Human Resources

Calendar Highlights: Apr. 19, 2011

MMU'A “duet” for peace: This week’s Stanton Sharp Lecture features Vanderbilt Professor of History Richard Blackett as he covers a more obscure fight for peace within America in “A ‘duet with John Bull’: African Americans and the Struggle to win British Support for the Union.” Blackett will discuss how African Americans during the Civil War used the momentum started from the emancipation of West Indies slaves in the late 1830s to further their cause to the British public and further the Union’s cause. The lecture is free and open to the public and begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall. A reception precedes the lecture at 6 p.m. For more information, call 214-768-2967 or visit the Sharp Lecture Series website.

Bringing the hospital to you: A Mobile Mammography Unit (pictured) will be open for business 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, April 20 in the East Campus Parking Lot Expressway Tower. For SMU employees covered by the Health and Wellness medical plan administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, SMU will cover all routine annual mammogram charges for women age 40 and above. The cost of the mammogram will not be billed to your $500 preventive care benefit. Please have your insurance information available when you call. BCBSTX will process the claim and SMU will pay it at 100%. To pre-register for an exam, call 214-645-2560. (If you participate in any non-SMU-related insurance plan, inquire about other pre-billing arrangements when you pre-register.) The parking lot at Expressway Tower is in the final stages of being repaved; arriving early to get one of the few available parking spots or using the Mustang Express to travel from the main campus to the Tower is recommended.

Cal Jillson'Messing with Texas: The policies of the independent-minded Lone Star State will be discussed at an event co-hosted by the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility and the SMU Faculty Club. In “Lone Star Tarnished: A Critique of Texas Public Policy,” 2011 Public Scholar Lecturer Cal Jillson (pictured) will cover the reality behind Texas’s picture-perfect model of limited government, economic growth and personal freedom. Jillson is currently at work on a book covering the subject, entitled Lone Star Tarnished, which will compare the overall Texas model of government to recent and historical state government styles. The lecture begins at 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 20 at the Faculty Club. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served. All attendees should RSVP, as space is limited.

Special notice on changes to SMU’s 403(b) retirement plan

BenefitsU logoSMU’s Department of Human Resources, working with a committee of faculty and staff representatives, has confirmed a slate of new investment and retirement planning services to take effect next year, according to this message dated April 19, 2011:

Exciting changes to SMU’s 403(b) Retirement Plan are coming next year!

The SMU Department of Human Resources and an SMU faculty/staff committee (the Retirement Plan Advisory Council) have explored for the past two years ways to improve the investment education and retirement planning services available to SMU faculty and staff. As a result, a new investment services provider, Diversified Investment Advisors Inc., will come to campus next year.

What this means for you:

  1. An array of investment funds that meet established standards for quality and performance
  2. A full-time on-campus retirement planning and investment advisor to help you determine how much income you will need during your retirement years and to develop an effective savings and investment strategy
  3. Objective and independent (nonproprietary) financial planning services
  4. A powerful and effective educational model that will enable you to improve your asset allocation and investment strategies throughout your active years with SMU and during your retirement years
  5. One-stop shopping to simplify and better support your retirement plan transactions through one SMU website portal

What’s next?
A number of decisions have yet to be made regarding various aspects of this change. During the next eight months, you will have many opportunities to learn more through participation in town hall meetings, individual one-on-one meetings, written materials, and BenefitsU.

Questions? Direct them to

‘A Clear Vision’ propels SMU’s 2010 United Way Campaign

United 2020 graphicSMU has embraced the theme of “A Clear Vision – Education, Income, Health” as part of the University’s 2010 United Way fund-raising drive. This year’s goal is $75,000, and the campaign continues through Dec. 31.

“Education, Income, Health” reflects the three pillars of United 2020, the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ ambitious set of goals for the next 10 years. The agency’s blue ribbon commission – which includes Geoffrey Orsak, dean of SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering – wants to prepare 50 percent more students to succeed in college, move 250,000 additional people out of poverty permanently, and improve community health through expanded access, preventive care and healthy behaviors, according to the United 2020 website.

