Department ofHuman Resources

Great Colleges to Work For Survey Results

By: Sandy Dunham, University Communications

PLU FallThe Chronicle of Higher Education’s 2013 Great Colleges to Work For survey shows that employees rate Pacific Lutheran University “very good to excellent” in five major categories: pride, shared governance, teaching environment, supervisors/department chairs, and job satisfaction/support.

Now in its sixth year, the influential Chronicle Great Colleges program—billed as the largest and most-comprehensive survey in higher education—received responses from more than 34,000 faculty and staff at more than 300 public, private, and two-year colleges across the country. Designed for institutions seeking to be better employers, the survey offers insights on the quality of the schools’ workplace experience and on the competitiveness of their policies.

Based on results, the survey recognized 97 institutions nationwide for outstanding performance in at least one of 12 workplace categories (ranging from Professional Development to Facility, Workspace, and Security) and showcases job practices that employees value. For 2013, two Washington colleges were among the 97 recognized as Great Colleges to Work For: Western Washington University and Highline Community College.

In the survey, employees were asked to agree or disagree, using a five-point scale, with a series of 60 statements, such as: “Senior leadership provides a clear direction for this institution’s future.” The results reflect the average percentage of survey participants responded to the statements with “Strongly Agree” or “Agree.” PLU registered 345 respondents from 755 surveys, with an average positive response rate of 72%. The 42 colleges selected for the survey’s Honor Roll, meaning they were cited for recognition most often in their size group, averaged 79%.

Here’s how PLU’s top five categories ranked:

• Pride: 84%
• Shared Governance: 82%
• Teaching Environment: 78%
• Supervisors/Department Chairs: 78%
• Job Satisfaction/Support: 76%

The category Compensation, Benefits & Work-Life Balance scored the lowest among PLU respondents, at 66% (2013 Honor Roll average was 80%), with Communication next, at 67% (2013 Honor Roll average was 71%.) PLU results analyzed by job category show administrator responses were very positive, while faculty, non-exempt staff, and adjunct responses were slightly less so.

“Many thanks to everyone that completed the survey,” states Teri Phillips, Human Resources. "The goal is to use the survey results to help inform improvements in the PLU workplace and the competitiveness of our policies.”

Nationwide, according to The Chronicle, the study found that higher education has distinct advantages for employees, particularly in promoting work-life balance and a culture in which employees take pride. Three-fourths of all employees responded positively to the statement: “This institution’s policies and practices give me the flexibility to manage my work and personal life.” And nearly three-fourths of all employees also agreed with the statement: “All things considered, this is a great place to work.” Learn more here.

Health Care Reform – Update

By: Donna Albers, Albers and Company

Likely you’re hearing a lot about health care reform, also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and Obamacare. What will the next impact be to you and PLU?  Here’s a brief update.

Several provisions designed to expand benefits and eligibility have already taken effect, to your benefit:

1. Dependent children, even if married, are eligible to age 26; previously 25

2. Specific preventive services, including FDA-approved contraceptives, are paid without office call copays or coinsurance

3. Lifetime limits for most benefits, identified as “essential benefits”, have been removed; annual limits will be removed in 2014

4. Out of network Emergency Room services are paid at same level as in network ER service

Other Health Care Reform impacts for PLU include:

• Your medical benefits are now presented using a national standard format that is easier to understand; this summary of benefits is provided to you by Group Health

• PLU now includes the annual value of health coverage on your W-2

• Additional taxes on both providers and carriers to help pay for ACA have impacted the premium costs for most plans

• Communications to you are increasing in frequency, to ensure you are aware of ACA provisions that might have an impact

Did You Know?

You already know that the deductibles on PLU medical plans are calculated on a calendar year basis, right? However, do you know there is a 3-month carryover on individual (not family) deductible expenses, which means claims incurred in October, November, and December that are applied to your 2013 deductible will also be applied to your 2014 deductible? This carryover occurs regardless of whether you meet your calendar year individual deductible or not.

