Volume 1 - Issue 2
A periodic source of information intended to be beneficial for the Supportive Professional Staff of Northern Illinois University.
When I last addressed you on behalf of council in our spring 2012 newsletter we were entering a time of possible and pending retirements at NIU. This time has since passed and adjustments to the workplace occurred for many of us. The media and some members of the public have made it a priority to scrutinize our benefits and demand action occur including a proposed constitutional amendment. We will continue to be in the spotlight and must work together across all SURS participating institutions to preserve our benefits. Council continues to monitor legislation regarding dependent tuition waivers and will advocate for this long standing benefit to the very end. It is our obligation to keep you informed to the best of our ability.
Over the summer and into fall council action included the passing and recommendation of a proposal to create a standard SPS merit system for merit pay at NIU. This action was followed by a rehire policy of retired NIU employees that was sent to Human Resources encouraging the creation of a new university employment policy. Most recently council reviewed and amended the SPS Ethics Statement on Professional Ethics which will be updated on our website. Future action includes collaborative efforts with Operating Staff Council encouraging President Peters and Human Resource Services to implement mandatory supervisory training effective immediately.
As you know President Peters announced his retirement effective June 30, 2013. This allows a short but workable time frame to identify the next President and leader of NIU for years to come. I will be seeking your input on what attributes SPS desire in the future president of our university. I look forward to your response and support.
Todd Latham, President
There are many resources for SPS, from offices such as, but not limited to, Faculty Development and Design Center to Human Resource Services (insurance and benefits, retirement seminars, etc.) to Information Technology Services. There are also several offices on campus that assist employees when they have conflicts in their jobs, have issues they do not know how to solve, or are just feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Three of those offices are the Employee Assistance Program, the Faculty and SPS Personnel Advisor, and the Office of the Ombudsperson. All of these offices have different purposes and roles, but all of them are confidential places where an SPS employee can go to for advice and/or counseling on a variety of work-related or personal issues.
By Deborah Haliczer
Human Resources serves all university employees through its many areas, including payroll, Affirmative Action and Diversity Resources, insurance and employee benefits, compliance, ethics training, contracts, records and reports, student employment and graduate assistant employment, operating staff services, and HR administration and operations. Our HR service centers are often your first contact in finding the right assistance. Two areas which work extensively with our SPS colleagues are Employee Relations and the Employee Assistance Program.
Employee Relations serves Supportive Professional Staff as a resource on all policies and procedures and situations that affect SPS. Deborah Haliczer, who heads this area, works with individual Supportive Professional Staff, as well as providing consultation to deans, directors, chairs and administrators with workplace situations. I serve as an advisor both to the administrator, as well as to the SPS employee and help with strategies and solutions, conflict resolution and support. I work with both the Ombudsperson and Faculty and SPS Personnel Advisor to help develop reasonable and equitable resolutions to the many difficult issues we all face. As an “institutional official,” I am not considered a designated neutral party. My area also coordinates benefits, retirement, employee training, ethics training and the Employee Assistance program. We are working to develop expanded offerings in management training, and look forward to launching Mandatory Supervisor training in the near future. In the 21 years I have worked at NIU, I have seen the role of SPS leadership in striving to assure a fair and equitable workplace for all, in the face of fiscal pressures that lead us all to do more with less. Recent stresses that come from the wave of retirements has led to more challenges to our university and our colleagues. It is important that SPS have a number of options to assist them in navigating the complexities of working in public higher education, and in finding resources and solutions. I can be reached at 753-6039, and have offices at HRS as well as the Holmes Student Center, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A major resource that assists all employees with these challenges is the Employee Assistance Program. Created in 1991, this office provides a confidential source of advice, support, coaching and brief counseling to all our faculty, staff, dependents and retirees. The office is headed by Nancy Apperson, a clinical social worker and a former university faculty member. She provides confidential advice and counseling to employees facing personal or workplace stressors. She helps an employee identify solutions and resources, makes referrals to outside and university resources, and can provide coaching and support to employees, supervisors, and work groups to help to resolve those workplace issues. The office is confidential, and cannot provide any information about contacts to any other person without the explicit permission of the employee. Nancy can be reached at 753-9191, and her office is at the Holmes Student center, seventh floor. Nancy and Deborah can provide customized training to departments.
