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Profile of a Senator November 2021

Meet Preston Williams, Staff Senator and Presidential Communications Manager, Office of Communications

 

Role: I coordinate and draft remarks and other written materials for Mason’s president, website and other communications outlets, keeping top of mind the university’s strategic goals and objectives. Everything I do is collaborative, so I’m indebted to many across all of our campuses for their help. It’s been interesting to work with three presidents, all with their own vision and styles, and all of whom I admire.

Mason journey: I came to Mason in 2013 after 25 years of writing for newspapers. I started here as what they call a communications officer, mostly writing for the Mason website. The new job required an adjustment: When I was assigned my first story, I asked when the deadline was, assuming it was later that day or early the next. The due date I was given was like three weeks away. That’s when I knew I was in a totally different work environment (although I know Mason Standard Time can work for you or against you). After I was here a year or so, I moved into the newly created presidential communications manager position.

Mason prequel: I covered the Mason men’s basketball team for a long-defunct suburban newspaper in the mid-1990s, during the Paul Westhead and Jim Larranaga coaching eras. You could tell they were building something under Larranaga, but I was long off the beat before the historic 2006 run in the NCAA tournament. That being said, I think Mason reached the final four every year I covered the team – the final four of the conference standings.

The return to campus: It’s been pleasant to again toil among my Mas(k)on colleagues on a regular basis these past few months. But I know I speak for many staff members when I say telework has been a revelation. Mason staff members working remotely through the pandemic have proved themselves to be a motivated, visible, reliable, communicative and productive workforce, no matter their location.

Raise your hand if telework has made you one or more of the following: a more effective, productive, loyal, motivated or engaged employee, parent, spouse, child, sibling, friend, neighbor, volunteer, exerciser. Telework is not only good for employees, it helps the university work toward strategic goals related to sustainability, accessibility, health and well-being, narrowing the salary gap, and many other university objectives.

The return to campus II: Have you noticed that the night before a telework day feels differently than the night before an in-office day? Let’s face it: Would you rather pack a lunch six to 12 hours before you’re going to eat it, or just make/eat lunch when it’s lunchtime? Would you rather sign off your computer, stand up, and be where you want to be, or snake through rush-hour traffic stewing about how you spend the equivalent of a day-and-a-half on the road each month commuting? Would you rather practice go-to-the-office hygiene, or stay-at-home low-giene, which enables you to simplify your routine and start your work day sooner? I could go on. (And I have).

Best thing about working at Mason: I know I’m supposed to say “the people” here, and while that is a good thing for sure, I’ll give the answer many previously profiled senators might have thought about giving in this space but didn’t: the extended winter break that many staff members get to enjoy. When you have to say, “Remind me, what date do we go back?” that is a beautiful thing.

But I think more important than winter break, and even the people, is that Mason is an affiliation you can feel pretty good about regardless of your role here, when you think about the university providing opportunities to students of all ages and backgrounds, conducting top-end research, anchoring the region, and so on.

Why serve on the Staff Senate: I already attended the meetings just to keep up with staff matters as part of my job and a supervisor encouraged me to run. I can tell you that the people on Staff Senate, representing all of our campuses and from about two dozen departments, schools and units, are knowledgeable and passionate. They just want to make sure that staff are recognized, valued and treated fairly because, in many ways, we all work at a different Mason.

The Staff Senate has earned some signature wins in the past couple years, including our chair serving on the presidential search committee and our chair being added as a non-voting member to the Board of Visitors, joining student and faculty representatives on that governing body. Best I can tell, staff have never had a greater voice than they do right now.

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November 2021

October in Review

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November 2021

Announcements from Information Technology Services

 

IT Security Awareness Training Due November 15 

Information Technology Services (ITS) reminds all employees to complete their required annual IT Security Awareness Training by Monday, November 15. The training takes about 30 minutes. 

Employees can access the training at Mason Leaps using their NetID and Patriot Pass Password. Select “IT Security Awareness Training” in the “Your Action Items” box to the right. When the training comes up, select the training or opt to take a Knowledge Pre-Check quiz. If you opt to take the quiz, you only have to complete training modules related to questions you answer incorrectly and the module called “You Are the Shield.” 

Also, employees who are privileged users or system administrators have additional role-based training to complete, which is listed as LinkedIn Learning assignments in their accounts. 

If you have problems accessing your training, contact the ITS Support Center at 703-993-8870 or support@gmu.edu. 

 

MASON-SECURE Retirement Delay 

Earlier this year, ITS announced that eduroam would replace MASON-SECURE this fall as Mason’s primary Wi-Fi network. Based on feedback from the Mason community, ITS is currently investigating acquiring an onboarding solution to simplify the transition from MASON-SECURE to eduroam. As a result, ITS is delaying the official retirement of MASON-SECURE until summer 2022. 

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November 2021

Updates from Parking & Transportation

 

Bicycle Commuting 101: Online via Zoom 

Bicycling to campus can be fun and great for your well-being. Join Delia Johnson from the College of Visual and Performing Arts and a League of American Bicyclists certified instructor for Bicycle Commuting 101. During this session at noon on Tuesday, November 16 via Zoom, Delia will share information to help you feel more confident about getting to campus on two wheels. 

