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HR News

As UNT World employees, you may occasionally receive email invitations to webinars centered around benefits topics such as retirement, social security, savings plans, etc. Some of these can be solicitation emails from third-party vendors, and employees who mistakenly attend one of these webinars can receive misleading or wrong information. 

UNT World does not sponsor these presentations and information provided during these sessions has not been reviewed by Human Resources Benefits staff unless the presenters are a contracted vendor with our organization. Third-party vendors will often send emails with subject lines such as:

  • Make the most of your health plan
  • Join Us for an overview of TRS  and Social Security
  • Retirement Planning customized for you
  • Employer Paid Benefits

Please note that UNT World benefits webinars will come from UNT System or one of our contracted vendors, such as the following: 

  • UNT System Human Resources
  • UNT World Well-being program
  • Teacher’s Retirement System of Texas
  • Employees Retirement System of Texas
  • FMLA Source (Compsych – FMLA compliance provider)
  • Alliance Work Partners (EAP program provider)
  • Fidelity Investments (ORP and retirement savings provider)
  • TIAA (ORP and retirement savings provider)
  • AIG (ORP and retirement savings provider)
  • VOYA (ORP and retirement savings provider)
  • TexaSaver (457 retirement savings provider)

At times, UNT System Human Resources may support other training from additional vendors. If this occurs, we will notify you through our newsletter or UNT World Well-being program updates. If you receive email solicitations for webinars regarding your benefits, always feel free to check with your HR team to verify the validity of the invitation.
 
Employees who would like information regarding planning for retirement, insurance and leave are encouraged to meet with one of your HR benefits staff:

Kathleen Hobson, Director, UNT Pride Alliance
Kathleen Hobson

UNT System HR is brings you UNT World experts with this periodic and always timely installation called "Ask An Expert." So, let's ask...

OUR EXPERTS:

  • Kathleen Hobson (they, them, theirs), Director, UNT Pride Alliance: Originally from Ohio, Kathleen received their bachelor's in Sociology from Ohio University and master's in Higher Education Administration from the University of Akron. They have worked in higher education full-time for nine years and moved to Denton in 2014 to open UNT’s Pride Alliance, where they currently serve as Director. Kathleen is a proud founding and executive board member of PRIDENTON. They describe themselves as a white, queer, genderqueer/trans/non-binary person who navigates the world with anxiety, depression and neurodivergence. Kathleen enjoys spending time with their cats Ailbhe and Séamus, and working on home and furniture projects.
Susan Harper, Ph.D., Coordinator of Activities, Student Affairs, UNT Dallas
Susan Harper
  • Susan Harper, Ph.D. (she/her/hers), Coordinator of Student Activities, oversees Multicultural Programs, UNT Dallas: Dr. Harper holds a bachelor's in English and Anthropology from UNT Denton, a master's and Ph.D. in Anthropology from SMU, and an MA in Multicultural Women’s and Gender Studies from Texas Woman’s University. Prior to coming to UNT Dallas in 2019, she taught courses in anthropology, sociology, Women’s Studies and Queer Studies throughout Dallas-Fort Worth. She describes herself as a “cisgender, mostly-lesbian-identified bisexual woman,” but also really likes the word “queer” for a label. She and her partner of 12 years, Stephanie, share their home with a jungle of plants and the world’s three most spoiled felines.

As Pride Month winds down, our experts examine how their UNT institutions have expanded LGBTQ+ inclusiveness and affirmation, evolving societal views, the biggest issues facing the LGBTQ+ communities on our campuses and workplaces, and more.

 

What did efforts at LGBTQ+ inclusiveness and affirmation look like when you arrived at your UNT World institution? What history of these efforts existed on your campus, and what priorities had been set around them?
Hobson (UNT Pride Alliance): 
When I arrived at UNT in 2014, the Pride Alliance had just been created on the Denton campus and UNT had also instituted a non-discrimination policy that included sexuality, gender identity and gender expression. There was also a history of Ally/SafeZone trainings that had been conducted for several years and an LGBTQ & Ally Scholarship. UNT also had an LGBTQ Studies Minor, which had existed prior to my arrival. Coming from work in Ohio and New York, these were some of the reasons that I personally felt comfortable coming to work at UNT and in Texas. At that time, there were two different Queer and Trans student organizations, GLAD: UNT’s Queer Alliance and the Trans and Intersex Alliance of Denton (T.R.I.A.D.). There was also the Trans Taskforce, which had been meeting regularly to identify and expand all-gender bathrooms on campus and issues of equity for Trans students, faculty and staff. Faculty had the opportunity to get involved with the LGBT Faculty Network and the Committee on the Status of LGBTQ+ Faculty (part of Faculty Senate).

