Cutting the first path
Environmental science junior Sam Smith, who lives west of campus, took advantage of fresh snow and sunshine to cross country ski on campus Wednesday morning. "The snow just quiets everything down," he said. "I woke up, saw the snow and had to get out on it."
State tax cut impact to start showing in paychecks
An income tax cut probably will make for bigger paychecks starting in January for the second consecutive year, though it'll be less noticeable this time.
A prepayment of sorts for federal and state income taxes are withheld from payroll based on formulas linked to tax rates, marriage status and the number of exemptions an employee sets, a rough way of taking tax impacts such as children into consideration. When income tax rates change, so do withholding formulas.
After Congress passed a federal income tax cut effective in 2018, withholding rates fell and employees generally had more take-home pay. In many cases, it worked out to $100 or more a month, said payroll manager Doug Anderson.
The same thing will happen this year at the state level. A law passed by the Iowa Legislature last year lowers income tax rates effective in 2019 by about a half percentage point or less, depending on the income level. Less tax withheld will mean a little more in most employees' paychecks. How much depends on various factors, including deductions for benefits changes made during the open enrollment period in November. Those changes kick in this month, too.
But Anderson provided a few rough estimates. Employees with an annual salary of $50,000 would see a bump of about $225 per year, meaning they'd keep an extra $19 or so per month not withheld for Iowa income taxes. It'd be more like $36 per month ($435 for the year) for an employee making $100,000 annually, and a little more than $7 per month ($88 for the year) for a worker with a $24,000 salary. For merit staff paid on a twice-monthly basis, that extra money showed up in the Jan. 15 payroll.
Anderson said he hopes the new withholding rates, which are set by the government, don't lead to surprising tax bills. Taxes due this April will be the first to include the changes to federal rates for 2018.
"I'm still waiting for this pan out," Anderson said. "Hopefully, it will come out how it's supposed to."
Employees with questions about the impact of the new withholding rates should contact their tax adviser, Anderson said.
Transition teams start their work
Phased implementation continues in Iowa State's move to service delivery models that create teams of human resources and finance specialists. To help, transition teams will prepare employees, supervisors and units for the July 1 improved service delivery (ISD) go-live date.
More than 560 employees responded "yes" or "maybe" to an interest survey that will be used to help fill an estimated 125 finance and 55 HR specialist positions in the service delivery models. Interested staff -- 385 for finance and 256 for HR (some showed interest in both) -- will be the first to hear from transition team members. Employees offered ISD positions must make a decision by March 1.
The transition teams also will work with employees who opt out of the ISD structure, supervisors and department/unit heads to find solutions for local-level changes -- for example, the redistribution of work responsibilities.
"If anyone has concerns or questions, they just need to let us know so we can come talk with them," said Leslie Ginder, an employee and labor relations consultant in university human resources (UHR) and co-chair of the ISD transition process. "We're here for them. We're going to walk through this together."
Ginder and co-chair Stephen Simpson, director of emergency management and outreach for environmental health and safety, are coordinating the transition teams. They are responding to questions, concerns and feedback submitted by email (ISD_transition@iastate.edu), and will support the transition teams with resources and information throughout the process.
Seventeen transition teams align with the university's divisions, colleges and major units. UHR representatives co-chair the teams with an employee within the division, college or unit. A list of teams and their members is available on the WorkCyte website.
"The teams will be working with everyone who needs to be at the table," Ginder said. "They're not making decisions, they're making recommendations -- they'll need to talk to the employee, the employee's supervisor and others they work with."
What the teams will do
A transition timeline outlines the work to be done and deadlines driving the process. The transition teams' major objectives are to:
- Meet with employees, supervisors and unit leaders affected by ISD
- Develop individual transition plans for employees affected by ISD
- Identify non-ISD responsibilities of employees who accept ISD positions
- Identify duties to replace finance/HR ISD responsibilities for employees who remain local
- Work with local-level decision-makers to find solutions for redistributing responsibilities
- Assist with implementation of individual transition plans
Initiatives to improve faculty experience presented to senate
- Inside Iowa State summaries (2006-present)
- Twitter (@InsideIowaState)
Faculty Senate president Peter Martin presented the findings of the faculty experience work group during the senate's Jan. 22 meeting.
The work group, formed in fall 2018, presented five priorities in response to the 2017 university wide campus climate survey and the 2016-17 COACHE survey of faculty. The five initiatives are:
- Create and promote the Cy for Civility culture-shaping campaign
- Develop campuswide policies, guidelines and practices against bullying
- Increase access to high-quality child care
- Enhance departmental interaction among colleagues
- Become inclusive with the equity, diversity and inclusion initiative
A pair of faculty forums, an online form for anonymous comments and discussion during Faculty Senate meetings were used to develop the action items.
