AVC Corner

Dear colleagues,

In early 2021, my team and I will announce some exciting news regarding employee recognition at NC State. I cannot reveal all the details yet, but I want to make you aware of the work taking place before we make our announcement.

A group of university employees has been working since May 2019 to enhance the employee recognition programs that University Human Resources coordinates. NC State has three signature recognition programs: the Service Awards Program, Pride of the Wolfpack and Awards for Excellence.

That group is also looking for ways to encourage university partners to improve their existing recognition programs and to find new and innovative ways to show their employees how much they are appreciated. Those partners already manage about 50 of their own recognition programs and/or events.

The group members began their evaluation of university recognition programs with the help of a consultant. The members also sought feedback from employees about the programs. They are using what they have learned over the past year to:

  • Launch a new peer-to-peer recognition program.
  • Enhance the Service Awards Program, Awards for Excellence and Pride of the Wolfpack.
  • Refresh UHR’s recognition webpages.

I am sure you are wondering what prompted us to do all this. Many of you provided that prompting through your responses to specific statements in the 2018 University of North Carolina System Employee Engagement Survey. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said NC State’s recognition and rewards programs were meaningful to them, but 29% said they were not. One in five employees said they weren’t recognized regularly for their contributions.

In 2020, the survey results were slightly better. Forty percent agreed that NC State’s awards and recognition programs are meaningful to them, but 28% disagreed.

We are not satisfied with those results. We want an overwhelming majority of employees to feel that they are appreciated and their contributions to NC State matter.

We know that employee recognition programs help retain employees, increase employee engagement and satisfaction and encourage high performance. That is why we are focusing our efforts on enhancing our recognition programs and events at NC State.

I look forward to revealing more details about what we have been working on regarding employee recognition early next year. I hope you are excited about this news as I am.

Best regards,

Marie Williams
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources


Dear colleagues,

If I had to choose an adjective to describe 2020, that word would be stressful. Some mental health experts might agree with me.

COVID-19, the presidential election, the fight for racial equality in this country and other issues are causing an excessive amount of stress in the lives of Americans, according to a recently released national survey. Stress in America 2020: A National Mental Health Crisis, which The Harris Poll conducted on behalf of the American Psychological Association, found that 78% of adults point to the pandemic as a significant source of stress in their lives.

As a human resources professional, I’m concerned by the survey results. I care deeply about the well-being of the employees at NC State. The university offers many mental health resources, and I encourage you to take advantage of them if you need to. A list of some of those resources accompanies this letter.

Lisa Zapata, interim vice chancellor of the Division of Academic and Student Affairs, and I co-chair the NC State Wellness Advisory Committee. The committee’s charge is to create and maintain a culture that supports and promotes the overall wellness of students, staff and faculty.

One of the results of our work is Wolfpack Wellness, a website created to serve as a wellness resource for students and employees. We’re currently refreshing the site to make it even more useful, and we’ll let you know when the update is complete.


Mental Health Resources

ResourceDescriptionHow to Access
Mindful MondaysJoin a community of NC State faculty and staff who are learning and practicing mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques.Go to REPORTER to register.
Wolf ChatWe're all living through tough times and have been affected in some way. You're invited to participate in Wolf Chat Wednesday, an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to connect, share, listen and grow.Go to the University Calendar to learn more.
Mental Health First Aid: Helping Someone Who Is SufferingThis short guide explains how best to approach and offer help to someone with mental health issues.You can download the guide here.
Healthy Habits and Behaviors to Keep You WellDr. Julie Casani, director and medical director of Student Health Services at NC State, shares tips to stay physically and mentally healthy during COVID-19.To watch a recording of Casani’s presentation, you must be signed into your NC State Zoom account. You can watch the presentation by clicking this Zoom link.
Stress: A Way of Life or a Fact of Life?This on-demand training resource offers tips on how to control stress instead of letting it control you.You can access the training here.


My goal is to make sure NC State is providing a robust amount of mental health resources for our campus community and to ensure that you know where and how to find those resources. That APA survey I mentioned above also indicates that most Americans don’t think they’re getting the emotional support they need. Sixty-one percent of adults say they could have used more emotional support over the past 12 months, according to the survey.

Our bodies can’t handle long-term, chronic stress. We all need to be aware of the physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral signs that indicate we are under stress. Those include nervous behaviors, constant worrying, insomnia and feeling overwhelmed, according to WebMD. If you notice the signs, please seek help. You have many options available to you, including utilizing the resources above, taking advantage of the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program and asking your HR representative to help you find assistance.

