February 2013 Archives

Say cheese!

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Several ASR teams submitted new team pictures this fall for a revised ASR video. For some inspiration, check out last year's video:

Now, the Development Team wants to debut a new video at the staff event, which means new pictures need to be submitted!

If you already submitted a picture in the fall, you need not submit a new one. For those of you who haven't taken a new picture, please do so and send it to asrcomm@umn.edu by May 1. If you need help getting a picture taken, contact Ingrid Nuttall.

Food for thought

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Wise words: Mistakes are proof that you are trying.

IDP sessions full steam ahead

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The Student work stream has started IDP sessions! In the previous phase, sessions were focused on "what, not how." In this phase, the focus is on the how. Teams will work from now through August examining business processes and developing solutions for bridging any gaps between delivered PeopleSoft functionality and business process requirements. As each module gets deeper into its work, more information will be available on the ESUP Student website.

Getting rid of Gmail hackers

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Do you suspect that your University Gmail account has been compromised? Here's a great presentation created by OIT Security that will help you look for the telltale signs of someone meddling with your account--and if so, what to do about it.

Tips for supervisors

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If you're in need of some supervisory tips on creating an engaging work environment or preparing performance reviews, you're in luck--we've got some for you! Click on one of the topics linked above, and peruse a PowerPoint or two.

Students give One Stop thumbs up

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A November survey of student satisfaction with One Stop Student Services showed great results. Approximately 31 percent of 9,130 students who used One Stop Student Services during the beginning of fall 2012 responded to the online survey. Ninety-seven percent of students felt that, overall, One Stop was able to answer and respond to their questions in a timely manner. Ninety-seven percent of students felt understood by counselors, with 98% stating they were treated with courtesy by One Stop staff. Overall, 98% of students who responded felt the service they received was positive.

The People in your Neighborhood: Christine Mounts

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"Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death."

This line from the movie Auntie Mame is something that Christine Mounts takes to heart. Throughout her life, Christine has taken on many challenges, hobbies, and interests in the spirit of living life to the fullest.

Originally from Peoria, Illinois, Christine moved to Minneapolis in 2003 to the city she calls the "best kept secret of the midwest." She lives with two roommates and her 3-year-old cat named Action Jack. Her niece is living with her temporarily also.

Christine has two bachelors degrees. Her first degree is in aviation management from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Her interest was sparked because her father flew in the Navy and was "obsessed with aviation."

She even has her Commercial pilot's license, but doesn't fly much because it's expensive and she hasn't maintained her required flight hours. "If I had kept up my CFI, I could teach people how to fly," she said. "Flying is easy, landing is hard."

Christine's second degree is in information technology from DeVry University. "My focus on my second degree was on web design, but I basically developed skills to become an IT generalist," she said. "I can do desktop repair and software support as well as some web design."

This degree has guided Christine in many of her past jobs and her current job in OCM. Before coming to the University, Christine worked in Information Technology at various nonprofits in the Twin Cities and in Chicago.

Her most interesting job was at a nonprofit in Chicago that focused on small business and workforce development. She can remember once providing a workspace for a business that built things for NASA and another business that only made dance clothes. This nonprofit was also heavily tied to local politicians. A Christmas card from Rod Blagojevich, former governor of Illinois, floated around her office.

Since 2009, Christine has worked as the Scheduling Reports Coordinator in the Scheduling unit. She is the primary trainer for the scheduling software, including the new Astra Schedule program. She is also the the primary help desk contact for scheduling software issues and helps manage internal communications to departments regarding the scheduling software system.

She considers herself very cultural. Growing up, she frequently went to museums and concerts with her family. "My parents are very cultural and educated," she said. "I went to a million museums and performances with them. I developed a great appreciation for the arts."

Christine's arts include singing, playing the piano and clarinet, acting, dancing, writing, and photography.

She has seven novels written in various stages of draft. She primarily writes science fiction, but also enjoys writing literary short stories. If she could be anything, Christine would be a successful, professional novelist.

