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August 2017

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Header image text: System @ Work.  August 2017.


New Building Exterior at night


We all had a chance to visit our new workspace during the Open House on July 31. Moves already have begun for a few departments and will continue almost daily through August. While moving is never fun, you can at least enjoy wearing jeans for a couple of days while you unpack (casual days are allowed for the first few days after the move!). There are also tips and reminders that can help those still packing—or beginning to unpack—and ease the transition into the new building.

Before You Move

  • Pack up those personal items in regular boxes (not the moving bins provided) and take them home during the move. That includes plants, snacks, photos, artwork and other decorative items.

  • Pack your office supplies, equipment and files in the bins provided, write your new room/workstation number and your last name on the color-coded labels provided, and affix the labels to the ends of the bins so they are visible when the bins are stacked on a dolly.

  • Also label your black trash can, if you have one, and recycle receptacle (you can put the small black trash cans inside larger recycle bins), desktop computers and other office equipment. Put the peripheral IT equipment (mouse, keyboard, cords) in the bags provided.

  • If you need additional bags, bins or labels, ask your department Move Coordinator to complete a Work Order to request them.

  • Plan to take the day off or to work remotely on the day of your move. You will not be allowed in either your current or new workspace during that time.

  • Take home your laptop, any files needed to work remotely, the description you created of what you packed in each bin, and your new parking tag and ID badge. Remember that you won’t be able to access your desktop computer remotely as it will be turned off.

  • Leave existing furniture completely empty and unlocked with keys in or on it.

  • Let people know you’re moving: notify institution and business contacts, order business cards and letterhead with the new address (210 W. 7th Street, Austin, TX 78701—no floor or room numbers needed) and add a line to your email signature with the new address and move date.

  • Share cell phone numbers among your team so you can communicate and collaborate as needed during the move.


After You Move

  • On your first day in the new building, bring your new parking tag and ID badge (the garage gate will be open during business hours). If you were out when those were issued, contact your Move Coordinator to get your new badge and parking pass.

  • Try to unpack the moving bins within five business days. After emptying your bins, place them on the dollies provided in your department’s designated location(s). FM will pick up the dollies when requested.

  • Work in your new area for a while before deciding which personal and decorative items you want to bring into your new space. You’re welcome to display photos, artwork, small plants and other items as long as they do not cover or block the clear glass around your office or workstation. FM offers fasteners that can be used to hang items on the workspace wall panels.

  • Ask your Move Coordinator to submit a work order to FM to have items hung on office walls after all the moves have been completed. Don’t try to hang items on the walls yourself.

  • No personal coffee makers, refrigerators or other appliances are allowed. But there is a selection of coffees and teas available in the breakrooms on each floor. The self-serve micro-market on the 19th floor offers juices, soft drinks and prepared foods.

  • FM can supply personal heaters and fans if you continue to be cold or hot in your space after giving some time for the building temperate to be regulated.

  • Bring your workout clothes--the Wellness Center is available starting your first day in the new building as long as you’ve completed and submitted the online gym waiver. There are lockers and showers available, including soap and towels.

  • Floormates will be organizing activities to ensure coordination among the departments on each floor. Please do your part to keep things clean and tidy, and follow through when assigned a task.

Remember, this is a new experience for all so things may not go as smoothly as planned initially. Be patient. We will be settled and feeling at home soon!


Deputy Chancellor Dr. Daniel


As part of its efforts to encourage the open exchange of information between System Administration leaders and employees, the Staff Council worked with Deputy Chancellor David Daniel to produce a video message that was distributed to System Administration employees on July 27. The informal message included insights on the recent board meetings and the upcoming move. If you have questions or concerns you'd like to see addressed in future video messages, send them to


Standards of Conduct cover


As UT System employees, there are expectations regarding our professional conduct. But what exactly does that mean? The Systemwide Compliance Office maintains a “Standard of Conduct Guide” (SOCG) to help explain just that. Created as a resource for System Administration employees, the Guide clearly explains appropriate and expected workplace behavior. It also serves as a reference for commonly asked questions and issues employees often face. While not intended as a comprehensive source for legal guidelines and policies, the Guide does provide general information about the laws, policies, rules and regulations that govern employee conduct. For more information, contact David Givens, assistant systemwide compliance officer, at


Header text: Making Innovation Real


The UT System Office of Innovation and Strategic Investments (OISI) has published its first community report showcasing how inventions and innovations originating from all 14 UT institutions are being moved from concept to reality. The report, entitled “Making Innovation Real,” provides examples of how those discoveries are being applied with the help of OISI and its collaborators and partners.

“Every day, UT scientists, educators, healthcare providers and administrators are developing ideas that can help people, businesses and communities thrive,” explains Julie Goonewardene, associate vice chancellor for innovation and strategic investment. “As a result, the UT System is considered one of the most influential innovation centers in the world. Our office is dedicated to helping those discoveries actually get to the people who need them.”

The community report showcases a number of innovations from UT institutions being implemented that will have a significant impact in Texas and beyond. OISI has invited each institution to contribute examples that will be added to its website each month.

“We want to continue sharing the impact of innovation with the entire UT System,” Julie states. “We know that the scientific power within UT is unlimited when combined with the partners, investors and entrepreneurs who can help our innovators move their inventions into the marketplace.”


Time Capsule photo


Time in a bottle? Well, almost…the Staff Council is planning a time capsule to place in the new building. All departments and institutions will be invited to submit an item representing the UT System as it is today, and Staff Council will be launching a contest in September to solicit student designs for the actual capsule. The capsule will be installed in the lobby of the new building under the staircase. The goal is to install it in May 2018 with an opening date of 2081 to coincide with the bicentennial of the Board of Regents’ first meeting.

