May 2005
  • Quote of the Month
    • "It is not the goal but the way there that matters, and the harder the way the more worthwhile the journey." --Wilfred Thesiger


 

TAMIUWorks! is Successfully Up and Running
 

The HR Employment Office is pleased to announce the success of TAMIUWorks! Take a look at the initial numbers:

In the first 2 weeks of existence on the web, TAMIUWorks! received 2,757 visits on the Applicant Home Page; 3,189 visits on the “Search Postings” page; and 3,552 visits on the “Job Details” pages. Additionally, with TAMIUWorks!, the Employment Office is receiving an average of 10 employment applications per day, as opposed to the 7 per day average before TAMIUWorks!

The HR Office thanks you for your patience and support during implementation of TAMIU's new online employment system. If you need assistance with TAMIUWorks! or any advertising/hiring matters, do not hesitate to contact Joya Vidaurri, HR Employment Assistant, at ext. 2360.

 

 

University Holiday: Memorial Day on May 30th
 

University offices will be closed on Monday, May 30, 2004 in observance of Memorial Day.

Reminder: The 2004-2005 TAMIU Holiday Schedule can be accessed at http://www.tamiu.edu/adminis/ohr/holiday.shtml.

 

 

Classified Staff Advisory Council (CSAC)
 

The Classified Staff Advisory Council (CSAC) has recently held elections and wishes to announce its 2005-2006 Officers and Active Members (see below).

It is the objective of CSAC to serve communication between the classified staff, administration, faculty, and students of Texas A&M International University. Classified staff are encouraged to become involved with their Council activities. To learn more about CSAC and how you can become involved, please contact one of the 2005-2006 CSAC Officers listed below:

OFFICERS:

President Elizabeth Valdez ext. 2264
Vice-President Joya Vidaurri ext. 2360
Secretary Nora Lerma ext. 2375
Treasurer Patricia Hernandez ext. 2377
Webmaster Gracy Buentello ext. 2365

ACTIVE MEMBERS:

Jaime Rios ext. 2102
Laura Gamez ext. 2343
Mike Montemayor ext. 2325
Norma Liendo ext. 2891
Ruby Gonzalez ext. 2281
Xochitl Kladis ext. 2364

For more information on CSAC, you can visit the CSAC website at http://www.tamiu.edu/csac.

 

 

System Regulation on Sick Leave Revised
 

System Regulation 31.03.02 Sick Leave was revised last month. New legislation was incorporated, and the sick leave without pay provision was removed. Regular leave without pay can be used in place of sick leave without pay.

For questions regarding leave, please contact Xochitl Kladis, HR Assistant, at ext. 2364.
 

Construction Update
 
The grand opening of the Lamar Bruni-Vergara Science Center and Planetarium was held April 16th. The celebration was marked with an overwhelming attendance and many compliments from visitors impressed with our facility. Faculty and administrators are currently moving into the building, and all moves should be completed upon the conclusion of the semester.

As for the Kinesiology expansion, advertising for competitive sealed proposals will be conducted May 8th and 15th.

More monthly construction updates are to come in the HR News & Views.
 

Annual Enrollment Will Be Electronic Via HRConnect
 

Again this year, TAMIU is helping reduce printing and mailing costs by administering Annual Enrollment electronically (rather than by mail) through HRConnect. Employees will review their benefit information and make all their Annual Enrollment decisions right from HRConnect. During this year's Annual Enrollment period (July 1st through July 31st), HRConnect will include everything needed to make the right benefit choices:

  • Overviews of A&M System insurance programs
  • Premium information
  • A list of your current coverages and September 1 out-of-pocket costs
  • A calculator that automatically shows you your monthly out-of-pocket costs based on any changes you make

All Annual Enrollment information will be sent electronically to the TAMIU email address on file in HRConnect.  Look for additional information on Annual Enrollment in the next issue of HR News & Views!

Your contacts for Annual Enrollment or HRConnect are Jessica Palacios at ext. 2362 and Nora Guereca at ext. 2363.

 

Re-Enrollment Not Necessary for Extended Pay Plan
 

As a reminder, it is not necessary to re-enroll in the Extended Pay Plan (EPP) each year. All current participants will receive a letter in late August reminding them they will remain enrolled, unless they sign and return the letter to stop participation. The EPP is available to all full-time faculty who work less than 12 months each year and allows them to extend their pay over 12 months.


If you are not currently participating in EPP and would like to, please stop by the HR Office to complete an authorization form. If you have any questions about the EPP, please contact Jessica Palacios at ext. 2362 or Nora Guereca at ext. 2363.

