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Benefit-enhancing changes to TexFlex (flexible spending plan)

Due to the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, the following enhancements to the TexFlex spending accounts have been announced, effective immediately:

  • The annual carryover limit for TexFlex accounts has been temporarily removed
    • All unused funds from plan year 2020 will carry over to plan year 2021, with no limit to the amount that can be carried over
    • No action needed on your part – you’ll be notified by Wageworks when your carryover is completed/updated in your account
    • Previous carryover limit was $500
  • More time to use your funds after you leave employment (or stop contributing to the plan)
    • If you stop contributing/leave employment before the end of plan year 2021, you can continue to incur claims for reimbursement until August 31, 2021
  • You can now make changes to your elections without a Qualifying Life Event (QLE) if you are currently participating in TexFlex
    • For plan year 2021, increase or decrease your amount (or end your enrollment) but not below what you’ve already contributed (if you’ve already contributed $300 via paycheck contribution, you can’t reduce your amount below that)
  • For the dependent care flexible spending account:
    • Submit dependent care claims for children up to age 14
    • If you enrolled in the dependent care flexible spending account before January 31, 2020 and had a qualifying dependent who turned (or will turn) 13 during the 2020 or 2021 plan years, you can submit claims for that child until they turn 14. (Previously, could only claim for children 13 or under.)

Call ERS at 877-275-4377 to make changes to your account. More information about flexible spending account benefits can be found at www.TexFlexERS.com.

Take a break -- your body will thank you

Why are taking breaks during your work day so important? For one, they just make you feel better. Taking a break -- even if only for a short period -- means stepping away from your desk and allowing your mind to be free from work “stuff." Doing so is refreshing and actually helps us all think better and clearer.

Breaks can improve your physical and mental health by providing an energy boost, renewing your creative energy and helping to prevent fatigue. Take a physical break and get up and move. A walk around the building or the block on a pretty day can really lift your mood and inspire you. Do some stretches to bring oxygen in and push tiredness out -- these can be done inside or outdoors. The main thing is just to get away from that desk and get out of that chair. It’s not healthy to stay seated all day. 

Here are some ideas to do while you take a break:

  • Sit outside – find a nice bench on campus, or take some time on your patio if working remote – enjoy nature, sunlight, bird sounds
  • Find a quiet place to listen to your favorite music on your phone
  • Take some downtime to chill with an app like Calm, Headspace (meditation) or check out these top five free recommendations from Mindful
  • Do some deep breathing exercises – or try any of these great stress-relieving break techniques to help you relax and enhance your wellness 
  • Grab a coffee and call a friend – scheduling breaks with friends is a great way to “break up” your day

If you find yourself struggling to find time to breaks then it might be time to “calendar it.” Find that time of the day that’s best for you, and put it on your schedule -- then stick to it like it's an important meeting you can't miss. You may find you feel better the closer that regular break time gets, and certainly afterward. And, lunch doesn’t count as a break. So, take a real break, and then give yourself a pat on the back for doing something that’s really good for yourself.

Cortana -- Get to know this time-saving tech tool

Have you noticed those “Cortana: Your Daily Briefings” emails in your inbox each morning? Don't just delete. Our HR folks are singing the praises of Cortana. Here's what some are saying about his handy email tool:

“Cortana is a tool I use to help me prepare for the week," says Sony Simon, HR Leadership Program Coordinator. "It reviews the tasks, emails or documents I have accessed and helps me stay organized. For example, if I sent an email about a session, Cortana reminds me of a task that may be related to the session and gives me the choice to mark it as completed. It also identifies times where I may need to focus (allows for no interruptions to focus on certain tasks), take a break (time to get away from the screen for a few minutes) or catch up on messages (time to answer emails). You click ‘book it’ and Cortana books it on your calendar for the week and silences your notifications. It is a great tool to help improve your productivity throughout the day. I love it.”

Says Dheeraj Mishra, Sr. Director HRIS/Reporting: "The Weekly Briefing email sent by Cortana has helped me control my calendar and be more intentional with my weekly planning. Cortana looks ahead in my next week's calendar and gives me suggestions on when and how much time I can block for areas such as Focus Time, Quick 15-minute Breaks, Learning/Grow time, etc."  

The next time you see that Cortana email in your inbox, take a second to check out how you can put this handy, easy-to-use tech tool to use for you. Have tips to share? We’d love to hear about how you use Cortana and other (free) productivity tools to make your work week smoother sailing (email us: HR@untsystem.edu).

Get Fit Texas

The 2021 Get Fit Texas Challenge began on Jan. 11, but it’s not too late to register. Employees can register today and begin logging their physical activity minutes. This statewide challenge against other state agencies runs until March 21. Check out the Get Fit Texas Calendar for 15-minute sessions on how to stay motivated throughout the challenge. And, don’t forget to log your activity minutes each week.

