March 2008


TAMIU Enrichment Day 2008
Set for Friday, May 23rd!

The HR Office is pleased to announce that TAMIU Enrichment Day (TED) is set for Friday, May 23, 2008! The TED Planning Committee is already working on presentations, food, music, goody bags, prizes, games, and much more!

TED is a day set aside to bring University employees enrichment sessions under a relaxed and fun-filled atmosphere. In order to allow full-time employees the opportunity to participate at TED 2008, the plan is to maintain administrative offices open with minimal operation by utilizing student workers for office staffing.

Texas A&M International University is committed to promoting enrichment and growth in its employees. For more information about TED 2008, look for email announcements and keep reading your HR News & Views.



Spring Break Holiday on March 20-21

Texas A&M International University will observe Spring Break during the week of March 17-21. No academic classes will be held during this week.

Administrative offices, however, will remain open for business from Monday, 3/17/08 through Wednesday, 3/19/08. Then, on Thrusday, 3/20/08 and Friday, 3/21/08, administrative offices will close for a Spring Break holiday.

Have a safe and fun Spring Break!


OIT Offering Technology Training

OIT is offering several technology training sessions. If you would like to attend a session, please visit the training section of the OIT website to see the schedule of trainings, check seat availability, and register for training.

Here are a few of the upcoming sessions. There are many more listed on the OIT website.

  Introduction to Word 2007    
  Friday, March 7th Cowart Hall 112 10am - 12pm
  Introduction to Word 2007    
  Wednesday, March 12th  Cowart Hall 112 2pm - 4pm
  Introduction to Word 2007    
  Friday, March 28th   Cowart Hall 112

10am - 12pm and 2pm - 4pm


A&M System Dental Plan is Online!

 Employees and retirees can visit www.deltadentalins.com/tamus to:

  • Find a network dentist (updated regularly)
  • Verify eligibility
  • View benefit information
  • Print an ID card

Also, an updated plan description booklet is available online at http://tamus.edu/offices/shro/publications/booklets/dental_spd.pdf. Or to receive a listing of Delta Dental dentists by fax, call 1-800-521-2651.

If you have any questions on either dental plans, please contact Gracy ext. 2363 or Jessica ext. 2362.


Go Paperless and Get Your BCBS Explanation of Benefits Online!

Stop searching for your Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statements! With online statements you'll have immediate, secure access to the information you need, when you need it. No more waiting for EOB'S in the mail!

Online EOB's give you:

  • 18-month claim history
  • E-mail alerts when claims are finalized
  • Password protection of your personal information
  • Ability to instantly search, sort, and print your claims

Log in or register for "Blue Access for Members" at www.bcbstx.com, select User Profile, click on User Preferences, and choose to stop your paper EOB's. If you have any questions, please contact Gracy ext. 2363 or Jessica ext. 2362.


PayFlex Debit Card Coming Back!


As of September 1, 2008, employees will have the option of using a PayFlex debit card to pay for eligible healthcare expenses. If you elect to receive the debit card, there is a $9 annual fee, which will be deducted at the beginning of the plan year from your annual elected amount.

Facts about the debit card:

  • Easy to use! The debit card doesn't require a PIN so there is no need to remember another four-digit code.
  • It's versatile! You can use your debit card at your doctor, dentist, and vision care provider.
  • Over the counter medicines can be purchased using the PayFlex debit card.
  • Keep your receipts! You still may need to provide documentation for some office visit fees, prescriptions, and co-payments at some retailers.

And, don't forget that (if interested) you must re-enroll in your flexible spending account each year during Annual Enrollment in July. If you have any questions, please contact Gracy ext. 2363 or Jessica ext. 2362.


Formulary Changes in the A&M Care Plans


The Caremark Preferred Choice formulary for the A&M Care prescription benefit plan is soon to be updated. April 1, 2008 will bring a number of changes to the CVS/Caremark formulary.  The changes taking place in April are a result of the merger of the two formularies - PharmaCare and CVS/Caremark. Those whose drugs are moving off the formulary will receive a letter.

The letter will include the co-payment for the medication(s) that will increase. Once you receive the letter, we suggest contacting your doctor about the possibility of changing to a potentially lower co-payment alternative.

If there is no alternative, you may wish to discuss a potential therapeutic alternative with your doctor. The most qualified person to balance quality and cost considerations in choosing the most appropriate medications is your doctor. The final prescribing decision rests with your doctor. Changing to a different medication is voluntary. If your doctor agrees to change your therapy, have your doctor provide a new prescription for the alternative medication.