Best regards,

Marie Williams
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources

Dear colleagues,

It is getting close to the time of the year when University Human Resources reminds employees to do two things: Make employee benefit selections during the annual enrollment period and to get a flu shot. I would like to encourage you to do both.

Your opportunity to enroll in employee benefit programs or make changes to the benefits you selected in previous years will be Oct. 15-31, the time that has been set aside for annual enrollment. University Human Resources has created an annual enrollment webpage that you should review before the enrollment window begins. The UHR benefits team has filled the page with lots of useful information you’ll want to know, including:

  • All employees enrolled in the State Health Plan must take action during the annual enrollment period, even if they don’t want to make changes to any of the benefit programs in which they’re enrolled. Nontobacco users can reduce their State Health Plan premium by $60 a month during this time. To receive that discount, you must attest to being a nontobacco user during the annual enrollment period.
  • For the third consecutive year, there are no premium increases.
  • Metlife life insurance will become a University of North Carolina System-administered plan with an enhanced accidental death and dismemberment benefit. As a result of this change, some employees’ premiums will decrease.
  • Starting Jan. 1, 2021, dental plan rates for the low, classic and high plan options will decrease.

To help employees understand changes that have been made to some of the benefit programs and to answer employee benefit-related questions, UHR will offer campuswide information sessions via Zoom. The UHR benefits team is still planning the dates and times for those sessions. When that information is available, the team will post the sessions on the annual enrollment webpage.

The team also plans to post videos on the website that will provide an overview of open enrollment and explain how to enroll. Employees can enroll by:

  • Calling 855-859-0966.
  • To log into the enrollment website, go to the MyPack Portal and click benefits details.
  • Downloading the Benefitfocus’ benefits enrollment app on their mobile devices.

I also encourage employees to get a flu shot. UHR will host pop-up flu clinics on campus. Soon UHR will announce additional details about those clinics, including when they will be offered.

It will be especially important to get a flu shot this year due to concerns about the flu and COVID-19 spreading simultaneously. When our flu clinics open, new safety protocols will be in place due to COVID-19. You can read about those protocols in this edition of Howl You Know.

Please continue to make your health and well-being a top priority.

Best regards,

Marie Williams
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources

Dear colleagues,

As we begin the 2020-21 academic year, I want to thank everyone involved in the efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at NC State. Your work validates what I already know to be true about the Wolfpack: We are a resilient community that always stands ready to support each other and tackle tough challenges.

Since public health experts first made clear that the new coronavirus is a threat to our well-being, NC State’s top priority has been the safety of our community. We will continue to do all we can to make sure our campus is a safe place to work, learn and live. For our university to remain safe, we all must participate in efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.

As a precautionary measure to limit the spread of COVID-19 on campus, many of us have been working from home since mid-March. But now that the fall semester is underway, more employees will be working on campus. For those employees and students returning to campus, the university has implemented comprehensive safety measures. We’ve included information about some of those measures in this edition of Howl You Know.

NC State also has produced resources, including a website, designed to help keep you informed about the safe reactivation of campus operations. Those resources include:

For us to achieve our goal of keeping campus as safe as possible, we need your help and support. I implore you to follow the safety measures we have implemented, such as wearing face coverings and staying 6 feet away from each other. By following these measures, you will not only help prevent the spread of COVID-19; you’ll also show you respect fellow members of the Wolfpack.

None of us, not even our medical experts, know how long we will be dealing with this public health emergency. As we continue to grapple with it, one of the things we need to focus our attention on is community resilience — our ability to use our resources to respond to, withstand and recover from adversity.

“Community resilience focuses on enhancing the day-to-day health and well-being of communities to reduce the negative impacts of disasters,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

When you get a chance, review the DHHS webpage on community resilience. The page offers lots of helpful information, including strategies to build resilient communities and ways to strengthen your health and resilience. I suggest that you find ways to implement the strategies in your departments and units, and follow the recommendations on how to improve your health and resilience.

Best regards,

Marie Williams
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources

Dear colleagues,

More than four weeks have passed since the death of George Floyd, and my heart is still brimming with grief. The pain and sorrow I feel for Floyd’s family and others who have died as a result of alleged police misconduct and other injustices against people of color are profound.

As a person of color and proud mother of two young black men, I understand the anguish that parents of color sometimes feel about the safety of their children. This worrisome thought creeps into our minds: Will they return home safely? We shouldn’t have to fret about our children’s safety on the basis of their color.

