New Benefits Plan Unveiled

by John Gagnon, promotional writer

A major overhaul of Michigan Tech’s benefit package will give staff more options for medical coverage, including dental and vision plans.

In recent years, employees had three choices for benefits: premium, standard and deductible.

Now they have five: three health plans and two dental and vision plans.

“Providing more choices was a huge issue,” according to Ingrid Cheney, director of benefits and chair of the Benefits Liaison Group, which fashioned the new plan.

The changes are the most significant in four years, she said.

Employees have indicated they chose the premium plan, not because they preferred it, but because it was the only coverage for enhanced dental and vision.

Thus, the new plan separates medical from dental and vision coverage.

The medical coverage includes HuskyCare 1, HuskyCare 2 and HuskyCare 3. Care 1 is “very close” to the old premium plan. Care 2 is much like the old deductible plan. Care 3 is the no-premium plan.

The two options for dental and vision coverage entail a two-year commitment. If employees opt out of the coverage, they have to wait two years to get it.

With all the plans, there is an array of variables that hinge on family size and desired coverage. “Everyone’s needs and circumstances are different,” Cheney says. In some cases the cost of coverage has increased (premiums); in some cases costs have decreased (prescription drugs).

The Benefits Liaison Group has been working on the plan since spring. It advises the administration, which charged the group to “provide the best possible fringe benefit package within the University’s available resources.” As well, the administration wanted the group to achieve “cost containment.”

That is a thorny problem: “It’s more expensive to go to the doctor,” Cheney says. She notes that Tech’s medical costs have almost doubled since 1999, and they have increased 16 percent over the last year.

Besides decreased state funding, factors impinging on the cost of the plan include two expensive circumstances: there are more Tech employees, and they are older.

Cheney said the nine-member Benefits Liaison Group is comprised solely of employees. “The needs of employees are never far from our minds,” she says.

She’s pleased with their work. “We’re talking about a really good plan at a good cost.”

The Benefits Office has held a number of open forums on the new plan. The remaining forums are at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 5, in Memorial Ballroom A; and at 10 a.m., Friday, Dec. 7, in the Red Metal Room of the Memorial Union.

For more information, visit the benefits website, http://www.admin.mtu.edu/hro/benefits/index.shtml ; request handouts describing all the options; or contact the Benefits Office, 487-2517.

Tech Select forms need to be completed by Friday, Dec. 7. Failure to do so will automatically reduce the coverage to the no-premium plan. For a fee of $25, there is a one-week grace period for selecting a plan.

Rozsa Lobby Sparkles with the Lights of the Season

submitted by Ramona Backman, assistant director, Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts

A myriad of twinkling lights in a forest of Christmas trees greets visitors at the Fourth Annual Christmas Tree Silent Auction in the Rozsa Center lobby. The display continues through Dec. 13 and is open to the public at no charge. Hours for this year's display are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday, as well as during shows on evenings and weekends.

The 20 trees to be auctioned are nestled among larger background trees and have been decorated by gifted area artists and businesses. Some are elegant and gorgeous, others are fun and funky, but all are creative and original.

One of this year's special features is a beautifully wrought handmade feather tree crafted by Marcy Cella of L'Anse, who first hand-dyed turkey feathers provided by True Flight Manufacturing and then wrapped them an inch at a time around a wire tree frame welded by her husband, Dave Cella. The tree is decorated in Victorian style with hand-dipped beeswax candles in vintage holders, hand-tatted snowflakes made by Sylvia Edstrom and felt ornaments by Mary Ann Michaelis. The tree is elegant and beautifully proportioned and would look lovely in any home. Marcy cautions that as the tree is literally made of feathers and is not fire-resistant, the candles on the tree are not to be burned.

Other trees feature absolutely decadent gourmet chocolates and delicious candies; coins from all around the world; hand-painted ornaments depicting Keweenaw plants and animals; vintage collectible dolls; delicate beaded Christmas spiders; a hidden garden paradise; beautifully crafted ornaments of hand-turned wood and porcelain clay; fantastical birds and sheep; merry musical instruments; large-format photography and a fanciful quilted tree; stunning ornaments of agate and copper; beautiful wooden angels; and a happy Woodstock tree that will take you right back to the 1960s!