Visit the website at www.caremark.com for the complete list of changes.

If you have questions regarding your prescription drug plan, contact Gracy Buentello, HR Manager, at ext. 2363 or Jessica Palacios, Associate Director of HR, at ext. 2362.


Caremark Preferred Choice Formulary Updates


The Pharmacy and Therapeutics (P&T) Committee has approved these recommendations.

New Non-Formulary Agents

Please refer to the following table (New Non-Formulary Agents) for a listing of medications that will change from formulary to non-formulary status on the Caremark Preferred Choice formulary. These medications will be subject to the higher non-formulary co-payment. All affected plan participants currently using these drugs will receive pre-notification of the change by mail.

New Non-Formulary Agents

Effective April 1, 2008

Note: All drug in italics represent a generic drug.

estradiol, estropipate, ENJUVIA, PREMARIN
CHANTIX No preferred formulary alternative
CLODERM CREAM desonide, hydrocortisone
CYTOMEL No preferred formulary alternative
DENAVIR No preferred formulary alternative
ESTRATEST, ESTRATEST HS No preferred formulary alternative
NAFTIN GEL ciclopirox, ketoconazole topical, nystatin
TUSSIONEX dextromethorphan-promethazine
VANOXIDE HC LOTION benzoyl peroxide
ZOVIRAX OINTMENT No preferred formulary alternative

New Formulary Agents

Please refer to the following table (New Formulary Agents) for a listing of medications that will be added as new formulary alternatives on the Caremark Preferred Choice formulary. Please note that if any medication listed below is in a drug class presently excluded from your prescription drug plan, then it will not be a covered drug under your plan.

New Formulary Agents

Effective April 1, 2008

Clindamycin / tretinoin (ZIANA)
retapamulin (ALTABAX)
ANTIDIABETIC AGENT: pramlintide acetate (SYMLIN)
ANTILIPEMICS: fenofibrate micronized (ANTARA)
ANGIOTENSIN II ANTAGONISTS: candesartan (ATACAND) olmesartan (BENICAR) telmesartan (MICARDIS)
ANTIHYPERTENSIVES COMBINATIONS: candesartan / hydrochlorothiazide (ATATCAND HCT), olmesartan / hydrochlorothiazide (BENICAR HCT), telmesartan / hydrochlorothiazide (MICARDIS HCT)
CEREBRAL STIMULANTS: methylphenidate transdermal (DAYTRANA), lisdexamfetamine (VYVANSE)
CONTRACEPTIVES, ORAL: levonorgestel / ethinyl estradiol (LYBREL)

Periodic updates to the Preferred Choice 3-Tier Formulary may occur. For the most current formulary information, please contact your account manager or visit www.caremark.com.

If you have questions regarding your prescription drug plan, contact Gracy Buentello, HR Manager, at ext. 2363 or Jessica Palacios, Associate Director of HR, at ext. 2362.


Welcome, New Employees!!
  Anna L. Auces, Clerk BCH 213 ext. 2888
  PASE (Testing Center)    
  Amando R. Cantu, Site Coordinator SC 118 ext. 3063
  Special Programs (GEAR UP III)    
  Melinda G. Elizondo, Postal Services Clerk KL 006B ext. 2353
  Purchasing and Support Services    
  Aide Flores, Campus Card Manager SC 128 ext. 2878
  Campus Card Services    
  Nilda Garcia, Casa Ortiz ext. 3200
  TCBEED (Casa Ortiz)    
  Sergio A. Garcia, Half-Time IT Support Specialist KL 257 ext. 2310
  Victor H. Gonzalez Jr., Advancement Information Services Specialist KL 262 ext. 2172
  Institutional Advancement    
  Leonardo N. Gutierrez, Police Dispatcher KL 005 ext. 2100
  University Police Department    
  Maria D. Hernandez, Accounting Assistant (Accounts Payable) KL 161 ext. 2157
  Business Office (Comptroller)    
  Sylvia Hiltz, Site Coordinator SC 118 ext. 3063
  Special Programs (GEAR UP III)    
  Sergio A.Infante, IT Support Specialist KL 257 ext. 2310
  Jose A. Juarez, IT Support Specialist KL 257 ext. 2310
  Veronica R. Villarreal, Half-Time AT3P Recruiter KL 427D ext. 3098
  COED (ACP)    
  Abu N. Waheeduzzaman, Visiting Professor WHTC 218 ext. 2490
  Division of International Banking & Finance Studies    

