December 2006/January 2007

 



Upcoming University Holidays!

 

The University will be closed for the following holidays:

Christmas and New Year's Day = Monday, 12/25/06 thru Monday, 1/1/07

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day = Monday, 1/15/07

As a reminder, the 2006-2007 TAMIU Holiday Schedule can be accessed at http://www.tamiu.edu/adminis/ohr/holiday.shtml

 

 

Reminder to all TAMIU Employees About Ethics Policy
 

Each employee is responsible for ensuring that s/he complies with all ethical standards of The Texas A&M University System (TAMUS). To ensure that you are aware of and understand these standards, please review System Policy 07.01 "Ethics Policy, TAMUS Employees" which is available online at http://tamu.edu/policy/07-01.pdf.

In addition to reviewing the ethics policy, you may also review the online training module entitled "Ethics" which is accessible via HRConnect under the TRAINING tab.

Lastly, additional information about ethics is also available from the System Office of General Counsel at http://www.tamus.edu/offices/legal/help/ethics/

If you have questions regarding the ethics policy, please contact the HR Office at ext. 2365.

 

 

Reminder to all TAMIU Employees About Drug/Alcohol Abuse and HIV/AIDS in the Workplace
 

Texas A&M International University is committed to ensuring the safety and health of its employees and students. System policies prohibit the unlawful manufacture, distribution, possession, or use of illicit drugs or alcohol on System property and/or while on official duty. In addition, workplace guidelines are available to protect the rights of HIV-infected individuals. To ensure that you are aware of and understand the policies in place regarding drug/alcohol abuse and HIV/AIDS in the workplace, please review the following System Policies and Regulations:

In addition to reviewing the policies and regulations, you may also review the following educational materials:

Lastly, additional information is also available at the following websites:

If you have questions regarding the policy on drug/alcohol abuse and HIV/AIDS in the workplace, please contact the HR Office at ext. 2365.

 

Employee Educational Assistance Program Applications Being Accepted
 

The HR Office is now accepting Employee Educational Assistance Program (EEAP) applications for the 2007 Spring Semester. Applications are available online at http://www.tamiu.edu/adminis/ohr/forms.shtml. Application deadline is the 12th class day of the semester (January 31, 2007 by 5:00 pm).  Please ensure your application is submitted by the deadline as applications received after the deadline will not be processed. The EEAP was established to support the development and continued education of TAMIU employees.  The EEAP reimburses full-time, benefits-eligible employees for tuition and fees for educational courses, according to the following guidelines:

  • Reimbursement is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • Reimbursement is provided at the end of the semester, after grades have been verified, and is subject to availability of funds.
  • Reimbursement is provided for 3 in-state credit hours per semester, not to exceed 6 credit hours per academic year.
  • Employee must maintain a GPA of 2.0 (undergraduates) or 3.0 (graduates) per semester.
  • Employee must have a full-time, benefits-eligible status.
  • Employee must have worked for TAMIU in a full-time position for the 6 months prior to the 12th class day, if applying for Fall or Spring semesters, and the 4th class day, if applying for the Summer Sessions.
To check the status of your application or if you have questions about the EEAP, please contact Araceli Elizondo via email or at ext. 2365.
 

 

Classified Staff Advisory Committee for 2006-2007
 

The Classified Staff Advisory Council (CSAC) has recently held elections and wishes to announce its 2006-2007 Officers and Active Members (see below).

It is the objective of CSAC to advocate cooperative motion and 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 2006-2007 CSAC Officers listed below:

OFFICERS:

President Jackie Benavides ext. 2545
Vice-President Amy Palacios ext. 2820
Secretary Julissa Garza ext. 2700
Treasurer Maria E. Romanos ext. 2147
Webmaster Jessica Villanueva ext. 2883

ACTIVE MEMBERS:

Janet Salinas ext. 2990
James Palacios ext. 2357
Laura Medina ext. 2817
Jennifer Raines ext. 2240
Annie Salinas-Dodd ext. 2676
Jessica Villarreal ext. 2765
 

 

Medicare Premium and Deductible Increases Effective 1/1/07
 

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released a fact sheet on Medicare premiums and deductibles for 2007. The standard Part B monthly premium for most enrollees will increase by $5 to $93.50. The annual Part B deductible will rise from $124 to $131. Part A premiums and deductibles will also increase, but by slightly smaller percentages. Only 1% of retirees pay Part A premiums.

