News Briefs


Return to Issue of Feb. 18, 2008

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Faculty Senate Approves New Family-Friendly Policy 

At its February 11 meeting, Faculty Senate approved a new university policy that will provide an opportunity for eligible, untenured faculty members to extend their probationary period if family or other personal circumstances warrant this change. This practice, common at major research universities, is known as "tolling" or "stopping the tenure clock." The policy, titled "University Policy and Procedures Governing Modification of the Faculty Probationary Period," will be presented to the Board of Trustees for final approval later in the spring.

Under new business, Faculty Senate also approved the Budget Review Committee's proposed responsibility-centered management guidelines and implementation recommendations for moving forward with the university’s new budgeting system. Under the new system, academic colleges, Regional Campuses and auxiliary operations will constitute responsibility centers. The guidelines stress the importance of academics in setting overall university budget priorities.

Items forwarded from the Educational Policies Council that were approved and/or discussed by the Faculty Senate include:

  • Revision of the academic policy on grade recalculation for associate degrees;
  • Establishment of a new managerial marketing major and revision of the existing marketing major; and
  • Transfer of the renamed Institute of Social and Cultural Informatics to the College of Communication and Information.

The next Faculty Senate meeting is scheduled for March 10. Visit the Faculty Senate Web site for more information.

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Bokrass Appointed Interim Director of the College of Continuing Studies 

Marilyn Bokrass has been named interim director of the College of Continuing Studies.

Marilyn Bokrass has been named interim director of the College of Continuing Studies.

Last week, Dr. Patricia Book, vice president for regional development, announced the appointment of Marilyn Bokrass as interim director of the College of Continuing Studies.

Bokrass has been with Kent State University since 1990 in various capacities within the College of Continuing Studies, first as an academic program coordinator and, more recently, as an outreach program manager. She currently is serving as president of the Ohio Continuing Education Association.

She has worked with many colleges and centers across the university to develop, coordinate and implement workshops, conferences and other special programs. Some of her recent projects include managing the development and implementation of Kent State On Demand, a continuing professional development program offered via On Demand cable television. Bokrass also worked with the Department of Justice Studies to launch a police academy at the Kent Campus and is part of the group working on development of a digital gaming and simulation-based learning program.

Bokrass holds a Bachelor of Arts from Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, New York, and a Master of Arts in telecommunications from Ohio University.

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An Important Reminder Regarding Final Grades

Online final grading for Spring Semester 2008 courses that meet the first five weeks (Jan. 14 to Feb. 17) began on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2008, via FlashFAST. The deadline for grades submission is midnight on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2008. Grading is also now available for any spring course section that was flexibly scheduled and already has ended.

FlashFAST is accessible from any Internet-capable computer that has the cookies function enabled. To access FlashFAST, login to FlashLine on the Kent State Web site home page and click on the Faculty and Advisor Tools tab. The link to your grade roster(s) is located in the Faculty and Advisor Toolbox, under the submit grades heading.

As a reminder, faculty with thesis, dissertation or research courses should issue IP grades for their students who have not completed the coursework or are not graduating.

Grades processing tips and deadlines may be found on the Registrar’s Office Web site. Any faculty members needing personalized instruction on submitting their grades via FlashFAST should contact their campus Registrar’s Office during normal business hours for assistance.

Also, as a helpful tip, it is recommended that you clean out your cookie and cache files regularly to help your computer run faster and potentially to restore and/or improve your access to FlashFAST and FlashLine by improving your connection to the server. The Helpdesk is prepared to offer assistance with these issues. Please contact the Helpdesk at 330-672-HELP (4357) or helpdesk@kent.edu for one-on-one assistance and technical issues.

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Eligible Ohioans Can File Taxes Free with Ohio Benefit Bank

Free help with tax forms is available to eligible Ohioans through the Ohio Benefit Bank.

Free help with tax forms is available to eligible Ohioans through the Ohio Benefit Bank.

The Ohio Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks have partnered to help low- and moderate-income Ohioans obtain free federal and state income tax return preparation assistance. They will also help participants identify other work support benefits for which they may be eligible.

