March 2007
  • Quote of the Month:
    “Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.” - Booker T. Washington

Administrative Advisory Council (AAC) for FY 2006-2007


The Administrative Advisory Council (AAC) is proud to announce its Officers for the 2006-2007 fiscal year:

President Laura Elizondo ext. 2213
Vice-President Rosie Dickinson ext. 2202
Secretary Alejandro Martinez Jr. ext. 2888
Treasurer Sofia Maldonado ext. 2156

The mission of the AAC is to act as advocate of the administrative staff of the University, examining and communicating matters that affect members, and formulating recommendations on such issues. Through monthly meetings, the AAC also serves as the means for administrative staff to remain abreast of all University administrative issues.

All administrative staff are encouraged to attend AAC meetings and take part in the group's activities. For more information and how you can participate, please contact one of the 2006-2007 AAC Officers listed above.


Construction Update

The Kinesiology Building continues to take form.  By now, you can see that the outside of the building is almost complete and that the brick is being installed.  Shortly, you will see the familiar tile roof being installed.  Framing of the various exercise areas and offices is almost complete.  The classroom wing is taking shape and wall installations will begin soon. The completion of the building is about one month behind schedule.

The System architect continues to develop the program of requirements for the theater completion, as well as work on the Student Success Center and loop road.  Here is the schedule being followed for these projects:

Theater Completion
Student Success Center & Loop Rd.

TX Marketplace Advertisement:   

February 16
February 20

RFQ Submittal:

March 2
March 7

Shortlist Meeting/Draft POR Completion:

March 9
March 20
RFP Submittal:
April 2
April 10
April 11
April 20

Our campus continues to develop and expand!  Keep reading your HR newsletter for more construction updates


Hearing and Vision Discounts Available in the A&M Care Plans

While all A&M System employees and retirees are eligible for a hearing aid discount through AHAA or may enroll in the Spectera vision plan, if you are in an A&M Care health plan, you have additional alternatives for hearing and vision discounts.

The BlueCross/BlueShield of Texas hearing discount program is available in many areas of the country through TruHearing, a program that provides the latest technology on 100 percent digital hearing instruments. TruHearing provides a free hearing screening and offers discounts on hearing aids purchased from the provider who performs the hearing test.

Your children, parents,and grandparents are eligible for the discount, even if they are not enrolled in an A&M Care health plan.

No claim forms are required, and discounts are provided at the time of purchase. Typical discounts are 30% off the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for the provider's least expensive product and 60% off MSRP for more expensive products.

TruHearing also provides a two-year warranty on all products and a 45-day money-back guarantee.

To take advantage of the A&M Care Plan's hearing discount program, call TruHearing's toll-free number, 1-877-882-2020. TruHearing will locate a provider in your area and schedule an appointment. You'll need to show the provider your A&M Care ID card. If the appointment is for a non-covered member, such as a child, parent, or grandparent, you must accompany them to the appointment and present your A&M Care ID card.

For more information, see this online TruHearing flier .

A&M Care Plan participants can also take advantage of a discount vision program offered by Davis Vision, Inc., a national provider of routine vision care services, through BlueCross/BlueShield of Texas .

To receive the discounts, call a network provider and schedule an appointment. Identify yourself to the provider as a Davis Vision plan participant and present your A&M Care ID card. Your Davis Vision ID number will be the same as the number on your A&M Care ID card.

For information on eye exam, eyeglass, and contact lens discounts, see the online Davis Vision flier. If any other questions, contact Gracy Buentello, HR Benefits Manager, at ext. 2363 or Jessica Palacios, Associate Director for HR, at ext. 2362.


John Hancock Long-Term Coverage Information

I enrolled in the John Hancock Long-Term Care coverage but haven't received anything yet.  How will I know I have the coverage?

Coverage information for most of those whose coverage has been approved is now available on HRConnect. In addition, John Hancock sent out certificates of coverage in early February.

More than 400 applications are still either being entered or reviewed as part of the evidence of insurability application process. You can call John Hancock at 1-800-498-9100 to ask whether your application is in process or approved.

Long-Term Care coverage effective dates depend on when the application is processed and/or the coverage is approved. Effective dates for coverage are always the first of the month following approval. Even if you have guaranteed acceptance (no need to provide evidence of good health), the coverage will not be effective until the application is processed. 

Premium deductions for about 550 employees were deducted from January pay. This affected the January paychecks for biweekly-paid employees and February 1 paychecks for monthly-paid employees.

Approximately 1,000 employee applications were processed after 12/20/06 but before 12/31/06. These employees will have a 1/1/07 effective date. However, they were not included in the January payroll deduction file sent from John Hancock to the A&M System, so no premiums were deducted from their January pay. Instead, two months premiums, for January and February, were deducted from their February pay. This affected the February paychecks for biweekly-paid employees and the March 1 paychecks for monthly-paid employees.

