December promises to be a busy month across the university. We have many things to be thankful for this time of year, and one of those things is the increase that the university fought to add to our salaries. In October, our Vice Chair Megan Kirk and I attended an event for university Staff Senates across the Commonwealth of Virginia. The variety of work experiences was an eye-opener, and I became even more grateful to work for George Mason University. This is a university that supports us and does what it can, when it can, to make our lives a little easier. I know that it may not come as often as we would like, but the reality is that forces beyond their control sometimes tie the administration’s hands from being able to increase our compensation packages.
In November, emotions ran high as a result of the presidential election, and political divisions became more apparent across the country. This has wound its way down to our everyday lives at the university, and you may have experienced someone saying things that have impacted your work life. This was a true situation for one of our Staff Senators last month. While their comments were their own personal opinion, the Staff Senate was impacted greatly and saw negative reactions spill through social media and our other avenues of communication. It created a divide among staff and perhaps generated uncomfortable working situations.
I believe the circumstances of the last several years, both locally and nationally, have created tense working environments. It is important to know that if you are experiencing one of these situations, there are university resources to help. While the changing climates in our country can affect our daily experiences, what does not change is who we are. We are Mason. We are a united front and bring forth the best students and leaders to the global community. We are the staff who helps to make this happen. No matter our personal opinions, we support the future leaders of tomorrow and maintain a university environment of professionalism and inclusion.
At our December 7 meeting, we will be wrapping up the calendar year with two very important speakers:
In response to our inquiries regarding workplace bullying, Shernita Parker, Director of Organizational Development and Faculty/Staff Coaching, will speak with the Senate from 12 to 12:30 p.m. regarding best practices on dealing with difficult situations and answer questions on problematic workplace environments.
We will then hold our general meeting from 12:30 to 1 p.m.
Starting at 1 p.m., President Cabrera will join us for an hour-long conversation where he will update us on the university and answer questions. This is your opportunity to ask questions of Dr. Cabrera. If you submit your question to our email, email@example.com, or our website’s anonymous submission form, I will do my best (time permitting!) to ask those questions of the President.
Thank you for your continued service to the university. I hope that your final weeks of the year are wonderful—don’t forget to stop by the university holiday party on your campus—and enjoy your winter break!
Registration is now open for the 2017 Leading to Well-Being Conference. This year’s keynote speakers include David Rock and Arianna Huffington. Mason employees who register by December 9 get an extra $25 off the Friday conference ticket.
This year’s conference features three days of programming (tickets for each day sold separately):
Thursday Leadership Intensives
Friday Conference on Building Resilient Organizations (new, more flexible format)
Saturday Conference on Contemplative Practices for 21st Century Higher Education (co-convened by nine major mid-Atlantic institutions of higher education)
Mason’s annual collection drive to benefit Toys for Tots is underway. Staff Senate is collecting new, unwrapped toys (for Toys for Tots) and also any non-perishable food and personal hygiene items for Mason’s Pop-Up Pantry.
Donations will be collected from December 1−13. The last day to donate items will be the day of each campus holiday party:
SciTech: Monday, December 12 Arlington:Tuesday, December 13 Fairfax: Wednesday, December 14
Donations locations will be posted on the website as the information becomes available. Donations may also be dropped off at the faculty/staff holiday parties.
Mason Kids Club will be available for elementary school age children in Merten Hall on multiple dates throughout the year. Similar to our Spring Break Camp and Bridge Camp programs, the Kids Club will be filled with fun activities for your child to enjoy!
Technology has changed our lives and is here to stay. Many parents are struggling with finding the right balance of screen time for their children. With iPads, iPhones, computers, and other devices, it is becoming increasingly difficult to say no to children who want to pick up something electronic.
What if the screen time is educational? What are some programs you can use to limit screen time without a fight from your child? How can you allow your child to have some screen time without becoming dependent upon it?
This Physical Well-Being Seminar will provide answers to these questions, as well as helpful information on finding the right screen time balance. Join Charlotte Foster of the Westminster School on Wednesday, December 7, at noon. The seminar will be videoconferenced to SciTech, with availability to connect from Arlington.
In a spirit of collaboration with George Mason University, Westminster School is offering a scholarship opportunity to the children/grandchildren of Mason faculty and staff. The renewable Merit Scholarship is in the amount of $8,000 per year and is open to new students entering grades 3–7 at Westminster School.
Westminster School is an independent school located in Annandale, Virginia, just minutes from the beltway. Applications are now accepted for the academic year beginning fall 2017. To find out more about this opportunity, visit the scholarship website.
For questions, contact the Life/Work Connections team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-993-2600.
Parking Services is collecting toy and food donations at the Fairfax, Arlington, and SciTech Parking Services offices.
Do you owe money for a parking ticket? Bring in a new, unwrapped toy or nonperishable food items to the Parking Services Office, and your account will be credited based on the following:
1 toy = $10 credit
2 toys = $20 credit
5 cans/boxes of food = $10 credit
10 cans/boxes of food = $20 credit
Maximum $20 credit per citation, with credit for up to three citations ($60); or, receive up to a $20 credit toward an upgrade to a parking deck spring permit. (Does not apply to future tickets or other permit purchases or appeals.)
The last day to make donations and get credit is NOON on the following dates:
SciTech: December 12
Arlington: December 13
Fairfax: December 14