Archive | April, 2012

Energy Paradigms

By Dennis Bohlayer

As a young engineer, I was exposed to a training film on creativity and “thinking outside the box.”  The film introduced the word “paradigm” in the context of how an individual uses his set of experiences, beliefs and values in his perception of how things should be.  The illustration used was the bicycle seat.

At that time, I only knew of one style of bicycle seat—the one piece, full butt-sized version, pictured below, whose design followed that of horse saddles.  This was my paradigm as to how all bicycle seats should look like.  Then the film went on to show a different version of the bicycle seat similar to that shown below: a bicycle seat consisting of two separate pieces, each supporting a single buttock.  Wow, I thought.  Why not?  In fact, the “improved” version made a lot more sense.  And so, I had just experienced a paradigm shift. 

The "classic" bicycle seat (left) and "improved" bicycle seat (right)

We all have our own individual paradigms; we just aren’t cognitively aware of them. 

Likewise, we associate with our job responsibilities here at the university with certain paradigms as to how things should be.  But is it possible that these preconceptions are quite limiting, perhaps formed by our knowledge and experiences of long ago, and need to be challenged?  Are we open to the thought that things don’t always have to remain the same in terms of policies, standards, and the like?  Are paradigm shifts in our work environment possible? 

Consider our campus energy use.  With our real-time electrical metering capability, we have the means to observe our instantaneous electrical demand over time.  Shown below is a typical trend graph of our electrical demand over eight days with its customary pattern of wave crests and troughs. 

Campus Electrical Demand Trend Graph

Note how the weekend days of Saturday and Sunday stand out with their lower electrical demands.  While the crest of the wave (which represents our maximum demand for that particular day) is of interest, it is also the troughs that occur in the 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. timeframe that also deserve our attention.  Why are these troughs so high in the wee hours of the morning?  What is happening at that time of the night that keeps our demand so high?

Well, there are the obvious reasons:  student housing, exterior lighting, housekeeping activities, refrigeration, heating and air conditioning systems, etc.  But if we start digging deeper to understand this usage we may encounter some interesting uses, abuses and misuses, and find some opportunities to reduce energy consumption.

One such opportunity is lighting.  Just a few months ago, we replaced the lighting in our parking garages with much more efficient LED lighting, practicing good energy stewardship.  Each fixture has an occupancy sensor capability that when detecting motion raises the light level from low to high for fifteen minutes before returning back to low again. 

What if the “low” was really “off” so that the parking garages would be dark (and at their most energy conservative state) unless activated by someone or something in motion?  Wouldn’t this make sense?  I think it does…..but I also expect that there are others out there that have their own paradigm which has an opposing view. 

Another example is emergency lighting.  Years ago, it was the practice to separate out certain lighting fixtures as emergency lights wired to a separate emergency power circuit.  These lights could not be turned off at a local switch and hence were “always on.” Recently, a new product emerged, named a Generator Transfer Device (or GTD), that can be installed locally in the light fixture itself that will perform this switching function.  With this device, light fixtures connected to emergency power circuits can actually stay off during unoccupied non-emergency periods.  With the thousands of emergency lights across the campus and their long hours of run-time, a significant saving opportunity exists.  But implementation will only happen if others accepted a paradigm shift with respect to emergency lighting not being always on.

What do you think? I welcome your opinion in the comments section.

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Did You Know…

The annual Recyclemania competition wrapped up on March 31, 2012 and the official totals have been released.  This year marked another great recycling effort and Towson’s seventh consecutive year competing in the nationwide competition.  After eight weeks of competition the university recycled over 115 tons of material and 173 metric Tons of C02, which is equal to taking 93 cars off of the road and equals the energy consumption of 46 households!  Great work TU and keep on recycling.

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Tip of the Month: Embedding Videos in PowerPoint 2010

It is now easy to embed videos (such as YouTube) into your PowerPoint presentations. This feature was also present in PowerPoint 2007; however PowerPoint 2010 has made it much easier and more convenient.

Obtaining the Embed Code
1. Search for the video you need embedded into the presentation on the site that is hosting the video (such as YouTube). 2. Click the Embed Code box below the video.
3. The code will appear in the Embed box.
4. Place a checkmark in the Use old embed code box.
5. Copy the code using the browsers copy command from the menu bar; by right clicking on the code or by using the keyboard shortcut—CTRL+C.

