December 2018

Message from the Chair

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

‘Tis the season to be thankful for all that has come together in 2018. There is no shortage of effort provided by the staff in all things Mason. Everything you do every day—we’re thankful you’re here. Don’t let anyone or anything lead you to believe differently. With this, I wish you the very best holiday season and a happy, wonderful New Year!

I am thankful for the senators we have on our team. Just like the year before, the methods of organization and flow have improved dramatically. Behind the scenes, your elected Staff Senators are re-imagining who we are for you, for us, and for Mason. Our Education and Outreach Committee is looking at everything posted on our website, social media accounts, and the format of our monthly newsletters. Our Events Committee is already discussing the Winter Staff Appreciation Events and how we might be able to assist with Faculty-Staff Enrichment Day. The Awards Committee has presented at each Employee of the Month event and improved the grading criteria for selection of the Outstanding Supervisor Awards.

Keep in mind that these activities are above and beyond the Employee Work Profile of any senator, and these accomplishments happen because there are many staff here at Mason that truly care about who we are as an establishment. Staff Senators willingly serve to improve the lives of all staff. I am thankful for the opportunity to work with every one of our senators and our administrative assistant. They are truly amazing people.

The Staff Senate was recently invited to interview the final candidates for senior vice president (SVP), to replace outgoing J.J. Davis. The Staff Senate participated in final interviews this past week, and we provided the administration and their hiring consultant with feedback regarding each candidate. While we cannot divulge more (in order to protect the confidentiality of the candidates), we can say that there appears to be a thorough process for selecting the next SVP. Hopefully, other small groups that have interviewed the final candidates feel the same. Only time will tell.

As you’ve probably heard, Amazon will be moving part of its new corporate headquarters to our area. The downside for those looking to buy a home? Property prices skyrocketed overnight. Yes, I do understand what some of you are dealing with. You work at Mason for five to ten years, saving up for a down payment, and your dream of home ownership seems to fizzle right before your eyes. But rest assured, there are still ways to make it happen. Human Resources has contracts with Moving Services from different vendors in the area: There are additional aspects to these “relocation” services, beyond just hiring movers. For instance, check out the Mortgage and Home Finding Assistance from these vendors. You might be pleasantly surprised to learn of different mortgage packages that will allow you the opportunity to purchase a new home. Check out the link above, call one of the providers on the list that offers these services, and let them know you are a Mason employee. And, no, you do not need to purchase their moving van services. This is only one portion of what they offer to Mason employees.

At our December General Meeting, Dave Farris, executive director, safety and emergency management, had an in-depth conversation with the Staff Senate about what goes into deciding inclement weather policies and the snow call process. Check out the video recording here.

There have been a couple brief outages of the 911 phone service on campus recently. I suggest we all memorize the Mason Police non-emergency number, 703-993-2810, in case we ever need it. 3-2810. Or better yet, download the RAVE Guardian phone application (recommended highly by Dave Farris), at Rave Guardian, the leading personal safety app, can help you build positive community relationships by engaging directly with your people through texting, confidential tips, location sharing, a call directory, and a content portal.

Congratulations to our graduating students, who will be leaving Mason in pursuit of professional careers and further studies. May you look back on your alma mater whenever you’re in need, and we look forward to your continued support of this great institution. Good luck in your future endeavors!

And last, but not least, please join us at Mason’s Faculty and Staff Holiday Party on Tuesday, December 18, from 1:30 to 4 p.m. in Dewberry Hall. Stop by the Cinema to drop off toy donations to support INOVA Children’s Hospital and food/toiletries/school supplies for the Patriot Pantry. We appreciate your generous support of our community!

Thank you!

Very Respectfully,

Christopher J. Maier
Chair, Staff Senate
George Mason University

December 2018

Updates from Parking and Transportation

2019 DMV2Go Schedule

Take care of your Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles business at a convenient Mason location. The 2019 DMV2Go schedule is available here. Their first visit will be on Tuesday, January 8, 2019.

Mason Shuttles and Winter Break

Winter Break (through the start of spring classes) brings some major changes to the Mason Shuttle schedules. Details are posted here. For any questions, contact 703-993-2828 or

Commonwealth Commuter Choice Increase in February 2019

Beginning February 2019, the maximum Commonwealth Commuter Choice benefit at Mason will increase by $5 to $265 per month. Currently, an Executive Order gives full-time state employees in Northern Virginia up to $260 per month to commute by public transit or vanpool. This is a tax-free benefit paid by the university. To take advantage of this increase beginning with the February benefit, be sure to submit your Commonwealth Commuter Choice Request for Monthly Benefit form by Thursday, January 10, 2019.