> Learn more about United 2020

The initiative’s name encompasses both the target year and the idea of clear vision, says Jeff Strese, director of SMU Human Resources and the 2010 United Way campaign co-chair. The campaign is asking SMU community members to contribute $2 per week toward its goal.

“The United Way has helped us understand the impact that figure can have in practical terms,” Strese says. “Two dollars can provide baby formula for a family, or tax and financial counseling for persons that qualify.”

> Watch the United 2020 video

Currently SMU ranks 101st in total campaign contributions among more than 1,000 organizations in the North Texas area. The campaign chair hope to propel the University into the top 100 with the 2010 effort.

The campaign will continue to find ways to increase student involvement, say Strese and faculty co-chair Steve Edwards, associate professor in SMU’s Temerlin Advertising Institute, Meadows School of the Arts. Last year, SMU community members had the option to contribute by adding $1, $5 or more to on-campus transactions using Pony Express, a credit card or cash.

“We saw increases in giving from that,” Strese says. This year, he adds, the campaign will engage the Greek community and other student organizations by encouraging them to raise at least $25 each.

Campaign organizers are also planning to extend the University’s involvement into the spring. The Wellpower program will sponsor a University 5K walk/run to benefit the United Way, scheduled to take place in spring 2011.

> Visit SMU’s United Way homepage

Faculty and staff members may make a one-time gift or a choose a monthly payroll deduction. Donations can also be added to purchases at the following campus locations:

  • Einstein Bros. Bagels, Fincher Building
  • Java City, all locations
  • Mac’s Place, McElvaney Hall
  • Mane Course (Chick-fil-A, Pizza Hut, Subway), Hughes-Trigg Student Center
  • The Market & Montague’s, Hughes-Trigg Student Center
  • Meadows Cart (Starbucks), Owen Arts Center
  • RFoC @ Lee, Umphrey Lee Center
  • SMUothies, Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports

> Learn more from the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

SMU’s 2011 Open Enrollment is Oct. 18-29, 2010

SMU HR Benefits U logoSMU’s 2011 Open Enrollment takes place Oct. 18-29, 2010. The Open Enrollment period is the only opportunity for SMU employees to make changes to benefits elections for the coming year, except for life event changes.

The University will make certain health plan changes for 2011 to comply with the federal healthcare reform legislation passed in spring 2010, according to the Open Enrollment guide distributed by SMU Human Resources. Most of these required changes are enhancements to the plans. The other changes for 2011 are designed to help SMU and its faculty and staff members to better manage plan costs.

Effective Jan. 1, 2012, SMU will no longer offer the $500 Deductible option to faculty and staff members. If you enroll in this option for 2011, you will need to choose a new option during Open Enrollment 2012.

The 2011 Benefits Guide is available at HR’s Benefits U page.

For 2011 open enrollment, you must take action for the following conditions:

  • You want to make changes to your current coverage, including adding or dropping dependents.
  • You want to participate in one or both of the Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) in 2011.
  • You want to participate in the Health Savings Account (HSA) in 2011.

SMU uses a secure online open-enrollment application available through Access.SMU. To use the application:

  • Enter your Access.SMU user ID and password as you normally would to review your pay statement.
  • Click Benefits in the Employee Self-Service navigation on the right, then choose Benefits Enrollment to access your personalized Open Enrollment record.
  • Be sure to read all instructions carefully before making elections for 2011.

More information on vendors and plan changes will be available at SMU’s 2010 Health and Wellness Fair, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Oct. 21 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center lower level.

Human Resources also offers guidance through face-to-face meetings with Benefits Department representatives. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact the Department of Human Resources, 214-768-3311.

> More about key changes for 2011 Open Enrollment
> Find the 2011 Benefits Guide on the web (PDF format)


Health and Wellness Day 2010 features a ‘Focus on Education’

Stock image of 'Good Health, This Way' freeway signA focus on smart choices in both health care and lifestyle is the organizing principle of SMU’s 2010 Health and Wellness Day Oct. 21. Faculty and staff members can learn more about the University’s health plans, take their annual flu shots, get chair massages and more during the fair, scheduled for 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center’s lower level.

The “Focus on Education” theme reflects a trend toward “more preventive care and better consumerism of medical benefits and health care in general,” says Lorea Belle Seidel, associate director of human resources.

