November 2015

November Staff Senate Meeting to Highlight INTO Mason and Dining Updates

into-logoWednesday, November 4
12 p.m. – 2 p.m.
Fairfax Campus: Innovation Hall, Room 334
Arlington Campus: Founders Hall, Room B119 (videoconferenced)
Science and Technology Campus: Bull Run Hall, Room 254 (videoconferenced)

Guest Speakers:
Representatives from INTO Mason will share information with Mason staff about this exciting program for international students. Larisa Prinz, from Mason Dining, will solicit feedback from staff about upcoming dining initiatives.

Guest speakers begin at noon, followed by time to ask questions, express concerns, or offer accolades about issues concerning the Staff Senate. Contact with questions.

November 2015

Senator Highlight: Christopher Maier

Christopher Maier, Staff Senate. Photo by Creative Services/George Mason University
Christopher Maier, Staff Senate. Photo by Creative Services/George Mason University

Christopher Maier is a Project Engineer with Facilities Management, who joined Mason in May 2015.

I have worked throughout the continental United States as an engineer in different capacities. Most of my previous work experience has been related to private-residential, one-of-kind homes, commercial high-rises, institutional facilities, and many federal buildings, memorials, and recognizable landmarks in the Washington, D.C. area and beyond. I have a healthy balance of engineering design, specification writing, product knowledge, application procedures, and construction administration services.

While traveling around the United States is an exciting opportunity, at some point I wanted to settle down and start a family. I was looking for an organization with a sense of community with opportunities for research and education. To improve professionally, you have keep learning.

I became interested in joining Staff Senate when I learned of its accomplishments over the years. I hope to create new opportunities, experiences, and benefits for my colleagues in an effort to improve morale. Before I joined Staff Senate, there were no Senators from Facilities Administration/Management, and both these organizations are critical to the successful operations of our infrastructure, on all of our campuses.

Fun fact: I am also a licensed and certified Massage Therapist in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I specialize in deep-tissue, reiki, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi, Indian Head, neck and foot massage with Ayurvedic oils, and hot/cold stone massage.

My other interests include research and development of new technologies in construction, inspection, and civil engineering, new product ideas for engineering and massage, building new homes, land development, real estate, and investing.

November 2015

Outstanding Supervisor Award Winners

WalzFinal 3
Sarah Walz, 2015 Outstanding Supervisor Award Winner
Liza Wilson Durant, 2015 Outstanding Supervisor Award Winner

The Staff Senate is pleased to announce the 2015 Outstanding Supervisor Award winners. Chosen from a competitive pool of over 20 nominees, the two winners exemplify outstanding leadership skills and embody the Mason spirit:

  • Liza Wilson Durant, Acting Chair, Sid and Reva Dewberry Department of Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering
  • Sarah Walz, Program Manager, George Mason Learning Solutions

Liza Wilson Durant was appointed acting chair of the Sid and Reva Dewberry Department of Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering. According to her nominator, Kristin Amaya, Liza “immediately owned the position, and did so with ease, grace, drive, and professionalism, and she quickly earned the respect and trust of staff, faculty, and students throughout our department community.” Liza encourages a positive work-life balance, recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of her faculty and staff, and promotes collegiality within her department by encouraging input and discussion on all decisions pertaining to her unit.

Sarah Walz has been an employee of Mason for over 10 years, and she brings substantial knowledge of Mason policies and guidelines to Learning Solutions (formerly called the Office of Continuing Professional Education). She also encourages new ideas. According to her nominator, Kerry Doran, Sarah “always gives consideration to any idea to improve processes or marketing— whether big or small. Although Sarah was my direct supervisor, working for her felt more like a collaborative team.” Kerry adds that Sarah’s “work ethic, organizational skills, fairness, policy awareness, and sense of humor have made working for her very easy. She’s instilled the practice that often gets lost in workplaces: the idea of working hard, but not forgetting to take care of yourself, as well.”

Liza Wilson Durant and Sarah Walz will be formally recognized at the Human Resources Outstanding Achievement Awards on November 3. Nicole Roth, Chair of the Staff Senate, will present these awards on behalf of the Staff Senate.

