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Faculty Council passes two amendments, reviews new HR system

Friday's Faculty Council meeting covered an array of topics  — including the University’s loan to the Northside neighborhood as well as increasing access to scholarly articles written by faculty — but the majority of the meeting was spent reviewing the new payroll system.

There are ongoing software updates to fine-tune new payroll and HR systems that went live in October 2014. The transition — which was labeled as a new ConnectCarolina — cost the University $87 million to implement. 

Chris Kielt, ‎vice chancellor for information technology and chief information officer, explained at the Wilson library meeting that while his department has been working hard to address bugs, they still have a lot of work to do to customize the software to meet the needs of the UNC community.

“The systems we had in place were decades old. Some of the systems we were using were put in place when Lyndon Johnson was president of the United States — no, I’m not kidding, four decades ago,” Kielt said.

Friday’s meeting also resulted in two amendments to the Faculty Code in advance of Faculty Council elections next month.

“It’s very important that we get people to engage and that we get people to vote. I really think that ‘s important that we have a representative voice of the faculty,” said faculty council chairman Bruce Cairns of the changes.

Early this academic year, French professor and faculty council member Hassan Melehy was critical of what he said was the insider culture of the council, saying smaller departments — like romance languages — does not get the same representation. 

Faculty Council rules require resolutions to be presented and voted on twice. The amendments had been initially presented at the February meeting.

The first amendment proposed a reform to how elected seats in Faculty Council are apportioned. The second dealt with the establishment of a committee on fixed term faculty.

Professor Vin Steponaitis, chairman of the committee on University government, explained the proposed changes.

“This is purely a technical amendment that streamlines the process of apportioning seats based on where faculty are located. It also decreases the amount of time between reapportionments from five years to one and just simplifies things taking into account that we have computers now,” Steponaitis said.

“There already is a committee on fixed term faculty, established in 2005 whose membership consists of only members of Faculty Council — it’s a kind of subcommittee,” Steponaitis said of the second resolution.

“This code amendment will essentially allow the committee to continue its work but will structure more like any other standing committee … The committee’s charge, rather than simply being a resolution of faculty council, will now be a part of the Faculty Code.”

Both resolutions passed without dissent.

Chancellor Carol Folt gave an update on her recent travels and activities —including the efforts of new diversity task forces such as The Carolina Pulse as well as her role in UNC’s presentation of an honorary degree to Nobel Prize winning physicist Peter Higgs.

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