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myHR: November 14, 2018

Build a Brighter Financial Future

Hands stacking coins over time

Do you want invaluable information on how to manage, plan, and take control of your financial future as you get ready for the end of the year? Sign up for some upcoming Vanguard and TIAA webinars.

These free, one-hour sessions will be offered November 28 through December 6 at various times to make participation convenient for you. Whether you’re planning for retirement, your children’s education, reducing debt, or you’re just interested in learning about more efficient ways to manage your finances, this series can help you along your financial journey.

Principles of Investing
November 28, 12pm–1pm, or 6pm–7pm
November 29, 3pm–4pm

This Vanguard webinar will cover the basics of investing including mutual funds, stocks vs. bonds, how not to invest, different methods of investing, and how savings may impact your retirement. This webinar will also help you determine investment strategies that work best for you.

Financial Freedom
November 28, 3pm–4pm
November 29, 12pm–1pm or 6pm–7pm

Life is full of surprise expenses that can make you feel out of control, but there are ways to take charge of your financial circumstances. Vanguard’s Financial Freedom covers five basic rules to help improve your financial life and make sure you’re on the right track to a secure future.

Special Topic Series 1: Making Gifts to Loved Ones and Charities
December 4, 12pm-1pm

In the season of giving, you can help to maximize the value of your life’s work and help to take care of your loved ones and philanthropic causes with a little planning. This TIAA webinar will review basic strategies for giving to individuals and charities during your lifetime, as well as legacy planning.

Gaining Insight: Navigating Debt Consolidation & Understanding
December 4, 3pm-4pm

TIAA helps you understand how to manage and consolidate debt, and offers a primer that can help you make the mortgage process easier to navigate.

Healthy Numbers: Integrating Healthcare Into Your Retirement
December 5, 12pm-1pm

Learn how to plan for the cost of healthcare in retirement, including supplemental insurance, and the real benefits and costs of Medicare in this TIAA webinar.

Money at Work 1: Foundations of Investing
December 5, 12pm-1pm

Discover how you can manage risk versus reward, as well as understand the role of investing and managing risks. This TIAA webinar also covers ways to help accelerate savings and tools that can help sustain a portfolio.

Within Reach: Transitioning From Career to Retirement
December 6, 12pm-1pm

So it’s time to retire, now what? TIAA teaches you how to make some final preparations to help shift from an active career to retirement. From income options to taxes to health insurance, you need to be prepared.

Charting Your Course: A Financial Guide for Women
December 6, 3pm-4pm

TIAA covers basic retirement savings skills, how to create a retirement savings plan, evaluating financial health and setting goals, and how to help make your money work harder with a special focus on empowering women.

For more information about this series and to register, visit the Vanguard webinar center website and

Fall, Winter, and Spring Holidays Reminder

Clock with seasons as time

To help you plan for the end of the calendar year and the 2019 Spring Term, here’s a reminder of Penn’s upcoming holiday observances.

Thanksgiving, Thursday and Friday, November 22 & 23, 2018

Christmas Day, Tuesday, December 25, 2018

New Year’s Day, Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, January 21, 2019

Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, 2019

Special Winter Vacation
Each year, the President, Provost and EVP assess the feasibility of observing Penn’s traditional Special Winter Vacation. Based on this assessment, the Special Winter Vacation granted to faculty and staff will be December 24, 26, 27, 28 and 31, 2018.

For a complete list of this fiscal year’s holidays and details on policies regarding work over Special Winter Vacation, visit the Almanac.

Be in the Know VIP Celebration

BITK VIP Celebration

On October 24, the Human Resources Wellness team hosted a lunchtime reception for faculty and staff who earned at least 250 bonus action points during last year’s Be in the Know wellness campaign. These Be in the Know VIPs each received their choice of Penn Healthy You gifts—a thermos, gym bag, or fleece jacket-- plus an opportunity to meet with peers from across campus for a light lunch.

At the inaugural Be in the Know VIP celebration, Wellness team members Chris Hyson, Sue Sproat, and Soncerae Lewis joined Jack Heuer, Vice President of Human Resources, David Leach from Penn Recreation, and Jeannine Stuart from AREUFIT to congratulate the group of 63 faculty and staff. Heuer asked the VIPS to encourage fellow faculty and staff members to join them in taking full advantage of the Be in the Know program.  Hyson said, “It was extremely exciting to bring last year’s Be in the Know VIP honorees together at our reception, and not only celebrate their achievement, but further promote a culture of health and build community at Penn.”

VIP Yuling Liang of PSOM, PA-Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, racked up 400 points to become last year’s top earner.

This year, you have another opportunity to reach VIP status with even more chances to increase your points and cash incentives. The 2018-2019 Be in the Know campaign offers 32 different bonus actions, ranging from smoking cessation and mindfulness training to dental exams and bicycle commutes. The point values for certain activities are higher this year.

“We hope this encourages participants to strive for more points, complete additional health-enhancing bonus actions, and reach the maximum rewards,” said Hyson.

Visit for wellness campaign details.

