myHR: News from Penn's Division of Human Resources

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myHR: March 13, 2013

Models of Excellence: The Power of Teamwork

Each Penn staff member is capable of doing extraordinary things. And when those individuals collaborate to reach a common goal, the results can be even more far-reaching. See how these 2013 Models of Excellence Award winners came together to achieve greatness.

Bringing History to Life

You don’t have to be a history buff to know about the Holocaust. But many people don’t understand just how deeply it impacted millions of lives all over the world. Well thanks to a team of Penn staff members, the University community can not only learn about this part of history—they can hear about it through the voices of survivors.

Last year, 15 staff members from the Annenberg School for Communication, Penn Libraries and the Division of Information Systems and Computing partnered with the Shoah Foundation Institute to bring its Visual History Archive of Holocaust testimonies to the University. With no funding and a host of technological challenges to overcome, Penn staff strengthened the University’s commitment to scholarship and humanitarianism by giving the campus community access to nearly 52,000 video testimonies from Holocaust survivors and witnesses. The project made Penn the first university in Pennsylvania with access to the Shoah Foundation Institute’s entire Visual History Archive.

“This was an extraordinary project that took a lot of coordination across many parts of the University, and it didn’t matter how much work was involved. Our goal was to help make it easier for people to get a deeper understanding of the history of the Holocaust,” said Mike Palladino, Associate Vice President for Information Systems and Computing.

Mike nominated the Shoah Foundation Team for a 2013 Models of Excellence Award for their collaborative efforts to advance education and research by giving the Penn community access to the Holocaust oral testimonies. Team members include:

  • Brigitte Burris, Penn Libraries
  • Tina Cowan, Development & Alumni Relations
  • Joseph Diorio, Annenberg School of Communication
  • Michael Dunne, Information Systems & Computing
  • Marjorie Hassen, Penn Libraries
  • Julie McWilliams, University Communications
  • Bruce Nielsen, Penn Libraries
  • Nicholas Okrent, Penn Libraries
  • Adam Preset, Information Systems & Computing
  • Karen Riley, Annenberg School of Communication
  • Eric Snyder, Information Systems & Computing
  • Rebecca Stuhr, Penn Libraries
  • Leslie Vallhonrat, Penn Libraries
  • Debra Williams, Annenberg School of Communication
  • Peggy Yetter, Information Systems & Computing

“Whether you’re a student working on a history project, a professor of Jewish studies, or just an individual wanting to learn more about the Holocaust, these staff members helped bring the richness of historical content right to your fingertips,” Mike said.

To learn more about the Shoah Foundation project, click here.

Turning Academic Dreams into Reality

For many kids—especially first-generation and underrepresented students—the idea of going to college is nothing more than a dream. That’s why a team of Penn staff members joined forces to create the Provost Summer Mentorship Program.

In order to help local students pursue their educational goals, nine Penn staff members designed a unique summer mentorship program to help prepare Philadelphia public and charter school students for the intellectual rigor of college. High school students enrolled in the four-week program have the opportunity to participate in one of five graduate schools at Penn (Nursing, Engineering, Medicine, Law, and Dental Medicine). Each school develops a hands-on curriculum for the students to help them learn and grow in their field of interest.

“I don’t know of any other program in the country that gives high school students such a strong foundation in graduate level education. Students have the opportunity to do really advanced work, like participate in labs, listen to lectures, or shadow graduate students. It’s a great jump-start for college, whether they want to go to Penn or another school,” said Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum, Vice Provost for University Life.   

Valarie nominated the Provost's Summer Mentorship Program Team for a 2013 Models of Excellence Award for helping to put local public and charter high school students on the academic fast track and help them pursue a college degree. Team members include:

  • Christina Costanzo Clark, School of Nursing
  • Megan Doherty, School of Engineering and Applied Science
  • Margaret Griffiths, School of Nursing
  • Don Harrison, Jr., University Life
  • Jack Lewis, Perelman School of Medicine
  • Donna Oberthaler, University Life
  • Gail Oberton, University Life
  • Nancy Porcellini, Penn Law
  • Michelle Wells Lockett, Perelman School of Medicine

“Unlike many kids who enter college not knowing what they want to do next, our students begin a four-year program already thinking about graduate school,” Valarie said.

To learn more about the Provost's Summer Mentorship Program, click here.

Benefits Open Enrollment is Coming

Benefits Open Enrollment (your annual opportunity to make changes to your healthcare elections) is still a few weeks away. But it’s never too early to get a jumpstart on planning your healthcare benefits.

Starting March 25, we’re offering presentations on campus so you can ask questions and get more information about your options for the 2013-2014 plan year. Presentations will begin at the times listed below; they’ll run for 45 minutes followed by a Q&A session. Join us to learn more about this year’s Open Enrollment period!




Monday, March 25


Irvine Auditorium

Thursday, March 28


SAS, Wolf Room, McNeil Center

Friday, March 29


Wharton, Steinberg-Dietrich Hall, Room 350

Thursday, April 4


Claudia Cohen Hall, Terrace Room

Wednesday, April 10


Claudia Cohen Hall, Terrace Room

Thursday, April 11


Dental School, Sig Seigal Boardroom, Evans Building

Benefits Open Enrollment will run from Monday, April 15 through Friday, April 26. Complete details will be available shortly on the Human Resources website.

The Value of a Penn Career

Your dedication to Penn makes us the great institution we are, and we want you to feel valued for the amazing things you do every day. That’s why the University offers you a total compensation package that’s more than just a paycheck.

Discover the value of a Penn career in your 2012 Total Compensation Summary. You’ll get the full picture of the benefits we provide you—like wellness programs to help you maintain your health, retirement benefits to help you grow your financial future, educational benefits to help you learn new skills, and comprehensive health and insurance options. You can also enjoy a wide range of family-friendly resources, disability programs and discount programs.

Look for your personalized 2012 Total Compensation Summary at your home address later this month. As of next week, you’ll also be able to view your 2012 summary online by visiting the Human Resources website.

Sharpen Your Business Writing

Knowing how to write well is crucial to your workplace goals. You need to know how to deliver clear, compelling messages in order to be productive on the job—and we’ll show you how.

Join us on April 2 to learn the ins and outs of Business Writing for Professionals. You’ll learn top-notch communication techniques to help you untangle the writing process and communicate with clarity and ease. We’ll also show you how to organize your thoughts and present messages in a way that earns respect and credibility and achieves positive results.

Ready to sharpen your writing skills? Your department will be charged a nominal fee for this workshop ($75). Click here for complete details and to register.

Polish Your Job Performance

How well do you perform in your job? What are your strengths? Are there areas for improvement? These are the kinds of questions that can help you grow in your career—and the Performance and Staff Development Program can give you the answers you need.

No matter how long you’ve been in your role, an effective performance appraisal opens the lines of communication and gives you valuable feedback about your work. You’ll have the opportunity to discuss your job, highlight your accomplishments, set future goals, and strengthen your relationship with your manager. You’ll also learn how to polish your skills in order to shine in your career.

Performance appraisals for all eligible regular staff should be completed and entered into the Performance Appraisal Database (PAD) or Online Performance Appraisal System by June 3. Click here for more details and to download copies of the latest performance and self-appraisal forms.