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January 2018

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All Hands Meeting Scheduled

Chancellor McRaven will address System Administration employees at an All Hands meeting scheduled for Friday, Jan. 12, beginning at 2 p.m. The meeting will be held in the UT System Building Multipurpose Room on the second floor. There will be an opportunity to attend virtually as well. Questions may be submitted in advance or during the meeting by emailing


Advisory Committee to Lead Search for New Chancellor

In response to Chancellor McRaven’s decision to step down as Chancellor, Board of Regents Chairman Sara Martinez Tucker appointed a Chancellor Search Advisory Committee to identify candidates for consideration by the Board. Chairman Tucker will lead the committee, which also includes Vice Chairman Jeffery Hildebrand, Vice Chairman Paul Foster, Former Chairman Donald Evans, and Former Chairman James Huffines. Chairman Tucker announced that the Board hopes to have named a successor to Chancellor McRaven prior to his departure to allow for a smooth leadership transition. At the request of the Board, Chancellor McRaven has agreed to continue serving as Chancellor through May 2018.


ODOP Builds on the Past to Prepare for the Future

Michael Heidingsfield is back where he started. He began his career in law enforcement as a cadet at the UT System Police Training Academy. More than 40 years later, he returned to lead the Office of the Director of the Police (ODOP). In the decades since, both he and the department had changed.

After leaving the UT System police, Director Heidingsfield served as an officer in the Arlington Police Department; the Chief of Police in Scottsdale, AZ; the President/CEO of the Memphis (TN) Shelby Crime Commission; and as the Senior Assistant Sergeant at Arms for Police Operations and Homeland Security for the U.S. Senate. At the same time, he was a colonel in the Air Force Reserve. Assigned to the Security Forces Directorate, Director Heidingsfield was called to active duty at the Pentagon immediately following the 9/11 attacks, then served as an advisory team member in Guantanamo Bay Naval Station and as the Contingent Commander for the U.S. Department of State’s Police Advisory Mission in Iraq.

Like its leader, ODOP has matured and advanced over the years. Established by the UT System Board of Regents after the UT Austin Tower shooting, the department is observing its 50th anniversary this year. Director Heidingsfield oversees what is now the third largest state law enforcement agency in Texas, with 602 sworn officers and 907 support staff charged with protecting the lives and property of more than 300,000 students, faculty and staff at UT System locations across the state.

“The depth and breadth of our mission is unique compared to other law enforcement agencies,” explained Director Heidingsfield. “Our services are tailored to meet the needs of very different communities. For example, the Texas Medical Center is vertical policing in a difficult part of Houston, which is very different from Brownsville, where the international border goes right through campus and we frequently deal with drug and human smuggling, or Austin, where we deal with the aggressive behavior of homeless and often mentally ill people near campus.”

ODOP provides the governance, oversight, training and commissioning for all members of the 14 university police departments within the UT System. Officers are employed by the institution at which they are assigned, and the 14 police chiefs have the day-to-day responsibilities for their departments. But all make up one law enforcement agency--officers wear the same uniform no matter where they are assigned. That unified approach is especially valuable when additional support is needed in specific communities, such as the mobilization of officers statewide to respond to campuses impacted by Hurricane Harvey and the temporary assignment of officers to the UT Austin campus to help allay fears after a student was killed in 2016.

Six ODOP inspectors each are responsible for overseeing both a regional area of the state and a specific function, such as tactics, intelligence or use of force. Four inspectors also are assigned to the UT System Police Academy, which provides basic and advanced peace officer training classes attended by cadets from law enforcement agencies across the state as well as the UT System. In January, the 100th class of peace officers will graduate from the Academy, and Director Heidingsfield expects the entire class will pass the peace officer test the first time—just as the last 14 classes have done.

Under Director Heidingsfield’s leadership, ODOP has instituted a number of initiatives to better prepare for and respond to potential dangers, including:

  • Partnering with UT Austin’s Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, ODOP developed “The Blueprint for Campus Police: Responding to Sexual Assault” to help police officers provide more victim-centered and trauma-informed approaches, and is now teaching the program all over the nation.
  • System Rapid Response Teams were created, with highly trained officers prepared to be quickly mobilized anywhere in the state.
  • Advanced Rapid Response Emergency Scenario Training (ARREST) takes officers through intensive firearms simulation training and prepares them to breach barricaded buildings.
  • The Armed Intruder Mitigation (AIM) program provides protocols and training to prepare for active shooters and armed intruders.

“Some people may be surprised to know we have state law enforcement authority and we deal with serious real-time risks they may never see,” said Director Heidingsfield. “The threats are ever evolving and we are constantly trying to anticipate and train for how best to mitigate all varieties of threats.”

Drawing on past experiences to prepare for future challenges, ODOP will continue to seek ways to fulfill its mission of protecting all who make up the UT System community.


Questions about Life…in the New Building

A new Building Life Committee (BLC) to provide employee representation in considering the many suggestions, requests and questions Facilities Management continues to receive about the new building. The committee has authority to make decisions for requests that have little or no costs involved, and will make recommendations to executive leadership for requests not included in the Facilities Management budget.

The first group of committee members, who will serve one-year terms, are: Nichole Prescott, Nagla Elerian, Judy Collins, and Omar Syed. Patrick Durbin (representing Risk Management) will serve continuously. Paul Cravens and Susan Franzen also will serve continuously but as non-voting members to provide resources and background.