Preventive Care Services at no cost to you

Early detection is the best medicine to help find undiagnosed medical problems. Now more than ever is the time to take advantage of the HealthSelect preventive screenings. To learn more about your family's check list of services, click here.

Faculty & Staff Spotlight: Jack Allday

If you don't know Jack, well, you're missing out on a multifaceted and charismatic colleague whose legacy at UNT Dallas will forever be as the man who delivered collegiate athletics to southern Dallas. Hired more than five years ago to start intercollegiate athletics, it took two school presidents, more than a few starts and stops, and immeasurable patients before the dream became a reality with the UNT Dallas Trailblazers competing in men's and women's basketball, cross country and track and field during this school year. "My friends called my Sisyphus, as it seemed I was pushing a rock uphill," Jack says. "But, we finally got it done and are now up and running."

 

Jack recently turned 80 and has the life stories to prove it. One of those stories was recently published as a first-person account in the Dallas Morning News: "I celebrated the most meaningful Christmas of my life as a soldier in Vietnam." But, one look at Jack's photo above, and it's clear he has lighter side, too. He started playing the drums at age 15, formed a band -- the Nightcaps -- at 18, a band that recently was voted into the Dallas Songwriters Association Hall of Fame. "Five of us started the band in 1959 and had a good run until the Vietnam War intruded in the mid-1960s. Get to know Jack.

Q&A

What is your favorite aspect of your job?
I love just about everything about my job, but especially the student-athletes, coaches and competition. Athletics is one of the more challenging jobs on any campus because it has so many moving parts. But, it can also be one of the most fun and rewarding things you can do.

What is your proudest work moment? 
My proudest moment as Director of Athletics was when we were accepted for membership into the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) in April of last year. It meant we had officially arrived.

What is your proudest non-work moment?
My proudest non-work moment, or experience, is just all the friends I have made here. Of course, we all have colleagues. But, when a colleague becomes a friend as well, that’s special, and rewarding.

What fact about you might surprise your colleagues?
I bake a pretty darn good bread, from scratch, no machine. Takes about six hours, so it’s hard to find time to do it. I give most of it away.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE...

Book?: “All the King’s Men,” by Robert Penn Warren. It is the perfect novel, plus it is historic. It is based on Huey Long, who was governor of Louisiana and a fascinating individual.
Inspirational hero?: Louis Armstrong, who was always called either Satchmo or Pops. Born and raised in New Orleans, he had mastered the trumpet at an early age and was one of the pioneers of jazz, which is the only art form invented in America.  
Hobby?: Music – jazz and blues. I started playing the drums at 15 and still play today – or was until COVID came along. Music is a tough way to make a living, but a wonderful avocation.

Each year, we say thank you and farewell to employees who have faithfully served UNT World, created a culture of commitment, teamwork and diversity, and used their expertise to help promote the mission and vision of UNT System and each institution. The following UNT, UNT Dallas, UNT Health Science Center and UNT System employees retired in 2020:

UNT SYSTEM

  • Craig Carter, Procurement, Dec. 31 — 41 years
  • Melissa Clayton, Procurement, Dec. 31 — 26 years
  • Nancy Footer, General Counsel, Feb. 28 — 16 years
  • Brenda Kirk, IT Shared Services, Dec. 31 — 33 years
  • Andy Novak, IT Shared Services, Dec. 31 — 18 years
  • Sandy Short, UNT Controller, May 31 — 16 years
  • Bari Tinker, IT Shared Services, Sept. 30 — 11 years
  • Linda Wallace, IT Shared Services, Aug. 31 — 33 years
  • Alan Wilson, IT Shared Services, Aug. 31 — 22 years

