Archive | July, 2012

Meet the Staff: TUPD Chief Bernie Gerst

by Susanna Craine

TU’s Chief of Police Bernie Gerst plays major – even starring – roles in numerous campus events every year. Over the years, Chief Gerst’s active participation and dedication has been an inspiration to those around him. And it is energizing and reinforcing to see how his inspiration has spread from person to person, indicating an ever brightening future for the university.

Last April, when Chief Gerst walked “a mile in her shoes” – a pair of red high heels specifically – he gained new insight into the untenable situation women can be in when dressed to the nines, wearing heels. This exercise, sponsored by the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Committee, has male participants walk more than a mile in high heels, and allowed Chief Gerst to experience a different kind of vulnerability and need, which has prompted him to re-evaluate safety measures on campus.

Police Chief Bernie Gerst during his walk across campus in the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event.

Add to this Bernie Gerst’s annual participation in The Special Olympics Maryland Summer Games (SOMD), where he runs with other members of his department in the final leg of the initiating touch run. No stranger to pain, having undergone two knee surgeries, he understands the hardships faced in training and competition. But through SOMD, the chief has witnessed the unique pains and the incredible strengths of those athletes, persevering through their physical and mental handicaps.

At the heart of it, Chief Gerst believes “we should always try to do our best no matter what the task at hand is and no matter what the limitations are; try to improve, try to excel, and just try to participate and put forth your best effort.” His personal convictions have proved invaluable, not simply for Bernie Gerst, but the entire university. He leads by example, striving every day to improve himself as an individual, as a professional and as a Towson Tiger. “It’s true that we win because we are trying. We may face obstacles or stumble along the way, but we are in the race. That is what it’s all about,” he explains.

Indeed, it is.

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Eliminating Long Lines at the Bursar’s Office

by Keving McKenna

It’s 8:30 on a rainy morning in August, a week before fall classes are set to begin.  The third floor hallway in the Enrollment Services Building is filled with students lined up from one end of the hall to the other, many of them soaking wet from the rain.  What has so many students gathered in one place at such a relatively early time of the day, in spite of the inclement weather?  One of our planet’s greatest motivators, of course: money.

That was the scene last August on the fall semester’s first day of financial aid rebate check disbursement, a scene that is likely to repeat itself in just a few weeks (hopefully minus the rain), because it repeats itself every August and January.  By the end of the day, the Bursar’s Office had distributed over 1,000 rebate checks.  Over the course of each school year, the Bursar’s Office disburses more than 20,000 such checks; some of these checks are mailed to students at their request, but the vast majority are handed out in person at the Bursar’s Office.

However, that may all be changing soon.  For the past few months, the Bursar’s Office management team has been looking into making the rebate check disbursement process electronic.  We are pursuing a model that will enable students to either continue receiving paper checks in the mail or have their financial aid rebate funds electronically transferred into their bank account.  If they choose the latter the switch would be simple.  All students would need to do is visit a secure website, consent to receiving their rebates electronically, and enter their bank account information.

We are targeting implementation of the electronic disbursement for no later than the beginning of the 2013-14 school year, with the possibility of having it in place for some portion of the 2012-13 school year.  It is something that many other schools – including several of our fellow USM institutions – are already doing.  Once we begin marketing the program, we are hopeful that students will opt to receive their money electronically, since that method will give them access to their funds sooner and save them a trip to the bank to deposit their check.  Either way, the long lines of August and January will soon be a thing of the past at the Bursar’s Office.

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General Accounting: Mysterious Money Masters

“General Accounting?  Who are they?” some employees may ask in a none-too- excited voice.    Members of General Accounting have come to expect this routine inquiry; we don’t have the pizzazz, glamour or exposure of our fellow financial groups.  We are not the “Cinderella” of Financial Services. That designation most likely applies to Payroll or Accounts Payable who are more visible and engaged on-campus. Instead we can be characterized in the role of the Fairy Godmother- to be politically correct call us Fairy Godpersons. Our influence (or “magic wand”) touches every aspect of University finances and reporting. We are the “number crunchers” or as some would say the “bean counters” of the operation. As a unit we enthusiastically embrace those titles and take pride in the fact that we are diligent caretakers of University resources.