Harper (UNT Dallas): I’ve been at UNT Dallas since 2019. When I arrived, the formal efforts at LGBTQ+ inclusion were scattershot – there had been SafeZone/Ally Trainings in the past, but there hadn’t been one offered in a while. There was a Gay Straight Alliance for students on campus, but it wasn’t hugely active and the main forces behind it graduated my first semester at UNT Dallas. UNT Dallas certainly was part of the larger UNT World efforts – an employment nondiscrimination clause and so forth – and I felt comfortable being out throughout my application and interview process. One of the things that was requested of me when I came on board was to expand the LGBTQ+ programming through my office. We’ve been able to come a long way in the two years I have been here, and I’m looking forward to seeing where we go next.
 
How about from a faculty/staff perspective – was there a time when faculty/staff were not comfortable in being publicly “out”? Has that changed over time?
Hobson (UNT Pride Alliance):
 I started working at UNT in the Pride Alliance in 2014. Looking back through documents prior to 2014, there were private groups for Queer and Trans faculty and staff. People kept track of each other through handwritten lists and phone numbers. There was definitely a heightened fear for faculty and staff that they could be fired or discriminated against because of their sexuality or gender identity. Though I would say overall there are larger numbers of faculty and staff that feel comfortable being out, that is not a universal experience. I know that there are faculty and staff that feel hesitant being out at UNT for different reasons. This could depend on the level of acceptance in their office or department or privilege they hold in other identities, such as race, ethnicity, citizenship status and ability. Academia is still an environment that was created by and for white, heterosexual, cisgender, Christian, able-bodied men, and there are still risks in being out, no matter how far we have come.

Harper (UNT Dallas): This is one of those things that varies so much among people, especially when we take into consideration the other identities that intersect with LGBTQ+ identity. I can certainly say that in general, many more people in the U.S. are comfortable being out of the closet at work, and I have several colleagues on my campus who are out about their LGBTQ+ identity. But I am equally sure that I have colleagues who aren’t out at work, or who are out to a select group of colleagues with whom they work closely, but not to everyone on campus. UNT World having a nondiscrimination clause that protects LGBTQ+ people likely helps people feel more comfortable here – LGBTQ+ identity is not federally protected nor is it protected statewide, so there is a long history of people being closeted at work for fear of being fired (which is totally legal in many states, including Texas). I also think there are probably very different experiences for cisgender LGBTQ+ folks and trans folks of any sexuality when it comes to being out, since there are often additional issues they face with documentation, ID, etc. 
 
How do you see societal views of LGBTQ people having changed over time?
Hobson (UNT Pride Alliance): Societal views of Queer and Trans people have changed drastically in the last few decades. There is more education and information about sexuality and gender identity and more public and visible representation of Queer and Trans people in politics and the media. The average age of “coming out” continues to get younger and younger. I see and more and more students coming to UNT who are already firmly rooted in their identities. That being said, society and our UNT community still have a long way to go. There is by no means universal acceptance and equity for Queer and Trans people. Many of our laws and policies are lacking in access and protections for Queer and Trans people around housing, healthcare, adoption, and carceral systems. Queer and Trans communities are still at risk for physical violence, particularly Black Trans women.

Harper (UNT Dallas): There are still many prejudices and misconceptions about LGBTQ+ people, as we can see with the slate of anti-trans laws that we’re seeing in Texas and across the nation. The societal needle has moved more towards acceptance in just my lifetime – for instance, the acceptance of same-sex/same-gender marriage is at an all time high, and we’re seeing more companies adopt nondiscrimination policies and inclusion efforts. I think people now often see LGBTQ+ folks as not these strange exotic creatures, but as their friends and neighbors and coworkers. That said, however, cisgender heterosexual folks tend to be more accepting of LGBTQ+ folks who look and live like them, which means that LGBTQ+ folks who don’t adhere to the middle-class heteronormative model of life and family may not experience the same kinds of acceptance that those who do adhere to those norms do. There are certainly pockets of intense homophobia and transphobia in this country, though I do think that generally speaking people are more accepting of LGBTQ+ people now than they were even 20 years ago. But that acceptance can be uneven both regionally and across the LGBTQ+ spectrum. I do find that many of my students come to UNT Dallas already having had friends who were out of the closet in high school or even younger, which was definitely not my experience as an undergraduate in the 1990s, when I didn’t know anyone out of the closet until college. I’ve recently worked with the Upward Bound students at UNT Dallas and some youth leadership students across the country and found that they are much more aware and accepting of LGBTQ+ people at 16-18 than I could possibly have been at that age.
 
Can you describe the way in which your UNT World institution has worked to become more inclusive and affirming? Is there a program or initiative you’re especially proud of in this area?

