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April 2018

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Practice a Safe Escape during Fire Drill

To ensure everyone knows how to evacuate safely in case of an emergency, a fire drill has been scheduled for Tuesday, April 17, beginning at 10 a.m. Since this is the first drill in the new building, plans were announced in advance to give everyone a chance to learn where the exits are and to wear comfortable shoes if desired. After the drill, refreshments will be served in the multipurpose room on the second floor.

UT Austin Fire Prevention Services and the City of Austin Fire Department also will be participating in the drill. Fire drills are required by the National Fire Protection Association and State Fire Marshal’s Office as they are critical to preparing employees for a safe and fast evacuation in case of an actual emergency. The drill also provides an opportunity to test the building’s emergency systems.

Emergency announcements are sent by text through the emergency notification system so please make sure your personal contact information is up-to-date. Employees with mobility impairments should notify their Department Safety Liaison (DSL) and Natasha Rogers, UT System’s Safety Specialist ( Natasha will inform first responders and provide the DSLs with specific instructions for these employees. Send questions regarding the drill or building safety to your DSL or Natasha Rogers. A social hour is planned for 5 to 7 p.m. that evening at Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que Austin (217 Congress Ave - cash bar). Watch for more details to come!


Implementation Begins for Concur Automated Expense Program

The current paper-laden process of handling employee travel and out-of-pocket expense reimbursement will soon be replaced with Concur Expense, an automated reimbursement application.

Later this month, the Controller’s Office will begin piloting the new application and conducting general information sessions with departments, with the goal of implementing for all departments by the end of May. A Concur Expense Lab will be available in Accounting Services through August 31 for employees to use when needing extra assistance.

Purchase of the new application was made in response to employee requests to be reimbursed faster and more easily, with less paperwork and time involved. The Concur Expense software will do that and more:

  • Create a better expense process experience
  • Support travel and expense policy compliance
  • Make travel and expense spending easier for department heads to review
  • Eliminate the need to collect, manage and store paper receipts
  • Minimize time spent on completing the expense reimbursement process
  • Allow on-the-go capabilities through mobile friendly applications
  • Require fewer key strokes to request reimbursements

Additional details and training will be shared as implementation continues. If you have questions or comments in the meantime, please email


Flying the Friendly UT Skies

There is a lot of ground to cover within the UT System. The distance between UT Tyler, the easternmost campus, and UT El Paso, the most western, is more than 740 miles, and it’s over 300 miles between Austin and UT Rio Grande Valley. That’s a long drive, and sometimes the locations are even tough to get to by commercial flight. To enable staff to travel to institutions more efficiently and cost-effectively, the UT System has its own airplane and flight crew.

The Aircraft Operations team is part of the Office of Business Affairs. Jeff Perkins and Dave Crosby fly the UT System’s nine-passenger Beechcraft King Air 350 aircraft. Both joined the UT System in 2015 after long and distinguished careers as military aviators. Amy Mitchell has been with UT System for over 10 years, and ensures all operations comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), state and UT System rules and regulations. Lissette Escamilla in Accounting Services serves as back-up in Amy’s absence.

“We are a customer service operation,” said Jeff, the chief pilot. “We think of our passengers as family and we want them to be safe and comfortable and for all to go smoothly.”

“Our goal is to get passengers to and from their meetings as efficiently as possible, which supports UT operations,” Amy added. “But we also want to make sure we use the plane efficiently. We typically make sure there are at least five passengers on board. When you consider the fares for six to nine people flying commercially, along with the value of their time, it’s more cost-effective to use the UT System plane.”

The aircraft can be used by any UT faculty or staff for official business purposes. The plane is hangered at the TXDOT Aviation Division facility in Austin, so most flights are between Austin and other cities where UT institutions are located. The plane averages between 250 and 300 flying hours per year, which works out to about three days per week, although there were six flights on one particularly busy day in 2015. Every flight has two pilots; most of the time, Jeff and Dave fly together, taking turns serving as pilot or co-pilot. Contract pilots are used when one of them is unavailable.