 

Premium/Deductible Comparison

2006

2007

pPart A Deductible

$952

$992

pPart B Standard Premium

$88.50

$93.50

pPart B Deductible

$124

$131

New in 2007, approximately 4% of Medicare Part B enrollees with higher incomes will pay a higher Part B premium.  The income-related Part B premiums for 2007 will be $105.80, $124.40, $142.90, or $161.40, depending on the extent to which an individual beneficiary's income exceeds $80,000 (or a married couple's income exceeds $160,000), with the highest premium rate paid by less than 1% of beneficiaries whose incomes are over $200,000 (or $400,000 for a married couple).

 

 

A&M Participants Can Access the Smoking Cessation Benefit
 

Before an A&M Care plan participant can receive PharmaCare's smoking cessation benefit, the participant must be screened for eligibility for PharmaCare's CareEnhance and PatientCare disease management programs. If the participant is eligible for either free program, the participant must enroll in the program to be approved for smoking cessation benefits.  However, if the participant is not eligible for either program, he/she can still receive the benefit.

The CareEnhance program helps identify treatment options for those at risk for or who have congestive heart failure. The PatientCare program helps those with multiple diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and asthma find the best care options.
 
The process for accessing the A&M Care smoking cessation benefit is as follows:

  • The A&M Care participant or his/her physician calls PharmaCare at 1-866-935-5433 to request a Prior Authorization Form and provides the physician's phone and fax numbers as well as the participant's daytime phone number.
  • The physician (or physician's nurse) completes the Prior Authorization Form and faxes it to the PharmaCare Clinical Department for review.
  • The PharmaCare Clinical Department determines from information on the form and/or from contacting the participant whether the participant qualifies for either CareEnhance or PatientCare.
  • If the participant qualifies for one of the disease management programs, the PharmaCare Clinical Department contacts the individual to enroll him/her in the appropriate program.
  • Once the A&M Care participant is enrolled in one of the disease management programs or PharmaCare has determined the participant does not qualify for either program, PharmaCare notifies the participant's doctor and authorizes the lifetime maximum benefit of three cycles of smoking cessation medications and/or patches. One cycle is a 12-week course of therapy.

For additional information regarding the smoking cessation benefit, please contact Jessica Palacios at ext. 2362 or Gracy Buentello at ext. 2363.

 

 

New Vaccine to Prevent Shingles Now Available
 

The Federal Drug Administration last summer approved a new vaccine, Zostavax, to prevent shingles. Coverage for the vaccine varies by health plan, and participants pay an office visit co-payment to receive the vaccine if their plans cover it:

  • The A&M Care plans provide coverage for enrollees 60 and older.
  • Mercy Health Plan does not cover the vaccine, but its benefits committee will meet this month to review coverage.

For additional information regarding your health care benefits, please contact Jessica Palacios at ext. 2362 or Gracy Buentello at ext. 2363.

 

 

TDA/DCP Contribution Limit to Increase 1/1/07
 

Effective 1/1/07, the maximum contribution limit for participants under the Tax-Deferred Account Program (TDA) and the Texa$aver Deferred Compensation Plan (DCP) will increase from $15,000 to $15,500 for each plan. The catch-up contribution limit for each plan for participants who are 50 and older will remain $5,000.

A chart listing the calendar year contribution limits through 2007 is available online. The 2006-2007 Total Compensation Statements, which are available on HRConnect, list each employee's maximum TDA and/or DCP contribution limits for 2006 and 2007.

