Coming up Friday, July 1, Pam DeGraffenreid, chair of WCU’s Staff Senate, will yield that position to chair-elect Chris Parrish of the Office of Admission and will be able to devote her time and energies to her new role as an at-large delegate to the Staff Assembly of the University of North Carolina system.
DeGraffenreid, Bookstore supervisor, is embracing her new responsibilities. In her role as chair of the Staff Senate, she already has been serving as one of WCU’s delegates to the UNC Staff Assembly.
“As an at-large delegate, I attend all Executive Committee and Staff Assembly meetings and stay abreast of all Staff Assembly activities during my term,” she said. “In addition, at-large delegates are also assigned by the Staff Assembly chair to a standing committee and may be asked to serve on one or more ad hoc committees as needed. Currently, I’ve been assigned to chair the Human Resource Committee, where I’m responsible for leading discussions on Human Resource issues that affect all 17 institutions across North Carolina, and relaying the information that I learn from those discussions back to the committee’s attention. I make recommendations to the board on procedural changes and give updates and recommendations to the committee’s Executive Board members as well as to the Human Resources Committee.”
In addition, DeGraffenreid is responsible for coordinating the selection process for the Erskine B. Bowles Award and for the new Thomas W. Ross Visionary Leadership Award, created late last year to honor the departing system president.
Board members also are invited to attend events at other campuses, such as award programs, UNC Staff Assembly Faculty/Senate retreats, legislative and/or General Administration events and others meetings deemed appropriate by the chair, she said.
“The board meets about every two months, with locations ranging from UNC General Administration in Chapel Hill to campuses,” DeGraffenreid added. “That gives us an opportunity to learn more about each campus and take ideas back to our campuses. So far, we have toured North Carolina Central University, Winston-Salem State University, Fayetteville State University, UNC-Pembroke and the N.C. School of Science and Math. Also, we visited UNC-Chapel Hill for its University Day program. Our upcoming meeting in August will be held at UNC-Wilmington and at Western Carolina in October.
“I’ve been impressed with the different campuses and the amazing employees who serve our state,” she said.
DeGraffenreid anticipates addressing a number of new and ongoing concerns in meetings of the UNC Staff Assembly. “Of course, there’s always salary, budgeting and employee protection concerns,” she said. “But this year, diminishing benefits such as increasing insurance costs have become major topics, especially for future employees. There have been conversations about flex time, ombuds positions, consistency among university staff awards, House Bill 2 – which impacts transgender citizens – and Senate Bill 873.”
The latter measure would, among other provisions, reduce tuition costs to $500 a semester at Western Carolina and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
DeGraffenreid has served on the Staff Senate since 2012. “While my role as chair of the Staff Senate will end July 1, I will continue serving on the UNC Staff Assembly until my term ends in October 2017,” she said. “WCU will still have three delegates for the UNC Staff Assembly at that time, in addition to my seat. It will be great to see the impact WCU can have with our active participation on the UNC Staff Assembly.
“I’m grateful to the WCU staff for giving me an opportunity to serve as the chair of the Staff Senate,” DeGraffenreid said. “The vote of confidence I received from my WCU family gave me the courage to earn a position on the UNC Staff Assembly. I will always be grateful to them for giving me the chance to be their voice, and I plan to continue serving as that voice on the UNC Staff Assembly Executive Board.”
The UNC Staff Assembly was created in 2006 to be the elected body of representatives of the staff of the 17 campuses of the University of North Carolina, General Administration and affiliates. Its goal, according to its charter, is “to improve communications, understanding and morale throughout the whole of our respective communities and to increase efficiency and productivity in campus operations.”
By Keith Brenton