In 2015, the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources launched its Creating Inclusive Communities project, a collection of personal stories from higher education human resources professionals from across the country. The project was designed to help jump-start conversations about diversity and inclusion and to urge higher education leaders to create more inclusive college communities. As part of the project, a dear friend and colleague — Pamela Prescod-Caesar, vice president of Human Resources at Swarthmore College, shared what I see as a powerful call to action we should all embrace, especially now.

“We are complex beings in every way, and although, for the most part, we can’t change our inherent characteristics, we have the ability to change our thoughts,” she said. “We can open ourselves, to embrace the vast possibilities in others. We can share our voices individually and collectively. We can take actions and do our part and then we can watch the transformation.”

A Guide to Respecting Our Differences
A Guide to Respecting Our Differences

As we reflect as a campus community on the terrible injustices against people of color over the past few months, I challenge each of you to heed my friend’s words and those written by NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in a recent Los Angeles Times opinion piece. Abdul-Jabbar reminds us that we still have much to do to fight racism, injustice, violence and inequality against people of color in this country and around the world.

“African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote. “Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.”

At NC State, we are committed to promoting a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion. The Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity, our campus partner, offers a range of diversity resources and programs. You can learn more about those resources and programs in the most recent edition of OIED’s newsletter, Diversity Digest. More resources are in this edition of Howl You Know.

Over the past several weeks, Chancellor Randy Woodson, the Chancellor’s Cabinet and others have shared letters denouncing acts of racial injustice. I stand united with my campus community, my local community and the nation in the fight against racism and injustices against people of color and the embracement of a culture that encourages diversity, equity and inclusion.It is time for change. It is time we unite to create a community, a nation and a world where diversity, equity and inclusion are a priority, not an afterthought.

We are stronger together as one united Wolfpack.

Best regards,

Marie Williams
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources

Dear colleagues,

My team and I promised we would provide you with periodic updates on our efforts to transform University Human Resources. We planned to update you in March, but we were asked to help with NC State’s COVID-19 response plan, causing us to delay the rollout of our annual report.

We are proud to announce we have published UHR’s inaugural annual report, which is our first major update on our transformational journey. We’ve accomplished a great deal and still have a lot more to achieve. Congratulations to the UHR team and our HR campus partners for our successes so far.

We launched our bold and ambitious plan to transform UHR in our 2018-21 HR strategic plan. The five focus areas included in that plan serve as the roadmap for our transformational journey.

Our annual report is a detailed summary of our major accomplishments in each of the focus areas in fiscal year 2018-19. These accomplishments include:

  • An ongoing effort to streamline the faculty hiring process. In March, UHR and the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity announced enhancements to one part of the process — the procedure to request a waiver of the recruitment process for EHRA positions.
  • Improvements to WolfTime, our electronic timekeeping and leave-tracking system, that make it more user-friendly.
  • The formation of an HR analytics unit.
  • Enhancements to the nine-month tenure/tenure-track and nontenure track faculty hiring approval process for fall.

The UHR annual report also includes an assortment of interesting statistics about our campus from fiscal year 2018-19, including the average age of our employees (45.2), the number of permanent faculty and staff (9,343) and employment applications received (92,426). The report also highlights the great work accomplished by our HR campus partners.

Please take some time to review the report. My team and I have started the initial phase of crafting our annual report for fiscal year 2019-20.

Thank you all, especially our HR professionals based in the colleges and divisions on campus, for all your support and help during our transformational journey.

Best regards,

Marie Williams
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources

Dear NC State colleagues,

I hope you and your families are doing well and staying safe as we continue to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic as a campus community. COVID-19 has affected all of us in some way, so I encourage each of you to remain resilient in these difficult times.

I’ve been so impressed by how our university community has united during these uncertain times. We have assisted our students, displayed compassion for colleagues and exhibited patience and professionalism through many changes over the past few weeks.

I want to urge you to follow the guidance of our local, state and national public health experts to practice physical distancing. These experts have asked us to maintain at least six feet of distance from those outside our households and to refrain from participating in large gatherings. We all have a role to play in slowing the spread of COVID-19, and I know as members of the Wolfpack we each take that responsibility seriously. That’s why NC State and the rest of the University of North Carolina System institutions have reduced on-campus populations and encouraged physical distancing over the past few weeks.

However, these measures and others like them, which are vitally important to our health, have disrupted our personal and professional lives. That is why we have decided to focus this edition of Howl You Know on two things: your transition to working in this new environment and ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle during these hectic times.