The Staff Senate would like to recognize all who were nominated for their outstanding contributions supervising Mason staff:

  • Steve Broaddus, ITS (nominated by Jed Frye)
  • Sharon Cullen, Office of the President (nominated by Leslie Barton, Kathy Cagle, Elizabeth Connors, and Scott Nichols)
  • Aurali Dade, Office of Research Integrity and Assurance (nominated by Shannon Stutler)
  • Rick Davis, College of Visual and Performing Arts (nominated by Eileen Kennedy)
  • Kathleen Diemer, Donor Relations and Advancement Communications (nominated by Elizabeth Klatt)
  • Emily Flores, Center for the Arts (nominated by Kathryn Lewis)
  • Cherie Galantis, Collaborative Video Technologies (nominated by Christina Sanders and Doug Hallock)
  • Elizabeth Kalinowski, College of Health and Human Services (nominated by Elizabeth Bartles)
  • Ralph Lewis, Facilities Management (nominated by Steve Vollmer, Kirk Hiles, Tim Weber, and Jacob Krauter)
  • Michael “Doc Nix” Nickens, Green Machine/College of Visual and Performing Arts/University Life (nominated by Julie Trkula)
  • Susan Ridley, Psychology (nominated by Kelsey Glomb, Emma Cruz, Kristofer Brown, and Khalid Jama)
  • Kelly Schrum, Center for History and New Media (nominated by Jennifer Rosenfeld)
  • Philip Stamper, University Information (nominated by Dennis Kisielewski)
  • Amy Takayama-Perez, Office of Admissions (nominated by Suzy Wiedemann and Jennifer Kasse-Wanzer)
  • Paige Wolf, School of Business (nominated by Rebecca Diemer)
  • Catherine Wright, Communication (nominated by Megan Tucker)
  • Renee Younes, Mason Enterprise Center-Fauquier (nominated by Alice Felts)
November 2015

Message from the Chair

Nicole Roth, Staff Senate. Photo by Creative Services/George Mason University
Nicole Roth, Staff Senate. Photo by Creative Services/George Mason University

November is promising to be a great month for the Staff Senate. At our General Meeting on November 4, we will welcome the INTO Mason program to our meeting to discuss the part INTO plays in staff experiences. Following their presentation, Larisa Prinz from Mason Dining will take feedback from the Senate and staff regarding new initiatives. Do come to this informative meeting!

I hope you had the opportunity to attend President Cabrera’s Town Hall or to read the email sent from the Office of Communications and Marketing on Friday, October 16 summarizing the session. If you have any feedback, please do not hesitate to contact me. I continue to serve on the president’s Contract Renewal Committee and would love to have staff feedback for our next meeting.

In the coming week, you will receive a survey with several questions regarding President Cabrera’s performance at the university. Take time to complete this survey and make your voice known. Your feedback is important!

Nicole Roth
Chair, Staff Senate


November 2015

From Our Friends in Human Resources and Payroll

November 2015 Announcements

Faculty-Staff Enrichment Day: Registration Underway!
Register for Faculty-Staff Enrichment Day at Join us on Tuesday, November 10, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for this year’s theme: Dive into Your Strengths. Keynote speakers include Men’s Basketball Head Coach David Paulsen and leadership and mindfulness expert Laurie Cameron.

Breakout sessions will provide strategies for using your strengths in teams, in conflict, to improve your health, and more. Additionally, the keynote speaker presentations will be videoconferenced to the Arlington and SciTech Campuses.

To take the StrengthsFinder assessment for free, visit You must have taken StrengthsFinder in order to register.

Contact with questions.

Last Chance for On-Site Flu Shots for COVA and Kaiser Participants
In conjunction with Faculty-Staff Enrichment Day, participants in COVA Care, COVA HDHP, COVA HealthAware, or Kaiser Permanente may take advantage of an on-site flu shot clinic on Tuesday, November 10, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Johnson Center Gold Room. See page 2 of the 2015 Seasonal Flu Shot Guide for important information.

For questions, call Life/Work Connections at 703-993-2600.

Next Steps: Plan for Your Retirement – Friday, November 20
On November 20, Mason faculty and staff within five years of retirement are invited to attend this day-long seminar to gather resources and learn about timely and relevant topics. Presenters include the Social Security Administration, TIAA-CREF, Fidelity, Virginia Retirement System (VRS), and the Mason Benefits team. To register, visit and click on the Course Calendar tab.

For questions, contact Bridget Peabody at 703-993-6764 or

Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC) Underway

The 2015 Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC) is underway. This is the annual charity drive by the employees of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Online giving is available through payroll deduction as well as one-time credit card donations at A list of charities can be viewed here.