“Trips must fall within strict guidelines and regulations,” explained Amy. “The FAA requires pilots to have 10 hours of uninterrupted rest between duty days, and duty days can be no more than 13 hours. That can affect where and when they can fly.”

Preparations for each flight begin days, if not weeks, in advance. Amy coordinates with the departments or institutions on all arrangements. The pilots study the weather for potential problems and notify passengers to consider other options if hazards seems to be developing. Radar on the airplane provides real-time conditions, which is especially important this time of year when weather conditions can deteriorate quickly.

“Weather is the biggest challenge,” Jeff said. “We are constantly adjusting for weather, even in route. No mission in the UT System is important enough to warrant jeopardizing the safety of our passengers or even to have a frightening flight. We will postpone or cancel if needed.”

The day before a flight, pre-flight plans are submitted to the FAA. The pilots also verify aircraft weight and balance to make sure it’s loaded properly and confirm details and requirements with the destination airport. The morning of the flight, they conduct final checks of the aircraft and weather and make sure all paperwork has been completed. Jeff and Dave are then ready to greet passengers as they arrive. After the flight, there is more paperwork to file and another inspection to complete. TXDOT Aviation Service handles the maintenance and fueling.

To ensure they are able to provide the safest and most comfortable flights, both pilots go through extensive recurrent training each year, including using simulators to practice emergency situations they couldn’t safely try in a plane. They also practice upset recovery procedures—simulating and then recovering from situations involving loss of control—with instructors in military style planes. The UT System’s commitment to safe operating practices has been recognized with Corporate Business Safety Awards from the National Business Aviation Association.

“During every flight, we make so many decisions that passengers are not even aware of to keep them safe and comfortable,” Jeff noted. “We are always challenging ourselves to make the flight—especially the landing—as smooth as possible.”

“We run a really tight ship,” said Amy. “We want to be able to answer any questions someone may have about our operations with dignity and make the UT System proud.”


Volunteers Continue Tradition of Supporting Meals on Wheels

For more than 10 years, UT System Administration has supported the Meals on Wheels and More (MOW) program. The number of routes, number of clients on each route and the number of UT volunteers have varied over the years, but the commitment has not changed.

Currently, nine employees are volunteering their lunch hour every Friday to pick up meals and deliver them to five clients who live in northeast Austin. In addition to providing a hot meal, volunteers follow up on needs they see or hear about during their visits, such as letting a MOW caseworker know that a client needs a heater or a new bed. Sometimes, the UT volunteers meet those needs directly. Over the holidays, they collected over $700 to help fund clients’ needs and holiday wish lists.

Thanks to UT employees’ contributions, a client with exceptional needs and limited means received a microwave, mattress and box spring, bedframe, bedding, shelves and cabinets, mini blinds, microwavable bowls, clothing and a space heater. Volunteers even assembled the cabinets, hung shelves and hooks, painted, set up a TV, did laundry, cleaned the space and installed the blinds, greatly contributing to the elderly woman’s quality of life.

If you’d like to join this caring team of volunteers in supporting Meals on Wheels and More, please visit Trisha Meloncon on the 15th floor (15.384W), call her at x4224 or email



Authenticate Your Information

Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds a second layer of security to UT System information resources like PeopleSoft, VPN, Remote Desktop (and coming soon to Office 365 and Skype for Business), preventing unauthorized users from logging into your account even if they know your password. There are three options for using 2FA.

Push Notification – This is probably the easiest way to authenticate using your smartphone or other mobile device. Download the Duo mobile app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. When you try to sign into one of the accounts requiring 2FA, the Duo app will prompt you for approval. Once you tap the “Approve” button, you’re in.

Passcode - If you do not have an internet connection or cell service, you can still use the Duo mobile app to generate a one-time use passcode. Just tap the green key icon on the Duo app home screen and enter the passcode on your computer screen where prompted.

