myHR: News from Penn's Division of Human Resources

myHR: May 15, 2019

Lorenzo Jackson, Leader and Pillar of Excellence

Lorenzo Jackson, Pillar of Excellence holding award with President Amy Gutmann.

When the Center for Africana Studies hosts a book talk or discussion at 3401 Walnut Street, one of the key participants isn’t behind the podium or on the panel. He might not even be there during the event, yet his work is deeply valued by the Center’s faculty and staff. Custodian Lorenzo Jackson makes sure the guests will be able to focus on learning and ideas by ensuring that the environment is clean and welcoming. From the meeting rooms and offices to the building’s entrance near one of the busiest corners on campus, Jackson goes out of his way to make sure each area looks its best.

“We have been the beneficiaries of Lorenzo’s outstanding service, support, and genuine concern for us,” says Gale A. Garrison, Associate Director Center for Africana Studies.

Garrison is not alone. Hundreds of people who work in or visit 3401 Walnut benefit from Lorenzo Jackson’s commitment to outstanding service, including his coworkers in Housekeeping.

Jackson orchestrates highly visible projects, such as annual carpet cleaning. But his smaller daily actions—like gathering empty boxes to help a faculty member move her book collection or making sure extra-large trash receptacles are available for catered events—also make a big impact. So does his attitude.

“Lorenzo always welcomes me with a smile and a warm greeting which I greatly value and appreciate,” says Garrison.

“Lorenzo has always been bigger than the job he gets paid to do,” says Director of Housekeeping Wendy Sparks. That’s one reason Lorenzo Jackson earned a Pillar of Excellence award this year.

Jackson is not only an outstanding custodian. He’s a trusted leader. When Facilities and Real Estate Services (FRES) began its Lean initiative to elevate housekeeping standards, they wanted first-hand knowledge of the work from people who actually did it.

“The University and the union had to agree on who they wanted to send. So, they called me,” says Jackson.

He volunteered to be a peer contributor and speak on behalf of more than 500 housekeepers. As a seasoned housekeeper, Jackson’s participation was critical to the successful development of FRES’s Enhanced Housekeeping Program.

“I learned the whole Six Sigma concept,” says Jackson, referring to the thick binder of quality assurance practices he studied during the Lean initiative.

“Before that, I actually went to school here through [Penn’s] Veterans Upward Bound program,” says Jackson. “I learned computers and math. When we got to [Lean], I was ready for it.”

Jackson’s enthusiasm for Veterans Upward Bound is one sign of his deep commitment to fellow veterans. He’s a retired United States Marine and an active member of the American Legion.

“Once a Marine, always a Marine,” he says.

After his military service, Jackson worked as a second-shift diesel mechanic for a large bakery in Norristown. But in the early 1990s, he learned about an opportunity at Penn, away from the engine fumes.

At first the transition from mechanic to housekeeper wasn’t easy for Jackson. However, his wife convinced him that he had a future at the University not far from their home in West Philadelphia.

“She said, ‘it’s going to be beneficial to the family.’”

Together, Jackson and his wife raised two sons who graduated from Hampton University with the help of Penn’s tuition benefit.

Jackson’s wife, mother, sons, and grandchildren were in the cheering section of family and friends at Irvine Auditorium as he received his Pillars of Excellence award from Dr. Amy Gutmann at the 20th Anniversary Models of Excellence ceremony on April 23. After sharing the stage with Dr. Gutmann, he held his Pillars of Excellence award high for all to see.

“He has always represented his position proudly,” says Wendy Sparks.

The Pillars of Excellence award, along with the FRES Step Up award pins Jackson wears on his housekeeping cap, are reminders of his progress at work and in the wider community. “I’m not stagnant. I keep it moving.”

When FRES rolled out its housekeeping enhancements, Jackson helped many of his coworkers understand the new assignments and he counseled them as they chose projects. With his 28 years of experience, he’s a natural mentor to newer housekeepers. He advises them to set goals—no matter how small—and build on them.

Jackson encourages staff members at all stages of their careers to be active in the Penn community, get on the email lists, and ask questions about all the University has to offer.

“Take advantage of this stuff. This is a learning environment. Look around. This is Penn.”

Prepare for Workday@Penn and the Freeze Period

Workday@Penn Coming July 1, 2019

Workday@Penn, the new human resources and payroll platform, goes live on July 1, 2019.