UNT

  • Alecia Adams, Educational Psychology, Jan. 31 — 16 years
  • Esperanza Alba, Facilities, Feb. 28 — 17 years
  • Deborah Beck, College of Science, Feb. 28 — 31 years
  • Jack Becker, Information Technology and Decision Sciences, Aug. 31 — 34 years
  • Craig Berry, College of Visual Arts and Design, Dec. 31 — 21 years
  • Bruce Bond, English, Aug. 31 — 24 years
  • Wanda Boyd-Brown, Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, June 30 — 22 years
  • Sheri Broyles, Journalism, Aug. 31 — 24 years
  • V. Barbara Bush, Counseling and Higher Education, Aug. 31 — 18 years
  • Johnny Byers, Geography, Jan. 31 — 26 years
  • Darlene Callahan, Space Management and Planning, Aug. 31 — 26 years
  • Kevin Callahan, Autism, Aug. 31 — 26 years
  • Vicki Campbell, Psychology, Aug. 31 — 35 years
  • Robert Carroll, Facilities, Dec. 31 — 9 years
  • Perinkolam Chandrasekaran, Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Law, Aug. 31 — 36 years
  • Victor Chavez, Dining, May 31 — 17 years
  • Carol Chegwidden, Registrar, Dec. 31 — 21 years
  • Allen Clark, Finance and Administration, July 31 — 21 years
  • Leanne Coffey, Information Science, Jan. 31 — 32 years
  • Marsha Corrigan, Grants and Contracts, Dec. 31 — 17 years
  • Barbara Cox, Dance and Theatre, Aug. 31 — 30 years
  • Ruth Cross, Behavior Analysis, Dec. 31 — 23 years
  • Janice Dane, Graduate School, Dec. 31 — 17 years
  • Comedra Daniels, Health and Wellness, Dec. 31 — 15 years
  • Pat Davis, Health and Wellness, Dec. 31 — 12 years
  • Hank Dickenson, Athletics, Nov. 30 — 25 years
  • Lori Duvall, Recreational Sports, Dec. 31 — 26 years
  • Donna Emmanuel, Music Education, May 31 — 18 years
  • Kenneth Fairman, Facilities, Aug. 31 — 10 years
  • Mike Falk, Dining, Dec. 31 — 11 years
  • Margaret Featherstone, Residence Hall Operations, July 31 — 13 years
  • Don Finn, Accounting, Aug. 31 — 10 years
  • Lydia Fleming, Facilities, Oct. 31 — 11 years
  • Peggy Foster, Electrical Engineering, Aug. 31 — 13 years
  • Charla Friday, Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration office, Dec. 31 — 25 years
  • Rebeca Galindo, College of Music, Aug. 31 — 17 years
  • Susan Gehrlein, World Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Dec. 31 — 22 years
  • Sabrina Gilbreath, Chemistry, May 31 — 21 years
  • Charles Guarnaccia, Psychology, Aug. 31 — 29 years
  • Carol Hagen, Child Development Lab, Aug. 31 — 37 years
  • Pamela Harrell, Teacher Education and Administration, Aug. 31 — 20 years
  • Sue Hursey, Grants and Contracts, Dec. 31 — 23 years
  • Norma Iglesias, Facilities, Dec. 31 — 24 years
  • Michael Impson, Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Law, Aug. 31 — 32 years
  • George James, Philosophy and Religion, Aug. 31 — 35 years
  • Dianne Jansing, Library, Dec. 31 — 13 years
  • Irma Jimenez, Housing, Dec. 31, 6 years
  • M. Kay Johnson, Risk Management, March 31 — 18 years
  • Peter Johnstone, Criminal Justice, Aug. 31 — 12 years
  • Paul Jones, Physics, May 31 — 18 years
  • Brent Jones, Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, Aug. 31 — 32 years
  • Darlene Kirby, Facilities, May 31 — 24 years
  • Robin Lakes, Dance and Theatre, Aug. 31 — 19 years
  • George Larke-Walsh, Media Arts, Dec. 31 — 14 years
  • Annette Lawrence, Art, Aug. 31 — 22 years
  • Thomas Lilly, Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation, March 31 — 26 years
  • Michael Lioy, International Affairs, May 31 — 25 years
  • Don MacDonald, Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Law, Aug. 31 — 30 years
  • Carl Malmberg, Health and Wellness, March 31 — 5 years
  • Maria Martinez, Facilities, Dec. 31 — 17 years
  • Garry Mayes, Teacher Education and Administration, June 30 — 26 years
  • James McAlister, Housing, June 30 — 18 years
  • Robert McCuistion, Facilities, Dec. 31 — 12 years
  • Smita Mehta, Educational Psychology, July 31 — 14 years
  • Grady Miles, Printing and Distribution, Aug. 31 — 14 years
  • Bill Moen, Information Science, Dec. 31 — 26 years
  • Diane Moser, Counseling and Higher Education, Dec. 31 — 17 years
  • Bruce Nacke, Design, College of Visual Arts and Design, Aug. 31 — 32 years
  • Cindy Oliver, Facilities, June 30 — 23 years
  • Gwenn Pasco, Academic Advising, Aug. 31 — 19 years
  • Jennifer Pattison, International Affairs, Aug. 31 — 29 years
  • Stephen Poe, Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Law, Aug. 31 — 30 years
  • Ruby Raines, President's Office, Aug. 31 — 36 years
  • Dori Reeves, Speech and Hearing, May 31 — 18 years
  • Kathleen Reynolds, Instrumental Studies, May 31 — 24 years
  • Vilma Rios, Dining, Jan. 31 — 10 years
  • Jean Roelke, English, Aug. 31 — 19 years
  • Gayle Rogers, Rehabilitation and Health Services, May 31 — 31 years
  • Kathleen Shelby, Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, May 31 — 11 years
  • John Shelton, Health and Wellness, June 30 — 11 years
  • Louie Sheppeard, Facilities, Jan. 31 — 18 years
  • Delois Spearman, College of Health and Public Service Advising, Sept. 30 — 22 years
  • Kenneth Steigman, Institute of Applied Sciences, Sept. 30 — 20 years
  • Maurena Stottlemyer, Facilities, Jan. 31 — 35 years
  • Keith Turner, Rehabilitation and Health Services, Aug. 31 — 29 years
  •  Murali Varanasi, Electrical Engineering, May 31 — 17 years
  • Stan Walker Jr., Advancement, Jan. 31 — 18 years
  • Lisa Wallace, Advancement, Dec. 31 — 18 years
  • Nancy Warnell, Health and Wellness, Dec. 31 — 14 years
  • Doug Welch, Risk Management, Jan. 31 — 22 years
  • Velma White, Media Arts, March 31 — 13 years
  • Sammy Williams, Facilities, Dec. 31 — 14 years
  • Timothy Wilson, Dance and Theatre, Aug. 31 — 19 years

