Archive | January, 2012

Bursar Streamlines Alternative Loan Process, Saving Time and Frustration for Both Students and Staff

By Kevin McKenna

Approximately 66% of TU students receive some sort of financial aid.  For most, this aid comes in the form of loans and/or grants from the federal or state government.  However, some students do not qualify for any governmental aid, or they qualify for an amount insufficient to meet their financial need.  Many of these students are compelled to find an alternative source of funds and turn to the private sector for a loan.

These so-called “alternative loans” – loans from a non-governmental source, such as a bank – have traditionally been a headache for the Bursar’s Office, as well for students.  Up until this school year, alternative loan funds were disbursed from lenders to TU via paper checks.  The vast majority of these checks were made out to both TU and the student taking out the loan.  This meant that the Bursar’s Office needed to contact every student, often more than once, when an alternative loan check arrived for them, because the check could not be deposited and credited to the student’s university account until the student came to the Bursar’s Office and endorsed it.  TU was receiving nearly 2,000 alternative loan checks each school year, so this created a tremendous amount of work for the Bursar staff and inconvenienced a fairly large swath of TU’s student population.

But this all changed last summer.

That is when the Bursar’s Office, the Financial Aid Office, and representatives from Financial Services collaborated to get the university up and running with ELM Resources.  ELM (Education Loan Management) serves as an intermediary between alternative loan providers and universities, providing an electronic platform through which loan information and funds can be transmitted.  Best of all, it’s free to the universities that use it!

Almost all alternative loan providers use ELM to work with universities, allowing TU to reduce the number of alternative loan checks it receives by over 90%.  So, the Bursar’s Office no longer needs to contact all those students and hold on to their checks until they come to endorse them. The students have their loan funds posted to their accounts quickly, without having to visit the Bursar’s Office.  As soon as TU receives funds from ELM, the Financial Aid Office disburses the funds to students’ accounts electronically!

This is what we in the Bursar’s Office call a “win-win” for both university staff and students.  It is also an excellent example of collaborative efforts among university departments bringing about positive results for TU.

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Team Building, Charity & Laughter: Yes, We’re Talking about Work!

By Debbie Asbury & Mardette Wetzelberger

  When you think fondly of your favorite “numbers” type person, as I’m sure you so often do, you may just be thinking of one of the outstanding employees in Financial Services.  We are 48 strong, with a combined 500 years of service under our belts. 

Financial Services includes the areas of Payroll, Working Fund, Accounts Payable, Perkins Loans, Non-Resident Alien Tax Office and Student Employment, the Help Desk, General Accounting, Support and Special Projects, Training, and PeopleSoft.  We are a dedicated, hard working bunch.  How do we keep the smiles on our faces through all of our hard work, you might wonder?  We know how to have fun!

Financial Services shows off their Towson pride

If you have ever been a passerby to one of Financial Services’ parties, you probably have said to yourself, “They really know how to party!” For us, it’s not just a party.  It’s about team building, laughter, and giving back. 

Our events start with the Party Committee: a diverse group from across Financial Services who knows that a great theme, great decorations and great food awe the crowd.  The party committee also selects a charity for each event, with voluntary donations requested.  No party would be complete without good food, and we encourage homemade and new recipes.  Admittedly, some folks are “required” to make certain dishes for each event, but that’s because our party wouldn’t be the same without them.  Most gatherings involve a trivia game or a themed activity.  Some of our past favorites have been pumpkin bowling, best decorated stocking, craziest flips flops, and a Hawaiian lei toss.

In addition to our Christmas and Halloween parties, we have hosted a Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville Summer Fling, an Easter Bonnet Parade, many Fiscal Year End Close celebrations, an International Lunch Day, a Ravens Tailgate, a combination Halloween and FRS Funeral (when our beloved FRS accounting system was replaced by PeopleSoft), a Financial Services Open House, a TU Homecoming Parade and multiple TU Spirit Days.  Financial Services took home the top prize in the TU Spirit Day 2011 competition.   We won the Black & Gold Friday Traveling “Tiger” trophy to safeguard until next year and a hospitality party for the November 12th Tiger Football game!

