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May 27, 2010
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Changes to state employee benefits to take effect September 1.

Sports & Fitness will host Biggest Loser weight loss contest this summer.

Students inducted into UHD chapter of National Collegiate Spanish Honor Society.

UHD Cheerleaders and Chili's plan June 1 fundraiser.

GRE preparation DVDs available for viewing in Urban Education office.

Changes to state employee benefits will take effect September 1

The Employee Retirement System (ERS) Board of Trustees on May 25 approved several changes to the FY 2011 benefits for state employees and retirees, and all changes will be effective Sept. 1.

The approved changes include the following: The TexFlex account fees will be cut in half. The current fee of $2 will be reduced to $1, saving participants $12 a year for each health care or day care account. The TexFlex debit card one-time fee of $15 will remain the same. TexFlex helps manage insurance cost increases and helps participants budget for health and day care expenses.

Short-term disability coverage rates will decrease from 29 cents per $100 of monthly covered salary to 26 cents per $100. Long-term disability rates will decrease from 70 cents per $100 of monthly covered salary to 63 cents per $100.

HealthSelect Premium Contribution Rate Changes
  • Employees and qualified retirees will continue to have fully paid health insurance. 
  • Contribution rates for coverage of a member and spouse will increase by $16.02 a month (from $220.32 to $236.34). 
  • Contribution rates for coverage of a member and children will increase by $10.74 a month (from $147.52 to $158.26). 
  • Contribution rates for coverage of a member and family will increase by $26.76 a month (from $367.84 to $394.60).

No Changes to Dental, Life, AD&D and SKIP Rates
The State of Texas Dental Choice Plan and Humana Dental DHMO underwent no changes. Active and Retiree Basic Term Life Insurance and Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) insurance rates for participants and dependents will remain the same, and voluntary AD&D and retiree dependent life insurance rates also will stay the same.

In addition, Skip rates remain at either $15 or $25 per month for children coverage based on employees' income eligibility.

The annual Summer Enrollment period will be from July 5 to 30 for employees to make changes to benefits. If you do not want to change your benefits, you do not need to do anything. Your current benefits will continue in Plan Year 2011.

If you need additional information, please contact Van Le at 713-221-8443 or Betty Powell at 713-221-8072.

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UHD students inducted into National Collegiate Spanish Honor Society

Spanish Honor Society

The Psi Chi Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Spanish Honor Society, inducted eight active members and three honorary members in the first such ceremony at UHD held May 4.

The new members and their faculty advisers are, from left: Gustavo Jacobo; adjunct Maria Del Carmen Garcia,  (honorary member); faculty adviser William Nowak, associate professor; faculty adviser Raquel Chiquillo, associate professor; Maria Mather; Alba Herrera; Alinee Castrejon; Mary Jane Smith; Michael Byrne; Edwin Padilla, associate professor (Spanish faculty); Patricia Guerra; Marco Graniel; and adjunct Albert DeJesús Rivera (honorary member). 

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UHD Sports & Fitness to host Biggest Loser competition for teams, individuals

UHD sports & Fitness will host the UHD Biggest Loser competition for teams or individuals who can compete to lose the most weight in 10 weeks, from June 9 to August 13.

Register by June 11 to participate in the campuswide competition designed to help people lose weight in a healthy and fun way. Click here for a registration form and flier on the Biggest Loser event. Cost is $5 per person to register.

The contest is open to UHD students, faculty and staff members. Teams must have at least five members, and all must work in the same University department.

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Chili's Buffalo Speedway and UHD Cheerleaders team up for June 1 event

UHD Cheerleaders and Chili's will team up to raise money for the cheerleading organization during dinners sold at the Chili's Buffalo Speedway, 3215 Southwest Freeway, on June 1.

Please print out the attached flier and present it when you take your family and friends to dinner or get a to-go order and Chili's will donate 10 percent of the bill to UHD Cheerleaders.

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DVDs to help prepare for GRE available for viewing at Urban Education office
Graduate Record Exam (GRE) preparation DVDs are available to students and non-students in the Urban Education office in C-440 for in-house viewing between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.