Phone Call - Offline users or those without a smartphone can authenticate with Duo’s phone callback method. When you select the “Call Me” method on the 2FA screen, Duo will call the number associated with your account. You confirm your identity by answering the call and pressing any key. Note: UT System is charged a fee each time an employee uses the phone call method, so it should only be used if the other two options are not available.

The Office of Information Security is in the process of activating 2FA for Office 365 and Skype for Business. Please contact Becki Mendivil with any questions or check the 2FA SharePoint site.



Waiting by the Phone

You get ready to make a call using your office phone, only to find the phone offline and an error message indicating you need to sign in again. There are a couple of reasons this is happening and OTIS is working on long-term resolutions. In the meantime, here are some steps you can take if your phone signs off without you.

Exchange Authentication Error – You see this message at the bottom of the phone screen:

       Authentication failed. Re-enter the password to access Exchange services.

This is a software problem—the phones aren’t supposed to even attempt authentication. But there isn’t any loss of functionality so you can ignore this message—just press Cancel to make it go away.

Phone Not Signed In – There is no dial tone and “VVX 411” appears in the upper left area of the phone screen. Phone buttons may or may not respond. No one is quite sure why this happens, but it may be triggered by long periods of inactivity, such as when traveling. Here are options to try if this happens to you:

Log in using PIN authentication:

  1. Press the Sign In softkey located below the phone screen.
  2. Press 2 for PIN Authentication.
  3. Enter your extension (last four digits of your phone number) and press the Next softkey.
  4. Enter your PIN and press the Sign In softkey
    Note: This is not the same as your voicemail PIN. Use your Dial-In Conferencing PIN if you’ve set one up (at If you haven’t, use 0000.

If your phone keys are not working, you may need to first reconnect the network connection:

  1. Unplug both cables from the back of the phone.
  2. Reconnect them.
  3. If the phone comes back on without you being signed in, follow the steps above to log in using PIN authentication.

For additional assistance with any phone issues, contact the OTIS Help Desk at x4357 or


Life and Leadership Lessons from a Cancer Survivor

The next installment of the Block 82 speaker series will feature Mike Thompson, who has beat cancer four times with treatment from UT MD Anderson Cancer Center. During his presentation, Culture after Cancer: Life and Leadership through a Survivor’s Eyes, Mike will talk about his personal journey and provide advice about overcoming obstacles. The presentation is scheduled for Monday, April 23, beginning at noon in the 2nd floor multipurpose room. Bring a lunch or snack to enjoy and be sure to RSVP.

Presented by the Office of Academic Affairs and the Office of Innovation and Strategic Investment, the Block 82 speaker series is intended to bring System Administration staff together for engaging conversations that provide positive and powerful ideas and inspiration.


Let’s Get Physical

To help prepare for Keep UT System Active, the spring system-wide challenge, take advantage of all the physical activities offered through UT System Wellness. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to complete a gym waiver to access the Wellness Center on the 19th floor. There you will find seven different types of cardio machines, free weights and strength training machines. The Wellness Center is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. There are also instructor-led group fitness classes offered weekly in the Wellness Center: yoga on Tuesdays, 5:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m., and Strength & Interval on Thursdays, noon to 12:50 p.m. On Mondays and Wednesdays, from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., join the party for CardioFunk video dance played on the big screen in the group fitness studio. All fitness levels are welcome. There are locker rooms available with showers, soap, shampoo and towel service to freshen up after working out.

In addition to the onsite options, there are more than 80 drop-in fitness classes offered weekly at Ballet Austin at no cost to UT System employees. Ballet Austin is located at the intersection of 3rd and San Antonio streets. Just be sure to create an account before heading to your first class.

Check the UT System Active Calendar for additional events and opportunities to stay fit. For more information, contact Kendra Bolton, wellness program manager.