May 2008

Register Now for TAMIU Enrichment Day 2008!


All faculty, administrators, and staff are invited to register now for our upcoming TAMIU Enrichment Day (TED) on May 23 rd !  This year, TED will have a sports theme, so we encourage everyone to wear their favorite sports shirt.  Click here to register online now!  Registration deadline is May 15, 2008.

Don't miss the fun...there will be delicious food served, great topics presented, prizes raffled, karaoke, Wii sports games, and much more!

But you must register to participate!  Seating is limited for the afternoon sessions, and registration is on a first come, first served basis.  Please register early to guarantee space in your sessions of choice.

If you have any questions, please call the HR Office at ext. 2365.


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
2 but less than 5 years
5 but less than 10 years
10 but less than 15 years
15 but less than 20 years
20 but less than 25 years
25 but less than 30 years
30 but less than 35 years
35 years or more

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 HR at ext. 2365.


  Risk & Misconduct Hotline Now Available for Reporting Misconduct or Wrongdoing

Every A&M System employee shares the responsibility of promoting an ethical and safe environment, so when an employee has factual information about dishonest, unethical, criminal, or unsafe activities that might affect any A&M System member, it is their responsibility to report it. These activities include, but are not limited to:

  • misuse of A&M System property, information, resources (i.e., driving a university vehicle to run personal errands; using a university credit card to buy personal items)
  • violations of safety rules or environmental laws
  • theft (i.e., stealing or borrowing money)
  • conflicts of interest
  • NCAA violations
  • discrimination

To report such activities, employees can use the Risk & Misconduct Hotline, a telephone and web-based reporting system managed by an independent third party called EthicsPoint.  The Risk & Misconduct Hotline is operated 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and allows for proactive management of reports.  Reports submitted through the Risk & Misconduct Hotline are forwarded to the appropriate institution or agency officials for prompt action and can remain anonymous to the extent allowed by law.

Employees can submit an anonymous report involving suspected misconduct or wrongdoing in either of the following ways:

  • Click on the Risk & Misconduct Hotline link and follow the instructions under "File a Report Online"
  • Go to www.ethicspoint.com and select "File a New Report"
  • Call toll free 1-888-501-3850

If you have questions about the Risk & Misconduct Hotline, please contact the System Internal Audit Department at 979-458-7100 or the TAMIU HR Office at 956-326-2365.


OIT Offering Technology Training

OIT is offering several technology training session. 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.

  PowerPoint 2007    
  Thursday, May 8th   Cowart Hall 112 2pm - 4pm
  Security Awareness Orientation    
  Friday, May 9th Cowart Hall 112

10am - 12pm


  What Makes You and Your Dependents Benefits-Eligible?

An employee is eligible for benefits if he/she works at least 50% effort for at least 4½ months.  If you are required to be a graduate student for your position, you are eligible for most benefits except participation in the retirement programs -- Teacher Retirement System (TRS) and Optional Retirement Program (ORP).

Dependents eligible for coverage include the employee's spouse (as defined by Texas law) and unmarried children younger than 25.  Older children disabled before age 25 and children in other legal guardian relationships are also eligible.  Grandchildren of the employee are eligible for benefits if they live in the employee's household.

If you have any questions about benefits eligibility, please contact Jessica Palacios at ext. 2362 or Gracy Buentello at ext. 2363.


  Different Types of "Changes in Status"

Federal regulations define situations called "Changes in Status" as those that allow employees and retirees to make benefit changes to their Flexible Spending Accounts contributions or health, dental, vision, or AD&D coverage during a plan year within 60 days of the "Change in Status."  In most cases, an employee can only make benefit changes that are consistent with the "Change in Status" itself.  For example, if you have a baby, you can add the baby to your health coverage, but you cannot enroll yourself in dental because that benefit change is not related to the "Change in Status."

Situations considered "Changes in Status" are:

  • Employee's marriage, divorce, or death of employee's spouse
  • Birth, adoption, or death of a dependent child
  • Child becoming ineligible for coverage due to reaching age 25 or marrying
  • Change in employee's, spouse's, or dependent child's employment status that affects eligibility for coverage
  • Change in employee's, spouse's, or dependent child's residence that affects eligibility for coverage
  • Employee's receipt of a qualified medical child support order or letter from the Attorney General ordering the employee to provide (or allowing the employee to drop) medical coverage for a child
  • Changes made by a spouse or a dependent child during his/her employer's annual enrollment period
  • The employee, spouse, or dependent child becoming eligible or ineligible for Medicare or Medicaid
  • Significant employer-initiated or carrier-initiated changes in or cancellation of the employee's, spouse's, or dependent child's coverage
  • Change in daycare cost due to a change in provider, change in provider's fees (if the provider is not a relative), or change in number of hours the child needs care (for Dependent Day Care Spending Accounts)

A court order against the spouse of an A&M System employee does not constitute a "Change in Status," nor does a change in income which may affect coverage affordability.  In most cases, but not all, if it has been longer than 60 days since the "Change(s) in Status" occurred, you must wait until the next Annual Enrollment period to make the benefit change(s).

If you experience a "Change in Status" or if you have a situation which you are not sure qualifies as a "Change in Status," and are within the 60 days since the "Change of Status" occurred, please contact Jessica Palacios at ext. 2362 or Gracy Buentello at ext. 2363.