Free income tax preparation assistance is provided through the Web-based Ohio Benefit Bank for those meeting the income eligibility requirement of less than $54,000 per year in household income. Each year, many eligible taxpayers in Ohio miss out on getting free tax preparation assistance because they either don’t know it is available or they don’t know where to get this service. At least one in every four taxpayers eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit fails to claim the credit. Visit the Ohio Benefit Bank Web site to learn more.

Eligible individuals can obtain free tax preparation assistance by visiting the Ohio Benefit Bank’s new free, online self-service program. This program is designed to help individuals and families prepare and electronically file their taxes and claim all of the credits for which they are eligible at no cost to them. With direct deposit, clients can receive their refund in as few as seven to 10 days.

For those who would prefer to receive counselor-assisted tax help, trained counselors at more than 120 benefit bank sites will help Ohioans who meet the eligibility requirement prepare and file their tax returns at no cost. These tax sites (and more than 480 other Ohio Benefit Bank sites) also provide access to other potential work supports, such as health care coverage, home energy assistance, child care subsidies and food stamps.

Each year, more than $1.6 billion dollars in tax credits and other supports go unclaimed by eligible Ohioans who do not apply. More than 95 percent of these unclaimed funds are federal dollars. Claiming these dollars will bring more federal money to Ohio, helping to boost the state’s economy.

For more information or to locate an Ohio Benefit Bank site near you, call 800-648-1176 or visit the Web site.

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February USAC Meeting Broadcast to All Campuses 

The monthly meeting of the University Staff Advisory Council (USAC) will be held on Friday, Feb. 29, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. The meeting will originate from Moulton Hall, Room 317 on the Kent Campus and will be broadcast to all of the Regional Campuses. USAC hosts several meetings each year in this format, in an effort to make it easier for staff to attend the meetings.

Agenda items include an overview of Business Administrator Services, which handles information, policies and tools relating to business processes at Kent State; a request for feedback on proposed changes to the university’s new hire orientation sessions and information on Principles of Conflict Management, a new workshop available to employees.

USAC is the university’s employee forum to share ideas and information related to university issues and topics. Meetings are open to all Kent State staff. Regional Campus employees should check with their respective dean’s office for the meeting location on their campus. For more information, contact co-chairs Carla Wyckoff at cwyckof1@kent.edu or Nola Ruble at nruble@kent.edu.

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Information Services Implements New Spam Filtering Solution

Tom Beitl joined Information Services in 2007 as executive director of infrastructure and operations.

Tom Beitl joined Information Services in 2007 as executive director of infrastructure and operations.

Information Services has expedited a plan to replace the university’s spam e-mail filtering system. The new solution was implemented last week.

The previous spam filtering system was never intended to handle the volume of e-mail currently being processed, which has grown 600 percent over the past 2.5 years.

Kent State currently processes more than 5 million e-mail messages per day. The previous spam filters blocked 75 to 85 percent of those messages. With the more sophisticated spam filtering service in place, Information Services expects accurately to capture more than 95 percent of messages, resulting in a reduction of spam in most e-mail Inboxes.

According to Thomas Beitl, executive director of infrastructure and operations for Information Services, “The new spam filtering solution will not only heighten the stability of our e-mail system, but it also will be more accurate. Most users will no longer find it necessary to keep good or bad sender lists. The new system should be much more reliable in what it does or does not filter.”

While individuals who regularly check their messages that have been filtered as spam may notice minor differences in the way they view them, the change in systems should be relatively seamless for most users. E-mail digests will continue to be sent daily only if you receive spam mail, and those messages can still be reviewed by visiting http://spam.kent.edu.

These e-mail digests are sent unless users choose to opt out of the service. To opt out or to find answers to other questions about spam e-mail, visit the IS Web site or contact the Helpdesk at 330-672-HELP (4357) or helpdesk@kent.edu.

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Host an Event During Honors Week, March 30 to April 5 

The Honors College is inviting any campus department to help host an event during this year’s Honors Week, which will take place from Sunday, March 30, through Saturday, April 5.

