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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Forum considers an award to raise profile of Tar Heel staff


The Employee Forum is considering the creation of the Rebecca Clark Staff Award for Moral Courage, named in memory of the woman who fought against unequal pay and workplace discrimination at Carolina.

When honors are handed out on University Day, faculty members have the Edward Kidder Graham Award and alumni have Distinguished Alumni Awards. But staff members are left empty-handed.

“We want something that’s elevated at University Day,” said Employee Forum Chair Charles Streeter at the group’s March 2 meeting.

What the forum is considering is the Rebecca Clark Staff Award for Moral Courage. Clark, a former staff member now deceased, was an African American political activist and civil rights organizer who fought against unequal pay and workplace discrimination. Only staff members would be eligible for the award, which, if approved by Chancellor Carol L. Folt, would provide a plaque and $2,500 for the winner.

In presenting the resolution establishing the award for its first reading, Katie Turner, the forum’s public relations and communications chair, emphasized that the award would honor not service but advocacy. “Rebecca Clark fought for better working conditions for the staff,” Turner said. “Her legacy is why we’re here today.”

After fielding several questions about the selection process for the award, Streeter said that the forum’s executive committee would address those issues and return to the April 6 forum meeting to discuss and vote on the resolution.

The meeting’s featured presenters were staff members from the Carolina Center for Public Service. Tremayne Manson, administrative services specialist, wanted to make sure the delegates were aware of employee community service leave options. This leave provides paid time off for the employee to participate in educational activities of children through high school and to support other community service volunteer activities for nonprofit organizations.

Clare Counihan, program coordinator at the Carolina Women’s Center, said she included information about community service and other kinds of leave in her latest Career Corner column in the forum’s In Touch newsletter,

“I think delegates are aware, but not our constituents. Or they have trouble getting permission from their supervisors,” Turner said. Getting permission might be easier if the community service was organized by the University, she added.

Manson advised employees to sign up for the center’s weekly email Public Service News, which lists volunteer opportunities.

“We are hoping to find out how much community service leave is being used,” said Kim Allen, the center’s new faculty and campus program officer.

Updates from the Office of Human Resources included an announcement by Felicia Washington, vice chancellor for workforce strategy, equity and engagement, that Carolina employees topped the list of contributors in the latest State Employee Combined Campaign, with $807,000.

Kathy Bryant, senior director of human resources communications and talent development, told the group that the office is going to redesign its website to “make it as user-friendly as possible.” Bryant said the office welcomes employee feedback and will be organizing focus groups to get that.

In her last update for the forum, Ashley Nicklis, senior director of benefits and work/life programs, reminded employees to attend the Work Well, Live Well Expo from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 16 at Rams Head Recreation Center. The event includes information to improve health and wellbeing as well as a $5 lunch at Rams Head Dining Hall.

The update was Nicklis’s last because she has taken a position with UNC General Administration as the benefits director for the UNC system. “I’ll just be down the hill,” she said.