The BLC already has met and begun considering requests. Among the actions the BLC has taken so far:

  • Voted against a request to add film to the glass walls around huddle spaces, opting instead to encourage use of the small conference/AV rooms without glass walls that are located on each floor when privacy is needed. (All are reminded not to walk into a huddle room or conference room when in use).
  • Agreed that workstation barriers should be made available to those who want to use them as a way to discourage disruptions. The BLC plans to review options that could become available to order through Facilities Management.
  • Recommended allowing food and drink to be served and consumed in the reception areas on each floor if the activities involve the entire floor. Otherwise, conference rooms around the reception areas should be scheduled for food service if possible, with eating allowed in the reception area. If conference rooms are not available, the reception areas should be available for food service as long as consideration/notice is given for others on the floor.
  • Asked Facilities Management to equip conference rooms with larger trash cans and serving tables to accommodate food service.

The Building Life Committee will meet regularly to consider building requests. Reports will be shared via “Building Update” emails and on the Facilities Management web site.


UT System Pursues Management Role at Los Alamos Lab

Following authorization by the Board of Regents, the University of Texas System has submitted a response to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s request for proposals to manage and operate Los Alamos National Laboratory.

One of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 17 national laboratories, Los Alamos has primary responsibility for effectively managing the country’s nuclear weapons component stockpile. The Lab is also charged to advance knowledge and discovery that can aid nuclear nonproliferation and deterrence, environmental management, and energy research.

UT institutions currently have more than 40 centers and institutes focusing on cybersecurity, bioterrorism, policy and statecraft, and other national security issues, all of which are elements of the Los Alamos mission.

“The scale and the scientific assets of UT’s 14 academic and health institutions strongly position us to take this role in service to our nation. The management role also creates an extraordinary opportunity for our students and faculty to participate in the advancement of research and discovery,” explained Deputy Chancellor David Daniel. Dr. Daniel was appointed by Chancellor McRaven to lead preparation of the System’s response to the NNSA.

“UT institutions bring the know-how to safely and securely advance the scientific mission of the Lab, and a strong record of community engagement that we expect would be a feature of a partnership with the communities of Northern New Mexico, if we receive the opportunity,” he added.

The award of the contract is expected to be announced mid-spring 2018.


It’s Time to Click the Easy Button

Beginning last May, exempt employees had the opportunity to participate in a pilot program that allowed them to submit weekly timesheets only when state compensatory time was earned or leave (comp time, vacation, sick, etc.) was taken. One complaint was that there was no way to tell if employees hadn’t submitted timesheets because they had no exception time to report or because they just hadn’t remembered to update their timesheets with appropriate leave or earned comp time. Often staff couldn’t remember whether they had verified their exception hours because they were logging into the timesheet portal so infrequently.

To solve this problem, OTIS created an “easy button” for weekly reporting. Now, employees click a “No Exceptions to Report” button instead of leaving timesheets blank for non-exception weeks. While the status is updated for employees, managers and timekeepers to see, those timesheets don’t route for approval. This solution also meets legal requirements for time reporting, which means there is no longer a need for an exception-based time reporting agreement. Additional information is posted on UT4U. Questions or feedback on the revised process should be submitted to Lesley Ducran in HR (


Readers Provide Feedback for Newsletter Improvements

An online reader survey was announced in the December issue of System@Work and on UT4U to give System Administration staff an opportunity to provide feedback after the first year of publication. The responses received are valuable and will be used to continue improving and refining the newsletter content and format.

Overall, over 59% of respondents said they like the newsletter, while more than 23% say they love it and 17% say it’s just okay. Most agreed or strongly agreed they get useful information and updates and appreciated the number and length of articles and the quality of writing and design. Comments provided some accolades but also suggestions for improvement, such as changing the layout to improve readership, providing more information about training opportunities, tackling hard topics, highlighting new (and existing) employees, and adding more photos.

The full report is available for review by clicking the link below. Many thanks to those who completed the survey! Look for suggestions to be implemented in future issues.



Recognize Outstanding System Administration Employees with Award Nomination

The Regents’ Outstanding Employee Award  was approved by the Board of Regents in November to honor staff members who make a significant impact to their institution and the UT System. Later this spring, 30 employees representing all institutions and System Administration will be honored and presented a $10,000 award. The UT System Employee Advisory Council (EAC) has now opened the nomination process.

To be considered for the award, System Administration nominations must be submitted to Susan Franzen ( by January 31, 2018. A committee of Staff Council members will review the nominations and select at least two System Administration employees whose nominations will be considered by the EAC along with nominations selected by each institution. From those, the EAC will select the finalists to forward to the Chancellor’s office for review and selection. Notifications will be made by April 30, 2018.

More information about the award can be found online or by contacting EAC Chair Paige Buechley at


Keeping Healthy Resolutions

Happy New Year! Wellness is here to help you start the year off right. All levels are welcome to participate in the new Strength and Interval classes that begin the week of January 9:

  • Tuesdays, 12:00-12:50 p.m.: Strength and Interval with Kendra

In addition, classes at Ballet Austin are still available at no cost.

To learn gender and age specific prevention methods related to your health and wellbeing, attend the Preventative Health Talk on Tuesday, January 30, from noon to 1 p.m. More information on all is available on the Wellness web page.