"I've been published in a journal, but getting a book published is very difficult," she said. "Anne Lamott said in her book Bird by Bird that you should not write to be published because getting published is not going to change your life in quite the way you think it will."

Christine also calls herself an amateur photographer. "I see beauty in patterns," she said. "I like to take pictures of nature from different perspectives."

She also spends a lot of time reading. She especially enjoys books that get her thinking about life. "I'm very existential," she said.

Traveling is also a big part of her life. Her most memorable trip was when she lived in Berlin, Germany for four weeks with her college roommate. She went and spoke minimal German. "I lived with the people but didn't speak fluent German," she said. "When you're there, you just remember and pick up the language as you go."

But, no matter what Christine does, she always brings everything in perspective and remembers to "live, live, live."

christine.jpg

Christine's Culture
If Christine could be any character for a day, she would be Harry Potter. "It'd be a great time to be able to fly and use the invisibility cloak."
Growing up, she wanted to be a timpani player in an orchestra.
Christine's two favorite foods are anything Indian and steak, medium-rare.
Her favorite vacation spot is Santa Rosa Island, Florida.
Her favorite movie is Auntie Mame.
She really wants to dress up as Gossamer from Looney Tunes for Halloween.
Her favorite book is Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl.
Christine likes interesting music, but doesn't like lyrics much.
Peter Gabriel and Led Zeppelin are two of her favorite artists.
She doesn't like country or rap music.

Better Know a Unit: Graduate and Professional Unit

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The Graduate and Professional unit in the Office of Student Finance (OSF) is involved with the financial aid packaging and record adjustments of most graduate and professional students, and even some undergraduate students.

"We work on a yearly cycle since graduate and professional programs admit students year round. But there is always a new challenge," said Liz Holm, manager of the unit. "There are only four of us and we are all involved with different programs."

The unit of four works with all professional and graduate careers, except the Medical School. They also work with undergraduate students in the nursing, dental hygiene, dental therapy, and Evans Scholar programs. They have divided this large workload among the four staff members.

Liz works primarily with students in the health professions programs, including dentistry, dental therapy, pharmacy, occupational therapy, and nursing. Mark Larson works with veterinary medicine and Carlson (MBA) students. Jim Parker works with law students and joint degree programs. And Brian Olson works with all students in the master of education programs.

Their busiest time is between April and October, especially when new tuition and fee budgets come out in June for the upcoming aid year. The next process the team is working on is the May/summer aid packaging, which starts in April.

"We work start to finish with the financial aid process every aid year," Mark said. "We make sure the budgets are set up with the correct program and that the students are packaged with their correct aid."

Although most of their work is done automatically through PeopleSoft, they also complete some of their work manually. An example is the several reports and queries processed daily by Brian to be sure the student's financial aid record is in compliance with federal regulations. Brian also reviews the Cost of Attendance appeals from students who may have allowable expenses that are higher than what is in the standard budget.

Jim and Mark also run numerous queries to catch other issues requiring human intervention, such as one term or joint degree students who need manual packaging, or students who were assigned to an incorrect budget.

"You sometimes have to be a detective to figure out what the issue is with these students' financial aid package," Jim said. "Joint degree students are active in two different graduate programs. The system is not capable of determining which budget to assign or which program the student is pursuing during a particular semester or year, so it's my job to figure that out."

The borrower-based programs - dental, pharmacy, and veterinary medicine students - are packaged just once a year in batch. Students who submit a FAFSA after the initial round of packaging in July are identified by query and are then packaged manually. The general graduate populations are packaged automatically twice weekly in batch.

In addition to all this, the team responds to emails and phone calls from departments, colleges, and students. They answer about 800 emails a year.

"We receive a lot of phone calls, especially from prospective students and new admits," Jim said. "They have a lot of questions and concerns about finances for their program and have questions about loan repayment. We do a lot of individual counseling."

The unit also provides new student orientations during late summer for about ten different programs. Some programs can be complicated, such as the health professional and education programs, and the orientation is helpful for students to understand their financial aid options.

