Archive | December, 2010

A&F Staff Join Together for Annual Meeting

Staff members from across the Division of Administration and Finance gathered in the Potomac Lounge Wednesday, December 15 for the 2010 A&F Annual Meeting. Vice President James P. Sheehan hosted the event, speaking candidly about divisional accomplishments and challenges over the past year. He highlighted the success of several recent cost-savings projects that helped to keep the university budget “in the black,” including the paperless payroll initiative and modifications to the housekeeping contract, which are projected to save the university more than a quarter of a million dollars by this spring.

“All of the credit on these projects goes to you,” Sheehan said. “So many of you are doing great things for the division and making big strides for the university. I can’t commend you enough.”

In addition to recognizing past projects, Sheehan also addressed major divisional initiatives for calendar year 2011, including the completion of several construction projects and the development of divisional goals within the 2016 plan. He spoke briefly about the current projections for the state budget deficit and discussed how the deficit could affect the university.

“The hard truth is that the budget is going to get worse before it gets better,” Sheehan said. “Towson University is lucky to be in a good position because of the tough choices and budget cuts that we made last year, and I know that we will come out on the other side of this stronger and smarter.”

Sheehan credited A&F staff for moving the university forward during these tough economic times. His speech highlighted several divisional “unsung heroes” who went above and beyond in serving the university over the past year: Energy Manager Steve Kolb, Employee/Employer Relations and Training & Development Associate Mary T. Casterline, Contract Administrator Barbara Hufnagel, University Store Director Stacy Elofir, and Administrative Assistant Jean Comer.

After concluding his speech by thanking employees for all of their hard work, Sheehan presented the ACE Award finalists. The non-exempt finalists were Procurement Administrative Assistant Angela Rehrmann and Facilities Planning Administrative Assistant Carol Reidy.  The exempt finalists were Application Engineering Manager Tom Alcide, Software Training/Documentation Specialist Cyndi Caravello, Business Systems Manager Alberto Lagos, IT PeopleSoft Specialist Toni Serruto, and Financial Analyst Mardette Wetzelberger.

Angie Rehrmann took home the ACE award in the non-exempt category for her more than 20 years of service to the university. As Procurement Director Lucy Slaich explained, “Angela has delivered the best possible value to her colleagues and to the university every day through superb dependability and unwavering dedication to the job at hand—no matter how tedious the task, or how unrealistic the deadline.”

ACE award winner Angie Rehrmann

The exempt ACE award went to Toni Serruto, whom supervisor Laurie Jones described as “always enthusiastic about working on new projects to better customer service through automation.  She is the go-to person for the staff when issues arise and she never hesitates to assist co-workers in researching a problem.”

ACE award winner Toni Serruto

Following the ACE award presentation, employees gathered for the A&F holiday party, complete with food, refreshments, giveaways and music by the band Double Play. Photos from the event are below.

ACE award finalists Angie Rehrmann and Carol Reidy

 

ACE award finalists Tom Alcide, Cindy Caravello, Al Lagos, Toni Serruto and Mardette Wetzelberger

 

Administrative Assistant Diane Hammer and Associate Vice President Joe Oster raffled off university gear.

 University Budget Office employees Deanna Martinez, Vera Swearingen, Dorothy Proctor and Eric Martinez.

 

A&F employees Phil Ross, Jeff Schmidt, Jack Nye and Roger Hayden.

Bursar’s Office Staff Laurie Jones, Kevin McKenna, Toni Serruto, Michael Mullenholz and Linda Makowske

 

Human Resources employees Cheryl Harris, Robbi Hairston-Flood, and Jennifer Stano

Double Play, made up of A&F staff members Larry Dernetz and Chuck Conjar, played for the party.

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Programming Note

Happy Holidays! As a reminder, the Dollars, Cents and Common Sense blog does not post during breaks or while the university is closed. The blog will return on January 7, 2011 and will be published biweekly until the beginning of the spring semester. Stay tuned for new articles and photos in the new year!

