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Wellness Committee in LSA Student Academic Affairs
Wellness Committee in LSA Student Academic Affairs
Photo by: Mariam Negaran
Article by: Bethany Christoff
Did you know that those who regularly cultivate gratitude experience stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, higher levels of positive emotions, and more joy, optimism, and happiness? Imagine having a team of staff in your unit who volunteer their time to remind you of these facts through unique activities and avenues. The Wellness Committee in LSA Student Academic Affairs is bringing this concept to life!
The Committee is comprised of ten academic advisors and administrative staff members: Lara Hamza, Clara Kawanishi, Denise Kozikowski, Jenna Leving Jacobson, Marsha Pumroy, Brynn Arnall, Margaret Elias, and three members who have gone on to bigger and better things: Karishma Collette, Kate Sechler, and Kelsey Szpara. This committee has set out to make their work environment a warm and welcoming space through research-driven techniques, a focus on kindness, laughter, humor, and building human connections. And while their work on this committee is not part of any of their job descriptions, they are willing to contribute to wellness because they understand the value it can have over time in an office as large as theirs.
The Committee first gathered as part of the MHealthy wellness program. Over the years, the committee members started to expand the wellness focus, taking a holistic view of health, well-being, and the nature of positive organizations. The work responsibilities of academic advisors and administrative staff in this unit can be demanding and challenging, especially at peak traffic times of year. The committee plans their programming according, always aiming to improve overall staff wellness and morale. Their creativity is evident by the variety of events and activities that have been presented over time. These have included healthy breakfasts/lunches, classes taught by MHealthy instructors, nature walks to the arb, chair massages, dietician consultations, craft tables, and a zen room for quiet meditation.
The team’s nominators comment that their attention to detail has been amazing. “This committee takes on a tremendous amount of work, that goes beyond the scope of their jobs. They fit this in while still performing their jobs as advisors, auditors, and support staff. They are so committed to this committee and this work, that they give up their lunch hour in order to meet. The team works together to organize these events and activities which not only increase our own potential for staying healthy but also build teamwork and camaraderie.”
Through their positive and persistent actions, the Wellness Committee brings together small acts of kindness that add up into a larger message of support and care. As the group has evolved over time, their presence has become integral to the health and well-being of the unit’s staff, and ultimately has had a positive impact on the students they serve. They set a truly incredible example of how a small group of staff can have a significant impact on the space in which they work.
So, how have been able to do this? The group works diligently to organize and present monthly (even weekly!) activities and events aimed at increasing the sense of community and well‐being in the office. They have developed a varied range of methods and distribute emails that remind staff to take care of themselves, usually with specific tips on how to do so, and the research that backs it up. These events rely on creativity and energy. This has involved taking some risks, because it is not always clear what is and isn’t going to work. The result has been a wonderful diversity of activities allowing different staff members to engage in different ways.
When Committee members were asked how they feel about receiving recognition through the Staff Spotlight Award, they first clarified the way they define their participation on the committee. They noted, “This doesn’t feel like work, it is giving, fun and rejuvenating to make others happy.” This being said, they are thankful that the nominators took the time to recognize their work. It is helpful to know the value people place on their efforts, and this support encourages them to keep contributing in this way.
Photo with Dean Andrew Martin (left to right) Denise Kozikowski, Kelsey Szpara, Jenna Leving Jacobson, Marsha Pumroy, Brynn Arnall, and Kate Sechler
LSA Academic Auditors Office
Article By: Margo Lakin
Photography By: Cindy Bourland
Cindy Bourland joined the university in 1998 as the office manager for the Newnan Advising Center, a broadly focused position where she quickly became a Jack-of-all-trades. While she loved the work and the people, Cindy wanted to concentrate on more specific components. “I wanted the opportunity to narrow my focus so I could know a topic well and contribute in more concrete ways,” she explains. Ten years later, the position of supervisor opened in the Academic Auditors Office, and she applied.