PLU currently offers minimum value, affordable health coverage to eligible employees and dependents. PLU employees who are eligible and covered by one of PLU’s health plans meet the mandate to maintain coverage. If eligible employees or dependents opt out of PLU’s health plan coverage, plans are available through Washington State’s HealthPlanFinder, but subsidized coverage would not be available.

Get Your Flu Shot!

PLU is hosting a flu shot clinic at no cost for ALL faculty, staff, and administrators. No appointment is necessary.

Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013

10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Anderson University Center, CK East

No cost immunizations are being provided to all employees; however, please bring your PLU Group Health insurance card if enrolled.

You will be required to fill out a Consent & Claim Form. To save time, please download the form and complete it in advance. Bring the form with you on October 2.


In 2014 the Individual Mandate will kick in. It requires individuals to have a minimum level of health care coverage, either through their employer or directly on their own.  PLU’s Medical Plans satisfy this mandate, for those who are eligible and enrolled. The individual mandate does apply to employees at PLU who do not qualify for PLU’s plan: for example, employees who work less than .5 FTE, the minimum hours required to be eligible for PLU’s medical plan. This Individual Mandate starts January 1, 2014 for employees who are not eligible for PLU’s medical plan.

To make coverage available to individuals who do not have access to a qualified employer plan, the Individual Marketplace, also called The Exchange, begins January 1, 2014. Each state had to decide whether to establish its own Marketplace, or to participate in a Federal version. Individual coverage will be available through two sources: 1) an expanded Medicaid program and 2) a plan offered through Washington State’s marketplace, called The Washington HealthPlanFinder. Eligibility and monthly costs will be based on total household income. Individuals without a qualified medical plan will be assessed a penalty when taxes are filed in 2014 of 1% of income or $95, whichever is greater; penalties increase in 2015 and 2016.

The changes for PLU faculty and staff have been mostly positive so far. Many provisions, such as the 2015 employer mandate to ‘pay or play’ and the 2018 ‘Cadillac tax’ on high cost benefit plans, are still being defined so their impact is changing frequently or mostly unknown at this time. Know that PLU continues to recognize how its benefits package provides you with peace of mind and security. That remains top of mind for PLU’s Benefits Committee. Want to learn more about Health Care Reform? Click here for an easy-to-understand overview, or contact Albers & Company at 253-272-2711 or 888-8ALBERS (825-2377).

A Short Q&A on Affordable Care Act (ACA)

For employees who are currently eligible for PLU's health plan, e.g. working at least .5 FTE.

Yes. There is an initial "open enrollment period" for the HealthPlanFinder of October 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014. Eligible dependents who waived enrollment in PLU's plan and are currently uncovered, will have until June 1st, 2014 (PLU's open enrollment) to obtain qualified medical coverage.
No. PLU's health plan has been deemed adequate (providing minimum value) and affordable according to ACA guidelines. She could elect a plan through the HealthPlanFinder, without a subsidy, or choose to enroll in PLU's plan during open enrollment or to continue on her current plan through her spouse or domestic partner.

No. Carriers can and will continue to offer individual plans outside the Washington State HealthPlanFinder. While these plan benefits and premium rates must also be approved by the Washington State Insurance Commissioner, carriers have more flexibility to offer a broader array of benefits and those plans can include a broader network of providers.

In addition, individuals may qualify for Medicaid or Medicare benefits that satisfy the ACA requirement to have health coverage. You can view all your individual options at

Albers & Company is our benefits broker. You can call them at 253-272-2711 or 888-8ALBERS (825-2377). They are experts in ACA, Individual and Medicare coverages.
For employees who are not currently eligible for PLU's health plan, e.g. working less .5 FTE.
Yes, ACA requires that everyone, adults and dependents, have qualified health plan coverage or pay a penalty. For employees who are not eligible for PLU's health plan, qualified health plan coverage must be obtained by January 1, 2014.