Embedding the Video
1. Click the Insert tab on the Ribbon.
2. From the Media group, click the Video.
3. Select Video from Web Site from the Media group on the Insert Tab.
4. The Insert Video From Web Site dialog window appears.
5. Paste the embed code from the Web Site into the box.
6. Click Insert.
7. The video will be embedded into the presentation.

To sign up for free technology workshops or view additional materials related to software training, visit OTS Training online at http://www.towson.edu/otstraining.

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Baltimore P.R.I.D.E. Partners with Post Office

By Briana Cabibbo

Like many departments on campus the Towson University Post Office has several student workers who help keep the office running smoothly and get the mail to where it needs to be. However, there is one student worker at the Post Office who isn’t a student here at TU; in fact, David Krainer is a senior in high school.

So how did he land a job in TU’s Post Office, you ask? Enter the Baltimore County P.R.I.D.E. Program, which stands for Partnering Resources in Inclusive Development. It’s a post-secondary program run through Baltimore County Public Schools.  The mission of the program is to provide students who won’t be continuing on to higher education with job training and skill development which they will be able to use once they enter the workforce.

Approximately 15 years ago the program reached out to Towson University, asking if they would partner with them.  The university agreed and the program made its home in the former Lida Lee Tall Building and has been on campus ever since.  Currently, there are students working all over campus through the Baltimore P.R.I.D.E. program; they’re in the Glen, West Village and Newell Dining Halls, the University Child Care Center, Paws and of course the Post office.

David works in the TU Post Office through the Baltimore P.R.I.D.E. Program.

David has been working in the Post Office since September 2011 and will continue until he graduates from high school this upcoming May.  He was placed here through the program after discussing his interests and conveying what he might want to do for a career.  The Baltimore P.R.I.D.E. program stresses the importance of matching a student’s abilities and interests with a job site, never forcing them to go to a site they aren’t interested in.

When describing the placement process, David’s aide, Dale, said: “Disabilities are never a factor; we always look at the students’ abilities when placing them at a job site.”

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. you can find David on the first floor of the Union in the Post Office.  During his time at work he files students’ mail in their boxes, helps with large mailings, such as diplomas, and looks up incorrectly addressed mail so it can be fixed and sent back out again.  His favorite task is delivering mail to the different offices in the Union.  While on his mail route David likes to say hello to everyone and sometimes talk sports, especially the Orioles.

Through this experience David has found that he really enjoys working independently and helping out the regular post office staff.  David is glad he was able to participate in the Baltimore P.R.I.D.E. program because of all the skills he’s learned on the job.

“Working in the Post Office made me realize what it will be like when I leave and try to find a job someday,” David said.

That day is quickly approaching and the consensus in the Post Office is that he will be greatly missed when it does! The Post Office staff agreed that they have been very happy not only to work with David, but to also be involved with the Baltimore P.R.I.D.E. program.  They hope to see the program continue and expand on campus in the years to come.

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Who Knew?! Behind the Scenes at OTS

By Mark Addy

When you think of the Facilities Management department, does the new CLA Building or West Village Commons come to mind?

While Facilities does so many things on campus that are highly visible to the community, there’s much more going on behind the scenes that you might take for granted, like ensuring we stay warm in the winter.  In many cases, what goes on behind the scenes is actually the most important.  This is no different for the Office of Technology Services (OTS).

The employees of the OTS Enterprise Services group are TU’s behind-the-scenes gurus of IT. They are responsible for managing the core IT infrastructure and services that are required for daily tasks related to computing .  While Enterprise Services doesn’t manage every application that runs on our network, in most cases if a service fails, we’re responsible for helping restore service.   While a portion of our work is noticed when new services are added or upgraded, there is a tremendous amount of recurring work that is required to maintain systems—keeping them secure, reliable, performing well, and able to be recoverable in the event of a disaster.

OTS Enterprise Services has a full plate this year and what better way to share what’s on our plate than to include our plans in the A&F blog.  The 2012 Enterprise Services Initiative Report provides background on the roles of each of our subgroups, and the major initiatives that they’ll be working on throughout the year.

So take a look at the report learn more about these initiatives and find out if anything peaks your interest.  Feel free to contact me atmaddy@towson.edu if you have any questions, comments or even if you’d like to tour the Cook Data Center!  A common reaction after seeing what’s living behind the doors to the data center is “Who knew!?”

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OHR Steps Back in Time to Review Heritage

By Carla Hall

The Office of Human Resources has quarterly meetings in which we invite speakers from other areas of TU’s campus to educate our office.  On February 10, Joyce Garczynski, Cook Library’s Communications and Development Librarian, gave a thought-provoking presentation on finding your family tree, “Genealogy 101.”

