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Staff Town Hall Updates

We recognize that adjusting to this new life challenges us all. This time is one of the greatest challenges we have faced as an institution. There is no manual or guide to turn for this. However, we find comfort in knowing we are all figuring this out together. 

As part of the coordinated effort to assist staff transition to the remote work environment and our commitment to keeping our campus informed of significant new developments, we will share on this website relevant information and information from the weekly staff town hall meetings.

We are grateful for the many ways you have contributed to the transition to a remote learning and work environment.

Please check this and other related websites regularly for updates. 

Here is what you can expect in the near term:
  • Meetings With Staff: We will host a weekly meeting with staff every Thursday at 1:00p.m. through the month of April to provide staff with a COVID-19 status update and to answer questions. Please watch for an invitation to all staff with Zoom details on Wednesday.  We invite you to submit questions in advance.  

  • Email Updates: Weekly updates will be provided to staff via email after the meetings with staff. 

  • Human Resources Updates:  Regular updates and staff resources will be added to the Human Resources website.

We would also like to hear directly from you. Should you have questions, ideas,or suggestions please feel free to reach out to either of us anytime.  

Resources And Frequently Asked Questions

Working remotely and shelter in place ideas from across campus

  • Remember that perspective really helps when getting through difficult moments. If you let the feeling of defeat overwhelm you, it is difficult to keep treading water. Instead, tackle what is in front of you with a positive, light approach and it will feel less heavy! (Jenny Sullivan, Alumni Office)

  • I take walks to appreciate the beauty of nature, and am so grateful for our Mission gardens! (Jack Treacy, S.J.)

  • We are checking in with our students via phone, e-mail, creating game nights with them, and movie nights. Professional staff and student staff are involved in these activities. (Rebecca Schapp, de Saisset Museum)

Staff Outreach Meeting #5:
  • Have a Routine. Make the Routine as Close as Possible to Going to Work. Stick to the Routine. (Herb Sendek, Athletics)

  • When out for my daily walk, I have been wearing my SCU t-shirts. Never fails that I hear a "Go Broncos!" from passing strangers. Always makes me smile! (Leslie Leonetti, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics)

  • We wrote personal appreciation cards to our students (20) and all of our volunteers (40). (Rebecca Schapp, de Saisset Museum)

  • We're trying to focus on what we can rather than what we can't do, and we do some gratitude sharing almost daily. (Jerry Smith, Athletics)

  • For team meetings on Zoom, I have been using the breakout feature to group team members in pairs or small groups to discuss something that is not work related for 5 minutes or so.  This creates the community talk that often happens when people arrive in the meeting space and wait for the meeting to begin.  We have provided a topic for persons to discuss, such as "favorite sports memory" or "how one spent their weekend". (Matthew Duncan, Student Life)

  • I am trying to keep my virtual meetings as close to "normal" as I can!  I take the time to visit a little at the beginning of each meeting - just like we would if we were face to face.  Once we have a chance to catch up and share a little about what it's like to shelter in place, then the meeting feels more focused.  What I miss the most is  bumping into people on campus that I wouldn't have normally seen during my day.  So, I am trying to check in with a few people each day, by chat or email, that pop into my mind.  Virtual bump-intos! (Emily Wilcox, Leavey School of Business)

Staff Outreach Meeting #4:
  • I phone SCU alumni and friends, especially those who are older and living alone, just to check in. (Jack Treacy, University Relations)

  • Working from home has allowed me to maintain a consistent workout schedule (Joanna Thompson, Office for Multicultural Learning)

  • Schedule physical activity in your day. It's amazing what a walk around the block or 10 pushups can do for your energy level between zoom meetings! (Staci Gustafson, Athletics)

  • I try to be intentional about scheduling face-to-face virtual meetings or phone calls with my colleagues to touch base on each project or assignment. On weekends, I make time to catch up with my family using only virtual meeting apps. (Teresa Kopriva, Provost’s Office)

  • Set up a virtual background to be used during video Zoom sessions. The virtual background can save you from having unexpected distractions showing up on the background (Agustin, Ruiz, HR)