Employees may visit any Human Resource office during work time, without using sick or vacation time. They should observe operational needs when taking time from the office, but most supervisors accommodate these appointments. Appointments are also available during lunch periods or after hours by appointment in order to be responsive to individual employee needs.
By Donna Smith
According to NIU’s bylaws, the Faculty and SPS Personnel Advisor is a resource person whose services are available to any faculty member (ranked or no-rank faculty), administrator, or personnel body in the university. This includes all SPS employees. The advisor's role includes such activities as the following:
The current Faculty and SPS Personnel Advisor is Toni Tollerud, from the Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education. Dr. Tollerud, a Presidential Teaching Professor, has 23 years of experience at NIU and an extensive background in counseling. Her Ph.D. is in Counselor Education and Supervision and she has been a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC) in Illinois for 20 years. She has been an active member of the faculty and is very familiar with the rights of faculty and SPS.
Dr. Tollerud was attracted to the Faculty and SPS Personnel Advisor because she feels it’s important for faculty and SPS to have a confidential place where they can go and speak to a peer who understands their rights. She also feels that she has the necessary background and training to bring to the position. As the Faculty and SPS Personnel Advisor Tollerud can help employees get affirmation of their situations and feel empowered, move them in the right direction to resolve issues, and support them in their individual decisions.
The Faculty and SPS Personnel Advisor differs from other campus resources, such as the Office of the Ombudsperson, in that she specializes in the issues of faculty and SPS and can focus on the rights, responsibilities, and laws that govern faculty and SPS. She is also able to advise and be an advocate, which are duties the ombudsperson, by the definition of that office, cannot do. (See also article on the new ombudsperson in this newsletter.) She suggests that faculty and SPS seek her assistance as early as possible, before issues can escalate. She is also looking forward to meeting faculty and SPS and to be able to help them with any issues they may bring to her. Any SPS needing the assistance of the Faculty and SPS Personnel Advisor should call Dr. Tollerud at 815-753-9311 or e-mail email@example.com.
By Sarah Klaper
My name is Sarah Klaper, and I am thrilled to say that I am NIU’s new University Ombudsperson. I come to this position from DePaul University College of Law, where I was a legal writing instructor. I also taught State & Local Government and Education Law. Prior to teaching, I was a community lawyer at the Citizen Advocacy Center (CAC), a small legal non-profit organization in Elmhurst, Illinois. At CAC, I worked with individuals, community organizations, and public officials on open government issues. I helped the community identify concerns and then determine how best to handle those issues through different levels of government, media, and community organizing. I also litigated open government issues and was in charge of civic education initiatives.
My experience both at DePaul and at CAC lends itself to the position of university ombudsperson at NIU. The Office of the Ombudsperson is a safe, confidential resource for members of the university community to discuss university-related conflicts or issues. The Office of the Ombudsperson serves all members of the university community, including staff, faculty, students, and administrators. Because the ombudsperson serves the entire community, it is a neutral position that cannot advocate on behalf of any individual or group.
However, the ombudsperson is also tasked with noting trends in conflict across the university, and with making policy recommendations to prevent or limit that conflict in the future. Therefore, I often say that I cannot advocate for an individual, but I will advocate on good policy that prevents or limits future conflict.
Individuals usually come to see the ombudsperson if they are facing an issue, and they either do not know how to start to tackle the problem, or they have already tried to address the issue without success and don’t know where else to turn. Our office will help the individual identify the core of the concern, and all of the avenues for resolving that concern. We help individuals know where they stand in the bigger university picture, what offices or individuals can best assist them, and the possible repercussions of those different options. We can be a sounding board or a reality-check in talking through issues in a confidential manner.
I look forward to meeting you and working with you all in the future. Please feel free to contact my office for assistance, or to just say hello.
The recipients were Todd Latham, assistant to the chair in the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations; Michelle Pickett, director of the Academic Advising Center; Deborah Pierce, associate provost for International Programs; and Jason F. Rhode, assistant director of the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center.
The quartet was honored at a reception Tuesday, April 17, 2012, in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of the Holmes Student Center. Each received a plaque and $1,500 in appreciation for their outstanding contributions to NIU.
Assistant to the chair, Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations
When a Muskie Fellow from Turkmenistan expressed interest in an Educational Administration program offered by NIU’s Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations, Todd Latham was intrigued.
Those programs are designed primarily to pave the way toward licensure to lead Illinois schools and school districts. Few international students apply.