These employees and retirees should have already received a letter explaining the extra deduction. The letter references “a recent reconciliation” and notes that this may represent premiums “due but not collected.”

Since CNA premiums cannot be paid through payroll deduction after December, active employees and/or spouses whose coverage effective date was February 1, received a bill for January from CNA. This bill must have been paid to keep your discounted John Hancock rate. 

For additional information regarding the Long Term Care plan, please contact Gracy Buentello, HR Benefits Manager, at ext. 2363 or Jessica Palacios, Associate Director for HR, at ext. 2362.


New Publications on the System HR Website

Several publications have been posted on the System HR website:

DeltaCare Dental HMO plan provider list (revised)
Davis Vision flier (replaces Cole Vision flier)
TruHearing flier (new)
Overview of TDA/DCP (revised)
Active ORP/TDA Vendor List (revised)

For additional information regarding your benefits, please contact Gracy Buentello, HR Benefits Manager, at ext. 2363 or Jessica Palacios, Associate Director for HR, at ext. 2362.

Using Answer Financial is Easy!

If you like to comparison shop for the best prices, you'll love Answer Financial.

As an A&M System employee, you can use Answer Financial to get prices from a wide range of top-rated companies that offer a variety of insurance products and financial services. Answer Financial makes comparison shopping quick and easy.

In addition, if you have questions about a product or service, you can speak with or e-mail a licensed insurance professional at no cost or obligation.

Simply call Answer Financial at 1-866-493-8888 or go online to learn more about the products and services available, get rates, and apply to purchase a product or service.

For example, if you're interested in homeowners insurance, you could:

  • Go to the Answer Financial website .
  • Go to “Start a Quote,” select “Home Insurance” from the drop-down menu, and click “Go,” which will take you to the home insurance page.
  • On the home insurance page, you can click on a variety of links for more information about homeowners insurance or you can click on the “Homeowners Insurance” link that appears under “Start a Quote for any of the following.”
  • Enter the ZIP code where your home is located and click on “Give Me Rates.”
  • A form will appear, which you will need to complete to proceed. Enter:
    • the location of your residence,
    • street,
    • city,
    • the year in which your residence was built,
    • your home's basic construction (a drop-down menu provides choices),
    • what protective devices your home has (a list is provided), and
    • if one of the people named as the insured is over age 58, retired, and living in your household.

After entering that information, click on “calculate home rebuilding cost.” (If your browser pop-up blocker is on, you'll need to turn it off or temporarily allow pop-ups to access the calculator).

  • A new window will open where you'll enter:
    • the square footage of your home,
    • the construction classification (a drop-down menu provides choices),
    • the number of stories,
    • the type of covering on the exterior walls (a drop-down menu provides choices), and
    • whether your home has a basement.

You can then click on “calculate value,” and the estimated value to rebuild your home will be provided.

  • You can then click on “recalculate” or “continue with this value.” If you click on “recalculate,” you can change your values in the pop-up window and get a new estimated value. If you click on “continue with this value,” you'll return to the form page where you can click on “coverage info” at the bottom of the page.
  • Several coverage values will appear, along with suggested coverages. You can adjust your coverage amounts if you wish and select what you want your deductible to be.
  • Click on “view quotes” at the bottom of the page, and in seconds, you'll receive quotes from three companies.
  • You can save, print, and/or e-mail your quotes. You also can apply for coverage by clicking on the company you prefer. If you don't want to apply, you can save the quotes or just exit out of the web page. Receiving quotes does not commit you to purchasing the product.

At any point in this process, you can stop, go back, or contact a licensed insurance provider.   

It's that easy! The process for obtaining information and quotes for other types of insurance and services is similar to this example. Just follow the instructions on each screen.

You also can get information and quotes and/or apply by calling Answer Financial at 1-866-493-8888.


Welcome, New Employees!!
  Jesus Dominguez Jr., Police Officer
University Police Department
KL 008 ext. 2100
  Raquel V. Garcia, Staff Assistant
WHTC 218 ext. 2759
  Ricardo Sanchez, Program Coordinator
Special Programs (HEP)
SC 234 830-773-5588
  Sylvia B. Perez, Program Coordinator
Special Programs (HEP)
SC 234 830-374-2308