Any one of these great tabletop trees would make a wonderfully unique addition to your home or business or a lovely gift for a family member or friend.

Final bids on the trees will be taken during the intermission of the performance of "A Christmas Carol" on Thursday, Dec. 13, and the winning bids will be announced after the show. Bid numbers are available from the Rozsa Center Box Office.

All proceeds from the auction will benefit the Class Acts outreach program, which offers a series of performing arts events at the Rozsa Center for K-12 students in the Copper Country Intermediate School District. For further information, call the Rozsa Center at 487-2844.

Artists participating in this year's auction and the names of their trees follow:

*"Feather Tree" by Marcy Cella
*"Silver Birds Feast on Fall Fruits Turned to December Gold" by Valerie Pegg
*"All Creatures Great and Small" by Gail English Bailey
*"Santa's Wool Shop" by Carol Kreher, Fiber Whims
*"Puttin' on the Glitz" by Ronda Bogan, Wildflowers
*"The Legend of the Christmas Spider" by Becky Christianson
*"Music, The Universal Language" by Bonnie Joyal and grandchildren
*"Turned Wood Ornaments" by Edith and Bill Wiard
*"Slightly Scandinavian" by Susie Kilpela
*"The Incredible Edible Christmas Tree" by Mike and Emily Morelli
*"Home is Where the Heart Is" by the Girard Family Dollhouse
*"Remember the 60s" by River Valley State Bank
*"Oh Chocolate Tree, Oh Chocolate Tree!" by Jim's Foodmart
*"Sweet Christmas" by The Lunch Bag
*"Copper Miners Yule Time" by the A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum
*"Calico Christmas" by Kathy Chynoweth
*"Country Christmas" by Jon Chynoweth, Ladybug Digital
*"The Hidden Garden Tree" by Nissila's Greenhouse
*"Angels We Have Heard on High" by Steven Lindahl
*"Money from Around the World" by Superior National Bank & Trust

CS Students Qualify for World Finals of Collegiate Programming

A three-student team of Michigan Tech computer science majors has finished second out of 195 teams from 63 colleges and universities in the North Central North American Region of the International Collegiate Programming Contest. Their performance qualified them for the world finals at the University of Alberta, in Banff, Canada.

The students, Mikola Lysenko, Ryan Richards and Nicholas Smolinske, were narrowly edged out of first place by a team from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in the last few minutes of a very exciting contest, said their advisor, Associate Professor David Poplawski (Computer Science).

They will join 92 other teams from around the world in the 32nd ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals, sponsored by IBM. The competition, set for April 6-10, is largest and most prestigious contest of its kind.

"Worldwide, over 7,000 teams competed in various regionals, putting Tech's team in the top 1.3 percent, no small feat considering the competition came from schools the likes of MIT, Cal Tech and the University of Michigan," said Poplawski.

For more information on the contest, see http://icpc.baylor.edu/icpc/ .

Wolf Nominated for Distinguished Thesis Award

The Graduate School has announced that Rüdiger Packal Escobar Wolf (GMES) is Michigan Tech’s nominee for the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools Distinguished Thesis Award. Wolf was jointly nominated by professors Jimmy Diehl and William Rose (GMES). His thesis established for the first time the age of the lava flows found in the 1902 explosion crater of Santa Maria volcano and whether or not these lava flows recorded the Mono Lake excursion, a geologically important excursion of the geomagnetic field. Wolf is currently continuing his education as a PhD student.

Amber L. Kenny (SFRES) was selected as a finalist in the competition. She was nominated by Professor Blair Orr (SFRES). Her thesis was completed as part of the requirements for the Peace Corps Master’s International Program in Forestry. She overcame language and cultural barriers to develop a scientific thesis that has the potential to impact many lives in Africa.

