Changes in Health Care and Medical Leave Benefits Announced

submitted by the Benefits Office

Health Care
Due to a significant increase in projected health care costs, an increase in the tuition across campus and the recent reduction in Michigan Tech's funding from the State of Michigan, a revised program will be implemented on Jan. 1. Health-care costs are expected to rise by an estimated $833,000 in 2012, necessitating the changes outlined below. Benefits Office staff will explain the changes at nine campus forums scheduled through the end of November.

Here is a summary of the changes:

In the PPO plan, the employee's share of the premium cost will remain at 20 percent, while the deductible for individuals will increase from $500 to $1,000; and the deductible for families will increase from $1,000 to $2,000. As well, the out-of-pocket maximum for individuals will increase from $1,500 to $2,200, while the out-of-pocket maximum for families will increase from $3,000 to $4,400.

Changes to the HSA plan include a reduction to Michigan Tech's HSA contribution for individuals from $750 to $400; and a reduction for families from $1,500 to $800. The contribution will be deposited into the employee's account in January.

There will be no changes to the dental and vision plans; the employee premiums will remain the same.

All benefit-eligible employees must complete the enrollment process for 2012. If this is not completed, employees will be enrolled in the default plans (HSA, continue current dental/vision plan option, and no Flexible Spending Accounts).

Tech Select will start Monday, Nov. 14, and run through Dec. 6. For questions, a schedule of forums and more information, visit the Benefits website.

New Medical Leave Policies
New policies for medical-related absences will also be implemented on Jan. 1.

A Medical Leave Group comprised of 12 faculty and staff developed a proposal after extensive research and discussion that has been approved by President Glen Mroz.

The Medical Leave Group was asked to review and recommend a comprehensive and consistent medical leave policy to help provide seamless coverage to new and long-term employees and to protect University departments from the financial liability of extended time off.

Three guiding principles framed the medical leave review:
* Protect faculty and staff
* Protect the University by limiting liability
* Minimize the difficulty in managing medical-related leaves

The group wanted to ensure these changes were "simple, fair, and efficient," according to Renee Hiller, director of benefits services.

The group addressed
* Sick-leave insurance
* Short-term disability (replaces current Voluntary Sick Leave Pool)
* Long-term disability (unchanged)
* Maternity leave

Sick Leave
Current policy: Employees accrue four hours per pay period; that is, 13 days after a year up to a maximum of 132 days or 1,056 hours.

New policy: Employees will get 13 days or 104 hours on Jan. 1 (pro-rated for part-time employees). Employees can carry over up to 60 days or 480 hours of sick leave. Current employees will be able to carry over up to the maximum of 60 days or 480 hours once the policy is effective Jan. 1.

Reason for the change: introduction of a short-term disability policy will cover employee illness/injury for an extended time off.

Short-term Disability
Current policy: Voluntary Sick Leave Pool (VSLP) covers only catastrophic illness or injury and is accessible after a six-week waiting period.

New policy: Short-term Disability insurance through MetLife that will be paid by Michigan Tech for all benefits-eligible employees. The benefit will have a 14-calendar day (two week) waiting period and a 70 percent salary benefit. Employees will be provided the choice if the benefit will be taxable.

Reason for the change: Increasing number of employees are left unprotected when faced with an extended medical leave due to the increase of new hires over the past several years. Departments were continuing to pay for the extended time off, leaving little budget to help hire a temporary replacement. This policy will provide

* broader coverage that will not be limited to catastrophic
* a shorter waiting period (14 calendar days)
* an immediate and automatic enrollment

and will be paid centrally by Michigan Tech, relieving departments of that cost.

Long-term Disability
Short-term disability can last up to six months; then long-term disability is available. There will be no changes in the long-term disability policy.

Maternity Leave
Maternity leave, funded centrally, provides the following paid leave for birth mothers:

* Six weeks paid; full-semester pay for faculty, who are relieved of teaching duties.

* Staff may work out a part-time return to work to equate to six weeks.

* Includes adoption by the primary caregiver for children under age seven not attending school full time.

These changes will be explained in detail during the open enrollment forums starting Nov. 14. For more information, please see the presentation here.

Disaster Drill Scheduled at Michigan Tech Today, Nov. 10

This afternoon Michigan Tech will stage an exercise simulating a disaster on campus. The mock disaster is designed to help the University and community emergency services prepare to respond to a real emergency.

Law enforcement, emergency services, fire departments, ambulances and hospitals in the area will participate in the drill, as will the University's Incident Command Team of administrators, staff and faculty who have been trained to respond to crises on campus.

Do not be alarmed if you hear sirens or see emergency vehicles with lights flashing. This is just a drill.