"The discussions were thoughtful and engaging, and it was not overly surprising, but it continued to highlight issues that we need to address," Martin said. "The general theme suggests we need to continuously work on being the best academic community we can be."
The work group was directed by President Wendy Wintersteen to develop initiatives that improve the experience of faculty. Once an implementation plan is in place, success in each item would benefit not just faculty, but everyone on campus.
Paul Fuligni, associate vice president for facilities planning and management (FPM), spoke to the senate about the challenges of maintaining the Iowa State campus. Deferred maintenance on about 7 million square feet of general fund facilities through fiscal year 2018 reached $436 million. In FY18, FPM spent about $12.3 million on maintenance and repairs. It plans to spend about $16.3 million this year.
"This is not unique to Iowa State, it is pretty typical," Fuligni said. "The condition of our facilities on a per square foot basis is about the same as other research institutions."
Carol Faber, associate professor of graphic design, was voted to become the next president-elect. She will take office in May, when current president Peter Martin (human development and family studies) passes the gavel to Jonathan Sturm (music).
Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert said the search for a new dean of the College of Engineering drew 99 nominations and 36 applications. On-campus interviews are planned for mid-to-late March.
Senators approved adding the word "bullying" to the Faculty Handbook's discrimination and harassment policy. After some debate, a resolution against bullying and intimidation on campus also passed.
"This resolution establishes an official faculty perspective," Sturm said. "It provides a document to peers, chairs and others who have bullying issues in their departments that can be addressed. It takes a step forward toward crafting an actual university policy on bullying without respect to protected class."
A proposed change to the Faculty Handbook by the Academic Affairs Council for consistency of core learning outcomes across all sections of a course will be voted on at the Feb. 12 meeting.
- Voted to add guidelines for action plan mediation when dealing with disputed action plans from unsatisfactory reviews or post-tenure reviews. It clarifies about who initiates the mediation plan, committee selection, submission of materials, deadlines, roles and responsibilities, expectations and outcomes.
- Unanimously approved a proposed online master's program in event management after the College of Human Sciences' apparel, events and hospitality management department received a positive response from the University of Northern Iowa review. The vote was delayed a month to wait for completion of the review.
Activate your web sign-in requirement by March 1
IT solution center
192 Parks Library
Since March 2018, everyone using web-based campus applications such as Outlook or Cybox has been signing in via the Okta identity and access security platform, but not everyone is using multifactor authentication to do so. On March 1, it will be mandatory.
"If people do not take action prior to March 1, they will be prompted and required to enroll on that date," said Mike Lohrbach, director of enterprise services and customer success for information technology services (ITS). "We really recommend that employees enroll before the deadline."
Multifactor authentication (MFA) adds another step to the Okta login process and another layer of defense against cyberattacks that can compromise university systems and individual accounts.
MFA provides a one-time authentication code during the login process to verify the user's identity. Users have five factors to choose from when setting up MFA in Okta, including:
- Okta Verify mobile application
- Text message
- Phone call
- Google Authenticator
- Physical "YubiKey" token (similar to a USB drive)
Only one method is needed to sign in, but Lohrbach said users should activate multiple options. For example, if a user is unable to receive a text or access the mobile app, a phone call to his or her office number would be an option. Users select their preferred authentication method on the Okta login screen.
Users can activate and edit MFA choices on their Okta dashboard (login.iastate.edu).
"If someone hasn't enrolled, there will be an icon on their Okta dashboard that says 'activate multifactor authentication,'" said Darin Dugan, ITS identity services manager.
He said users should have all of their devices on hand when activating MFA, including phones, tablets and computers. Email on mobile devices will need to be reconfigured after activation, and Android users will have to use the Outlook mobile app.
"Be in your office or wherever you have the factors available, then click the icon and go through the process," Dugan said.
When signing in on single-user computers and devices, employees can select "do not challenge me on this device again" to skip the MFA step when using that web browser in the future. This is NOT recommended for shared or public-use computers.
Instructional videos and PDFs with step-by-step procedures for activating MFA are available on WorkCyte's "Ready, Set, Learn" page. Help also is available through the IT solution center (192 Parks Library, 294-4000, firstname.lastname@example.org) and local IT staff.
"Please read the information on the activation page carefully, and if you have questions and concerns, we highly recommend contacting your local IT personnel," Lohrbach said. "Issues with activation should be reported to the IT solution center."
Lohrbach and his team are working closely with IT colleagues in university units to get the word out about the March 1 deadline. Employees, especially supervisors, can help by sharing reminders -- for example, at office meetings.