 

EHS Officially Changes Name to PharmaCare
 

On April 4, 2005, the A&M Care health plans' prescription drug service has changed its name from EHS to PharmaCare. However, this will not immediately change which drugs are on the formulary, how A&M Care participants get their prescriptions filled, or how benefits are applied. Network pharmacies will continue to recognize the current prescription drug plan ID card. To view the letter PharmaCare mailed to plan participants explaining the change, click here.

For questions regarding your prescription drug program, please contact Jessica Palacios, Associate Director, at ext. 2362 or Nora Guereca, HR Benefits Manager, at ext. 2363.
 

2004 HR Survey Results Largely Mirror 2002 Results
 

Electronic resources are gaining in popularity, and satisfaction with benefits has decreased since 2002, according to an employee survey conducted last year. Other than these findings, results from the 2004 HR Survey were very similar to results of the 2002 survey.

The survey was sent to a 10% random sample of employees and retirees, and nearly 40% responded. The survey asked for opinions on benefits, services, and work environment issues. Here are some key findings:

Electronic Communication

  • While more than 38% of participants on the 2002 survey reported they had never visited the System Human Resources web site, only 29% of participants made the same claim in 2004. Benefit booklets and brochures and HR forms were cited as the most useful items on the site.
  • Awareness of the HRConnect website increased dramatically with just over 7% of participants in 2004 reporting that they did not know about the site, compared to nearly 30% in 2002. While reviewing personal information and benefit enrollment information are the top reasons employees access HRConnect, enrolling online during annual enrollment, reviewing or printing a pay stub, and accessing LeaveTraq are also popular reasons why employees use HRConnect.
  • In the 2004 survey, receiving e-mails directing people to online information was the most popular way to receive information on HR programs. In 2002, receiving paper brochures, booklets, etc. was the most popular way to receive this information. Reviewing an online newsletter and visiting a website also increased in popularity.
  • The 2004 survey showed 57% of respondents prefer computer-based training to other delivery options. Nearly 38% of respondents prefer to receive training through a typical classroom, down from nearly 50% who preferred this method in 2002. Only 5.2% prefer teleconferencing.

Benefits

  • In 2004, 56% of participants said they are satisfied with their A&M System health coverage, and 18% are dissatisfied, with the rest being neutral. In 2002, 70% were satisfied and only 11% were dissatisfied. Although retirees are more satisfied than active employees, their satisfaction fell as well. In 2004, 68% of retirees said they were satisfied with their health coverage compared to 86% giving that response in 2002.
  • Fifty-five percent said they are satisfied with the range of benefit programs offered, and another 31% are neutral. This is a little lower than the 62% who reported being satisfied in 2002.
  • Results on retirement plan satisfaction were similar in 2002 and 2004, with 2004 results showing 53% satisfied with their retirement plans and 18% dissatisfied. However, more than 80% of retirees said they are satisfied with their retirement plans.
  • Results both years showed that about half of participants prefer higher premiums and lower deductibles, co-payments, and out-of pocket maximums in the health plans, with the other half preferring lower premiums with higher out-of-pocket costs.

Work Environment

  • Most employees gave high marks both years to their supervisors and to most work environment questions.
  • A few work environment questions received low marks. Only 31% of employees believe their jobs provide opportunities for advancement, and only 34% believe salary increases are determined fairly.
  • Almost 75% of respondents said they are proud to work for the A&M System, and 64% look forward to coming to work each day.

“We appreciate the time employees and retirees took to fill out this survey,” Steve Hassel, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, said. “This gives us a better idea of what we're doing right and where we can improve.”

“It would have been a surprise if satisfaction with benefits had not decreased, given the changes that we and all employers are having to make to manage costs. Health care costs continue to increase, and with the state contribution decreasing last year, it resulted in higher cost to employees and retirees. While we can't control these factors, we'll continue to do all we can to keep cost increases as low as possible,” Hassel said.

Hassel noted that the increasing use of electronic resources will help minimize administrative costs associated with the benefit plans because communicating and providing services electronically costs less than paper processes.

“This survey is a great way for us to gather information about how people feel about our services,” Hassel said. “But I also want to encourage everyone to give us their comments throughout the year. The best way to do this is to contact your local HR office or your SEBAC representative. The HR programs are here to serve our employees and retirees, and our goal is to provide the best programs and services that we can.”

For additional information on benefits, please contact Jessica Palacios, Associate Director, at ext. 2362 or Nora Guereca, HR Benefits Manager, at ext. 2363.
 

