July 2004
  • Quote of the Month
    • "By working together, pooling our resources and building on our strengths, we can accomplish great things."
      --President Ronald Reagan

2004-2005 Holiday Schedule Is In!

The Texas A&M International University holiday schedule for fiscal year 2004-2005 is in! This year, employees will have a total of 12 days off.

Texas A&M International University will be observing the following holiday schedule for the 2004-2005 fiscal year. (The holiday schedule can also be accessed at http://www.tamiu.edu/adminis/ohr/holiday.shtml.)

November 25-26, 2004

Christmas & New Year's Day
December 24-31, 2004

Martin Luther King Jr. Day
January 17, 2005

Spring Break
March 25, 2005

Memorial Day
May 30, 2005

Independence Day
July 4, 2005

NOTE: Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Independence Day are observed as required by policy of The Texas A&M University System.


Another HR Form Online:
"External Employment and Consulting Application/Approval Form"

System Regulation 31.05.02 - External Employment states that if a System employee plans to engage in outside/external employment in addition to working in his/her primary University position, the employee must obtain approval for such employment using the “External Employment and Consulting Application and Approval Form.” This form is now available online from the HR website at http://www.tamiu.edu/adminis/ohr/ under FORMS. Upon obtaining all approvals, the form must be routed to the HR Office for proper filing.

The regulation mentioned above also governs all external employment by faculty members that is not directly related to their professional discipline. (NOTE: Faculty engaged in consulting is covered by System Regulation 31.05.01 - Faculty Consulting, External Employment and Conflicts of Interest).

If you have any questions regarding outside/external employment, please contact the HR Office at ext. 2365.


Construction Update
By now, you have seen that the cut road on the east side of campus has been repaired. Opening of this road was required to extend utilities from the Science Building to the new student housing facility. The contractor indicates that the initial portion of the student housing facility will be ready within a month, so furniture can start to go in. Thereafter, students can begin moving into the facility.

The Science Building continues to progress well. Recently, a meeting was held with an engineer from Evans and Sutherland, the vendor that is providing the equipment, videos, and screen (interior dome) inside the planetarium. Equipment is to be delivered soon, and the vendor will start installation as soon as the planetarium is finished.

Meetings continue with F & S Partners from Dallas to refine the concept plans for the Kinesiology building. The next general meeting with F & S is scheduled on July 15th.

Architects from Ford, Powell and Carson recently gathered data for the master plan update. A “thank you” goes out to those who met with the architects and helped complete their survey document.

The HR News & Views will continue to provide updates on University construction.

Annual Enrollment is Now Open and Accessible from HRConnect

Annual Enrollment is now open and accessible online from HRConnect! You may visit the annual enrollment system at https://hrc.tamu.edu anytime (except 8:00 a.m. to noon on Sundays) through July 31 to make benefit changes, which will become effective September 1, 2004. You may make changes as many times as you like. The last set of changes you make will determine your benefits for the next plan year.

Through the annual enrollment system, there are 2 ways to view the online Annual Enrollment Booklet. You can click on the "Annual Enrollment Booklet" button on the HRConnect main menu and get a PDF version of the entire booklet. Or, you can click on the "Annual Enrollment" button to enter the annual enrollment system. Once you are in the system, use the "Information & Frequently Asked Questions" drop-down menu on the main page to select the plan or topic you wish to view, then click the "Show Category" button. A window will then pop up with the chosen section of the booklet or a list of commonly-asked questions with an “Annual Enrollment” button at the top that you can click to go to the chosen section of the booklet.

The annual enrollment system features a “Premium Expense Calculator” button that allows you to make potential benefit choices and see the cost before you actually enter the choices in the system. The “Health Care Expense Summary” button helps you compare what your costs would be under the different health plans available to you.

Although you can make most benefit choices online, you will need to complete paper forms in a few cases. The annual enrollment system will identify those situations for you and provide a link to the online forms. You will then need to complete the form, print it, and send it to the HR Office and/or to the appropriate carrier.

If you don’t wish to change your benefits, you do not have to do anything. However, remember that you must enroll in Tax Saver Spending Accounts each year if you wish to use that program. Even if you don't plan to change your benefits, you may want to go to the annual enrollment system and read the "State Contribution and September 1 Changes" information, which you can access by selecting "Changes for 2004" on the drop-down menu and clicking on the "Show Category" button. A window will then pop up with information about how your benefits will change.