We have developed a wellness guide that is full of resources and tips to help you stay healthy and productive whether you are working on campus or at home. University Human Resources and University Wellness and Recreation partnered to create our wellness guide, which provides a wealth of on- and off-campus resources (many of which are free or discounted). Here are a few highlights:

  • Wellness and Recreation is sharing prerecorded workouts and yoga videos on its website.
  • NC State employees can access Grokker’s library of fitness, yoga and nutrition videos and other resources for free through April 30.
  • State Health Plan members can join Blue365, which offers access to discounts on a variety of health-related products and resources.

For those employees who are now required to work remotely, we have developed a work-from-home toolkit. The toolkit includes tips on a variety of remote-work subjects, including home office ideas, creating an effective work routine and video conferencing tips.

When you get an opportunity, please review our work-from-home toolkit and wellness guide. I hope you find them valuable. Even though we are adjusting to new ways of living and working, we must continue to be steadfast in our efforts to maintain our mental and physical health.

As a reminder, our Faculty and Staff Assistance Program also provides support, resources and information to help employees address personal and work-life issues. FASAP is administered by third-party provider ComPsych.

Many of our university partners also have published useful COVID-19-related resources that you should also consider reading. Those include:

For more resources and guidelines related to COVID-19, visit the UHR website and the university’s coronavirus page.

Thank you for all you are doing to support our campus community during this time.

Best regards,

Marie Williams
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources

Dear NC State family,

I hope each of you had a wonderful holiday break with your families and friends. I’m looking forward to a great 2020. As we begin the year, I would like to update you on a few things.

Our new paid parental leave policy went into effect Jan. 1. We have many people to thank, including Margaret Erickson, assistant vice chancellor for HR Operations, the Office of Information Technology and the paid parental leave implementation team, for all their hard work to get the policy in place on a very tight timeline.

In University Human Resources, we continue to make good progress implementing the initiatives outlined in our three-year strategic plan. We plan to publish our first annual report soon. That report will detail our accomplishments from fiscal year 2018-19, the first year of the plan.

As you know, all UNC System institutions are participating in the Employee Engagement Survey initiative. In 2018, the first time the survey was administered, we achieved a 54% participation rate. The 2020 survey will be administered Feb. 4-18. In this issue of Howl You Know, you can read about the many initiatives and projects that were initiated after the 2018 survey to enhance the culture and work environment for NC State’s faculty and staff. Your feedback and participation will be so important for the 2020 survey.

We hope you are enjoying our newsletter, and here’s to a productive year.

Best regards,

Marie Williams
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources

Dear NC State family,

I can hardly believe Thanksgiving is a little more than a week away, and soon we will celebrate the start of a new year. I love this time of year because it gives us an opportunity to do two important things: reflect and give thanks.

We’ve enjoyed a tremendous amount of success in 2019 at NC State, which means we have quite a bit to be thankful for and to think about as the year winds down. When I look back over our incredible accomplishments as an institution, I can’t help but gush with pride.

Chancellor Randy Woodson’s recent announcement that we surpassed our $1.6 billion Think and Do the Extraordinary campaign goal was the perfect way to cap off the year. That amazing achievement is one of many that makes NC State a remarkable place to work.

In 2020, NC State will implement a new paid parental leave policy. We owe a great deal of gratitude to NC State’s Council on the Status of Women for advocating for this new policy. I was extremely proud of the council, the UNC System and others who championed the policy when the Board of Governors signed off on the family-friendly initiative earlier this year.

For the past several months, my team and I have been feverishly working on our inaugural annual report, which will highlight University Human Resources’ major accomplishments in fiscal year 2018-19. The report will be published in 2020. Reading the content for that report has reminded me of the exhaustive effort University Human Resources and our HR campus partners have put toward transforming HR. I want to thank each person on the team for all they have contributed to the success of HR and NC State.

I encourage each of you to find time next week or before the year ends to reflect on your own successes. Make a list of all of your wonderful achievements from 2019 and all you are thankful for as well. I’m sure you’ll find this to be a fulfilling exercise.

Wishing you a holiday season filled with thanks and gratitude.

Best regards,

Marie Williams
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources

Dear NC State family,

As you may know, NC State and our sister UNC System institutions are preparing to implement a new paid parental leave policy.

The UNC System Board of Governors approved the policy at its September meeting, and it will be implemented in early 2020. The policy provides eight weeks of paid leave for eligible birth parents and four weeks of paid leave for eligible nonbirth parents, including adoptive and foster parents.

