myHR: News from Penn's Division of Human Resources

myHR: December 14, 2022

Give Your Retirement Plan a Tune Up

As the calendar year comes to a close you may be thinking about financial goals for the New Year. If so, keep your retirement savings in mind and consider what you can do to plan for and build long-term financial security. The University of Pennsylvania is here to help you give your retirement plan a tune up with changes it will soon make to the Basic Plan that will increase your savings. 

Effective January 1, 2023, Penn’s non-matching contributions to the Basic Plan will increase by one percentage point. If you’re eligible for the Basic Plan, Penn makes non-matching contributions for you based on your age. The increase will apply to all age ranges. 

You don’t have to take any action to receive this higher contribution from the University. You will see the increase in your Basic Plan contributions reflected in your pay statements. Here is what the contribution increase will look like for different age groups:

Participant's Age on January 1 of the Plan YearBasic Plan contributions before January 1, 2023Basic Plan contributions after January 1, 2023*
Under age 301.5%2.5%
Age 30-393%4%
Age 40 +4%5%

*The first weekly pay for this increase will be January 13, which is the first full pay for January.

If your retirement savings aren’t where you would like them to be, the extra 1% to the Basic Plan can add up over the years. 

If you’re contributing 5% to the Matching Plan, the additional Basic and Matching Plan contributions from Penn bring your total monthly contributions to 12.5% to 15%, depending on your age.

If you’re eligible for the Matching Plan but aren’t making employee contributions, or are contributing less than 5% and leaving some of Penn’s match dollars on the table, consider whether you could contribute more. 

Steps to Enroll 

  1. Decide what percentage of your standard gross pay per pay period you'd like to contribute to the Matching or Supplemental retirement plan. If you're thinking of contribution in terms of a flat dollar amount, here's how to convert it to a percentage:
    (dollar amount of contribution) ÷ (standard gross pay per pay period) = percent
    $200 contribution ÷ $4,000 standard gross pay per pay period = 5% contribution 
  2. Choose whether you want your contributions to be pre-tax or Roth. For help, you can schedule an appointment with a TIAA retirement plan counselor at
  3. Let the plan choose your investment for you (the Vanguard Target Retirement Fund closest to the year you turn 65), or choose your own fund(s).  A TIAA retirement plan counselor can help you with this, too.
  4. Go online to enroll:
    • Go to the Retirement Plans homepage and click on the "Enroll or Make Changes" link in the blue box.
    • At the top of the TIAA landing page, click on the Actions button. 
    • In the Top Actions section on the next page, click on the Contributions button.  One of the webpages will ask for an access code, but our Plan doesn’t use an access code. Disregard that and click on the yellow Manage My Contributions button.
    • Follow the prompts from there.  For assistance, call the TIAA Retirement Call Center at 877-736-6738.

Consider IRS Limits on Elective Employee Contributions

In 2023, the IRS limits for 403(b) plans will be:

Employee Contributions by AgeAmount
Elective employee contributions for individuals up to age 49$22,500 
Elective employee contributions for individuals age 50 or above (turning 50 at any time in 2023)$30,000
Amount of employee compensation on which employer contributions can be based $330,000*

*This limits employer match contributions to $16,500.

Review Your Quarterly Statements

TIAA sends a quarterly statement for your Penn retirement plan account in early January, April, July, and October. The default delivery option is mail, but you can choose to receive an email notice instead by logging into your TIAA account or calling the TIAA Retirement Call Center at 877-736-6738. Your statements give you a valuable snapshot of how your retirement plan account has performed in the last three months.

If you need help interpreting your statement, or want qualified help with deciding whether there’s any action you should take, you can make an appointment with a TIAA retirement plan counselor at or call 800-732-8353. Appointments are confidential, without obligation, and at no additional cost to you.

Check or Set Your Beneficiaries

Take a few minutes to review or change your beneficiary designations. Your beneficiaries are listed on your quarterly statements, and your online Penn retirement plan view at TIAA. You can update your beneficiary designations here, or request a form from the TIAA Retirement Call Center at 877-8736-6738.