A Toast to Problem Solving

Toast popping out of toaster

Sometimes the simplest acts are the source of surprising innovation. For example, toast is one of the easiest foods to prepare, especially if you have sliced bread and a toaster. But could you teach someone who had never made toast before how to do it using only pictures?

According to design expert and author Tom Wujec, the way you approach toast instruction can show others how you view the world and help groups understand what really matters as you address challenges.

TED Talk Tuesday: Got a Wicked Problem? First, Tell Me How You Make Toast is a free, on-campus video screening and workshop featuring Wujec’s popular video. This session will be held on December 11 from 12:30 to 1:30pm at 3624 Market Street, Suite 1A South. The workshop offers you a fun and memorable introduction to systems thinking and methods for finding solutions. Explore Wujec’s Wicked Problem Solving methods. Learn how to run your own toast workshop, clarify complexities, and uncover collaborative design and planning abilities in your team.

Register for TED Talk Tuesday: Got a Wicked Problem? First, Tell Me How You Make Toast at Knowledge Link. No actual toast will be served, but there will be other snacks and beverages on hand.

For more leadership development resources and opportunities, visit the Learn & Grow section of the Penn Human Resources website.  

Working Group on LGBTQ Student Health, Addressing Issues of Wellbeing

Working Group LGBTQWhen you walk into Heather Hersh’s office in the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) suite, one of the first things you may notice is her Models of Excellence Award perched high on her bookshelf.

“I’m really proud of it,” says Hersh, staff psychologist for CAPS.

Hersh is a member of the Working Group on LGBTQ Student Health. The team was presented with the award at the April 2018 Models of Excellence ceremony.

“The ceremony was heart-warming. I had an afterglow that lasted for several days where I was basking in the positive feelings that came from being there and being publicly acknowledged for the work I feel really passionate about,” Hersh says.

The Working Group on LGBTQ Student Health is a 20-member volunteer group that addresses issues affecting the mental and physical health of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students at Penn. The group consists of staff from Student Health Service (SHS), clinical staff from CAPS, and nonclinical staff from Penn’s LGBT Center.

Each month members meet to talk about everything from the political climate’s impact on LGBTQ students to shifting ideas around gender identity to the use of personal pronouns.

“We really use each other’s minds and expertise to help us be able to advance the work that we’re trying to do or to better help the students that we’re working with,” Hersh says.

Members also serve as advocates for LGBTQ students to ensure that the campus environment continues to be welcoming and supportive of their needs. Penn is consistently ranked among the top LGBTQ-friendly universities in the nation. According to data from the National College Health Assessment conducted by SHS Campus Health, 17.4 percent of Penn students identify as non-heterosexual and 2.3 percent identify as transgender or some other non-cis gender identity.

The Working Group on LGBTQ Student Health began its work in 2012 with just a few members and a smaller target population.

“We were originally a trans-student working group,” Hersh says. “Then we wanted to broaden our focus and support not just trans students, but also lesbian, gay and bi-sexual students.”

Group members engage in a number of key activities. These include keeping each other informed about the latest developments in clinical and policy issues affecting LGBTQ health, educating SHS staff and the broader University community, and connecting with key stakeholders such as Lambda Alliance and Penn Medicine Program for LGBTQ Health.

The group has worked to standardize and improve sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data collection for SHS electronic health records. This change has helped LGBTQ students feel more at ease with how they are listed in their health records.

The group helped SHS and CAPS update their websites to explicitly identify the names of clinicians who have specific interests and expertise in LGBTQ care. The Working Group has also designed and implemented clinical templates for the care of LGBTQ patients and has shared those templates with other schools, including Student Health Services at other Ivy Plus universities.

One of the group’s most notable achievements has been the 2017 publication of a research paper in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

“The completion of a manuscript that is accepted and published through a rigorous peer-review process demonstrates the dedication that these team members have for sharing their discoveries more broadly in order to improve the health of LGBTQ students beyond the limits of our campus,” says Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum, Vice Provost for University Life.

Swain-Cade McCoullum, who nominated the working group for the Models of Excellence Award, added that “… the LGBTQ Working Group is a shining exemplar that demonstrates all the good that can be accomplished when Penn’s staff come together across departments (and across staff roles within departments), united in a common mission.”

The 20th anniversary Models of Excellence ceremony will be held April 23, 2019 from 4pm-5pm in Irvine Auditorium. Thanks to the nominators who submitted a total of 32 nominations for the upcoming awards. In late January, the Models, Pillars, and Model Supervisor honorees will be announced.

Visit for details about Models of Excellence.

Healthy Meals: Pumpkin Cheese Pie

Pumpkin Cheese Pie

This dessert will make a tasty and healthy addition to your holiday table. It has all the flavor of a cheesecake, but with fewer calories.

Find the recipe here.

Click here to send us your healthy recipes and tips.


Did You Know: November Wellness Walk Promotes a Season of Thanks

The November 16 Wellness Walk is dedicated to those who are less fortunate. Penn faculty and staff who participate are encouraged to donate a non-perishable food item. Penn VIPS (Volunteers in Public Service) conducts the annual food drive and makes donations to families in need. The walk will be from 12-1pm, starting in front of College Hall. Register now, and don’t forget your donation.