This session is open to staff, faculty, and students. To register, visit https://gmu.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0kcO-przMqH9RMJFuWnZ_pVfZSMwjxKP15   

Zoom meeting details will be sent to you. 

  

Faculty/Staff Bike Commuter Choice Program 

Like to bike? Live within biking distance of the Mason location where you work? Thinking that maybe it’s time you changed up your commute to include a few days of biking per month? Consider the Faculty/Staff Bike Commuter Choice program and find joy in commuting to campus on two wheels!   

  • Four tiers of financial support tied to the number of rides per quarter – join the program for as few as 5 rides per quarter 
  • Earn complimentary parking passes 
  • Ride more than 10 miles each way to work – earn a distance bonus! 
  • Ride at Tier 2 or Tier 3 all year – receive funds for a complimentary bike check 
  • Can be used in conjunction with Commuter Choice 

Conditions apply – the big one is that the program, unlike Commuter Choice, is taxable per the IRS. But don’t let that stop you; check out more details here.   

  

Mason Shuttles 2021 Thanksgiving Service Changes 

The Thanksgiving holiday will bring changes to the Mason Shuttle schedules. Details are posted on the Mason Shuttles website or directly here.

 

Route Planning: Biking to Mason 

Live within biking distance of Mason? Planning a commute for this autumn or maybe next spring? We have volunteers who can assist you in finding a biking route that is comfortable for you. Visit here for details and regions covered.

Sustain and Save Program 

Have you heard of the new regional incentive program, Sustain & Save, that faculty and staff at the Arlington Campus can enroll in? Sustain & Save is a program run by Commute66 to assist in reducing traffic along I-66 and improving the daily commute. 

Did you know that enrolled participants will get $100 each month you participate in a sustainable commute mode? With this extra cash each month, you may wonder what a good use for it could be. Commute66 wrote a blog post on what you can use your monthly incentive for. Some ideas include good walking shoes, a new helmet, a new bike, digital streaming services, or new headphones.   

To join Sustain & Save, you must be a full-time faculty or staff member at the Arlington Campus, currently drive along I-66 and pay tolls, and be willing to switch to an eligible commute mode (public transit, carpool, vanpool, walking, or biking). If you would like to reach out to the Commute66 team managing Sustain & Save to start your application, email them at: hello@dsandmg.com 

Read more here: 

Sustain & Save Program for Arlington Campus Faculty and Staff 

How to Spend your Sustain & Save $100 Incentive 

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November 2021 Sustainability at Work

Sustainability at Work: November 2021

World Leaders are Gathering in Glasgow, Scotland, to Discuss Climate Change. So What? 

Hailed as the “last, best chance” to avoid catastrophic climate change, world leaders are gathering in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 to November 12 for the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP). There, they’re supposed to take action to meet the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. But are they? 

So, what is a COP? Why does it matter? And what’s next? Register for COP26 – What Happened There? What’s Next?, an interactive discussion featuring George Mason University’s academic and research experts, passionate students, and special guests. 

Join the discussion at 11 a.m. on November 23. You’ll learn what was said and done at COP 26, what needs to happen next, and how you can make a difference in the global fight against climate change. 

Register: https://go.gmu.edu/COP26Event 

This event is hosted in partnership among the Office of Sustainability, the Institute for a Sustainable Earth, the Center for Climate Change Communications, and the Environmental Science and Policy Department. 

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November 2021

Announcements from Human Resources & Payroll

CommonHealth Weekly Wellnotes 

Looking for a way to get quick wellness tips without doing any extra work? Each week, we update the CommonHealth page on the HR & Payroll website with Weekly Wellnotes that provide quick wellness tips! These tips range from how to manage stress, delicious recipes, how to nurture your relationships, financial tips, ways to stay physically healthy, and more. 

Visit the CommonHealth page on the HR & Payroll website each week for a new tip! 

  

TIAA Financial Seminars 

Looking to learn more about your finances? 

TIAA is hosting several financial well-being seminars. Check out the flyer to learn more! 

  

Inclement Weather/Emergency Guidance 

Telework and Inclement Weather 

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. 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

  For more details, visit flexwork.gmu.edu. 

  

Inclement Weather/Emergency Guidance 

With winter weather fast approaching, please review the Inclement Weather/Emergency Closing Policy 

  

Staying Updated 

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

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Featured on Homepage November 2021

December General Meeting Announcement

 

The December Staff Senate meeting will feature Mason President Gregory Washington.

Wednesday, December 1
10 a.m. to noon
Dr. Washington will present from 10 a.m. to 11 (general meeting to follow – agenda )
Hosted on Zoom: https://gmu.zoom.us/j/93999749658?pwd=UGRZMXdJbFpXaXpRdmRhdG1wMXMyZz09
Passcode: SS123
Call in: 301-715-8592 or 267-831-0333
Webinar ID: 939 9974 9658/ Passcode: 224754

The Staff Senate represents all classified and non-student wage employees at George Mason University. Working closely with the 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. Find more ways to engage with the senate before, during, and after our general meetings.

 

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Featured on Homepage November 2021

November General Meeting Recording

 

The November Staff Senate meeting featured guest speaker Jimmy Hazel, Rector of Mason’s Board of Visitors. This is the first time a Mason rector has visited the Staff Senate. We are appreciative to Rector Hazel for taking time out of his schedule to virtually join us.

If you missed the session, you can watch or listen to the recording.