Jeff Strese

Human Resources introduces new SMU retirement plan administration

Diversified logoSMU’s Department of Human Resources will host a series of meetings for the University community to learn more about its new single record-keeping system and the retirement plan administration company that will manage it. Faculty and staff members can register for information sessions to take place Aug. 30-31 and Sept. 7-8, 2011, regarding the move to Diversified.

A Diversified representative will answer questions during the meetings. Other speakers will include Executive Director of Human Resources Jeff Strese, Associate Vice President of Business Services and Human Resources Bill Detwiler, and two members of SMU’s University Benefits Council: Don VandeWalle, department chair of Management and Organizations in the Cox School of Business, and Steve Edwards, professor of advertising in Meadows School of the Arts and SMU Faculty Senate president-elect.

In addition, the Hughes-Trigg Student Center audio-visual staff will record the Sept. 7 meeting for an informational video that will be made available to faculty and staff members later this year.

Diversified will serve as the record keeper for SMU retirement accounts. Under new and expanding governmental regulations, funds made available by the University will be regularly reviewed by a qualified independent financial advisor as well as SMU’s Retirement Plans Advisory Council, according to an announcement made by Provost Paul Ludden and Vice President for Business and Finance Chris Casey in May.

The Retirement Plans Advisory Council agreed unanimously to the adoption of a single record keeper earlier this year. (The council includes three faculty and three staff members, as well as several ex officio members of University administration.) The University’s move to a single record keeper has been reviewed by the University Benefits Council, legal counsel, an independent investment adviser group, the President’s Council and the Board of Trustees.

Diversified was chosen as administrator after a thorough review of proposals from firms including Fidelity Investments and TIAA-CREF, Ludden and Casey said. The firm will act as a neutral plan administrator and not a fund provider, they added.

In addition, Diversified will provide new tools to help faculty and staff members manage their accounts more effectively, including a single web portal to conduct transactions for every different provider. A full-time Diversified retirement counselor will establish an office on campus this fall, say representatives from SMU HR.

For more information, visit Diversified’s secure SMU website.

> Register for an information session
> Learn more at Diversified’s SMU website
> See Diversified’s FAQ document on the upcoming transition
> Visit SMU’s Department of Human Resources online
> Read the original announcement from Provost Ludden and Vice President Casey

Staff Development Day 2011 scheduled for March 17

SMU staff members can get more out of Spring Break 2011 by participating in the Staff Association‘s 2011 Staff Development Day. This year’s events will be held 1-3:45 p.m. Thursday, March 17, after the annual Staff Recognition Ceremony.

This year’s activities include:

Stock photo of a basket of fresh vegetablesSession A: 1-2:15 p.m.

Session A1: En La Cocina
Learn tricks to spice up springtime meals and simple, homemade recipes in this cooking demo by the chefs of SMU Dining. Ask questions, enjoy delicious food and leave with more knowledge to make your home experience more enjoyable.
RSVP for Session A1

Session A2: Lawn Care: Tricks of the Trade
O’Donnell Hall, Owen Fine Arts Center
Ann Allen, senior horticulturist in SMU Facilities Management and Sustainability, will discuss best practices in getting that perfect lawn. Discussion on evergreen ground covers, soil preparation and planting process. Plenty of time for questions and answers.
RSVP for Session A2

Image from 'The Lost Sistine Chapel Manuscripts'Session B: 2:30-3:45 p.m.

Session B1: Happiness and the Power of Positive Psychology
O’Donnell Hall, Owen Fine Arts Center
A discussion on the power of positive psychology facilitated by Jeff Strese, director of SMU Human Resources. Learn what enables happiness, how hope affects your overall health and ways to unleash your talents and creativity by being happy. Leave feeling energized and focused on the future!
RSVP for Session B1

Session B2: Meadows Museum Docent Tour of The Lost Manuscripts from the Sistine Chapel
Meadows Museum
Join docents from SMU’s Meadows Museum on an epic journey from Rome to Toledo in this guided tour of the Museum’s latest blockbuster exhibition.
RSVP for Session B2

> Visit the SMU Staff Association online

‘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

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

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

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