Welcome, New Employees!!
  Judith G. Flores, CDC Coordinator
Department of Special Populations (CDC)
BCH 102 ext. 2926
       
  Cindy J. Robison, Grant Resources Support Assistant
Office of Graduate Studies & Research
KL 260 ext. 2167
       
  Maria I. Contreras, Staff Assistant
Office of Admissions
KL 155 ext. 2204
       
  Erinn L. Taylor de Barroso, Staff Assistant
Department of Language & Literature
KL 428 ext. 2470
       
  Raymundo Garcia Jr., Police Officer
University Police Department
KL 005 ext. 2100
       
  Ricardo Martinez Jr., Police Officer
University Police Department
KL 005 ext. 2100
       
  Hector Garza, Police Officer
University Police Department
KL 005 ext. 2100
       
  Maria G. Salazar, Senior Staff Accountant
Business Office
KL 152 ext. 2156

Transfers/Promotions/Reclassifications
Ruby Gonzalez SC 226 ext. 2280
FROM: Staff Assistant, Admissions    
TO: Staff Assistant, Student Activities    
     
Priscilla Pena KL 155 ext. 2222
FROM: Admissions Assistant, Admissions    
TO: Data & Information Specialist, Admissions    
     
Ana L. Hernandez SC 126 ext. 2201
FROM: Admissions Assistant, Admissions    
TO: Data & Information Specialist, Recruitment & School Relations    
     
Alberto D. Martinez KL 268B ext. 2302
FROM: System Specialist II, OIT    
TO: Associate Web Master, PAIS    
     
Suzanne Hansen-Alford KL 332 ext. 3023
FROM: Program Manager, TCBEED    
TO: Associate Director of Graduate Studies, Office of Graduate Studies & Research    
     
Georgina D. Gonzalez SC 126J ext. 2206
FROM: Associate Director, Admissions    
TO: Director of Recruitment & School Relations    
     
Maria M. Ramirez SC 126G ext. 2278
FROM: Executive Director of Enrollment Services    
TO: Associate VP for Student Success    

Separations
  Areli Cervantes, Switchboard Operator
Purchasing & Support Services
   
  Juanita Puente, Staff Assistant
University Registrar
   
  Frances E. Betancourt, Staff Assistant
Department of Special Populations (ACP)
   
  Maria R. "Cuqui" Rosillo, Director of Admissions
Admissions

 

The Importance of Reporting a Leave of Absence
 

There are various leave benefits available to employees, and the HR Office wants to ensure these benefits are afforded to employees in the event of need.

To facilitate these leave benefits, an employee must report their leave of absence (sick leave, vacation, etc.) to their supervisor and the HR Office immediately. Furthermore, it is especially crucial to immediately report a leave of absence that is to be extensive.

Leave of absence issues may be complex, and all cases differ. The HR Office will assist in verifying the employee's leave balances, determining if additional documentation is necessary to support the leave of absence request, and determining if the employee is eligible for any other type of available leave (i.e., Family/Medical Leave, Parental Leave, Emergency Leave, Sick Leave Pool).

If you have any questions about or need assistance with leave of absence issues, please contact Xochitl Kladis at ext. 2364.

 

 

Reminder About Bringing Children to the Workplace
 

It is the responsibility of University supervisors to ensure that work is accomplished in an environment in which employee health/safety is respected and there is minimal disruption to the workflow and work activities. System Policy 24.01 Risk Management, Section 2, states that “it is the objective of The Texas A&M University System to manage, control, and where appropriate reduce or eliminate risk, to the end that its employees, students and visitors are protected from hazards, its financial condition is not seriously jeopardized, and its material and natural resources conserved to the maximum extent possible and practicable.”

The workplace is not an appropriate place for children on a regular, ongoing basis for the following primary reasons:

  • Children in the workplace create a potential liability for the department and the University.
  • Children in the workplace disrupt the workplace both for the employee with the child and for others in the work unit.
  • Children in the workplace create an atmosphere that many feel is unprofessional both to employees and visitors.

A plan for managing emergency child care services is recommended for parents/guardians in order to avoid bringing dependents into the workplace. If there are no other alternatives, the employee should get approval from their supervisor prior to bringing the child to the workplace. However, the child should not be in the workplace longer than 1-2 hours.

Special occasions that are employer-sanctioned (i.e., "Take Your Kids to Work Day”) should be coordinated with and approved by the employee's supervisor. The employee's schedule for that day should take into consideration the child's presence in order to eliminate unnecessary hazards.