BRC Travel Grants for Fall Semester Announced

The Biotechnology Research Center has announced the recipients of its fall travel grants:

* Graduate student Tayloria Adams (ChE): $500 toward a poster presentation at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers annual meeting held in Minneapolis, in October.

* Graduate student Aytug Gencoglu (ChE): $500 toward a podium presentation at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers annual meeting held in Minneapolis, in October.

* Graduate student Seyyed Hessam Mir Shah Ghassemi (ME-EM): $500 toward a podium presentation at the Electrochemistry 2011 meeting held Boston, in October.

* Undergraduate student Hallie Holmes (Biomedical Engineering): $500 toward a podium presentation at the Biomedical Engineering Society annual meeting held Hartford, Conn., in October.

* Graduate student Beini Jiang (MATH): $500 toward a poster presentation at the WORLDCOMP '11 Meeting held in Las Vegas, in July.

* Graduate student Robert Larson (KIP): $500 toward a poster presentation at the Experimental
Biology 2011 Conference held in Washington, DC, in April.

* Graduate student Kaela Leonard (ChE): $500 toward a podium presentation at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers annual meeting held in Minneapolis, in October.

* Graduate student Saikat Mukhopadhay (Physics): $500 toward a poster presentation at the International Conference on Theoretical and Applied Physics to be held in Kolkata, India, in December.

* Graduate student Haley Rupp (SFRES): $500 toward a poster presentation at the WoW 2011 Symposium held in Vancouver, British Columbia, in June.

* Graduate student Alicia Sawdon (ChE): $500 toward a podium presentation at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers annual meeting held in Minneapolis, in October.

* Graduate student Christopher Schwartz (KIP): $500 toward a poster presentation at the Experimental
Biology 2011 Conference held in Washington, DC, in April.

* Graduate student Katherine Snyder (Biomedical Engineering): $500 toward a poster presentation at the ORS 2011 annual meeting held in Long Beach, Calif., in January.

* Graduate student Chungja Yang (ChE): $250 toward a poster presentation at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers annual meeting held in Minneapolis, in October.

* Graduate student Huan Yang (KIP): $500 toward a poster presentation at the Experimental Biology 2011
conference held in Washington, DC, in April.

Michigan Tech Included in $6.63 Million from the State to Increase University/Industry Connections

by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor

Michigan Tech is among several schools that will receive a combined $6.63 million in three different initiatives from the State of Michigan.

The Michigan Strategic Fund and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation have announced that they are investing in 1. university-industry partnerships, 2. technology commercialization and 3. innovation and entrepreneurship. Tech will begin with $260,000 over two years, and all the universities will be supported from the total pot of money.

"These investments will enable Michigan Tech to help grow the state's economy by connecting our resources of expertise and technology with established and start-up companies," says Dave Reed, vice president for research.

Descriptions of the three areas follow:

The Corporate Relations Network for Michigan's Research Universities (M-CRN) will be built for $1.8 million. "At Michigan Tech, this program will advance our historically strong connections with industry and promote collaboration across the institutions," says Jim Baker, executive director of innovation and industry engagement.

The M-CRN features:

* an internship program placing students with local companies
* a small-company innovation program for joint university-company projects
* extension of a faculty expertise database
* pilot Instant Innovation Programs focusing on industries' technical needs

The Tech Transfer Talent Network will be built for $2.43 million. "This is of particular value to Michigan Tech because, while we have an extensive network of successful alumni, their geographic distribution and the diverse nature of technology make it hard to match up alumni experts with industry," said Baker.

Features include:

* development of a database of experts
* a Mentor-in-Residence program, putting experienced entrepreneurs in tech transfer operations
* Tech Transfer Fellows and Postdoc Fellowship programs for graduate students
* activities to recruit and engage new talent

Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MIIE) will receive $2.4 million. MIIE helps universities attract private company investment to move early-stage technologies from laboratory to market.

The program involves all Michigan public universities. Baker cochairs MIIE with Marvin Parnes, associate vice president for research and executive director of research administration at the University of Michigan.

"Several Michigan Tech researchers have already received funding under this program to move their technologies forward," says Baker. "In particular, funding from this program helped establish a company focused on osteoporosis-fighting technology and another developing commercial applications for stamp sand."

Lunch in India with Khana Khazana

Indian food is on the menu for Khana Khazana (food treasure) this Friday. The weekly ethnic lunch cooked by international students will feature Shahi paneer, Indian cheese cubes in a creamy tomato sauce; Malai chicken cooked in a cream curry; Jeera rice, a mixture of rice and cumin seeds that is popular in North India; and Lassi, a traditional yogurt-based drink.

Abhinav Sharma, a graduate student in mechanical engineering from India, will be the cook.

Khana Khazana is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Memorial Union Food Court. A full meal is $6 and includes a free beverage. Individual dishes are available for $2 each.

