When the 85th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature ended May 29, there was a collective sigh of relief within the UT System that potentially damaging changes to state funding and programs had been mostly avoided, thanks to the tireless efforts of UT leaders and governmental relations staff. After the Legislature adjourned, Governor Abbott had 20 days to decide whether to sign, veto or allow bills to become law without his signature. In the end, the governor vetoed 50 bills, 13 of which the Office of Governmental Relations had been following.
Two of those bills were considered of high significance to UT System: the vetoes nullified a requirement that governmental agencies reimburse requestors under the Texas Public Information Act for their legal costs if the agency voluntarily released requested information after a lawsuit was filed to force the release; and kept the Texas Office for Prevention of Developmental Disabilities (TOPDD) from being transferred from the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to the University of Texas at Austin. The move had been proposed due to concerns regarding plans to eliminate TOPDD and consolidate its functions into the HHSC without dedicated funding and staff.
Now attention turns to the special session starting July 18 that Governor Abbott has called to consider 20 topics ranging from the so-called “bathroom bill” to school vouchers to property tax cuts. While some of the issues could have an indirect impact on UT System, none are specifically aimed at higher education. During a special session, only issues identified by the governor as part of the call may be considered. A special session lasts no more than 30 days, but multiple special sessions may be called. Look for the “System @ Work Capitol Watch” newsletter for more information later this month.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, a partnership between MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) and UTHealth Houston since 1963, recently received a $10.5 million gift to encourage graduate education in biomedical sciences and future discoveries and cures. The gift recognizes the importance of the collaboration between the two UT institutions.
John J. Kopchick, a molecular endocrinologist who received his Ph.D. from MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School, and his wife, Charlene, made the donation as a way to encourage future scientists in their efforts to eliminate diseases. The gift will fund student fellowships, a research symposium, and competitive research awards. Pictured are the Kopchicks signing the ceremonial gift agreement with MDACC Interim President Marshall Hicks, Vice Chancellor of External Relations Randa Safady and UT Health President Giuseppe Colasurdo.
“When you combine the expertise that exists in the nation’s leading cancer center and the state’s most comprehensive academic health institution, graduate students in the biomedical sciences will have unprecedented opportunity for learning and discovery,” said Chancellor McRaven. “We are profoundly grateful to the Kopchicks for understanding and generously supporting the power of collaborative science.”
In an effort to familiarize UT’s top supporters on the role of the UT System Administration, members of the Chancellor’s Council Executive Committee are invited to participate in a day-long “Deep Dive” of the System. The latest Deep Dive was held in the Board Room on June 27. System Administration leaders provided an overview of the structure, responsibilities and issues related to their respective departments and initiatives. The Chancellor’s Council has more than 15,000 members, including major contributors to all 14 University of Texas institutions and the UT System Administration. The Executive Committee serves as a strategic advisory group for the Chancellor, providing ideas, assistance, and perspectives on issues of importance to the UT System, and encouraging public support of higher education.
UT System’s External Relations team was honored recently with an international Circle of Excellence award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). UT’s “Grow Our Own” program, a multi-pronged approach to ensuring UT has an educated workforce of development professionals, earned a Silver Award, with judges recognizing the “wide ranging but well executed objectives” and programs that “embrace the growing value of philanthropy.”
Pictured are the Center for Enhancing Philanthropy (CEP) team who submitted the award: Development Specialist Mena Amin, Associate Director for Operations Laura Tibbitts and Associate Vice Chancellor for CEP James Noffke. Margarita Ramos, manager of strategic development communications (pictured second from left), assisted in preparing the entry.
From the student intern to the seasoned professional, the “Grow Our Own” approach offers innovative system-wide programs and services that raise awareness of career opportunities in philanthropy and help UT development professionals be more successful, resulting in increased philanthropic capacity for institutional priorities. Eleven institutions participated in an internship program this year, including UT System’s Office of External Relations.
The CASE awards program honors outstanding work in advancement services, alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing at colleges, universities, independent schools and affiliated nonprofits worldwide. This year, more than 3,364 Circle of Excellence entries were submitted from 715 institutions.
“Congratulations to the CEP for launching and executing the program and to the entire External Relations team for creating collateral materials, promoting the program and for executing System Seminar, which was a major part of the winning entry,” said Randa Safady, vice chancellor for external relations.