Latham met with program representatives to demonstrate how the M.S.Ed. in educational administration could be adapted to the student’s needs before talking with her and planning a course of study.
All typical, said Charles Howell, chair of the department. “But,” Howell said, “he went considerably further.”
Latham helped the student complete her Muskie paperwork, find an apartment and acquire furniture.
He drove her to O’Hare to retrieve family visiting during the holidays. He met with DeKalb school administrators to arrange her internship placements. He recruited Howell to serve as her thesis adviser.
“Although she will never be an administrator in the State of Illinois,” Howell said, “the prospect of her taking her expanded knowledge of American education and goodwill toward NIU back to Turkmenistan is highly gratifying.”
Hired by the College of Education in 2001 as an academic adviser, Latham maintains those duties along with the responsibility of all master’s, specialist and doctoral courses in Educational Administration, School Business Management and Curriculum and Instruction.
He assisted Howell in the design, approval and implementation of an online degree in school business management and continues to administer that program. In 2011, he oversaw the intra-college migration of Curriculum and Instruction programs into his department.
Director, Academic Advising Center
Long after the work day is over, or even when the campus is officially closed for holidays and other breaks, it’s not uncommon to find Michelle Pickett at work.
Maybe she’s with students in the Exploring Majors House, attending their programs, leading their activities or hosting their speakers. Maybe she’s teaching UNIV 101, College Reading and Study Strategies or Cultivating African-American Women Leaders.
Maybe she’s simply talking with students to help them prepare for workshops and courses that will help them gain admission to NIU.
“Michelle Pickett exemplifies an amazing woman and educator,” said Monique Bernoudy, associate athletics director.
“She has a deep passion for motivating students to succeed and is enthusiastic about engaging in student success strategies,” Bernoudy added. “She is always energetic, positive and works tirelessly to enhance the experience of these students and our campus.”
Pickett, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at NIU and is working on her Ed.D. here in adult and higher education, joined the university in 1999 as assistant director of admissions.
In 2004, she became coordinator of recruitment services in the College of Education as coordinator of recruitment services. Three years later, she moved to the Academic Advising Center.
As the “reliable, scholarly and friendly” director, Pickett strives to build and maintain partnerships and collaborations with campus offices, including Admissions, Athletics, Career Services, CHANCE, Honors, Housing and Dining and more.
She also ensures her staff can access and afford professional development, something she considers integral to enhancing student persistence and success.
Associate Provost, International Programs
Deb Pierce’s efforts to put people 35,000 feet above the ground have the Division of International Programs soaring to new heights.
Since her arrival in 2002, she routinely has logged 12-hours days to bring global perspectives to the university through programming, faculty exchange, curricular innovation and cooperation with institutions abroad.
“One of Dr. Pierce’s greatest passions is her desire to truly internationalize our university,” said Anne M. Seitzinger, director of the Study Abroad Office.
“She works tirelessly to reach all levels of administration, faculty and staff so the campus as a whole understands the value of all things international,” Seitzinger said, “such as study abroad, increasing our international student population, international training programs, the Fulbright program (and) integrating internationalization into the mission and vision of NIU.”
Paramount among those initiatives is NIU’s Phi Beta Delta chapter, which Pierce helped to found in 2004.
Former chapter president Christopher M. Jones counts the induction of about 425 globally engaged faculty, staff, administrators and “a handful of impressive honorary members” in the years since.
Chapter members have won national awards (Pierce wrote the nomination), raised money for undergraduate and graduate conference travel grants, welcomed renowned thinkers to campus and hosted annual receptions with NIU President John Peters to thank internationally engaged faculty and exchange scholars.
“It is a labor of love,” Jones said. “Deb loves the world – its people, culture, languages and societies – and she is driven to support others who share that love or who want to simply become better-informed and educated global citizens.”
Assistant director, Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center
Jason F. Rhode was locking up on a Friday afternoon, about 15 minutes after quitting time, when a faculty member arrived unannounced.
The professor, who had never taught an online course before, was assigned to do just that – starting Monday.
Could Rhode help?
“If it had been someone other than Jason,” said Murali Krishnamurthi, director of the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, “he or she would have asked the faculty member to come on the following Monday, or would have said it would be difficult to learn to teach online on such short notice, but Jason unlocked his office door.”
Two hours later, mission accomplished, Rhode put another notch in his belt of committed service to NIU’s employees who teach with technology.