For additional information regarding your retirement plans, please contact Jessica Palacios at ext. 2362 or Gracy Buentello at ext. 2363.

 

 

IRS Announces Increases to Contribution/Compensation Limits
 

The amount that employees and employers can contribute to ORP (which is dictated by Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 415(c)) increased from $44,000 to $45,000. If the employee does not contribute to a TDA, this limit will apply on a fiscal year basis with an effective date of 9/1/06 (for fiscal year 2007). If the employee does contribute to a TDA, the combined ORP/TDA limit of $45,000 will apply on a calendar year basis and take effect 1/1/07 (for calendar year 2007).

The maximum compensation that can be used to determine annual ORP and TRS employee and employer contributions (which is dictated by IRC Section 401(a)(17)) will increase from $220,000 to $225,000. If the employee does not contribute to a TDA, this limit will apply on a fiscal year basis and take effect 9/1/07 (for fiscal year 2008). If the employee does contribute to a TDA, it will apply on a calendar year basis and take effect 1/1/07 (for calendar year 2007). Individuals who were enrolled in either plan before 9/1/96, are not subject to this limit. 

For additional information about your retirement programs, please contact Jessica Palacios at ext. 2362 or Gracy Buentello at ext. 2363.

 

 

Forms and Publications Available Online
 

The A&M System Human Resources Office has recently posted the following documents on their web site:

For additional information regarding your benefit plans, please contact Jessica Palacios at ext. 2362 or Gracy Buentello at ext. 2363.

 

Welcome, New Employees!!
  Patricia Hernandez, Accounting Assistant (Cashier)
Business Office
KL 169 ext. 2144
       
  Jose A. Martinez, User Services Specialist
OIT
KL 257 ext. 2310
       
  Kourosh Khosraviyani, Windows Systems Administrator
OIT
KL 257 ext. 2304
       
  Richard Renteria, Accounting Assistant (Cashier)
Business Office
KL 169 ext. 2143
       
  Anne R. Frey, Associate Director
Graduate Studies & Research
KL 332 ext. 3024

Transfers/Promotions/Reclassifications
Miguel A. Treviño SC 226 ext. 2272
FROM: Director of Donor Relations, Institutional Advancement    
TO: Staff Assistant, Associate VP for Student Affairs    
     
Nora Gaona KL 335A ext. 2355
FROM: Physical Plant Procurement Specialist, Physical Plant    
TO: Buyer, Purchashing & Support Services    
     
Gerardo Alva SC 126E ext. 2267
FROM: Associate Director, Recruitment & School Relations    
TO: Associate Director of RSR, Recruitment & School Relations    
     
Dr. Barbara J. Greybeck KL 431C ext. 2678
FROM: Associate Professor, Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction    
TO: Associate Professor/Interim Chair, Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction    
     
Pablo Reyes-Sarinana KL 257 ext. 2308
FROM: Network Specialist I, OIT    
TO: Network Administrator, OIT    
     
Alfredo Paiz III KL 257 ext. 2303
FROM: Network Specialist I, OIT    
TO: Network Administrator, OIT    
     
Enid E. Nunez KL 257 ext. 2313
FROM: Network Specialist II, OIT    
TO: Senior Network Administrator, OIT    
     
Kristen Standage BCH 208F ext. 2785
FROM: FYSP Coordinator, PASE (FYSP)    
TO: Director of the FYSP, PASE (FYSP)    
     
Christina M. Arredondo KL 416 ext. 2426
FROM: Staff Assistant, COBA    
TO: Staff Assistant, Dept. of Teacher Preparation    
     
Arturo Garza Jr. KL 168 ext. 2250
FROM: Transcript Assistant, University Registrar    
TO: Office Coordinator, University Registrar    
     
Juan R. Lira KL 432A ext. 2535
FROM: Regents Professor/Chair/Associate Dean, Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction    
TO: Regents Professor/Associate Dean, Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction    

Separations
  Alexander Villagran, Receiving Clerk
Purchasing & Support Services
   
  Maria L. Carrizal, Staff Assistant
Career Services

System Policy Manual & TAMIU Rules are Online!
 