Academic auditing plays a unique role for the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA). It assists students in evaluating their progress toward a degree, as well as answering a wide array of questions from students, advisors, staff, and faculty—ranging from athletic eligibility to graduation requirements. The Auditing Office also has the paramount responsibility of upholding the standards of the College and the U-M degree.
There is no typical day for Cindy, or her team of five. For example, she recently worked with a former student—last here in 1954—who wanted to finish his undergraduate degree. Cindy researched what that would entail, based on the requirements from the 1950s. Later that day, she spoke with a department administrator regarding training for a new faculty advisor, and followed up with the Registrar’s Office audit team regarding requirements for majors. Her day was peppered with clarifying policy issues, working on the queue of initial audits and graduation audits, and discussing summer graduation with a student.
But her favorite part of the job is the people she works with. “I love having an open office and the energy it generates,” she says. She is quick to acknowledge the great auditing team and strong sense of community they share. “I’m very lucky to have this, not only within the Auditing Office, but also in Student Academic Affairs and throughout the College.”
The nominations echo this sentiment, highlighting Cindy’s effective leadership that respects and encourages staff to do their best. “It is clear that her work and life are motivated by a deep appreciation for every person she encounters as a unique individual,” noted one nominator. But Cindy is always quick to acknowledge her team. “If I’m to be given any credit,” she explains, “it’s that I hire good people -- but even that is a team effort.”
When not on campus, Cindy enjoys time with her husband Glenn, who owns By the Pound in Ann Arbor. They also have two children, one living in Chicago and one attending college in Maine, who they don’t see nearly enough. So Cindy and Glenn tend to spoil their two dogs and cats. She can also be found working in her yard, kayaking on local lakes, or meeting her brother at a local bar for a spirited game of cribbage.
The LSA Staff Spotlight Committee would like to thank Anna Caruso for all her years of service as a Financial Specialist Senior in the Department of Psychology’s East Hall Business Office. According to the many letters of support we received, Anna was known for her outstanding customer service and interpersonal skills, her incredible attention to detail, and her willingness to go above and beyond to help faculty and staff alike.
With all this wonderful praise, it’s no surprise that this summer Anna was offered and accepted a position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We wish her the best of luck and are sure that she will bring the same excellence to her new position.
Center for Global and Intercultural Study (CGIS) Advisors: Ebony Ellis, Rebecca Griffin, Kate Lilly, Sarah Pauling and Crissy Zamarron
Center for Global and Intercultural Study (CGIS) Advisors:
Ebony Ellis, Rebecca Griffin, Kate Lilly, Sarah Pauling and Crissy Zamarron
Article By: Erica Gehringer
Photos By: Mariam Negaran
Whether it is sending students to Jordan to complete their Arabic language and culture requirements; to Peru to learn and practice grassroots approaches to hygiene, sanitation, and nutrition; or to Japan to study Japanese art and culture, the Center for Global and Intercultural Study (CGIS) has them covered. CGIS provides undergraduates with a wide array of study abroad opportunities, currently offering more than 90 programs in 40 countries around the world—and plans to add even more! There is never a dull moment in the office, and CGIS advisors Ebony Ellis, Rebecca Griffin, Kate Lilly, Sarah Pauling, and Crissy Zamarron work tirelessly year-round to make the process of studying abroad as easy as possible.
There is no “typical” day for Ebony, Rebecca, Kate, Sarah, and Crissy. While placing students abroad is a large part of what the advisors do, it is not the only thing they do. They are always looking for improvements by constantly seeking and strengthening relationships with other University offices, revising and streamlining internal processes, looking for the most engaging ways to provide students information, stressing access and opportunities to programs outside of their own portfolios, vetting different places to study abroad, and even trying to keep up with the new lingo students use. One day could be full of advising appointments, while the others could be full of informational sessions, Skyping with faculty and institutions abroad, researching new programs, meeting with campus partners, or reviewing students’ applications. With the amount of work they do, Crissy explains that they always have to plan a semester ahead. Sarah shares, “The beauty of it is that our days shift based on the time of year, so it doesn’t get too repetitive.”
