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Council President’s Address to SPS

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Deborah Haliczer
President, Supportive Professional Staff Council
dhaliczer@niu.edu

Deborah Haliczer
Deborah Haliczer

Star Date, Fall 2014

NIU is experiencing change in every sector of the university. We watched colleagues retire at the end of the spring and wondered if enrollments would improve. Now we are in the 2014-2015 academic year and we all realize that we are in an era of constant change and challenge. Enrollment and retention are the university’s critical challenge. Employees are doing more with less; adding to our work loads when colleagues leave; waiting for positions to be filled; and having concerns about retirements, pensions, and university reorganization. All of these factors take their toll, and most are issues over which we have little control.

This NIU Enterprise is moving forward under the leadership of the administration and the Board of Trustees. We are all working at a fast pace, not at warp speed, but one student at a time. Each one of us plays a role in student retention, whether it is in the classes we teach, and many of us do teach, or in the opportunities we all have to help students succeed in their academic mission. The campus has become aware as never before about the changing needs of our students. We have become more mindful of the service we provide to students, parents, and our colleagues, and the campus has responded to this challenge.

As we strive to address retention, let’s work together in the NIU way, moving forward together forward in listening to what our students and colleagues need and asking how we can help. I have seen so many examples of our colleagues reaching out to students, offering to mentor, going out of their way to ask how they can help, and this makes a difference. Every time we reach out to a student, it creates a culture of welcome and inclusion. Creative ideas are resulting in great collaboration and innovation. All of this is occurring in a time of transition, of change and reorganization.

In the midst of this forward movement, we also have to acknowledge that morale is a problem. How can we address morale concerns? We can do this one step at a time, together, in dialogue. The SPS Council has been addressing morale among our colleagues. We have been working to identify the issues. Many of our Council members have reached out to their constituents to talk about what we can do about morale. The Council will continue its dialogue and will be formulating strategies to address morale concerns to the best of our collective abilities. In the past year, we have reached out to offer more opportunities to network, to get to know one another, and to share collaborative learning opportunities. More such events are in the planning stage and you will be seeing our invitations. The Council members have been delighted to see new participants at our events. We have toured sculptures, sampled from our Communiversity gardens, and have talked with one another at social gatherings. As a group, our Council has identified that positive relationships with colleagues contribute significantly to satisfaction in our work. This is an area where we can make a difference.

Another contribution to morale is being recognized for our contributions. The SPS Council added additional recognitions for service by our SPS colleagues. While we cannot increase our salaries and there have not been funds for increments, we are going out of our way to look at the excellent work done at NIU and to acknowledge those contributions. We have been through challenging times together, and we will continue to work, to collaborate, and to serve our university.

What can you do to address morale? I have asked Council members to discuss this issue and we are seeing open dialogue on what we can do. The challenges are certainly there, but each one of us makes a choice on how we address those challenges. Talk with a colleague who seems stressed. Get to know someone you have not worked with closely. Reach out to get to know a student and make a difference in their academic experiences Get together with colleagues to work on a project together that might make a difference. We all know how hard it is to do any more than the work for which we are responsible. But we all recognize the satisfaction of making a difference in another person’s life. Many of us were first-generation students ourselves. And it is quite likely that we persisted in school because someone noticed and reached out.  Do not hesitate to contact your representative (the list is on our SPS Council website). Let us know about your concerns or meet with one of our Council officers. To see what we have been doing, read our Council’s Annual Report, posted on the SPSC website. Come to a meeting, or join us for an event. We are here to serve you!

Finally, remember to take care of yourselves. Take a walk. Notice the improvements to the look of the campus. Enjoy the fall. And remind yourself what a difference you make to our NIU community.

Deborah Haliczer, President
SPS Council

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Supportive Professional Staff Dependent Scholarship Update

Anne Hardy


Anne Hardy 
SPS Scholarship Committee 
ahardy@niu.edu

Looking for an end-of-the-year tax deduction?  Please consider making a donation to the SPS Dependent Scholarship Fund. Donating is easy! Visit the SPS Scholarship website or contact Anne Hardy to find out how to make a donation. It is our goal to build our fund to an endowment. If all SPS were to give $30, we would reach that goal in less than one year! To date, the fund has raised more than $5,400, and we are so grateful to our donors for making our scholarship awards possible. Mason Bross, computer science major and son of Lori Bross in Biological Sciences, was our first recipient. He received $1,000 for the 2013-14 academic year. Lydia Moore, health sciences major and daughter of Janet Love-Moore from DoIT, was our second recipient. She received $1,000 for the 2014-15 academic year.

We are now accepting applications for the scholarship for the 2015-16 academic year. If you have a dependent who will be attending NIU next year, please encourage them to apply for the scholarship. The application and additional information can be found on the SPS Scholarship website. The recipient will be recognized at the annual SPS Awards Ceremony in the spring.