More details and instructions will be provided in the coming months but as you’re packing for the move, be sure to save documents, photos and other small items that represent the System’s past and present. Given that technology is likely to change in the next 60+ years, it’s probably best not to include digital items. For more information, contact Frank Bartley at



Office of Employee Benefits group photoNow that we’ve all completed Annual Enrollment, we don’t have to think about coverage options for another year. That’s not the case for the Office of Employee Benefits (OEB). They have the responsibility of working with the insurance vendors to ensure the choices made by more than 200,000 UT System employees, retirees and dependents are translated into policies ready to take effect when the new fiscal year begins September 1.

OEB is basically a large insurance company, managing 15 contracts covering medical, dental, vision, life insurance, disability, voluntary retirement, wellness and related programs for all UT institutions and System Administration.  The UT SELECT Medical and Prescription plan alone has an annual budget of $1.3 billion dollars. Their members include more than 100,000 employees, 25,000 retirees and 90,000 dependents. The goal is to offer an outstanding benefit program at the least cost to help attract and retain the best employees system-wide. But what they really take pride in is helping employees and retirees feel more secure, knowing they will be taken care of if something happens.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to have the opportunity to go home every night knowing we make a difference in the lives of our employees and their families,” says Laura Chambers, UT System’s executive director of employee benefits.

The satisfaction in serving members contributes to low turnover within the OEB team. Laura is the original OEB staff member, starting as a temporary administrative assistant when the office was created 23 years ago. The average tenure of the OEB staff is about 10 years.

“Everyone is cross-trained to a certain degree so that when members call, they can get the help they need quickly, no matter who they reach,” notes Laura. “I am so proud of our team and how they support our institutions, our members and their families!”

To help reinforce that understanding of their members’ needs, almost every member of the OEB staff participates in the more than 40 annual enrollment fairs held at all the institutions over the two-week open enrollment period. OEB staff members create all the plan designs, benefits and communications related to the various plans, providing a complete package ready for institutions to share with their employees. 

OEB wants to know what employees need from the program and value most, then works to develop plans to address those priorities. OEB is the only office to have a state-mandated advisory committee, with representatives from each institution and System Administration meeting quarterly to provide input regarding employees’ desired benefits. The OEB team also has close relationships with the human resources (HR), payroll, wellness and EAP offices at every institution. This past June, they celebrated the 20th anniversary of the annual conference they host to provide training for those institution representatives and vendors.

State law requires all insurance contracts to be rebid every six years. Vendors are evaluated annually against numerous performance criteria, including member satisfaction. “We don’t want anyone to walk away frustrated with a benefit related experience,” says Laura. “The OEB team will try to figure out how to help and make a person’s situation right.”

Laura stresses that although the program is self-funded and managed at System, no one in the System or institution HR departments knows their employees’ private health histories, and OEB staff members only review individual claims upon request by the member themselves when they have questions about their coverage or their particular situation.

UT System’s size enables OEB to negotiate competitive contracts for its members. OEB representatives meet with their counterparts at TRS, ERS and the Texas A&M University System quarterly to compare notes, which increases the negotiating power for all and allows the state programs to leverage the best value. For FY18, OEB was able to offer plans with no increase in premiums and add a new UT Health Network, which provides members reduced out-of-pockets costs when services are received at participating UT health institutions and by UT physicians.

UT System also has the unique advantage of having researchers and medical experts at the institutions working with the OEB team to create pilot programs that could benefit employees. An example of that creativity and collaboration is OEB’s decision to use additional tobacco premiums to support funding of institution-based wellness programs.

“We are fortunate to be afforded the opportunity to work closely with our institutions to develop programs that help attract and retain top employee talent in the UT System—and even to entice talent who leave UT System to return,” Laura says. “With an incredible team in OEB, collaboration within and outside of System Administration and supportive leadership, we will continue to provide one of the leading benefit programs in the state.”


 photo of Winslow Sargent against a United Nation backdrop


Thanks to a partnership between the Office of Innovation and Strategic Investment and the Office of Academic Affairs, UT System employees can spend an hour each month engaged in conversations with top speakers about innovation and leadership—for free! The offices are launching Block 82: Uncommon Knowledge and Unconventional Wisdom for UT System Employees, a new monthly speaker series designed to bring System Administration employees together to learn new concepts that may be useful in their professional and personal lives.

Mark your calendar and plan to bring your lunch on Thursday, September 21, from noon to 1 p.m. in the new UT System Building. The series will kick off with Winslow Sargent, a successful entrepreneur, investor, and longtime advocate for advancing technology from universities. Winslow, who was appointed by President Obama as Chief Counsel for Advocacy for the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2010, currently serves as the senior vice president for development & advocacy with the International Council for Small Business.

More information will be provided in the coming weeks. In the meantime, contact with any questions, comments or speaker suggestions.


Wellness Corner header


The Wellness Center in the new UT System Building may cause many of us to give up our gym memberships. But if you want to do more than enjoy the impressive views, you need to complete the Gym Waiver. Once your form has been submitted and approved, you will receive an email letting you know you’re ready to use the new gym.

During the moves, access will be limited to System Administration employees who already have moved into the building (access is permitted beginning the day after your move). Between August 7 and September 8, hours will be 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays, and 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays. The gym will be open until 9 p.m. on Fridays beginning September 15, and will be open on weekends (7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays) beginning September 16. Guests may use the gym after work hours beginning September 16—they must be accompanied by an employee and complete a paper version of the waiver the first time they visit.

The new Wellness Center and expanded programs will require additional help. Part-time staff members are being hired and will take on the duties of the Wellness Champs. Many thanks to all who have served as Wellness Champs over the past four years—you have helped our employees get healthier and more active!