The team agrees that the most challenging aspects of their job is managing the volume and keeping up with changes to federal regulations or policies. But all of this can be overlooked with the satisfaction that comes from helping students.

"It's amazing the number of students who thank us for our help," Mark said. "The students we work with are great."

Graduate and Professional Unit
Liz Holm, manager
Jim Parker, financial aid counselor
Mark Larson, financial aid counselor
Brian Olson, financial aid counselor

Food for thought

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Wise words: "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." -- Maya Angelou

Grammar myths solved!

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At last. Can you really end a sentence with a preposition? Is passive voice always a catastrophic tragedy of the written word? Not at all! Grammar guru Grammar Girl lists the top 10 language myths. Check them out and then revel in the wonder of writing exactly how your English teacher told you not to.

Share your thoughts

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Take a moment to complete the first of three ASR mini-surveys. The goal of this survey is to gauge your satisfaction with your work environment. It only takes a few minutes and you'll help foster dialogue between ASR staff and leadership.

Your participation is completely voluntary and your responses are confidential and anonymous; only the Employee Survey Team sees the raw survey data, which they share with the ASR managers in a summary format. But get going! You only have until Friday, Feb. 22 to let us know what's on your mind.

Sign out a laptop with a click of the mouse

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You can now easily sign out laptops, netbooks, and schedule time at the Walkstation (Woohoo!). To do so, you'll need to "invite" a particular laptop, netbook, or Walkstation to a meeting, as you would for a regular conference room. Just be sure to look for them under equipment (EQ). Here's the info:

(EQ) ASR-160WmsonH Laptop 1
(EQ) ASR-160WmsonH Laptop 2
(EQ) ASR-160WmsonH Netbook 1
(EQ) ASR-160WmsonH Netbook 2
(EQ) ASR-160WmsonH Walkstation

New swipe cards

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The card readers on the doors to 120 and 133 Fraser are being replaced. Staff with old ID cards will need to get smart cards, as the new readers will scan not swipe. The new smart cards will have a number on the back that needs to be given to Debbie Henderson in order to grant access. All staff that require access to these rooms need to contact Debbie ASAP with their new card information.

Google cuts support for Internet Explorer 8

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As of November 15, 2012, Google cut off support for Internet Explorer 8. After the "kill date," they expected some users in Internet Explorer 8 would have issues with features in various Google Apps (e.g., Calendar, Sites, Docs). Eventually, Google Apps will stop working entirely in that browser.

If this affects you, no worries! You can install Google Chrome or Firefox, and anyone using Windows 7 can install Internet Explorer 9 or 10, which are still supported by Google. (Thanks to Christa in ASR for this helpful info!)

Cash for college

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Spring semester financial aid has been disbursed. Here's a running total of how much was awarded on each campus:

Crookston: $6,810,037
Duluth: $51,318,575
Morris: $7,534,057
Twin Cities/Rochester: $360,569,520

The grand total for the entire first spring disbursement? $426,232,189. Wow. Now it's our job to help make these students' education worth it!

Stay safe online

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Be sure to stay safe online and to avoid scams. Threats exist that can cause serious harm to the university computers, and IT strives to minimize damage caused by compromised or infected systems. They do this to prevent cross infection, deny access to systems by attackers, and reduce the possibility of a data breach. If you discover a computer system is offline, contact 1-Help. (Thanks to Jeremy in OCM for passing along this very important info.)

State Senate stops by

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At the end of January, members of the Minnesota State Senate were on campus. Bob McMaster, Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education, Julie Selander, Director of One Stop, and Robin Wright, Associate Dean of the College of Biological Sciences, hosted about 25 senators on a tour of the Masonic Cancer Center. Afterward, they stopped by STSS to learn about the active learning classrooms and the work being done in One Stop Student Services.