UNT DALLAS 

  • Jim Main, Finance, Oct. 31 -- 2 years
  • Gerard Rambally, Math and Information Sciences, May 31 -- 11 years
  • Sheryl Santos-Hatchett, Teacher Education & Administration, May 31 -- 10 years
  • Mark Treger, Business, May 31 -- 18 years

UNT HEALTH SCIENCE CENTER

  • Brenetta Ashley, Patient Care Center, Dec. 31 -- 24 years
  • Keith Baggett, Facilities, Aug. 31 -- 30 years
  • Kirk Barron, Physician Assistant Studies, Sept. 30 -- 13 years
  • Julia Borejdo, Microbiology, Immunology, Genes, Dec. 31 -- 11 years
  • Janet Bradenburg, UNT Health Administration, Jan. 31 -- 13 years
  • Harvey Brenner, Health Behavior & Health Systems, July 31 -- 15 years
  • Laura Carter, Brand and Communications, July 31 -- 21 years
  • Deb Ceron, Research Compliance, Aug. 31 -- 37 years
  • Niki Clarke, Office of Sponsored Programs, April 30 -- 31 years
  • Gayanne Clemens, Brand and Communications, July 31 -- 22 years
  • Lawrence Cohen, Parmacotherapy, Dec. 31 -- 9 years
  • Thomas Diver, Physician Assistant Studies, Dec. 31 -- 13 years
  • Ladislav Dory, Physiology & Anatomy, Aug. 31 -- 23 years
  • John Filippi, NameUS, Dec. 31 -- 9 years
  • John Fling, Pediatrics & Women's Health, Dec. 31 -- 27 years
  • Betsy Friauf, Brand and Communications, July 31 -- 9 years
  • Ignacy Grycynski, Microbiology, Immunology, Genes, Dec. 31 -- 15 years
  • Kerry Gunnels, Brand and Communications, July 31 -- 8 years
  • Patricia Gwirtz, Physiology & Anatomy, June 30 -- 37 years
  • Susan Harlin, Research Compliance, Dec. 31 -- 29 years
  • R. Huang, Pharmacology & Neuroscience, Dec. 31 -- 25 years
  • Janice Jarvis, Brand and Communications, July 31 -- 8 years
  • Marianna Jung, Pharmacology & Neuroscience, Aug. 31 -- 27 years
  • William King, Facilities, Aug. 31 -- 7 years
  • Carol Knisley, Library, Dec. 31 -- 25 years
  • Claude Longoria, Research Development & Commercialization, Aug. 31 -- 6 years
  • Laura Lugo, Facilities, Aug. 31 -- 19 years
  • Mike Nance, NameUs, Dec. 31 -- 9 years
  • Linda Osborne, Patient Care Center, May 31 -- 11 years
  • Iok-Hou Pang, Pharmaceutical Science, Dec. 31 -- 8 years
  • John Planz, Microbiology, Immunology, Genes, Dec. 31 -- 21 years
  • John Podgore, Pediatrics & Women's Health, Dec. 31 -- 28 years
  • Theresa Preito, Facilities, June 30 -- 16 years
  • Terry Rogers, Facilities Manageent, June 30 -- 20 years
  • Lana Sacks, Property Control, Aug. 31 -- 9 years
  • Richard Scanlon, NameUs, Dec. 31 -- 9 years
  • Eliot Slovin, Pharmaceutical Science, Dec. 31 -- 6 years
  • Albert Yurvati, Medical Education, July 31 -- 20 years
Faculty & Staff Spotlight: Pamela Milner

Pamela Milner spent her childhood in Anchorage, Alaska, so it was only natural for her to want to get Texas as fast as she could. So, she chose to attend college at Texas A&M. "I wanted to go out-of-state," she says with a laugh. It's a decision that set in motion a series of educational experiences that provided a foundation for her current role as Director, Undergraduate Academic Advising at UNT's G. Brint Ryan College of Business. Over her 20 years serving the university, her titles might have changed, but her focus and dedication to student affairs has never wavered. She currently oversees the front office, assists with curriculum oversight and acts as a departmental liaison. Learn more about Pamela, like the technology she's come to love because it makes working during COVID-19 bearable, and what her husband might say she's doing when she finds some downtime.