 It’s been said a teacher’s greatest reward is for her students to actively utilize what they have learned; well, the Office of Human Resources did just that!  During the week of April 9, OHR staff celebrated their family heritage.   Each office and cubicle was adorned with personal artifacts, pictures, family trees and heartfelt stories of our ancestors and how they have impacted our lives today.

Phil Ross displayed his family history on his office door.

This shared information helped us understand each other better, appreciate our cultural backgrounds and gain interesting facts about our co-workers’ ancestry.  Some OHR employees’ had links to local Maryland history, such as Mary Dunaway.  Mary’s great-grandfather, George Smith, owned a portion of property which he later sold to Baltimore City.  Today that piece of land is known as the Loch Raven Reservoir!

 Other members of OHR were able to trace their roots back hundreds of years. Karen Stukes discovered her family tree could be traced back to 1820 when her relatives in the Williams family migrated to Screven County, Georgia.  Another member of OHR, Jennifer Stano, was able to follow her lineage all the way back to passengers on the Mayflower in 1600!  Among the interesting heirlooms people shared was a 155-year-old wooden shoe.  It belonged to Deneice Fusco and was worn by her ancestor when he was settling into this country all that time ago.

A display of Jo Ann Joseph's heritage.

Others shared more recent family history, such as Bonnie Yourick and Lisa Schmith.  Bonnie’s father, Robert Fouts, was a race car driver who won the 1962 Maryland State Championship, while Lisa’s father, Mr. John Forrest, was a WWII Navy veteran that received a thank you letter from President Harry S. Truman for his service to our great country.

To say the least, this amazing exercise astonished most of us and helped us to appreciate the impact of knowing our history, our heritage, and most of all the uniqueness of diversity.  If we were all the same, had the same beginnings and experiences, would life be as interesting?

When you dig deep enough into your family history, you too might find some “hidden treasures.”  If this prospect strikes your interest as it did with the Office of Human Resources, here are a few websites that will help you begin your journey:

·     Ancestry’s Family Tree Maker:http://www.familytreemaker.com/

·     Legacy Family Tree Software:http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/

·     GenoPro: http://www.genopro.com/

·     Family Tree Builder: http://www.myheritage.com/family-tree-builder

·     GEDCOM:http://www.familysearch.org/eng/home/faq/faq_gedcom.asp

·     Paper: http://www.ancestry.com/trees/charts/ancchart.aspx

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PeopleSoft Financials: Stepped Up Communication and Training Efforts

By Donna Amoriello

Financial Services is stepping up its communications and training efforts to highlight the many benefits and features of PeopleSoft Financials.  

Since the initial conversion in FY 2009, the nVision budget reports have greatly improved.  With the latest upgrade to 9.1 and the elimination of HTML, running nVision reports has become even more user-friendly.  The Excel formatted ‘Department All Transaction Report’ (DAT), with its detailed comprehensive transaction information, has become the main budget report for many departments.  No longer is it necessary to run separate drill-down reports to see current details behind a number. 

Of course, the potential of PeopleSoft Financials technology is growing!  Patches and upgrades are continually occurring as the capability of PeopleSoft Financials grows.  To stay ahead, Financial Services reviews and updates its training processes and materials to ensure that the TU campus users are aware of the latest features.

The PeopleSoft Financials Training website has been redesigned to include easy to follow step-by-step “How To” documents and tutorials.  The campus now has a direct link for scheduling one-on-one or group training sessions with the recently created email address PSFTraining@towson.edu, which is included on the seminar website. 

Workshops are currently being designed for either the seasoned or the new department user.   Attendees will have the opportunity to sign up for shorter workshops focused on specific features in order to continue to build their knowledge, at their own pace.

In addition, our grant users can now attend a PeopleSoft Financials training session immediately following the Office of University Research Services Post Award Grant Management Workshop, providing them with a comprehensive look at the grant budget process.

Additional workshops are being planned and will be available on the Financial Services Seminar Website soon!

With regular communications and renewed training efforts, Financial Services remains dedicated to assisting TU’s faculty and staff with their budget needs.

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TU Construction Update

Towson’s campus has been slowly changing over the years as new construction projects and improvements are completed.  One recently completed improvement was the pedestrian walkway from the College of Liberal Arts building to Burdick Hall and the rerouted service vehicle entrance to the Union parking lot.  But the major project on campus right now is the construction of the new 5,200 seat Tiger Arena!  Check out these pictures to see the most recent changes to TU’s landscape.

