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Letter from Leadership

Dear colleagues,  

I am pleased to share our annual report for the 2021-2022 academic term and recognize the accomplishments of the Operational Excellence (OE) team and our many campus partners. Over the last year, OE has continued to make strides to reach our vision of becoming the premier strategic consulting and change management team, serving the Carolina community and influencing higher education. In 2022, we responded to our campus’s most pressing challenges and opportunities which included shaping the future of work, building Carolina Community Academy and redesigning student registration. Furthermore, this past year presented avenues to continue to bolster Carolina’s mission of teaching, research and public service. Throughout the summer of 2022, we continued our work with the University Registrar by taking on the course setup, reserved seats, project which will sustain our efforts to refine the registration process for our students.

On August 26th of 2022, OE launched our Lean Foundations Training. This introductory training program for UNC Chapel Hill employees is designed to create a culture of lean management throughout university operations. The course teaches participants the five lean principles, explores how to apply the lean principles and inspires a mindset of continuous improvement. Critically, this effort aims to actualize Strategic Objective 8.1 of Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good, and Carolina’s goal to design, implement, execute, assess and continuously improve operations. Thank you to part-time Continuous Improvement Consultant, Liz Billings, for all of her work in leading the launch of this training. Additionally, thank you to Glen Spivak, Dawn Woody and the UNC Health Organizational Excellence for their guidance as we adapted this program for the academic enterprise.

This year, as we kicked off our efforts to train our colleagues across campus, we continued to collaborate with organizations and leaders across the industry to learn best practices and refine our own toolbox. Over the past year, all OE Transformation Managers became ProSci Change Management Certified. Through this acclaimed training, our team learned how to apply ProSci’s best-practices approach to change management and gained access to industry-leading tools which will bolster our work moving forward. Additionally, our team continues to learn from existing LinkedIn Learnings and Transformation Managers Candace Reynolds and Mieke Kovens have recently completed IDEO courses on design thinking to gain a new perspective on how to continuously improve our own practices. Beyond that, we looked to leaders at our peer institutions to share best practices and learn new methods. Finally, I’m proud to announce that I will chair the Network for Change and Continuous Innovation (NCCI) Education Council and Candace has agreed to join the NCCI Professional Development Committee.

I want to note OE’s incredible work building and sustaining the Carolina Together Ambassador (CTA) Program. In the fall of 2020, OE team members designed CTA to support the University’s response to COVID-19 by combining customer service, event management and building operations support, all of which promote positive health behaviors and the COVID-19 Community Standards. In the spring of 2022, team members Nick Sengstaken and Amie Sigmann adapted the program into a more targeted program model. In this model, work-study ambassadors are assigned specifically to units across campus that requested the assistance of a CTA in ongoing projects that promote community building and the health and well-being of campus. We’re excited to announce that the CTA program will continue to operate under the Office of Interprofessional Education and Practice moving forward! Thank you to Assistant Provost for Interprofessional Education and Practice, Meg Zomorodi, and her team for sustaining this remarkable program.

Over the past year, our team has also continued to change. Amie Sigmann, who served in a temporary position as the Program Coordinator for the Carolina Together Ambassador Program, transitioned into a role within the Adams School of Dentistry. We wish Amie all the best in her new role and are excited to see all that she accomplishes! This year we also welcomed Transformation Manager Georgia McRae to Carolina to step in for our colleague Suzie Baker who transitioned to the System Office. Former Program Coordinator for Operational Excellence and Strategic Initiatives, Nick Sengstaken, became our newest Transformation Manager. We’re grateful to have Georgia and Nick on our team and look forward to witnessing all that they achieve with OE!

