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Faculty & Staff Spotlight: Patrick Pluscht

Patrick Pluscht joined UNT World from the University of Alabama System in 1997 to help Dr. Philip Turner (retired) start distance education at UNT. Since then, Pluscht has served in various leadership positions at the university, on the boards of professional organizations and on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board advisory committee related to learning technology. At UNT, he currently serves on a small, but mighty, team known as DSI Growth that identifies and promotes programs ready to grow online.


What is your favorite aspect of your job ?
I’ve always enjoyed opportunities to connect people and ideas across an organization to accomplish outcomes that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. My current supervisor in DSI Growth is convinced that I’m friends with most people on the UNT campus, which can be partially attributed to my longevity at UNT and my native extroversion. But it’s also a reflection of my passion for being a connector. I’m a strong believer in “We’re better together” and that makes my current role promoting online enrollment growth a really good fit.
What employee benefit or activity would you like to see added to UNT World? 
I’d like to see more mentoring opportunities for staff across UNT World. I’m amplifying this idea from Dr. Adam Fein, UNT Vice President for Digital Strategy & Innovation, who is exploring mentoring possibilities for our division with the recognition that we have robust mentoring programs for faculty and students at UNT, but not for our staff.
What is your proudest work moment? 
Awards and recognition are really nice, but my proudest moments have been related to creating experiences where individuals can share their stories with community members – whether to challenge them, enlighten them or inspire them.
What is your proudest non-work moment? 
My proudest non-work moments are related to my three children. Lydia, Caroline and Julian each have academic, athletic and creative accomplishments they’ve worked hard to achieve, but what makes me most proud is when I witness them being kind and generous and standing up for social justice and for those without a voice. It gives me hope for the future.

What fact about you might surprise your colleagues? 
I’m kind of an open book, but maybe not everyone knows I am an amateur magician, I shot coaches’ film for the Alabama Crimson Tide Football program under Gene Stallings in the early 1990s, and I have fond memories of skydiving and scuba diving while at the University of Alabama.


Place to visit?: San Francisco Bay Area or most anywhere in Europe

Hobbies?: Collecting vinyl records (since high school) and taking sunset photos

Thing to do?: Attend live music shows or festivals with friends

 University of North Texas System Chancellor Lesa Roe on Friday named Sheraine Gilliam-Holmes as the UNT System’s new Vice Chancellor for Organizational Effectiveness & Chief Human Capital Officer.

 Gilliam-Holmes will begin her new position on Jan. 2, 2021.

 An accomplished human resources leader with more than 15 years of experience, Gilliam-Holmes spent the last two years at Austin Peay State University as Executive Director & Chief Human Resources Officer, and   previously served in HR leadership positions for the City University of New York (CUNY) System from 2012 to 2018.

Following a national search, Gilliam-Holmes was offered this senior leadership position based on her rich higher education experience in human resources, as well as her strong track record for fostering faculty and staff development, and modernizing HR processes. UNT System Vice Chancellor & Chief Financial Officer Dan Tenney will continue to serve as Interim Chief Human Capital Officer through Jan. 1, 2021.

“We are excited for Sheraine Gilliam-Holmes to bring her expertise in human resources strategy to North Texas and, through her leadership, enrich employee relations, talent management, learning and development, benefits administration and human resources technology,” Chancellor Roe said. “Sheraine is a proven human resources leader with relevant higher education experience working for one of the nation’s largest university systems, as well as on a campus with more than 10,000 students. She understands what we need in a ‘people culture,’ and is very customer-focused, proactive and innovative – making her a perfect fit for leading our centralized UNT System HR team. I would also like to thank Dan Tenney for serving as Interim Chief Human Capital Officer during our search.”

In her role at the UNT System, Gilliam-Holmes will oversee human resources for more than 10,000 faculty and staff at the UNT System’s three campuses, as well as with UNT System Administration. She is a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and a member of the National Board of Directors for the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR).

HR has launched a new Compensation eForm, the Staff Job Classification/Reclassification Request Form. This form is a tool to ensure an efficient and consistent staff classification/reclassification process.  

This will replace the Position Information Questionnaire (PIQ, UNT), the Position Summary Form (HSC) and current classification/reclassification documents at UNT Dallas and UNT System. New position and reclassification guidelines and timelines may vary by institution, particularly for filled positions. Please contact your campus or System HR team and review applicable institutional policies to determine eligibility for the classification/reclassification process.