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A Very A&F Holiday

With holiday break less than a week away, A&F staff members are gathering together, giving back and celebrating the season.  Below are photos and information on some of the departmental events and collections across campus.

TUPD Collects Blankets for the Homeless

Throughout the month, the TUPD collected blankets for the homeless program at Saint Vincent de Paul Church in Baltimore. Santa was available in the Union on December 9 to take photos with students, faculty and staff who contributed blankets to the cause. More than 50 blankets have been collected thus far and will be picked up by Saint Vincent’s next week. If you’d like to contribute, take your blanket to UU 200F from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays until December 20.

 Financial Services Holds Gingerbread Competition

Financial Services held a gingerbread house decorating contest the week of December 6. Staff members Sandy Levin, Phyllis May, Karen Eaton, Laura Jackson, Christine Trzcinski, Carolyn Scott and Jen Shear took home first prize with their “Be Yule Thinking Outside House.”

 Operation Santa Cop

Santa Cop is back and ringing his bells in a building near you! Santa Cop stopped by campus offices this week to remind faculty, staff and students to buckle up this holiday season. He handed out crime prevention tips with candy canes attached to help make everyone’s holidays a little safer.

 

Do you have photos of your department’s holiday celebrations? Send them to us at adminfinance@towson.edu and you might see them in the blog!

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Campus Renovation Reduces Energy Consumption by 70%

From the outside it doesn’t look like much. The canopy extending over the eastern side of the Enrollment Services building is designed exactly like its counterparts on the north and south, but it uses almost 70% less energy. The savings are a result of the canopy’s recently installed LED lighting fixtures lamps, which are becoming a more favorable option for campus construction projects.

Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting fixtures have long been championed as the lighting of the future. Whereas conventional incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs generate light by igniting gases or glowing a metallic wire, LEDs create light through an electrical current process known as electroluminescence. The different process results in significant advantages for LEDs, which boast lower energy consumption and a longer lifetime, smaller size and faster switch time than conventional bulbs (not to mention the added benefit of not containing mercury, a hazardous material used in many conventional bulbs). Those advantages come at a cost. LEDs are often double to triple the price of traditional commercial lighting fixtures, and until recently the price tag kept Towson away.

“LEDs have higher initial costs, but they also save about 50% to 75% energy over your traditional high intensity discharge (HID) or incandescent fixtures,” Energy Manager Steve Kolb said. “Incorporating their energy savings, longer replacement time, and reduced maintenance costs, in many applications we calculate that LEDs pay for themselves within three to five years.”

The lighting portion of the canopy renovation project cost approximately $18,000, and the entire project took just three months from design to completion. Because LEDs emit a cleaner, crisper light than conventional bulbs, Steve was able to cut the number of light fixtures on the canopy in half and reduce the wattage per fixture from 130 to 70 watts while significantly improving the quality of light and overall level of brightness. The project is expected to reduce the canopy’s energy intake by over 70% per year, which is pretty remarkable considering that 20 – 30% reductions typically indicate success for energy projects. Similarly high results have been achieved in other LED renovations on campus, including the renovation of Mangiamo’s eatery of the Newell Den.

Steve hopes to continue using LED lighting where sensible to reduce campus energy usage in new construction and renovation projects. He’s currently in the planning and design stages for making the West Village Garage the first project to be lit exclusively with LEDs, and he’s also studying the possibility of replacing existing campus incandescent fixtures with LEDs to reduce energy consumption by 70 to 95%.

“I believe that it’s our responsibility to minimize the use of hazardous materials wherever possible and start taking advantage of newer technologies.  We should always be looking at long-term cost and energy saving opportunities,” Steve said. “LEDs are a great way to do that.”

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And the ACE Award Finalists Are…

Congratulations to the seven finalists for the Administration and Finance Commitment to Excellence (ACE) Award! The nominees are listed below, along with a brief description of the achievements and characteristics that qualified them for the award. Winners will be announced at the A&F Annual Meeting next Wednesday, December 15 in the Potomac Lounge.