More than 2,500 employees already activated MFA. New employees starting on or after Jan. 23 are required to use MFA. New students for the summer and fall semesters will be required to activate MFA, and all students will be required to use it by the end of 2019.
- Okta secure login debuts March 1, Feb. 22, 2018
- Get a feel for Okta as an early adopter, Jan. 25, 2018
- Another tool for cybersecurity, Nov. 2, 2017
- New platform will provide portal to multiple applications, April 20, 2017
Workday will replace patchwork of timekeeping systems
Sign up for Workday timekeeping workshops in the WorkCyte section of Learn@ISU.
- Sessions for nonexempt employees are Feb. 6 (2:30-3:30 p.m., 2055 Hoover) and Feb. 19 (3-4 p.m., 1210 LeBaron)
- Sessions for managers and timekeepers are Jan. 30 (3:30-4:30 p.m.) and Feb. 6 (12:30-1:30 p.m.), both in 2055 Hoover
For a refresher on wage and hour laws, check out the self-guided online course, Wage and Hour Training for Managers, in the UHR section of Learn@ISU or this course on Lynda.com.
Time's almost up for paper timesheets. A timekeeping application in Workday, the university's new enterprise software, will replace the various methods used for tracking hours worked by employees eligible for overtime pay.
When the Workday platform goes live July 1, employees who aren't exempt from the protections offered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) -- including merit staff, student employees and temporary workers -- will use Workday to electronically record their time, Kristi Darr, interim vice president for university human resources (UHR) announced last week in a memo.
Workday will supplant the numerous ways Iowa State's hourly employees record their work time now, a mixture that includes paper timesheets, Tracy Time and other local systems. Logging hours in a standard, digital way in all university workplaces will improve accuracy and consistency, eliminate manual calculations and ensure correct employee pay.
Nonexempt employees, who are required by FLSA to accurately track their work time, will access the system at a minimum four times per day if they work full time -- as their shifts and meal breaks start and end. Employees will check in and out via Workday, either online or with a mobile device. Departments that now use Tracy Time or facilities planning and management physical time clocks will be provided with Workday time clocks.
To be paid, nonexempt workers must submit their digital Workday timesheet to their supervisor. Managers, timekeepers or their delegates will make corrections, if needed, and approve the timesheets online. Workday's timekeeping function feeds directly to payroll, avoiding calculation errors by automatically incorporating pay rules for shift differentials, overtime, on-call time, call backs and holidays.
Employees with questions can review the FAQs for employees and supervisors, or contact UHR's Mallory Schon at 294-4081.
While Workday's default setting will pay overtime when an employee works more than 40 hours in a week, employees and supervisors may request to bank those hours as compensatory time instead. Requests for time off also will be submitted through the system.
Workshop sessions on Workday timekeeping for employees and supervisors are planned for the next few weeks. Additional training and resources will be provided in conjunction with Workday's July 1 implementation.
Feb. 1 rollout planned for new jobs website
A new website for advertising Iowa State job openings, www.jobs.iastate.edu, will go live next week, starting a transition that eventually will retire the current website.
Beginning Feb. 1, the new website will host ISU's employment opportunities homepage. The existing website operated by applicant-tracking vendor PeopleAdmin, www.iastatejobs.com, will continue to host individual listings as the university prepares for the new Workday enterprise software. As of Feb. 1, both websites will direct applicants to current ISU openings.
After the planned July 1 implementation of Workday, new listings will be hosted on www.jobs.iastate.edu. The PeopleAdmin website will continue to operate in tandem with the new website after July 1 as needed to wrap up searches posted before the switch to Workday.
Users who post jobs with PeopleAdmin's back-end system won't see any changes until Workday goes live. Hiring managers should follow the same process for getting a position opening approved and posted.
Kristi Darr, interim vice president for university human resources (UHR), announced the plans in a memo to HR liaisons and administrative officers last week. To help make the shift seamless, Darr encouraged those involved in supporting personnel searches and hiring to refer applicants and co-workers to the new website sooner rather than later. Email signatures and business cards that include the jobs website should start using the new address.
Information technology's web development team built the new website, with input from user focus groups. In addition to design and navigation improvements, updates and changes to the new website will be quicker and more efficient because it will be administered internally, Darr said in the memo.
Dinner and a show
"Kinky Boots," a six-time Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, makes a Jan. 31 stop in Ames on its national tour. Inspired by real events, the story features an unlikely friendship that saves a struggling family business with an outrageous idea -- all set to original music by pop star Cyndi Lauper.
The show is booked one night only with limited tickets available ($50-$70). Reservations are being accepted through Jan. 25 for a 6 p.m. themed dinner buffet ($32) in the Scheman Building before the 7:30 p.m. performance in Stephens Auditorium.