The form will be completed when requesting a new staff position or when requesting the reclassification of an existing staff position. You can access the form and process information: The form will capture components of the position necessary for determining the appropriate job title and salary grade.


HR, in partnership with ITSS, launched several upgrades to the ePAR system in October. This new functionality will improve the job reclassification process and enhance several other existing processes:

  • New reclassification functionality – HR Compensation will review the requested job title and salary, and provide confirmation to the request or make recommendations for changes; department heads will then select a final recommended salary to move the request forward in the approval process
  • Vacant position changes for faculty – Initiators will now be able to make vacant position changes (faculty only) beyond the current fiscal year
  • Worklist – The approval worklist has been cleaned up and, going forward, it will clear once transactions are completed
  • Ability to see canceled ePARs – Initiators will now be able to view ePARs that may have been canceled by payroll processing
  • Payroll HOLD process for vacant positions -- Vacant position ePAR transactions will no longer be placed on hold while Payroll is processing
  • Termination Warnings – A new warning message will be displayed and recorded when the Last Physical Date is later than the termination effective date

Note: Make sure all Time & Labor data is entered and approved, and exceptions are cleared so as to not cause any delays if a lump sum vacation payout is needed

The stress of financial issues can take a serious toll on anyone's well-being. That's particularly true right now as all of us are trying to manage increasingly stressful times that, for many, have faced the impact of added financial burden. We can help. Here are a few helpful insights and tips for handling financial stress.

It’s important to know you are not alone and that there are resources available to help. As a UNT World employee, you can seek financial advice from your EAP and our retirement savings plan vendors for free. 

  • Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) includes free financial advice and counseling on a range of financial topics or issues from financial experts.
  • Our retirement savings plan vendors (AIG/Fidelity/TIAA/Voya) offer all employees one free financial advisement session if you need help assessing where to save, how to save, investing, as well as strategies for handling financial emergencies.

Your In the Green financial well-being program is also here to help you cope with stress through virtual meditation, stress management webinars and other resources. You’ll also find financial education webinars and videos there to help you enhance your financial wellness.

Community resources are available if you are struggling financially.  Find help through your local resources at

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy.

Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar (also called glucose) and released into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar goes up, it signals your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy.

There are many forms of diabetes including prediabetes.

According to the CDC – approximately 88 million American adults — more than 1 in 3 — have prediabetes. Of those with prediabetes, more than 84% don’t know they have it. With prediabetes, the cells in your body don’t respond normally to insulin causing the pancreas to make more insulin to try to get cells to respond. Eventually, your pancreas can’t keep up and your blood sugar rises, setting the stage for prediabetes that can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Know the Signs & Symptoms

Prediabetes puts you at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. You can have prediabetes for years with no clear symptoms, so it often goes undetected until serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes show up. A simple blood test can determine if you have prediabetes, so it’s important to talk to your doctor if you are 45 years or older and have any of the following risk factors:

  • Overweight
  • A parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes
  • Are physically active less than three times a week
  • Have gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
  • Have polycystic ovary syndrome

Your employee benefits can help you with diabetes self-management, education and support, as well as provide resources through our well-being program In the Green. There are ways to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, such as staying active and reducing your body weight. Sign up for sessions to learn more about the two free weight-management programs being offered -- Real Appeal on Nov. 4; and Naturally Slim on Nov. 12. Maintaining regular physical activity requires at least 150 minutes a week -- just 30 minutes a day, five days a week -- of brisk walking or a similar activity. It's easy to fit in a home workout with virtual classes offered through the UNT Rec CenterThe good news is if you have prediabetes, it can be reversed. Check out this video.

Did you know?: The diabetic drug supply changed as of Sept. 1

Learn more about how to get the OneTouch glucometer and OneTouch test strips at no cost to participants

HealthSelect of Texas or HealthSelect Out-of-State participants now pay nothing for diabetic supplies such as certain brands of test stripes, lancets and lancing devices under the HealthSelect Prescription Drug Program (PDP) administered by OptumRX when they use an in-network pharmacy and present their prescription drug ID card.  

Consumer Directed HealthSelect participants can get lancets, lancing devices, syringes, pen needles and OneTouch test strips at no cost after they meet their annual deductible.

