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Extension e-news

Extension e-news is the official news source for Extension faculty and staff. It is published twice a month on the first and third Thursdays.

Dear Colleagues,

Recognizing our colleagues for their excellent contributions is a valued part of Extension's culture. One of the ways we do this is through our annual Extension Dean's Distinguished Awards.

We are currently seeking nominations for the 2015 awards for civil service and bargaining unit staff, which includes campus and field support staff, program staff and nutrition staff (community nutrition educators and SNAP-Ed educators).

I invite all of you to consider the important impact of the staff you work with and take time to nominate your colleagues. This is a great opportunity to highlight outstanding efforts for the entire Extension community to see. Given the high quality of our staff, I hope to see nominations from all Extension centers, regions and units!

Nominations simply require a letter of nomination (two-page maximum), a current position description for the nominee, and a supervisor's letter of support. Please submit nominations by Friday, April 10. More information and award criteria are available on the intranet.

The awards ceremony will take place at the 2015 Staff Conference on May 5 in St. Paul. Extension's annual staff conference brings together more than 200 Extension civil service and bargaining unit staff to learn new skills and interact with colleagues from across the state. I encourage all of the following staff groups to attend this important event: clerical/technical, civil service, nutrition educators, 4-H program coordinators, Master Gardener coordinators, community program specialists, community program assistants and county support staff.

Bev Durgan

The April upgrade of the PeopleSoft HR, Finance and Student Systems will affect nearly everyone at the University. The University's upgrade website provides extensive information. The following articles outline several important dates and actions for Extension employees.

Upgrade: Critical Dates
All Extension employees should note the following critical dates in the upgrade process:

Before April 6

  • All purchasing card data must be turned over to the individuals who process them. Please give colleagues who process purchasing cards enough time in advance to complete this task.
  • Invoice request forms, which are required to bill customers, should be submitted to allow sufficient time for customer setup.
April 6
  • Last day to submit paper absence forms for any time taken on or before April 5. After April 6, individuals need to hold absence requests to submit via MyU on or after April 20.
  • All March purchasing card data must be reconciled.
April 7
  • Last day to submit invoices for payment.
April 10-20
  • The "cutover" period. During this time, existing and new PeopleSoft systems won't allow data entry. Human Resources is working with hiring authorities to set new hire start dates for new employees scheduled to start during this time.
April 15
  • Payroll will occur as regularly scheduled.
April 20
  • Scheduled completion of "cutover" period. 
  • Only for employees who submit timesheets so they're paid each pay cycle or have exceptions to their work schedules (e.g., overtime or shift differential): Timesheets for pay cycle April 6-19 (or any previous pay period) will be processed the pre-upgrade way. Timesheets must be faxed or scanned and emailed to Extension HR. After this, employees who submit timesheets will enter their information through MyU. Supervisors must log onto the MyU Portal to approve the hours.
  • Any employee who had an absence (vacation, sick leave, etc.) during the April 6-19 pay period must log into MyU Portal to log their information. Supervisors must log onto the MyU Portal to approve.
  • Supervisors who are ready to post a position should contact Human Resources.

Upgrade: Required Training

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Training resources are being rolled out throughout the University for employees. The following highlights important trainings:

Supervisors, managers and approvers are required to complete "Approving Time and Absences" before April 20. Go to the Upgrade Training and Education website, click on Human Resource Systems and select that course under the absence reporting heading.

Staff who handle Human Resources functions should complete training before April 20. Go to the Upgrade Training and Education website, click on Human Resource Systems, then click on "Time Reporting" and "Absence Reporting." In the left-hand column, under "Training for," look for the courses that apply to your role at the University (employee, manager, supervisor). If you have trouble launching any of the courses due to a pop-up blocker, this job aid can help you turn it off.

Staff who prepare P-card, travel and expense information should view this video. Approvers should review this information. The training requirements remain the same for those who are receiving new access to these systems.

Staff with teaching responsibilities should go to training requirements. More information on class scheduling and grading, course information, advising and student records and finance is outlined there.

All employees are encouraged to visit the new MyU portal to learn more. More information is available at the Upgrade Training & Education site.

As of 4 p.m., April 8, staff will no longer be able to complete document entry and/or approve various financial transactions. For the majority of staff, this will affect travel and expense reimbursements, making payments and purchasing. Here is a detailed list of the cutover impact for finance-related processes.

Employees with financial responsibilities are asked to plan accordingly for the cutover period by doing the following:

  • Make purchases with a P-card when possible

  • Set up and get approvals for professional service contracts now

  • Purchase needed equipment now or wait until after the new system is in place

  • Setup blanket purchase orders with vendors you purchase from regularly

  • Call suppliers and pre-purchase items

There will also be some impact in processing grant applications and certifying effort. Grant administrators are advised to not approve proposals during this down time. The Electronic Grants Management System (EGMS) and Effort Certification (ECRT) systems will be available for entry, but cannot interface to EFS for completion. Please contact staff in Extension Grants Research and Administration for assistance. For more detailed information about the cutover period and Finance-related processing deadlines, see

Leslee Mason, Human Resources Director
Deb Page, Assistant Human Resources Director
Madonna Monette, Finance Director

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler will deliver the annual State of the University address from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., Thursday, April 2, in Coffman Memorial Union. The address will be livestreamed.

A moderated question-and-answer period will follow. Questions can be submitted here or tweeted at #UMNsotu through the end of the remarks.

Check out the latest issue of the Extension retiree newsletter. In addition to news about our retirees, this issue announces the three summer retiree lunch events with Dean Bev Durgan, highlights state legislative activities and the 4-H Celebration of Agriculture.

The retiree newsletter is distributed three times a year in spring, summer/fall and winter. If you have ideas for articles of interest to retirees, please send them to Gwen Gmeinder.

Gwen Gmeinder
Government Relations Associate

New employees

Danielle Quist joined the Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education team on Feb. 26 as an Extension educator focused on aquatic invasive species. Her six years of scientific research and monitoring experience include sampling aquatic species, digitizing 900 miles of the Missouri River floodplain and developing an educational website on this work. She also developed outreach programs, most recently as a park ranger with the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Danielle earned a master's degree in biology from the University of South Dakota and a bachelor of science in environmental science from Winona State University. Danielle is based in Andover and also shares an office in the North Central Research Station on the St. Paul Campus.

Nate Meyer
Program leader
Fish, Wildlife & Conservation Education & Housing Tech, Forestry

Jan Jackola, support staff, Hubbard County, March 3

Kelly Hulke, clerical specialist, Blue Earth County, March 9

Kimberly Luschen, SNAP-Ed educator, Mower County, March 11

Jy Xiong, 4-H program coordinator, Anoka County, March 16

Brandy Buro, SNAP-Ed educator, Andover Regional Office, March 16

Employee transitions

Jerry Tesmer, Extension educator in Fillmore and Houston counties, retired at the end of February. Jerry started in Fillmore County in 1987. During his career, Jerry focused his programs around agricultural business management and crop systems, although he offered programming in every topic area in Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (AFNR.) He conducted one of the longest continual annual land rent surveys in his counties and was the last Extension educator in Minnesota to offer tractor safety training for teenagers. Jerry has been active in Fillmore County through his work with service organizations, county committees and his church. One of Jerry's greatest attributes is his positive attitude. He will carry this into retirement, and all who worked with Jerry will miss this.

Tim Arlt
AFNR Program leader