April 2004


A Message From The President


Texas A&M International University (TAMIU), as are all other components of The Texas A&M University System, is committed to equal employment opportunity, affirmative action, and community development initiatives. The University strives to provide an educational and work environment conducive to the personal and professional development of its employees. By way of a diverse and dynamic workforce that possesses the core competencies necessary for effective service, TAMIU is dedicated to serving its patrons (the students and citizens of the State) through education, leadership development, research, and service.

The University is firmly committed to ensuring that equal opportunity and access is afforded to all its students, employees, and prospective employees. It is vital, therefore, that we are all reminded of these issues and reaffirm our own commitment throughout the course of our employment.

I thank you for your cooperation.

Dr. Ray M. Keck III



2004 Financial Planning Fair on 4/7/04

Still wishing money would grow on trees?
We can show you how to grow it in your savings instead!

Register online at http://www.tamiu.edu/adminis/ohr/fpfreg.shtml.

Registration deadline is April 2, 2004!

For your convenience, the following 3 topics will be offered in both morning and afternoon sessions. Each will be presented at 10:30 am - 12:00 noon and then again at 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm. Light refreshments will be served during the afternoon sessions.

  • "Homeownership Basics" by Martha Castaneda, Laredo-Webb NHS Homeownership Center
  • "Preparing for College Today" by Letitia Reyna, Chase Manhattan
  • "Ten Things to Know About Investing" by Nancy Granovsky, Texas Cooperative Extension

Due to limited seating, registration is on a first come, first serve basis. If you have any questions regarding this event or registering online, please contact Cassandra Wheeler at  ext. 2363.


Employee Educational Assistance Program (EEAP)

The EEAP is a program that reimburses full-time faculty and staff members for tuition and fees for educational purposes. Subject to funding, the EEAP will reimburse 3 credit hours per semester, not to exceed 6 hours per academic year.

The benefits offered by the EEAP are valuable because they support education. Forty-five applications have been received for the 2004 Spring Semester. And, take a look at the number of employees that the EEAP reimbursed for tution and fees in 2003:

  • 34 employees in the 2003 Spring Semester
  • 7 employees in the 2003 Summer Sessions
  • 33 employees in the 2003 Fall Semester

TAMIU supports your educational goals so do not hesitate to take advantage of the benefits available to you from the Employee Educational Assistance Program! For more information about EEAP application rules and deadlines, come by the HR Office in PH 314 or call ext. 2365.


Construction Update

Construction at TAMIU is on the fast track! Everyone is encouraged to visit www.apexcstenn.com to see the construction activity. From this website, click on WEB CAM and then choose the TAMIU link. You can move the camera by using the “control” feature and view the construction on campus!

All three floors of the Science Building have been constructed, and soon we will see the planetarium’s glass pyramid rising! The perimeter concrete for the planetarium is going to be poured soon. As for the new student housing facility, roofs are already up and the buildings are being closed.

TAMIU met in College Station with the architect team of Ford, Powell, Carson from San Antonio to discuss the campus master plan update. By mid-April, there should be a project kick-off meeting on campus with the architects. Additionally, there will be campus-wide meetings with all constituencies as this planning process is started.

The TAMUS Board of Regents approved and hired the architect firm of F&S Partners from Dallas as the architects to design Phase V, Kinesiology Facilities. Shortly, there will be a kick-off meeting to start on the preliminary design phase.

Much is going on with campus construction! HR News & Views will continue bringing you the latest info.


Info About Optional Coverages is Available Online

If you're like most people, you probably don't have questions about certain benefit coverages until you need to use those benefits. Fortunately, information about all of your optional A&M System benefit coverages can be found online, making it easy for you to find answers to your questions when you need them and at a moment's notice.

Long-Term Care
CNA, the A&M System’s Long-Term Care (LTC) provider, provides extensive information for current LTC participants and those who are considering purchasing coverage. To access this information, visit https://www.ltcbenefits.com/ and enter TAMUSCNALTC as your identification number. CNA’s website includes specifics about its LTC coverage, but its most useful feature may be its assortment of ‘calculators.’ The nursing home cost calculator helps you determine how much you could pay for nursing home care in your area, while another calculator tells you how much you would need to save monthly—and for how long—if you wanted a personal savings account balance equal to your lifetime maximum CNA benefit. In addition, the section titled “LTC and Your Life” explains the issues that you should consider when trying to decide whether LTC coverage is right for you. The issues that pertain to you depend on factors such as your marital status and whether you have children.