Hobson (UNT Pride Alliance): I would absolutely love to see more visible and proactive initiatives from UNT World. It is difficult to know what exists in the way of programming, training and inclusive policies for Queer and Trans students, faculty and staff at the other UNT campuses. The Pride Alliance often gets requests for training and programs from the other UNT campuses and, unfortunately, we not have the capacity to provide services. With one full-time staff position, it is difficult to meet the needs of just the Denton campus alone. Some of the programs and initiatives that we have been excited to create on the Denton campus include the OUTfits Clothing Closet, Lavender Graduation, Lavender Leaders Retreat, Chosen Name Change Policies, the Dr. Enedelia Sauceda Award for Supporting Student Wellness, partnerships with community organizations like PRIDENTON and Outreach Denton, and an interactive Google map of all-gender restrooms on the Denton campus (coming in Fall 2021).

Harper (UNT Dallas): We are fortunate to have strong administration support for a more LGBTQ+ inclusive and affirming campus in President Mong, which helps set the tone. My office has started offering SafeZone/Ally trainings again, though I am in the midst of revising the curriculum to be more effective on our campus – many of those materials are very white-centered and also assume that people still need to be convinced of the reasons why LGBTQ+ people should be treated equally, and that’s just not appropriate for our campus. I find that the people who arrive at SafeZone are already aware of the need for LGBTQ+ inclusivity and equality – they just aren’t sure what steps to take to help us get there. Many of our LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff also exist at the intersection of LGBTQ+ identity and Black or Brown identity, which brings into play a number of different factors and experiences that need to be acknowledged in the training. I’ve sought out trainings done by LGBTQ+ people of color so I can more effectively advocate for our campus, whether by revising trainings I give or bringing in experts from outside. We’ve also expanded our programming for LGBTQ+ History Month and also brought LGBTQ+ identity into our other multicultural programming (Black history programming, for example). I think this helps students who are not LGBTQ+ see the importance of this community and gives our LGBTQ+ students a chance to see themselves mirrored and affirmed. My campus has a growing number of faculty and staff who include their personal pronouns in their email signature and who wear pronoun pins – small acts of allyship that have been shown to have powerful and even outsized effects on the well-being of trans students. We adopted gender-neutral language when naming our lactation space (often called a Mother’s Room) in the Student Center – it is simply called the Lactation Room. As I work with students, faculty and staff, and learn more about what challenges they face and what feels affirming to them, I adjust my programming plan and advocate for larger changes on campus.
 
What are the biggest issues still facing the LGBTQ+ community from a student perspective? From a faculty/staff perspective?
Hobson (UNT Pride Alliance): 
Student Perspective: Right now we are currently working with all of our incoming first-year students in their orientation sessions. They are busy trying to arrange their room assignments for the fall and Trans students continue to struggle to find safe and inclusive housing options and roommates. My office currently works with Housing to help Trans students find spaces in the residence halls and roommates that feel like a good fit. However, this current process requires Trans students to out themselves and advocate for their needs in order to access our assistance. This is a far larger burden than any incoming cisgender students have to carry in order to arrange housing. It can be a frustrating and nerve-wracking experience for Trans students, and is certainly difficult for the Pride Alliance and Housing to work with each individual student to try to introduce them to prospective roommates and place them together. This process is a band-aid and is not at all equitable. What students need is an official Open Housing Policy, that allows any student to opt-in to gender inclusive housing, which would allow them to room with other students, regardless of gender identity or sex assigned at birth. We  have been advocating for an Open Housing Policy since 2015. Additional concerns for students include: access to funds for gender-affirming healthcare, access to housing and funding if abandoned by parents and guardians, not enough all-gender bathrooms on campus, and general lack of knowledge about gender and sexuality from their peers, faculty, and staff.
 
Faculty/Staff Perspective: While there are many concerns I could speak to, one of the main concerns that faculty and staff report to my office is lack of access to gender-affirming healthcare. Because UNT has insurance through the state of Texas, faculty and staff are not able utilize their insurance for hormone replacement therapy, gender-affirming surgeries and additional types of care. Employees are forced to pay out-of-pocket for services and care that can be very costly. Gender-affirming care is often assumed to be “elective,” when in reality it is necessary and often life-saving.

Harper (UNT Dallas): This is a big question and, of course, I hesitate to speak for anyone but myself. But in talking to students, I find that many of the issues trans students face -- their official university records not reflecting the name they use and the appropriate gender, because the student has not changed their government ID (which is complicated), being called by the wrong name or misgendered in class or by peers – are important and pressing. Figuring out ways for students (and faculty and staff for that matter) to have their identities respected even if they have not (or choose not) to change their legal documentation is key. In talking to many of my students, I also find that a common struggle is reconciling Christian faith and being LGBTQ+. That’s not just an issue for our community, of course, but the central role that the church plays in many of our students’ family and cultural lives means that this can be especially painful. Having spaces to talk about this and access to LGBTQ+ affirming Christian spaces in the community, is vital. And our students are well aware of the epidemic of violence against Black and Brown trans women, including those who have been killed in our own community, and I know this is on their minds. As to faculty and staff, I know that we face some of the same issues as our students. Many of us also think about the issue of employment protections, access to healthcare (especially given the number of religious objection bills that have been floated in the US, which would allow medical care providers to refuse care to LGBTQ+ people if those providers object on religious grounds), and other aspects of daily life where discrimination is still prevalent. Nationwide, many university staff who are LGBTQ+ remark on how often we are expected to do the emotional labor of educating our peers on LGBTQ+ issues even if it’s outside of our job duties – a colleague of mine in the financial aid department at another university is the only out member of the staff in that area and ends up being the “go-to” for questions and training, even though that is far outside of their job description. This is an issue that BIPOC face about issues of race on campus as well, and is a whole other conversation! Also nationwide, LGBTQ+ scholars tend to be over-represented among the ranks of adjunct faculty and under-represented among the ranks of full-time faculty, with multipliers for people who are women, Black or Brown, disabled, and trans or gender nonconforming. This is an issue not just of economic justice but impacts who students see in the classroom, what ideas and materials they are exposed to and ultimately what campus climate is like.