When considering such requests, the supervisor should contact the HR Office at ext. 2365 with any questions or concerns.

 

 

Nepotism Policy
 
At this time, supervisors are reminded about the System Policy on nepotism, which prohibits an employee from hiring or supervising a relative. For example, employees may want to hire their children as help during a school break. However, while their children may be employed in positions on campus, they may not be hired or supervised (directly or indirectly) by their parents.

The System Policy on nepotism can be found on the web at http://sago.tamu.edu/policy/33-03.htm. If you have any questions about nepotism, please contact the HR Office at ext. 2365.
 

Updating Your HR Files:
Beneficiary Designations
 

 

Significant events such as marriage, divorce, death of a beneficiary, and the birth of a child, should prompt employees to review their beneficiary designations.

If you are enrolled in any of the following: Basic Life Insurance, Alternate Basic Life Insurance, Accidental Death and Dismemberment, the Teacher Retirement System; and you experience a significant event, you should immediately notify the HR Office to review and make any necessary changes to your beneficiary designations.

If you are enrolled in the Optional Retirement Program, and you experience a significant event, you should contact your respective vendor to review and make any necessary changes to your beneficiary designations.

Please contact Jessica Palacios at ext. 2362 or Nora Guereca at ext. 2363 if you have any questions or need assistance.

 

Time To Check Your Vacation Balance
 

Summer is just around the corner and it's time to think about your vacation! But before you plan too far ahead, please review your vacation leave balance. There is a maximum number of vacation hours that employees may carry forward from one fiscal year to the next. That number varies based on the employee's total state service. The following schedule shows the maximum vacation hours that may be carried forward based on total state service:

Employees with total state service of:
Hours accrued per month:
Maximum hours to carryover to the next fiscal year:
Less than 2 years
8
180
2 but less than 5 years
9
244
5 but less than 10 years
10
268
10 but less than 15 years
11
292
15 but less than 20 years
13
340
20 but less than 25 years
15
388
25 but less than 30 years
17
436
30 but less than 35 years
19
484
35 years or more
21
532


Vacation hours that exceed the maximum carryover provision at the end of the fiscal year will be credited to your sick leave balance on September 1st. LeaveTraq can show you your maximum vacation carry over hours as well as any vacation which may lapse into sick leave. Simply log on to Single Sign On, click on LeaveTraq and click on the "more>" button.

Again, please review your vacation leave balance to determine if it will exceed the maximum hours allowed for carryover. If you have any questions, please contact Xochitl Kladis at ext. 2364.

 

Workers' Compensation
 

An employee of The Texas A&M University System who suffers an accidental injury or occupational disease, as a direct result of and in the course and scope of employment, should immediately notify his/her supervisor and complete the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission's Form TWCC-1 called "Employer's First Report of Injury or Illness."  The form is accessible from the HR website under FORMS. The supervisor, in turn, must notify the HR Office immediately and ensure Form TWCC-1 is completed and submitted promptly. Failure to report the injury within 30 days of the occurrence (or the manifestation of an occupational disease) may result in the denial of a claim.

If you have any questions concerning Workers' Compensation, please contact Xochitl Kladis at ext. 2363.

 

Conducting Interview and Checking References
 

As supervisor/interviewer for your department, you have the critical responsibility of selecting the best-qualified candidates for vacancies in your department, while adhering to all applicable laws and regulations. By implementing a proper pre-employment screening practice, you can increase the chances of selecting qualified, motivated, and dependable workers for your department. The following helpful tips for interviewing and checking references can guide you during your selection process. (You can also refer to the System online training called "Conducting Effective Interviews" which can be accessed via HRConnect under the TRAINING tab).

   
 

RULES OF THUMB FOR INTERVIEWING

 
  • Ask only for information that you intend to use to make hiring decisions.
  • Know how you will use the information to make that decision.
  • Recognize that it is difficult to defend the practice of seeking information that you do not use.
 

