.

In other topics, Guskiewicz said he continues to watch the state budget process in the General Assembly and work in tandem with the UNC System to advocate for Carolina’s needs.

Filling leadership positions

Guskiewicz provided an update on several searches for key leadership positions, including the confidential search for a new provost. Six finalists are visiting Carolina’s campus this week and next and meeting with small stakeholder groups. Guskiewicz said it’s likely a new provost will begin work early in 2022.

Provost Robert A. Blouin added that search committees are in place for deans for the Adams School of Dentistry, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Hussman School of Journalism and Media, the School of Nursing and the College of Arts & Sciences.

“We need candidates who value our culture and collaboration at Carolina and will carry on our strategic plan and other priorities and be part of a leadership team that reflects the diversity of our community,” Guskiewicz said.

The search for a new UNC Police Chief will begin later in October when a search committee and search firm are named, Guskiewicz said.

The search for a new vice chancellor for communications will launch early in the new year. “I want to take some time to evaluate the structure of the team and what our needs are. I’ll be seeking feedback from the campus community about that,” he said.


Since some delegates attended the meeting in person, the Kay Wijnberg Hovious Outstanding Employee Forum Delegate Awards, which were announced previously, were presented in person to Natiaya Neal and Phil Edwards for service in 2020 and to Jen DeNeal and L.E. Alexander for 2021. Keith Hines and Laura Pratt were also honored but were not present in person.

Former Employee Forum Chair Shayna Hill received her plaque for lifetime honorary delegate status.

In other news:

  • Forum delegates passed a resolution calling for University leaders to allow flexibility for employees to observe religious holidays meaningful to them by allotting floating holidays and clarifying appropriate “leave” coding for the holidays.
  • Open enrollment for employee benefits is set for Oct. 11 through midnight, Friday, Oct. 29, said Tarron Brandon, senior benefits consultant. Employees can visit hr.unc.edu/benefits/enrollment/ for detailed information about plans, webinars and enrollment directions.
  • A month of activities is planned for October when Carolina would normally celebrate Employee Appreciation Day. While there won’t be an in-person event this year, employees can give a shout-out to fellow colleagues on a Cheers to Peers platform that will be published on Oct. 22.
  • Carolina will celebrate its 228th birthday on University Day at 2 p.m. Oct. 12 with remarks by UNC System President Peter Hans, who will speak about the 50-year anniversary of the UNC System. Forum Chair Katie Musgrove will present the Rebecca Clark Staff Award for Moral Courage to Patricia Harris, director of recruitment in the School of Education. Oct. 12 is also Rebecca Clark’s birthday, Musgrove said.
  • Coach Roy Williams will deliver the Commencement address at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10, as the Class of 2020 celebrates its delayed ceremony in Kenan Stadium.
  • Carolina Cares Carolina Shares to support the North Carolina State Employees Combined Campaign runs through Dec. 11. The campaign allows state employees to support charities that are reviewed and approved for participation annually. Employees who choose to participate can donate through payroll deduction as a payment option.