What are some basic but powerful actions you think people can take to create more LGBTQ+ inclusive spaces on campus?
Hobson (UNT Pride Alliance): Add your pronouns to your email signature, nametag, website, business cards, and any introductions you do. Know where the closest all-gender bathrooms are in or near your work space and make sure that information is accessible in your space. Examine the language you use and how you can practice being more inclusive. Do an assessment of what actions your office or team is taking to intentionally be inclusive of Queer and Trans people, both students and faculty/staff. Request Pride Alliance Training for your office or department. Through training you will learn about inclusion and equity around gender and sexuality and can apply that to the specific work you do.
Educate yourself about the resources for Queer and Trans people on UNT’s campus and in the DFW area.

Harper (UNT Dallas): When I was adjunct faculty at several universities and colleges in DFW, I started each semester with a “getting to know you” sheet that each student filled out. In addition to asking what name the student liked to be called, their major, etc., I made space for students to indicate their pronouns and also to tell me more about themselves. Those questions were optional, but students tended to answer them and express how appreciative they were that I had asked. Sharing your pronouns (especially if you are cisgender!) in meetings and inviting (but never requiring) others to do the same is also a powerful act and models that your space is aware of gender diversity and wants to respect it. Gender-neutral bathrooms, doing away with binary gender language on forms, making it easier for students to amend records to include a name they use even if it is not their legal name – all these help to provide a more affirming environment. And also, always, just checking our assumptions. For instance, I no longer say that I had X number of men and X number of women at a program – because I can’t tell someone’s gender just by looking at them. I encourage people who do programming and education around relationships, violence prevention and the like to move away from assuming all relationships are heterosexual or heteronormative – we need accurate relationship education, sex education and violence prevention education that acknowledges all types of relationships and realities. I encourage faculty and staff to go through SafeZone training – even if you’ve done it before, you can always learn something new. (Trainings will be offered once a month this fall – email me for more details.) Challenge homophobia and transphobia when you hear it, and learn more about how to spot the more subtle but equally damaging forms this can take. Include LGBTQ+ issues and writers in your courses, even if it’s not a class “about” gender or sexuality.
 
Any additional issue or topic you believe should be discussed in this space?
Hobson (UNT Pride Alliance): 
As I mentioned before, I would absolutely love to see more visible and proactive initiatives from UNT World as a whole. I would like to feel seen and valued, and would like to see our Queer and Trans students, faculty and staff feel seen and valued. I would love to experience movements toward equity, inclusion, recognition and celebration of Queer and Trans members of the UNT community that are emanating from areas other than offices or departments whose main focus is diversity and inclusion.

Harper (UNT Dallas): I’ve been thinking a lot since I came to UNT Dallas about the time I spent as an undergraduate at UNT in Denton. It was a very LGBTQ+ campus even then – I can’t say it was “friendly” but it definitely had a very visible and active LGBTQ+ student population when I was there from 1993-1997. But I also remember trying – and failing – to get sexual orientation added to our nondiscrimination statement, and facing resistance from administration in that effort. I remember the meetings of the LGBTQ+ student organization, which was called Courage at the time, being disrupted by some of the more homophobic religious student organizations on campus. My first semester at UNT, a girl in my residence hall had her parents demand that she be put in a different room so that she wouldn’t have to room with a lesbian. I was just newly figuring out my own identity at the time, and during a time before the internet, I had been relatively sheltered from a lot of the realities of LGBTQ+ life in my small hometown in South Dakota. Even though I grew up with my life being shaped by AIDS, and even spending some time in queer neighborhoods in New York when I went to visit my grandparents, I really didn’t know what it was like for LGBTQ+ folks to just navigate the world. I remember one of my first friends at UNT telling me that, because he had DARED to bring a boyfriend to his senior prom in Rockwall the previous spring, all pictures of that event had been mysteriously damaged in processing and thus none showed up in the yearbook. I was horrified. I am intensely proud of how far UNT World has come in terms of creating inclusive spaces, from adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the nondiscrimination statement, to having robust LGBTQ+ programming and even LGBTQ+ Studies courses, and the amazing work being done by the Pride Alliance on the Denton campus. Eighteen-year-old Susan would never have believed that we’d come this far, as a university system or as a culture – for that matter, she’d probably be surprised to be answering these questions for a newsletter that will go out system-wide!
 