Remember, all employees and retirees are encouraged to take time to review their benefits and attend one of the Annual Enrollment meetings listed below. Annual Enrollment meetings bring benefit plan representatives and employees together to review benefit plans and discuss questions. Registration is necessary to make seating arrangements and provide refreshments. Please register at www.tamiu.edu/adminis/ohr/annualenroll_reg.shtml.

Tuesday, July 6th      8:30 am – 12:00 noon     SC Ballroom (please note the room change!)
Tuesday, July 6th      1:30 pm – 5:00 pm         SC Ballroom (please note the room change!)

If you have any questions about this year’s Annual Enrollment, you may contact Jessica Palacios (ext. 2362) or Cassandra Wheeler (ext. 2363).


Things to Consider When Selecting Your Health Plan

During the Annual Enrollment period from July 1st through 31st, you will be given the option to make changes to your health plan for the 2004-2005 plan year. To help you make an informed decision, take a look at the following questions:

How important is flexibility to you?
Flexibility is the key difference between the A&M Care plans and the HMO's. Except for emergencies, an HMO pays benefits only if you use a doctor or hospital that is in its network. The A&M Care plans, on the other hand, pays some level of benefits regardless of the doctor or hospital you use, although you do receive the highest level of benefits if you use a network provider. Because the A&M Care plans have provider networks throughout Texas and the U.S. while most HMO networks are limited to certain areas in Texas, you may prefer enrolling in one of the A&M Care plans if you travel frequently or have a child away at school.

Would you like to use a particular doctor, specialist, or hospital?
If so, find out which System-offered health plans, if any, have contracts with that provider. This information can be obtained by calling the Office of Human Resources, or requesting a provider directory for the plan you are interested in. The telephone numbers for each plan are also included in this year's Annual Enrollment Booklet.

Do any of the health plans cover a service that's particularly important to you?
To find out, refer to the health plan comparison charts, which are included in this year's Annual Enrollment Booklet, or contact the health plan's customer service offices. If more than one health plan covers a service you consider important, compare the benefits for that service in each plan.

How much does each plan cost?
Premiums and plan costs for many services are included in this year's Annual Enrollment Booklet. The premiums listed are monthly employee-out-of-pocket costs, so employees paid on a bi-weekly basis will pay half of the listed premium each pay period.


Tax Saver Plan Offers New Incentive For Enrolling in a Health Care Spending Account

For Health Care Spending Account participants, paying for many common healthcare expenses is about to get a whole lot easier! If you enroll in a Health Care Spending Account this July during Annual Enrollment and you have an email address in the HRConnect system, Tax Saver Plan will send you a debit card before September 1. This card will debit your account directly to pay most qualifying health care expenses, thereby eliminating the reimbursement process and, in many cases, the follow-up paperwork.

You can use the debit card at a doctor’s office, a pharmacy, or other health care service provider. If your provider charges you a co-payment, the money will be taken directly from your account, so you don’t have to pay for the service and then get reimbursed later. No further documentation is necessary. However, if the charge is an amount other than a co-payment, you will need to fax or mail a copy of the bill verifying the charge to Tax Saver Plan.

A Q&A piece explaining this new service is available at http://sago.tamu.edu/shro/Ae/debit_card.pdf, however, more information will be mailed with your debit card. If you have questions regarding the Tax Saver Plan, please contact Jessica Palacios (ext. 2362) or Cassandra Wheeler (ext. 2363).


HRConnect: Personal Benefits and Employment Information At Your Fingertips!

Access information about your personal benefits, employment data, plus much more, from HRConnect at https://hrc.tamu.edu/. You can securely access your information anytime from work or home (except 8:00 a.m. to noon on Sundays)! Just enter your Social Security Number (without spaces or hyphens) and your personal identification number (PIN), then follow the simple instructions to access your information. If you need assistance, you may contact Jessica Palacios (ext. 2362) or Cassandra Wheeler (ext. 2363).


EHS Prescription Drug Formulary Has Been Revised

Eckerd Health Services (EHS) has revised its prescription drug formulary and mailed copies to all A&M Care plan participants. To view the new formulary listing, click here.
If you have questions regarding your prescription drug program, please contact Jessica Palacios (ext. 2362) or Cassandra Wheeler (ext. 2363).