Dr. Sean M. Chadwell PH 314G ext. 2471
FROM: Associate Professor, Dept. of Language & Literature    
TO: Associate Professor & Chair, Dept. of Language & Literature    
Dr. Kathleen Pletsch De Garcia PH 215D ext. 2614
FROM: Associate Professor & Chair, Dept. of Language & Literature    
TO: Associate Professor, Dept. of Language & Literature    
Dr. Chen-Han Sung CH 303 ext. 2567
FROM: Professor/Dir Engineering, Dept of Mathematical & Physical Sciences    
TO: Professor, Dept. of Mathematical & Physical Sciences    
Scheiby C. Fisher WHTC 222D ext. 3200
FROM: Student Employee, Associate VP for Student Affairs    
TO: Staff Assistant, TCBEED (Casa Ortiz)    
Mirna Infante SC 114 ext. 2261
FROM: Staff Assistant, Career Services    
TO: Data & Information Specialist, Career Services    

  Diana E. Rodriguez, Director of ACP
  Melissa Padilla, Senior Staff Accountant
Business Office
  Oholibama Granados, Outreach and Retention Specialist (3/4-Time)
Special Programs (Gear-Up)
  Vanessa R. Vidaurri, Staff Assistant
  Luis A.Garza, Project Director

Your Responsibilities When Requesting Leave

Employees and their supervisors are responsible for assuring that a leave request is submitted via LeaveTraq prior to taking leave or immediately upon returning from leave.

A leave request must be submitted when requesting any type of absence from work,: vacation, sick leave, overtime compensatory time (OCT), straight compensatory time (SCT), funeral leave, jury duty, military duty, leave without pay, family/medical leave, and parental leave.

For certain types of leave, additional documentation must accompany the leave request form as follows:

  • Sick Leave - When the period of absence is in excess of 3 continuous working days, a physician's statement indicating the cause and nature of illness and expected date of recovery is required.
  • Jury Duty - A Certificate of Service from the court specifying the date(s) and time(s) served is required.
  • Military Duty - Orders documenting the time period requested is required.
  • Family/Medical Leave - A Medical Certification Form (available from the HR Office) completed by the treating physician is required.
  • Parental Leave - A Physician's Statement (available from the HR Office) completed by the treating physician is required.

If you have any questions regarding leave, contact Xochitl Kladis at ext. 2364.


Retiring From The A&M System

Below are general guidelines to follow in preparation for retirement from The A&M System. Preparation should begin at least 1 year before retiring.


Contact the HR Office to:

  • Verify if you meet retirement eligibility requirements.
  • Complete System-required TRS forms.
  • Discuss changes in your group insurance coverages.
  • Complete appropriate group insurance continuation forms (if eligible).

...and to make sure TRS has:

  • Birth records for you and your primary beneficiary.
  • Verification and/or purchase of any withdrawn, unreported, military, or out-of-state service for retirement credit.
  • A completed Request for Estimate of Retirement Benefits Form.
  • A completed Authorization to TRS for Records Disclosure.


Contact the HR Office to:

  • Verify if you meet retirement eligibility requirements.
  • Complete System-required ORP forms.
  • Discuss changes in your group insurance coverages.
  • Complete appropriate group insurance continuation forms (if eligible).

...and contact your ORP vendor representative to:

  • Discuss your retirement options. (You may need to provide an original or certified copy of your primary beneficiary's birth certificates.)


Contact your TDA vendor representative to:

  • Discuss your retirement settlement options.


Contact your local Social Security Office to:

  • Apply for Social Security (and Medicare, if applicable) benefits. (You may need to provide W-2 tax forms for the 2 years before retirement, an estimate of earnings for the year of retirement, and a record of date of birth.)

University Sick Leave Pool

The University Sick Leave Pool was established to alleviate hardship caused to an employee and the employee's family if a catastrophic illness or injury forces the employee to exhaust all leave time earned by the employee and lose compensation. At that time, an employee may request to draw time from the University Sick Leave Pool in order to remain in pay status.

Employees may contribute to the University Sick Leave Pool at any time. Anyone wishing to contribute, or if you have questions about the University Sick Leave Pool, please contact Xochitl Kladis at ext. 2364.


Family/Medical Leave: Usage and Obligations

If you have at least 12 months of state service and have worked for the state at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months, you are entitled to 12 weeks of Family/Medical Leave per fiscal year. If you request leave (whether sick leave, annual leave, or other paid or unpaid leave) due to one of the following reasons, the leave will count toward your Family/Medical Leave entitlement for the fiscal year:

  • Birth of a child
  • Placement in your home of a child for adoption or state-certified foster care
  • Your serious health condition (illness, injury, or pregnancy)
  • To care for your spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition
If you are applying for sick leave for one of these reasons, you must use all available paid leave before taking unpaid leave. Additionally, you must have your treating physician complete a Medical Certification Form (available from the HR Office) and submit it with your leave request.

While you are on paid leave, your benefit coverages will continue, and any premiums you normally pay for will be deducted from your pay. If you go on unpaid leave for one of the reasons stated above, the State will continue to pay its contribution toward your health coverage; however, you must continue to pay your share of premiums. Failure to do so may end some or all of your benefits coverages. You will receive a bill for your share of the premiums each month while you are on leave, and the bill must be paid within 30 days.