  Bede L. Leyendecker CFPA 217C ext. 2649
  FROM: Assistant Professor/Interim Chair, Dept. of FPA    
  TO: Assistant Professor/Chair, Dept. of FPA    
  Jennifer C. Raines SC 118 ext. 2765
  FROM: Staff Assistant, Special Programs    
  TO: Program Coordinator (Continuing Ed), Special Programs    
  Roxana P. Sosa SC 126J ext. 2770
  FROM: Student Records Specialist, University Registrar    
  TO: Outreach and Retention Specialist, Recruitment and School Relations    
  Sonia L. Vela SC 125 ext. 2872
  FROM: Temporary Skilled Worker (Medical Office Assistant), Student Health Services    
  TO: Medical Assistant, Student Health Services    

  Crystal L.Cantu, Assistant Professor    
  Fen Lu, Systems / Web Services Librarian    
  Killam Library    
  Joseph H. Meredith, Assistant Professor    
  Division of International Banking & Finance Studies    
  Stanley D. Pearson II, Associate Director    
  Student Activities    
  Beatriz A. Salinas, Project Director    
  Special Programs (GEAR UP)    

Your Responsibilities When Requesting Leave

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

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

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

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

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


Retiring From The A&M System

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


Contact the HR Office to:

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

...and to make sure TRS has:

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


Contact the HR Office to:

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

...and contact your ORP vendor representative to:

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


Contact your TDA vendor representative to:

  • Discuss your retirement settlement options.


Contact your local Social Security Office to:

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

University Sick Leave Pool

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

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


Family/Medical Leave: Usage and Obligations

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Online Training Available for Employees

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

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

The training programs currently available are:

  • Conducting Effective Interviews
  • Creating A Discrimination-Free Workplace (also available in Spanish)
  • Ethics (also available in Spanish)
  • Information Security Awareness
  • Management Overview for New Supervisors
  • Managing Employee Performance
  • Orientation to the A&M System
  • Position Descriptions
  • Positive Management of Performance Problems
  • Problem- Solving for Supervisors
  • Reporting Fraud, Waste and Abuse
  • Sexual Harassment: What Supervisors Need To Know
  • Time Off Issues for Employees
  • Time Off Issues for Supervisors

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



SCT (State Compensatory Time): System Reglation 31.01.09 Overtime states that SCT must be taken within the 12-month period following the workweek in which it was earned and that it may not be carried forward past the end of the 12-month period.

LeaveTraq, our automated leave system, monitors the expiration of SCT and "clears out" any SCT not used by the expiration date. Therefore, to avoid losing SCT, employees are reminded to take their SCT within 12 months from which it was earned. It is recommended that employees regularly log onto LeaveTraq to check the expiration status of their SCT.



OCT (Overtime Compensatory Time): System Regulation 31.01.09 Overtime states that, when practical, OCT should be taken within the 12-month period following the workweek in which it was earned. Supervisors may require employees to take OCT and may require employees to use OCT before using vacation leave.

Should you have any questions about your SCT and/or OCT balances, please contact Xochitl Kladis via email or at ext. 2364.


Getting to Know U!



Amanda Mills is the Staff Assistant in the Office of the Provost & VPAA. Amanda is the mother of 4 wonderful boys and describes herself as outgoing and determined.  She believes that if you set your mind to something, you can accomplish it. Amanda says she is grateful to her TAMIU colleagues for making her feel welcomed and allowing her the opportunity to practice her knowledge and experience.  She looks forward to her continued work with the University.


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.

Who is This?  

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


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

That was Norma Cortez, Office Coordinator in PASE (CASA). TAMIU employees who wish to submit their picture for the "Who is This?" section may contact the HR Office via email or at ext. 2365.

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

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

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

Maria Carroll, Calling Center Coordinator in the Office of Institutional Advancement, is constantly pulled in different directions -- and she does everything with a smile!  She is one of the persons who does the decorating for VIP events of the office.  And, regardless of the hurry, her attitude is always positive.  Her smile and attitude are a welcomed sight.  Maria, you are a great TAMIU employee!

I wish to recognize Ms. Susie Serna, IT Support Specialist at OIT.  As a technician, she consistently gets excellent reviews from users who evaluate her.  She completes her work in a timely fashion and follows up with users to make sure they don't have additional requests or needs.  And if they do, she takes care of them.  She not only volunteers to help out co-workers in the department, but she also volunteers as a trainer for MS Office 2007, one of the training workshops offered by OIT to the TAMIU community.  Susie is an employee who really works hard to make a difference at TAMIU which is why I strongly believe she should be featured in the "Extra S(M)ile" article.

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