SMU revises University Policy Manual regarding sick leave, bereavement; changes are the first wave of a comprehensive update

Benefits U logoSMU’s Department of Human Resources is undertaking an overall review of its policies in Chapter 9 of the University Policy Manual. The first major changes will allow newer employees to make immediate use of accrued sick leave and create a formal procedure for taking bereavement leave.

“While previous updates typically have been driven by regulatory changes, Human Resources felt it was time for a comprehensive review,” says Jeff Strese, executive director of human resources.

As of Tuesday, July 1, 2014, the University has eliminated a rule stipulating that new hires be employed by SMU for six months before they can use accrued paid medical absence leave, says Amy Sample, assistant director of human resources for compensation and records management. “No one plans an illness, and this policy change recognizes that,” she says, adding that the update is also consistent with the University’s efforts to promote prevention and wellness in the campus community.

> See SMU Policy Number 9.21: Paid Medical Absence for Staff (log in with your 8-digit ID number and e-mail password)

In addition, SMU has created a new procedure to account for leave taken after the death of a family member. Employees may take up to three paid days of bereavement leave during each bereavement period. After the first three days, additional paid hours will be drawn from accrued medical absence leave. If and when these hours are depleted, the hours will be drawn from accrued vacation time.

These changes reflect current best practices among the University’s peer and aspirant institutions, as well as in other industries, says Sample, who is managing the Chapter 9 update project.

See SMU Policy Number 9.39: Staff Bereavement Policy (log in with your 8-digit ID number and e-mail password)

The Department of Human Resources sought the advice of several campuswide stakeholder organizations to formulate the first wave of policy updates. Representatives of groups including the SMU Staff Association, the Faculty Senate, the Office of Institutional Access and Equity, the Council of Deans and the President’s Commission on the Status of Women contributed to the final changes.

“We’ll continue to reach out to these representatives as we complete our updates to Chapter 9,” Strese says.

Other updates published on July 1 include minor language changes to the following sections:

  • 9.8 Pre-Employment Screenings
  • 9.12 Personal Conduct
  • 9.13 Corrective Action for Staff
  • 9.16 Termination of Employment
  • 9.28 Tuition Benefits
  • 9.31 Duty to Report Suspected Child Abuse

A comprehensive update to Chapter 9 of the Policy Manual should be completed by the end of the 2014-15 academic year, Sample says. The last major update took place in June 1994, when the Policy Manual was brought online.

News about future changes will be posted in the SMU Forum.

> Bookmark SMU’s online University Policy Manual (log in with your 8-digit ID number and e-mail password)

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SMU recognized by U.S. Department of Homeland Security for antiterrorism preparedness, effectiveness under the SAFETY Act

DHS Designated SAFETY Act sealThe SMU Police Department & Emergency Management Program has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for antiterrorism preparedness and effectiveness.

In the process, SMU has become the first university in the United States to receive the SAFETY Act Designation, conferred to providers of “qualified antiterrorism technologies that could save lives in the event of a terrorist attack.”

The University was recognized for “employ[ing] exceptional efforts to promote security/safety on campus.” The SMU Police Department submitted its antiterrorism preparedness program to the DHS Office of SAFETY Act for evaluation.

The DHS evaluation focused on two factors: the effectiveness of the program to substantially reduce risks of harm; and its demonstrated substantial effectiveness upon deployment or use.

SMU initiated antiterrorism planning after Sept. 11, 2001 and has built upon the effort in each successive year. The program was tested in preparation for the George W. Bush Presidential Center dedication ceremonies, as well as during the event itself, when all five living U.S. presidents visited the SMU campus.

The Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act was enacted by Congress as part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002. To attain SAFETY Act Designation, an entity must submit extensive documentation of its anti-terrorism program, including training, drills and exercises, planning, and partnerships with other terrorism response agencies at the local, state and federal levels.

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Bush Center celebrates Oscar de la Renta with “Five Decades of Style” through Oct. 5, 2014

Bush Center Oscar de la Renta exhibit, 'Five Decades of Style'

Photo credit: The George W. Bush Presidential Center

The George W. Bush Presidential Center is hosting a major retrospective of American fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, from his earliest work to his most recent runway masterpieces.