We’ve come far in this country in terms of LGBTQ+ rights, but we have far to go. Contrary to what a majority of the country believed immediately afterward, the Supreme Court decision granting marriage equality did not outlaw all other forms of discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. A more recent Supreme Court decision affirmed that LGBTQ+ people are covered under laws against gender discrimination in hiring and employment, but many states still do not have employment protections, housing protections and healthcare protections for LGBTQ+ people. Even in places where cisgender LGB people are protected, trans folks (whether LGBT or heterosexual) are vulnerable under the law, and LGBTQ+ people are still more likely to live at or near the poverty line (especially women and people of color, with trans women of color being the more vulnerable). We have work to do to create a culture and a society where LGBTQ+ equality and justice are a reality.

Susan Ross, UNT Health Science Center

When Susan Ross visited a friend in Texas in the spring of 1989 from still-snowy Detroit, Mich., she enjoyed the sunny, warm weather so much she got to thinking about relocating. A return trip during hot, humid August did nothing to dissuade her, and soon she moved to North Texas and never looked back. Same as when she joined HSC in August 2001 as executive associate to the senior vice president for finance and administration. By October 2013, she assumed her role in the Office of the President and became Chief of Staff in 2017. And now, as she approaches her 20th anniversary, she's calling it a career. Her final day at HSC is June 30.

 

Over two decades, Ross has played key roles in helping HSC grow its physical campus, its stature and its impact in Fort Worth, Tarrant County and beyond. With a foodie's palate and an adventurer's spirit, you'll find her discovering new restaurants and exploring far-off trails -- and hopefully soon, that Alaska cruise that the pandemic postponed. Happy retirement! Please read on to discover more about Susan, her career at HSC and what comes next.

Q&A

After 20 years at HSC, what do you reflect on most fondly?
When I first began my career, I started out in the CFO’s office as executive associate to the senior vice president for finance and administration. I actually began working here before we had shared services, and what I loved about that opportunity was the ability to learn everything that I wanted to about the Health Science Center and really be a contributor from the very start of my career. That's not always what you experience when you go into a new position. People want to test you out, but my executive at that time, Steve Russell, who has since retired, allowed me to work alongside of him as a partner and it was great for my confidence-building and certainly for the education and the knowledge that I was able to develop about the Health Science Center. He was over finance and administration, the budgetary side and the operational side of the HSC. That's the foundation of any business -- your people and your money -- and that's where I spent the first 10 years of my HSC career. When I joined the president's office, it then allowed me to learn about the academic side as well as understanding the leadership of a complex, higher-education organization. Much of what we do and what [HSC President] Dr. [Michael] Williams does is to set the vision an strategy of HSC and work in conjunction with all the executive leaders on initiatives that affect the campus, including new programs to benefit our students and new or expanded partnerships to help the community. I've had an extraordinary opportunity and well-rounded experience in higher education.

The Health Science Center has played a crucial role in Tarrant County and beyond throughout the pandemic. How do you look back on all that has transpired over the last 15 months?
We took advantage of a of a crisis. We knew that we had experts on our campus in the public health realm, and we are always a great community partner willing to step in, step up and assist all of those in the community. That's how we see ourselves, as a true community partner. Our reach goes very far beyond the academics of training medical professionals. It's about introducing being a community partner as part of the training for our students. Every school and program provides opportunities for getting involved in the community. The COVID crisis was a true opportunity for HSC to take all of the good that we do here and expand beyond the borders of our campus. It's just what we do.

What is your favorite aspect of your job?
The people, the interaction with people, whether it be my system colleagues at the other campuses, the community members, working with the president, obviously I have interactions with CEOs from the health systems, the hospitals, community leaders. And having that interaction with so many influential people and hearing the respect and the willingness that they have to come and be a partner with the Health Science Center, I just think that it's great to have that upfront exposure. But working with everyone at every level, there's just a uniqueness, if you will, about the people of UNT and certainly the Health Science Center team.

What is your proudest work moment?
Over 20 years there's probably been plenty. I can tell you that one of my most enjoyable moments is to coordinate and watch our commencement event each year, and to see Dr. Williams get choked up at the podium when he's telling graduating students that this is just the beginning for you, and to watch the pride on everyone's faces because you've taken this person who entrusted their education and their purpose and their life in your hands, and now it is their time shine. I think that's probably one of my favorite parts of this job.