Non-exempt Category

In her more than 20 years with Towson University, Administrative Assistant Angela Rehrmann has developed a keen eye and solid knowledge of procurement that enables her to serve as a safeguard during complex bid processes.  Angie uses her commitment to detail to ensure that bid information gathered from multiple sources is formed into coherent and complete documents, helping to streamline the procurement cycle and keep projects on deadline.

In a decade of enormous physical change for the university, Administrative Assistant Carol Reidy has been the lead support staff in the Facilities Planning department. Carol takes on that challenge with a smile. She consistently strives to learn new skills to improve her work and she is always looking for ways to make her department more efficient. There’s no doubt that her pleasant demeanor and on-point organization skills have been a great asset to Facilities, enabling projects like the development of the university’s master plan to stay on track.

Exempt Category

Application Engineering Manager Tom Alcide goes above and beyond his work requirements to make processes more manageable for his customers and colleagues. In the past year, he implemented work flows into his group’s operations to better track tasks and projects.  He became a Certified Associate Project Manager—on his own time– and helped develop project management templates that improved efficiency for OTS’s Enterprise Services.  It’s no wonder that many employees across the university consider Tom their go-to guy.

In just a few years with the university, Software Training and Documentation Specialist Cyndi Caravello has already made a big impact. She is beloved by her peers and customers for her commitment to continuously improving OTS training offerings and her willingness to keep learning new skills which she shares with colleagues across the university. Her professionalism and passion for training have resulted in numerous efficiencies throughout OTS and the university as a whole.

Business Systems Manager Alberto Lagos is known as a problem-solver in Financial Services. He handles tasks with a steadfastness that has earned him admiration from colleagues who know they can rely on him in a pinch. When Al isn’t helping others, he’s thinking of ways to streamline departmental procedures, like when he recently used his knowledge of Microsoft Access to decrease the time and effort involved with reconciling the Procurement Card System with state records.

PeopleSoft Specialist Toni Serruto helps coordinate the technical components of the Bursar’s Office – no easy task considering the tens of thousands of students and staff who get billed through the PeopleSoft system! During her more than 30 years with the university, Toni has been a tremendous asset on a number of projects, including the recent transition to an electronic billing system for tuition and monthly billing statements.  Her patient and dedicated customer service helped to smooth the transition for users accessing the system.

Financial Analyst Mardette Wetzelberger has the difficult task of managing the design, development, testing and implementation of general ledger account reconciliations in PeopleSoft Financials. It’s an often challenging and tedious job, but Mardette has taken it head-on. She quickly learned the ins and outs of the system and worked with colleagues in OTS and Financial Services to move the project forward. Her tenacity and dedication have been key to the project’s success.

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Five Questions with Sustainability Director Jack Nye

Formerly the Director of Facilities Planning, Jack Nye was named Towson University’s first Director of Sustainability this fall. Below, he shares his insight on the role and how he hopes to shape it in the years to come.

What is the role of a sustainability director? What will you be doing in this role?

I am very excited by the opportunity to serve as the first Director of Sustainability in the history of Towson University.  The creation of an Office of Sustainability was discussed for several years and is now a reality. The primary role of the position and the office in general will be to facilitate campus sustainability initiatives and education, manage natural resources, and maintain compliance with the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).

Why is sustainability important?

Simply stated, sustainability is meeting the basic needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their basic needs.  Existing scientific evidence concludes that over-reliance on fossil fuels and the resulting carbon generation is destabilizing the global climate. This climate destabilization is disrupting our ecological systems and, if unchecked, will only worsen. These climatic changes will stress our water resources, challenge crop and livestock production, increase risks from rising sea levels and storm surge, threaten basic human health and social structures, and possibly undermine international stability and national security.

Institutions of higher education will play a vital role if we are to successfully change course and address the threat of climate change. Therefore,  it is important that TU administrators, faculty, staff and students be aligned with the principles of sustainability, and that learning content embraces interdisciplinary systems which can address sustainable action at all levels over the short and long term so that our graduates and the entire TU community understand their impact and how they can change it.

What is TU doing to become more sustainable now?

