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The Daily Tar Heel

Year in Review: Housekeeping reform focuses on long-term, quality changes

A department plagued by allegations of harassment, poor management and discrimination got the spotlight this year.

And the focus of the move toward reform has changed from immediacy to higher-quality and more long-term changes.

Last spring, the University responded to complaints within the Housekeeping Services department by enlisting a third-party evaluation.

PRM Consulting Group released its report in October outlining more than 45 recommendations for change.

The results prompted an announcement from Chancellor Holden Thorp of immediate actions the University would take.

“We have been working to fix these problems, but those sincere attempts have fallen short,” Thorp said in an October email to University faculty and staff.

Chief among UNC’s priorities was the establishment of an advisory committee composed of housekeepers who will give progress reports and recommendations.

After the report’s release, housekeepers said they were optimistic — but some expressed hesitation. Employee Forum delegate James Holman said some doubt remained regarding the extent to which the University would implement substantial changes.

In October, Brenda Malone, vice chancellor for human resources, said the University would begin moving forward on an action plan quickly.

“In using the term ‘immediate,’ that’s the kind of term you don’t use unless you mean it,” she said.

“For us, it’s critically important to move quickly.”

But Dick Mann, then-vice chancellor for finance and administration, acknowledged in October that the plan might take months to execute.

“Some of those things are going to take a while because there are so many people involved,” he said.

And now, reform in the department is under way, but administrators said the importance lies in quality rather than speed.

Mann said it is important to give critical issues the time they need.

“It’s going OK, and I’d love to see it go faster, but it doesn’t make sense to jam something in if people don’t feel they are involved,” he said in November.

Malone said some parts of the process are inevitably taking time.

“I’m not sure there’s ever an end date for reaching a climate of cultural stability,” Malone said.

“In essence, we’re meeting our target.”

Ongoing projects include the formation of an advisory committee, a management training program and better communication between employees.

The search for a new housekeeping director has also begun, and a search committee has been formed, Malone said.

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