As an employee of The Texas A&M University System, your employment is governed by the A&M System Policies & Regulations as well as the Texas A&M International University Rules. These policies should be referred to for guidance on issues related to your employment.

The System Policy Manual & TAMIU Rules are available online for your reference. You can access them from the HR website by clicking on "System Policy Manual & TAMIU Rules."  The System Policy Manual site even offers a search feature to help you quickly find the item you are looking for.

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

 

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.

 

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.

 

Attention International Employees
 

If your visa status changes or is about to change, please notify the HR Office immediately. A change in visa status requires updating your HR records (I-9 Form) and may affect your tax withholding rate (W-4 Form).

If you have any questions regarding international employee issues, please contact Araceli Elizondo at ext. 2365.

 

Updating Your HR File When You Get Married
 

It is important that personal data in HR records are always up-to-date as such data is tied to the benefits of the employee and eligible dependents. In the case of marriage, personal data must be updated immediately. The following is a helpful checklist of items to take care of in the HR Office when there is a "Family Status Change" due to marriage:

SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

  • Notify your local SS Administration Office of any name change. Name changes cannot be made in HR without official documentation from the SS Administration.

HEALTH, DENTAL, AND OPTIONAL BENEFITS

  • Within 60 days of marriage, notify HR if you plan to make any changes to your health, dental, or optional coverages.

BENEFICIARY(IES) DESIGNATION

  • Inform HR if you want to update your beneficiary(ies) designations under the following optional coverages and retirement plans: Basic Life, Optional Life Insurance, Accidental Death & Dismemberment, Teachers Retirement System, and Optional Retirement Program.

TAX WITHHOLDING

  • Complete a new W-4 Form to change your tax withholding status and to record any name change.

OTHER

  • Complete an "Employee Personal Data" form to update HR records with a name change, address change, telephone number change, etc.
  • Complete a "Request for ID Card(s)" form if you wish to obtain an ID Card for an eligible dependent.
 

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 other name.
  • 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.
 

Getting to Know U!

FACT:

Curtis Condie is TAMIU's Men's Basketball Coach. He joined TAMIU in September 2006 but has been coaching for the past 17 years. He had spent the last four years in Saratoga Springs, Utah and has lived in Flagstaff, Arizona, and various other cities in Utah including Ephraim, Heber, and Monroe. He considers his hometown Alhambra, California in East L.A.

Coach Condie likes taking part in family activities. In his spare time, he enjoys watching major or minor league professional baseball games and taking his wife and children to amusement parks. He also likes to watch his son play football. Coach Condie has four children, two boys and two girls.

His hobbies include golfing, watching the Lakers, the Dodgers, Raiders, or the Clippers in action. Coach Condie also enjoys watching the University of Southern California's basketball team. He once collected baseball cards but has now given them to his two-year old son to collect. In addition, he served two years with the Latter-Day Saints Church (LDS) Mission in Nashville, Tennessee. Coach Condie says what he likes most about Laredo are the people.

 


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
Miguel A. Trevino is a Staff Assistant for the Office of the Associate VP for Student Affairs. He joined TAMIU in January 2003.

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 .


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.
 

Q:

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

A:


That was Angie Garcia, HR Assistant in the HR Office. 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:

Where can I locate my UIN (Universal ID Number)?

A:

Your UIN is located on your TAMIU OneCard.


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

I would like to extend a special thank you to all the student workers from Student Affairs (Student Center, Student Activities, and Recreational Sports) and the staff from Physical Plant for their hard work in putting up all the holiday decorations in the Student Center.  They did a great job giving the Student Center a beautiful holiday tree and atmosphere!

 
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