Students are the advisors’ biggest motivators. Ebony explains, “Once you’ve done all the planning, orientations, study abroad fairs, you can just think about how the students are going to have a worthwhile experience abroad, and knowing you are able to be a part of that timeline with them is a big motivator.” Crissy agrees, “I love that moment when you get the destroy the ‘myth’ of study abroad and say ‘You can go!’ and they really believe that they can go. It’s always fun to see that moment of excitement from students.” Kate adds that reading applications is often a good reminder of “why are we doing this work and what goals students have and how international education can be a nice compliment to what they wish to do and are already doing.” They all (semi-)joke that they live vicariously through the students and mutually agree upon how rewarding it is when students come back to share their experiences and thank their advisors for helping get them there.
Without working as a team, it would be much more difficult to accomplish all that they do now. Rebecca, who previously worked as the sole employee at a different institution’s study abroad office, states, “Working on this team is really collaborative. We’re always there to help each other out and keep things light and make even the mundane tasks a little fun.” They also keep an “open door” policy, where everyone feels comfortable asking for each other’s help and advice. Sarah explains, “It’s hard to take all of the credit for my portfolio because I’m always seeking advice from the other advisors, so I think it makes sense to be nominated as a team.”
Ebony, Rebecca, Kate, Sarah, and Crissy extend their gratitude beyond the advising team to the whole CGIS Office, acknowledging and appreciating the work that every other person does outside of advising. If they ever have any issues, they know that everyone is always there to offer unquestionable support. They are extremely grateful for the time students, faculty, their colleagues, and their supervisors spent on nominating them for the Spotlight Award. “It’s shocking to be nominated, because you don’t do it for a show or recognition.” Ebony shares. Rebecca adds, “Sometimes we can feel stuck in our little offices all day, and to know that people still notice us, that is definitely an honor as well.”
The CGIS Office is excited for a new cycle of applications for their Winter 2017 cohort of study abroad students. Starting mid-September, the advisors will soon be busy with reviewing applications, and they look forward to helping create new memories for students by placing them abroad.
(Left to right) Kate Lilly, Rebecca Griffin, Sarah Pauling, Ebony Ellis and Crissy Zamarron
Article by: Debbie Walls
Photograph by: Keaten North
“Intelligent,” “remarkable,” “hard-working,” “cheery disposition,” “heart for service,” “critical thinker” “conscientious” are just a few of the adjectives used to describe Keaten North by his nominators for the LSA Staff Spotlight Award. Keaten describes himself as “naturally inquisitive” and says that he “just loves finance!”
Keaten joined the MLB Business Office just three years ago as an Accounting Clerk and was quickly promoted to Financial Specialist after just a year and a half. Keaten praises the positive work environment created by his supervisor and other MLB team members that enables him to continue to learn and grow.
Keaten currently services the LSA Dean’s Office; the Departments of American Culture, Classical Studies, Comparative Literature, and History of Art; and the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. He coordinates project account management and regularly holds office hours in the units, so that he can work directly with faculty, graduate students, and staff. One faculty member shared “I consider Keaten a great partner in my teaching, my research, and everything else I do as a faculty [member].” Keaten also enjoys his work with graduate students and the Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshops program, which promotes collaboration among students and faculty.
Keaten and his wife, Libby, relocated to the Ann Arbor area from Columbia, South Carolina when Libby was accepted into a Ph.D. program in Education and Psychology at UM. Keaten and Libby have a 13-month-old daughter, Maria, who is keeping them busy now that she is off and walking. Keaten knew right away that he wanted to work at the University of Michigan and immediately began applying for finance jobs and even went directly to offices to share his resume...which obviously paid off! Keaten is an avid guitarist and bassist. He had initially considered studying music in college, but worried that if he were to play music for a living, he might lose some of his creativity and love for music. Keaten continues to play music and looks forward to weekly jam sessions with his wife, who plays the piano, and his neighbor, who is a guitar/bass player. The trio are even preparing for an upcoming performance at the Stone Chalet, accompanying a local dance troupe.