Q&A

Why did you decide to pursue this specialty?
I knew I wanted to work with people. What I do marries career and helping students find their way.

How has your job changed since the onset of COVID-19?
I'm so glad we still get to interact [over Zoom]. What we've created now over Zoom ... we'll be keeping a lot of these processes. I love the face-to-face with students.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to incoming students?
College is an experience. It's not just about getting the grades and getting the degree. It's about developing the whole person. I'm big on advocating for other people and teaching them to advocate for themselves.

What is your favorite thing to do in your downtime?
My husband would tell you I'm on Facebook a lot. It's a good distraction. But I'm not a hobby person. I enjoy being outside and enjoying good weather and the outdoors. I like to read. And I also am looking at finding more training sessions and seeking out different things like that for continuing education. 

Ask an Expert: Cheryl Wattley

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

EXPERT: Cheryl Wattley, Professor of Law, UNT Dallas College of Law
EXPERTISE: Criminal Law, Civil Rights Litigation

Cheryl Wattley received her Juris Doctorate degree from Boston University College of Law, where she was a Martin Luther King Jr. fellow. In 1994, she received the Dallas Bar Association's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award. More recently, she authored a book about Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher's bravery in her fight to end segregation in Oklahoma, helping to pave the road to Brown v. Board of Education. She also won Honorable Recognition in a national contest for her essay, "The Tough Minded, Tender Hearted Lawyer," based upon a sermon by Dr. King. As we approach this MLK Day on the heels of massive nationwide civil rights protests in response to ongoing police brutality and racial injustice, and the recent deadly mob violence at the Capitol, Professor Wattley provides her expertise and unique insight into what should be at the forefront of our thoughts on this MLK Day, the Black Lives Matter movement and the importance of a successful UNT Dallas College of Law.

Q: What is at the forefront of your thoughts on this MLK Day?
Cheryl: 
As we are poised to celebrate the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, we are engulfed by images of a mob storming the United States Capitol, breaking windows, smashing through doors, beating Capitol police officers, pillaging and vandalizing the hall of democracy. American flags perverted from symbols of democracy to weapons as flag poles were used to ram windows and beat police. What a juxtaposition: the memories of the Dr. King-led nonviolent marches, people kneeling in protest in front of lines of armed police, pummeled by fire hoses and taunted

by police dogs barking, baring teeth, with today’s scene of fire extinguishers being thrown at helmeted police, a policeman screaming in agony as he was caught by the mob as it forced its way inside, the looting and desecration of the symbols of democracy. 

When we focus on the pictures and videos from the assault on the Capitol, we cannot lose sight of what caused that riot, what brought so many to that place of an attack, not just on a symbolic structure, but upon the very heart of democracy: The exercise of the right to vote. There can be no denying that the repeated unfounded and disproven claims of voter fraud, that the presidential election had been stolen, caused that mob action. It is no coincidence that the counties falsely assailed as having committed voter fraud had heavy African American voter turnout. It is not accidental that the demands for recount after recount were pointed at urban and heavy minority populations. How poignant, then, that within days we will celebrate a man whose work led to the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the foundation for the political activism that empowered black and brown voters to so impact a presidential election.  

Dr. King repeatedly spoke of the impact of silence: "History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people. In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. There comes a time when silence is betrayal."

Where were the voices who defended the right of citizens, especially the targeted citizens of color, to vote? Where were the voices that opposed the efforts to restrict access to the ballot by reducing the number of polling places, the manipulation of the U.S. Postal Service, and the denouncing of absentee voting, especially during a pandemic? Where were the voices to defend the poll workers and vote counters who labored in a record voter turnout election? Where were the voices to challenge the efforts to again disenfranchise voters of color? Where, even, were the voices to defend the duly elected local Secretaries of State who confirmed the legitimacy of their state’s election?  

When there is silence, extremist voices resonate with deafening noise, creating a cacophony that repels reason. When there is quiet, discord is not tempered, but amplified as it swirls feeding upon itself. When the voices of good people are missing, the voices of destructionists fill the void, creating a shrillness summoning like a dog whistle.    

So, on this holiday celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we must ask ourselves, were we silent in this time of challenge?

Q: How do you view the Black Lives Matter movement?
Cheryl:
 There can be no denying that the summer of 2020 was a time of challenge and controversy. In the midst of a pandemic that exposed the health care disparities that have plagued communities of color, hundreds of thousands of marchers of all races and ethnicities from across the nation protested the killing and abuse of African American citizens by police officers. The killing of George Floyd propelled a spotlight on policing tactics as well as seemingly never-ending use of deadly and excessive force. Chants of “Say Their Names” made us confront the horror of black men and women being killed at the hands of law enforcement officers. 