Join the Free Glucose Meter Program

The Free Glucose Meter Program lets HealthSelect of Texas and HealthSelect Out-of State participants get a certain OneTouch Verio glucometer at no cost when they order it through LifeScan (the manufacturer of One Touch products). Once their provider determines which glucometer they should use, participants can then:

  • Contact the LifeScan Service Center at (866) 355-9962 or visit the website at
  • Enter the Brochure Code: 594PRX100
  • LifeScan will deliver the glucometer to their address.

To get the OneTouch glucometer at no cost, participants must order through LifeScan. If they prefer to get their glucometer at a retail pharmacy, they will need a valid prescription from their doctor. They will be responsible for the applicable copay/coinsurance.

Items covered at in-network pharmacies with a copay/coinsurance

The HealthSelect PDP benefit may cover other diabetic supplies at in-network pharmacies with a copay or coinsurance. After meeting their annual deductible, participants will pay the applicable copay/coinsurance depending on the tier status of the item they are purchasing. They can call OptumRx Customer Care at (855) 828-9834 (TTY: 711) or visit to find out more about the cost of a particular item.

The pharmacy benefit covers the following items with a copay/coinsurance: Insulin, diabetic oral agents, certain glucometers, certain test strips, alcohol wipes and swabs, glucagon emergency kits and syringes and pen needles.

Coverage of diabetic supplies and equipment under the HealthSelect medical plans administered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) remains unchanged, so participants can continue to receive covered diabetic supplies and equipment through their medical benefits if they prefer.

To learn more about the HealthSelect PDP’s diabetic supply coverage change, encourage your employees to read these "Frequently Asked Questions" or call OptumRx Customer Care toll-free at (855) 828-9834 (TTY: 711).

Getting your eyes examined is especially important for those living with diabetes as it could increase your risk of eye complication over time. Get a clear view of your benefits by using your Superior Vision plan for an annual exam of $15 for each covered member.

Caring for your feet while living with diabetes can be challenging so check out these tips and resources from your Employee Assistance Program on foot protection and self-care. 

Feeling overwhelmed and not sure how to begin making a lifestyle change, contact a BCBSTX representative to help manage your care with a dedicated team wait for you at (800) 252-8039 (TTY:711) between 8 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. CT Monday - Friday, and ask to speak with a clinician about the Care Management Program. Check out these tips and resources available both in English or Spanish from the National Diabetes Prevention Program.  

Dr. Iftekhar Amin

Over his 10 years at UNT Dallas, Dr. Iftekhar Amin has seen the university's rapid growth while teaching Applied Gerontology and Human Services Management and Leadership (HSML) courses. He works closely with organizations that serve the Greater Dallas geriatric population. When he's not teaching and working in the community, the husband of UNT Dallas Associate Professor of Sociology Dr. Syeda Jesmin, and the father of one daughter, enjoys gardening and growing vegetables.


What is your favorite aspect of your job ?
At UNT Dallas, I have the privilege to positively influence students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is highly rewarding to see our minority and first-generation college students with their families on graduation day, and see them grow professionally.
What employee benefit or activity would you like to see added to UNT World? 
More opportunity to learn and more professional training. 
What is your proudest work moment? 
In 2008, I got my first job as assistant professor at University of Louisiana at Monroe. I was awarded the Endowed Professorship of Gerontology for three years and later was appointed as a member of the Louisiana Governor’s Encore Commission. This afforded me opportunities to engage in research, while gaining exposure to the major aging-related agencies in the region. I am proud that I have ties with most aging-related agencies in the DFW area as well, and routinely receive invitations to serve on their boards.
What is your proudest non-work moment? 
Limited in-person social interaction has created the opportunity for me to connect with friends and family members from different parts of the world.

Movie?: The Godfather and Forrest Gump

Places to visit?:Guadalajara, Mexico; Turrialba, Costa Rica; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Bern, Switzerland

Hobbies?: Gardening, traveling, cooking and watching movies

Dr. Clint Purtell

Dr. Clinton Purtell joined UNT World last year as an adjunct professor in the Department of Marketing, Logistics & Operations Management. He is now an associate clinical professor of management and entrepreneurship. He also serves as a coordinator for outreach, external relationships and strategic corporate partnerships for UNT at Frisco/New College.