  • End each Zoom call with an energetic, "Go Broncos!" - it's fun to say and our community members love to hear it! We're in this together - and something about saying "Go Broncos!" reminds me of that. (Jenny Sullivan, Alumni Office)

  • Daily calls with direct reports are useful. Some of the call will be focussed on work but some time should just be dedicated to see how each person is managing with all of the change. (Ed Ryan, Provost’s Office)

Staff Outreach Meeting #3:
  • I have been enjoying starting my day quite early...we read from my favorite daily devotional, “A year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer,” and then we go for a 3-5 mile walk together. Taking this time to reflect, meditate, exercise, and talk helps me feel ready to tackle whatever the day has in store. (Jen Merritt, Ignatian Center)

  • For those who are assisting kids with online learning, compare schedules. I've begun blocking off some time on my calendar to help and be available. (Heather Dumas-Dyer, Residence Life)

  • Intentionally seek reflective, inspirational and educational opportunities that embrace our whole self of body, mind, and spirit. Here are some options from Campus Recreation: (Matt Cameron, Office of Student Life)

  • Keep in the back of your mind how this experience can help you when we return.   (Jon Clough, School of Education and Counseling Psychology)

  • Make sure you are comfortable with the tech needed to do your job and if you aren't, ask team members for help and/or access SCU resources to learn. (Sonia Gonzalez-Garcia, University Relations)

  • With remote work, communication is key with a team. I err on the side of over-communicating. In these times of rapid email, IM and text responses, sometimes a simple call can clear confusion and/or ensure no confusion on critical points...the google chat can help make a quick call to another team member with a laptop or computer with a microphone. There's an icon at the top of the chat that looks like a video camera, but the video can be disabled so that it acts just like a phone call. It takes less time than sharing a Zoom meeting when a quick audio call will suffice. (Ramona Sauter, Controller’s Office)

  • Connect with your team members at least once a day. (Esther Pham, Office of Research Compliance and Integrity)

  • Have a zoom happy hour with your team. (Eva Blanco Masias, Undergraduate Admission)

  • I try to connect with those I don't routinely interact with while working at home through texts, email or social media. (Donna Bolio, Athletics)

  • I use this as a good time to take some technology training, clean out drives and files, organize and back up data, and do projects that normally I don't have time for. (Susan Chun, Ignatian Center)

Staff Outreach Meeting #2:
  • Adapt, do not doubt your skill and wisdom to adapt to new things as they surface. Lean into the wisdom and skills you have developed over the years. (Maggie Malagon, Housing Business Services)

  • Turn off the news during the day.  The news basically repeats all day and can just be a distraction, and for some, cause additional stress.  Check the news in the morning and maybe briefly in the evening. Instead, watch a movie, binge watch a tv show or play a game, puzzle or read for enjoyment. (Mary Johnson, University Protocol and Events)

  • Experiment with different types of communication tools and determine the norms for your team. Yes -- email will remain primary.  But what tool works best for when you would have popped your head over the cubicle wall? (Mike Nuttall, Ignatian Center)

  • Create a boundary by shutting down from work at the end of the day and taking a long walk before reentering the home portion of your day. (Sam Florio, Risk Management)

  • This article really resonated with me...It argues that the regular 8-5 schedule is a remnant of the old manufacturing days and doesn't necessarily match the kinds of services we offer in the 21st century. (Kathleen Schneider, Dean’s Office, College of Arts and Sciences) 

  • To create a break for myself and to move around, I have been doing a 5 to 10 minute chore at home.  It creates the mental break and physical movement I want, and keeps the homefront organized! (Matthew Duncan, Office of Student Life)

  • Be Comfortable: Contrary to other recommendations, I love getting up, taking a shower, and putting on comfortable "athleisure" wear. I am super productive when I'm wearing clothes that make me happy - running tights, t-shirt, sweatshirt. Ready to get stuff done! (Kathy Kale, Alumni Office)