But, this focus on police shootings also put a spotlight on the systemic racism that is foundational to this nation. It prompted a flurry of media attention, conferences and new websites addressing racism and bias. It sent challenges to the nation to once and for all candidly acknowledge and address the cancerous evil of racism. It drew attention to the importance of allyship in the fullness and richness of its meaning. As Dr. King told us, "[t]he ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." The Black Lives Matter movement, the months of challenge and controversy, prompts the question as to where we stood. 

Did we stand with the recognition of the need to declare that "Black Lives Matter," or were we drawn to avoid the message of the importance of Black lives with a rejoinder that "all lives matter?" Did we stand with respectful admiration for the thousands who braved the pandemic to take to the streets to give voice and action to their protest, or did we attempt to diminish those efforts by focusing on the comparative few who were vandalizing and looting? Did we watch with horror and disbelief at white homeowners who brandished guns at protestors marching to a mayor’s home as part of their protest, or did we react with an attitude that the protestors got what they deserved? Did we stand with disbelief and revulsion when peaceful protestors were tear-gassed and forcibly moved from the place of peaceful assembly so that a president could pose with a Bible in front of a church, or did we applaud the clearing of the plaza for that political antic? Did we understand that the calls to defund the police were a cry to stop the killing and abuse of people of color by individuals cloaked with the mantle of authority, or did we choose to pervert the message into a farcical cry for anarchy and lawlessness? Did we use this summer of challenge and controversy to learn, grow and understand the need to proclaim that “Black Lives Matter,” or did we simply turn from any enlightenment, desperate to feel comfortable and self-righteous in our world?  

The Black Lives Matter movement forces us to look at the soul of this nation. It requires that we acknowledge the contradiction between the democratic ideals we tout, and the inequities and racism that infect our systems. It compels us to ask, where do we stand?  

Q: Why is it so important that the mission of the UNT Dallas College of Law be fulfilled?
Cheryl:
 As a public law school in a large metropolitan area, UNT Dallas College of Law was founded with the mission to expand the opportunity of a legal education to diverse students. This mission reflects the importance of lawyers within our society. Twenty-six of our country’s 45 presidents were lawyers. The incoming president and vice-president were both lawyers. Almost 200 members of the 116th Congress are lawyers. Throughout all levels of government, from state houses, mayoral offices and town councils, lawyers have constituted a significant percentage of those elected officials. However, the legal profession has remained predominantly white male.  

The law school was also founded with the purpose to increase access to legal representation by communities that are traditionally under-resourced. Law touches so many aspects of our lives. It is important that people be able to get the assistance of a lawyer for situations that they cannot handle on their own.   

In 2014, the first students walked through the doors of the law school. Those students embraced the risk of enrolling in a law school that had not yet attained accreditation from the American Bar Association. They entered with the faith that UNT System, UNT Dallas and UNT Dallas College of Law administrators and faculty would marshal the resources and programs to meet the ABA standards to become an accredited law school. Quite literally, the value of their law degree was on the line, for if accreditation was not obtained, they would not be able to take the bar exam and ultimately become licensed to practice law.  

Three years later, in 2017, the law school achieved provisional status, the first step toward accreditation. Before the end of next year, the law school will submit its application for full accreditation. With approval of that application, the College of Law will become a fully accredited ABA law school.  

That will be an important moment in the life of the law school. Not only will it signal the ABA’s formal authorization, it will be a validation of the innovative curriculum, the school’s programs and the law school mission.  

View all "Ask an Expert" Articles

Faculty & Staff Spotlight: Juan F. Serrano

Google the characteristics of an IT professional and you'll find things like "sharp problem-solving skills," "analytical and creative thinking," "math skills" and "technology buff." Check all those for the HSC's Chief Information Officer Juan Serrano, plus a heaping helping of cool. Born and raised in Quito, Ecuador, Juan speaks three languages (find out which ones when you click below), he's got an in-Cure-able infatuation with 80s music and a childhood activity has recently become his fitness passion.

Juan joined the HSC in September 2019 following a wildly successful run as vice president and CIO at Air Medical

Group Holdings, a small group of companies that would become a billion-dollar enterprise. Now providing his expertise in Fort Worth, he finds himself equally enjoying the ride: "It is tremendously gratifying to know we are supporting the training of future healthcare providers and public health professionals," Serrano says, "but also to be part of a unique and very talented leadership team within a unique values-based culture."

Q&A

As CIO, what are your primary job duties?
I am responsible for planning, organizing, executing and sustaining IT services as a core competency and competitive advantage for the Health Science Center.

What is your favorite aspect of your job?
The opportunity to lead IT strategy and operations at a dynamic and innovative health science center that has been a destination of distinction in health education, patient care and research for 50 years. It is tremendously gratifying to know we are supporting the training of future healthcare providers and public health professionals, but also to be part of a unique and very talented leadership team within a unique values-based culture.

What employee benefit or activity would you like to see added to UNT World? 
I really enjoyed HSC’s PeopleFest last year and hope it can continue into the future. It was such a great way to gather as one university to appreciate both employees and students, to relax and have fun together.
 