What is your favorite aspect of your job ?
I'm excited about every opportunity I have to be in a classroom or to work directly with students. I'm also passionate about research. I'm involved in UNT’s Center for Integrated Intelligent Mobility Systems (CIIMS) initiatives, particularly as it relates to autonomous drones and air taxi technologies, such as Uber Elevate. My other areas of interest -- both in the classroom and research -- are in the entrepreneurial process, particularly related to fundraising pitches, interactions between entrepreneurs and stakeholders, and new venture start-up strategies. 
What employee benefit or activity would you like to see added to UNT World? 
New employees, such as me, are peppered with bits and snippets about what is available in various presentations, such as new-hire orientation, individual department meet-and-greets, email news blasts, etc. It would be great if we had an indexed/organized tool that summarizes everything available to employees, with easy ways to directly access the various pages where more information exists across UNT, such as through hyperlinks. 
What is your proudest work moment? 
My personal mission is to “make a positive impact in at least one student every day.” My proudest work moment is each class, day or week I have a student approach me to tell me, unsolicited, that I have made a positive impact on them, inspired them, helped them think in new ways or considered a new perspective on a topic.
What is your proudest non-work moment? 
This year, each of my three children set high goals and accomplished each of them. All three achieved straight A’s in school, and all three were selected to a join top select athletic organization (two in baseball and one in softball). My two daughters made the junior varsity and varsity softball teams at Allen High School, and my oldest daughter received an offer as a junior in high school to play collegiate softball at one of her top choices where she can also study in a pre-med program. 

What fact about you might surprise your colleagues? 
I am an Oklahoma Choctaw, the son of two United Methodist ministers and a true “Okie from Muskogee.”

Movie?: Top Gun

TV Show?: Yellowstone

Hobby?: Hunting and shooting sports

With many of us spending more time at home, engaging in one of the programs offered through HealthSelect can help you improve your overall health and wellness.

Getting to a healthy weight can be a great way to improve your energy, mood and health. Your HealthSelect medical benefits include access to two online weight management programs. If you meet eligibility requirements, you can apply for enrollment in Naturally Slim® and/or Real Appeal® at no cost to you. Eligible participants may choose either program, but can only participate in one program at a time. Both programs offer courses, coaching and other virtual activities so you can use them when it’s most convenient for you. We encourage you to sign up if you’re looking for help managing your weight and changing your lifestyle.

HealthSelect participants also have access to self-directed health and wellness courses through Well onTarget®, your online wellness portal. These courses can help you get started on healthy habits such as quitting tobacco, managing stress and improving your sleep. Well onTarget also offers additional weight management resources, including coaching and trackers. You can even earn Blue PointsSM for participating in Well onTarget activities, which you can redeem for home workout equipment and more.

We encourage you to sign up and also share these resources and programs with your covered dependents. The additional support from your family members can make a difference in your success.

If you have any questions regarding weight management or Well onTarget, call a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas Personal Health Assistant toll-free at 800-252-8039 (TTY: 711), Monday — Friday 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Saturday 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Your EAP is here to help!  
We know it's not always easy juggling a work-life balance during this time with remote working and/or virtual learning with kids at home, so check out these tips and resources that might provide a different approach to working solutions.

Check out what’s happening at UNT Rec Center
Throughout October, attend Group Exercise classes and complete social media challenges for chances to win Rec Sports swag. 

National Retirement Security Week (NRSW), a national event focused on the importance of financial security, begins Oct. 18. The event raises awareness about the importance of planning toward retirement to ensure a secure financial future.

Planning for retirement is important at all ages and stages. Haven’t started yet? Now’s a great time. It’s never too late, and every dollar counts. Here are some ideas for starting, or progressing, on this important financial journey:

  • Get a savings checkup – you can consult with a financial advisor from one of our vendors for free – all employees are eligible for one free financial advisement session from the vendor of their choice. Each vendor’s contact information can be found here, including links to schedule meetings
  • Work on building emergency savings
  • Evaluate your anticipated retirement income vs. projected expenses and consider participating in voluntary retirement savings plans

Why? You can save toward retirement to supplement your retirement plan income (and other benefits) by contributing to investments of your choice -- via paycheck deduction monthly. It’s easy, and it adds up. 

You can start now by setting aside just $25 a month. It can grow significantly on your journey to retirement. Here’s a helpful calculator to check out how much you could stash away to retire on later by saving just a little bit monthly now. 

Watch a helpful video or join a webinar: You can find excellent virtual offerings to choose from all week on the In the Green Well-being Calendar.

To build whole-self wellness, include your finances in your personal well-being plan. Even when things are outside of your control, you can continue to set and work toward goals, no matter how small, that will help you achieve financial health and overall well-being for yourself.

Read more about planning for lifetime retirement income. And, learn more about your UNT World retirement plan benefits here.