Oscar de la Renta: Five Decades of Style” features several of the designer’s styles for Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush (’68) – offering a unique look at the First Lady’s role as the nation’s official hostess and style ambassador. Also featured are outfits worn by members of First Families, including Jenna Bush’s wedding dress.

The exhibit also focuses on de la Renta’s Spanish and garden inspirations, as well as his use of motifs and silhouettes from cultures around the globe. Other sections detail his red-carpet work for stars of stage, screen and high society, and highlight the craftsmanship that goes into the creation of couture clothing.

SMU faculty, staff and students receive free admission to the Bush Center with their University IDs. The De la Renta exhibit runs through Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014.

> Find more details and images at the Bush Center’s “Oscar de la Renta: Five Decades of Style” homepage

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Meadows Museum to host exhibition of masterworks from the House of Alba’s private collections

Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577-1640), Charles V and the Empress Isabella, c. 1628. Oil on canvas. Colección Duques de Alba, Palacio de Liria, Madrid.

Charles V and the Empress Isabella, c. 1628. Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577-1640). Oil on canvas. Colección Duques de Alba, Palacio de Liria, Madrid.

SMU’s Meadows Museum will present a major exhibition of works from one of the oldest and most significant private art collections in Europe.

Treasures from the House of Alba: 500 Years of Art and Collecting will feature more than 100 European works – from paintings by Goya and Rubens to 16th-century tapestries by Willem de Pannemaker and 19th-century furniture created for Napoleon III – most of which have never been on public display or seen outside of Spain, as well as illuminated manuscripts, books, historic documents, miniatures, antiquities, prints, sculpture, drawings, and other objects.

Curated by Fernando Checa Cremades, former director of the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, Treasures from the House of Alba will be on view at the Meadows from April 18 through August 16, 2015, and will serve as the cornerstone to the Museum’s 50th anniversary celebration, which will continue throughout 2015.

The House of Alba – for centuries the most illustrious household in Spain, with close ties to the monarchy – remains one of the foremost noble families in Europe, with roots dating back to the mid-15th century when Fernando Álvarez de Toledo was named Count of the town of Alba de Tormes. The Albas have since forged connections with members of some of the most prominent dynasties in European history, including the House of Stuart; the Count-Dukes of Olivares; the Duchy of Veragua, (descendants of Christopher Columbus); Napoleon III and his wife, Eugenia de Montijo; and the Churchill family.

Over the past five centuries, the Alba family’s patronage, connoisseurship, and ties to Western royalty have shaped the growth and trajectory of the Alba collection, which is now one of the greatest private collections in the world. The current head of the Alba family is Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, the 18th Duchess of Alba, who bears more recognized titles than any other noble living today.

“Our will is to share the works and pieces that make up the collection of the Foundation House of Alba with an increasing public, each time more knowledgeable and more interested in culture and history. This sample allows us to present different works and documents that have survived the vicissitudes of history and that make the greatest treasure of the legacy of our family. It is also an extraordinary opportunity for making visible the steady and silent work of preservation and upkeep that the house of Alba has developed for centuries,” said Carlos Fitz-James Stuart y Martínez de Irujo, Duke of Huescar.

“The Meadows Museum is incredibly grateful for the generosity of the Duchess of Alba and the entire Alba family, who have so graciously agreed to lend a range of preeminent works from their collection for this groundbreaking exhibition. These extraordinary works of art, many of which have never left the Alba family’s personal estates, are a treasure trove and a fount of new art historical knowledge,” said Mark Roglán, Linda P. and William A. Custard Director of the Meadows Museum and Centennial Chair in the Meadows School of the Arts.

“We are honored to present the first exhibition of this outstanding collection in the United States, sharing these works of art that tell the story of a remarkable family and provide an unprecedented opportunity to explore the panoply of cultural achievement and European history. We are honored that Fernando Checa Cremades will be curating Treasures from the House of Alba and working with the Museum to present the collection in a way no one has experienced before.”

