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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
Dean

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 http://controller.umn.edu/upgradecutover/.

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

Dear Colleagues,

Over the last few months, you have been receiving many messages about the University's upgrade -- aka the Enterprise System Upgrade Project, ESUP, MyU upgrade, PeopleSoft upgrade. This is a massive project to update many of the University's systems including those used for payroll, time and absence reporting, benefits, and employee and student information.

The big upgrade is just weeks away, so the time has come for all staff to pay attention and respond to the requests to participate in training and other actions needed. In addition to emails from the University, please continue to respond to the emails and enews articles from Madonna Monette, Leslee Mason and Deb Page with Extension-specific direction. (See related article in today's enews.)

Please note these important dates: the systems interruption, when PeopleSoft and related systems are unavailable or view-only, is planned to start April 10 and last 10 days. Upgraded systems are scheduled to launch on April 20.

To assist you in preparing, the University is conducting an Upgrade Readiness Survey, which takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Please take time to complete this survey before Friday, March 14.

For more information and training, please visit upgrade.umn.edu. You may also wish to attend the Upgrade Fair in Coffmann Union on April 15 (visit upgrade.umn.edu for details).


Bev Durgan
Dean

Several common office procedures are about to change with the University's PeopleSoft upgrade, scheduled to go live in April. Being prepared for those changes could help avoid interruptions in your pay or delays in your time-off requests.

After the upgrade goes live, paper timesheets and absence forms are being eliminated, bringing the University up to date with other large organizations and educational institutions. Employees who currently submit paper timesheets and absence forms will do so electronically. Supervisors will also approve the forms electronically.

To help employees transition from paper to electronic reporting, Training Services created a series of short educational courses and other "how-to" resources that you can access online. 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, etc.). If you have trouble launching any of the courses due to a pop-up blocker, this job aid can help you turn it off.

Here are some key points to remember:


  • If you are a salaried or exception hourly employee who does not submit timesheets directly to payroll now, you won't be required to in the future.

  • Electronic Time and Absence Reporting is for University pay only, and has nothing to do with effort certification related to a grant or contract. That is a separate approval function and will not change.

  • Supervisors can delegate electronic time and absence approval temporarily or permanently.

  • Timesheets and absences that reflect April 6, 2015 and later will need to be entered via the newly designed MyU Portal after go-live.


Watch for more detailed communications in the next few months. More information is available from Leslee Mason, human resources director, and Deb Page, assistant human resources director.

Leslee Mason, Human Resources Director
Deb Page, Assistant Human Resources Director

The Minnesota 4-H Foundation hosted the second annual 4-H Celebration of Agriculture on Feb. 21 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center. It was a great celebration of our statewide friends and supporters, and a chance to demonstrate the impact of Minnesota 4-H. Teams from the 4-H Science of Agriculture initiative shared their ongoing research projects with attendees, showing how 4-H provides hands-on learning opportunities for Minnesota's next generation of agricultural leaders.

Watch for a story about 4-H Science of Agriculture in the Spring-Summer issue of Source magazine. You can also visit Extension's Facebook post to see photos taken at the event. Sponsors included Jennie-O, Compart Family Farms, Minnesota Pork Board, Minnesota Farmers Union and AgStar.


Frank Mumford
Director of Annual Giving

The Extension video created in 2014 has been updated. The newly titled 2015 version, "Creating a stronger Minnesota through education and research" is on Extension's YouTube channel, History and About webpages, and on the intranet.

The revised video no longer includes references to the 2014 centennial and has FY 2015 budget information. In addition to other advocacy tools, the video is useful for those meeting with stakeholders and explaining Extension.

The 2014 version is now unlisted on YouTube, so it's not visible on the channel, but links to it still work. If you have a website that is linking to it, please consider changing the link to the 2015 version.

Catherine Dehdashti
Communications and PR manager

The Benefits Advisory Committee is requesting comments about your experiences with UPlan health and wellness plans since January 2014. The comment deadline is March 12. Anonymous summaries of comments are used in performance reviews of UPlan health plans. Your comments can be entered here.

Leslee Mason, Human Resources Director
Deb Page, Assistant Human Resources Director

The deadline for Flexible Spending Account (FSA) claims is March 31. If you have money remaining in your 2014 health care or dependent daycare FSA and wish to receive payment, you need to incur eligible expenses by March 15.

Submit claims by fax or mail by March 31 to ADP, the claims administrator. IRS regulations specify that funds remaining in accounts after March 31 will be forfeited. Obtain ADP claim forms at FSA Accounts with ADP, or call ADP with questions at 1-866-697-6077.

Leslee Mason, Human Resources Director
Deb Page, Assistant Human Resources Director

New employees

Gerri Swiers, county 4-H program coordinator, Mahnomen County, Feb. 4
Darlene Collins, SNAP-Ed regional coordinator, regional office, Grand Rapids, Feb. 23
Danielle Quist, educator, aquatic invasive species, regional office, Andover, Feb. 26
Karen Korslund, assistant program director, sustainable ag and food systems, Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, St. Paul, Feb. 27
Lisa Wong, SNAP-Ed educator, regional office, Andover, Feb. 27