Have will you spend your days in retirement?
Well, I will not set my alarm every morning and have Alexa wake me up at 5:45 to tell me what the weather is. I’ll ease into my days. I want to do simple things. I want to see what it's like to take a Pilates class at 10 o'clock in the morning instead of 5:30 in the afternoon. I have a bucket list of Dallas places I want to visit because I've lived here, but there are so many great places I haven't seen yet -- I've never been to the Dallas Arboretum, I haven't been to the Dallas Zoo, I haven't been to the Perot Museum -- so I I see myself doing a lot of get-to-know-my-neighbors, if you will, first. And then -- thank you COVID-19 -- I have had money on deposit with Holland America cruise lines to go to Alaska. It was supposed to be my 60th birthday present to myself and now we’re in year two and we still haven't been able to travel. So, hopefully in June of ’22, I'll actually be able to get to Alaska. I’ll be taking my daughter and my two grandchildren with me.

What is a fact about you that may surprise your colleagues?
I don't know if it'll surprise them, but it might: I've actually hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and I did the same at Havasu Falls, which, if anybody knows what those hikes are like, to get in and out of Havasu Falls is eight hours each way and it's the same for the Grand Canyon. So, I think people might be surprised because I may not look like the kind of person who does that strenuous of an activity, but I feel most alive when I'm doing things like that. The Grand Canyon trip was in 2002, and Havasu Falls was in 2011. When you're in the experience, I don't think you think about the challenge. After the fact, I will tell you that when we emerged from the Canyon and I went to take a step with my leg, it felt like my kneecap was held on by string, that's how exhausted ... and then the pain was so intense, my jaw was locked. But I didn't experience that until coming out of the Canyon. The time I was in there I was so awestruck by everything I saw and experienced that the pain challenge and discomfort didn't even come into the equation. It was a  pretty awesome trip.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE:
Restaurant?:
Oh, too many to mention. I am not afraid to eat any kind of food. Yeah, too many to mention
Hobby?: Hiking and being in the great outdoors is what I like to do; and I like to read
Movie: Polar Express
Book: The Five People You Meet in Heaven
Place to visit: Anywhere, everywhere. That's how I plan to spend my time is traveling. I do like the Leelanau Peninsula. It's near Traverse City, Michigan, which used to be the cherry capital, but they have discovered that the climate there is perfect for winemaking and so most of the people have converted their cherry orchards to vineyards. Up and down the peninsula is a beautiful trek of wineries and microbreweries and places to eat. Every November, they have the national macaroni and cheese festival. 

Any last words for UNT World before you ride off into the sunset?
I would just tell everyone thank you for the opportunity to work alongside of them, and remember, kindness matters so spread that stuff around!

 

Brian Ayers, UNT HSC police officer

Officer Ayers joined the HSC in April, marrying his three passions: law enforcement, health care and serving people. Officer Ayers earned an MBA from Texas Woman's University in 2010 with a 3.9 GPA and graduated from the Cedar Valley College Law Enforcement Academy in 2013. Before finding his dream job at HSC, he was a Tarrant County deputy constable at the same time he worked full-time as a hospital billing manager, and he continues to teach business and management courses as an adjunct at Tarrant County College. Look for this adventurous spirit (anyone up for skydiving?) patrolling the HSC grounds on two wheels and give him a wave. Get to know Officer Ayers a little better by reading on.

Q&A

What is your favorite aspect of your job?
To serve others and build relationships with faculty, staff, students and our communities. 

What employee benefit or activity would you like to see added to UNT World?
It would ge great to have an employee-only store to purchase accessories for each institution like shirts, jackets and other apparel. 

What is your proudest work moment?
I successfully passed a police cyclist course which isn't a requirement for my job, but allows me to serve and be more personable with citizens on a bicycle. 

What is your proudest non-work moment?
I graduated with my MBA from Texas Woman's University in 2010 with a 3.9 GPA.

What is a fact about you that may surprise your colleagues?
I'm adventurous and would like to try skydiving, but every time I get close to it, I back out. I get close to paying and everything and when the day comes I don't do it.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE...
Restaurant?: Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
Place to visit?: Miami
TV show?: Blue Bloods

Pride Month image

Pride Month, a celebration and affirmation of equality, visibility and selfhood for the LGBTQ+ community runs throughout June to honor the Stonewall uprising in 1969 that sparked the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement. We’ve curated some resources to help you celebrate, learn and participate: 

ERS summer enrollment is coming, meaning it's almost time to make changes to your benefit elections (health, dental, vision, life insurances; short and long term disability; TexFlex).

What: Annual Benefits Enrollment Event -- make changes to your benefit elections; changes will be effective Sept. 1, 2021. 

When:

  • UNT: June 28 – July 10
  • UNT Dallas | UNTHSC | UNT System: July 5 – July 17

Where: Online at ers.texas.gov

Watch the mail for your personalized statement of coverage. Make sure your address is current in the ERS system. Log in here to check your address and update it if it isn't correct. Never logged in to your ERS account portal? Register here. For questions, contact HRBenefits@untsystem.edu. Watch your weekly HR Highlights for more information about ERS Summer Enrollment.