Khana Khazana is a collaborative effort of international students and Dining Services.

CEE Seminars

Three graduate students will present at a Civil Engineering Seminar from 4 to 5 p.m., today, in Dow 642.

MS student Eric Kreiger (CEE) will present "The Incorporation of Discontinuous Fibers into the Structural Design of Cementitious Materials: A Look at UHPC." PhD student Antonio Velazquez (CEE) will present "Probabilistic Analysis via Aeroelasticity and System Identification on Wind Turbine Blades for Operational Structural Integrity Assessment." MS student Miguel Carbonell (CEE) will present "Bond Strength between UHPC and Normal Strength Concrete (NSC) in Accordance with Split Prism and Freeze-Thaw Cycling Tests."

For more information, see CEE Seminar.

Biological Sciences Seminar

Heloise Dufour, a postdoc at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will present "What can Fly Pigmentation Teach us About Evolution? An Evo/Devo Tale
Where Engrailed Crosses the Line" at 2 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, in M&M U113.

MSE Seminar

Yves Chabal, professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas, will present "Hydrogen Storage in Complex Metal Hydrides and Metal Organic Framework Materials: Challenges and Opportunities" at 10 a.m., Monday, Nov. 14, in M&M 610.

Presentation Adresses Medical Leave Policies

Note to all AFSCME, POA and UAW employees:

You are invited to a presentation informing you of changes in Michigan Tech medical leave policies.

The presentations will be as follows:

Friday, Nov. 11
8:30 to 9:30 a.m.
Wads Annex

Monday, Nov. 14
1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Memorial Union Ballroom A

You may attend either presentation; release time will be provided.

Proposals in Progress

Tim Colling (MTTI), "Michigan Local Bridge Load Rating Support and Technology Transfer FY 2012-2013," MDOT

Douglas Oppliger (COE/ILI), Eugene Levin (SOT/ILI) and Richard Donocan (ChE/ILI), "Enterprises for International Remote Sensing Systems (EIRSS)," US Department of State

Kurt Paterson (CEE/SFI), John Gierke (GMES/SFI), Veronica Griffis (CEE/SFI), Michele Miller (ME-EM/SFI) and Judith Perlinger (CEE/SFI), "Scholarships to Create Professionals for Engineering Community Resilience," NSF

Audrey Mayer (SS/SFI) and Mark Rouleau (SS/SFI), "Determinants of Citizen/Private Landowner Participation in Voluntary Land Management Programs," NSF-Law and Social Sciences

John Velat (CEE/MTTI), "Wisconsin Tribal Transportation Safety Summit," College of Menominee Nation

Ed Josberger (MTRI), "Enhancing Snow Hydrology Models with Data Assimilation of Active and Passive Microwave Remote Sensing," NASA

Nikola Subotic (MTRI), "Multi-Domain Intelligence," US DOD-AFRL

Erich Petushek (CLS) and Karen Roemer (KIP), "Effect of Pediatric Obesity on Lower Extremity Biomechanics: Implications for Injury Risk Assessment and Screening," NSF

Feng Zhao (Biomedical Engineering/BRC) and Jeremy Goldman (Biomedical Engineering/BRC), "Enhancement of Lymphatic Regeneration by Mesenchymal Stem Cell Sheet Fragments," US DOD-Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs

Jinshan Tang (SOT), "Investigation of 3D Ultrasound Technology and Development of 3D Image Analysis Technology for Cattle Reproduction," Alcorn State University

Maria Schutte (School of Business and Economics), "Understanding Patterns in Stock Return Comovement," NSF

Evan Kane (SFRES/ESC), "How Do Climate, Fire and Chemistry Affect Soil Organic Matter Cycling in the Boreal Forest? An Integrated Model-measurement Approach," Texas A&M, DOE

Martin Jurgensen (SFRES/ESC), "Wood Stake Decomposition in Northern and Urban Forests," USDA Forest Service

Evan Kane (SFRES/ESC), "Feedbacks between Climate, Fire Severity and Differential Permafrost Degradation in Alaskan Black Spruce Forests--Implications for Carbon Cycling," University of Maryland, DOE

New Funding

Assistant Professor Paul Sanders (MSE/IMP), co-PI Stephen Kampe (MSE) and co-PI Douglas Swenson (MSE) have received $342,224, the first year allocation of a three-year, $1,007,032 project, from the Office of Naval Research, "High Strength Low Alloy Aluminum (HSLA-A1)."

* * * * * *

Assistant Professor Thomas Oommen (GMES) has received $10,000 from the US Civilian Research and Development Foundation for a one-year project, "Geohazard Prediction for Landslide Areas by Numerical Modeling of Slope Instability: A Tool for Geotechnical Systems Modeling."