Do you need office supplies quickly and/or TIBH doesn’t have what you’re looking for? Use eShop and get the same service from Today’s Business Solutions that you’ve experienced in the past, now with paperless invoicing. No more need to use a Procard and track down invoices for reconciliation.
eShop allows UT System Administration staff to take advantage of pre-negotiated contracts. Each department has an eShop “Requester” who can process office supply orders. Contact your department’s “Requester” to find out your ordering process.
Requesters should contact Christopher Palacios at email@example.com or 512.579.5143 for assistance in using the new eShop system.
Skype for Business (S4B) and the new phones or headsets have been installed in most UT System Administration offices. Here are some of the most common questions we’ve heard:
Does everyone in a Skype for Business meeting need to have a S4B account?
No, an account is only required to set up a meeting. However, if a participant doesn’t have an account, he/she will need to have the S4B web app to connect to a S4B meeting and see anything presented on the screen. If a participant doesn’t already have the app, they'll be prompted to install it after clicking on the S4B meeting link. Attendees may also simply join by phone (they won’t be able to see anything on the screen with this method). The S4B meeting phone number and Conference ID are included in each meeting invitation.
Why does the S4B meeting invitation show a phone number with area code 737?
737 is an Austin area code.
What are the S4B time/participants limits?
There are no time limits on S4B meetings—meetings may go beyond the end time included in the meeting invitation. There is a maximum of 250 participants (presenters and attendees) allowed per meeting.
Can I forward my work calls to my cell phone?
Yes, S4B allows work calls to be forwarded to another phone through either the “Forward My Calls” or “Simultaneously Ring” features, which can be accessed from the Call Forwarding settings on your work phone, headset, through S4B on your computer, or the mobile app. The “Forward My Calls” option enables all calls to immediately be sent to delegates, voicemail or another phone number. The “Simultaneously Ring” option allows calls to ring at your desk and your delegate's phone or another designated phone, such as your cell phone. “Simultaneously Ring” can be set to immediately ring the secondary numbers, or to delay the ring by a few seconds. The S4B mobile app on your cell phone also allows you to receive and place calls from your work phone number, adjust your presence status, as well as join S4B meetings.
Can S4B be installed on a home computer for use while telecommuting?
Yes. The S4B app can be downloaded from the Office 365 software page (use your UT email address and password to sign in). There is also a free S4B mobile app available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for use on cell phones and tablets.
How do I transfer a call from the Polycom handset and/or S4B client?
To transfer a call, click on the “Call Controls” icon and click “Transfer.” The “Transfer Call” window will open, and you can search for the name or number of the person to whom you want to transfer the call, or select the person from your list of contacts. Once selected, click “Transfer.” You can opt to let the person know before you transfer the call to them (consult), transfer a call directly to them or to their voice mail, or move the call to the “parking lot” so someone can pick it up. The S4B Transfer Job Aid includes complete instructions (you’ll need to sign in on the O365 page with your email and password). You should also have received a “quick start guide” when your phone or handset was delivered.
For more information or answers to specific questions, contact Felipe Ulloa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many of you took the opportunity to attend the Workspace Fair on June 9 to learn more about some of the equipment and amenities that will be in the new building. We begin moving in just a couple of weeks, so it’s time to get packing! Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to read the “Move Manual” distributed in late June. The following are key steps you can begin taking now to make the move go more smoothly.
- Get rid of documents and paper you no longer need—participate in the Paper Purge planned for July 13.
- Collect boxes for packing personal items to take home before the move (including plants, snacks, photos and artwork).
- Identify a small item that represents what your department does and save it for the time capsule that will be located in the new building. More information on the process for submitting items to come.
- Coordinate a central area for extra office supplies to be packed in the moving bins provided. (No need to pack or move kitchen items—Facilities Management will pick those up and ensure the breakrooms in the new building are fully stocked.)
- Notify contacts that you are moving and add your new mailing/street address to your email signature: 210 W. 7th Street, Austin, TX 78701; no room or office number needed but do include the department name. Phone numbers and email addresses remain the same.
- Make plans to work remotely or take time off the day of the move since you won’t be allowed into your current office or the new building during that time. If planning to work remotely, test your VPN connection in advance.
