November 23, 2020

Latest News

Continue to Work from Home

Consistent with many other large employers and the State of Minnesota, University leadership is now asking staff and faculty who can work from home to continue to do so through at least June 30, 2021. University leadership wants to empower you to make plans that support your families while maintaining fewer people on campus. Please talk with your supervisor if you have questions. See President Gabel’s latest message

View the Working Remotely Webpage

Reminder of the University’s Furlough and Pay Reduction Program

Period 1 of the University's Furlough and Pay Reduction Program will end on December 20, which means all employees who were assigned hours in July should take those hours by that date. If you still have a current balance, the hours must be used by December 20 and must be scheduled through MyU by December 7. 

Those employees in the Furlough and Pay Reduction Program can see their remaining hours in the My Time tab of MyU. Employees should submit requests for furlough hours the same as any other absence using the usual time-tracking system, such as Absence Management in MyU or Kronos, choosing "Furlough" as the reason for the absence. Furlough time may be used consecutively or intermittently in increments of 15 minutes (0.25 hours) or greater. Furlough hours can be used in combination with vacation and other types of leave.

Update on System Wide Strategic Planning: Phase 3

At the October Board of Regents (BOR) meeting, President Gabel provided an update on next steps in the implementation of MPact 2025, the University's first systemwide strategic plan. Please review the System Wide Strategic Planning: Phase 3. Your input will help frame the draft accountability measures, which will be presented to the BOR for review in December.

Provide Feedback on Strategic Plan Draft

P&A Driving Excellence

Naomi Skulan, Metadata & Technical Services Coordinator, has been working to digitize materials in the archives at UMN Morris and make them available to the community. This year, she secured a $10,000 Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage grant for "Digitizing the Oral History Collection at the University of Minnesota Morris." This is on the heels of a massive collaborative digitization project where she worked with history club students and volunteers to digitize the student newspapers (historic through present day). Thanks to her work and collaboration with students, the UMM Campus Newspapers are available in the UMM Digital Collections. Soon, thanks to this grant and her work, the oral histories will also be available digitally as well! 

Cynthia Zwicky, Curriculum and Instruction, presented research that explored the impact of a Multicultural Curriculum Transformation framework on pre-service educators’ capacity and will to teach and lead with a social justice orientation. Findings highlight the power of employing critical praxis as part of pre-service instruction, proving promising for educator professional development, increasing cultural proficiency amongst teachers and school leaders, and developing solutions to the urgent call to prepare educators with the skill and will to confront and pose solutions to the equity challenges that they and diverse students face.

Barbara Billington, Gillian Roehrig, and Terrence Wyberg, Curriculum and Instruction, provided online professional development (PD) for mathematics and science teachers in Djibouti, October 26 and 27.

Gary Eldon Peter, Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, has been named the winner of the 2020 Acheven Book Prize for Young Adult Fiction sponsored by Fitzroy Books/Regal House for his upcoming novel, tentatively titled Carl Paulsen. Read more.

Sheila Williams Ridge, Shirley G. Moore Lab School, is part of a coalition that is calling for an increased focus on outdoor educational opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future. The Teach Outdoors! Minnesota coalition, which includes organizations such as the Minnesota Association for Environmental Education, the Minnesota Children & Nature Connection, and the Minnesota Zoo, developed a position statement and website offering research-based resources that teachers, school administrators, and families can use to provide healthy and meaningful learning outside. Read more.

Let us know what great work you or your colleagues are doing. There is amazing work happening by P&As across the state. We want to hear from you!! Submit your information by the 15th of the month for consideration in that month’s newsletter.

Submit P&A Accomplishments

Senate Work 

Chair and Chair-Elect Update

Erin Heath, chair, and Scott Creer, chair-elect, have been working on a number of priorities this month:

  • Leadership met with P&A Senate members from Morris, Crookston and Duluth. A main topic of conversation was around safety and security issues throughout the system. 
  • PACC met with Dr. Cedric Alexander for the second time regarding safety and security on the Twin Cities campus where they shared P&A priorities in this document.
  • PACC continued to work on the consistent use of the non-renewal program in the event of program curtailment. Meetings are occurring with Ken Horstman, interim vice president, Office of Human Resources (OHR), and staff from the Office of the President. There is a desire to have consistent policy language around program curtailment, for senior leadership to have access to clear information as budget decisions are made, as well as more transparent information for P&A staff as budget shifts continue. 
  • Reviewed P&A staff representation on committees across the system. PACC met with Etty DeVeaux, chair, Senate Committee on Committees on November 12, 2020. 
  • PACC met with President Gabel on November 12 to discuss priorities and such as budget impacts due to COVID, safety and security, and strategic planning.