Tax Saver Plan Spending Account
If you are enrolled in a Tax Saver Spending Account, you’ll find just about all the information you need to manage your accounts on Tax Saver Plan’s website at www.taxsaverplan.com. From this site, you can view your current account balances, download Tax Saver Plan’s claim form, and view lists of qualifying medical and dependent day care expenses. Tax Saver Plan also provides an FAQ to help answer any questions you may have about the plan.

Life, Accidental Death and Dismemberment, and Long-Term Disability
Providers for the Life, Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D), and Long-Term Disability plans do not currently have websites established for A&M System employees and retirees. However, you can find information about these plans at the System HR website at http://sago.tamu.edu/shro by clicking on the “Other Benefits” button. There you will find booklets that describe each plan in detail, as well as a brochure describing the AD&D plan's travel assistance program. The System HR website also includes a button called “Knowledge Base.” By clicking on this button, you can find answers to dozens of questions about A&M System benefit and retirement programs.

If you have questions about your benefits, please contact Jessica Palacios (ext. 2362) or Cassandra Wheeler (ext. 2363).


TRS Introduces Brochure to Answer Return-to-Work Questions


If you plan to retire and then return to work for a TRS-covered employer, it is important that you understand laws and rules pertaining to employment after retirement. To assist members with frequently asked questions, TRS has published a new brochure titled “Employment After Retirement” which is now available online. As a TRS retiree, you can work for any agency other than a Texas public educational institution, and your employment will not be reported to TRS. However, if you return to work for a Texas public educational institution, your employment must be reported to TRS unless you retired prior to January 1, 2001 and are not a disability retiree.

If you have questions about your retirement, please contact Jessica Palacios (ext. 2362) or Cassandra Wheeler (ext. 2363).


Retirement Presentations Planned This Summer in Austin

Beginning in May 2004 and continuing through August 2004, TRS will conduct group retirement presentations at the TRS Building in Austin. Most sessions, generally on Mondays and Fridays, will be at 9:00 am and 2:00 pm on the dates listed below. Each 2-hour presentation will be limited to 15 members considering retirement on or before December 31, 2004. To make reservations, call TRS toll-free at 1-800-223-8778 to speak with a counselor.

May 4, 7, 10, 14, 17, 24, 25, 26, 27
June 4, 7, 11, 14, 21, 25, 28
July 9, 12, 16, 19, 26, 30
August 3, 6, 9, 13, 16, 20, 23, 30


"Steps to Retirement" Video Now Available on the TRS Website

Planning your retirement just got a whole lot easier…thanks to a new video titled “Steps to Retirement.” TRS members will soon be able to view a 10-minute interactive online presentation that explains all the steps necessary to apply for retirement. You can view the new video on the TRS website under “What’s New.” It is the first of several videos planned for the website. “Steps to Retirement” provides step-by-step assistance to members who wish to learn which forms must be submitted when retiring from TRS. As members watch the program, they can stop the presentation at any time to visit the TRS website, view forms, or practice printing and completing them—all through conveniently placed links. Then, they can resume the presentation where they left off.


Welcome, New Employees!!
  Roberto G. Sanchez, Site Coordinator
Office of Special Programs
SC 118 ext. 2766
  B. Laura Cortez, Event and Conference Services Manager
Student Center
SC 127A ext. 2931
  Dr. Sukho Lee, Assistant Professor
Department of Curriculum & Instruction
PH 216B ext. 2672
  San Juana V. Martinez, Staff Assistant
Department of Biology & Chemistry
CH 301 ext. 2441
  Crystal L. Cantu, Assistant Professor
Canseco School of Nursing
CH 312E ext. 2575
  Heather Corti, Half-Time Project Rio Coordinator (Recruiter)
College of Education (Project RIO)
KL 333 ext. 2435
  Yazmin Carranza, Financial Aid Assistant
Office of Financial Aid
KL 158 ext. 2228