Starting June 12 at 5pm Eastern, a freeze will begin to current systems where you make changes to your personal information. The freeze will allow the rapid transition from legacy systems, also known as cutover, to Workday@Penn.

During the freeze, there will be no self-service access to:

  • Change your direct deposit information
  • Change your home address or emergency contact

The freeze period ends on July 1. If you have an emergency change request during the freeze, please contact the Penn Employee Solution Center at 215-898-7372 or

After June 12, the final snapshot of data will be used for conversion. Your personal record, payroll data, benefits information, and more will convert to Workday@Penn automatically, with no action required from you. Some human resources and payroll administration systems freeze at different dates.

Please review important information from the Division of Finance on changes to payroll and payroll tax services, such as direct deposit and W-2 form availability, effective July 1, 2019.

Workday@Penn is replacing many separate and aging systems with one state-of-the-art platform. More information on the freeze is available on the Your Workday webpage for general University users or the Cutover Calendar webpage for human resources, payroll, and business partners and administrators.

Strategic Planning Takes the Guess Work out of Success

Woman with gray hair and brunette woman with glasses smiling and planning

Is your organization designing a new initiative or revamping your existing programs? Complex projects such as these often stall or go off course, but the strategic planning process takes the guesswork out of your project’s success. Learn how to apply powerful planning tools to your next major initiative at the Fundamentals of Strategic Planning workshop June 15, 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm.

The Fundamentals of Strategic Planning is a free, on-campus workshop designed for Penn staff who want to understand the basic strategic thinking, problem solving, and planning skills required to successfully design and execute a critical project.

“Inside a system as large and complex as Penn, it’s important to know how to assess and adjust your planning efforts to meet the needs of the organization,” says workshop leader Carla Thomas, Senior Training and Development Consultant. “In Fundamentals of Strategic Planning, you’ll learn how to set priorities, focus energy and resources, assess, and adjust your work to strengthen your efforts.”

The June 15 workshop covers the essential components of strategic planning:

1.            Clarify your vision

2.            Gather and analyze information

3.            Formulate

4.            Implement

5.            Evaluate and control

With colleagues from across the University, you’ll learn how to put these steps into practice while avoiding the obstacles that can sidetrack or even stop your initiative from reaching its goals.

Space is limited, so register now for Fundamentals of Strategic Planning. For more professional development opportunities, visit the Learn & Grow section of

Bike to Work Day 2019

Bike rack full of bikes.Cycling fans, put on your helmet and pedal over to the University’s annual Bike to Work Day celebration on May 17. This year’s event takes place at Penn Museum Energizer bike station at 3260 South Street (across from Franklin Field) this Friday from 7:30am to 9:30am. Register now at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia website.

While you’re at the bike station, visit the Penn Healthy You table and learn how to receive Be in the Know wellness campaign Bonus Action points for biking. You can earn points for your regular bike commute over the course of the campaign year, plus Special Bonus Action Opportunity points for attending Penn’s Bike to Work Day event. Visit the Be in the Know Bonus Actions page for details.

This year’s Bike to Work Day at Penn features lots of valuable rewards including:

  • Free bike checks with VeloJawn
  • Bike lights for the first 50 participants
  • Registering a bike with Division of Public Safety
  • Access to Hutchinson Gym showers for morning commuters
  • Snacks, drinks, and freebies such as discounts and coupons

Help sustain the planet, the city--and most importantly--your health. Join your fellow Penn cyclists for a fun journey to safer, greener, and healthier biking. Visit the Penn Sustainability website for details.

Please remember to always follow these bicycle safety tips for the health and wellbeing of all Penn community cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians.

Healthy Meals: Strawberry Rhubarb Coconut Milk Popsicles

Strawberry rhubarb popsicles marbled with coconut milk.

Stay cool with these refreshing strawberry and rhubarb popsicles. Seasonal fruits and creamy coconut milk make a delicious non-dairy treat without the extra sugar.

Find the recipe here.

Click here to send us your healthy recipes and tips.


Did You Know? Onboard@Penn Is Ready to Welcome New Hires

Onboard@Penn, located at 3425 Walnut Street, will provide an array of first-day services for new hires, including faculty, staff, temporary workers, and student workers. Onboard@Penn services will be fully implemented across all University schools and centers by June 1. A new website,, offers helpful information along with a scheduling app and checklist of documents required to complete the hiring process.



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