Financial Services looks forward to these celebrations.  Studies have shown that laughter releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Humor and laughter strengthen our immune system, boosts energy, diminish pain, and protect us from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.

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Top Five Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions on Track at TU

  • If your resolution is to be an active participant in TU’s latest chapter under the leadership of our new president, Dr. Maravene S. Loeschke, then don’t miss her first address to the campus community on February 9 at 4 p.m. in Stephens Hall. Also, consider attending one of three upcoming dates at which A&F staff will have an exclusive opportunity to interface with Dr. Loeschke. Check your email for details.
  • If you pledged to do your part to “Restore the Roar,” then support our winter athletes! With basketball, gymnastics and men’s swimming and diving all in season it couldn’t be a better time to catch a home game and cheer on the Tigers!  Why not start with the gymnastic team’s home opener this weekend in the Towson Center?
  • If your goal is to stay fit, take advantage of the not one, but two gyms that are at your disposal on campus:  the TU Wellness Center in the Administration Building and the Fitness Center in Burdick.  
  • If you’re hoping to improve your workplace skills in 2012, sign up to take a workshop with the Office of Human Resources or the Office of Technology Services!  It’s now even easier to access their schedules on the Towson Events Calendar.
  • If your resolution was to try your hand at a new hobby, TU has several unique opportunities starting this weekend or in early February: Enroll in Art Studio or Pottery classes at the Community Art Center; take Ballroom Dancing through the Kinesiology Department; or join TU’s very own Thursday night bowling league (it started last week, but Randy Peaker tells us there’s still time to get in on the fun!).
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The Truth Behind Construction Detours

By Scott Guckert

Working in TU’s Construction Services department, I spend a lot of time out on campus. On occasion when I’m walking to one of our work sites I overhear passersby muttering at the walkways, saying something to the tune of “Who sets up all of those detours on campus?  What are they doing? They just want to inconvenience everyone and make students and faculty late for class, and staff late for work.”

For most of TU’s history, the detours we are experiencing today didn’t exist. But then a new wave of campus growth hit, and construction was necessary to accommodate our growing population.  First we constructed the College of Liberal Arts building and there were detours around University Avenue and the surrounding walkways. Next it was Freedom Square Plaza and the detours around the academic core as new walkways were built. Then came the new campus gateway and detours around the University Union and Burdick Hall. As if that wasn’t enough, there was a detour along the walkway from University Union’s east plaza to the Glen pedestrian bridge. To some, it seemed like a conspiracy to get people lost.

Well, I know who is responsible for the detours and I can assure you that they’re not a plot to disrupt the campus social order!!  It’s our team in Construction Services that is responsible for the detours, which are an unfortunate inevitability of constructing new buildings, bridges and walkways. With tens of thousands of students, faculty, staff and visitors on TU’s campus, nothing can be constructed without it getting in someone’s way. Detours are necessary to get these people to their destinations safely. As they say, it’s the nature of the beast—kind of like those pesky fire drills we all go through.  No one likes going outside unexpectedly on a cold winter’s day, but we do it to maintain campus safety.

Although it may not be apparent to you, our team members try their very best to make construction detours as convenient as possible for the entire campus community. A great deal of planning goes into each facilities project to minimize the inconvenience of detours, make accommodations for wheelchair users and post signage and other communications to notify the campus of upcoming closures and detours.

For the most part, the campus takes construction inconveniences in stride and we really appreciate that.  So while there is bound to be the occasional case of someone saying “What are they doing,” I assure you that campus construction detours are done in the interest of safety and convenience to all.  Thanks to everyone for their cooperation and understanding as we grow into 2012, and have a safe and happy new year!

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Tip of the month: record alternate greetings on your VOIP phone

If you have a VOIP phone, you can set up alternative voicemail greetings to use when your standard greeting is not appropriate. For example, you could set up a greeting for when your phone is busy, a separate greeting for when you’re on vacation and yet another greeting when the university is closed for holidays. Follow the tips below to record alternate greetings.