What is your proudest work moment? 
Before joining HSC in the Fall of 2019, for almost 12 years I served as VP & CIO at Air Medical Group Holdings – the company that would eventually become the largest provider of air medical services in the world. It was such an incredible opportunity (and journey) to be part of a team that helped grow a small group of companies, organized under a parent/holding company, into a billion-dollar enterprise.
 
What is your proudest non-work moment? 
Being married to my wife, Tiffany, and together raising our three daughters -- Isabella, Sofia and Natalia.

What fact about you might surprise your colleagues?
I was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador, came to the US to go to college as a foreign student, and I am fluent in three languages including French, English, and Spanish (native).

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE...

Place to visit?: Paris – love the architecture, culture and food!
Song?: I grew up in the 80s, so my playlist often includes The Cure, Depeche Mode, U2, Psychedelic Furs, INXS, and many more…  Hard to choose just one song 
Hobby?: Growing up, I spent a lot of time on my BMX bike and about four years ago I rediscovered the joy of cycling. Although I enjoy mountain biking occasionally, my real passion and the majority of my time is now spent road cycling. I proudly completed my first “century ride” (100 miles/161 km) in 2019.

Start the new year off right with free fitness enrollment, weight management help and eye-care benefits you should know. 

Join the Fitness Program with no enrollment fee
If one of your goals is to get fit this year, the Fitness Program has a limited-time special for HealthSelect participants. You can join the Fitness Program in January or February 2021 with no enrollment fee (normally $19, plus tax) by using code: Hello2021.
 
Get weight management support through Well onTarget®

Whether you’re beginning a brand-new wellness journey or continuing an existing one, the 26 digital self-management programs in Well onTarget can provide support in a number of areas. For help managing your weight or improving your eating habits, programs include:

  • Achieving your healthy weight
  • Maintaining your healthy weight
  • Nutrition for better health

Learn more about Well onTarget Self-Management Programs.
 
January is National Eye Care Month

Don't put off your eye-care health. Big changes can occur over the course of the year and early detection is key in determine any changes in your eye health. Take advantage of your eye-care benefits and learn more about your State of Texas Vision plan benefits.

Ask an Expert: Wayne McInnis

If anyone can stake a claim as an authority on the growth of the UNT Dallas campus, it's Wayne McInnis.The Director of the Office of Facilities Management and Planning has served at the university for nine years, in which time the southern Dallas campus has bloomed from two buildings to four, including the first residence hall in 2017, the highly anticipated 2019 opening of the $63 million Student Center, plus the stunning renovation of the old City Hall building that is now the UNT Dallas College of Law in downtown Dallas. Needless to say, as UNT Dallas has expanded,

so has Wayne's job duties. And that's saying nothing of how valuable he's been in creating and ensuring protocol during COVID-19.

As the day-to-day overseer of the facilities department, from cleaning of the buildings to the HVAC to landscaping, one might say Wayne's love for the campus borders on familial. And, in truth, it just might. See, Wayne is also a UNT Dallas alum, and so is his son. 

Q&A

What is your favorite aspect of your job?
I love the student body we serve, and contributing to so many people's education and success. Our mission is to enhance and maintain a caring and supportive physical environment to further the educational and student developmental mission of the university. When we accomplish our mission daily, I take pride in our contribution to the education and success of our student body.

What employee benefit or activity would you like to see added to UNT World? 
I would like to see an Employee Family Day. We had one a few years ago and it was great.
 
What is your proudest work moment? 
There's so many. I just like being able to help and complete projects. I have been proud of my role in the construction of our first residence hall, the Student Center and renovation of the Dallas Municipal building that is now the UNT Dallas College of Law. When I arrived, we only had two buildings. These three additions are huge accomplishments for the university to have opened in a two-year span.
 
What is your proudest non-work moment? 
My son, Wayne McInnis Jr., like myself, graduated from UNT Dallas. He graduated in May 2018, one semester after I did. My goal was always to set the bar higher for myself than for my children. I couldn't see doing that without completing my degree. He now works for the W Hotel and is pursuing other entrepreneurial endeavors in business consulting and hospitality.

What fact about you might surprise your colleagues? 
I played drums for my church choir for 15 years. Now, I just fill in playing at my church when the drummer is out. I stopped playing about 12 years ago.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE...

Movie?: Clear and Present Danger
Inspirational hero?: My parents
Place to visit?: I love Miami

Ask an Expert: Danielle Gemoets

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

EXPERT: Danielle Gemoets, Registered Dietitian, UNT Student Health and Wellness Center
EXPERTISE: Food and nutrition

Danielle has called UNT home for seven of her 11 years as a Registered Dietitian. She helps students discover their health goals and works collaboratively to empower them to live their best lives. She loves making confusing nutrition topics feel simple, flexible and easy to apply to everyday life. And, goodness knows, over these stressful last 10 months, it's been harder than ever to maintain a healthy diet. Click the button below to get some helpful advice to get back on track and feeling great.