Your beneficiary designation for life insurance does not apply to the retirement plan, so you need to designate beneficiaries separately for your retirement plan savings. You need to designate a beneficiary for each retirement plan contract under each plan in which you’re invested.  Any contracts without a beneficiary designation will default to your estate and be distributed through probate, which costs time as well as money, and may not reflect your wishes. 

If your family situation changes (marriage, divorce, childbirth, etc.), be sure to update your beneficiary designation. Another option is to list your beneficary designation as ‘refer to my will,’ then name your beneficiaries in your will. For more information, contact the TIAA Retirement Call Center at 877-736-6738.

Helping Staff and Faculty Manage Student Loan Debt

It was the last weekend in October. Just two days before the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program’s limited waiver opportunity would expire. Penn’s partnership with PeopleJoy to help staff and faculty determine their eligibility for the PSLF program was going well. Hundreds of employees had already begun working with PeopleJoy to navigate the application process and take charge of their student loan debt. The Division of Human Resources anticipated even more employees would apply that weekend since the limited waiver would give borrowers expanded loan forgiveness and credit for past periods of repayment that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF. So, Quality of Work-life Programs Manager Karen Kille volunteered to work overtime to help process the employment verifications required for the application. In fact, Kille was one of a nine-member volunteer team that collectively logged 48 hours of weekend work to assist colleagues with this important step in the loan forgiveness process. 

“Many of our employees have invested a lot in their education, so working together with the team to verify employment was meaningful and rewarding. Just knowing the financial relief that it’s going to bring to them made it hugely meaningful to me,” Kille says. 

Kille processed 135 applications, each requiring that she confirm multiple points of employee identification and provide a physical signature so that the employees seeking loan forgiveness could move forward in the PSLF process. Although the work was outside of Kille’s core job responsibilities, she welcomed the opportunity. 

“Stepping outside of my routine tasks to work with colleagues that I don’t typically work with on a daily basis and come together to contribute to a special project was great. It also restored my engagement in my routine projects,” she says. 

Staff and Labor Relations Administrative Coordinator Soncerae Lewis, another team member, processed nearly 100 applications. 

“I volunteered because I believe loan forgiveness has a significant impact on an employee’s mental health, and I wanted to support a process that could lift this financial weight and reduce anxiety for staff,” Lewis says. 

“I loved being a part of the team and knowing that my contribution was needed motivated me to push through as many applications as I possibly could,” she says. 

The Penn Employee Solution Center received and routed all the incoming emails and calls regarding the employment verification forms. Solution Center Manager Erin Brown says the team received hundreds of forms and worked well together to get the job done. 

“The HR staff jumped in to help and this made such a positive impact on HR Records and the Solution Center as it showed we are one team,” Brown says. 

Other members of the weekend team included: Delores Richmond, Records, Data Integrity Analyst; Erica Ritchie, Solution Center Specialist; Gina Campellone, Solution Center Specialist; Gabrielle Arnold, Talent Acquisition Specialist; Tom Sontag, Executive Director of Talent Management; and Claudia Quinton, Interim Executive Director, HR Service Delivery. 

Brown says, “we could not have gotten through all the forms without the help of others, and I am truly grateful for those who volunteered without hesitation.”  

Helping Change Lives

Since Penn partnered with PeopleJoy in September, 512 employees have signed agreements with the PSLF administrator for a potential of $40 million in student loan forgiveness. 

“Applying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness is complex and time consuming, so with Penn providing this free service administered by PeopleJoy, the University is able to help employees navigate the process from start to finish,” says El McClelland, Director, HR Programs, Quality of Work-life and Tuition Benefits. 

Caryn Kerman, a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Perelman School of Medicine and an Attending Physician in the Division of General Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, first started the loan forgiveness process on her own in February. 

“Many of us have a significant amount of debt from the educational opportunities that we’ve pursued, which directly impacts the financial decisions we make. So, if there’s an opportunity to have our loans forgiven, which in some cases can be hundreds of thousands of dollars, it makes sense to pursue it,” says Kerman, a graduate of SUNY Upstate Medical University. 

Kerman says pursuing the process on her own was challenging. So, when Kerman received an email from HR about PeopleJoy, she took advantage of the service and just days before the limited waiver deadline, resubmitted her application.