Staff Outreach Meeting #1:
  • We schedule "Otto Family Zoom Hour" each weekend. With 5 children and 12 grandchildren (ages 15 to 5 months), it brings new meaning to March (now April) Madness!  More importantly, it allows me to focus gratefully on the many blessings that are there for me each day. My smile lasts so much longer than the Zoom hour. (John Ottoboni, Chief Operating Officer)

  • Since I live on campus, in the building where I work, I’ve had to create clear boundaries around work time and work communication, which helps a lot now. If you have an iPhone, the Screen Time settings allow you to have set Down Time, which locks any apps you haven't designated as Always On during a specific time. You can still open an app (like Gmail or Slack) during your downtime, but it will remind you that you didn't want to.  (Kori Lennon, Resident Director, Cura Residential Learning Community)

  • You can also use Communication Limits to set specific people whose messages and calls will still pop up. Everyone else's will be held until the next morning when your Down Time is over. Make sure to outline your work hours and planned downtime with colleagues and supervisors when implementing. (Kori Lennon, Resident Director, Cura Residential Learning Community)

  • During team zoom meetings, allow time for each team member to share how they are doing. This is also an opportunity for managers to encourage team members to practice self-care and do something each day that makes them feel good. That could be taking a walk, meditating, or connecting with a loved one. (Liz Quevedo, Assistant Director, Workforce Planning, HR)

  • Try something fun. Pick a theme for your zoom meeting. Crazy hair or hat day can keep the team laughing throughout the entire meeting. (Liz Quevedo, Assistant Director, Workforce Planning, HR)

  • I am modifying my routine to fit our new reality. Simple things such as awakening at the same time each day, getting ready for work as I would when going to the office, working in a dedicated space in my home; scheduling breaks throughout the day, and building in time for exercise and sleep. I find that routine and structure helps me maintain a necessary balance which ensures we carry on with the usual business of our office. (Molly McDonald, Chief of Staff)

Staff Outreach Meeting #5:

Q: Are any changes to the tuition remission benefit being considered?

A: While the circumstances may cause us to explore modifying this benefit, to date the modification of tuition remission has not been discussed. Modifications to benefits will be in consultation with the Benefits Committee.

Q: What is the status of Orientation? 

A:  Upon the recommendation of Undergraduate Studies and the Center for Student Involvement, the President’s Cabinet reviewed and endorsed the proposal to shift Orientation for new students and families and their families to online format. The Center for Student Involvement will coordinate appropriate in-person programming to welcome new students to the Bronco community when it is safe to gather on campus. For more information, see the Orientation website here.  

Q: I heard in the Staff Outreach meeting that several other private or Jesuit institutions have made financial decisions. Where can I find those?

A: Like SCU, many other institutions post their communications on their COVID-19 websites. Institutions referenced in the staff meeting included Georgetown UniversitySeattle UniversityMarquette University, and Northwestern University.

Q:  Can we expect that Orientation Leaders will be available to facilitate the summer "excitement" experience? 

A: Yes.  Orientation Leaders will be very involved, just not on site. The Center for Student Involvement is developing plans to engage the orientation leaders in the virtual orientation experience and expects to have the students actively involved.  For questions, contact the Center for Student Involvement  or check the website.

Q:  With the faculty and students gone, I could easily work in my building all day without seeing anybody. Will that type of work environment be taken into account when decisions are made about staff returning to work?

A. We will certainly consider this and other factors regarding workplace safety and Covid exposure concerns.  In general, tools like isolating in separate locations, work flow modifications, path of travel modifications, transaction dividers, employee schedule modifications and density separation will be included for you and your supervisor's consideration.  Please note that the shelter order is still in place at least through May 31st and only individuals who have been approved to do so should be coming to campus.  

Staff Outreach Meeting #4:

Q: What equipment can I borrow from my workspace during the shelter in place?

A: If using your existing SCU ergonomic office equipment to assist with your work from home, please obtain your manager’s approval before removing it. Examples could include chairs, computer monitors, ergonomic keyboards and mice, headsets, and monitor risers, etc. Please plan on returning all equipment to your campus work location when the current crisis has abated. Coordination of the "grab and go" should take place between you and your manager.