There are several options for obtaining individual health coverage to comply with ACA:

  1. The Washington State HealthPlanFinder. Premium subsidies may be available for plans purchased through the HealthPlanFinder.
  2. Individual plans being sold outside Washington's HealthPlanFinder - plans outside the HealthPlanFinder are required to include the same basic benefits and eligibility rules - no one can be denied coverage, as an example - plans inside the HealthPlanFinder. Individual plans offered outside the HealthPlanFinder are likely to offer additional coverage or broader provider networks than plans inside the network. Premium subsidies are not available for plans purchased outside of the HealthPlanFinder.
  3. Medicaid - eligibility is based on income, benefits and providers are defined by Federal Law.
  4. Medicare - for individual who qualify based on age or disability.
Albers & Company is our benefits broker. You can call them at 253-272-2711 or 888-8ALBERS (825-2377). They are experts in ACA, Individual and Medicare coverages.

Tuition Benefits

Attention: Parents of High School Seniors

A reminder to all faculty and staff with dependent high school seniors who are considering the Tuition Exchange or ELCA programs for 2014-2015; it is not too early to apply. In fact, we encourage you to make application a priority this fall, as many of the schools' 2014-2015 deadlines are before December. Remember, these programs are highly competitive and this is not a guaranteed benefit.

For more information on the Tuition Exchange program, visit If you are interested in applying for either program, you must complete an application.

Please call Gretchen Howell in Human Resources at ext. 7329 to help you through the process, answer questions, or to request a list of participating ELCA schools.

Do You Have a Junior Lute in Your Family?

Another athletic season is upon us, and PLU Athletics invites children ages five and up to become a Junior Lute! Formerly referred to as Little Lutes, our Junior Lutes program will provide our members with many opportunities to get involved at our athletic events and with our student-athletes. Our goal is to engage our community’s youth with PLU's athletic programs. Membership includes a personalized membership card that allows free access to all PLU home athletic events, a Junior Lutes t-shirt, opportunities to meet our student-athletes, and special events centered around educating our Junior Lutes on various academic and athletic-related topics.

Membership is $10 with discounts available for families with multiple children. For more information and to register, click here. For questions, please contact Sarah Hebel at Go Lutes!

Six Sigma at PLU

Congratulations to PLU’s 34 new Six Sigma Green Belts! During the past few months, these members of the PLU faculty and staff completed their training either at UW-T or through PLU’s classes offered this summer by Human Resources. They have formed the Process Improvement Team: Six Sigma at PLU and are ready to begin putting their learning into practice.

One of President Tom Krise’s stated priorities for the university is to be “good stewards of the resources available to the university by using them in effective and efficient ways.” As part of the goal to increase revenues for the university in order to redistribute to salaries, resources and reserves, President Krise launched the Six Sigma training to help PLU function as effectively as possible. He noted, "We want to demonstrate by every possible means that we are taking good care of the resources we have and Six Sigma helps us do that."

Chris Albert, Web Content Manager in University Communication, was “our pioneer” and the first to complete the training at UW-T in February 2013. He commented, “This course is awesome! From the very beginning it is engaging, and I see real possibilities in helping PLU become a better organization.”

After the positive feedback of those who completed the training at UW-T, PLU chose to offer its own course on campus, to reach more people more easily and more cost effectively. Carol Ptak, CFPIM, CIRM, Jonah, CDDP and previous faculty member of the PLU School of Business, was selected to teach the PLU Green Belt Course. Two four week courses were offered, one in June and one in July. Carol’s class included her expertise in Six Sigma, as well as Lean and Theory of Constraints. 

A wide range of departments and divisions are represented by the 34 members of the PLU Green Belt Team. Typically, 10% of those working in an organization trained; approximately 70 people at PLU.

Six Sigma is a statistical concept to evaluate ongoing processes with an efficiency of 3.4 defects per million opportunities. It is a philosophy to reduce and/or eliminate “defects/errors” through improved practices. It has been used primarily in the manufacturing world, but applications have been made in numerous industries and businesses. PLU’s approach is to train people from all areas of the university to take advantage of both large and small process improvements. Other institutions of higher education have utilized Six Sigma in specific areas of the organization, but PLU is launching its effort enterprise-wide.

During the class, each member identified a potential project that had the possibility for saving cost, time or both. Some potential projects are pan-university, impacting many components of the university. Other projects may impact several departments or offices and some only one. In the months ahead, the team members will further refine the understanding of these potential projects based on data and consultation. Once the problem is fully defined and understood through research, the next step is to generate and refine potential process improvements. Those ideas will be vetted with those potentially impacted to assure that any solution is a true improvement, not making the issue worse with unintended negative consequences.