Savvy skills

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Do you aspire to be a leader? If so, you're probably aware that great communication is an absolute must. But even if you're an amazing writer and speaker, you still gotta have the people skills to be effective. Along with addressing fundamental communications skills, here's an article that also offers tips on developing rock star people skills.

New year, new titles

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Vice Provost Bob McMaster has aligned his units and titles to better reflect job responsibilities. Laura Koch's title changed to Associate Dean to reflect her work with the colleges. Bob Rubinyi is Director of Distributed Education, which reports to McMaster. Steve Hawks from Kansas State has been hired as the Assessment Coordinator. Sue Van Voorhis' title is now Associate Vice Provost and University Registrar to reflect her work with all the campuses.

McMaster will be hiring an Associate Vice Provost of Enrollment Management to replace the Admissions Director position that Wayne Siger vacated last year.

People in your neighborhood: Maggie O'Neill

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She may work in financial aid collections, but Maggie O'Neill is all about giving.

For Maggie, making a difference is a priority. She lives by the Latin phrase, Non scholae, sed vitae discimus, which means "We do not learn for the school, but for life," and bases her goodwill around the actions of Mother Teresa.

"I feel very blessed and like to give others similar opportunities," Maggie said. "I couldn't live with myself if I thought I didn't make a difference or give back enough."

Maggie is dedicated to giving back in anyway she can. When she was younger, someone volunteered for her Girl Scout troop by cooking at various events. She decided to continue that legacy.

"I donate my time and cooking services to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts troops at encampments in the Minnesota and Wisconsin area," Maggie said. "I cook everything from scratch and I help kids learn how to make things like bread and cinnamon rolls. It's my way of paying it forward."

Not only does Maggie give back in her free time, but she also pays it forward at work. For five years, Maggie has been in Student Account Assistance as a Principal Collections Representative. And, though it may sound like she's all serious business, she views her job as less of a collections agent and more of an adviser and loan coach to students.

"Yes, we're collectors, but we don't pick up the phone and bark at people to pay their bill," Maggie said. "It's hard to admit that you need help when you get off track financially. We advise students on their rights and responsibilities and help them get back on track."

The aspect of Maggie's job that she is most proud of is her work on the new online Exit Counseling. She joined the project last January, after many issues pushed the launch off for a couple of years. After streamlining multiple processes, the new system launched in July 2012.

When Maggie is not at work or volunteering, she enjoys spending time with her family. She has been married for 27 years to her husband Mike. She has two kids, Caitlin and Kevin. Her daughter just received her master's in deaf education from Smith College & Clarke School for Hearing and Speech and her son is currently enrolled at the University of St. Thomas majoring in physics. For 30 years, Maggie has lived in her current city of Bloomington. Maggie also loves to cook and garden. She has a huge vegetable and flower gardens.

Prior to coming to the University, Maggie worked a few accounting and human resources jobs. Despite her experience in accounting, Maggie initially started at the U as an undergraduate student in the Occupational Therapy program while working accounting jobs to pay for school. A few semesters shy of her degree, Maggie decided to take a job in accounting.

Though she still has a passion for the health sciences field, she likes where she is at. "At the end of the day, if I can look at myself in the mirror and honestly say, "Today I did my best, whatever that best may be, I made a difference, then it's been a great day and that's all I need."

Magnanimous Maggie:
1. Maggie's favorite book is Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott.
2. Neil Diamond was her first concert.
3. She loves the movie Casablanca.
4. Maggie loves big band era music because she loves to dance.
5. If she could be anyone for a day, she would be Carol Burnett to make people laugh.
6. For Halloween one year, Maggie and her roommates debated between going as a six-pack of beer or a bag of jelly beans. They picked the latter.
7. Maggie says that people may be surprised to know that she is painfully shy. "I worked to overcome my shyness, but it's still hard to get up and talk in front of a group."
8. Maggie has always been fascinated by the health sciences field.
9. Her most interesting job is when she worked for the international engineering firm that created the recordable CD.
10. She loves Italian food.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2013 is the previous archive.

March 2013 is the next archive.

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