“Penn was so helpful. The turnaround time was incredibly fast. I reached out to HR to say that I had submitted for employment verification, and they quickly wrote back and took care of it. That helped to reassure me that they were looking out for me and were able to do their part,” Kerman says. 

Like Kerman, Alice Mention, Staffing Manager for the Center for Research on Reproduction and Women’s Health at the Perelman School of Medicine, also tried to tackle the loan forgiveness process on her own. She first applied to the PSLF program in 2017 and then made two more unsuccessful tries before going through PeopleJoy. 

Mention, a graduate of Peirce College and St. Joseph’s University, says she has a lot of student loans, so she was relieved when Penn made access to the PSLF program easier for staff and faculty. 

“The process has been very smooth and user friendly. I didn’t have an issue with trying to figure out what documents I needed or who should sign off on the forms. This is a great service,” Mention says. 

Both Kerman and Mention are now in the process of waiting to see if all or part of their loans will be forgiven. 

“As a mom of two young children, our family has a lot of expenses, including private school. Not having to worry about paying hundreds of dollars a month for loan repayments helps us better afford more of the things we need,” Kerman says.

Lewis agrees that receiving loan forgiveness opens up other financial opportunities like improving your credit score, qualifying for a mortgage, and saving for emergencies. 

“Unfortunately, some people don’t have any savings for emergencies because they’re paying off student loans,” Lewis says. 

“So, I believe Penn should be applauded for not only recognizing this benefit, but also informing their employees about it, and then establishing a solid process for verifying employment so staff and faculty can get on the road to a loan-free future.”

For more information about Public Service Loan Forgiveness, review the PSLF FAQs. To use this free service, visit the PeopleJoy platform.  

Staff Show How Gratitude Works

In the last myHR, we invited faculty and staff members to share their gratitude experiences through our coworker gratitude questionnaire. Thanks for all the submissions we received from myHR readers.

A growing number of studies show that practicing gratitude on the job reduces stress and increases employee satisfaction, which all leads to better client service and more productivity. Bringing gratitude into the workplace not only makes it more pleasant, but improves the way we treat each other

To put this to the test, myHR asked readers what they appreciate about their coworkers and their jobs. We also asked them what makes them feel appreciated and for tips on practicing gratitude with colleagues. The results were inspiring. For real-life examples of gratitude at work, here are a few sample responses from readers. You can read more Penn staff replies on the HR gratitude webpage

[I appreciate] the fact that we are all able to come back under one roof and work together in person, even if it is not everyday. We do appreciate seeing each other in person when we are together.

- anonymous

A great way to show gratitude would be returning the help without being asked. If someone offered their assistance to you in any way, return the gesture by checking up on them and offering a hand.

- Chrystal Gay

I really appreciate the opportunity to work remotely. 

- anonymous

What I appreciate most about my team is how we always have each others' backs. If one of us is sick or down for the count, we are always there to support one another in times of need. I am truly grateful for this reliable support system.

- Ash Kim

Ash Kim in Perelman School of Medicine Office of Student Affairs as well as one of our anonymous participants were randomly selected to receive a gift package from Human Resources Work-life.

Human Resources is grateful to everyone who shared their insights with us. 

For more personal and professional development resources, visit HR’s Learn & Grow pages.

New Feature Coming to Human Resources Website in January 

It’s Monday morning. You have your coffee on hand and email open, but before you dive into your to-do list, you spend a few minutes getting up to speed with what’s happening on campus so you can plan your week ahead. If this sounds like your routine, you’re not alone. That’s why the Division of Human Resources has created 3 Things to Start Your Week, a weekly roundup of news, events, activities, workshops, and other information that faculty and staff can access on the homepage of the HR website. 

The roundup will list three items every Monday, each one including a link to detailed information. Whether it’s a monthly wellness walk, Penn Quaker basketball game, tree giveaway, or seasonal sale at the Penn bookstore, 3 Things to Start Your Week will provide quick and concise information about many campus activities and events giving you news that you can use. 