Guillermo F. Gonzalez, Jr. KL 157E ext. 2215
FROM: Student Employee, Office of Financial Aid    
TO: Financial Aid Counselor, Office of Financial Aid    
Maria I. Cantu KL 257 ext. 2300
FROM: Advancement Information Services Specialist, VPIA    
TO: User Service Specialist, CTS    
Jannet W. Garcia PH 302F ext. 2566
FROM: Director, International Exchange & Study Abroad Program    
TO: Director, Office of International Education    
Miguel A. Montemayor H 200 ext. 2325
FROM: Service Worker, Physical Plant    
TO: Building Maintenance Mechanic, Physical Plant    
Dr. Ramon Alaniz KL 333A ext. 2698
FROM: Professor/Interim Chair/Interim Assoc Dean, Special Populations    
TO: Professor/Chair/Associate Dean, Special Populations    
Dr. Juan Lira KL 332B ext. 2535
FROM: Regents Professor/Interim Chair, Curriculum & Instruction    
TO: Regents Professor/Chair, Curriculum & Instruction    
Dr. Kathleen Pletsch de Garcia KL 428A ext. 2614
FROM: Associate Professor/Interim Chair, Language & Literature    
TO: Associate Professor/Chair, Language & Literature    

  Nancy Gallegos, Staff Assistant
Enrollment Management and School Relations
  Mika S. Akikuni, Associate Director
  Kassandra Y. Carrillo, Staff Assistant
University Registrar
  Raquel Lopez, First Year Success Program Coorginator
Associate VP for Academic Affairs (First Year Success Program)
  Veronica Esparza, Temporary Part-Time Staff Assistant (formerly Full-Time)
PASE (Writing Center)

Unraveling the Mysteries of Overtime

The deadline for an important project is approaching, so you work a bit late one night. Does that mean you get compensated with extra time off (compensatory time)? It depends. Whether you are compensated depends on your job and how you are compensated is determined by state and federal law.

Under federal law, each job must be designated as "exempt" or "non-exempt" from federal overtime. Only those jobs designated as "non-exempt" are eligible for the 2 types of compensatory time, Overtime Compensatory Time (OCT) and Straight Compensatory Time (SCT). Your supervisor, the Office of Human Resources, or the latest Pay Plan can tell you if your position is "exempt" or "non-exempt."

OVERTIME COMPENSATORY TIME (OCT): Only jobs classified as "non-exempt" are eligible for OCT. OCT is release time (time off) that is earned from hours that are physically worked over 40 in a workweek. (For TAMIU, a workweek is Thursday through the following Wednesday.) As required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), those excess hours physically worked over 40 must be calculated at time and a half (multiplied by 1.5). EXAMPLE: If you physically work 44 hours in a workweek, 4 hours are the excess over 40 and are calculated at time and a half (4 X 1.5 = 6). So, you accrue 6 hours of OCT.

In some cases, however, if you work more than 8 hours in one day, your supervisor may require you to work fewer hours another day in the same workweek in order to avoid the accumulation of OCT.

Employees may accumulate up to 240 hours of OCT, however, those in a public safety, emergency response, or seasonal job may accumulate up to 480 hours.

You keep your rights to your accumulated OCT until you use the time or are paid for it. When you leave employment, you will be paid for any remaining OCT, or, with your supervisor's approval, you may remain on the payroll to use it up.

STRAIGHT COMPENSATORY TIME (SCT): In some cases, "non-exempt" employees may be eligible for SCT. If the number of hours physically worked in a workweek are 40 or less, but the combined worked time and time off (i.e., vacation, sick leave, holiday, etc.) in the workweek total more than 40, you will receive SCT for the hours that exceeded 40 in that workweek. Furthermore, those SCT hours are not calculated at time and a half (in other words, for each hour of time in excess of 40, you will receive exactly one hour of SCT). EXAMPLE: If you physically work only 36 hours and are off for 8 hours of sick leave in a workweek, so that the combined worked time and time off total 44, then the excess over 40 are 4 hours. These 4 hours are accrued as SCT.

State law prohibits payment for SCT upon end of employment. However, under A&M System policy, you may remain on the payroll to use up your SCT.

USING OCT AND SCT: A "non-exempt" employee must always have permission from his/her supervisor before working overtime. And as is the case with all other requests for time off, an employee must have the supervisor's permission before using any accrued OCT and/or SCT.

If you should have any questions or need more information about OCT and/or SCT, please contact Xochitl Kladis by e-mail or at ext. 2364.