Welcome, New Employees!!
  Brenda J. Gonzalez, Staff Accountant KCB 107 ext. 2891
  Athletics Department    
  Lorraine Y. Marquez, Staff Assistant WHTC 203 ext. 2481
  Virginia D. Watkins, Staff Assistant BCH 206 ext. 2134
  Cristin E. White, Staff Assistant WHTC 217 ext. 2759

Transfers /Promotions/ Reclassifications
Sandra Arreguin KL168B ext. 2255
FROM: Staff Assistant, University Registrar    
TO: Student Records Assistant, University Registrar    
Nancy E. Saucedo    
FROM: Part-Time Special Program Aid (Academic Counselor), Special Programs (HEP) SC 233 ext. 2706
TO: Full-Time Special Program Aid (Academic Counselor), Special Programs (HEP)    
Lena M. Bernal    
FROM: Staff Assistant, Purchasing and Support Services KL 326 ext. 3020
TO: Staff Assistant, Graduate Studies and Research    

  Arnoldo M. Cadena III, Police Officer
  University Police Department
  Anna L. Auces, Clerk
  PASE (Testing Center)
  Susana G. Garcia, Staff Assistant
  COAS (Dean's Office)
  Alex R. Martinez, Lab Assistant
  Killam Library (Computer Services)

Conducting Interviews 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).


  • 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.
  • 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.


  • 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.
  • Evaluate the candidate.
  • Document the interview.
  • 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.
  • 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.



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.

  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.



Rules for Submitting Timesheets on TimeTraq

By following these instructions, you will assist the HR Office and the Payroll Office in efficiently processing timesheets and accurately maintaining your records. For questions related to timesheets and leave requests, please contact HR via e-mail or at ext. 2365.

Timecards Must Be Maintained Daily
To ensure accuracy, make your timesheets entries daily.

Submit Leave Requests Before Timesheets
Leave requests should be submitted via LeaveTraq prior to taking leave or immediately upon return from leave.  Do not wait until you submit your timesheet to submit your leave request(s).  Submitted LeaveTraq leave requests will automatically appear on your TimeTraq timesheet.

Managers and Department Approvers Must Set Up Delegates
To approve timesheets in their absence, Managers and Department Approvers must have a delegate set up on TimeTraq.  A Manager can set up a delegate through TimeTraq.  If a Department Approver needs a delegate, they must contact the HR Office to have one set up.

Supervisors are Responsible for Accuracy of Work Hours Reported
Before approving, supervisors must ensure that work hours reported on timesheets are accurate.  Also, supervisors must ensure that employees submit leave requests for time off.

Timesheets Must be Submitted on Time
All timesheets need to be approved through TimeTraq and electronically submitted to Payroll by 12:00 noon on the due date.

Timesheet Adjustments Need to be Emailed to HR
Immediately upon first knowledge, adjustments to previous pay periods (i.e., hours worked were over or under) need to be reported via emailed to the HR Office.  HR will keep the email as documentation, then post the adjustment on TimeTraq so it can be applied on the next payroll.




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 HR 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 Gracy Buentello at ext. 2363 if you have any questions or need assistance.


Worker's 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 HR at ext. 2365.


Getting to Know U!


Nico Wiersema, Director of the International Language Institute, joined TAMIU on March 24, 2008. Before that, he was responsible for Foreign Languages, Spanish as a Second Language, and Literature at the Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico City. Mr. Wiersema is from the Netherlands and holds an MA in Translation Studies from the University of Amsterdam. One of his favorite achievements has been the publication of his Dutch - English translation of a bundle of poetry by Astrid Krux. He is also a member of TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).

Nico and his wife, Lilia, have a daughter of 2 (Elizabeth) and a son of 10 months (Nicolas). Both children were born in Mexico City .


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 HR via email or at ext. 2365.

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 Pamela Cabellero, Staff Assistant in the Office of Institutional Advancement. 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.

When summoned or selected for jury duty, what is the process for requesting leave?

Upon receipt of a jury duty summons, you must notify your supervisor and submit a leave request for jury duty. Additionally, as supporting documentation, you are required to provide HR an original "certificate of juror's attendance" (not the jury duty summons). A "certificate of juror's attendance" can be obtained by a court clerk when you report for jury duty.

If I go on leave without pay, will my state service and longevity pay be affected? Will I still earn vacation and sick leave?

While on leave without pay, you will not receive state service credit for any full calendar month in which you are on leave without pay (unless you are on military leave without pay). This mean that time you spend on leave without pay will not be included in the calculation of your total state service for purposes of longevity pay, hazardous duty pay, vacation accrual rate, or retirement benefits. You will not earn vacation or sick leave for any full calendar month you are out on leave without pay. If you have any inquiries pertaining to leave, please contact HR at ext. 2365.

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

Marianita Rosales, Instructional Technology Coordinator in OIT, recently assisted us in setting up some TTVN meetings.  She gave top-notch attention to our needs, kept herself well-informed of the type of meetings we were having, was always was there on time to make sure everything was set up properly, and followed up to make sure things were going well.  Marianita has a very professional and courteous way of providing service, and we sincerely appreciate her assistance.  Keep up the great work, Marianita!

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