Honors Week is dedicated to celebrating the intellectual and artistic life of Kent State University through lectures, symposia, exhibitions, performances and appearances by distinguished visitors. Past events also have included honorary society induction ceremonies, department award ceremonies, poetry readings, fashion reviews and dinners.

“Honors Week is an opportunity for departments to offer events that sustain the vitality of this campus and give students a sense of unity and belonging,” says Kimberly Brown, coordinator for the Honors College.

If your department would like to be a part of the Honors Week celebration, call Brown at 330-672-2312 or send her an e-mail at kbrown13@kent.edu by Feb. 22.

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Writing Center Moving to Kent State Library 

The Kent State University Writing Center will move to the Kent State Library in April.

The Kent State University Writing Center will move to the Kent State Library in April.

The Kent State University Writing Center, currently located in 318 Satterfield Hall, is expected to move to the Kent State Library in April. The move, which has been in process since January, will provide the tutors and students with much needed space and resources.

Tutors at the Writing Center assist students with writing assignments and offer help to students of all levels and departments. Tutoring sessions typically last 30 to 45 minutes. Due to the busy nature of the writing center, students are encouraged to make appointments one week in advance.

The Writing Center is currently operating under cramped conditions with a limited number of computers available for paper editing. Jeanne Smith, director of the Writing Center, says she is looking forward to the new location and the additional space. “The library is the ideal place for the Writing Center,” Smith says.

Not only does the library provide students with access to multimedia and writing resources, but it is also a more central location on campus, so it will be easier for students to find. Smith hopes that the more accessible location will encourage more students to take advantage of the services the Writing Center provides.

The new location will be on the fourth floor of the library near the study lounge. Half of the space will be used for an open meeting area, and the other half will be offices used for private meeting space and for computer work stations. The size of the space, around 3,000 square feet, will make a big difference for students and faculty.

Students may also get help with their writing through OWL, the online writing lab, which allows students to submit papers by e-mail attachment to be reviewed.

For more information or to contact the Writing Center, call 330-672- 1787 or visit its Web site.

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Nominations Sought for 2008 Celebration of Diversity Awards 

The Office of Diversity is now accepting nominations for the 2008 Celebration of Diversity awards. The awards honor faculty, staff and community programs for personal efforts, unique contributions and initiatives above-and-beyond expectations toward Kent State’s diversity-related goals. The President’s Social Responsibility Award is a program of recognition for an individual or organization outside of the university.

The 2007 Diversity Leadership Awardees included

Diversity Leadership Award for Teaching/Research

Dr. Kenneth Bindas
Professor of History, Trumbull Campus

Dr. Molly Merryman
Associate Professor of Justice Studies, Trumbull Campus

President’s Social Responsibility Award

Mr. Lonzo Coleman
President and CEO, Coleman Spohn Corporation

Mr. Bob Lanier
CEO and Publisher, Black Pages of Ohio

Please visit the Office of Diversity Web site to submit nominations electronically. Nominations should be submitted by Friday, March 14.

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Deadline Approaching for Distinguished Woman Award Nominations 

The winner of last year's Distinguished Woman Award was Dr. Carol Cartwright (second from left).

The winner of last year's Distinguished Woman Award was Dr. Carol Cartwright (second from left).

If you work with an outstanding Kent State University woman, now is the time to recognize her by submitting a nomination for the 11th annual Distinguished Woman Award.

The Professional Women of Kent State University (PWKSU) has honored an outstanding woman with the Distinguished Woman Award every spring since 1998. The award recognizes a current or former Kent State employee who has made a significant contribution to the university community or who has contributed to the betterment of women on any of Kent State’s eight campuses.

Everyone is welcome to submit nominations for this prestigious award, and any woman currently or previously employed by the university may be nominated. The nomination form is available online at www.kent.edu/pwksu. All nominations must be received no later than Friday, Feb. 22.

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Beth Chambers, selection committee chair, at 330-672-2206 or bchambe4@kent.edu.