FAQs

What is Summer Enrollment?
Summer Enrollment is the annual event/time when you can log in to your ERS account and make changes to your health insurance and optional insurance coverage elections for the new plan year that starts September 1, 2021.  (ERS administers our UNT World insurance benefits).

What can I do during summer enrollment?
You can make changes to your coverages during summer enrollment for Plan Year 2022 like adding optional insurances (dental, vision, short term and long term disability); add dependents to your insurance; change from Health Select of Texas to the Consumer Directed plan; remove dependents, drop coverages you no longer need, apply for optional life insurance, etc.  Changes made will be effective September 1, 2021.

What should I do to prepare for Summer Enrollment?
It’s important to make sure that your address is correct with ERS.  ERS will be mailing important information to you before Summer Enrollment starts. Check your address/contact information by logging in here and review your personal data. Never logged in? Register here.

What if I don’t have any changes to make to my coverages for the new Plan Year?
You don’t need to do anything if you want your coverages/elections to remain the same. Your coverages will be the same in the new plan year if you make no changes in summer enrollment. That includes the amount you are contributing to TexFlex, which will continue September 1, 2021, as is if you make no changes.

Are there major plan changes or premium increases for Plan Year 2022?
There are a few changes for Plan Year 2022, like:

  • Out of pocket maximums increased for Health Select of Texas
  • Delta Dental Choice premiums increased slightly
  • Vision insurance premiums decreased slightly

Where can I learn more?

  • Watch for news in your campus newsletters and HR Highlights in June.  HR will also be scheduling some Q&A sessions, and we’ll have a helpful video for you.
  • We’ll provide more detailed information soon. For now, make sure your address is correct with ERS and watch for your ERS brochure in the mail.

We live in a fast-paced world and are surrounded by modern conveniences like our cars, air conditioning and our always-on mobile devices that far too often keep us from smelling the roses, literally. 

Yet, it's impossible to escape the fact there's something incredibly soothing about being out in nature. Feeling the soil between our toes, listening to birds chirping in the morning, the sound of leaves rustling as the wind blows through the trees or taking a hike in secluded, woodsy area. Getting back to nature can feel like we're returning to our natural home.

So it shouldn't come as a shock that being outdoors can improve overall health and well-being. What might be surprising is that doctors now believe so strongly in the powers of being outdoors to help conditions such as high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, Type II diabetes and others, that they are actually prescribing outdoor excursions for patients. The outdoors has a range of benefits that can improve health, such as reducing stress and feelings of anxiety and depression. Other benefits include improving eyesight, lowering blood pressure and heart rate, increasing Vitamin D, improving sleep and even reducing inflammation, which promotes faster healing and reduction of pain.

Perhaps not-so-ironically, the most popular screensavers for our computers are beautiful nature scenes. Unfortunately, that's the closest many of us get to the outdoors. We are often glued to technology and struggle to find time to venture outdoors even for short periods of time. This month, as we focus on the health benefits of being outside, here are a few ways to fill your prescription for the outdoors and get closer to nature:

  • Take a sunrise stroll: Sunrise during June is typically between 6 and 6:45 a.m. The feeling of the cooler morning air and transitioning to daylight can be a wonderful way to ring in a new day. Don’t worry about how many steps you take or how fast you go -- just enjoy the sights and smells of being outdoors at an early hour.
  • Go for a picnic: Locate a local park or lake or river area to explore. This is a fun way to spend quality time with a friend, loved one or your entire family. You can even consider it a “screen-free” event. Picnics can create fun memories and turn a routine activity like eating into a novel experience.
  • Go for a walk: Here's a great way to find some alone time while also having a little company along the way. Make the new ERS Walk & Talk podcast your new companion for a 20- to 30-minute walk. Listen to conversations about health and life with health experts and leaders that provide motivational messages to help keep us moving.
  • Learn more: Watch what the Texas State Parks have to offer through our webinar featuring State Park Director Rodney Franklin. Texas state parks offer endless opportunities to get out in nature for the day, or embark on a longer camping adventure.

Consider the small, simple things you can do to get outside more with your family -- from bike rides to strolls. The little things add up and can make a big impact in your daily life.

Aprille Lim, Financial Analyst, UNT System

Aprille Lim is super bright, which makes her a valuable fit in the UNT System's Treasury department. Don't take our word for it, let her record speak for itself, and her record says she earned a bachelor's and master's degree in finance in only four years. Ten days later, she started working for us. She's a treasury junky with a sense of humor: "I love all functions of Treasury," she says. "Don’t fall asleep just yet, but I’m responsible for debt management, prepping bond issuances [and] assisting in special projects." You might not know this proud dog mom twice over (Duchess is on the left and Yoné's on the right in the photo) holds dual citizenship and plans one day to move and work internationally to learn her parents' native language. Just where will she be headed? Read on.