Carol Ptak noted, “This Process Improvement Team will enable PLU to attempt and accomplish things never before possible in a university environment. The dedication and commitment of the team is unparalleled compared to previous projects where I have been involved.”

President Krise greeted the graduates at the first meeting of the Process Improvement Team: Six Sigma at PLU with the encouragement that “everyone in the university has a role to play in this. We want to use our resources better and deploy them better. As we can increase revenue we want to put it into salaries and operations."

PLU has launched Six Sigma with the intent that the results will support growth of the university, improve processes, and increase revenues available to invest in the people and mission of the university. The Fall PLU Six Sigma class will be held October 10, 14, 17, and 31, from 3-7:30pm. To apply for the course, go here.

Zipcar: For All Your Departmental Driving Needs

Zipcar provides a better way for your department to get around – car sharing. Zipcars can be used as an alternative to rental or personal cars for employees in your department. Become a Zipcar member and you will have easy access to cars by the hour, day, or overnight. It costs approximately $10 per hour or $75 per day depending on vehicle type, and there are 2 fuel-efficient cars parked in PLU's Library lot to choose from.

Need to pick up supplies, go for a team lunch, or attend an off-site meeting or conference? Grab a Zipcar. Now you can carpool or bike to work and still have a car when you need one during the workday. Sharing cars reduces carbon emissions, eliminates the hassles of expense reports and parking, and saves money. Gas and insurance are included, so please take advantage of this great benefit.

Sign up for free today, and you can start using Zipcar for all your department-related driving. Remember, each driver of a Zipcar needs to have their own account. If you think Zipcar might work for your department or you’d like to learn more, visit and follow the link to “I’d like to open a new account for my department.”

For more information or to join PLU’s Zipcar network, visit or call Gretchen Howell at ext. 7329.


PLU offers regional transit passes to benefits eligible employees. Faculty and staff receive their ORCA card preloaded with an annual pass good from June through May. The majority of the pass’ cost is covered by PLU, but a small fee is charged to employees. The cost of this benefit to employees is only $24.36 for the fiscal year. Bring your valid PLU ID to the Concierge Desk in the University Center to purchase an ORCA card.

To renew your ORCA card for fiscal year 2013-2014 (June-May), you’ll need to visit the Concierge Desk to fill out a renewal form and pay the employee portion of the benefit. You will not receive a new ORCA card. A valid PLU ID and ORCA card are required at the time of renewal. Please make it clear to the Concierge Desk staff that you are renewing your ORCA card.

Visit Commute Smart for more information. Contact Gretchen at ext. 7329 with questions.



New OSHA Chemical Hazard Communication Standard
Globally Harmonized System (GHS)

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has revised its Hazard Communication Standard to align with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS).

To ensure that PLU employees who work with hazardous materials have the information they need to better protect themselves from chemical hazards in the workplace, it is critical employees understand the new GHS written program, warning labels, and SDS formats.

Significant changes contained in the revised standard require:

  • Updates to PLU’s written Hazard Communication Plan to include GHS.

  • Chemical Manufacturers standardization of Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) format, formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs).

  • Training for PLU employees who work with hazardous materials on recognizing new container warning labeling elements and SDS format.

PLU employees, whose job description involves working with hazardous materials, will be contacted via email to complete the required GHS Sakai online training. The deadline for completing the GHS training is December 1, 2013.

PLU’s written GHS Program document is available for your review online here. If you have any questions regarding the GHS standard and/or training requirement please contact Joe Bell at ext. 7233 or

Earthquakes and Personal Safety at Pacific Lutheran University

We all know the Puget Sound area has a history of major earthquakes. The actual movement of the ground, however, is seldom the direct cause of death or injury; most casualties result from falling objects and debris. Planning ahead can significantly reduce the dangers associated with earthquakes and related disasters and ensure the safety of your family, colleagues, and community. It is important, therefore, that members of your department meet to discuss and develop an earthquake emergency plan for your area.

