Around Campus

Employee Forum: parking, budget, accessibility

Delegates heard about efforts to modernize elevators and make classrooms accessible, learned about ethics-related resources and more.

UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum meeting held virtually.
2023. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

At the April 12 Employee Forum meeting, Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz said the University will keep the communication lines open on accessibility issues. Campus administrators have spent a lot of time talking with students who raised concerns about classmates with physical disabilities and the accessibility issues that they face. “This is an old campus with a lot of challenges,” he said.

Work to address accessibility is focused particularly on ensuring that classrooms are accessible for students, the chancellor said. While some community members have obvious physical disabilities, he said, others have disabilities such as hearing impairments that are not readily apparent. Among the things that administrators learned from students is “that there are times when a professor can simply mic up to give their lecture in a classroom where there’s a student who’s hearing impaired,” Guskiewicz said.

The University has $68 million in deferred maintenance that can be tied to accessibility such as modernizing and replacing the oldest and most-used elevators. Guskiewicz said he will request additional funds from the UNC System to address these critical issues. Facilities Services is working on a system to alert people about unexpected elevator outages, and employees should report elevator and other accessibility issues to their building manager.

Gordon Merklein, associate vice chancellor for real estate and campus enterprises, told delegates that an advisory committee on transportation and parking is updating the University’s five-year transportation and parking plan. The group’s representatives from across campus and UNC Health will engage employees, review operations and technologies and examine subjects such as hybrid work schedules and Carolina’s financial support of Chapel Hill Transit. The committee hopes to present the transportation plan to the University’s Board of Trustees in spring 2024.

Kim Strom, director of Ethics and Policy, said that her office educates and consults with the University community on ethics and integrity, sponsors Global Ethics Month, hosts speakers and presentations, and partners with the Parr Center for Ethics on some programming. The office also:

  • Provides online forms, videos and other resources to help develop policies.
  • Conducts training for postdoctoral associates on responsible research and consultations on ethics issues.
  • Offers online training on subjects such as ethics in the workplace.
  • Fields anonymous reports of possible ethics violations that come in via the Carolina Ethics phone line.
  • Manages Speak Up Carolina, an online resource to foster constructive dialogue on difficult issues through scenarios and possible responses contributed by Carolina employees.

Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations and Chief Financial Officer Nate Knuffman gave an overview of the University’s budget development process for fiscal year 2024, which is the second year that Carolina has had a balanced all-funds budget. Budget priorities are fiscal responsibility; enabling career development for students, staff and faculty; pursuing discovery through creative collaboration; and serving to benefit the priorities of North Carolina communities and beyond.

Knuffman said that he hopes to seek approval of the budget from the Board of Trustees later this month. The budget would then go to the UNC Board of Governors, then on to the governor and state legislature.

In a Human Resources update, Becci Menghini, vice chancellor for human resources and equal opportunity and compliance, said that the UNC System is prioritizing a review of salary ranges for State Human Resources Act (SHRA) job classifications with a review of Exempt from Human Resources Act (EHRA) non-faculty positions to follow. She anticipates receiving information from the UNC System this summer.

Menghini also addressed questions about compelled speech in the recruitment process and encouraged delegates to review the guidance from her office. Her office has also been assisting with questions about how to frame interview questions and will continue to do so.

Watch the meeting on YouTube.