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Proposals Requested for Kent State Stark Student Conference 

The Kent State Stark Campus Honors Program will host its annual Student Conference on Friday, April 25 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Exhibits and presentations will take place throughout Main Hall and the Fine Arts Building at 6000 Frank Avenue NW in Jackson Township. No application fee is required.

This is an opportunity for all Kent State students to present class papers, theses and projects in art, music or theatre. Proposals must be turned in to Dr. Leslie Heaphy, associate history professor and honors advisor at Kent State Stark, by Monday, March 3. Proposals should include a 150-word abstract with presentation format included. Students must also send in their full contact information, purpose of the class project and a letter of support from a faculty member.

Materials should be sent to: Dr. Leslie Heaphy, 6000 Frank Avenue NW, North Canton, OH 44720. For more information contact Dr. Heaphy at mlheaphy@kent.edu or 330-244-3304.

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Legal Briefs: University departments must use revised I-9 form for new hires

A revised I-9 form recently was issued by the federal government for universal use.

A revised I-9 form recently was issued by the federal government for universal use.

"Legal Briefs” appears in e-Inside monthly to keep faculty and staff informed of legal issues and their implications. Content is provided by the Office of the University Counsel, whose mission is to ensure high-quality legal services to Kent State in a timely, cost-effective manner, to reduce litigation and to ensure legal compliance.

Using the I-9 Form

The Employment Eligibility Verification form, or “I-9”, is used by the university to document that each new employee is authorized to work in the United States. Recently, a revised I-9 form was issued by the federal government for universal use. Faculty and staff with hiring responsibilities should immediately begin using the new form; older forms will not be accepted. The revised form is available online and also in the Kent State HR Forms Library in the Employment Forms section. Please discard all old forms and use the updated version.

As a reminder, hiring officials working with the I-9 process should follow these steps to ensure compliance when a new employee is hired:

  1. The employee must complete Section 1 of the I-9 by the “date of hire.”
    1. “Date of hire” is defined in Section 8, part 274a, of the Code of Federal Regulations as the “actual commencement of an employee for wages or other remuneration.”
    2. For faculty and unclassified staff, this is the starting date of the employment contract/agreement.
    3. For classified staff and unclassified hourly, this is the first day of employment for wages.
  2. The university must verify the documentation presented for Section 2 of the I-9 and sign it within three business days of the “date of hire.”
  3. If the employee is hired for a period of less than three days (temporary assignment), the hiring department must complete the entire I-9 form at the time of hire. Therefore it is important to notify the appropriate employment office (i.e., Human Resources, Academic Personnel, Office of International Affairs) as soon as possible.

If the university does not have this form processed by the third day, hiring authorities and department heads must ensure that the employee ceases any work activity until such time as the information is completed and the form is filed.

For questions, contact the Office of University Counsel at 330-672-2982.

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Human Resources Question of the Week: Is the tuition waiver taxable? 

The tuition waiver for undergraduate courses is not taxable for both employees and their dependents; post-undergraduate and graduate tuition waivers are taxable for both employees and their dependents. Any university employee will be taxed for post-undergraduate or graduate tuition credits that exceed $5,250 in a calendar year. For the employee’s dependent, the full value of the graduate tuition is taxable for a semester.

The tuition waiver is a benefit for eligible full-time employees, their spouse and eligible dependent, unmarried children. Part-time faculty members are eligible for a tuition waiver of up to four credit hours each semester that they teach. This benefit is for the faculty member only and must be used in the semester the faculty member is teaching or the semester immediately following.

Employees may enroll for the tuition waiver by completing the Tuition Benefit Request Workflow in FlashLine. The workflow can be found in the My Action Items tab, in the Workflow & Utilities channel.

For specific details on the tuition benefit, refer to Policy 3342-6-09.1, administrative policy and procedures regarding tuition benefits. For questions or more information, contact the Benefits Office at 330-672-3107 or benefits@kent.edu.

To view the HR Question of the Week archive, please visit the Human Resources Web site.

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