Rhode’s responsibilities include planning all “Teaching with Technology” programs and delivering many of them.
The winner of the 2008 “Star Award” from SLATE (Support Learning and Technology in Education) also has developed and presented online faculty development programs for those who cannot attend face-to-face.
In May 2011, he produced a comprehensive upgrade support and training plan for the Blackboard web course management system. Along with designing and implementing 40 new training programs on the new system, he worked with fellow staff to coordinate all new documentation, tutorials, quick guides and podcasts.
“Jason’s plan was such a success that Blackboard, Inc. has recommended it as a model for other universities to follow,” Krishnamurthi said, “and many other universities in the region as well as nationwide have adopted it.”
This year the Awards Committee focused on identifying SPS employees for a variety of awards, which were presented during the annual SPS Awards Ceremony, on April 17, 2012, in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of the Holmes Student Center.
The committee made selections for the prestigious Supportive Professional Staff (SPS) Presidential Award for Excellence (see previous article). Awarded annually, this award recognizes SPS who demonstrate outstanding service through significant contributions to the NIU community, support for the university’s mission and professionalism. After a campus-wide call for nominations, the committee received 11 nominations and recommended the following individuals to NIU President John Peters for the award: Todd Latham, Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations; Michelle Pickett, Academic Advising Center; Deborah Pierce, International Programs; and Jason F. Rhode, Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. Please also see the related article in this newsletter.
Two members of the Supportive Professional Staff Council, Dana Gautcher, Office of Student Academic Success, and Anne Hardy, Scholarship Office, were also recognized during the SPS Awards Ceremony as recipients of the SPS Council Service Award. Gautcher and Hardy were selected by the SPS Council and were recognized for their extraordinary service to the SPS Council and to the NIU Supportive Professional Staff, as well as their contributions to shared governance at NIU.
The Awards Committee also selected the recipients of the SPS Certificate of Recognition. The certificates, initiated in 2003, recognize Supportive Professional Staff who have achieved accomplishments in addition to their regular duties, such as, but not limited to, earning a degree, serving on a professional organization, publishing, and presenting. The following individuals were recognized at the Awards Ceremony:
Dr. Steven Cunningham, Vice President of Administration and Human Resources, also received Special Recognition for Outstanding Service Regarding Pensions.
The SPS Awards Committee will soon be sending out a call for nominations for this year’s Supportive Professional Staff (SPS) Presidential Award for Excellence. Deadlines and nomination requirements for other SPS awards will be released during the fall semester. Please take a few moments to nominate a colleague for one of these awards. If you have questions regarding any of the SPS Awards or the nomination process, please feel free to contact any SPS Council member.
The annual Supportive Professional Staff Council (SPSC) Elections were held this past spring to elect new members for terms running from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2014.
Every spring, nominations are solicited from SPS employees for candidates from each of the six SPS Divisions. Nominees are then confirmed for eligibility and interest and become candidates. Candidates receive votes from their fellow SPS employees in their division via an online ballot. At the end of the voting period, the candidates are ranked in descending order of votes received and assigned to Council vacancies (with representative vacancies taking priority over alternate vacancies and two-year vacancies taking priority over one-year vacancies). Any relevant ties are manually resolved.
|Division Number||Division Name||Seats|
|1||Academic & Student Affairs - Provost’s Office||2|
|2||Academic & Student Affairs - Student Services||4|
|3||Academic & Student Affairs - Liberal Arts and Sciences||3|
|4||Academic & Student Affairs - Other Colleges and Graduate School||5|
|5||Finance and Facilities - General Administration/Development/President||8|
All SPS employees are members of one of the six SPS Council Divisions. The assignment placement of SPS employees into the divisions is determined from their department. (A list of the departments belonging to each Council division can be found on the SPSC website.)
The Council consists of 24 representatives, 24 (non-voting) alternates, and one president. The president is elected at large and does not represent any particular division. Each representative is elected from and represents his or her division. Each representative also has a single designated alternate (also elected from the specific Council division).
The proportion of the 24 representative seats across the six divisions is based upon the proportion of all SPS employees in each Division. The Council reexamined the proportions thia past spring to ensure the Council membership reflects the base employee ratios (although there is a two-representative/alternate minimum for all divisions).
The SPS divisions and their current associated Council composition are detailed in the table entitled “SPS Divisions.”