> Learn more about the exhibition’s themes and highlights at SMU News

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$4 million gift will create new family law clinic in SMU’s Dedman School of Law

SMU Dedman School of Law QuadA donation of $4 million to SMU’s Dedman School of Law will endow the new VanSickle Family Law Clinic to provide free legal help for Dallas-area residents as well as essential skills training for Dedman Law students.

The donor whose gift is funding the VanSickle Family Law Clinic has requested anonymity.

The clinic, expected to open in fall 2015, will provide legal assistance for low-income North Texas residents in matters such as divorce, annulment, paternity actions, custody and visitation, child and spousal support.

> Learn more about Dedman School of Law clinic programs

“SMU’s Dedman School of Law is proud to be able to offer vital family legal services to people who might not otherwise be able to afford them,” said President R. Gerald Turner. “This important clinic experience will be invaluable to the lawyers we graduate who go on to practice family law, and will provide all participating students with a heightened sensitivity about the human impact and challenges of family legal issues.”

The new clinic will place students in professional situations in which they are required to put classroom theory into practice. Students enrolled in the clinic will learn by representing clients and engaging in a variety of tasks, such as:

  • Interviewing and counseling
  • Conducting factual investigations and legal research
  • Preparing court documents
  • Negotiating property settlement agreements for divorce actions
  • Negotiating custody agreements
  • Advocating at conferences, hearings, and trials

An academic director will train and closely supervise eight-10 student attorneys each semester who will represent families through the VanSickle Family Law Clinic. The director will meet regularly with each student attorney throughout the semester and will accompany the student to all court appearances and major settlement negotiations. During the summer, the clinic director will continue to represent clients whose matters extend past the end of the academic year.

“Our clinical education program at the Dedman School of Law is central to our mission of providing outstanding legal education as well as service to the community,” said Julie Forrester, law dean ad interim. “Beginning in 1947, the Clinical Program at the Dedman School of Law was among the country’s first to sponsor a community legal clinic. The VanSickle Family Law Clinic will be a significant enhancement to the clinic program, providing outstanding service to its clients while also providing our students with practical experience and encouraging in them a commitment to public service.”

The gift to fund the VanSickle Family Law Clinic counts toward the $1 billion goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which to date has raised $874 million to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience. The campaign coincides with SMU’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the University’s founding in 1911 and its opening in 1915.

> Read the full story at SMU News

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For the Record: June 19, 2014

Faith Nibbs, Anthropology, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, presented at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ Annual Consultations with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Geneva, Switzerland, as part of a panel on “Achieving Self-Reliance: Paving the Way for Safe, Lawful and Sustainable Livelihoods.” She is director of SMU’s Forced Migration Innovation ProjectRead more at the SMU FMIP blog.

Anthony Cortese, Sociology, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, has published “Muscle as Fashion: Messages From the Bodybuilding Subculture.” The article appears in Volume 16, No. 7 (July 2014) of Virtual Mentor, a monthly bioethics journal published by the American Medical Association.

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Service dogs take on new role as artists’ models in weekend workshop at SMU’s Meadows Museum, Saturday, June 21, 2014

John Bramblitt's painting Little Echo depicts his service dog as a puppy.  Bramblitt, who is blind, will teach his adaptive art techniques in a public workshop at SMU's Meadows Museum Saturday, June 21, 2014.

John Bramblitt’s painting Little Echo depicts his service dog as a puppy. Bramblitt, who is blind, will teach his adaptive art techniques in a public workshop at SMU’s Meadows Museum Saturday, June 21, 2014.

When Denton artist John Bramblitt paints a portrait of his service dog, Echo, he uses red, blue and yellow paint to highlight the image of the black Labrador retriever. To Bramblitt, who is blind, color in his paintings represents emotion, and he is quick to say that Echo is his best friend.

Bramblitt lost his sight as a college student due to complications from epilepsy. Now he is an internationally recognized artist and expert on adaptive art techniques for those with disabilities. He will share his process for painting by touch from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Saturday, June 21, 2014, in the galleries and studio of SMU’s Meadows Museum.