Q: My eating has looked a lot different since COVID-19 started, working from home, the added stress and now the holidays. How do I “reset?”  
Danielle: Whether you’re someone who sets New Year’s resolutions and goals or simply turns the page on your calendar, it’s hard to escape the messaging around being a “healthier” or “better” version of yourself. As we all endured the punches 2020 threw, normal routines went out the window. If you experienced a change in eating during this highly stressful and change-filled time, it’s perfectly OK and completely understandable! Be kind to yourself and explore things that are and aren’t working for you with curiosity, but not criticism. To me, a “reset” generally means following a restrictive eating or exercise plan, which just isn’t sustainable. It might produce some short-term changes, but will likely leave you feeling deprived, guilty and frustrated in the end. Instead, ask questions like, “I don’t have a lot of energy in the afternoons, I wonder why that is?

 

Would I benefit from a satisfying and filling snack?” Or, “I’m noticing that I’m ravenous by the time I get to dinner and feel extremely full after I eat; am I giving myself opportunities to eat every 3-4 hours during the day so my hunger doesn’t build to a place where I’m extremely hungry?” 

Q: There are so many diets out there -- Keto, Atkins, low-carb, intermittent fasting, etc., etc. -- do you recommend a specific diet?
Danielle: When people use the term “diet,” they’re usually referring to a particular health or weight-loss plan. Simply put, diets don’t work. Research supports this and many people can tell tales of being “on” and “off” of various plans that once promised to be the solution to health. The diet industry is clever and continually shifts to try and hook people and play on our fears. There’s a lot of money to be made in the world of dieting (it’s a multi-billion dollar industry!), so there is a huge interest in keeping people curious. With that in mind, you don’t have to feel guilty if you have been (or are currently) on a diet. Here’s the thing, nutrition isn’t one size fits all, and different things work for different people. We all have various food preferences, schedules, cooking abilities and health concerns. The best “diet” is one that honors your body’s innate needs for hunger and satisfaction, provides predictable eating times, honors your food preferences, is flexible and takes into consideration any health concerns you have. Now, making that happen can sound like a huge undertaking, but I promise you it’s worth it and can help you to achieve mental and physical health. I’ve listed some resources below (in the answer to my last question) that will give you some guidance on where to start.

Q: I’m busy and don’t have a lot of time to cook. How can I eat healthy meals?
Danielle: There are a lot of great convenience products available that can be fantastic time savers. Pre-cooked meats (deli meat, fajita steak, chicken breast, rotisserie chicken, etc.), canned tuna or salmon, canned beans, peanut butter, nuts, hummus, eggs, pre-chopped fresh produce (salad, vegetables or fruit), frozen or canned produce, and quick cooking grains (rice, quinoa, oats, etc.) are all great meal starters or additions. Meals that don’t require cooking or that can be heated in the microwave are great to have on hand when time is limited. Don’t forget that things like sandwiches, wraps, burritos, quesadillas or “snack boxes” (with a combination of items like hummus, peanut butter, nuts, crackers, pretzels, veggies or fruit) can make a great, balanced meal option. If your budget allows for it, there are also a variety of fresh and frozen entree and meal starter kits that can take a lot of the thought and hassle out of meal planning.

Q: What are some reliable nutrition resources? 
Danielle: Working with a Registered Dietitian is a great option if you have a health condition or are looking for individualized guidance. If you have health insurance, contact your insurance company to see what services are covered and get a list of contracted providers. You can also visit https://eatright.org and select “Find an Expert” to see a list of Registered Dietitians in your area. If you prefer something you can explore on your own, I highly recommend "Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach" (4th edition) or "The Intuitive Eating Workbook" by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN. These are both fantastic resources for anyone who is tired of dieting and wants to focus on overall health while learning to trust their body and make peace with food. For those with children, The Ellyn Satter Institute (https://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/) has a wealth of resources and books that are incredibly helpful.

View all "Ask an Expert" Articles

The 2021 Get Fit Texas! State Agency Challenge begins Monday, Jan. 11. This 10-week challenge offers employees a fun way to start an active year.

To complete the challenge, participants must be physically active for 150 minutes per week for at least six of the 10 weeks. We want you to take on the challenge and compete against other Texas agencies to see who can claim the title of Fittest State Agency

Registration is now open. Participants can begin logging their physical activity minutes on Jan. 11th. Find Instructions for registration and participating in the challenge here. For more information, contact Wellness Administrator Sarah Blackwell at: Sarah.Blackwell@untsystem.edu.

All participants must register for the challenge even if you have participated in previous years.

Honoring friendly competition, The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will track the percentage of completion for each state agency and recognize agencies in each size group (small, medium, large) with the highest completion rate.

Let’s lace up those shoes, take on the challenge and show that the University of North Texas System is the Fittest State Agency in Texas.