This new feature will launch in early January. Just look for the 3 Things to Start Your Week box near the News and Announcements section. The Division plans to deliver 3 Things to Start Your Week to your email inbox in the future. More information on that coming soon. 

An Updated Virgin Pulse Platform for Be in the Know

The 2022-2023 Be in the Know wellness campaign gives eligible faculty and staff opportunities to support well-being goals while earning up to $300* in Pulse Cash rewards. As this year’s campaign moves into 2023, Penn’s wellness partner, Virgin Pulse, is introducing updates to their wellness platform to improve how you move along your journey to better health. The home page redesign will launch on January 1, 2023.

These upcoming Virgin Pulse web platform enhancements do not affect your current Be in the Know rewards or Pulse Cash balance. 

The new customization features and navigation are designed to make participation more engaging and in-tune with your health and well-being plans.

The new customizable home page will allow you to view the most meaningful activities and information based on your priorities. This comprehensive digital front door provides you with easy access to content and experiences for daily well-being. The improved navigation makes it easier to discover recommended steps for your health and available features, such as the new Media Library.

The Media Library will offer you a more immersive experience with a large catalog of videos and audio to meet your personal health and well-being goals. The media library features content curated by a diverse team of trainers and coaches, providing options for everyone, regardless of body type, or fitness level. Video captions are available in 16 languages.

Virgin Pulse will present a preview online tour of the new homepage when you first log in after January 1.

The Virgin Pulse wellness platform continues to offer a wide variety of health and wellness resources, including challenges, Journeys, healthy habit trackers, daily cards, RethinkCare emotional well-being video courses, and more. You can also learn about biometric screening options and all qualifying “Ways to Earn” activities for Be in the Know to best support your path to wellness and while you earn rewards.

If you have questions about the Virgin Pulse platform or your participation in the Be in the Know campaign, please contact their Member Services team by phone at 1-855-920-2290 (Monday – Friday, 8am – 9pm ET) or live chat on the platform (2am – 9pm ET, look for the green chat button). Check HR’s Winter Break Service Hours for holiday schedules. You can also visit

For complete 2022-2023 Be in the Know wellness campaign details, visit

Healthy Meals: Cauliflower Chips

Looking for some easy and tasty appetizers? These crisp cauliflower chips from contain only five ingredients and can be made in the oven or in an air fryer. They’re quick, low-carb holiday crowd-pleasers. To switch things up you can also swap out the Italian seasoning for your favorite spice blend. 

Click here to send us your healthy recipes and tips.


2 cups riced cauliflower (12 ounces; see Tip)

1 ⅓ cups finely grated Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

½ teaspoon ground pepper

¼ teaspoon salt 


Position racks in top and bottom third of oven; preheat to 375°F. (Alternatively, see Air-Fryer Version below.) Line 2 large-rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper; coat with cooking spray. 

Place cauliflower in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on High, uncovered and stirring halfway through, until tender, about two minutes. Place the cauliflower in a clean kitchen towel (or paper towels); squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Place the cauliflower in a medium bowl; add Parmesan, Italian seasoning, pepper, and salt; stir until combined.

Using a leveled tablespoon, portion mounds of cauliflower mixture two inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Using a lightly-greased bottom of a measuring cup or glass, press each portion into a circle about 1/8 inch thick.

Bake both pans, rotating them halfway through, until the chips are golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate; let cool completely, about 20 minutes.

Tip: To make your own cauliflower rice: Break one medium head cauliflower into florets. Pulse in a food processor until chopped into rice-size pieces.

CWN recipe logo

Meet With a Registered Dietitian Today!

  • One-on-One, virtual sessions you can schedule at any time that works for you
  • 100% covered under many insurance plans
  • Available to spouses and dependents
  • Fill out the  Nutrition Counseling Sign Up Form  or call 800-484-7720. 

Did You Know: HR's Winter Break Service Hours

Human Resources will be closed for Penn’s Special Winter Vacation from Monday, December 26, 2022, through Monday, January 2, 2023. However, during the break many of our resources will still be available to University faculty and staff. Access to Penn’s Employee Assistance Program will continue 24/7. Other services may be closed, limited, or operating on modified schedules. See the online schedule for details.



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