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October 2017

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System@Work | October 2017

System staff engaged in hurricane relieve efforts.

Hurricane Harvey Results in Heroic Efforts and New Disaster Relief Resource

The UT institutions located on or near the Texas coast have had plenty of practice dealing with hurricanes and flooding. But Hurricane Harvey was historic and catastrophic, with damaging winds and days of unprecedented rainfall. Many UT faculty and staff responded heroically, protecting patients and students and offering aid to their communities. Even those not directly impacted by the storm were eager to help colleagues who were. To make it easier to share information and offer resources in the future, a UT System Disaster Relief web page is now online (accessible from the Office of Human Resources website and under “Quick Links” on UT4U).

This site contains emergency-related information from UT institutions and state and national agencies as well as disaster-relief information and resources for faculty, staff, students, patients and the community in the event of an emergency. For more information on UT disaster relief resources, contact

Chancellor McRaven, Executive Vice Chancellor Ray Greenberg and Chief Compliance/Risk Officer Phil Dendy visited the institutions hit hard by Hurricane Harvey, and the Chancellor included an overview of the system’s efforts in a recent blog. For more stories about the heroic efforts taken by faculty and staff, take a look at special pages created by UT Health, UTMB and MD Anderson.

Monetary donations are still being accepted for employees and students who experienced damage to their homes and/or vehicles as a result of Hurricane Harvey:

Thanks to all who have offered support to our UT family members in need! The “cards” signed during System Administration’s recent new year’s event were shared with the institutions, and more than eight boxes of food and other items collected were distributed for assistance to hurricane victims.

Group photo of Office of Risk Management staff.

On a Mission to Control and Respond to Risks

As Chief Compliance and Risk Officer Phil Dendy puts it: “The mission of the Office of Risk Management (ORM) is simple—we exist for the sole purpose of supporting the UT institutions in achieving their missions.” The concept may seem simple but the responsibility is complex: ORM works to identify, assess, control and finance all types of risk to minimize the impact on operations at each institution.

Many of us think of insurance when we hear “risk management,” and that’s an important part of what ORM does, managing system-wide programs in workers’ compensation, auto, property, cyber, construction, and other risk finance techniques that save the institutions millions of dollars.  But insurance is only a part of what they do. The team also provides system-wide coordination and support for environmental, health and safety, business continuity, international travel, and emergency management and disaster response.  

ORM’s disaster response role recently was put to the test as they assisted institutions impacted by Hurricane Harvey.  The preparations actually began years ago with lessons learned following Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 and Hurricane Ike in 2008.   Programs and contracts implemented over the years are used in response to losses large and small.  As Harvey approached, the ORM team began communicating and coordinating with the institutions along the coast as well as state emergency coordinators, activating the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in the new building for the first time. 

 “We made sure our disaster response contractors were ready with equipment and personnel staged in advance,” says Phil. “Our insurance adjusting team also was ready to go as soon as the storm passed. We had multiple channels of communications happening through various departments and areas.”

The flooding in Houston limited the team’s access for about a week but members of ORM and the Office of the Director of Police (ODOP) immediately responded to the Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, which was hit hard, to provide assistance, assess damages and begin the recovery process. Chancellor McRaven, Executive Vice Chancellors Steve Leslie and Ray Greenberg, Director of Police Mike Heidingsfield and Phil also visited the other impacted institutions within days of the storm to offer support. 

For the ORM team, the challenges related to Harvey are just beginning.

“We are working with multiple institutions with multiple locations—from Port Aransas to the Texas Medical Center in Houston and mainland clinics in League City, Texas City, and Dickinson and other locations,” Phil states. “We are now working through a multiple scenarios to maximize insurance and FEMA funding, and ensuring our institutions have the resources they need.”

The response to Hurricane Harvey will be a priority for the ORM team for months to come, while they also continue the full-time job of managing the risks associated with 14 different institutions with 100,000 employees and 220,000 students, 105 million square feet of buildings, and 14,000 international travelers.  In addition, in their “spare time,” ORM and Compliance staff are planning and hosting the Higher Education Risk Management Conference to be held in March, where they expect to draw more than 500 attendees from over 50 institutions nation-wide. 

“We have a highly effective, dedicated, and professional staff and our role touches every part of every institution in some way,” says Phil. “Our mission supports their education, research and healthcare missions, and that’s a privilege and responsibility we take seriously.”

Leave policy document.

Taking Leave - Fewer Policies and More Time

Thanks to Lesley Ducran in the Office of Human Resources (OHR), it’s now more convenient to learn about the various types of leave available. Working with feedback from the organizational assessment, Lesley consolidated 11 different leave policies into one (INT185). The new policy also includes changes that mean additional leave days. Those changes include:

Administrative Leave for Outstanding Performance – Department heads, in addition to the Chancellor, may now award administrative leave in recognition of an employee’s outstanding performance. Employees may be granted up to 32 hours per fiscal year at the discretion of the department head. This change was made in response to an Idea Central suggestion as a way to help recognize and reward top performing employees beyond monetary rewards limited by budget constraints.

Bereavement Leave – Also in response to an Idea Central suggestion, employees may now take up to 40 hours of leave (up from 24)  upon the death of a family member. “Family” is defined as an employee’s spouse and the children, parents, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and great-grandparents of the employee or his/her spouse.