This DVD set is appropriate for anyone interested in becoming familiar with the GRE and gaining a quick overview of strategies that might be helpful to pass the exam's three sections, which are Verbal Reasoning, Analytical Writing and Quantitative.

The workshop shown on the DVD was conducted in December 2009 and was videotaped for the benefit of UHD students and others hoping to apply for admission to graduate programs. The DVDs are produced by the UHD Information Technology department and funded by the U.S. Department of Education through its Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education.

For more information, you may contact Anjoo Sikka, professor in the Department of Urban Education, at 713-221-8156 or To learn more about the GRE, please visit the GRE Web site.

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O'Kane Gallery will host photo exhibit of Taiwan's diverse people and places

 Enchanting Taiwan exhibit

UHD's O'Kane Gallery and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) of Houston will present an exhibit of 33 photographs that feature Taiwan, starting with an opening reception at noon Thursday, June 3, and running through June 29.

The exhibit, entitled "Enchanting Taiwan,"  highlights the Pacific island's natural diversity and beauty and includes photos of unusual landscapes, like the example above that shows the thick mats of rich green seaweed that grow on the fingers of rock reaching into the sea near Laomei in Taiwan's Northeast Coast National Scenic Area.

Other photos will feature Taiwan's folk customs, people, cities, temple festivals and holiday celebrations. The exhibit is part of a global traveling exhibition schedule and includes many of Taiwan's most accomplished photographers.

UHD and TECO plan another collaboration during the fall semester with an Ang Lee film festival. "Pushing Hands" will play Oct. 19 with a Tai-chi master giving a pre-show demonstration; "The Wedding Banquet" is planned for Oct. 20; and "Eat Drink Man Woman" is set for Oct. 21 followed by a reception and faculty panel to discuss Ang Lee's films.
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UHD students inducted into local chapter of History Honor Society

Phi Alpha Theta

Several students recently were inducted into the UHD chapter of Phi Alpha Theta (PAT), the History Honor Society. The students and their faculty advisers include, from left, James McCaffrey, professor of social sciences; Hilda Miranda; Cyril Kring; Dale Ghere; Jose Alvarez, associate professor of social sciences; Anna Hamilton; Jesse Gorostieta; Spiro Svoronos; Sandra Hernandez; Tiffany Devereux; Chris Boone; Soren Scribner; and Gene Preuss, assistant professor of social sciences.

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Listen to what UHD graduation means to a handful of spring graduates

Commencement speaker

Graduation means many different things to the 1,052 graduates who walked across the platform at Minute Maid Park May 17 in UHD's 48th commencement ceremony. To most, it's a significant life milestone and the beginning of a great new adventure. Hear what several UHD grads from across the disciplines say about what graduation means to them in the attached graduation video.

Above, College of Business graduate Cheryl Chodaniecky delivered the keynote address to an appreciative crowd of family members, friends and visitors.

Commencement 2 Chodaniecky, a non-traditional student who worked full time and raised her two sons while completing her bachelor in business administration degree, encouraged fellow students to find their passions and take risks. "As we close this chapter of our lives, have confidence in your ability to accomplish what you seek out to do," Chodaniecky said. "Find your passion, remember your values and most importantly, maintain your integrity."

President Bill Flores, UH System Board of Regents Chairman Welcome W. Wilson Sr. and UH System Chancellor Renu Khator congratulated graduates for their perseverance and determination and urged them to go out and change the world for the better.

See UHD's Facebook page for more photos.

Commencement 3

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UHD students, staff and faculty forming team for Impact a Hero 5K June 5

UHD students, staff and faculty are invited to join a UHD team that will participate in the June 5 Impact A Hero 5K in Sugar Land to raise funds for wounded and disabled U.S. veterans. Walkers and runners are invited to join the UHD team.

The race starts with a 7 a.m. Saturday, June 5, pre-race ceremony, followed by a 7:25 a.m. wheelchair race, the 7:30 a.m. 5K run (3.1 miles) and an 8:30 a.m. Kids 1K race, all of which start at Mercer Stadium, 16403 Lexington Blvd., Sugar Land. Registration is $20 per person before May 28. For UHD community members unable to participate June 5, donations can be made directly to the Impact a Hero organization.