When asked whom he might consider as a mentor or role model, Keaten shared that his father, by his own example, demonstrated the importance of hard work and treating people well as the key to a successful career and life. Upon learning that he had been selected as a Spotlight recipient, Keaten said that he was absolutely ecstatic and that it felt really good to be recognized for his work.
Oh, and if you ever want to do something nice for Keaten...treat him to a double shot of espresso!
Haven Hall Business Office
Haven Hall Business Office
(left to right) Chris Nichols, Nan Flood, Shana Wright, Julie Esch, Jeanine Tsang, Karen Wood, and Terri Gorowski
Article by: Diane Wyatt
Photograph by: Mariam Negaran
Several Chief Administrators in the social sciences were pleased to nominate the Haven Hall Business Office for an LSA Staff Spotlight Team Award for the great support their departments receive. Led by Chris Nichols, the Haven Hall Business Office staff are extremely customer service-oriented, and work hard to make finances easier for faculty and staff. One example of a great service they started and maintained over the last year is the monthly financial reports that go to all principal investigators (PIs), the primary investigator on a research project. These reports go directly to the PI’s e-mail accounts--eliminating the struggle with M-Reports. As a result, faculty are much more knowledgeable about their short codes and account balances.
The team’s customer service is also enhanced by having e-mail groups tailored to each department, so that when one staff member is out, another “picks up the ball” and continues serving the faculty. Some faculty even have remarked that they no longer mind Concur, the University’s Travel and Expense System, because the Haven Hall Business Office has provided so much understanding regarding how to submit their expense reports for quick payment. The staff and their manager are always willing to attend meetings to explain processes and answer questions, and they have oriented new faculty to financial processes and how to seek more funds for research, such as with eGif (Gateway to Internal Funding), etc.
Until recently, Chris Nichols was the manager of the Haven Hall Business Office. He has since moved to a promotional opportunity at the University’s Shared Services Center (SSC). At the time Chris assumed responsibility for Haven Hall, there was great upheaval across the University and in LSA when financial and other transactional work and staff associated with that work were moved from LSA departments to the SSC. LSA’s new Dean heard the concerns of chairs, directors, and chief administrators about gaps they saw between the work moving to Shared Services and the work staying in departments--and the implications for and impact on the remaining staff. He committed to providing more services to faculty and staff in LSA.
Chris was a critical partner in managing staff and creating new workflows to manage financial transactions. Although we are sad to see him leave LSA, many have seen the advantages of having him at the SSC as an advocate and information resource for the work we do here at LSA and in its departments. Before he left LSA, he discussed his new position in SSC.
“I recently took a new position as Accounting Manager at the Shared Services Center (SSC). I will be helping to lead the Accounting Customer Service, Statement of Activity (SOA) Reconciliation and Accounting Receivable teams. Serving as LSA's Unit Liaison to the SSC, I often came in contact with the SSC management team, and was impressed by their employee-centric culture and commitment to customer service. When the opportunity [arose] to become part of this initiative, it was a chance I couldn't pass up. I will sincerely miss my time with LSA and will always have very fond memories of the faculty, staff and students I came in contact with during my time at the College,” Chris wrote.
Chris also provided this interview, along with the Haven Hall Business Team
Do you have a typical day? Describe what it may look like.
Chris: Each day starts with taking a look at our inbox requests and working to prioritize what actions need to be completed. We place a premium on expense reimbursement requests because we aim to turn these around as quickly as possible. We also look to see if there are other time-sensitive actions involving paying suppliers and independent contractors for services rendered. The goal is always to keep the engines of University business operating as smoothly as possible.
Team: Each day is different but collectively, we:
Answer questions from faculty, staff, and students.
Process financial transactions (pay invoices, process student/guest reimbursements, approve Concur reports, submit journal entry (JE) requests, etc.).
Portfolio management - Review account activity and balances.
Research university policy on unusual requests (At least once a week we get something new and different!).
Work with faculty and students on compiling research proposals and data use agreements.
