As the year draws to a close, UVa Today will look back at milestones, achievements, trends and big stories of 2011. To share your 2011 thoughts, visit the UVA Today News Blog or send us a tweet @uva with hashtag #uva2011.
December 20, 2011 — The University of Virginia administration focused some of its attention in 2011 on the working environment for staff and faculty.
In March, a wide-ranging staff survey, designed by U.Va.'s Center for Survey Research, was conducted. President Teresa A. Sullivan requested the survey to help her and other administrators understand employees' experiences in their work environment and to establish a baseline from which progress can be measured. The results were reported in June, and now a committee is looking at areas for improvement.
Staff and faculty are the University's biggest investment, Michael Strine, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said recently. "We would not be able to hold true to our mission of excellence in teaching, research, patient care and service without the dedication and innovation of our staff and faculty," he said.
Other news of interest to staff and faculty in 2011:
• VRS Director: Employee Contribution Necessary to Make System Sustainable
April 28 — Robert Schultze, director of the Virginia Retirement System, said the state must come up with a more predictable plan for funding retirement benefits – one that will require employees to share the risks involved with state government.
• U.Va.'s Outstanding Employees 'Live Their Jobs'
May 24 — The 2011 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Award winners add touches of home to the workplace and student life while streamlining bureaucracy and furthering the University's mission. The 11 honorees were recognized May 18 at the Service Awards Day reception and also are invited to a June 10 luncheon with the Board of Visitors, where each will receive a $1,000 check and an engraved gift.
• Survey Finds Employees Mostly Satisfied
June 26 — U.Va. employees are generally very satisfied with the University as a place to work and they expect to continue working here, according to the results of a wide-ranging survey conducted in March.
• Getting an Education Applies to Employees, Not Just Students
July 18 — Since 2002, the University has contracted with Charlottesville's Adult Learning Center to deliver General Educational Development classes toward a GED certificate. The center provides the instructors and the materials, and U.Va. pays the fees. Also offered are classes in English as a second language, or ESL, for non-native speakers. In a weekly series, U.Va. Today will highlight 10 employees who have taken advantage of the opportunity.
• U.Va. Raises Minimum Pay Rate
July 20 — U.Va.'s lowest-earning Academic Division employees saw an increase in their paychecks starting July 22, as the minimum pay rate rose from $10.14 per hour to $10.65 on July 4. The new minimum rate, which computes to gross yearly earnings of $22,152, applies to about 300 employees who are currently earning less than $10.65 an hour, including University staff and classified employees with benefits-eligible positions, plus workers paid hourly and in temporary jobs.
• For U.Va. Departments in Need, Super Temps to the Rescue
Aug. 11 — When surprise vacancies occur, when priorities spike or when new projects balloon, who can a 'Hoo turn to? The answer may be Super Temps, a new cohort of advanced administrative professionals standing at the ready via University of Virginia Temporary Services, or UVa Temps.
• Hoo's Well@ U.Va.: New Wellness Program Offers Rewards and Lots of Options
Sept. 9 — Well, 'Hoos, it's time. If you don't have a healthy lifestyle – or even if you do – the University's new program, Hoo's Well@, is here to help you improve your health, reduce your risks for disease and keep you on track with a wellness plan tailored just for you.
• New Chair Counsels Faculty Senate to Embrace, and Shape, Change
Sept. 14 — McIntire professor Robert Kemp, chairing U.Va.'s Faculty Senate, for the first time, exhorted his fellow senators to welcome the change that will be the inevitable result of turnover in University leadership.
• Premiums Hold at Current Levels, Some Co-Pays Drop in 2012 U.Va. Benefits Plan
Oct. 28 — This fall brings good news for employees in the University of Virginia Health Plan: Health insurance premiums will remain the same in 2012, and there's also a way to reduce co-payments for certain office visits.
• Strategic Salary Increases on the Way
Nov. 21 — Faculty and University staff who will receive salary increases will be notified by their schools or vice presidential units this week. The raises take effect Nov. 21 and will be reflected in the Dec. 9 paycheck for University staff paid biweekly and in the Dec. 30 paycheck for faculty paid monthly.
• Faculty Senate to Implement University-Wide Faculty Survey in Spring
Dec. 8 — The University of Virginia's Faculty Senate will deploy a survey this spring designed to measure faculty opinion, satisfaction and productivity, according to a presentation during a senate meeting Wednesday.
• Sullivan Discusses Leadership and Staff Survey Results with Employee Councils
Dec. 12 — President Teresa A. Sullivan shared ideas about leadership that guide her in her job and discussed the importance of the staff survey when she spoke Wednesday to the executive committee of the Employee Communication Councils.
• 'Hoos Getting on the Wellness Track
Dec. 13 — Thousands of University employees have followed up their free biometric screening and health assessments by taking nutrition classes, walking with co-workers during lunch, hitting the gym and more, thanks to the University's new wellness program, Hoo's Well@.