Remember: in a major earthquake, we may not be able to rely on community emergency resources, but we can rely on each other.

To read the full article on earthquake planning and safety, please click here. More information on emergency preparedness can be found here.

For additional information and suggestions, please contact Joe Bell at or ext. 7233. Additional Emergency Procedures are available by clicking here.

Did you know?

If you're a nursing mother looking for a quiet place to express your milk, there's a private lactation room located just outside the women's restroom in the basement of the Mortvedt Library.

Needed: PLU Search and Rescue Team Volunteers

Are you interested in serving the PLU community in the event of a regional emergency, such as a severe storm or earthquake? The PLU Search and Rescue Team is the first line of defense for our community when help isn’t available from outside response agencies, like Central Pierce Fire and Rescue. Emergency Programs is seeking individuals for training in First Aid/CPR and light to moderate Search and Rescue Techniques: no heroics, no entering collapsed buildings or hazardous sites. All training will be supported by PLU—we just need your interest, expertise, and time.

PLU Search and Rescue Team meets periodically during the academic year for planning, training, and exercises. For more information, please contact Steve Benham at or ext. 7378. 

Sign-ups For Fall Fitness Classes Still Welcome

We are currently offering the following fall classes: Yoga, Fit Club, Walk Live, Water Aerobics, and Kettlebell Fitness. Please see our Fitness page for a list of current classes, their descriptions, and to RSVP.

Other Fall Fitness Opportunities:
-Every Wednesday, beginning September 18, faculty & staff can meet at noon in the Memorial Gym for lunchtime hoops. Contact Rob Thompson for more information.

-The Running Club will meet Thursdays at 5:15pm in front of the Admin building. Contact Beth Crippen at or Sarah Sanders for more information.

New Faculty Welcome

New Faculty Fall 2013
A warm welcome to all new faculty who joined us this fall!

Supervisory Skills Training

Human Resources will be offering a Supervisory Skills training course on campus designed for supervisors and managers.

This course will cover:
• Effective communication skills
• Strategies for giving and receiving feedback
• Multi-step coaching model to develop employee performance
• Decisions about what to delegate and to whom
• Fostering teamwork

The Supervisory Skills training will be held November 5, 12, and 19, from 8:30am-4:30pm. To apply for the training click here. There is limited availability. If you have questions, please contact Gretchen Howell in Human Resources at ext. 7329.

Development Day Presenters Welcome

If you and/or your department are interested in presenting a workshop as part of the Personal and Professional Development Day on February 4, please let us know.

All faculty, staff, and administrators will be invited to participate in a variety of sessions throughout the day.

Human Resources will welcome workshop proposals through November 1. To submit your proposal, please email a one-paragraph description of your workshop, including the names of the presenter/s, to Laura Fuhrman at

Administrative Staff Council

Since 1992, the Administrative Staff Council (ASC) has served as a communication link between all levels of non-faculty employees and other members of the university and community including students, faculty, and administrative leaders. The council provides a forum for sharing ideas and addressing concerns, as well as advocating for PLU administrative and staff employees. More specifically, the ASC provides a visible and proactive voice on issues having significant non-faculty employee impact, such as compensation, tuition benefits, retirement, and university policies.

PLU has many committees working on issues important to all employees; some of the university-wide committees on which ASC representatives serve are Benefits, Budget, Long Range Planning, Parking, and Retirement. In addition to these committees, the ASC assists in coordinating such events as “Stuff the Bus,” ASC Fall Open House, Veterans’ Day Ceremony, Christmas Luncheon and ASC Spring Social.

The ASC is comprised of 13 administrative and staff representatives across campus. They are here to support and listen to you! More information on the ASC is available here.

ASC Logo
Council Members
Kathy Engle & Sean Garnes
Admission & Enrollment Services
Barbara Hesner & Tamara Miller-Glahn
Development & University Relations
JJ Stolz
Dining Services
Mary Roberts
Facilities Management
Drew Eli & Terry Erker
Finance & Operations
Alexandra Lampert
Information Technology
Diane Harris & Jody Horn
Allison Carroll & Adam Schreiber
Student Life