What motivates you?
Chris: Looking for ways to improve what we do each and every day. Certain efficiencies are gained when you repeat a set of sets in repetition. What is exciting, however, is taking the same steps and seeking ways we can operate smarter, faster, and with more accuracy.
Team: Meeting the needs and expectations of the departments we serve. Assisting faculty with their research objectives.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Chris: Working with individual staff members and admiring their growth as professionals. Nothing beats the satisfaction of watching a staff member meet and exceed goals they thought not to be possible.
Team: Variety! We enjoy the unique requests of each department and faculty member: From the Human Subject Incentives Program (HSIP) and research compliance questions from faculty/students who are working on research overseas to unusual purchase requests.
Who is your role model?
Chris: I've had the good fortune of working with several mentors who served as my supervisors. No two supervisors are alike and I try to glean something from everyone I've worked for and try to make it my own.
What/who makes your job easier?
Chris: I believe everyone at the University comes to work each day trying to do the best job they can. Because this is true, I feel everyone plays a part in making work easier for all of us.
Team: Great co-workers! Collaboration within our office. We also work better with food!
What short or long-term project or goal do you wish to accomplish?
Chris: In the Social Science division, we are aiming to amp up research-related services we provide to our faculty and graduate students. The goal is to make related administrative processes as smooth as possible to enable faculty to focus on the science. We also are working to ensure that we provide project-grant account management services in a more timely fashion to identify potential trends while there is still time to take appropriate action.
Julie - Complete student financial aid reconciliation for the fall term.
Shana - Continue to implement successful pilot programs with the SSC.
Jeanine and Terri - Meet the faculty and learn about their research (Jeanine joined our office in May, Terri in August.).
What parts of your job are challenging and how do you deal?
Chris: The most challenging part is to manage spikes in volume that normally come at the beginning at end of each semester. We manage by making sure we have plans in place to cover each other when team members encounter a heavy rush of requests.
Team: Answering questions we haven’t seen before - this is where collaboration comes in. We work together to share knowledge and find solutions.
Is there anything else you would like me or the readers to know about you, your job, or the Haven Hall Business Office?
Chris: LSA Finance really prides itself in providing excellent service to the units we serve. We always strive to find answers to the most difficult and obscure questions and we pride ourselves in being a resource to the College.
Team: We strive for excellent customer service, take pride in our work, and enjoy the relationships with our faculty, students, and department staff.
How do you feel about recognition for your accomplishments in the form of a Spotlight Award?
Chris: It’s truly an honor to be recognized by our internal customers for this distinguished award. I know there are so many teams deserving of recognition and I appreciate that it’s a difficult selection to make.
Team: We are honored!
What brought you to your current position?
Chris: I started at the University in 2012 working as a Chief Administrator in the Program in the Environment. About a year later, I took a Business Manager role supporting the International Institute. I then joined LSA Finance (also as a Business Manager) when the College converted to a divisional model in Oct 2015.
Jeanine - My fiancé got a job in Plymouth, so it was a cross-country move from Seattle, WA.
Shana - I started at the International Institute and transitioned with the creation of LSA Finance.
Julie - The opportunity to grow in University knowledge (I came from Student Financial Services.).
Nan - I returned to the workforce after starting as a temp.
Terri -My interest in expanding experience with research proposals.
Karen - I returned to the workforce full-time.
What are you most looking forward to in the academic year ahead?
Chris: I hope to continue to support LSA Finance's transition to providing the best in class financial and research support to our faculty, staff, and students.
Team: We look forward to expanding our support of research in the social science units and meeting the evolving needs of our departments.
What do you like to do in your time outside of work?
Chris: I most enjoy spending time with my family and dog (Zelda). I also enjoy distance running and practicing yoga. These activities help me to stay balanced both physically and mentally.
All - Spending time with family!
Nan - Travelling
Shana - Camping
Jeanine - Exploring the area
Julie - Historic dance and costuming
Terri - Reading (particularly philosophy)
Karen - Biking and cross-country skiing