BEFORE THE INTERVIEW

 
  • Review the job description
  • Draft and agree upon the interview questions to be asked.
  • Review the candidate's resume/application.
  • Agree on the format of the interview.
  • Ensure that you know and can identify the indicators of the candidate's ability to perform the job.
  DURING THE INTERVIEW
 
  • Introduce committee members (if applicable).
  • Describe the format of the interview.
  • Ask open-ended informational, situational, and behavioral questions.
  • Let the applicant do most of the talking.
  • Keep the interview on track.
  • Observe non-verbal behavior.
  • Take notes.
  • Leave time for the candidate to ask questions.
  • Ask if you can check references and pursue references not listed on the resume.
  • Describe the remainder of the search process and the time it will take.
  • Thank the candidate for his or her time.
  AFTER THE INTERVIEW
 
  • Evaluate the candidate.
  • Document the interview.
  BEFORE CHECKING REFERENCES
 
  • Check the same number of references for all candidates.
  • Ask if there is anyone you should not contact and why you should not contact this person.
  • Ask the candidate to notify individuals whom you will call for a reference.
  • Ensure that all references are individuals who have worked with the candidate in a professional capacity and who are not relatives or friends of the candidate.
  • Ensure that at least one reference is a former or current supervisor of the candidate.
  • Ask the candidate if he or she worked under any name other than the one given you.
  • Consult with the HR Office if there is need to check credit reports, criminal records, and/or driving records.
  CHECKING REFERENCES
 
  • Review (or seek) letters of recommendation.
  • Verify dates of employment, titles, and periods of time in each position.
  • Verify salary (if applicable).
  • Verify education and licenses.
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses.
  • Ask references how well the candidate works with others.
  • Obtain opinions about how the candidate would perform in your position.
  • Ask about the candidate's work ethic.
  • Ask why the candidate left the position in question.
  • Ask the candidate's former supervisor (if identified as a reference) or the HR office of the candidate's former employer if the candidate is eligible for rehire.
  • Document all reference-checking activities.
 

Let's Review Time Cards
 

By following these instructions, you will assist the HR Office and the Payroll Office in efficiently processing timecards and accurately maintaining your records. For questions related to timecards and leave requests, please contact Xochitl Kladis via e-mail or at ext. 2364.

Timecards Must Be Maintained Daily
To avoid errors, we suggest timecard entries be made daily. To correct an error, draw a line through the error, enter the correction, and initial the change. Timecards must be completed in ink, and correcting fluid should never be used.

Timecards Must Be Totaled
All hours (hours worked, hours paid, coded hours, OCT, SCT) must be totaled and entered in appropriate sections. Also, OCT and SCT balances must be carried forward onto your new timecard.

Timecards and Leave Requests Must Match
If your timecard indicates time off for any reason, a corresponding leave request should be submitted via LeaveTraq prior to taking leave or immediately upon return from leave. Do not wait until you submit your timecard to submit your leave request(s).

Timecards Must Be Signed
Timecards must be signed by the supervisor and the employee prior to submitting to the Payroll Office.

Timecards Must Be Turned In On Time
Timecards for full-time and part-time classified staff, as well as student workers and work studies, are due in the Payroll Office, KL 159, by 12:00 NOON on the due date. The Payroll Office has furnished supervisors with a red inter-office envelope to submit timecards and the HPPR (Hourly Payroll Preparation Report). For a schedule of the bi-weekly pay periods that includes due dates for timecards and HPPR's, call the Payroll Office at ext. 2376.

 

Getting to Know U!

FACT:

Claudio Arias, the Athletics Department's Coach of Men's Soccer, joined TAMIU on 4/1/04. Claudio plays guitar and sings and actually recorded a CD while in college. Claudio collects matches, soccer scarfs, and mugs. And, in his spare time, he likes to play with his daughters, spend time with his wife, play soccer, and, whenever possible, read and watch TV.


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
Oscar Reyna is the University Registrar. He joined TAMIU in August 2004.

He 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.

Oscar Reyna


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 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.
 

Q:

Who was the baby in the "Who is This?" section of the last issue of "HR News & Views"?

A:


That was Ericka Navarro, Associate Director in Career Services. 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.
   
Q:

My mother does not live with me but needs to be taken to an appointment with her doctor. Can I use sick leave to take her?

A:

 

Yes. However, an employee's use of sick leave for family members not residing in that employee's household is strictly limited to the time necessary to provide care and assistance to a child, spouse, or parent (but not parent-in-law) of the employee who need such care and assistance as a direct result of a documented medical condition.

That Extra (S)Mile!
This section describes the deeds of TAMIU employees who have been observed going the "extra mile" for our University.
 
 
Gerardo Perez, our Planetarium Associate Director, worked long, difficult hours to make both the private and public opening of the Planetarium happen. Hardware and software in the Planetarium is the very latest generation, and as such, can be quite flaky. The vendors are using TAMIU as a test bed for shaking out the most recent set of bugs, so the workload on our staff has been immense. These important events came off very successfully, but the headaches and heartaches going on behind the scene go unknown. Therefore, Gerardo’s work is greatly appreciated!
 
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: Pellegrino Hall 314

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