Be sure to attend the Open House on July 31 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to tour areas of the new building. For more information or assistance with the move, contact your department’s Move Coordinator.
You are invited to attend an Open House on Monday, July 31, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to see the new UT System building before moves begin August 1. You’ll have the chance to walk around all the floors to see:
- Your new work area, complete with sit/stand desk and ergonomic chair!
- Wellness Center with gym equipment, locker rooms and fitness classrooms (19th floor)
- The Commons with indoor and patio seating and MicroMart for purchasing food and beverages (19th floor)
- Breakrooms featuring multiple refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves, filtered water and ice machines
- Meeting and conference rooms, including new reservation system
- A variety of collaboration and quiet spaces
- The Chancellor’s Office elegantly designed to support meetings with state and national leaders (16th floor)
- The Board Room (2nd floor)
- Multipurpose room available for special events, education/training and large meetings (2nd floor)
- RICOH copy center (16th floor)
Staff Council and Wellness volunteers will provide information and demonstrations, and the desk and office chair vendors will be on hand to assist with adjustments.
You may not yet know Natasha Rogers, but she plays an important role in keeping all of us safe and comfortable. As the safety specialist for UT System, Natasha works to create and maintain a safe working environment, which includes air quality, emergency prevention and response, and even ergonomics.
Specifically, her role in the Office of Risk Management (ORM) involves developing evacuation procedures, conducting fire drills, providing CPR and first aid training, performing ergonomic assessments, responding to employee concerns, and overseeing the inspections and maintenance of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), fire extinguishers and the disaster cabinets in the severe weather shelter areas. She coordinates the Department Safety Liaison (DSL) program, which supports efforts to maintain a safe and healthy workplace. As part of preparing to move into the new building, Natasha has been busy reviewing the fire and life safety features, emergency exits, signage, AED placement and planning the first fire drill.
Natasha’s job is not limited to Austin—she oversees safety in the System Administration offices in other parts of Texas as well as the Federal Relations office in Washington, DC. She even makes sure employees are safe when traveling, working with Travel Services to conduct risk assessments of hotels UT System uses for special events and conferences. Her role is expanding to provide resources to UT institutions as well.
“I’m a big proponent of ‘see something, say something’,” Natasha states. “If you see something or get the feeling that something isn’t right, let me know. We’re all a big team and we work better when we work together.”
Natasha joined UT System in 2007 working as an administrative associate in the Office of Risk Management before becoming safety specialist in 2013. Her understanding of ORM’s responsibilities, strong analytical skills and attention to detail made her a perfect fit for the role. She has since completed numerous National Fire Protection Association, OSHA, emergency response, hazardous waste, first aid, and other safety and health training courses.
Natasha’s education reflects the varied interests and skills that serve her well in her current role. A graduate of UT Austin, she first majored in mechanical engineering before earning her degree in rhetoric and writing, with a minor in mathematics. In addition to her job responsibilities, she stays busy caring for her two-year-old son, Max, with Tyler, her partner of 13 years. The daughter of immigrants from the island nation of Trinidad & Tobago, Natasha enjoys traveling with her family, swimming, baking and listening to live music. All done safely, of course.
The Wellness Center in the new building will be open on the weekends from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.! On weekdays, the Wellness Center will be open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. You’ll receive instructions in late July to complete a waiver, allowing you to use the Wellness Center.
We are excited for the cardio and weight equipment to arrive on July 20 and 21 and to welcome you into the space on your first day in the new building. We will post photo updates on our Facebook page - in the meantime, like our page and share our job postings, too! Expanding the hours and programs offered with the Wellness Center requires additional staffing, so we are hiring part-time hourly positions to ensure we maintain a clean, safe and supportive environment. Please pass along the job descriptions to anyone you know who has the knowledge and skills to make visiting the Wellness Center or participating in our programs an outstanding experience every time!
Some of us have spent years—even decades—working in OHH, ASH and CTJ. There is much sentiment attached to O. Henry, Ashbel Smith and Claudia Taylor Johnson Halls, so take a minute to say goodbye before the move. A wall in the ASH elevator lobby (where the Littlefield doors once hung) will be designated from July 17 to August 4 as a space for System Administration employees to share memories, write messages and post pictures about life and work in the five buildings (including the now demolished Lavaca and Colorado buildings). A photo of the wall will be included in the time capsule!