TAMIU Employment

The HR Employment Office website contains a listing of TAMIU's vacant positions, including full text versions of each vacancy announcement. All vacant positions are listed by their classification: faculty, administrative, or staff. In addition, vacancy announcements are posted at 2 bulletin board locations on campus: in the west wing (first floor) of the Killam Library Building and outside the Employment Office (PH 314). You can also call Joya Vidaurri in the Employment Office at ext. 2360 to inquire about vacant positions. The Employment Office is open between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.


Your Attention Please...

Immediately upon first knowledge of a separation of employment, please notify the HR Office. Appropriate forms must be generated without delay in order to best facilitate the exiting employee's clearance process (insurance, leave, timecard, keys, ID, etc.). Call us at ext. 2365 if you have questions regarding separations of employment.

If the separation is from student employment, immediately contact the Office of Career Services at ext. 2260.


Check Out the HR Website!

The TAMIU HR website (www.tamiu.edu/adminis/ohr) has information regarding System benefits, System policies, and human resources programs available to you. Our site includes information about planned staff development programs; the latest news on health plans; retirement issues and legislation affecting your benefits; the University's holiday schedule; as well as employment opportunities at TAMIU plus links to employment opportunities at other System parts. Also accessible from our website are the University Rules and System Policies/Regulations. Come check us out!


University Rules and System Policies/Regulations on the Web!

The Texas A&M International University Rules and the Texas A&M University System Policies and Regulations are available on the world wide web for your reference. You can access them from the TAMIU HR website by clicking on "System Policies & University Rules." The TAMUS Policies and Regulations site even offers a search feature to help you quickly find the item you need.

If you have questions concerning the University Rules and/or the System Policies and Regulations, please contact the HR Office at ext. 2365.


Mug O' The Month
Julissa Garza is the Staff Assistant in the Office of Special Programs. She joined TAMIU in October 1997.

Julissa 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 News & Views.

Who is This?  

The first person to email Cassandra Wheeler and correctly identify this TAMIU employee by name and title will win a prize!

The identity of the employee who appeared in the last issue of HR News & Views can be found in "The Answer Corner" section of this newsletter!

The Answer Corner
The following are frequently-asked questions received in the Office of Human Resources. 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 Joy Simpson, Counselor in the Office of Student Counseling Services. TAMIU employees who wish to submit their picture for the "Who is This?" section may contact Cassandra Wheeler via email or at ext. 2363.


I am an international employee and my visa status is going to change. Is there anything I need to do with the HR Office?

If your visa status changes or is to change, you need to notify the HR Office immediately to update your personnel file and to review your tax withholding, as a change in visa status may affect your tax withholding rate. If you have any questions related to international employees, you may contact Sandra V. Pena at ext. 2361.

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

I think that Claire Luna, Admissions Assistant in the Admissions Office, should receive recognition for always having a smile on her face, always treating everybody so well, and for being the most patient person I know!


Danny Martinez, System Specialist I in CTS (PAIS), has provided valuable assistance to the HR Office and his efforts are greatly appreciated. He has assisted us tremendously with the creation of online registration forms. His expertise and creative support have  helped HR deliver more effective and efficient services and information to our employees. In addition, he is always accessible to answer questions we may have about our website. Thank you, Danny!


Mary Sosa, Office Coordinator in PASE (CASA), continuously goes above and beyond the call of duty to make CASA a better place for the students, and a happier and more proactive environment for the employees. Not a day goes by that every single person that walks through our door is greeted with a beaming smile and "How may I help you?" by Mary. Her eager and enthusiastic disposition makes her offers for assistance and guidance feel genuine and sincere. We rely on Mary to make us feel cared for and appreciated. She is always concerned for our individual success and emotional well-being, and will do anything in her power to help us attain our personal goals and overcome obstacles. Her empathetic and positive character is her shining attribute. But Mary is not only a delightful employee, she is also hardworking and driven. She is constantly planning future events, workshops, and training sessions. She supports and aids CASA's functions and will even do so on her own time. I have heard positive comments from people outside PASE and TAMIU about Mary's cheery disposition, display of concern, as well as how essential she is in keeping the school districts informed of THEA workshops, testing dates, and CASA hours of service so that students and employees utilize CASA and further enrich their professional and academic lives. For these reasons and many more, Mary Sosa deserves to be recognized.

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 Cassandra Wheeler via email.



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