To aid recruiting, UNC board OKs bonuses for chancellors, paid parental leave for workers

UNC System schools now have two new tools to help recruit and keep chancellors and other university employees.

The UNC Board of Governors on Friday approved a new financial incentive program that will allow high-performing chancellors to receive bonuses of up to 20% of their base annual salary. The board also voted to give four to eight weeks of parental leave to all benefit-eligible UNC employees.

The board’s committee on personnel and tenure had recommended both measures to the full board. The committee also asked the board to raise the salary ranges for chancellors throughout the system, in keeping with market trends.

Matthew Brody, UNC’s senior vice president for human resources, told the committee Thursday that other university systems have begun offering both, leaving UNC schools at a competitive disadvantage.

Chancellors at North Carolina’s 16 public universities have said the schools constantly are under siege from private universities in the state and other systems outside the state trying to lure away skilled employees.

While additional details would have to be worked out, the chancellors’ incentive program would give the Board of Governors and the UNC president the discretion to give bonuses to chancellors based on their meeting a set of goals.

Interim President Bill Roper said that to get the full 20%, the chancellors would have to perform well not only for their own universities but for the system as a whole.

The main source of chancellors’ pay is their base salary, though some get additional retirement benefits. University chancellor salaries ranged from $291,305 per year at Winston-Salem State University to $664,387 at N.C. State University in July 2018, according to documents provided for Thursday’s meeting.

The parental leave benefit would have a much more widespread effect; the UNC System has about 30,000 employees.

The proposal would give four weeks of fully paid leave to parents who bring a new child into the family by adoption or other non-birth means, and eight weeks in the event of a birth. It’s similar to the benefit granted to employees of cabinet-level state agencies under Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 95, signed in May. That order does not apply to the university system.

Brody said university employees often are surprised when they go to human resources to apply for parental leave and find that it does not exist.

Brody said the benefit would cost the university system about $4.26 million a year, mostly to pay for overtime and temporary employees to cover for those who are home with a child.

Also on Thursday:

The Presidential Search Committee held a session with chancellors from across the system to ask what they want in a president. Several said they would like to see someone in the job who understands and loves North Carolina, appreciates the potential its university and community college system has to improve the quality of life for citizens, can be a strong advocate for the system at the legislature and can get along with members of the Board of Governors.

Several also said they would like the next president to hold the position for eight to 10 years, for the sake of stability.

The committee that looks at risk management for the system talked again about the need to make university police departments competitive on pay within the larger communities where the schools are located. As it is, officers get trained by the universities and then are hired away a few years later by municipal or county departments that can pay more, said Brent Herron, associate vice president for campus safety and emergency operations for the system.

Committee members said the university system needs to find a way to increase officer pay, and find ways for departments at different schools to collaborate where possible. The group also talked about ways to conduct standardized officer training, whether that’s through a police academy established by the system or through one that already exists. Members said they would like to visit the Samarcand Training Academy in Moore County owned by the N.C. Department of Public Safety. DPS has opened firing ranges at the site, and plans to conduct law enforcement and correction officer training there.

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Martha Quillin is a general assignment reporter at The News & Observer who writes about North Carolina culture, religion and social issues. She has held jobs throughout the newsroom since 1987.