Q: Will employees be required to wear face coverings on campus? 

A: Yes. Currently, all employees on campus, (including “grab and go”) are expected to wear face coverings and will be expected to do so until further notice. Additionally, all students and visitors on campus will also be expected to wear masks when the campus re-opens. 

Q: When will decisions about fixed-term positions be made? 

A: Decisions about fixed term positions scheduled to end in June 2020 will be assessed by respective units in mid-May. 

Q:  Regarding the student call check-ins, I am concerned I may not have all of the information I need if a student asks a question.  How will I respond to questions for which I do not have the answer?

Talking points, a script, FAQ document and other resources have been developed and will be sent to you prior to calls being made.  In addition, student questions can be referred to which continues to be monitored.

Q: Are employees eligible to take days off without pay if allowable by their supervisor?

A: Employees may request vacation time, subject to supervisor approval per university policy. Once time off is approved, the employee may then elect to use their available vacation accruals or take the time off without pay at their discretion. Exempt/salaried employees must report days off without pay via email to the Payroll Department in HR to ensure their pay is adjusted accordingly.

Staff Outreach Meeting #3:

Q: Is there a set date for the return to campus?

A: The current Santa Clara County shelter-in-place order extends to May 3rd. The state of California stay-at-home order is indefinite.  Plans to return to campus await further guidance from the county and state. We continue to monitor the situation and will advise the community when, and under what circumstances, a return date is established. The administration is mindful of the impact of local school and care center closures on the ability of staff to return to campus.

The university has cancelled all in person events hosted on campus through June 30th and summer classes will be held online.  

Q: Should essential employees carry a letter of essential need on their commute to and from work in case we are stopped by police? My co-workers and I have not received them.

A: Employees whose jobs require that they be on campus and who have received approval from their respective Vice President to be on campus, can obtain credentials of essential need.

The University has printed each person on the essential task list a parking permit with language that indicates the person is in compliance with the County's order to share with law enforcement.  In addition, each individual on the essential list will be given a sticker to add to their Santa Clara ID to the same effect.  These two items should suffice for identifying the individual as being able to transit to and from campus to conduct essential work.  If an individual requires a real time confirmation by a law enforcement officer to this effect, you are free to contact Campus Safety 24/7 who can confirm your name is on the essential list with the local law enforcement officer.  Please call the non emergency number at  408 554 4441.  The parking permit with appropriate language and id stickers are available at the Campus front guard post (Post A) during normal business hours.

Q: If remote work extends, will staff be able to retrieve ergonomic resources like office chairs? 

A: Staff who are in need of items from the office should make arrangements with their supervisor to retrieve those items.  This “grab and go” will be coordinated with Campus Safety if access support is needed.  In an effort to maintain the health and safety of our community, under no circumstances should employees come to the University if they are ill.

Q: Will the SCU 10% contribution to the 401(a) retirement plan be affected? 

A: This issue will be brought to the Benefits Committee for discussion at its next meeting on May 1st. 

Q: Calls continue to come into the office while I am working remotely..  What are my options for retrieving and answering calls from my office phone? 

A: Employees can forward campus phones to another number.  Instructions for forwarding your campus phone are available here under Common Phone Operations. 

Additionally, voicemail messages can be delivered through email. Instructions for setting voicemail delivery to SCU Gmail are available here

Staff Outreach Meeting #2:

Q: How can staff off campus be supported in sending out mail required in their work, such as for events that were cancelled due to gathering restrictions? Can they be reimbursed in the budget freeze? What is the likelihood that certain at home costs will be approved going into next year, for example postage or printing costs. Especially when the budgets are on freeze.

A:  Please check with your supervisor. Upon authorization by your supervisor of the expenditure, reimbursement will be made.  A reimbursement process is being developed.

Q:  This year I put the max amount into my Flexible Spending Account through CBIZ with the intention to have some major dental work done. Can't see a dentist now because of COVID so how can my investment not be wasted if I can't have that work done? 