I am excited for our eligible faculty and staff who will be able to take advantage of this new benefit. The creation of the policy shows how much the UNC System values family-friendly employee benefits and how committed the system is to implementing those benefits.

We owe a debt of gratitude to NC State’s Council on the Status of Women for taking the initiative to passionately and successfully advocate for the leave policy. The council and its partners showed resilience and patience as they garnered support for their policy proposal from an array of stakeholders. Congratulations to everyone involved on a phenomenal job.

As a working parent, I understand how difficult it can be to balance the demands of a career and family life at home. I am hopeful the new paid parental leave policy will ease that burden for our employees and give birth parents and nonbirth parents sufficient time to bond with their children.

I know many of you are eager to see the policy go into effect, and we want to make the benefits of the policy available to you as soon as we can.

We are awaiting guidance from the UNC System Office regarding the implementation of this policy, and we will share that information with you once it is available.

In the meantime, at NC State, we have assembled a paid parental leave work group comprising various campus stakeholders to assist with the implementation process. Margaret Erickson, assistant vice chancellor for HR Operations, will lead this work group.

If you have questions about the policy or its implementation, please send an email to paid-parental-lv@ncsu.edu.

Best regards,

Marie Williams
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources

Dear NC State family,

We have some remarkable colleagues whose dedication to wellness is inspiring.

I love Nancy Welchel’s, Kevin Rice’s and Janice Sitzes’ passion for cycling and other physical activities.

I am in awe of Melissa Jackson’s drive to be an advocate for overall wellness. She pushes her colleagues to be active and take time to relax.

It’s commendable how Leressa Suber and her colleagues on the Industry Expansion Solutions team give back to our community.

You can read about these extraordinary NC State employees in this special edition of “Howl You Know.” Most of the stories in this newsletter are about wellness — a topic that is critically important to me and our campus community.

Lisa Zapata, interim vice chancellor and dean for the Division of Academic and Student Affairs, and I co-chair the NC State Wellness Committee.

Our charge is to create and maintain a culture that supports and promotes the overall wellness of NC State students, faculty and staff. We are steadfast in our belief that the best way to achieve overall wellness is through a holistic approach. Here are examples of how you can take a holistic approach to wellness:

  • Pursue a purposeful career.
  • Be physically active.
  • Achieve and maintain financial stability.
  • Don’t ignore your emotional health.
  • Build a strong social network.
  • Give back to your community.

The committee is crafting the first university wide strategic plan for wellness. Our vision is for NC State to be a leading institution for creating an inclusive, thriving and resilient community.

Through that plan, we will strive to do the following:

  • Deliver innovative programs and services at the individual and community level.
  • Integrate wellness into curricular education, advising, experiences and research.
  • Foster a safe, supportive and inclusive community.
  • Build and maintain collaborative opportunities with campus and community partners to increase the awareness of wellness at NC State.

When the plan is complete, Lisa and I will share it with all of you and welcome your feedback. In the meantime, please support and participate in our efforts to build a thriving Pack. You can start by participating in one of the activities we’ll have next week for Healthy Campus Week.

Best regards,

Marie Williams
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources

Dear NC State family,

Thank you for taking the time to read the first edition of Howl You Know.

This newsletter is a publication of University Human Resources. It will arrive in your email inbox the third Tuesday of each month. As part of our HR transformation, we’re implementing initiatives that will enhance UHR’s communications with our faculty and staff. We intend for this newsletter to be informative, to highlight the amazing work of our employees and showcase why NC State is a great place to work.

My team and I will also use the newsletter to tell you how HR can be a resource to you, and we’ll promote HR initiatives that are innovative and beneficial to all our faculty and staff.

One way we plan to do that is through the newsletter’s Howl About It section, which includes the HR Spotlight and Did You Know features.

HR Spotlight is where we’ll highlight an aspect of HR. This month’s HR Spotlight discusses some of the professional and organizational training available at NC State.

Did You Know will feature interesting tidbits about HR and our university. I encourage you to go to that section to see what’s featured this month.

You might be wondering about our newsletter’s name. Howl You Know is the brainchild of one of my creative team members.

The name pays indirect homage to Howl About It, which was the name of a newsletter formerly published by the Onboarding Center. We decided to make Howl About It a section in this newsletter now that content from the Onboarding Center’s newsletter has been folded into this one.

Please let us know what you think about our newsletter, and don’t hesitate to send us story ideas. We would love to hear from you. You can reach the team producing this newsletter at hrcommunications@ncsu.edu.

Best regards,

Marie Williams
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources