University News

Employee Forum: Professional Studies master’s, Lean Foundations

At the Dec. 7 meeting, delegates heard about a career development graduate degree, improved process training and salary updates.

Screen of forum's December meeting via Zoom.
(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Carolina employees can apply for a new master’s degree program that will advance them professionally while also addressing the state’s workforce development, the Employee Forum learned in its Dec. 7 meeting.

Laura Kuizin, director of the Master of Professional Studies program in The Graduate School, said that MAPS combines existing graduate-level courses with a study focus conceived by each student. Some examples of focus areas are global development, military leadership, nonprofit management, research administration and women in leadership.

“It could be something in your current role, something outside a role, something that you’re interested in moving toward in your career trajectory. The program is designed to give you that extra step and resources to move forward,” she said. MAPS is a 30-credit hour program with a capstone project instead of a thesis.

Lean Foundations Training

Senior Vice Provost for Business Operations Rick Wernoski gave an overview of Operational Excellence,then introduced consultant Liz Billings, who outlined the new Lean Foundations Training program.

With Operational Excellence efforts having helped many campus units, Wernoski said, the training program is a way “to spread our experience, knowledge and toolkit across campus.”

Billings said that Lean Foundations is problem-solving rooted in a scientific method. “It provides you with a set of tools to help you improve your processes within your units and departments.”

Carolina’s Lean Foundations Training website includes the program’s objectives, a dashboard showing progress and information on registering for future sessions.

Vice chancellor for communications welcome

Kamrhan Farwell, who began work at Carolina Sept. 26, described her background as a native Northern Californian, journalist and communications professional at three universities, most recently as vice chancellor and chief marketing and communications officer at the University of Missouri.

In her first two months on the job, she and her team are assessing the University Communications office and communications across campus and to all university stakeholders.

“I’ve come into a team that is already quite strong. It’s doing a great job on all the different channels with just phenomenal talent,” she said. “The job here is to take it to another level.”

Farwell stressed planning of communications to employees so that they have a better chance to know about changes in campus operations and issues. She said that with its broad view, University Communications can help campus units communicate with audiences in ways other than mass emails, such as face-to-face meetings with leadership, staff, faculty and students.

Chancellor’s round table

Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz said that:

  • A reclassification of housekeepers will soon enable Carolina to increase their salaries.
  • A historic increase in graduate student stipends begins Jan. 1.
  • The University is celebrating the end of the Campaign for Carolina, which raised $5 billion.
  • Prior to the next campaign, his administration, including new Vice Chancellor for Development Michael Andreasen, will focus on the Next Grand Challenges initiative. The effort will address the world’s biggest problems, starting with five of 33 proposals submitted from schools and units across campus. Carolina will seek donor gifts of $50 to $100 million to fund the proposals.

Human Resources update

Becci Menghini, vice chancellor for human resources and equal opportunity and compliance, said that:

  • The University is working its way through use of a state-allocated labor market adjustment reserve to help bring more employees closer to market salary rates and address some areas of greatest need across campus. Unit submissions for use of the funds are undergoing a review and approval process by Human Resources, with the hope of making December payroll.
  • Regarding raising salary ranges for employees, the authority to make changes resides with the State Office of Human Resources. Carolina’s Office of Human Resources continues to work with the UNC System to advocate with the state office for more autonomy. “We’re making some headway, more headway than we’ve seen in the last four years, but we don’t yet have a nod to go forward.”

Watch the meeting on YouTube.