This year, we continued touring campus to provide our team with a better understanding of the inner workings of campus operations as we collaborate with partners to drive transformation. Over the course of numerous discovery meetings, listening sessions, and unit showcases, we’ve gained a better understanding of individual unit’s unique challenges and opportunities. Beyond that, these meetings have shown us just a glimpse of the incredible work that occurs every day across our institution and have taken us to unique spaces such as the Curtis Media Center, Blue Sky Innovation lab, and makers-spaces. Thank you to everyone who has already met with us on our listening tour. We look forward to meeting with additional campus partners throughout 2023.

Most importantly, 2022 was a year of transition for the OE Team. In July, OE officially transitioned from the Office of the Provost to the Office of the Chancellor. This strategic realignment will position OE to take on additional mission-critical projects to propel Carolina forward. We are immensely grateful for the opportunity to serve our institution in this manner and continue acting as a catalyst for change and a champion of transformation across the academy. Along with this structural change we’ve also physically moved. In September of 2022, the OE team packed our bags and relocated from South Building to ITS Manning. At ITS Manning, we now have the opportunity to more easily collaborate across our team and with our various campus partners in one space as well as host our Lean Foundations Training in-house. Thank you, Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Michael Barker, for welcoming us into our incredible new space in ITS Manning! Mike has been an invaluable partner since the beginning of Operational Excellence.

Thank you, as always, for joining us on this journey to continuously improve operations throughout the University. As we round out 2022, we are so grateful for the many partnerships across campus, that fueled another successful year of transformational change at Carolina. I look forward to sharing even more success stories with you throughout 2023.

Rick Wernoski
Senior Vice Provost for Business Operations 

Rick Wernoski, Senior Vice Provost for Business Operations

Year at a Glance

December 2021
The Future of Work Design Team completed workshops which resulted in the creation of the Flexible Work Options Playbook. Results indicated that 100% of schools and units submitted a plan for flexible working arrangements, which went into effect on July 1, 2022.

January 2022
The new two-wave registration model, which was designed during the Student Registration project, goes live.

February 2022
The Carolina Community Academy Start-up Leadership team began its partnership with Person County Schools.

May 2022
Following the conclusion of the Spring 2022 semester, the Carolina Together Ambassador Program transitioned to the Office of Interprofessional Education and Practice where it currently operates.

July 2022
The Course Setup Playbook is developed to serve as a resource for Student Service Managers as part of the Course Setup: Reserved Seats Necessary changes determined from the project are live in ConnectCarolina and will be available for Spring ’23 registration!

August 2022
On Friday, August 26, 2022, the Operational Excellence Team brought together a group of colleagues from across campus to host a pilot of the Lean Foundations training program. On the following Monday, Carolina Community Academy welcomed the first class of young Tar Heel kindergarteners.

September 2022
Operational Excellence begins operating out of ITS Manning suite 4200.


The Operational Excellence team led projects across campus this year using approaches from the OE Service Model. Click the dropdown tiles below to learn more about each engagement. 

Services Used: Project and Change Management 
Project Lead(s): Mieke Kovens/Nick Sengstaken  

Project Background:  The Carolina Community Academy (CCA) is an innovative school for K-2 students at North Elementary School in Roxboro, N.C. A partnership between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Person County Schools, CCA draws upon a variety of academic and professional strengths across the Carolina campus to best serve the students, families, and community in Person County. CCA was created as part of a UNC System initiative to redefine and strengthen university partnerships with North Carolina public schools, improve student outcomes, and provide high quality teacher and principal training.   

Transformation Managers Mieke Kovens and Nick Sengstaken worked closely with the UNC School of Education, Person County Schools, and North Elementary staff to facilitate and manage the start-up process. OE served as a catalyst to bring all the necessary UNC and external partners to the table to problem solve and come up with creative solutions to challenges that arose.     