Updated ORP/TDA Fee Summaries Are Now Online

If you are thinking about enrolling in a Tax-Deferred Account (TDA) or switching TDA or Optional Retirement Program (ORP) vendors, you have access to a tool that can simplify some of your homework.

The “ORP/TDA Vendor Product and Fee Summary,” located online at http://sago.tamu.edu/shro/Vendor%20Fees.htm, provides a list and explanation of fees associated with all active ORP/TDA vendors and their products.

The Texa$aver Deferred Compensation Plan (DCP) is administered by the state, so the state maintains fee information on DCP vendors. For information about DCP vendors and their fees, visit Texa$aver online at https://texasaver.csplans.com/portal/PortalLogin.jsp.

If you have questions regarding ORP, TDA or DCP, please contact Jessica Palacios (ext. 2362) or Cassandra Wheeler (ext. 2363).


Relocation Services Now Provided Through FAS

Whether it's across the country or simply across town, moving is seldom a fun experience. Fortunately, the A&M System's new relocation service, FAS Relocation Network, is now on hand to make your next move a lot less taxing and perhaps even a little less expensive.

FAS Relocation Network can help ease your moving woes by:

  • Giving you access to certified relocation professionals who can help coordinate the entire process.
  • Providing information about the community to which you are moving.
  • Assessing the value and condition of your current home and recommending strategies for selling it.
  • Arranging for property management services, if necessary.
  • Reviewing and negotiating offers on your home and closing costs.
  • Selecting and scheduling movers, monitoring their services, and troubleshooting problems.
  • Arranging and coordinating packing, loading, and delivery of your possessions.
  • Providing discounts on moving services.
  • Auditing the mover's invoice.
  • Helping resolve any damage claims.
  • Providing full replacement insurance up to a specified limit at no cost.
  • Analyzing the housing market and identifying housing within your budget.
  • Selecting a pre-screened real estate agent and monitoring the agent's performance.
  • Arranging building inspections, offers, contracts, negotiations, and closing procedures.
  • Providing names of pre-screened lenders or rental agents.
  • Pre-qualifying you for home loans and explaining your options.
You pay no administrative charges for most of FAS' services. You are, however, responsible for costs associated with the move (for example, mover's fee and closing costs).

In addition to these services, FAS has an extensive website (www.fasrelo.com) that includes many tools that can help make for an easier move:
  • A Salary Calculator, which lets you compare the cost of living in hundreds of major U.S. cities.
  • A City Report feature, which provides a side-by-side comparison of different cities so you can see how the two compare in terms of population, climate, crime, cost of living, and educational facilities.
  • A Community Calculator, which gives you detailed information about different cities.
  • Crime Lab, which provides a breakdown of the crime rate for hundreds of U.S. cities.
  • The Lifestyle Optimizer, which creates a list of the 10 best cities for you based on the criteria you provide.
  • A Moving Calculator, which estimates how much your move will be based on how far away you are moving and how much furniture you have.
  • The Relocation Wizard, which develops a timeline for your move.
  • The Mortgage Payment Calculator, which computes the monthly interest and principal on a mortgage.
  For more information about FAS' services, contact FAS at 1-800-522-1052 or visit their website at http://www.fasrelo.com/fasrelo/index2.jsp.

Welcome, New Employees!!
  Richard R. Tansey, Associate Professor/Interim Chair
Department of Management, Marketing and International Business
WHTC 217D ext. 2537
  Everett Frank Collins, Professor
Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance
WHTC 218E ext. 2493
  Cesar A. Rodriguez, Police Dispatcher
University Police Department
KL 005 ext. 2100
  Patricia Ornelas, Staff Accountant
Business Office (Comptroller's Office)
KL 159 ext. 2378
  Stephanie R. Hilbrand, Residence Hall Manager
Residence Life
RLC 111 ext. 0160
  Elia E. Davila, Instructor
Department of Psychology, Sociology & Social Work
KL 426A ext. 2615

Roxanna Gonzalez BCH 102 ext. 2926
FROM: Half-Time CDC Coordinator, Dept. of Special Populations (CDC)    
TO: Full-Time CDC Coordinator, Dept. of Special Populations (CDC)    
Mayra E. Blanco BCH 102 ext. 2926
FROM: Part-Time CDC Educator, Dept. of Special Populations (CDC)    
TO: Half-Time CDC Coordinator, Dept. of Special Populations (CDC)    

  Cynthia V. Flores, CDC Coordinator
Dept. of Special Populations (Child Development Center)
  Patricia L. Benavides, Staff Assistant
University Registrar
  Deborah Watson, ILI Teacher
International Programs (International Language Institute)

Military Leave

The Texas A&M University System supports its employees' service in state or national military units and provides military leave to eligible employees. Below is an overview of the types of military leave available; however, more detailed information can be found in the System online brochure called "A Call To Arms: A Guide to Military Leave." If you have questions or need assistance with military leave, please contact Xochitl Kladis, HR Assistant, by e-mail or at ext. 2364.