Our area is a cohesive unit that until recently boasted 152 years of institutional knowledge.  (You don’t need to question that number – we are accountants.) As some may already know, the “winds of change” have suddenly hit our area. Two retirees this year and a dedicated employee recruited by another university will leave some holes. Have no fear; we’re rebuilding and staying as strong as ever. We are small in number but are knowledgably acquainted with financial operations across the campus.

As a behind the scenes unit, the Office of General Accounting processes your daily cash and credit card receipts and conducts reviews of your Procurement Card activities.  We are the watchdogs overseeing bank accounts while working to implement financial policies set forth by the University System of Maryland and the State of Maryland General Accounting Division. We perform a variety of reconciliations – cash, revenues and expenses to just to name a few.  Every aspect of our jobs involves the oversight of daily transactions and of myriad financial reports for external entities.

While summer is vacation time for a majority  of the University, General Accounting picks up speed on the exciting roller coaster of fiscal year end. It is our responsibility to capture all the building activities on campus, assist departments in properly accruing or deferring expenses and revenues, and work with the University Budget Office to disburse the campus’s final financial numbers to the State. Then we begin the arduous process of putting together the GAAP financial statements for the University System of Maryland (USM).

Lastly, do not despise us when we laugh derisively at the complaints that we receive from campus employees being visited about by the  auditors. We have no sympathy because we are one of the few departments on campus that meet with  auditors every year, and may we say, and it is not just one group of auditors!  We work with the financial statement auditors every year and are involved in the financial audits conducted by USM and the Legislative auditors.

So, the next time you receive a call from our area, please don’t think, “What the heck do they want?” Think of us and yourself as a cog in the big financial operation of the University.

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Brand Name Politics – Diversity and Consumer Culture

by Eric VanLieshout

When I worked at Starbucks, I found myself uncomfortable when the company began a campaign professing their politics, at the behest of the CEO. “Wait, I serve coffee, not politics – especially not someone else’s politics,” I thought.  And considering the irony existing between the campaign’s object and my hourly wage, the whole scenario bothered me, albeit not enough to reject my new position as politico-barista and quit my job. (In my defense, self-preservation generally trumps personal convictions.)

In ever increasing numbers, prominent American business executives are pronouncing – publicly – their political beliefs and causes, often funding pet organizations and think tanks with what ultimately amounts to consumer dollars. Top executives at Facebook, Starbucks and most recently Chick-fil-a (to name a scant few) have all injected politics into their image; each brand has come to represents a subtle dogma, in a manner of speaking. Putting aside personal convictions and contentions surrounding this practice, what implications exist for Towson, as some on-campus vendors are now, in essence, political entities?

Towson University prides itself in the diversity it harbors and nurtures – rightly so, too. Through trial and tribulation, the university has remained steadfast in tolerating all ideologies that seek expression and acceptance on campus (within peaceful and lawful limits). Yet perhaps more importantly, Towson has successfully integrated this diversity to the point of normalcy, an innate feature as opposed to a hyperbolic “goal” or “quota.” That said, “trial and tribulation” is not just an idiom, and litigating challenges, such as the hate/bias issues of last autumn, can be stressful efforts. And by general practice, politics is more often than not synonymous with challenge.

Joe Oster, the AVP for Auxiliary Services, weighed in on the matter: “I do not like it when businesses, one way or the other, profess their beliefs and then others try tell the general population whether they should use their product or not. Customers today are very savvy and make their political decisions with their purchases. I may have different viewpoints from the owners of Google, Chick-fil-a, Walmart and Facebook, but I use, or shop, with all of them.” Having worked for the Associated Students of UCLA, Mr. Oster understands first-hand the difficulty created when an institution’s board tries to counter politics with more politics, explaining “it often made finding products and services very challenging.” Instead, he favors a more neutral approach, believing that students, faculty and staff will “dictate their preferences via their purchases.”

Thus (and in my opinion),  choosing and/or retaining on-campus vendors could remain a more neutral supply and demand issue, better circumventing more overt and controversial politics. That said, my object is not to analyze or problem solve. Instead, my goal is simply to entice interest and spur reflection on Towson University not as school, but as an important social institution. As times change and new challenges emerge, it is intriguing and exciting to see how forward-thinking institutions such as Towson University navigate these new challenges without disparaging their founding principles.

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Derecho Can’t Hold Us Down

by Eric Martinez

Fiscal Year End can be a gruesome time of year for the Division of Administration and Finance; there are a lot of hours that go into maintaining a smooth transition between the two fiscal years and there are several areas – within the division – that are highly impacted during this time of year.
 
Friday June, 29, the campus was heading out the door and looking forward to a warm relaxing weekend.  While our weekend activities commenced, a storm known as a derecho traveled over 700 miles, from Iowa to the East Coast, creating havoc along its path.  In the height of its destruction, the storm knocked out several thousand trees, causing hundreds of thousands of people to go without electricity.  Our campus was a casualty taken out by the torrential storm.
 
Facilities Management came in the following Saturday and stayed in contact with BGE to assess the situation and communicate the campus outages; Campus Police did an excellent job updating and communicating the campus community with closing and outage updates.
 
Monday morning came and all but one building was fully restored with power.  The occupants of the Administration building were instructed to stay at home since the building had limited access.  While some employees enjoyed an extended weekend, several departments in the Administration building had to make other accommodations to make sure that the start of Fiscal Year 2012 closing sailed in the right direction.
 
The Office of Technology Services had to house 21 individuals from the Administration building for two days.  Accounts Payable, Payroll, the PeopleSoft Financials Team, Procurement, Working Fund, and the University Budget Office had to double and triple up in cubicles to ensure an easy transition.  I say this lightly because we all know how uncomfortable it is to be in an unfamiliar space.
 
Lynn Kimmel had to deploy her staff to other locations; Steve Kettinger assisted with connecting computers and laptops, printers, and he hand carried the Quicken computer and printer from the Administration building to Cook Library.  When it is essential for our staff to relocate, we forget about the software that is setup on our computers.  With that said, Nathaniel Leonard assisted with the software installation needed to transmit files and Becky Mundschenk assisted with payroll processing issues.
 
The Office of Human Resources had to do last minute planning as well.  Plans were made to transition the New Employee Orientation, if the Administration building was not up and running, to another location.  While these efforts go unnoticed by outsiders, it is important to highlight the dedication of our staff.
 
“When the going gets tough, the tough gets going!”  We have a great staff and the Division of Administration and Finance wanted to give a special thank you to: Facilities Management, Environmental Health & Safety, Campus Police, Office of Human Resources, Al Lagos, Barb Vollmer, Becky Mundschenk, Bobby Zengel, Brian O’Connell, Cyndi Zile, Deanna Martinez, Debbie Asbury, Denise Fisher, Ellie Watts, Eric Martinez, Jamie Uppercue, Jeanne Lambdin, Jeff Sutton, Jessica Watson, Joyce Gibson, Julie Hall, Keith Brown, Linda O’Connor Lorraine Hart, Lucy Slaich, Lyn Kimmel, Mike Horney, Nathaniel Leonard, Nisar Kahn, Sandy Levin, Stephanie Herpick, Steve Kettinger, Stuart Heilman, Sue Brodie and Terry Love.
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Tip of the Month: How to Use Screen Capture Tool

Word 2010 features a built in screen capture tool. You can quickly and easily add a screenshot to your Office file to enhance the readability or capture information without leaving the program that you are working in. You can use it to take a picture of all or part of the windows open on your computer.

  1. Open the program, browser session or workspace that you want to take the screenshot from.
  2. Open the Microsoft Office application that you want to add the screenshot to.
  3. Place your cursor in the section of the Office document you want the screenshot to be added to
  4. On the Insert tab, in the Illustrations group (Images Group in PowerPoint), click Screenshot.
  5. The Available Windows menu appears. To add the whole window, click the thumbnail in the Available Windows gallery.
  6. To add part of the window, click Screen Clipping.
  7. The Microsoft program will minimize and the screen will become grey. The mouse pointer will become a cross.
  8. Press and hold the left mouse button and drag to select the area of your screen that you want to capture.
  9. Release the mouse button and the image will be automatically inserted into Word.
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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.

July 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.

July 1 – Dave Taylor, Facilities Management

July 2 – Tim Sandruck, Facilities Management

July 3 – Tammy Weichseldorfer, OTS

July 4 – Debra Boettcher, Facilities Management

July 4 – William Stafford, Facilities Management

July 5 – Matt Rising, OTS

July 7 – Phillip George, Facilities Management

July 7 – Lana Rybalnik, OTS

July 9 – Barbara Hufnagel, Fiscal Planning and Services

July 9 – Shelly Sievers, Fiscal Planning and Services

July 10 – William Briley, Auxiliary Services

July 10 – John De Armey, Facilities Management

July 11 – Mike Medairy, Facilities Management

July 11 – Michael Roddy, TUPD

July 13 – Lou Chaney, Facilities Management

July 13 – Joanne Kist, Fiscal Planning and Services

July 13 – Lisa Schmith, Human Resources

July 14—Jim McTygue, Auxiliary Services

July 14—Frank Rankin, Auxiliary Services

July 15 – Cynthia Andrews, Human Resources

July 15 – Mike Noll, Human Resources

July 15 – Hassan Sanda, Auxiliary Services

July 16 – Rance Burger, Facilities Management

July 18 – Christopher Betts, Facilities Management

July 18 – Valerie Panuska, Auxiliary Services

July 19 – Michele Kreider, Fiscal Planning and Services

July 20 – John Harris, Facilities Management

July 21 – Dave Socha, Facilities Management

July 23 – Matthew Curio, ECS

July 24 – Verna Green, Auxiliary Services

July 27- Tobi Bennet, Facilities Management

July 28 – Ronald Peacock, Facilities Management

July 29 – Jen Streb, Financial Services

July 30 – Charlie Rummings, OTS

News & Announcements

Robin Boord, Printing Services, received Top Tiger honors for the month of June; she was nominated for the award by Claire Holmes from Cook Library, who praised her for “handling, with calm efficiency, the enormous and somewhat complicated print job needed in March for the RAILS research project I was working on. The other universities that participated in the study had problems with their printing, so I was stressed about getting it right on our end. Robin performed ‘confidently, quickly and with a smile!’”

Jeff Clark, Carpenter Shop, received a Top Tiger honors for the month of June. He was nominated for the award by  Lisa Woznicki, Shannon Simpson, Joyce Garczyski, Sarah Crest and Claire Holmes, all from Cook Library. They commended Clark for doing “a masterful job” of taking down a countertop and mending a wall in the fourth floor librarian office suite. They said Clark “genuinely impressed all of the librarians with his construction knowledge and helpful nature.”

Chuck Conjar of the Printing Center is a finalist in the Ocean City Song of 2012 Contest.  His song “Ocean City Days” has been chosen as one of the 3 finalists in this year’s contest.  Way to go, Chuck! You can visit http://ococean.com/songofsummer to vote for Chuck’s song (a maximum of once a day) until July 23.

Dana Hall and Richard Herbert, both of Parking & Transportation Services, completed the Management & Supervision Certificate, one of five noncredit certificates offered by the Office of Human Resources. This certificate is designed for those currently working in or interested in moving into management.

Gail Price, Office of Human Resources, has been selected to receive a 2012 University System of Maryland Board of Regents Staff award for Extraordinary Public Service to the University or the Greater Community. She was recognized and commended for her outstanding work ethic and volunteerism. In her role as our benefits specialist, she has worked many evenings and weekends to process employment and benefits documents. She is often approached by employees while walking on campus and keeps pen and paper handy to take down their questions. Outside her university role, and in addition to managing all of TU’s Red Cross blood drives, she has volunteered to help set up the university’s annual flu clinics, participated in mass casualty drills and exercises, and helped with the Cherry Hill children’s summer camp. She also lends a hand with Disabled Veterans clothing/food/household drives, American legion activities, and OHR events.

Deaths

The Administration and Finance Department is sad to report the passing of Joe Oster’s father, Urban J. Oster.  Mr. Oster passed away Tuesday, July 10 at 11 p.m. California time.  Our condolences go out to the Oster family in their time of need.

 

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