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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

25 years ago, University employees found their voice

Paul Hardin

In March 1992, Chancellor Paul Hardin created the Employee Forum. He envisioned a “robust marketplace of ideas” where University employees, for the first time, would have a safe place to speak their minds on matters of concern to themand be heard. On Dec. 6, forum members past and present came together at the George Watts Hill Alumni Center to celebrate the forum’s 25th anniversary. Listed below are a few of the forum’s milestones.



Kay Wijnberg Hovious works with the late Chancellor Paul Hardin to establish an official organization for staff employees and serves as the forum’s first chair.


James Peacock receives the forum’s first Three-Legged Stool Award, created to recognize individuals who promote cooperation and collaboration among faculty, staff and students.


Employee Forum delegates meet with employee representatives from Appalachian State, East Carolina, Elizabeth City State, Fayetteville State, N.C. Central, N.C. State, N.C. School of the Arts, N.C. A&T, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Greensboro and UNC-Pembroke to create a system-wide staff council.


The forum chair and vice chair present for the first time to the Board of Trustees to solicit support on longstanding employee concerns such as salaries, parking, and career development.


The Employee Forum publishes InTouch, the forum newsletter.


Forum chair Tommy Griffin successfully advocates for a sliding scale of parking fee increases to protect the lowest-paid employees. While higher-paid employees see increases of 10 or 20 percent, fee increases are limited to 5 percent for the 64 percent of employees who earn less than $50,000 a year.

Chancellor James Moeser creates the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace and names Griffin to work with him as co-chair. (pictured right)


The University acts on the Task Force for a Better Workplace’s top recommendation to establish an ombuds office, the first of its kind in the UNC system.


The forum adopts as its official poem Song of the University Worker by Jeffery Beam, a former vice chair of the forum.


Forum Chair Jackie Overton (pictured right) holds discussions that allow housekeepers to voice their concerns to Chancellor Holden Thorp, who hires an outside consulting firm to investigate concerns. The report offers 45 recommendations put into effect in fall 2011.

Forum partners with Carolina Campus Community Garden, which produces more than 3,000 pounds of vegetables to distribute to housekeeping staff.

Forum partners with Board of Trustees to sponsor one of the 10 houses built for University employees through the Habitat for Humanity Build a Block campaign.


The forum establishes the Kay Wijnberg Hovious Outstanding Employee Forum Delegate Awards to recognize delegates who “go above and beyond the call of duty” on behalf of the forum.


The forum begins its official partnership with the Carolina Blood Drive and official stewardship of the Carolina Family Scholarship, which provides need-based college scholarships to children of employees.


Forum Chair Charles Streeter, working both in public and behind the scenes, influences a process that results in 48 full-time staff members keeping their jobs at their current salary after Barnes & Noble College begins managing UNC Student Stores in July.


In her closing remarks at the forum’s 25th anniversary celebration, forum Chair Shayna Hill (pictured right) looks forward: “I am really excited looking back, but more excited looking forward. The forum represents to me what we cannot do alone, but what we can do together. And together, we can do anything.”