Pedestrian Walkway from CLA to Burdick 

Front view of the pedestrian walkway from CLA (out of view on the left) to Burdick (out of view on the right). The roadway leads to the parking lot by the Union and branches off from University Avenue.

New stairways and walkways which lead to Burdick Hall and the pedestrian walkway to CLA.

 

Tiger Arena

View of construction of Tiger Arena from the front. The groundbreaking for the new sports facility took place in May 2011. It is set to offically open on August 1, 2013.

 For more information about current construction on campus, visit http://www.towson.edu/adminfinance/facilities/construction/current.asp.

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Cake at 10:30 in the Morning? Yep, That’s the Bursar’s Office.

By Kevin McKenna

One morning last week, I was sitting in my office when someone on my staff came to my door.  “It’s time for cake,” she whispered.  I peered at the clock on my computer… 10:30 a.m.  OK, I thought to myself, such is life in the Bursar’s Office.  So I joined my colleagues, sang “Happy Birthday” to one of them, and ate chocolate cake (in this case, with chocolate ice cream to boot) – all at around 10:30 in the morning.

The timing isn’t always the same – usually it’s closer to lunchtime – but this is how we celebrate the birthday of every Bursar employee who wishes to be celebrated.  It’s part of what makes working in the Bursar’s Office such an enjoyable experience.  We certainly have our fair share of stressful moments; speaking with students and their parents about financial matters can often prove quite challenging. But we try to balance that with some fun times that give us at least a few minutes to relax and come together as a group.

In addition to the birthday celebrations, our office coordinates Purple Fridays, Black and Gold Fridays, and even the occasional Orange and Black Friday, in the hopes that a certain local sports team finally snaps out of its 14-year doldrums.  We also have seasonal lunch parties such as an “Unofficial Start of Summer” party in late May, a “Welcome to Fall/Start of Football Season” party in September, a holiday party in December, and coming very soon, a “Welcome to Spring/Start of Baseball Season” party.

I’m sure our office is not unique in our desire to occasionally blow off some steam and build some camaraderie.  But our approach is sometimes a little unorthodox.

By the way, as I type this it’s approaching 10:30am on my birthday.  I wonder when someone will be coming to my door this morning…

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Meet the Staff: Gail Price

By Robbi Hairston-Flood

For more than 30 years, Gail Price has tirelessly supported the TU community. In fact, some folks on campus can look down memory lane and remember Gail from 1981, when she worked at the Lida Lee Tall Learning Resource Center as an Administrative Officer. Gail was a one-woman show, fulfilling every Human Resources role in the house. 

In 1994, Gail came to the Office of Human Resources (OHR). At that time, she functioned as a Recruiter, Operations Specialist, and Payroll Associate.

 “I remember that we only had one office computer, and you had to teach yourself how to use it,” Gail said. “Thank goodness we all had our own typewriters!”

OHR employee Gail Price (third from the left holding certificate) being honored by the Red Cross for her work with blood drives.

Since then a lot has changed at the university, including Gail’s job title.  She now works as Benefits Specialist in OHR. Gail starts her days bright and early, ensuring that she knows the latest information about your medical plan, dental coverage, prescription drug rates, and life insurance premiums. She’s both the person that potential employees speak to about benefits before they decide to come to Towson, as well as the person that long term employees speak to when they decide to retire! Gail knows everything there is to know about your flexible spending account and tuition remission deadlines.

Gail is also known on campus as the Red Cross Blood Drive Coordinator. For more than 16 years, Gail has organized countless blood drives which help Towson University and the campus community.

Gail busy schedule doesn’t end when she clocks out from TU. She is also involved with the Baltimore County Department of Parks and Recreation, the Special Olympics, and the American Legion, where she has taught aerobics and has volunteered for various activities.

Gail said, “I do what I do because I love it. It’s the way I was raised…to help”. 

In a few short weeks, Gail Price will be honored at the 28th Annual Service Awards Celebration. This honor is not just for the number of years she has dedicated to the university, but for the tremendous difference that Gail has made on campus and in the community.

 “I’ve seen so much growth in the university, there’s a much larger student body, and the faculty/staff population is huge,” Gail said. “I love being here. I value the university and its community. It has been exciting to see the change!”

TU values all of Gail’s hard work and dedication. Hopefully, she won’t be submitting her own retirement papers anytime soon!

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