August 2020

August Staff Senate Newsletter

The August edition of the Staff Senate newsletter is now available. Check it out!

August 2020

Message from the Chair: August 2020

Lauren Reuscher, Staff Senate. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services

Here we are in August, getting ready for a new semester to begin—but in a way we never could have imagined. This fall is going to look a lot different for all of us, whether we are continuing to work from home, working on campus to support university operations, or some combination of both.

The fall also marks the continuation of a difficult situation for working parents. With local school systems offering virtual school and many young children home from daycare, the pandemic has brought incredible challenges to working families. The Staff Senate is trying to identify ways it can support Mason parents, perhaps by sharing resources or creating new channels to connect with other parents. We want to know what might help you as a working parent. Please reach out and tell us your ideas. We are collaborating with HR/Payroll and the Working Moms and Dads groups on this topic—all of which are here to support you.

We know the challenges of this pandemic also extend to those who do not have children at home. Staff members who do not have dependents, or do not qualify for high-risk accommodations, may be feeling pressure to return to campus or take on additional projects. The Staff Senate wants to hear from you, too, so we can stay informed of these issues and connect you with resources for assistance.

In July, we held the annual Staff Senate election. It was a very competitive race, with more names on the ballot than any of us remember in recent years. I am so impressed by the tremendous amount of interest in joining the senate right now. During a time when so many of us are working harder than ever, there are staff members who want to do more—talented and passionate people who want to help Mason through these challenges and sustain a positive work-life culture at the university.

I want to thank all those who were on the Staff Senate ballot this summer. Congratulations to all our new senators, and a sincere thank-you to all our outgoing senators for their service to Mason.

Lauren Reuscher
Chair, Staff Senate


August 2020

September Speaker to Address Telework Culture

Kevin W. Rockmann, photo by Creative Services/George Mason University

The September Staff Senate meeting will feature Dr. Kevin W. Rockmann, professor of management and dean’s scholar, School of Business. Dr. Rockmann will share thoughts on telework culture and its effect on employee well-being.

Wednesday, September 2
10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
General Meeting will follow from 11:00 a.m. to noon
Passcode: SS123

The Staff Senate represents all classified and non-student wage employees at George Mason University. Working closely with university administration, we address concerns that have an impact on the quality of work-life for the Mason community. The work of the senate is accomplished through open and continuous communication with its constituents.

August 2020

Webex Retirement

Cisco Webex service offerings are being phased out at Mason to provide a more streamlined set of services. Alternate solutions are available including  Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Blackboard Collaborate. Webex services will be shut down in May 2021. Information about the upcoming changes, including how to prepare and the timeline for this project, is available at the Webex Retirement Roadmap.

August 2020

George Mason Toastmasters Continues to Zoom

George Mason Toastmasters continues to ZOOM!  Following guidance from Toastmasters International, we were able to move our weekly meetings to an online format with our first “test” meeting held on March 25. We have made the most of the current situation, and continue to practice our speaking and leadership skills while developing new skills using a virtual format.  Guests are welcome to join us!  The meeting details can be found on our website with Zoom meetings now scheduled through the end of 2020.

If you’d like to learn more about Toastmasters, we are hosting a virtual open house on Wednesday, September 16 at noon.  This will be a great chance to see our meeting in action, and you can have a chance to participate in Table Topics, impromptu speaking practice, as well as ask questions about our club.  For more information, please contact Heather Aleknavage, VP Membership,

August 2020

Human Resources and Payroll Announcements

Take Your Junior Patriot to Work Day

Take Your Junior Patriot to Work Day is August 19, 2020. This is Mason’s first-ever virtual event for Mason faculty and staff and their Junior Patriots (grades pre-K – 12).

You can register here by completing the online consent form.  Then you’ll be able to view and register for any sessions being held on the 19th.  The activities, worksheets, and videos will be available to enjoy when you log into MasonLEAPS on August 19th.