Molly Hayenga (Humanities), nominated by Professor Elizabeth Flynn, and Afton Sather-Knutsen (Social Sciences), nominated by Professor Barry Solomon (Social Sciences), were also considered by the committee.

The committee to evaluate the nominees consisted of graduate faculty representing a broad range of graduate programs: chair Michael Neuman (Biomedical Engineering), Professor Pushpalatha Murthy (Chemistry), Assistant Professor Robert Froese (SFRES) and Professor Gary Campbell (SBE). Next year’s competition will consider applicants who have completed their degrees between Oct. 1, 2007, and Sept. 30, 2008. An application consists of a recommendation letter from the advisor and an electronic copy of the thesis. Please consider nominating your MS students next year.

Deadline for Year-End Donations to Michigan Tech Dec. 31

Many of our donors make year-end gifts to the University in order to benefit from a tax deduction for the current year. As soon as possible after you receive a contribution intended for credit in 2007, please forward it to the Tech Fund and include the envelope and supporting documents.

Credit card donations and gifts of cash or checks will be accepted at the Tech Fund office (Citizens Bank Building, seventh floor) until 3 p.m. on Dec. 31. A credit card contribution can be made online, until 11 p.m. on Dec. 31, at http://www.banweb.mtu.edu/mtu/mtf/giftform.xsql .

Tech relies on the goodwill of donors, and processing their gifts in an efficient and timely manner is crucial to nurture that goodwill.

Reminder: You're Invited—"Holidays Around the World" Tomorrow

The University Women's Club and its president, Gail Mroz, are hosting a holiday gathering Wednesday, Dec. 5, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the University Residence, 21680 Woodland Road, Houghton.

All women in the Michigan Tech community are invited.

See displays of holiday traditions around the world; nibble on international and American holiday treats; and help fill gift bags to be given to all first-year women.

RSVP to Gail Mroz, gamroz@mtu.edu .

Holiday Break Building Operations and Snow Removal Plan

submitted by Susan Sergey, executive secretary, Campus Facilities Planning

Heating and Ventilation Operation

All heating and ventilating equipment will operate as normal over the holiday break, except during the following long weekends:

*Saturday, Dec. 22, through Tuesday, Dec. 25
*Saturday, Dec. 29, through Tuesday, Jan. 1

During these two periods, heating and ventilating equipment can be operated in your area upon request. Please do not make a request “just in case” you may be there. If you require normal temperatures and ventilation in your area during this period, send the specific dates and times by Friday, Dec. 14, to Central Heating Plant/Energy Management via email at chp@mtu.edu or by campus mail. If your plans change and you come in and find your area too cold, please call 487-2707, and we should be able to accommodate you by turning on the building-wide system for your area.

Keep in mind that early notification of your plans allows the subsystems to be operated manually, rather than having to turn on building-wide systems, saving more energy.

Shut Down Equipment, Close Windows and Doors

Please shut off lights, idling equipment, computers, research setups, fume hoods and exhaust fans whenever possible, and also keep windows and doors closed.

Snow Removal

All parking lots on the main campus will be plowed during the holidays. Primary sidewalks will also be plowed. However, if your lot has not been plowed before you arrive, please park in the nearest, available lot. Snow will also be removed from fire lanes, Michigan Tech Apartments areas, food service loading dock areas and parking as required at the SDC.

Utility Outages and Operational Problems

All calls regarding utility breaks and other problems are to be made directly to Public Safety at 487-2216. Public Safety will call the appropriate Facilities Management/Operations personnel.

Facilities Management Contacts

If you have any questions about our holiday operation, contact the following people:

*Parking, Traffic and Building Access: Sgt. Allan Hoffman, 487-2216 or afhofma@mtu.edu .
*Building Operations and Emergencies: Mike Needham, 487-2711 or hmneedha@mtu.edu .
*Building Custodial Services: Bill Mitchell, 487-1636 or wmitchel@mtu.edu .
*Energy Management/Central Heating Plant: Dave Taivalkoski, 487-2706 or chp@mtu.edu .