To learn more or to enroll in the program, visit If you have any questions, contact or 703-993-2828.

Reminder: Spring 2019 Parking Permits

Spring 2019 parking permit sales began on Monday, December 3. Parking permits may be purchased online through the website. For information, visit

Faculty and staff using payroll deduction for their parking permits do not need to take any additional action.

Contact or 703-993-2828 with questions.

December 2018

Upcoming Performances at Mason

Canadian Brass: A Canadian Brass Christmas

The ever-popular Canadian Brass comes back with a gift of impeccable music and witty repartee. Renowned for genre-bending versatility and joyous performances, this award-winning brass quintet entertains young and old alike with sparkling brass standards, toe-tapping holiday favorites, and clever holiday banter. Founded nearly 50 years ago, it is largely responsible for elevating the art of the brass quintet, performing in virtually every major concert hall in the world, being seen by millions on television, and selling over two million albums worldwide. Canadian Brass is composed of five musical masters: visionary founder and tuba legend Chuck Daellenbach, Caleb Hudson and Christopher Coletti (trumpets), Achilles Liarmakopoulos (trombone), and Bernhard Scully (horn).

Tickets: $60, $51, $36

Saturday, December 15, 2018, at 8 p.m.
Center for the Arts, Concert Hall

Sunday, December 16, 2018, at 2 p.m.
Hylton Performing Arts  Center, Merchant Hall

Enchantment Theatre Company’s The Phantom Tollbooth

The beloved and inventive childhood classic book, The Phantom Tollbooth, is brought to life in an original stage adaption. Norton Juster’s original story begins with Milo, who is very bored until a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room. He decides to drive his toy car through it, and everything changes! Once on the other side, Milo is thrilled to find a fantastical world where he is welcomed, and his help is desperately needed. Using puppets, masks, magic, inventive scenic effects, and original music, Enchantment Theatre Company recreates Milo’s adventures as he travels the Lands Beyond in his exciting quest to rescue Princesses Rhyme and Reason.

Tickets: $15 Adults / $10 Children
Recommended for ages 6-11; Grades 1-6

Saturday, January 26, 2019, at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Hylton Performing Arts Center, Merchant Hall

Sunday, January 27, 2019, at 2 p.m.
Center for the Arts, Concert Hall

December 2018

Inclement Weather Resources 

The Mason statue covered in snow. Photo by Creative Services/George Mason University

Winter weather is fast approaching! Utilize the resources below to prepare.

Inclement Weather Procedures

Dave Farris, executive director of safety and emergency management in the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, discussed inclement weather procedures at the December Staff Senate meeting. If you missed his presentation, watch it here.

Staying Updated

Stay updated on university closings, late openings, or other weather-related changes in the university’s schedule through Mason’s switchboard at 703-993-1000, Mason Alert, the university’s homepage, as well as local media outlets.

Telework and Inclement Weather

Having telework agreements and technology in place in advance can come in handy if Mason experiences an extended weather event or other emergency. 

Teleworkers (if it is their scheduled telework day) and remote workers continue to work even if: 

  • Classes are canceled and administrative offices are closed 
  • The university is on a modified schedule 

Employees working from home during a university closing are expected to continue working unless it is not possible due to power outages or other conditions that prevent them from working. For more details, visit

Inclement Weather/Emergency Guidance 

Now is a great time to review the Inclement Weather/Emergency Closing Policy. 

December 2018

From Our Friends in Human Resources and Payroll

Image result for december calendar clip artFlex Holidays

If it applies to you, don’t forget to use your flex holidays! 

Senior leadership provided 16 hours of flex holiday leave in 2018 for benefited faculty and staff hired before February 1, 2018. With supervisor approval, qualifying benefited faculty and staff can use these flex holiday hours anytime during the 2018 calendar year. Part-time faculty and staff were given leave proportionately.  

Be sure to use your flex holiday hours! They expire at the end of the 2018 calendar year and are not eligible for payout. Enter the number of flex holiday hours used on your timesheet under “Special Flex Holiday.”  

Visit the Benefits page for the regular holiday schedule and additional information.

Human Resources and Payroll Staff Page

Need to contact an HR/Payroll team member? Visit the up-to-date online staff page! 