  • Open your internet browser, type www.towson.edu/voicemail in the address bar and press ENTER.
  • When the Cisco Personal Communications Assistant screen appears, enter your Username (NetID) and Password on the right hand side of the screen.
  • Click Login.
  • Click the Messaging Assistant link.
  • Click the Greetings menu and then click View Greetings. You may record one of six alternate greetings:  Alternate, Busy, Internal, Closed, Standard and Holiday.
  • Click directly on the Greeting name you wish to record.
  • Under Status, click beside one of the two selections as described below:
    • Enabled with no end date and time
    • Enabled until - chose a specific end date and end time
  • Under Callers Hear, click the down arrow beside Record and choose how you want to record your alternate greeting.
    • Use Phone - your phone will ring and you record the greeting through the handset.
    • Use Computer – use the audio device on your computer to record.
  • Click the red Record button. Begin to either speak into the handset if you have chosen Phone, or speak into your audio device (microphone) if you chose Use Computer.
  • After you have finished recording, press the Stop button. If you are using the handset, hang up after pressing the Stop button.
  • If you wish to hear your recording, press the Playback button.
  • When you have finished your recording, press the Save button at the top or bottom of this screen.
  • Repeat these steps for all other alternate greetings you wish to record.

For additional tips and training from the Office of Technology Services, go to http://www.towson.edu/adminfinance/ots/trainingdoc/.

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Personnel Announcement

Wondering what’s going on in the lives of your colleagues? Check out the information below to find out. If you’d like to contribute an item to the personnel announcement, e-mail adminfinance@towson.edu.

 

January Birthdays

All birthdays listed are based on the contributions of divisional staff. If you would like to have a birthday added to or removed from the list, please e-mail adminfinance@towson.edu.

January 1 – Angie Rehrman, Fiscal Planning and Services

January 5 – Karen Eaton, Fiscal Planning and Services

January 7 – Christine Trzcinski, Fiscal Planning and Services

January 7 – Mark Turner, Facilities Management

January 14 – Andy Bell, OTS

January 14 – Lynn Perkins, Fiscal Planning and Services

January 15 – Harry Hughes, Facilities Management

January 16 – Patrick Hyde, Facilities Management

January 17 – Debbie Asbury, Fiscal Planning and Services

January 17 – Patrick Rohe, OTS

January 17—Amanda Dorsey, Auxiliary Services

January 20 – Stuart Heilman, Fiscal Planning and Services

January 20 – Donna Amoriello, Fiscal Planning and Services

January 21 – Tom Hodges, Facilities Management

January 21 – Debbie Koman, Auxiliary Services

January 22 – Mary Anne Czyz, OTS

January 22 – Paul Thomas, Facilities Management

January 25 – Phil Butler, Facilities Management

January 26 – Robert Walton, Auxiliary Services

January 26 – Michael Mullenholz, Fiscal Planning & Services

January 27 – Laurie Jones, Fiscal Planning and Services

January 28 – Paula Clark, Auxiliary Services

January 29 – Raza Hasan, OTS

January 31 – Ben Patterson, Facilities Management

 

News and Announcements

HR has launched a new supplemental benefits website available at http://www.towson.edu/adminfinance/hr/benefits/supplementalbenefits.asp. The website contains information on group discount programs and services available to all eligible employees and their family members.

 

Awards and Honors

The West Village Commons earned LEED Gold certification for environmental features such as daylighting, energy-efficient kitchen equipment and a green roof.

The West Village Commons and CLA buildings were recognized for Outstanding Craftsmanship at 73rd Annual Craftsman Awards, hosted by the Building Congress and Exchange of Metropolitan Baltimore. Towson University racked up five awards out of 20 presented, the most of any institution represented. Congrats to everyone who worked on the projects for this well-deserved recognition!

 

Births

Rodney Urand became a father December 12 when his fiancée Jenny delivered their baby girl Sydney. Congrats Rodney!

Brian Cooney’s daughter gave birth to baby Rebecca December 14, giving Brian his first granddaughter out of five grandkids. Congrats Brian!

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