It is your responsibility to check in with your supervisor every 2 weeks while on leave to inform him/her of your status and expected date of return. It is also your responsibility to inform the HR Office if you would like to add a dependent to your coverage. This must be done within 60 days of the birth, adoption, etc. of the dependent.

If you take leave for one of the reasons stated above, you will be reinstated to your job or a similar job when you return from leave, unless you would not otherwise have been employed at that time.

If you have any questions about Family/Medical Leave, please contact Xochitl Kladis in the HR Office at ext. 2364.

Online Training Available for Employees

The System HR Office has developed online training programs for employees.

To access the training programs, simply log on to Single Sign On, choose HRConnect, click on the TRAINING tab, and follow the directions.

The training programs currently available are:

  • Conducting Effective Interviews
  • Creating A Discrimination-Free Workplace (also available in Spanish)
  • Ethics (also available in Spanish)
  • Introduction to Management for A&M System Supervisors
  • Information Security Awareness
  • Managing Employee Performance
  • Positive Management of Performance Problems
  • Sexual Harassment: What Supervisors Need To Know
  • Supervisory Problem-Solving Capstone
  • Time Off Issues for Employees
  • Time Off Issues for Supervisors

If you need assistance with the online training modules, please call the HR Office at ext. 2365.


Getting to Know U!


Miguel Angel Treviño is a Staff Assistant in the Office of the Associate VP for Student Affairs and has been with TAMIU since January 2005.  During his time at TAMIU, he has served as Event and Conference Service Manager and Director of Donor Relations.  He received his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Baylor University in 2004 and is currently enrolled in the Master's of Public Administration program at TAMIU.  Miguel enjoys traveling and recently returned from a trip to Whistler, B.C., Canada .  He also likes to collect sports memorabilia from various Texas teams that includes jerseys from every professional team in the state.  He is an avid fan of the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Cowboys.  In Student Affairs, he is charged with maintaining daily files, coordinating the student travel fund, updating bulletin boards, and providing support to the Associate VP for Student Affairs and the various offices that encompass the Division of Student Affairs.  He is currently a board member of Leadership Laredo and enjoys spending time with friends and family.


TAMIU, we want to get to know you! Tell us an interesting fact about yourself, and we will feature it along with a photo in this section of the newsletter. Submit your information to Xochitl Kladis via email or at ext. 2364.

Mug O' The Month
Lupita Mosqueda is the Associate Registrar in the Office of the University Registrar. She joined TAMIU in June 1970.

She received a prize for being the first to identify the TAMIU employee in the "Who is This?" section of the previous issue of the HR newsletter .

Who is This?  

The first person to email the HR Office and correctly identify this TAMIU employee by name and title will win a prize!


The Answer Corner
The following are frequently-asked questions received in the HR Office. To ask us questions, use the "Ask HR" button on this newsletter.
Who was the baby in the "Who is This?" section of the last issue of "HR News & Views"?

That was Becky Litman, Staff Assistant in the Department of Professional Programs. TAMIU employees who wish to submit their picture for the "Who is This?" section may contact the HR Office via email or at ext. 2365.

I already submitted my timesheet in TimeTraq, but my supervisor can not open my timesheet?

Please be sure that you check the "Certification Statement" box and click on the "Submit" button on your timesheet in TimeTraq. This will submit your timesheet to your supervisor.

That Extra (S)Mile!
This section describes the deeds of TAMIU employees who have been observed going the "extra mile" for our University.

On Monday, February, 12, 2007, Eugene Ruiz (Electrician II) and Jerry Garza (Electrician II) visited my office and notified me that they had found two endorsed blank checks. They explained that these checks were found in one of the TAMIU parking lots. I sincerely thanked both employees for their honesty and for coming forth with these checks. I took possession of the checks and safeguarded them while I located the account holder(s).

I contacted the accountholder(s), who are parents of a TAMIU student athlete, and explained that two blank endorsed checks drawn on their checking account were found on the TAMIU campus. As it turns out, the checks were endorsed and given to their son in order to buy books and supplies for the Spring semester. The parents were very grateful and appreciative that both checks had been returned. Otherwise, their checking account may have been wiped out had the checks fallen into the wrong hands.

Eugene Ruiz and Gerardo Garza, Electrician II's with Physical Plant, should be commended and applauded for their honesty and loyalty to the TAMIU community. This is a testament to the types of employees we have—truly dedicated to Texas A&M International University .

If you know of any employee performing in such a way that deserves mention in this column, send their name and details of their deeds to the HR Office via email.

Phone: 956.326.2365
Fax: 956.326.2359
Location: Killam Library 320

5201 University Boulevard, Laredo, TX 78041-1900 Work956.326.2100