This year’s schedule:

Faculty and staff members can sign up on site for free cholesterol and glucose screenings from Baylor’s Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital, as well as for free skin cancer screenings from Consulting Dermatologic Specialists.

Massage therapists from SMU Recreational Sports will give free 10-minute chair massages with on-site signup.

In addition, Concentra will provide free health screenings to faculty and staff members who sign up in advance. Refer to the Concentra packet mailed to your home address or e-mail for more information.

> Learn more at the Health and Wellness Day homepage
> Visit SMU Human Resources online

University responds to health care reform

SMU health benefits will evolve over the next decade under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), according to a letter from SMU Human Resources sent by e-mail Aug. 26.

“The SMU Department of Human Resources is taking a close look at the requirements of the PPACA and how it will impact the benefits we offer, in 2011 and beyond,” the letter reads in part. “For the past several years, SMU has had to make some tough decisions around how to manage annual, double-digit increases in our medical expenses. Health care reform will add to our cost challenges, as we begin making the legally-required changes.

“The PPACA does not directly address the major cause of increased expenses: disease. That’s why we will continue to focus on prevention and disease management, and provide resources to help you understand your health status and address any risk factors you may have.”

Some changes will take effect in January 2011, including:

  • Removal of lifetime medical benefit maximums
  • Removal of annual limits for “select services” under medical plans
  • Removal of annual limits on medical plan preventive care benefits
  • Removal of pre-existing condition exclusions for children under age 19
  • Extended medical coverage for children (regardless of student or marital status) until age 26, unless coverage is available under another plan
  • Certain over-the-counter (OTC) medications no longer qualify as an eligible expense for reimbursement under a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Spending Account (HSA), unless the expense is accompanied by a doctor’s prescription

> Read the full text of the letter at the SMU Human Resources website

By | 2010-09-01T14:25:31+00:00 September 1, 2010|Categories: News|Tags: , , |

SMU establishes new policies, procedures on workplace violence

(Originally published Aug. 13, 2010.)

Stock photo of business people in an escalating argumentNo campus is immune from the possibility of violence by one community member against another. This summer, SMU has taken steps to ensure that all faculty and staff members have easy access to University resources when harassment, intimidation and other hostile acts are committed or threatened in the workplace.

“For some time now, we have been interested in getting a formal workplace-violence policy and program in place,” says Jeff Strese, SMU Director of Human Resources. The departments responsible for preventing and reacting to risk have been working together for years, he says. Human Resources, Legal Affairs, the SMU Police Department, Institutional Access and Equity, and Risk Management meet regularly to deal with high-risk issues and involve one another as appropriate.

Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Business Services Bill Detwiler and Vice President for Legal Affairs Paul Ward spearheaded the effort to improve connection and communication among these areas. “This is an opportunity to better deploy the resources that already exist,” Strese says. “It creates an umbrella for the whole University that allows our offices to work together to respond to or mitigate any risk.”

Campuses across the country have begun to focus on raising awareness of workplace violence during the past year, Strese adds. The issue came to national attention in February 2010, when a University of Alabama-Huntsville professor who had been denied tenure shot six colleagues in a departmental staff meeting, killing three.

“When you look at case studies of campus violence, you find that in every single one of them there was previous knowledge and concern,” Strese says. “We intend to streamline the information-gathering process so that intervention can occur earlier in situations where there is an emerging threat or risk, whether it comes from inside or outside this community.”

SMU’s program includes a new policy on workplace violence, added to the University Policy Manual in August. Policy No. 10.12 in the Public Safety section includes clear descriptions of prohibited behaviors, as well as procedures for reporting violence and threats of violence from an SMU community member or visitor.

A new website,, provides e-mail and telephone contacts for reporting concerns securely and confidentially. It also serves as a clearinghouse for information on policy and procedure.

In addition, the University has established a Workplace Violence Assessment Team, which includes representatives from the offices of the Provost, Risk Management, Legal Affairs and Human Resources. The team will meet as needed to review individual cases and recommend appropriate responses in accordance with University policies. Other staff or faculty members, or both, may be invited to join on a case-by-case basis.