IRS Limits for Retirement Plan Contributions in 2019

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced adjustments affecting retirement plan contribution limits for the 2019 tax year. 

  • Participants under age 50 can contribute up to $19,000 (a $500 increase from 2018) to their Supplemental 403(b) Retirement Plan and to their Virginia Deferred Compensation Plan DCP-457. 
  • Participants age 50 and over can contribute $25,000 (a $500 increase from 2018) to their Supplemental 403(b) Retirement Plan and to their Virginia Deferred Compensation Plan DCP-457. 

How to Increase Contributions: 


  1. Complete a salary reduction agreement
  2. Return to the Benefits team by emailing it to, faxing it to 703-993-2601, or dropping it off at the HR & Payroll office in Merten Hall, Room 4100 


Contact with any questions. 

December 2018

Extra Support for Your Extra-Busy Season 

The end of the year can be exciting and possibly overwhelming. Mason has resources to support you! One of these resources is Bright Horizons, which includes:

  • Support for families, such as sitters and housekeeping help 
  • Tools and resources that offer family support 
  • Assistance that will help you focus on your ongoing responsibilities and relieve seasonal stress 

Get started by visiting If you have questions, call 877-242-2737.

December 2018

Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign 

‘Tis the season for giving!

It is time for this year’s Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC), the annual charity drive for Commonwealth employees. To donate, visit and register to make a pledge for the charity of your choice through payroll deductions or a one-time credit card donation.

Be sure to check out the CVC website for helpful tools and tips like “Find a Charity” where you can choose from over 1,000 charities. There is also the option to report “Direct Giving” on the site. If you donate directly to an organization that is also enrolled in CVC, reporting your gift actually helps that organization reach their CVC goal, making them eligible to enroll next year. This includes registration fees for 5K’s, bike-a-thons, and other charity events.

The deadline is December 20, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact Kimberly Shaw-Mack at  

December 2018

Winter Break Timesheet Guidance 

Winter break is around the corner! Please be aware that semimonthly and biweekly timesheet submissions and approvals are due early. You must  submit and approve timesheets by the dates and times listed below. The department may incur a $100 penalty per employee position number if these deadlines are not met. Thank you in advance for your timeliness!  

Semimonthly Deadlines:

For pay period ending December 24, 2018, and pay date on December 31, 2018: 

  • Submission: December 14 before noon at 11:59 a.m. 
  • Approval: December 17 before noon at 11:59 a.m. 

Please record anticipated hours worked by day for December 17 through December 24. 

Biweekly Deadlines:

For pay period ending December 22, 2018, and pay date on December 28, 2018: 

  • Submission: December 16 before midnight at 11:59 p.m. 
  • Approval: December 17 before noon at 11:59 a.m. 

Please record anticipated hours worked by day for December 17 through December 22. 

Review the Winter Break Timesheet Guidance for more information.

December 2018

New Exhibits in Fenwick Library


What is a landscape? A scenic countryside? A long-standing tradition in art history? The distant backdrop of our lives and memories? In the exhibition “[Land]scape,” artists ask us to engage the notion of landscape on multiple levels. Featuring a range of painting, mixed media, printmaking, sculpture, and video works, the exhibition itself becomes a landscape revealing a strata of emerging art practices within Mason’s Visual Arts MFA program.

Presented by Fenwick Gallery in partnership with ARTIFACT, a graduate student organization for MFA candidates in Mason’s School of Art.

Before and Beyond 1968: Three Civil Rights Movements in America

“Before and Beyond 1968: Three Civil Rights Movements in America” is now open in the Special Collections Research Center’s Exhibition Gallery on the second floor of Fenwick Library.

This exhibition, through sometimes plain (and often painful) documents, attempts to illuminate aspects of three civil rights movements: African American, Women, and LGBTQ+. The items in the cases are from the holdings of the George Mason University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center. The displayed pieces were created between the 19th through 21st century and originate primarily in the United States.

“Before and Beyond 1968” is curated by Lynn Eaton (director, Special Collections Research Center) and Bob Vay (digital collections and exhibition archivist, Special Collections Research Center). Consultation provided by Spencer Crew (Robinson professor of African American and Public History). The exhibition will be on display through January 2019.

December 2018

Half-Price Basketball Tickets 

Mason faculty and staff receive 50 percent off the single game price for reserved and upper reserved seats for all weeknight (Monday–Friday) home games.

Tickets are available for purchase at the EagleBank Arena box office with valid Mason ID. Limit of six discounted tickets per ID.