Paid Leave for Training and Duty:
You are entitled to 15 work days of paid military leave each federal fiscal year (October 1 through September 30). This leave may be used when you are engaged in National Guard or U.S. armed forces reserves training or duty ordered or approved by proper authority. The days may be consecutive or scattered throughout the year. If you are appointed to work less than 12 months each year, you are expected to arrange your military duty for the months when you are not scheduled to work. If this cannot be done, you must explain the reason(s) in your leave request. To cover monthly training obligations without using your 15 days of paid leave, your work schedule will be adjusted, whenever possible, so that 2 of your non-work days each month coincide with 2 days of military duty.

Paid Leave for Emergency Military Duty:
If you are a member of the National Guard and are called to active duty by the Governor of Texas because of an emergency, you will receive leave with pay. This leave will not be charged against your 15 days of military leave.

Unpaid Leave for Authorized Military Training or Duty:
After using the 15 days of paid military leave, you may use accrued vacation or be placed on leave without pay for up to 5 cumulative years.


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. 2363.


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 Office of Human Resources) and submit it with your leave request form(s.)

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 Office of Human Resources 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 Office of Human Resources at ext. 2364.


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.


Getting to Know U!

Dr. Brown


Dr. Jeff Brown is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, Sociology and Social Work. Jeff has been with TAMIU for over 7 years and enjoys spending his free time reading and watching all kinds of movies. He is also teaching himself how to be an amateur gardener.

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
Maria Elena Hernandez is the Accounting Manager in the Business Office. She joined TAMIU in May 1983.

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 News & Views.

Mug O' Month

Who is This?  
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 Maria E. Carroll, Executive Secretary to the VP in the Office of the VP for Institutional Advancement. 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 need to learn more about using LeaveTraq. Is there LeaveTraq training available to employees?


Yes, there are 2 types of LeaveTraq training available to employees. Every month, the HR Office offers interactive LeaveTraq training sessions open to all employees and managers. During the 30-minute sessions, participants learn to log on to LeaveTraq, to become familiar with the LeaveTraq tabs/features, and to submit a leave request. Furthermore, managers learn the process of approving leave. To register for the next LeaveTraq training session, contact Xochitl Kladis at xkladis@tamiu.edu or at ext. 2364. Additionally, there is online LeaveTraq training available. LeaveTraq training for managers is available at http://hr.tamu.edu/ed/leavetraq/manager.html and LeaveTraq training for employees can be accessed at http://hr.tamu.edu/ed/leavetraq/employee.html.


Do I have to complete any forms or visit the HRConnect Annual Enrollment system if I don't want to make any changes in my benefit coverages for the coming year?


No, you do not have to do anything unless you are currently enrolled in a Spending Account and wish to remain enrolled. If so, you must re-enroll through the Annual Enrollment system at HRConnect (https://hrc.tamu.edu).

That Extra (S)Mile!
This section describes the deeds of TAMIU employees who have been observed going the "extra mile" for our University.
Becky Litman, Staff Assistant in the Department of Professional Programs, performed WAY beyond the scope of her duties the day of the bomb scare. I am one of the Building Emergency Coordinators for Cowart Hall but was not in the office during the incident. Becky remembered that I was on sick leave and took it upon herself to cruise Cowart Hall, stopping first at the Child Development Center and the Reading Research Center, to assure that no children were in jeopardy. She deserves a pat on the back and then some!
Luis Gonzalez, Staff Assistant in the Reading Research Center (Department of Curriculum & Instruction), went the extra mile when our book inventory was not complete before summer campers arrived. Not only did he come in on a Saturday morning to complete the inventory, but he also took time to take care of other matters (i.e., move several bulky objects) to assure camps went off without a hitch (thereby saving us the time for other activities when the week started). Thank you, Luis, for your conscientious work!
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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