Status Update: CCA welcomed the first class of young Tar Heel kindergarteners in August 2022 and will add a grade level each year, eventually serving students in grades K-2. More information can be found at    

Service: Solution Design
Project Lead: Candace Reynolds

Project Goal/Mission (for background): Transformation Managers Candace Reynolds and Suzie Baker partnered with leaders from Human Resources, Equal Opportunity and Compliance, and Finance and Operations to launch an 8-workshop design team project in October 2021. This project presented an opportunity to re-imagine work at Carolina, leveraging what the University learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Future of Work project sought to build upon what was learned from the pandemic and the Pilot Program, to establish guardrails for exploring and implementing flexible work arrangements beyond the existing pilot and telework policies. The project was guided by two essential priorities: to support an exceptional employee experience by providing flexible work options while upholding a world-class on-campus experience for our students.

Status Update:

  • The Flexible Work Options Playbook was released in January 2022 and includes a decision-making framework as well as implementation resources. The OE team led the project launch to campus with a comprehensive communication and training plan.
  • Results: 100% of schools and units submitted a plan for flexible working arrangements.
  • The Office of Human Resources oversaw implementation of flexible working arrangements, including the central review and approval of school and unit plans.
  • Flexible working arrangements went into effect July 1, 2022.

Services Used: Design Team
Project Lead(s): Candace Reynolds/Georgia McRae  

Project Background:   his was a foundational project to 1) improve transparency by displaying reserved seat info in ConnectCarolina for students and 2) enable and encourage more depts to manage reserved seats using CC. Standardizing the business process brings us another step closer to University-wide data analysis of course supply and demand.  

The design team spent four workshops designing the solution and student feedback was solicited throughout the process. The ConnectCarolina team then implemented the solution for Spring 2023 registration. OE partnered with the Office of the University Registrar and the Office of Undergraduate Curriculum to develop the Course Setup Playbook as a resource for Student Services Managers (SSMs), train SSMs, and launch the solution which included communications to both students and staff.   


Status Update:

  • Implemented ConnectCarolina changes to improve the student experience CC changes impl: 1) “Only Reserved Seats Available” icon 2) redesigned Class Details page that displays the number of open unreserved seats and the number of seats reserved for specific populations, 3) consistent naming convention for populations that have reserved seats, and 4) plain language error messages. 
  • Post-registration surveys have not been administered yet, but anecdotal feedback has been positive. 
  • Created a Course Setup Playbook for SSMs that contains a timeline of course setup activities and an overview of the different options for controlling enrollment, including details on the reserve capacity process. 
  • Established a standard business process to automatically release seats at specified times during each registration cycle. 
  • Developed a Registration Dashboard for the University Registrar to view fill rates and other registration data points.  

Services Used: Advisory 
Project Lead(s): Georgia McRae  

Project Background:  OE Team members aided ITS in creating continuity across policies and processes for incidents that overlapped departments. The team was able to identify all policies that overlapped on IT incidents. Once overlapping policies were determined, the team was able to identify which ones were conflicting and then provide guidance on updates.     

Status Update: ITS is now working with partners to align overlapping policies and standardize a central entry point for incidents related to technology.    

Services Used: Project and Change Management 
Project Lead(s): Georgia McRae  

Project Background:  Transformation Manager Georgia MCRae started to build out a comprehensive onboarding plan to make training new team members efficient and effective. Georgia and the team created a strategic learning order and have included a variety of delivery methods including one-on-one teaching, independent work, and a strategic way to delegate project tasks. This training will help create a strong foundation for all future transformation managers and set them up for success.     

Status Update: We are currently piloting the first draft of the training plan with our newest transformation manager, Nick Sengstaken, and our new Program Coordinator, Vernadette Delos Santos. We plan to continue to developing the training to ensure effective and efficient onboarding.    

Services Used: Training 
Project Lead(s): Liz Billings  

Project Background:  Lean Foundations is an introductory training program for UNC at Chapel Hill employees designed to create a culture of lean thinking throughout University operations. This training aims to develop our employees as problem-solvers to improve the delivery of value to our customers.  