Contact Helga Yunker at 703-993-4057 or for additional information or pledge cards.

Build Your Financial Knowledge
Visit the Financial Well-Being portal for on-site classes, online classes, tools, calculators, and other resources to help you round-out your financial knowledge. Upcoming on-site classes for November and early December are included below. All sessions are videoconferenced to Arlington and SciTech. Visit to register.

  • Monday, November 2, 12 p.m.: Preparing Your Savings for Retirement with Jeff Jones of Fidelity Investments. Jeff will discuss ways to boost your savings while you’re still at work and steps you can take today as you prepare for your transition into retirement.
  • Wednesday, November 11, 11:30 a.m.: Income and Estate Tax Considerations with Denise Lambert of TIAA-CREF. Nothing in life is certain, but you can improve your overall financial well-being by creating an estate plan. We will help you think through important life planning issues and estate planning strategies, including what an estate plan is, the importance of asset ownership and beneficiary designations, the current estate tax environment, the impact the recent tax law changes may have on your overall plan, evaluating trust planning, and determining whether lifetime gifts to your loved ones or charity should play a role in your planning.
  • Monday, November 16, 12 p.m.: Money at Work: Foundations of Investing with Marilyn Huang of TIAA-CREF. Marilyn will discuss the role of investing, protecting against various risks, and augmenting traditional savings programs to help accelerate retirement savings, as well as the products and tools available to manage a growing portfolio.
  • Thursday, December 3, 12 p.m.: Raising Money-Smart Teens with Tom Katovsich of the Virginia Credit Union. Tom will share information on how to help your child become money-smart. The session includes ideas for young children, teens, and college-bound young adults.
November 2015

DMV2Go at Fairfax Campus: November 24

DMV2GoTake care of your DMV business at a convenient Mason location. The DMV2Go will visit the Fairfax Campus on Tuesday, November 24, in the Merten Hall parking lot.

View the complete DMV2Go schedule. For a complete list of DMV2Go services, click here.

Contact Human Resources and Payroll at 703-993-2600 with questions.

November 2015

Chart Your Course: Mason Administrative Professionals

Mason Administrative Professionals (MAP) is a group custom-created by its members, for its members. If you consider yourself an administrative professional, please join us. Feel free to bring your lunch and other colleagues who consider themselves administrative professionals.

November 17, 2015
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Fairfax Campus, Merten Hall, Room 1202

For more information, meeting topics, or to RSVP to a session, contact Bridget Peabody at 703-993-6764 or

November 2015

Toastmasters Club

toastmastersMason Toastmasters is free and open to everyone. Whether your public speaking skills are at the beginner’s stage, or you consider yourself to be a seasoned professional, you can gain experience as a member. Come to any meeting as a guest, and you can join if you like what you see. Locations may vary, so visit the website for details:

Contact Heather Aleknavage at 703-993-2295 or with questions.

November 2015

Free Fitness Screening

Health & Fitness Expo at Freedom Aquatic & Fitness Center on Prince William campus. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services/George Mason University
Photo by Creative Services/George Mason University

Mason Recreation’s Free Health and Fitness Screenings provide valuable information to help you stay on track to meet your fitness-related goals. These events help to provide a snapshot of an individual’s current health status and are an important component of health management. Along with Mason Recreation, campus partners work together to provide you with an assessment that determines what possible health-related risk factors you might have, how you can improve your health, and what resources George Mason has to help you do so.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015
4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Fairfax Campus, Aquatic and Fitness Center

Personal trainers, fitness instructors, Mason Recreation representatives, and Dining Services will be on hand to demonstrate exercises and offer nutrition advice. This screening will also feature a Strengths Based Wellness presentation by Mason Sports Dietitian Deanna Busteed.

For more information, contact Mason Recreation at 703-993-5323 or

November 2015

Mason Observatory: Evenings Under the Stars

Students tour the Research Hall observatory tower
Research Hall observatory during an evening observing session. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services/George Mason University

Did you know that the George Mason University Observatory in Research Hall offers Evenings Under the Stars, a free event series open to the general public and campus community? These events occur on alternate Monday evenings, with weather days on the off-weeks. Each evening features a 30-minute presentation by a prominent local scientist, who wants to share their current research in an accessible way. After a brief opportunity for questions, and if the weather allows, observatory staff will escort guests up to the roof for a look through the primary telescope.

Visit the website for more information. View the upcoming calendar of Evenings Under the Stars.

Contact with questions.