The university has made substantial strides and accomplished much without dedicated sustainability staff or resources.  Some major ongoing accomplishments since 2007 include:

  • Signed the ACUPCC and developing an action plan to become climate neutral by 2050
  • Developed and implemented a single stream recycling system which has resulted in a more than 20% increase in the tonnage of materials recycled on campus annually
  • Required all new capital construction and renovation projects to achieve LEED silver standards resulting in more energy-efficient buildings
  • Preserved 15 acres of high priority forest areas in perpetual conservation easements to offset carbon emissions generated on campus
  •  Expanded off-campus shuttle services to reduce automobile traffic to and from campus. This increased service has resulted in an estimated 800 fewer automobiles traveling to campus daily
  • Reduced our campus carbon footprint by 5.7% from 2008 to 2009

What are the university’s goals for sustainability and the institutional structures for achieving these goals?

Major sustainability objectives for the upcoming year/s include:

  1. Develop a comprehensive campus sustainability plan, including strategies for implementing and funding the climate action plan recommendations for achieving climate neutrality.
  2. Develop and implement more opportunities and initiatives for sustainability education, outreach and research on campus.
  3. Continue existing programs and initiatives that promote or advance sustainability and develop strategies for expansion.
  4. Move the university toward making campus sustainability a higher strategic priority and part of the institutional culture and ethos.
  5. Build the Office of Sustainability to have adequate personnel and financial resources to support and advance the previously listed objectives.

What are your recommendations to faculty, staff and students who want to reduce their impact on the environment at work and at home?

Each of us has many daily opportunities to take action and make choices that help foster sustainability locally and globally. Every individual action and choice to conserve can make a difference.  To find out more I encourage you to explore the TU website at www.towson.edu/gogreen or contact the Office of Sustainability at gogreen@towson.edu about how you can make a difference.

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Did You Know…

The TUPD is collecting new and used blankets for the homeless this holiday season. Blankets are being collected in UU 200F from 8 – 4 p.m. weekdays until Monday, December 20. They will be donated to the homeless center at Saint Vincent de Paul Church in Baltimore.

This week, A&F staff members Amie Voith, Diane Hammer and Jean Comer gathered to make fleece blankets to donate to the cause. See photos of their work and the finished products below.

 
 
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Spotlight on the Bursar’s Office

Department name: Bursar’s Office

Location: Enrollment Services

Director: Thom Ruby

What they do: The Bursar’s Office is the central hub for student billing and payment, financial aid rebate disbursement, account adjustment, collections and research. In the past fiscal year, their 21 employees prepared more than 110,000 eBills and monthly statements and disbursed more than 23,000 financial aid rebate checks, totaling more than $57 million. Whether they’re processing alternative loans or handling private scholarships, the Bursar’s Office makes sure that students receive the funding they’re promised and the university obtains the funds it needs to operate efficiently.

Recently Completed Projects:

  • Replaced paper bills with electronic “eBills” for all student billing statements, saving the university tens of thousands of dollars in printing and mailing costs each year.
  • Transitioned to a third-party vendor credit card payments system which increased payment security and reduced the university’s processing costs by nearly a million dollars per year.
  • Coordinated with a new vendor to offer deferred payment plans to students for the summer trimester, supplementing the existing plans already in place for the fall and spring semesters.

Current Initiatives:

  • Partnering with the Financial Aid Office to automate the alternative loan process so that funds from lenders are sent via electronic fund transfer instead of paper checks. This will expedite the process of posting the funds to student accounts and eliminate the need for students to endorse checks in person at the Bursar’s Office.
  • Creating a campaign to improve communication about the university’s billing and payment processes with incoming freshman and transfer students, as well as their parents.
  • Exploring possible billing changes to the CCBC/TU Transition Program, including combining the two bills—one from CCBC and one from TU—currently distributed to students into one comprehensive bill.
  • Developing and testing systems to allow automated loads of Auxiliary Services fines and charges for smoking, book rentals, and Tiger Reels to be placed on student and faculty/staff accounts.
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