The new program “is not intended to supersede any existing policies or processes, such as those coordinated by the Office of Student Life or the Ethics and Tenure Committee,” says Anita Ingram, SMU Executive Director of Risk Management. The Workplace Violence Assessment Team will review each case it receives to determine if it should be referred to the appropriate area, she says.

> Learn more at
> Find SMU’s University Policy Manual online

HR: Health plan dependent verification is due May 3, 2010

Benefits U. logo Just a reminder: All individuals claiming a dependent for insurance purposes are required to provide supporting documentation of the relationship to the covered dependent. The deadline for sending in verification is May 3, 2010.

SMU has hired an outside firm, HR Advance, to conduct its dependent eligibility audit. Faculty and staff members should consult the instructions they received from HR Advance for their individual requirements.

Please send copies, not originals, of the requested documents (examples include marriage license, birth certificate and tax return documentation). HR Advance will destroy the copies after the documentation is verified.

Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code enables SMU to deduct premiums for your health coverage on a pre-tax basis. Withholding your deductions pre-tax reduces your taxable income at the end of the year.

Section 125 Plans require that certain rules and restrictions regarding eligible dependents be observed. Covering dependents that are not eligible is a violation of the Section 125 IRS Code as well as University policy; it also drives up costs across all SMU health plans.

Additional details on plan eligibility rules including required documentation are provided in the 2010 Benefits Guide, which became available during open enrollment last October.

SMU’s Department of Human Resources is working with outside consultants to determine the impact of the new federal health care reform legislation on the University’s insurance plans, says Sheri Starkey, director of total compensation. HR will provide more information as it becomes available.

By | 2010-04-20T14:15:13+00:00 April 20, 2010|Categories: News, Save the Date|Tags: , , , , |

Tune In: SMU goes red for women’s heart health

On Feb. 5, 2010, SMU took part in National Wear Red Day to promote the American Heart Association‘s Go Red for Women campaign. February is National Heart Health Month, and the photo – cosponsored by SMU, SMU Wellpower, the SMU Women’s Symposium and the AHA – kicked off a series of events aimed at raising awareness of heart disease as the #1 killer of women. Eva Parks-Spero of SMU News created a short video to commemorate National Wear Red Day – click the YouTube screen to watch.

Download a high-resolution copy of the final portrait
Read more about SMU heart-health events from HR’s Healthy U.
Visit the SMU Women’s Symposium online
Find heart-health tips at SMU Wellpower (log in with your 8-digit SMU ID)
Learn more from the American Heart Association

Calendar Highlights: Feb. 9, 2010

Santuario de Chimayo, TaosTaos Open House: SMU-in-Taos will give out application forms, program information and Valentine treats at its annual Valentine’s Day Open House 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Feb. 10 in Room 338, Blanton Student Services Building.

Watching your heart health: North Texas cardiologist Dr. Sarah Samaan (The Smart Woman’s Guide to Heart Health) will talk about cardiac health factors ranging from high blood pressure and diabetes to social networks and sleep during the first event in SMU Human Resources‘ 2010 Heart Health Month Lunch & Learn series. Bring your lunch and your questions for the seminar, scheduled for noon-1 p.m. Feb. 16 in the Hughes-Trigg Forum. Attendees will earn 1 Wellpower Body credit.

'Quest for Justice' book cover'Clements Center Brown Bag Lecture: Clements Center Fellow Stephanie Lewthwaite will speak on “John Candelario: Modernism in Black and White” noon-1 p.m. Feb. 17 in the Texana Room, DeGolyer Library. Bring your lunch.

Expanding Your Horizons Brown Bag Concert: SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts presents the Iranian traditional and folk music of the Alhon Ensemble at noon Feb. 17 in the Taubman Atrium, Owen Arts Center. Bring your lunch.

Faculty lecture and book signing: SMU Professor Emeritus of Communications Darwin Payne will discuss and sign copies of his latest book, Quest for Justice: Louis A. Bedford Jr. and the Struggle for Equal Rights in Texas (SMU Press, 2009), Feb. 18 in the Texana Room, DeGolyer Library. Reception at 6 p.m., lecture at 6:30 p.m., followed by signing. The event is free and open to the public – register online or get more information from the Clements Center for Southwest Studies, 214-768-3684.

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