A:  The spending period is January 1 - December 31. Medical FSA may continue to be used for qualified medical, dental, and vision benefit expenses. As part of CARES Act, you can now use FSA to pay for over-the-counter medicine and other products as a qualified medical expense. Both provisions take effect retroactively to January 1, 2020. Employees may also roll over $500 to the following year. Please contact Michele Dubois ( or Georgina Santiago ( on the Benefits team in Human Resources with specific questions. 

Q:  What are the next steps once you apply for the Emergency Relief Fund?  Will there be additional information required? How will we be notified if the request was approved or not?

An emergency fund has been established to assist faculty and staff members who are, in light of the current situation, facing certain financial hardships. This is a one-time, emergency grant of up to $500, in which the funds do not have to be repaid.This Emergency Relief effort is funded through the generosity of staff co-workers and faculty colleagues.  A small, peer group of faculty and staff will review and decide how the funds will be disbursed. A member of the group will let applicants know the outcome of their application or if more information is needed. 

Q: What resources are available to staff who are trying to work while also caring for young children, providing elder care, or effectively acting as homeschool teachers?

A: There are a number of resources available on the HR website regarding family support and caring for children at home during the shelter in place order. Managers and employees are asked to be flexible and creative in scheduling the workday. Managers ultimately determine scheduling, but are encouraged to be sensitive to an employee’s personal situation.

Q:  How long do we anticipate the hiring freeze?  I notice the SCU HR website still has active job postings.

A:The hiring freeze is currently in place at least through June 30 and is being periodically reviewed. For questions regarding a specific position, please contact the Department of Human Resources.

Staff Outreach Meeting #1:

Q: The University was gearing up to search for two cabinet level positions. What is the new timeline for the VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as well as the VP for Mission and Ministry?

A: Fr. O'Brien is consulting with the search committee chairs of both committees who in  turn are conferring with their respective committees to provide a recommendation to Fr. O'Brien regarding how to proceed.   A communication will be sent to the community in the next week..

Q: I anticipate the shelter at home order to extend to the end of May, perhaps even further. This means there are things in my office I'll need to bring home to get my work done. How can I arrange brief access to my office?

A: Check with your immediate supervisor who can arrange access for you to retrieve items from your office.. 

Q.:Why have performance reviews been delayed until June?

A:  In recognition of the continuance of the stay-in-place order and the responsibilities we are all facing, the deadline for the completion of Performance Evaluations has been extended to June 1, 2020. We would like to ensure that managers are able to communicate with team members the importance of their work and their contributions to Santa  Clara in a meaningful way. This may be a challenge during this period of significant disruption. We encourage managers to continue to reach out to staff regularly and find creative ways to stay engaged with one another.

Q:   Is the institution planning for fall online? 

A:    Our hope is that we will hold classes on campus.  However, the University is preparing a contingency plan in the event that we are unable to hold classes in person. 

Q:  I'd like to know if our university fidelity counselor can take questions about our 403b plans?  Should I go into my account and change my stocks? Would it make a difference? I followed the advice of Joe and I'm wondering if I should do something different now.

For questions regarding your 403(b) retirement plan, you may schedule a retirement counseling appointment with TIAA or Fidelity using the links or phone number below. You may also find additional information, contacts, or make changes by logging into the SCU Retirement portal at and select Fidelity or TIAA. 

TIAA One on One Appointments

Kuanmei Huang from TIAA will provide virtual retirement counseling to benefits eligible employees on Wednesday, April 15.   This is a 45-minute confidential appointment that can be scheduled by calling TIAA at 1-800-842-2007 or online at: Click here to schedule an appointment to meet with Kuanmei Huang

Fidelity One on One Appointments

Erik Kautzmann from Fidelity will provide virtual one on one retirement appointments to benefits eligible employees on Monday, April 20.  This is a confidential, 30-minute appointment and can be scheduled by directly contacting Fidelity Investments at 800-642-7131 or online at:

Next Meeting: