Someone sent me a rumor they heard, that as of the new fiscal year, staff would be granted a flat 10 vacation days and 5 days sick leave a year with no increases for years of service. Don’t get your blood pressure up; this one’s still just a rumor. Some of you may remember prior discussions about moving to a Paid Time Off plan; it’s something UTMB has looked at in the past and that we’ve addressed a few times in Rumors (scroll down to Feb. 2004). PTO takes all kinds of leave and lumps it together, and gives one more flexibility to use it at their discretion. Many people in the private sector and many health centers (MD Anderson is a UT System example) currently use PTO plans. I think UTMB is always watching trends that affect the workforce and looks at PTO periodically, but I checked with HR and there is no official talk of UTMB moving to a PTO plan. I think that in many ways PTO plans are a wash; they have advantages and disadvantages for both employees and employers. I’ll update if I hear more…
Archive for April, 2006
It’s official. The Rumors or Trumors web site has been retired, replaced by this blog. I archived off the last bits of info, and I have a new rumors category on pep talk. I hope to all that’s holy that the volume of rumors doesn’t ever get to what it was at the peak of the Rumors site, but I guess that’s up to you. I’m here to serve…
Sounds painful, huh? Navigant’s begun making its rounds in our area (University Advancement), like they are across many other parts of campus. My colleagues and I are hustling to pull together a lot of data and background material, and some of our chiefs have already had initial meetings. I guess the takeaway messages are that 1) they really are looking at everything and everyone. This isn’t just about the clinical enterprise or schools or big entities or any other isolated area. 2) Don’t expect it to be fun. These folks have been asked to do a tough job and do it quickly. While I’m sure they’ll keep it professional, I think it would be wise for anyone meeting with them to expect tough questions and to be pushed into some uncomfortable territory. It’s what we’re paying them to do.
Earth Day is one of a few times a year when the campus gets to come together, out of our labs and clinics, classrooms and offices. I love the school kids that come in, I like the music and the exhibits and all the goofy contests, I like the swap shop and the free baby trees. I like to see the students and faculty and staff together on the library plaza, enjoying themselves. Lunch is always good; this year it’s gazpacho and chicken or veggie wraps with the famous UTMB cake. I know it takes a lot of hours and a lot of volunteers to pull it together, and they deserve our thanks. But with gas at $3 a gallon and talk of global warming, I think taking a little while to celebrate and think about this fragile planet of ours is a decent idea. Hope you have a chance to stop by.
I’m certain that when everyone rolls out of bed they 1) open their eyes and stretch and 2) wonder what’s on the UTMB home page. Well, bad news, guys and gals. Tomorrow morning, at least if you are a RoadRunner customer in Galveston, you may have to get a cup of coffee or read the Daily News. The network guys are fixing some issue that I wouldn’t pretend to understand (a faulty route table with our downstream ISP. Got it?) The long and the short is that we have a backup when we lose our primary route to the Internet, but that backup hasn’t allowed RR users to access UTMB. That’s what they’re testing and hoping to fix Thursday morning (April 27) starting at 6 a.m. Outage may last three hours max.; it shouldn’t affect us here on campus.
I mentioned in an earlier post that fences were going up today on the east (facing 6th St.) and north (facing Jennie Sealy) sides of the Admin Building. The construction guys were there on schedule this morning, putting up the fences. They’re going to be working on chilled water lines, some of the new infrastructure that goes with the University Plaza project. Chilled water makes air conditioning possible, so this is one detour I can live with, even though I’ll be one of the ones making a daily route adjustment. FYI, the east-facing doors on the second level (by the Benefits Center, Cashier and Parking Office windows) will close; access these areas from the first floor and up the carpeted stairs. The three entrances on the ground level will all remain open.
I heard this one again today, so my guess is it’s picking up steam. I heard it first from friends in the community, and it’s been repeated since on campus. It goes something like this: “UTMB knows it wants/needs to cut 3,000 jobs and Navigant is a ruse, a way to get it done. The decision’s already been made.” It’s a juicy and scary rumor, so I can understand why it’s spread, but the bottom line is that it’s not true. If you think it through, why would we invest so much money (more than a million bucks) if the goal was to end up just swinging the ax? If we knew that’s all we needed to do, anyone on campus could probably make up a dozen ways to “justify” it for free. Remember, we’re not in dire straits and not on the verge of going under. We’ve been working hard and making hard decisions, and getting by year after year. What Navigant is supposed to help us do–what they’ve done for other well-known academic health centers across the country and across Texas–is to help us move from “getting by” to really doing great. In some cases that may mean reducing costs and increasing efficiency, and that can/may translate to job cuts. But there’s only so much you can cut, and we’ve been that route before. Making cuts doesn’t enhance revenue, doesn’t bring in new dollars to do more things for the people we serve. Being great means making investments in your best people and programs, growing to meet new opportunities, having the facilities and resources to make good things happen. That’s the future for UTMB that I hear people talking about and planning.
With Earth Day almost here, if you’re looking for a neat nature-friendly thing to do, I have the answer. I heard from Mary Ellen Beaupre in TDCJ Nursing Services about “Plant Swapping,” something she’s been helping organize for about five years. The next big event is Saturday, April 29 at Walter Hall Park in League City. Swappers get together to trade plants, cuttings, seeds, gardening items and crafts, birdhouses, gardening magazines, etc. Like many of the best things in life, it’s all free. Mary Ellen has a plant swap web site that talks about what to expect. You can also email her.
UTMB people do some interesting things in their time off. If you have a neat hobby or pastime, let me know about it.
…are the sorts of charges I never want to see on my credit card, are the things I think when I hear “identity theft.” It’s on my mind this morning, as a server at the McCombs School of Business at UT Austin was “compromised” (fancy word for hacked) earlier this month. They found out this past weekend that personal info from students, potential students, alumni and others was stolen. This hit close to home because an officemate is a current student, and she’s understandably unhappy and hustling this morning to get information and protect herself. I really feel for McCombs and those associated with the school. But this hammers home one point for us here: all the hurdles, all the hoops and all the rules we have in place around digital information at UTMB are there for a reason, to protect valuable and sensitive personal information. While the rules and standards don’t make us invincible, they make sense and are a prudent way to go about our business. I’ll work to remember this the next time I’m getting frustrated at some perceived IT roadblock. Better that than a legion of angry and worried customers.
If you work in the School of Nursing (which is celebrating commencement today) or School of Allied Health Sciences, this is probably no surprise to you. If you get over there once every week or two, like I do, be prepared for a detour on your next trip. There’s a major lobby renovation taking place, and the building’s main entrance will close starting Monday (April 24). I think the schools have been doing a good job keeping their staff, students and faculty in the loop. In the “getting creative” category, a men’s restroom has been temporarily commandeered for use by the women, who outnumber the guys 3 to 1 in the building. Fair enough, but I’m guessing there may be some head scratching when some members of the fairer sex walk in and see the urinals. Project is due to be completed at the end of the summer, just in time for a new batch of students. See a map of what’s open and closed…