Nominations Open for Spring 2008 Finishing Fellowships

The Graduate School is accepting nominations for spring 2008 Finishing Fellowships. Five fellowships of $2,000 each are available.

Nominations are due at the Graduate School by Friday, Dec. 14, and will be reviewed by a faculty panel that will make recommendations to the dean of the Graduate School. Fellowships will be announced before spring semester.

Each degree program can nominate no more than two students for Finishing Fellowships. Preference will be given to PhD students. Past recipients of Finishing Fellowships are not eligible. Nominations should be submitted to the Graduate School by the chair of the department or the graduate program director.

Each nomination must be accompanied by a cover sheet, found at http://www.gradschool.mtu.edu/forms/FF_Nomination.pdf , and requires the following information:

*student’s name
*student’s degree program
*student’s degree type (MS or PhD)
*student's M-number
*student's Michigan Tech email address
*a transcript of courses taken as a graduate student at Michigan Tech
*a description of how the student was supported throughout the degree program
*a brief, 1/2-page summary of the significance of the student's research. The statement should be written by the student in a way that can be understood by a general audience.
*one letter of support from the student's advisor, graduate program director or department chair

The information for each nominee should be forwarded to Debra Charlesworth in the Graduate School by Friday, Dec. 14.

The fellowships are available from the Michigan Tech Fund through the support provided to the Graduate School by the following sponsors:

*Neil V. Hakala Endowed Fellowship
*Whirlpool Endowed Fellowship
*Michigan Tech Student Foundation

Another competition for Finishing Fellowships will be held at the end of the spring semester for summer 2008. Nominations will be due and decisions made during April.

CenTILE Coffee Break Dec. 6, Workshop Dec. 12

Join the Center for Technological Innovation, Leadership and Entrepreneurship (CenTILE) for the Michigan Tech Entrepreneurial Coffee Break on Thursday, Dec. 6, at 10 a.m. in the Peninsula Room of the Memorial Union and a workshop on Dec. 12 to learn about the Elevator Pitch Competition.

Professor of Practice Robert Mark (SBE) will talk about the competition, open to both Michigan Tech and Finlandia students, to be held on campus in April. An elevator pitch is a description of a product or a business idea that is short, exciting, simple and still captures the idea's distinctive features. Cash prizes of $1,000, $500 and $250 will be awarded to the top three teams or individuals.

Associate Professor Paul Nelson (SBE) will give a workshop explaining how to put together an effective elevator pitch on Wednesday, Dec. 12, in Fisher 132 from 6 to 7 p.m.

"Entrepreneurs have to attract investors, lenders, partners and customers. Often, we only have a minute or two to take advantage of an opportunity to sell our idea," said Nelson. "In about the length of time (it takes to ride) up to the eighth floor of the ME-EM Building, you should be able to explain your idea and capture that person's interest."

MEEM Graduate Seminar Thursday

Robert Tilove, in research and development with General Motors, will give a seminar, "Smart Assembly," on Thursday, Dec. 6, at 3 p.m. in MEEM 112.

Nordic Ski-Waxing Clinic Thursday

The Michigan Tech Nordic Ski Club and Toko Wax will hold a ski waxing clinic on Thursday, Dec. 6, at 6 p.m. at the Tech Trails Wax Building.

Mike Young of Toko Wax will cover both kick and glide waxes for most of the conditions found in the Keweenaw.

The clinic is free and open to the public.

If you'd like to ski under the new lights afterwards and still don't have your pass, you can purchase your trail pass online at http://www.keweenawtrails.com/ .

In Print

Professor Jennifer Daryl Slack (Humanities) and Associate Professor/Chair Christa Albrecht-Crane (Department of English and Literature, Utah Valley State College) published a book chapter, "Toward a Pedagogy of Affect," in "Deleuzian Encounters: Studies in Contemporary Social Issues," edited by Anna Hickey-Moody and Peta Malins, Macmillan, 2007.