If you have any questions, please contact

Updated 2020 Holiday Schedule

George Mason University has updated the 2020 holiday schedule to include additional holiday time for Election Day, Thanksgiving Break, and Winter Break. You can view the full 2020 holiday schedule on the Human Resources and Payroll website and you can review the additional time below:

  • Additional eight hours on November 3, 2020 for Election Day
  • Additional four hours, in addition to the Department of Human Resources’ (DHRM) four hours, on November 25, 2020
  • Additional eight hours on December 21, 2020
  • Additional eight hours on December 22, 2020
  • Additional eight hours on December 23, 2020

For more details about pro-rated hours, compensatory leave, and alternate work schedules, please review the information on the Holiday Schedule page. For questions, please email

CommonHealth Connections

Each week, CommonHealth, the state’s Employee Wellness Program, releases a newsletter called CommonHealth Connections. These newsletters aim to enhance your well-being by giving you tips on topics such as nutrition, sleep, exercise, and benefits for Commonwealth of Virginia employees.

Please visit the announcements on the Life/Work site every week to see the latest CommonHealth Connections newsletter.

Questions? Contact

Overtime Election

From August 1, 2020, to September 4, 2020, all non-exempt employees (i.e. employees eligible for compensation for any time worked over 40 hours in a week) can choose how they want to receive overtime compensation.

Overtime eligible employees can choose to receive overtime compensation in one of two options: 

  1. Pay (initial default option)
  2. Leave

Do I Have to Make a Change?

  • If a non-exempt employee has made an election in the past and does not want to change the election, no action is needed
  • If a non-exempt employee wants to continue to receive pay for any overtime earned, they do not have to complete a form

How Do I Make a Change?

If the non-exempt employee would like to change their election from pay to leave, please:

  • Complete an Overtime Leave Agreement Form
  • Submit the form to the Payroll Department at before Friday, September 4, 2020 (due to processing, this deadline is firm and Payroll cannot accept forms after this date). Elections are a one-year commitment and can only be changed during this open enrollment period. For example, if the non-exempt employee elects to receive leave accumulation, they will receive leave, and not pay, for any overtime worked for one year.

Please contact Catalina Wheat at for questions.

August 2020

July in Review

In addition, each month, the Mason Staff Senate:

  • Presents the Employee of the Month with a gift
  • Attends Human Resources and Payroll’s New Staff Orientations to welcome new employees and introduce them to the work of the Staff Senate
  • Recognizes the service of Mason retirees with a letter of appreciation
  • The Communications Committee meets monthly to coordinate and publish a monthly newsletter distributed to classified staff and non-student wage employees
August 2020

Announcements from University Libraries

Photo by Creative Services

Below you will find updates with links to access the latest updates and information from University Libraries:

For more information and service updates, please monitor and review the FAQs.

Profile of a Senator August 2020

Meet Stephanie Atkins, Office Manager, Mason LIFE Program and Staff Senator

Stephanie Atkins, photo by Creative Services/George Mason University

Role: I joined the the Mason staff in April 2015. Mason LIFE (Learning Into Future Environments), in the College of Education and Human Development, is a postsecondary program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Mason LIFE offers the opportunity for an inclusive university experience and was one of the first such programs in the country. I provide administrative support for the program and am the main point of contact for staff, students, and their families.

Mason Journey: I graduated from Mason with a BA in Sociology in 1998 and am taking advantage of the tuition waiver to pursue a graduate degree in the Masters Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) program. I am taking classes with a social justice and human rights focus, more specifically related to individuals with IDD.

August 2020

Outstanding Supervisor Award Nomination Update

During August, the Staff Senate usually collects nominations for the Outstanding Supervisor Award.  Until a date has been selected for the Outstanding Achievement Awards, we will pause on our nomination process.  The Outstanding Supervisor award seeks to recognize supervisors who routinely go above and beyond to provide unparalleled leadership, mentorship, and support within their departments or offices. Outstanding supervisors model and promote a positive work-life balance and strive to serve not only their departments or offices but also their personnel. Other actions that an outstanding supervisor demonstrates include:

  • Acknowledging exemplary performance
  • Supporting innovation and soliciting input from employees
  • Being fair and flexible
  • Encouraging and providing opportunities for professional growth
  • Promoting diversity and inclusion

We look forward to accepting nominations soon.