The course has been designed to be engaging and fun for all participants, regardless of previous knowledge or experience with improvement tools, techniques, and methodologies. At the end of the training, participants should understand the five lean principles and why they are necessary for transformative change; feel empowered to explore how to apply lean principles to increase value and eliminate waste in their daily work; and inspire a mindset of continuous improvement.  

Status Update: On Friday, August 26, 2022, the Operational Excellence Team brought together a group of colleagues from across campus to host a pilot of the Lean Foundations training program. The OE team officially launched Lean Foundations to all members of our campus community in October 2022. The OE team will hold two trainings per quarter as well as present the training program at various programs throughout the year, including the Leadership, Excellence and Development (LEAD) Program.    

Services Used: Design Team  
Project Lead(s): Mieke Kovens   

Project Background:  Operational Excellence’s partnership with the Office of the University Registrar initiated to address the following challenges:   

  • Students were frustrated with the lack of transparency surrounding how registration appointments are assigned   
  • Students felt rushed to register as quickly as possible since registration appointments start every 15-minutes   
  • How registration appointments were assigned to transfer students and dual enrollment students hinders their ability to register for the classes they need to graduate   

The ultimate goals of the project were to:   

  • Increase transparency    
  • Alleviate students’ feelings of being rushed   
  • Create more equitable access to classes, and   
  • Improve the experience and speed up progress towards degree for transfer and dual enrollment students    

Status Update: After an initial delay due to the onset of the pandemic, the following changes to how Carolina’s more than 19,000 undergraduate students registered for classes were introduced in October 2021 for Spring 2022 registration. Some changes included but are not limited to:   

  • Undergraduate students register for classes in two distinct waves. In Wave 1 students can register for up to 12 credit hours. In Wave 2 students can register for up to 17 credit hours.   
  • Longer appointment times.    
  • Created a formula to assign registration appointments in a way that is more equitable and transparent.   

While initial feedback has been positive, the team will continue to track and evaluate the impact of these changes over the coming semesters. This will enable the registration process to be continuously improved to enhance the experience and meet the needs of Carolina’s undergraduate students now and in the future.   

Service: Advisory, Transformation and Change Management 
Project Lead:  Candace Reynolds   

Project Goal/Mission: Partnered with school leadership to support the DDS program in their accreditation process to ensure requirements for student experiences were met.  

Status Updates:  

  • Created a system to track student experiences and monitored progress through the semester. 
  • Developed marketing and community outreach plans to increase patient volume for the Senior Bridge Clinic. 
  • Assisted in developing reports for the accrediting body. 

Service: Transformation and Change Management 
Project Lead:  Nick Sengstaken & Amie Sigmann   

Project Background:  The Carolina Together Ambassador Program (CTA) was created in 2020 to provide a dynamic community solution to evolving operational needs on campus related to COVID-19 and Carolina’s return to a more normal campus experience. CTA supported the university’s response to COVID-19 by combining customer service, event management, and building operations support which promoted positive health behaviors and UNC’s COVID-19 Community Standards. Most importantly, ambassadors worked to make Carolina’s campus friendlier, safer, easier to navigate, and a bit more like “home.”   

Status Update: Beginning in Spring 2022, The Carolina Together Ambassador Program reshaped itself, unveiling a new and innovative program model. Throughout the spring, 12 student CTAs were assigned to 7 unique campus units, including the Asymptomatic Student Union testing site and Office of Interprofessional Education and Practice, the Frank Porter Graham Student Union, Gillings School of Public Health, the Student Affairs Heels Care Network Initiative, the Facilities and Technology Group ADA Compliance Project, UNC Athletic Event Management, and Accessibility and Resource Services. In these assignments, Ambassadors aimed to promote a sense of well-being and belonging across campus. Information on their accomplishments can be found in the CTA 2021-2022 Annual Report. Following the conclusion of the Spring 2022 semester, the Carolina Together Ambassador Program was transitioned to the Office of Interprofessional Education and Practice where it currently operates.