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Fall 2014 Recap - Supportive Professional Council Events

Melissa Burlingame Janet Love-Moore 

Melissa Burlingame, mburlingame@niu.edu
Janet Love-Moore, jlovemoore@niu.edu
Co-Chairs, SPS Council Events Committee

The SPS Events Committee continues to look for new ways to encourage staff to leave their offices for collegial activities. This past summer, two of the events were a big hit with different groups of people. The July mixer at MVPs in Sycamore was a great success with many attendees socializing. The Campus Sculpture Tour received lots of attention from NIU Today and inspired ideas for future SPS events.

During the fall semester, a truly wide range of activities were offered to appeal to a large number of people. The Communiversity Garden tour at the beginning of September inspired professors to get their classes involved in volunteering with the maintenance and harvesting of the vegetables.

The September mixer at PJ’s in Sycamore and the November mixer at Taxco in Sycamore continued to have high attendance with new faces joining the fun each time.

With the roll out of Office 365, the Events and Technology Committees worked together to offer a hands-on demonstration of the new features that will be available with NIU moving from Groupwise (and Novell) to Outlook (and Microsoft 365). As the number of offices making the transition increase, another hands-on demonstration will be offered in the spring semester. Workshop and Supplemental Materials are available on the ITS website.

Officer Chad McNett, of the DeKalb Police Department, led a tour of the new police building. The tour was amazing and participants were impressed with the upgrades.

Holiday Social Event
Join us for the SPS Holiday Social
Event on Monday, December 15th!

Opportunities to assist with the DeKalb County Meals on Wheels was added as an opportunity to help out in the community and meet one or two fellow SPS.

The SPS Holiday Social Event will be held on December 15th from 3-4:30 p.m. in Altgeld 315 (the board room).  This year we have added an option for guests to get their project hat on and make a gift (for you or someone else) using mostly upcycled materials. 

Spring semester planning is currently underway. Be sure to read those events and reminder emails about all the fun and educational activities that the Events Committee plans to make working at NIU that much more engaging.

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January 2nd Scheduled Closure Day

Kathy L Smith


Kathy L Smith
Managing Director of Payroll
klsmith@niu.edu

Here are some guidelines on the January 2, 2015, scheduled closure day.

This is not a designated holiday. Accrued vacation benefits or compensatory time off (if available) will be utilized for non-instructional employees normally scheduled to work on January 2.

Non-exempt (hourly civil service) employees will be required to mark their time sheets as either vacation, comp time used, or “deduct.”

Exempt (salaried civil service, SPS, and faculty who earn vacation) wishing to take the day without pay must contact Contracts, Records, and Reports no later than December 17 in order to complete the necessary Leave of Absence with No Pay paperwork.

Exempt (salaried civil service, SPS, and faculty who earn vacation) must record January 2 as vacation used on the benefit usage form completed for January.

Vacation usage recorded on the time sheets and benefit usage forms will be deducted from available accruals to the extent that such accruals are sufficient to cover the one-day Scheduled Closure Day.  Payroll will coordinate accrual deductions on a case-by-case basis if accruals are not sufficient to cover the Scheduled Closure Day.

Sick Leave usage should only be recorded for those employees on FMLA or a documented illness leave.

Employees required and authorized to work on January 2 will receive straight-time compensation. A memo from the appropriate vice president authorizing this work time must be received by Human Resources by December 17.

This policy pertains to non-negotiated employees.

Questions concerning Scheduled Closure Day procedures may be directed to Human Resource Services Center at 753-6000.

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SPS Employees Roll Along

Donna Smith


Donna Smith
Catalog Editor and Curriculum Coordinator
dsmith@niu.edu

A few members of DeKalb's Barbed Wire Betties team
Members of the Barbed Wire Betties
ready to roll into another competition.

There’s a new game in town and they are called the Barbed Wire Betties. Well, they’ve been around since June of 2012, and Barbed Wire Betties are a roller derby team, and it includes two SPS employees. They are Melissa Burlingame, Outreach and Communications Specialist for Environmental Studies; and Andrea Drott, Health Education, Health Enhancement.

Burlingame joined the Betties after seeing a flyer on the team. “It was something I’ve been interested in. I have a friend on the Rage (another roller derby team) and it sounded cool,” she said. Drott saw the team in the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest Parade last year and “I immediately went out and bought the equipment and showed up at the next practice.”

Both Burlingame and Drott had positive experiences playing team sports in the past, and being a part of the Betties has allowed them to be a part of that again, to be accountable to others through an athletic team. Drott said that there are many people who work hard to keep the team going, not just team members but other volunteers. They skate at several locations in the area, including the YMCA, which has been extremely supportive. They also give back to the community, which is a requirement of being one of the Barbed Wire Betties. They have volunteered for a number of organizations, including TAILS and Feed’em Soup, to name just a few.

And this is not the roller derby of the past that used to be staged and where many of the skaters showed up in elaborate costumes. The Barbed Wire Betties are part of a full-contact, athletic sport. Both Burlingame and Drott said that no experience is required. Burlingame had no skating experience before joining the team. Anyone can join and you get out of it as much as you put into it. Even if you don’t want to skate, there are opportunities to be involved such as volunteer at a match or be a donor.

If being part of this up-and-coming team and organization interests you, or if you want to volunteer or become a donor, check out their website at barbedwirebetties.com or e-mail joinbwb@gmail.com.