Your Supportive Professional Staff Council has been busy over the past year hosting several events to offer SPS the opportunity to learn about services available to them on campus, share ideas, and provide an opportunity for networking.
It was a busy spring for the SPS Events Committee. On February 23, 2012, the committee hosted a luncheon in the Chandelier Room of Adams Hall with Dennis Barsema as guest speaker. Mr. Barsema presented a motivational speech, “Doing What you Love.” On March 28, 2012, the Supportive Professional Staff Council participated in the NIU Wellness Fair, where representative and alternate Council members were able to share with employees the Council’s role and activities and discuss with SPS employees their campus concerns. On April 4, 2012, the Events Committee hosted a Brown Bag Panel Discussion in the Diversions Lounge, with university leaders from across campus providing an update on institutional initiatives related to the goals for student success and engagement as encouraged by “Vision 2020.” Rounding out the spring semester, the Events Committee planned a final Brown Bag Presentation entitled “How to Cope When Everyone Around Me is Retiring!”, which provided tips for managing stress, provided the opportunity to share coping mechanisms, and offered advice on support available to university employees.
The Events Committee already has many events planned for SPS during this Fall as well. On Saturday, September 29th, the SPS Council hosted a “SPS Tailgate Event” before the Faculty/Staff Appreciation Football game against Central Michigan. We hope you were able to network with fellow SPS before this event and learn more about new Council initiatives. On October 23, there will be a luncheon featuring Political Science Professor Matt Streb speaking on the upcoming elections. The Events Committee is working to provide more insightful Brown Bag luncheons for employees and don’t forget to mark your calendar now for the SPS Holiday Open House, which will be held in Altgeld Hall Room 315 (the Board of Trustees Meeting Room) from 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 13.
If you have suggestions for an event which you would like for the SPS Events Committee to consider, please contact a SPS Council member or send your ideas to the Events Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see you soon at one of the upcoming SPS events!
It is time again for all NIU employees to complete Ethics training. Under the terms of the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, all full-time and part-time, regular and temporary faculty, staff, graduate assistants, extra help, and student employees must complete on-line ethics training. The training covers such topics as prohibitions against accepting gifts and bribes, conflict of interest, inappropriate use of university resources for personal matters, whistleblower protection, and avoidance of political activities during the work day. The training module includes review questions in the text. Everyone who receives a paycheck from the university must complete this training.
Ethics training begins at 8:00 a.m. on October 16, and concludes at 5:00 p.m. on November 14. There are no extensions. Employees were notified by e-mail and campus mail that further explains the training and includes how to access the training website. Training should be completed during normal work hours. Employees should check with their department on what arrangements are made for workstation access and scheduling of training times. If you supervise students, be sure that they are also completing the training. Employees can contact Human Resource Services (815-753-6039, or 753-6000) for information or assistance. Technical questions can be answered by Information Technology Services (815-753-8100), which is available 24 hours a day. The state Office of the Executive Inspector General notes that employees who do not comply with the annual training mandate can be subject to fines and disciplinary action.
For further information, contact:
Information or questions on Ethics Training: NIU Ethics Training Administrator: Deborah Haliczer or Karen Smith (815-753-6039)
Questions on the Ethics Act: NIU Ethics Officer: Steven D. Cunningham, (815-753-6021) .
See also: HRS website, news item and FAQs
The Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act (Public Act 097-0711) has been amended by the General Assembly of the State of Illinois. All “personnel of institutions of higher education” are now considered Mandated Reporters of child abuse and neglect, and if they have “reasonable cause to believe that a child known to them in their professional or official capacity may be an abused or a neglected child shall immediately report or cause a report to be made to the Department” of Children and Family Services.
Effective immediately (fall 2012), all university employees, including faculty, instructors, administrators, staff, graduate assistants, extra help, and student employees are subject to this law and are considered Mandated Reporters.
All employees are expected to read the posted information on the NIU Human Resources web site that explain what is required of Mandated Reporters. All employees must sign the “Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Acknowledgement of Mandated Reporter Status” and return it to Human Resource Services. This is a onetime action, and the forms will be kept in Human Resources. Employees are encouraged to read the posted materials to familiarize themselves with this requirement. Those employees whose work entails involvement with children, or whose professional licenses mandate this are encouraged to take the online training offered through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). For information, contact Deborah Haliczer, 753-6039.