Professor Barry Solomon published a chapter with former master's student Abhijit Banerjee (Social Sciences), “Eco-labeling for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability: A Meta-Evaluation of US Programs,” in "Labelling Strategies in Environmental Policy," edited by Mario Teisl, Ashgate, 2007.

Sports in Brief

What’s Happening This Week

All times are Eastern, and home events are italicized.

Wednesday, Dec. 5
Huskies Drive Time, 7:30-8 a.m., live on 93.5 FM
Women’s Basketball hosts Minnesota Duluth, 5:30 p.m., live on 93.5 FM

Saturday, Dec. 8
Nordic Skiing at UP Collegiate Challenge (Marquette)
Women’s Basketball at Northern Michigan, 1 p.m., live on 93.5 FM
Men’s Basketball at Northern Michigan, 3 p.m., live on 93.5 FM

Sunday, Dec. 9
Nordic Skiing hosts UP Collegiate Challenge (Houghton)

Last Week’s Results

Hockey (6-7-1, 5-6-1 WCHA)
Nov. 30: #20 Michigan Tech 3, at #14 Minnesota 2, OT
Dec. 1: at #14 Minnesota 3, #20 Michigan Tech 1

Women’s Basketball (4-2, 2-0 GLIAC)
Nov. 29: Michigan Tech 71, at Mercyhurst 59
Dec. 1: Michigan Tech 76, at Gannon 65

Men’s Basketball (3-3, 1-1 GLIAC)
Nov. 29: Michigan Tech 69, at Mercyhurst 62
Dec. 1: at Gannon 75, Michigan Tech 65

Nordic Skiing
Nov. 29-Dec.1: Michigan Tech in UP Collegiate Challenge

Top News of the Week

Hockey Splits at Minnesota
Michigan Tech scored three straight goals to rally from a 2-0 deficit and defeated #14 Minnesota, 3-2, in overtime Friday, Nov. 30. Junior John Schwarz and freshman Deron Cousens each scored their first career goals in the win. Junior Alex Gagne tallied his first goal of the season for the overtime game winner. On Saturday, Dec. 1, senior Peter Rouleau scored the lone goal for the Huskies in a 3-1 loss. Junior Michael-Lee Teslak posted another solid performance in goal as he made 60 saves and allowed five goals in the two games.

Finally...Some Hoops at Home
The first home Michigan Tech basketball game is set for Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the SDC gym. The women will host Minnesota Duluth in a single game beginning at 5:30 p.m. The men’s first home game is scheduled for Dec. 11 vs. Wisconsin-Stout. Both Michigan Tech basketball teams have started the season with six games on the road.

Nordic Skiing Teams in Action
Sophomore Jesse Lang finished fourth while sophomore Jenna Klein finished fifth to lead the Michigan Tech Nordic ski teams at the UP Collegiate Opening Meet. Lang finished the 10k freestyle course in a time of 28:02.3, and Klein finished the 5k freestyle race in 16:33.4. Junior Christopher Harvey finished 13th in a time of 29:13.1, and senior Kevin Heglund was eight seconds back in 14th (29:21.0). Elizabeth Quinley and Kristen Monahan, who are both redshirting this season, finished sixth (16:48.4) and 10th (17:27.7). No team scores were kept.

Rivalry Renews Saturday
Michigan Tech will renew its rivalry with Northern Michigan in basketball Saturday, Dec. 8, in Marquette. The Huskies and Wildcats will tangle in a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. Tech’s women are riding a four-game winning streak and will look to remain perfect in the league.

New Staff

Kelly Kallio has joined the Research Accounting staff as an assistant research accountant. She was previously employed by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community as an accounting specialist. Kallio received a BS in Economics from Northern Michigan University. She is married to Jody, has one daughter, Hayley, and one stepdaughter, Brittany, and lives in Hancock.

Phyllis Clevenger has joined the Human Resources staff as an employment compensation and classification manager. She was previously employed by Keweenaw Memorial Medical Center as a human resources director. She is married to Tracy, has four children, James, Madeline, Valerie and Lilly, and lives in Laurium.