Veterans Health – A new Texas law allows veterans to take up to 15 days of paid leave per fiscal year to obtain medical or mental health care through the Veteran’s Administration without using vacation, sick, overtime or state compensatory leave.

Look for more details on the changes included in the new policy on UT4U.

Phishing illustration.

Don’t Get Hooked by Phishing Attempts

Over the past few weeks, UT System Administration has seen an increase in both the severity and sophistication of phishing emails (emails that seek to obtain confidential information by appearing to come from legitimate sources). In recent cases, emails appeared to come from UT System email accounts that had been hacked. The attacks were advanced and targeted; for example, accounts in Treasury were hacked and then the criminals wrote a rule to delete responses from the target so that they could respond instead.

The Office of Technology and Information Security (OTIS) and the Office of Information Security (ISO) are on alert for phishing attacks and steps are being taken to identify them more quickly. However, all of us can take steps to help keep our accounts and information safe.

  • Be suspicious of any unexpected email, even if it appears to be from a UT System account. Don’t click on links from anyone you don’t know.
  • Point and hover your cursor above an email address or embedded links to reveal the actual sender and URL. When in doubt, do not click the link.
  • Watch for the obvious, such as poor spelling, bad grammar and references to people or systems that just don’t make sense.
  • If you think an email you receive is fraudulent, click on the “Phish Alert” button or forward the message to to notify OTIS and ISO.
  • Don’t re-use passwords. When your user name and credentials are stolen from one account, criminals run the information against Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms to get even more information about you, which they sell to other criminals. Make it more difficult for them by using different passwords for different accounts.

The ISO team is debuting a Phishing Awareness Program that will simulate phishing emails as a way to help us all learn how to better recognize and avoid phishing attempts. Feedback and training will be provided to those who get hooked by the fake phishing attempts. Let’s all work together to be phish-free!  Contact if you have any questions.

Doctor and patient communicate via laptop videoconference.

See the Doctor without Leaving the Building

Not feeling well but don’t have time get to your doctor’s office? Now you can just go upstairs to talk to a health professional, thanks to a partnership the Office of Employee Benefits (OEB) is piloting with The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) and The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing.

Beginning October 16, System Administration employees can go to a telemedicine clinic on the 19th floor for a visit with healthcare providers at UTMB, with UT Austin nursing staff available to assist with the exams. The physicians can issue prescriptions or refer patients for further treatment if needed. Appointments will be on a first-come, first-serve basis between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., Monday through Friday, and are being offered for free at this time.  Telemedicine visits are intended primarily for the treatment of minor primary care issues.

The clinic is the result of suggestions offered during the programming for the UT System Building and through Idea Central. OEB will be monitoring usage and satisfaction to determine whether the pilot should be made permanent. For more information, call OEB at 512.499.4616.

Building Communities. Fellowship. Opportunity. Gratitude. Leadership.

Support SECC Efforts to Build Communities

Now it’s easier than ever to support organizations that are working to improve the lives of our neighbors, locally and around the world. The State Employee Charitable Campaign (SECC) provides a convenient way for employees of state agencies to contribute to charitable organizations through payroll deductions.

The SECC pledge website has been designed to help you quickly find information about the campaign and charitable organizations, then submit your pledge online. The site even remembers last year’s selections so you can easily continue with current pledges. You can pledge as little as $2 per charity per month.

This year’s campaign, “Building Communities,” began October 2 and continues through the end of the month. The Staff Council kicked off UT System Administration’s campaign on October 6 with a pancake breakfast and will wrap it up with the annual Halloween Spooktacular on October 31. The announcement includes links with more information about the Halloween festivities, including pumpkin carving, baking and a new lip sync challenge. Please contact your Staff Council representative with any questions.

Close-up of a stack of newspapers

It’s In the News(clips)

Every day, articles related to the UT System appear in local, state, national and industry publications and news affiliates. The “Daily News Report” is an email sent—you guessed it—daily that compiles key media stories related to UT System and its institutions. The email is available to any UT System employee; to subscribe, simply send a request to

Wellness Corner

Stay Healthy with New Challenge and Flu Shots

The Fall 2017 Activity Challenge will take you through four weeks of HealthTrails, allowing you to learn about new places and people around the world while practicing healthy habits. The images and descriptions will make you feel as if you’re there on the trail while you work toward getting 10,000 steps per day, consuming 8 to 10 glasses of water daily, and sleeping 7 to 9 hours each night. Prizes will be awarded upon completion. You can register through October 16 for the challenge, which runs from October 9 to November 5. The program kicks off at System Administration with a walk at noon on October 10. For more information, send an email to

Flu shots will be available October 17, from 9 a.m. to noon, in 2.206B. Supplies are limited and shots will be given on a first-come, first-served basis. System Administration staff who are UT SELECT medical members will get the shots for free; the provider will bill the following insurance carriers for UT System staff who are not UT SELECT members: Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Humana, United Healthcare, Superior Medicaid and MAP. (Be sure to bring your insurance card either way.) Go here for more information.

Ask the Chancellor

What do you like best about being in the new building?
I like seeing all the people I didn’t see when we were dispersed. I love running into folks in the Commons, on the elevator or on the floors. It has brought us all together.

What's been the biggest surprise about leading the UT System?
Philanthropy. In my time in the military, no one gave money to name a ship, a submarine or a building. I have found that these great philanthropists are wonderful people who give of their time, their energy and their resources in order to leave a lasting legacy for the institution they love. Very inspiring.