 

Q&A

What is your favorite aspect of your job?I love all functions of Treasury and how much we collaborate with other departments. I’m thankful for this position as it enables me to engage with those around me which is ultimately my favorite thing about my job -- the people!

What employee benefit or activity would you like to see added to UNT World?
More UNT Worldwide events for staff to safely come together and relax!

What is your proudest work moment?
 Last year, we sold about $11 million of Historic Tax Credits for the benefit of UNT Dallas. That’s a lot of future scholarships! Being able to help in the transaction was an awesome experience.

What is your proudest non-work moment?
Prior to these three years at UNT World, I had just recently earned both my bachelor's and master's in Finance in four years, then started working at UNT World 10 days later. Talk about a hustle! I now own a house and two dogs, enjoying the blue (sometimes rainy) skies in Sanger.

What is a fact about you that may surprise your colleagues?
I’m a dual citizen of the Philippines, and although I haven’t visited the Philippines in a decade, I plan to move there and work internationally and learn my parents’ native language.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE...
Restaurant?: Jolibee, a Filipino fried chicken fast food chain
Hobby?: Cooking something fun in the kitchen and playing with my dogs
Charitable cause?: United Way of Denton. A great way to find volunteer opportunities and support the community

Faculty & Staff Spotlight: Meredith Howard, UNT Health Science Center

An internal medicine pharmacist by training, Meredith has worked at the HSC since 2015. As a faculty member in the College of Pharmacy, she teaches throughout the curriculum and oversees the acute care portions of the experiential curriculum. But, that only scratches the surface of who she is and how she spends her time, like, oh, training for an Ironman or turning her garage into a Jiffy Lube. Grease monkey not really your thing? Well, Meredith transitions on the fly to Martha Stewart-esque home-and-garden DIY expert specializing in canning and baking bread (hint: come holiday season, you might want to talk to this New England native about some delicious gift ideas). Read on to learn more about Meredith.

Q&A

What is your favorite aspect of your job?
Watching our student pharmacists progress throughout the first three years to get ready for their clinical rotations, then seeing them grow into independent future pharmacists in their fourth year of rotations.

What is your proudest work moment?
Graduation of our first class of pharmacists, Class of 2017, and every class thereafter! It is such an accomplishment and an exciting time for the students, and to know you have a part of it is so special.

What is your proudest non-work moment?
Running my first half-marathon a few years ago, and subsequently putting in all of the training for (an eventually canceled-due-to-COVID-19) half-ironman race. Even though the race was canceled, I was in great shape to race with all of the hours I put in. I will retrain and race deferred to 2022.

What is a fact about you that may surprise your colleagues?
I am a DIY fanatic- -- from changing my own oil to canning and baking sourdough from scratch, I enjoy learning and doing new things.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE...
Place to visit?: Home (Massachusetts/New England)
Hobby?: Biking, hiking, gardening
TV show: Grey's Anatomy

 

Godson Adadevoh with wife and son

Godson Adadevoh has been with UNT World for five years and join us in congratulation him for a recent promotion to Director of Budget & Strategic Planning. Few bring a work ethic, day-in and day-out, like Godson, which is one reason he considers his proudest work moment to be when the first budget he worked on got approved by UNT's Board of Regents. It's always great to see something that you worked hard on be incorporated in the organization's plans," he said. Husband to Millicent and father to 7-year-old Langston, Godson is a music lover, a pizza lover and apparently a now-retired youth basketball coach who boasts an unblemished record -- you'll have to see why by reading on. Get to know Godson.

Q&A

What is your favorite aspect of your job?
My favorite part of my job is being able to work with so many great people. Some of the great folks I work with include: ChengCheng Liu from the Controller team, she helps me understand how (and why) things post to the General Ledger and is a great partner; Ron Brade on the Procurement team, I worked with Ron and his staff on building his Fiscal Year 2022 budget from the ground up, and I'm super-excited about Ron joining the organization; and Gulnaar Murthy on the Treasury team, who is one of my favorite people! It doesn't hurt that she is always able to assist when I need something related to UNT System cash.

What employee benefit or activity would you like to see added to UNT World?
Four-day work weeks.

What is your proudest work moment?
My proudest work moment was having the first budget I worked on get approved by UNT's Board of Regents. It's always great to see something that you worked hard on be incorporated in the organization's plans.

What is your proudest non-work moment?
The birth of my son has been my proudest non-work moment. Langston is now 7 years old. He's a good kid and I see quite a bit of myself in him.

What is a fact about you that may surprise your colleagues?
I'm 1-0 coaching my son's basketball team. I only coached one game a a replacement, so I'll forever be undefeated!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE...
Restaurant?:
Home Run Inn Pizza
Place to visit?: Los Angeles
Hobby?: Listening to music