Benefits & Compensation (B&C)

  • The Regents will vote at their meeting on December 7 on the need to implement Phase 2 of the pay reduction program. If approved, phase II of the pay reduction program would take effect on December 20.
  • B&C shared feedback with OHR about the wellbeing program vendor, Virgin Pulse, as well as how staff concerns around privacy and data use may be barriers for some staff to utilize the program to its fullest. B&C members suggested increasing training offerings/opportunities related to the use of the Virgin Pulse site as well the potential of an FAQ related to staff privacy concerns and options for staff less interested in sharing personal health data with the vendor or the University wellbeing program.  

PD&R Subcommittee

The PD&R Subcommittee continues to focus on offering timely, engaging Seminar Series events (formerly known as Brown Bag events) to P&A staff. The next Seminar Series event (in conjunction with the Civil Service Communications and Outreach Subcommittee) will be presented by Brad McNaught, a 20-year veteran in the field, from the Sand Creek Employee Assistance Program (EAP) who will be speaking about mental health. The event is scheduled for Tuesday, December 8 from 12-1PM and is titled "Supports for Living in the Unknown." Register here
  • Event Description: While we understand that the world is always changing, this time the change came very rapidly and uninvited. Our minds have been dominated by the pandemic and our lives have been altered. This is testing our stamina, our spirit, and our resilience. This session will help raise awareness of emotional fatigue, anxiety, and grief and we’ll look at resources, coping strategies, and helpful tools.

Also, if you missed it, the October PD&R event "Home Ergonomics for U: How to Design a Home Office that Works!" recording has been updated and all links are here.

We hope to share our queued up topics for 2021 soon! If you are interested in or have questions about serving on the P&A Senate, contact Leigh Allen ([email protected]) or Monica Kocon ([email protected]).

Outreach Subcommittee

The work of this committee is largely continuing the focus on filling open senate seats. There are a handful of P&A Senate seats open. If your unit has open seats, you will be contacted by a P&A senator. Please consider serving as a P&A senator or alternate and contact your unit senator with any questions.

Give P&A Staff a Voice - Serve on A Senate Committee

P&A staff currently represents roughly 25% of the University’s employees, and we need to hear your voice! University Senate Governance committees advise senior administrators on University-wide initiatives, like the Systemwide Strategic Plan or the recent salary reduction plan; they consult on new policies and major changes, like the recent Title IX updates; and they bring new ideas to senior administrators, like the Equity, Access, and Diversity Committee’s recent call to President Gabel to create a task force to review current issues of racism, security, and policing on campus. There are 20 University Senate committees, and there is guaranteed to be something that fits your interest. Consider serving in a greater role at our institution on behalf of your P&A colleagues, your own department, and yourself, as a member of the University community, by applying to serve. Read P&A eligibility requirements before applying.

Apply to a P&A Senate Committee

Additional Updates

Benefits Open Enrollment and Virtual Fair Available Now

Benefits Open Enrollment is open in MyU from November 1 through November 30. View the Open Enrollment website to learn what action should be taken. 

Save the Date to Learn About the 2021 Legislative Session

Now that the election is in the rearview mirror, the University of Minnesota is gearing up for the 2021 legislative session. Last year was a success, ending with a capital investment bill funding the University’s facilities priorities. Heading into a year where the legislature will be funding state agency budgets, including the U of M, COVID-19’s financial impact could make things troublesome.

That is why we need you to join UMN Advocates. In 2020, advocates nearly doubled the number of contacts made with legislators over 2019. That success must continue. Lawmakers need to know that the U of M’s budget is important to you and your family. As soon as offices and emails are set for the newly elected legislators, UMN Advocates will send out an update urging advocates to welcome lawmakers back. 

You are also invited to the legislative kickoff breakfast on Thursday, January 14. For the first time ever, the breakfast will be held virtually. This event features an outline of the U of M’s legislative request, and provides you with an opportunity to establish a relationship with your elected officials. Registration will be available in the coming days, and will be included in the December issue of this newsletter.

A Moment of Levity

What did the left eye say to the right eye? Between us, something smells.