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November 2018

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November 2018


UT System Co-Hosts Higher Education Symposium to Assist Veterans

More than 200 Veterans Affairs leaders, state officials, representatives from the institutions’ veterans support offices, student affairs staff, and others involved in assisting veterans attended the 10th Annual Texas Veterans Higher Education Symposium on October 11 and 12 in Austin.

The symposium is co-hosted each year by UT System and Texas A&M University System. This year’s theme, "Transitioning," focused on the support and resources available to assist veterans transitioning from military to civilian life, especially in the context of pursuing higher education.

Robert M. Worley II, education service director at the Department of Veterans Affairs, provided the keynote address. Guest speakers were Christopher Sandles, director of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, and Darin Selnick, former Veteran Affairs Advisor for the White House’s Domestic Policy Council. Larry Wallace, UT’s director of veterans support and leadership programs, chaired the symposium planning committee.

Staff Council is planning a Veterans Day recognition to honor the 56 veterans who work at System Administration and in tribute to employees and students throughout the UT System who have served. The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. on November 9 in the 2nd floor multipurpose room. Light refreshments to follow.  


Beware Holiday Cyber Scams

Whether you’re shopping online, browsing the internet, or combing through your inbox, virtual scams are ever present. But during the holidays, opportunities for phishers and scammers to steal your data and information are countless. Phishing – or fraudulent emails and links pretending to come from or represent a reputable source – can lead to identity theft, stolen passwords/data, computer viruses, or compromised credit card information.

Common clickbait includes holiday greeting cards, suspiciously good deals on shopping and phony software updates. Fake receipts, shipping notices, or charity donation requests are also heavily used phishing techniques.

So how do we protect ourselves from fraudulent online activities? Here are a few simple steps that can guard your personal information:

  • Check the sender’s email address to see if it is real. Oftentimes, scams will come from suspicious addresses, sometimes with misspelled words. If in doubt, avoid clicking the links provided.
  • Hover your cursor over the links to see the domain name. If the domain doesn’t match where you’d expect to go, don’t click it.
  • Remember to keep your passwords, credit cards and other personal information secure, and avoid sharing them via email.
  • Pay extra attention to emails with attachments. Don’t open email attachments from someone you don’t know or click links that will automatically download apps.
  • Only shop on secure websites from well-known and reputable retailers.
  • Be cautious of fake holiday party invitations. Spoofed invitations and RSVP links are common ways cyber criminals get you to click on fraudulent links.

Using caution while working or shopping online will help protect you from phishing scams and better guard your personal information, as well as UT System information and data. If you have questions regarding phishing or other online scams, contact the Office of Information Security at 512.499.4389.


HUB Office Supports UT’s Commitment to Providing Equal Opportunities

UT System’s Office of HUB Programs is responsible for supporting compliance with Texas laws concerning the use of Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUBs). But beyond that, the office is dedicated to providing equal opportunities for all businesses.

UT System has had a policy since 1990 governing the use of HUBs, defined as businesses that are 51 percent or more owned, managed and controlled by an individual or group representing an economically disadvantaged group.  The policy is intended not only to meet Texas purchasing requirements but also to guide a “good faith effort” to increase opportunities for HUB participation and overall economic development. Goals for HUB participation have been set for different types of contracts and purchasing levels.

All contract procurements with a potential value of $100,000 or more require the proposer or bidder to make a good faith effort to find and subcontract with HUBs, if subcontracting opportunities are available.  For procurements between $15,000 and $50,000, UT System requires two quotes from HUBs, typically one minority-owned HUB firm and one woman-owned HUB firm.  In addition, there are statewide goals for HUB participation based on the types of goods and services to be contracted.

Led by Director Hopeton Hay, the HUB office is responsible for informing the vendor community about business opportunities with UT System. The staff regularly sponsors outreach and training events each year in addition to participation in dozens of events sponsored by minority and women business organizations, government agencies and other higher education institutions. 

The team also is focused on making UT System personnel aware of HUB firms capable of supplying the materials, supplies, equipment and services they need. Using the state’s online directory of more than 13,000 certified HUBs, the office can help match businesses with procurement opportunities. Hay’s team works closely with purchasing, facilities and construction and other System Administration departments to maximize the number of compliant proposals and bids received by helping potential respondents understand and follow the HUB requirements.

More information about UT’s HUB program and the resources available are available on the department’s website.


Ideas to Encourage More Ideas

Thanks to Staff Council, in November you’ll see improvements to Idea Central that will make it easier to post and follow the progress of ideas:

  • Easier posting.  Post your idea and let Staff Council determine the category (Quick Fix, Big Idea, or Process Improvement).
  • Simple voting. The thresholds to move ideas forward have been reduced to just 15 positive points for a Quick Fix and 30 for a process improvement. Required points for Big Ideas remain at 60.
  • Faster review.  Staff Council, in partnership with the Office of Organizational Effectiveness, will replace the Shark Tank in determining which ideas to propose for executive approval.
  • Periodic updates.  The current auto-generated emails that go only to active Idea Central users will be disabled and periodic updates of ideas and progress will be included in the System@Work newsletter.

Launched in 2015, Idea Central allows System Administration staff to post and vote on ideas focused on innovation, service, efficiency or cost-savings. Dozens of improvements have been implemented but it’s time to get even more creative. With these improvements, Staff Council hopes to increase participation and generate more innovative ideas.  Go online to post your ideas now!


System Administration “Everyday Heroes” Participate in SECC

While the 25th Anniversary State Employee Charitable Campaign (SECC) has ended, the impact of the donations from UT System Administration’s “Everyday Heroes” will continue through the year.

Donations are still being tallied but as of October 25, $38,771 had been pledged to help local nonprofits. Staff Council organizers expressed appreciation for all who donated time and resources to the campaign, including Steve Leslie, Amy Shaw Thomas and Phil Dendy, who showed off their scooping skills during the ice cream social on October 17. The campaign ended October 31 with a “Spooktacular” event that included costume, pumpkin-carving and lip sync contests.


Technology Upgrades Improve Productivity and Security

Several initiatives are under way to provide System Administration staff with the IT resources needed to work more securely, easily and efficiently.

Microsoft updates – The System’s contract has been upgraded to Microsoft’s highest level to provide additional security, collaboration and productivity applications. Information about available apps, including Teams, which provides improved communication and collaboration capabilities, can be found on the OTIS SharePoint site.

Automation of financial and HR systems – From the printing of checks to the ordering of supplies, financial systems are being automated to save time and effort at the institutions as well as System Administration. New eForms (electronic forms) are being implemented system-wide to speed up HR processes.

PeopleSoft improvements – Upgrades to the PeopleSoft finance and HR systems will further automate and add functionality to business processes. IT staff at System Administration and the institutions are working together to plan, test, implement and provide training on PeopleSoft upgrades with minimal interruptions during the work day. “On demand” PeopleSoft environments are now cloud-based for use as needed by institutions and for specific projects.

Information security – The IT security team is working on an encryption project with Oracle to improve security on the Oracle databases.

The IT team wants to ensure technology equipment functions properly and information can flow securely. If you have any concerns, questions or problems, please contact


Employee Discounts Can Help with Holiday Shopping

As you begin your holiday shopping, keep in mind that UT System Administration employees have access to discounts on all kinds of products and services through LifeMart.  A full list of the stores and programs offering special rates is available by logging in online.  Happy bargain hunting!