See UHD's team page to sign up to participate or to make a donation. A flier also is available. For more information on the event and the Impact a Hero organization, visit the group's Web site.

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UHD ranks 33rd in nation for graduating Hispanics with bachelor's degrees

UHD ranks 33rd in the nation for graduating Hispanic students with bachelor's degrees, according to an annual study released  by Hispanic Outlook Magazine.

Some 729 Hispanic students earned bachelor's degrees at UHD in 2009, putting UHD in  the Top 100 nationally. The study uses data from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics.

UHD is one of 400 federally designated Hispanic Serving Institutions in the country.

Florida International University earned top honors in the study with 3,555 Hispanic graduates in 2009.

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Reminder of ongoing fire protection system testing through Friday
Facilities Management isl performing semi-annual testing and maintenance of the campus fire detection/notification/suppression systems (and related elevator fire service re-call, air handler shut-downs, fire-door hold-open devices and stair pressurization controls) through Friday, May 28.  All campus buildings will be addressed during this period.
Due to the size of the systems, the contractors involved and the cost of the labor required to do the work, this testing must be performed during normal business hours. Please consider this an opportunity for the university community to become familiar with these fire and life safety systems and the campus emergency public address system.
An announcement will be made over the PA system prior to the alarms being sounded to inform the occupants of the test. The alarms and strobe lights will then be engaged briefly and certified by the technicians. An announcement will be made after the conclusion of each segment of the audible and visual alarm testing.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Questions can be sent to:
Chris McCall
Assistant V.P. - Facilities
Facilities Management Department
University  of  Houston - Downtown

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Commerce Street Building elevator project to continue through Friday

UHD Facilities Management is performing modifications to elevator 53, which serves the south portion of the Commerce Street Building, through Friday, May 28.

No access to elevator 53 will be available during the work. The two passenger elevators located in the front of the Commerce Street Building will operate normally and won't be affected by this project.
Once the modifications are complete, elevator 53 will have an additional set of doors on the first floor to make the Commerce Street Building more convenient and accessible. The new elevator doors will be located on the first floor adjacent to the stairs and student study area in the south end of the building.
Questions should be addressed to Eric Reimer at 713-221-8234 or Facilities Management thanks the UHD community and Commerce Street Building visitors for their cooperation during the project.

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IT Training for Faculty-Staff-Alumni

Register for IT training opportunities at the links below.  To schedule a one-on-one appointment or other assistance, please call 713-221-8200.

Blackboard Learning Management
           10 to 11 a.m. - Blackboard: Managing Course Content
Microsoft Office
           Friday, May 28
           9 a.m. to noon - Microsoft: Open Lab

See all current IT training available

The Skyline eNews is produced daily by the Office of Public Affairs and you will receive the Skyline eNews via email while you are a UHD employee. We update our email list weekly. The eNews is a University faculty and staff newsletter and is designed to keep employees informed of university activities, policy changes, human resources issues, business office information and security information.

The deadline for submitting items is 9 a.m. the day before publication. Past issues are archived on UHD's Web site. The archive link is in the lower right column.   

We are always interested in your activities. Let us know at least 24 hours in advance so we can include your event in the Skyline eNews. We also try to photograph University activities, but we need to know when and where your event is taking place. Email or call Public Affairs at 713-221-8010.
In this issue
Today at UHD
State employee benefit changes will take effect Sept. 1
UHD students inducted into National Collegiate Spanish Honor Society
Register for "Biggest Loser" competition this summer
UHD Cheerleaders and Chili's to host June 1 fundraiser
GRE preparation DVDs available for viewing in Urban Education
Stories from previous Skylines
O'Kane Gallery will host Enchanting Taiwan photo exhibit June 3-29
Students inducted into UHD chapter of History Honor Society
Hear what UHD graduation means to a handful of recent grads
UHD team will participate in Impact a Hero 5K
UHD ranks 33rd nationally for graduating Hispanics with bachelor's degrees
Facilities Management testing fire protection systems
Commerce Street elevator project under way
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