Learn more about John Bramblitt and his art

John Bramblitt with son Jack and service dog Echo

John Bramblitt walks home with son Jack and service dog Echo after Jack’s first day of kindergarten. The internationally acclaimed artist and volunteer leader will teach his award-winning adaptive art workshop at SMU.

The $25 workshop fee ($10 for Meadows Museum members) covers all materials. Advance registration is required; all abilities and levels of experience are welcome.

With service dogs from Guide Dogs of Texas as models, and museum paintings as inspiration, participants will paint their own dog art. The workshop is designed to teach adaptive art techniques to those with disabilities and those without.

At the Meadows, Bramblitt is a consultant to museum educators, helping them develop programs that make the museum accessible to everyone, no matter what their disability or ability.

The 43-year-old also shares the healing power of art in his workshops, which have received three national President’s Volunteer Service Awards.

Written by Nancy George

> Visit SMU’s Meadows Museum online at smu.edu/meadowsmuseum

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Five SMU faculty members retire with emeritus status in 2013-14

Five distinguished faculty members, with nearly 200 years of combined service to SMU, retired with emeritus status during the 2013-14 academic year. Congratulations to the following professors:

• Richard V. Helgason, Professor Emeritus of Engineering Management, Information and Systems, Lyle School of Engineering (1979 to 2014)

• Joseph W. McKnight, Professor Emeritus of Law, Dedman School of Law (1955 to 2014)

• William Pulte, Professor Emeritus of Teaching and Learning, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development (1973 to 2014)

• Lawrence S. Ruben, Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences (1986 to 2014)

Simon Sargon, Professor Emeritus of Composition, Meadows School of the Arts (1983 to 2014)

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SMU experts join KERA for Freedom Summer 50th anniversary film preview & panel discussion Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Freedom Riders Julia Aaron and David Dennis

Julia Aaron, left, and David Dennis participated in a Freedom Ride from from Montgomery, Alabama, to Jackson, Mississippi in 1961. The Freedom Riders paved the way for Freedom Summer student volunteers. Photo credit: Paul Schutzer via ‘Freedom Riders’ c/o PBS

During the summer of 1964, more than 700 student volunteers joined with thousands of organizers and local African Americans to register new voters in Mississippi.

The violence that followed included the murders of three civil rights workers and the burning of dozens of churches, homes and community centers. Public outrage against these acts helped spur the U.S. Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In honor of Freedom Summer’s 50th anniversary, two SMU experts will join a former student activist and UNT law professor for KERA’s Freedom Summer Community Screening and Panel Discussion.

The screening and discussion take place 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, 2014 in KERA’s Community Room, 3000 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas. Admission is free; advance registration is required by 5:30 p.m. on the day. For details, contact engage@kera.org.

The event – which includes a preview of the June 24 PBS show “Voices of Freedom Summer” – is sponsored by KERA and the Embrey Family Foundation/SMU Embrey Human Rights Program with support from the South Dallas Cultural Center and the Dallas Faces Race think-tank.

“The racist issues civil rights activists confronted, primarily to ensure voting rights, aren’t just in the pages of history. They’re deeply entrenched to this day, but perhaps not as overtly visible,” says SMU Embrey Human Rights Program Director Rick Halperin, event moderator.

Featured panelists include:

Ernie McMillan, a Dallas native and former member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Student Congress On Racial Equality (SCORE). McMillan was an integral part of Texas-based civil rights demonstrations that, although often successful, led to his imprisonment for more than three years.

Dennis Simon, SMU’s Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor of political science in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences and organizer of SMU’s Civil Rights Pilgrimage, now in its 10th year.

Cheryl Brown Wattley, a University of North Texas law professor who spent more than 21 years in private practice, primarily as a criminal defense attorney and civil rights litigator. At UNT she is director of Experiential Education and teach courses in professional skills, criminal law, and professionalism.

Written by Denise Gee

> Read the full story at SMU News

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